Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


It May Take As Long As It Wants To Take

This summer I made good progress in my middle-grade novel, but you won't see it in print for a long time. The story is getting deeper and deeper. It's forcing me to think about the importance of people accepting each other's choices, and what should a character decide when confronted with several good choices. But "what the character should decide" it's not up to me but up to the character.  Am I willing to accept her choice? Have she chosen?

It's embarrassing when people ask me what I am writing and I have to say it's the same book. But some stories take time. They have to simmer longer than overnight. I stir the stew everyday. It's bubbling, but not steaming. So, be patient.   


Tag--I'm it!

My friend Tracy Barrett, author of the amazing Dark of the Moon and 18 other novels, has tagged me in a Children's / YA Author Blog Hop, and since it involves answering the question of what I'm working on now, I thought this round of posts on One Potato...Ten was my perfect opportunity.  I'll be tagging three more authors to do the same.

So here are the questions and my answers:

1.  What are you working on now?

I am finally starting a novel that has been brewing in my head since my husband and I first moved into our 1930s log cabin on Braddock Mountain in Maryland.  All the doors (complete with skeleton keys and room numbers) were salvaged from the S.S. City of Atlanta--a steamship which sailed the Chesapeake Bay as part of the Chesapeake Steamship Company from the year the ship was built in 1907 until it was sold for scrap in 1930.  I have two points of view and two time periods interwoven in this plot--that of a contemporary 12-year-old boy living in the log cabin and that of a 12-year-old girl living on the steamship her father captains in 1928. I won't give away any more of the plot now, as I don't want to jinx the novel before I finish it, but I will add a photo of the ship, as well as of the doors and keys in our home.

2.  How does it differ from other works in the genre?

In my research on steamships of the Chesapeake, I have not come across any other middle grade novels that involve life aboard a steamship (other than a number of books about the fateful voyage of the Titanic).  Plus, I think the fact that I have two interwoven timeframes and points of view adds to its uniqueness.

3.  Why do you write what you do?

I was a voracious reader as a girl and particularly loved books that allowed me to connect with characters who lived through different periods in history.  Some of those books remain my favorites even to this day.  My goal is to write the same types of books that will hook today's middle grade readers.

4.  What is the hardest part about writing?

For me, the most difficult part is getting the first draft on paper.  Once I have the skeleton down, then the fun begins--the true meat of writing when I can flesh out the characters, setting, and plot.

Here's a link to the lovely author, Laura Bowers, who is one of the authors I tagged to continue the blog hop.  Laura is the author of two YA novels, Beauty Shop for Rent (a "Steel Magnolias for teens") and Just Flirt (a "sweet and lively summer read" PW).  Laura also heads up the bloggers for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI region on "As the Eraser Burns."


What I wrote this summer...

* two picture book manuscripts
* a teaching guide, extension activities, and an ALA blog post for MOO!
* postcards from the north shore of Lake Superior
* lots of to-do lists
* posts on my Facebook page
* journal entries in my diary every night


Something Different

I read a number of interesting books this summer including a preview of Moo! That book does not contain a lot of vocabulary, one word to be precise, but Moo! is full of story, personality, and a variety of punctuation marks. It's written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnutka in a wonderful pairing of friends. It comes out this month. It's a Mooooving story that will have you punning in no time.

The best book I read this summer is the UNWINDING by George Packer.

Anybody who spends time in schools will find this book about what has happened to the United States in the past thirty years instructive. A number of personal stories are woven through the book that personify major changes in the way we live.

An enormous amount of money has been transferred from poor, working class, and middle class families to the very wealthy during this time and Packer does one of the best jobs I have seen of showing how this impacts things like schools, libraries, jobs, businesses and shopping.

One number he provides give a powerful indication of how dramatically things have changed: the six heirs to Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, have as much wealth as the bottom one hundred million Americans. Six people compared with one hundred million. That is directly connected with what's happening in our schools in libraries and THE UNWINDING shows how this happened.