Monday, January 31, 2011

Virtual Book Tour

Next week, I'll be hosting a virtual book tour to celebrate my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers.

This past week I've been planning the tour. That means deciding, first of all, who my target audience is for the book.

Reader's theater is primarily a tool that teachers and librarians use for developing fluency and for making learning fun, so teachers and librarians make up part of my audience.

I would also like to target writers, because reader's theater is really fun to write. It's also a doorway into publication that a lot of folks might not consider.

My book is specifically geared toward social studies classes, so I'd like to find a way to get the word to them.

And because I homeschooled for 13 years, I know the value of tools for creative learning. I'd like to reach some folks in this market.

So this week, I've been e-mailing a few people that I think would be interested in being part of my blog tour. I'm not a great self-promoter, so this is a bit of a challenge for me, but I'm learning to embrace this part of the journey, too.

Last week I saw an old professor who asked if I had set up a book signing at the local Barnes and Noble. Well, no, I haven't gotten that brave yet. Looks like I might have to, though.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poetry Friday: Poetry Out Loud

This week I served as one of the judges for the Poetry Out Loud competition at Hardaway High School. The students did a great job, and the winners were wonderful.

Jeremiah won first place with Who Understands Me but Me by Jimmy Santiago Baca. He has a chance to go much farther in the competition with his moving interpretation.

Alexandria won second place with Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

Amanda won third place with What Work Is by Philip Levine.

It was a treat to be part of the evening and to see the love of poetry in these students, the excitement from the large audience of their peers, and the commitment from their creative writing teacher, Mrs. Kathy Honea.

Here is an excerpt from the winning recitation:

Who Understands Me but Me

By Jimmy Santiago Baca

They turn the water off, so I live without water,
they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,
they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,
they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere,
they take each last tear I have, I live without tears,
they take my heart and rip it open, I live without heart,
they take my life and crush it, so I live without a future,
they say I am beastly and fiendish, so I have no friends,
they stop up each hope, so I have no passage out of hell,
they give me pain, so I live with pain,
they give me hate, so I live with my hate,
they have changed me, and I am not the same man,
they give me no shower, so I live with my smell,
they separate me from my brothers, so I live without brothers,
who understands me when I say this is beautiful?
who understands me when I say I have found other freedoms?

Read the rest here. Read more Poetry Friday at Wild Rose Reader.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celebrating a New Life

My newest grandson was born on Saturday afternoon. His name is Samuel. He has three brothers and a sister. Anna, the single sister, is convinced he looks like her. I just think he's beautiful. They are in Texas and I'm in Georgia, so it will be a month or so before I get to actually hold that sweet little one. I can't wait!

The February edition of the Children's Writer Newsletter came Saturday, too. It has an excellent article by Judy Bradbury entitled Who Cares? Grandparents, Step-parents, & Other Caregivers. One of the books she covers in the article is You are My Wish by Maryann Cusimano Love. Bradbury quotes Ms. Love's editor, Michael Green, who is also President and Publisher of Philomel Books.
Green said, "With regard to grandparents, so many children do not live near them, so experiencing them through a book feels much like a visit. A book like You Are My Wish is a celebration of that relationship, a way to think and talk about someone we love who may nt be available in person each day."

Do you think I'm adding this to my list of books to purchase for the grands?

You bet!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


It's been a cold week--again.

There are beavers in the creek building a dam, which means they are chopping down something I wish they wouldn't chop. I love C.S. Lewis' beavers in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but in real life, those critters are downright destructive.

I've been watching the sky the last few nights as the moon shrinks from full. It rises over the trees and I wonder that it can seem so big, so close. Each night those trees nibble off a small portion of the full circle as it rises and moves away from me, becomes an object in the sky, instead of a magnified presence. It's not wonder so many poets write about the moon.

Since I missed poetry Friday last week, I thought I would go ahead and share this.


Stars over snow
And in the west a planet
Swinging below a star--
Look for a lovely thing and you will find it,
It is not far--
It never will be far.

--Sara Teasdale

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I Love about Coming Home

The warm smell of cypress wood from the walls.

Full bottles of toiletries.

Watching the creek from my favorite chair.

My own pillow in my own bed.

My office shelves filled with books.

My sweet husband who fills the empty place in my road-weary heart.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

While I was in Mississippi this weekend, I went with my daughter to the MLK parade in a little town called Purvis. Since my daughter's job is to accompany the mayor of Hattiesburg (she's PR), I got to accompany both of them. It was my first time in a parade. Fun.

This new set from Rourke Publishing, Little World Holidays and Celebrations, came out last fall. The folks at Rourke do a wonderful job with lower level concept books. The cover shot is a clear example of the vivid, engaging photographs throughout the series.

Author- M.C. Hall
AR levels 2.2 to 2.8
Library Bound

Other titles in the series: Christmas, Cinco de Mayo, Hannukah, Ramadan, and Thanksgiving

Friday, January 14, 2011


The wind is blowing and it's frigid in the deep South. I'm at my daughter's home in Hattiesburg. I opened the door yesterday to go out and the wind nearly pulled me down the steps. Here's a windy poem, with hopes for the sun.

From The Hanging of the Crane

After a day of cloud and wind and rain
Sometimes the setting sun breaks out again,
And touching all the darksome woods with light,
Smiles on the fields, until they laugh and sing,
Then like a ruby from the horizon's ring
Drops down into the night.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I hope the wind will blow you over to Laura Purdie Salas' blog, Writing the World for Kids. Laura is hosting Poetry Friday today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Few Days in New Orleans

I flew into New Orleans on Friday. Spent a couple of days with my best friend and super proofreader, Sarah.

We had beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, ate breakfast at a hole in the wall juice bar, wandered around a great used book store.

Then I spent three days at a Delaney sales conference. Publisher upon publisher talking about their new books for spring. It was a good week.

This is the Capstone presentation. Of course, the photo is lousy and you can't see his new books on the screen. Also heard from Heineman, Lerner, Rourke, Bearport, Bellwether, and others. Lots of wonderful new books in the educational market.

I'm spending the rest of the week with my daughter in Hattiesburg, MS. It's been a nice few days to recover and regroup after some long days of meetings. And it's given me some time to work on a rewrite of the current WIP. It's always easier once you actually start than it is when you're thinking about it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poetry Friday and Celebrating

I'm doing a happy dance this week. My new book with Libraries Unlimited arrived.

Actually it arrived two days before Christmas, but life had to slow down long enough for me to enjoy the happy dance. It was fun sharing with my children and giving the first copy to my fourth-grade grandson. I'm only just now slowed and steady enough to share it with you.

The book contains 20 scripts and 10 monologues and covers 45 explorers throughout history. It was a lot of fun and and a lot of work. I'm thrilled to hold it in my hands. I hope to schedule a virtual book tour sometime in February. I'd love to stop in at your blog and talk about my book. Let me know if you're interested.

So for good reason, I'm back to explorer poems. There's plenty more Poetry Friday to be enjoyed at my good friend Irene Latham's blog, Live. Love. Explore! What a great place for today's post to land!

Of the many books I read a lot of books on explorers, some stand out more than others.

I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer by Author: Carole Boston Weatherford is a favorite. I love her use of preterition. Saying what she's not talking about to draw attention to that very thing. Beautiful illustrations by Eric Velasquez bring Henson's struggles and the journey to life.

Here is the beginning:
I did not walk forty miles
from the nation’s capital
to Baltimore’s busy harbor to eye
ships from a dock. Though just thirteen
I yearned for a taste of the adventures
that I had heard old sailors speak of,
to explore the seven seas
and somehow find my calling.

I did not start as a cabin boy, climb
the ranks to able-bodied seaman,
sail five continents, and learn
trades and foreign tongues to be shunned
by white crews who thought blacks
were not seaworthy. I did not chart
this course to drift in humdrum jobs
ashore. My dreams had sails.

I hope you are holding to your New Year's goals. May all your dreams have sails.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Plotting Goals

I've begun to look ahead and think about my goals for the year. I try very hard not to give myself unrealistic goals. I really don't like to fail and then quit. I'd rather have moderate goals that are do-able.

Time management has been a real issue for me the last four of five months, so as I look toward my writing goals, I do so with an eye on a realistic schedule, as well.

Since plot is one of me weak spots, I've decided to plot some goals on plotting. I am working on a revision of my middle grade novel with the help of Paula Morrow, a very insightful writing coach, so I'm looking at this year like an intensive writing class. Since plot and story arc are the issues at hand, I'm going to incorporate my own course of study into the process.

I chose three books from my collection of writer's aids. I plan to work through them over the year. Okay, at least through the first half of the year. I will probably not read in any particular order, and probably not from front to back. Instead, I'd like to dive into elements I'm working on at any given moment. Here are my books on plot:

Plot by Ansen Dibell

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias

Dibell says this in her introduction: You want to bring your unconscious craft under greater conscious control, so that you make choices, not just blunder through until something goes wrong, or right.

Isn't that great advice on craft? I'm taking it as good advice for time management, too. I hope to keep my schedule under conscious control, as much as is realistic, so that I make choices. Wise ones.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day

I know it's time to look ahead--and I have begun to think about goals for the new year--but I'm still sorting through Christmas memories. There were twenty-three of us, altogether, counting children, grandchildren, grandparents, and in-laws for a full week. Split between three houses. Mine, Cliff's mom's next door, and my mother's up the street. Every spare bed was taken. We had air mattresses on the floors, pull-out sofas pulled out, and pallets and porta-cribs filled with little ones. Here are some of my favorite memories.

1. Greeting each of my four precious children and their families as they arrived from Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, and Mississippi.

2. Rolling in the kitchen floor with my two three-year-old grandsons (cousins, not twins). One of them informed me that since the pudge in my belly wasn't a baby (like his mother's) then it was just fat.

3. Mochas with my two oldest grands (ages 9 and 6) at Starbucks. They sat in the big stuffed chairs while I sat at a table next to them. A sticker on the table instructed us to offer this table to handicapped customers. They concluded that there were no handicapped customers in the store at the moment, so it was fine for me to sit there, even though I wasn't handicapped, just old, like a grandma.

4. Walking to church for the Christmas Eve service, arm in arm with my two daughters.

5. Two great-grandpas swapping stories over a bottle of wine.

6. Reading from Luke 1 on Christmas morning. Zacharias is one of my favorite characters in the Christmas story, though he is peripheral. Struck dumb for not believing he was going to be a father, Zachariah nearly burst with praise at the birth of John. I have prayed parts of his prophetic song for my children for many years. That they might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all their days. It's a good prayer.

7. A few quiet conversations in the midst of the chaos.

8. The silence when the door closed for the last time.

Ah, now I can look ahead.