Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin time

Have you bought your pumpkin, yet?

Now is a good time. They're probably on clearance sale.

(confession - I bought mine a few days ago and got a nice $13.00 one for $5.00.)

Also Pumpkin ice cream.
Teen insists on pumpkin ice cream.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Halloween

It seems that I forgot to post this Halloween book.
Everything you wanted to know about Halloween but didn't know that you didn't know.  Stories, Facts about the holiday, Crafts, and Party Plans.  (Available at your local library or at online bookstores.)

One week to go.
Are you ready?

Usually the teen has her costume planned by August.  Changes her mind several times, then either creates one or we buy one.  (then she uses that bought one the next year to base her next costume creation.)

What do your kids do?

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou

I was only a few pages into this book when I suddenly thought - Exquisite Corpse??? There's a book in this story that is acting like Exquisite Corpse?  Hey! I bet Lisa Papademetriou had Sharon Darrow for one of her workshops at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Writing for Children and Young Adults.  (Because Sharon Darrow also ran one of my workshops where we spent part of the time working on a group Exquisite Corpse.)

What is Exquisite Corpse?
It's where someone begins a story, writes several sentences or even a paragraph, then folds back all but the last sentence of their writing and passes it along to the next person to continue the story - without knowing what the first person had written.  (The person who passed the group story to me had drawn a monster, then folded it back until all I could see was the feet of the monster, which made it quite difficult for me to figure out how to add to the story. But I managed. Mostly because I had seen him doing the drawing out of the corner of my eye.)

What if you found a book that at first looked like it had all blank pages, but when you decided to use it to write your journal opened it, you discovered someone else had already begun writing in it.

Now, what if there are TWO such books, with the story appearing in both of them.  And, no matter what you or the other girl wrote, the book merged your writing into the story it was telling.

Here's the publisher's description:

Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. 
For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page—and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila's copy on the other side of the planet. Kai's words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.
A heartfelt, vividly told multicultural story about fate and how our stories shape it.
There are many 5-Star reviews of this on Goodreads, plus a flood of excellent reviews in the national review media.

Here's a link to a great review of this book on ReaderKidZ blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October is National Dinosaur Month

Did YOU know that October is National Dinosaur Month?
Neither did I.
(That's certainly better than my having previously designated October as national spider month. whew!)

However, Sandra Markle knew about it - and she wrote a fantastic blog post about it.

Read ON, giant reptiles.
(or giant birds - whatever you are)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Guest post - Jane Yolen - Development in a novel

Another rambling thought (about blocking out novels this time) from Jane Yolen:

A thought about writing novels. I reworked chapter 15 of my current novel and in the process added 300 words, mostly to define and redefine characters. It's a travel chapter, not much plot, really at base simply getting us from there to here. But a necessary trip for three reasons: setting up setting, plot, tension. And along the way I realize the last part of the chapter was really the beginning of the next chapter.
I find with novels (I still consider myself a novice, though I have written over 60 of them!) that I have to re-learn how to write them each time I start a new one. And what did I learn today?
1.Unlike picture books and poetry where compression is the guide, novels need to breathe, need specificity to make them live. What kind of trees, what color of eyes, is this spring or winter and what makes the difference?
2. Yet adding for the sake of bulk is not what is needed. Again, specificity is key. But also threading in what came before. I will have to go back and thread in a whole lot of stuff. This draft is more about getting the story told, start to finish. The next draft I will take careful notes about my characters who I have learned a lot about during this draft: what they wear, look like, facial tics, what they know (or don't know). What has someone said before, and do I repeat it too often or not enough? Do I make reference to it? Is it key to their development.
3. In fact development is probably the most useful concept in writing a novel. In poems metaphor and the lyrical line quickly follow compression in importance. In picture books one has to always be aware that the book needs to be visual at its core, else what can an illustrator draw? But novels are all about development--plot development, character development, philosophical development/sub=textual development.
Have I told you how I hate to plot?????

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A tribute to the Honest People in this World

Recently, on Facebook, there was a discussion of purse thievery. Other people chimed in about times they had been robbed.  But I had to put in a good word for the honest people in this world:

1 - Once I accidentally left my wallet on top of a pay phone and only remembered it halfway home. (remember pay phones?  If you are too young to know what they are - The telephone company used to set up stand-alone phones that you inserted coins in to use.)
    I drove back to that pay  phone (stuck to the side of a building right there on the sidewalk side of the building - with no phone booth around it) and discovered that my wallet was still there.

2 - Same wallet (different year) was accidentally left at a fruit and vegetable stand. Evidently I had gathered up my bags of goodies, but forgot to also pick up my wallet.  When I returned, a kindly neighbor had offered to take it home to me, but since I returned so quickly, she simply handed it to me with smiles.

3 - Once I shopped at Staples but didn't find what I needed. So I parked my cart with the other carts inside the store and drove to another store. When I reached for my purse, it wasn't in the car. Went back to Staples and didn't find it in the stack of carts. A cashier saw me looking and told me that another person had pulled out the cart to use, discovered my purse in it, and had turned it in to the store office.  I got my purse back - intact.

Now - yes, each of these times I had had huge anxiety attacks as I drove back to retrieve my wallet/ purse.
Such a relief to discover the nice people who did NOT steal it.