Shelfies

Since I’ve been in editing mode this year—and under deadline—many things around the house have fallen into states of disarray. Some of the most noticeable cluttered spaces are my bookshelves. After turning in the first round of content edits on my second novel I took a few days to organize my wall of books.

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But before I could tackle all those, I went to my other shelves and organized them so I could relocate some of the reference collection, among other things.

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Not too shabby.
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The Shannara books are out of the cabinet.

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Some of my favorite authors—and writing reference books—are located on the side of my standing desk.

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Many of my YA (and other) books are now located on the other side of my desk.

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Besides organizing I’m donating a box of MG-YA books to a friend who’s a first year middle school English teacher.

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But rather than totally streamlining, being the bibliophile that I am, I’ve already added fourteen new books to my collection so I now have some stacks in front of the stacks…

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I tried, really I did.

What’s your (book) weakness?

 

P.S. For those who subscribe to my newsletter, I skipped September because I hope to have some exciting news to share early this month, so be on the lookout.

 

Nurturing Talent

Last Saturday, I participated in the Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Authors’ Conference and Teen Writing Fair. Besides it giving me a chance to hang out in the library for seven hours, I had the pleasure of working alongside some fabulous book lovers as we inspired the next generation of creative talent. Teachers, librarians, as well as local authors and illustrators pulled their resources together to present an informative and motivational day.

Photo by Candice Conner

Photo by Candice Conner

The morning began with the Young Authors’ Conference for third through sixth grade students. After a keynote speech from guest illustrator R. Gregory Christie (all the way from Georgia), the students split into groups for one of thirteen mini-workshops.
I was blessed to be able to run a “Visual Inspiration” workshop with fellow author and friend, Joyce Scarbrough. After sharing my own collection of maps, locations, and characters for my soon-to-be published novel and work-in-progress, I showed examples of visuals that make it into middle grade novels—using a few books as examples. 100_7046
Then, our plucky group of students set to work scouring magazines and catalogs for their own story prompts. They clipped and glued gardens, building, pets, and people. 100_7053Some even started character worksheets complete with backstories. It was awesome to be a part of, and better still, to see their excitement when they shared their work with other nearby workshop groups. (Yes, one lucky group had a crime scene as a story prompt. So cool!) 100_7055

After a brief lunch break and room reset, we went back to work with the Teen Writing Fair. I acted as MC for the event, and started the meeting by announcing the winners of the Fourth Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest, which was hosted by Mobile Writers’ Guild. As the Young Author Committee Chair for MWG, I worked alongside Joyce Scarbrough and Candice Marley Conner to read and score the middle and high school entries. The finalists received cash prizes, journals/pens, and a hand written critique of their short stories.

Joyce TWF 2015

Photo by Candice Conner

The seventh through twelve graders were then graced with fun and inspiring keynote addresses by Ms. Scarbrough and Mr. Christie. Following that, they students were free to meet and mingle among all ten guests at their tables, including authors, illustrators, poets, and biographers. The activity concluded with an open mic for the teens to share their stories and poems—a great way to close the event.

Whatever you do, be sure to take time to give of your talents to others. The experience has the ability to enrich all aspects of your life.

Bibliophile Problems

If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I’m a book girl. There are a lot of books in my house. I’m talking more than dozens, more than hundreds, probably a couple thousand. I’ve never counted them all—that would mean math, and me and numbers don’t always get along.

This afternoon, after answering yet another a post on a homeschool page for recommendations for books set in a specific time period (happens regularly, and as a children’s literature connoisseur with a passion for historicals, I have to respond.) This time, it was a call for Civil War books. So, after going to my “favorite author” shelf in the hall, I returned to my desk area to look over my general middle grade collection for more titles. But then I remembered my middle child’s quest for all things military, and that I’ve allowed him to adopt many of my middle grade novels dealing with war, so I had to go check the bookcase in his room.

I circled all around the house to gather information I could have grouped together. What’s a bibliophile to do?

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I’m seriously contemplating putting all my books in chronological order. Even though that would mean splitting up the Katherine Paterson, Avi, Richard Peck, and Laurie Halse Anderson novels, I think at this point in my life (hello, homeschool!) it would be beneficial. But then I’d have to worry about the fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary… where would they all fit? Group the contemporary at the end of the historicals, with books like Bridge to Terabithia (and it’s 1970’s references) toward the beginning of that section. What about classics, like Charlotte’s Web? Do I place it in the era it was written?

The stress!

But it’s a happy, first world problem to deal with. Now I just need to decide if I take the plunge. Photographic journal blog will follow if it comes to pass.

Halfway There

I’m halfway through my reading goal for the year. I finished the fiftieth book out of my one hundred book challenge. Out of those fifty, I currently have thirty books in my possession. Two of my nonfiction books and two fiction are out on loan, one title I borrowed from a friend, I read five books on my Nook, and the other ten were from the local library. Since the last book I finished (ONE NATION: WHAT WE CAN ALL DO TO SAVE AMERICA’S FUTURE by Ben Carson, MD) is a loaner to me from a friend, it all balances out.

Here are some pictures, in chronological order from oldest to newest read. (A couple of these were rereads, but most were first timers.) To see my complete list, check out my goodreads shelves.

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I read diverse books: from genres to subject matter to authors. The first half of the year I covered all types of fiction, from chapter books to adult, plus a graphic novel and poetry collection. Non-fiction featuring current events, education, self-help, and biography. Authors and characters with medical issues, from all walks of life, and of a variety of ethnic backgrounds—I read it all.

What have you been reading?

Surreal Reading Moment

My autistic teen goes to bed when the younger kids do, but he has permission to read a pre-determined number of chapters before turning his clip-on light out. Since chapter length varies by book, he’s learned the art of bartering. If I say “Two chapters” he’ll tell me, “Chapters too little. Five chapters.” I’m likely to say three, and he’ll say “five, five, five!” To which I’ll respond, with an offer of three or possibly accepted his request. It all depends on the time the bedtime routine is finished.

Last week he borrowed my library book—before I got a chance to read it. The Game of My Life: A True Story of Challenge, Triumph, and Growing Up Autistic by Jason (J-Mac) McElwain with Daniel Paisner is something I wanted to read, but I did hope he’d show an interest, too. (Yes, the J-Mac of the high school basketball video that went viral a few years ago—and still makes the rounds. He also finished the Boston Marathon this year.)
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When my son’s done with his chapters, he comes in to tell me (proud that he read so much) and I try to ask about what’s happened in the book, or who it’s about. Usually, I’ve read the book but he’s branching out more—he read a Captain Underpants book the week before which isn’t a series I’ve tried out for myself. I asked him what happened in the J-Mac book and he got all excited and said “Big Bird! Sesame Street!” and repeated that a few times. Since he spent way too many years obsessed with the show, I thought he might have been flashing back to scripting or something, but I asked, “Does J-Mac like Sesame Street?” (I’ve heard it referenced in at least one other autobiography of a young adult on the spectrum.) My son said “yes” and smiled really big.

Did we just have a conversation?

Yes, this seemingly small exchange does count, especially when it takes years to get that far, but I wasn’t completely convinced because of his Sesame Street response.

Well, this weekend I got my chance with the book. Sure enough, J-Mac’s first words were “Big Bird”, said while he was watching the show with his brother.

Note to self: Don’t underestimate the power of books when it comes to opening communication with my child.

Has a book helped with discussions between you and someone you love?

P.S. Here’s the Fernando update:

Fernando of the Water Oak, 23 June, 2014

Fernando of the Water Oak, 23 June, 2014

He’s taking to the summer well, as long as water is provided on the non-thunderstorm days.
And is it just me, or does the moss/fungus on the right look a little corroded?

World Book Night

It’s World Book Night and I’m a proud book giver. I got a jump on my giving so the twenty copies of Bridge to Terabithia that I had are already gone, thanks to an afternoon visit to a local elementary school.
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When I drove around the block, looking for the entrance to the parking lot, I was sad to see weedy lots with ugly gray buildings, complete with rusty barbed-wire fencing, directly behind the property. If anyone needs an escape, it’s kids having views like this out their windows for most of the day.
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But Maryvale Elementary itself is a lovely campus with shady trees and updated buildings, not far from where I spent my vacation time with my grandparents and great aunts in my younger years. I found out that one of my relatives even taught school there way back in the olden days… you know, before CDs—let alone MP3s—were invented.
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I was ready with my spiffy Word Book Night tote bag (full of books!) and my shiny Book Giver button.
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I thought I was mentally ready, but as I was signing in at the office, Ms. Gillespiee (from Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author program) entered the building and my heart rate settled immediately. Ms. McShan, the school’s reading coach who set-up my visit called her in to attend my presentation. Having a familiar face in a new setting is great, and when the group conversation quieted down, she was there to spur more questions from the students.
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It was a great thirty minutes—and it went by fast! Happy reading, Maryvale students!

Love books? Sign-up to be a giver in 2015 and we’ll paint the town READ because geeking out over books is awesome!

New Program

I’m in the hunting and gathering part of writing. This time called “pre-writing” can drag on as long as you feel the need to procrastinate—I mean organize your ideas. As part of the new project, I bought and downloaded a writing program called Scrivener. A Mobile Writers’ Guild meeting a few months ago had a presentation on it and it looks promising.
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If I can get past a document title.

Yes, I know many books are renamed before publication, but for me and my mind, I need a firm title in place before setting down the first words. My titles give me something to draw upon when I’m losing direction. (Case in point: Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.)

I’m one of those people who like to have a title right from the beginning. Usually, titles are easy for me to find during that hunter-gatherer part of my process. Not so this time. Even as my process is stumbling and the title evasive, I can already tell this story is going to be different for me. Perfect time to throw in a new computer program, huh? It’s all going to be a learning experience.

As for now, I’ve got a several research books (and even a CD) on hold at the library that I need to pick up. Maybe one will hold the treasure of a title for my new work in progress.