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!

Q&A with Middle Grade Author Dorine White

Today I’m happy to host a blog tour spot with debut author Dorine White who’s novel THE EMERALD RING released May 14, 2013. Dorine White

What books inspired you as a child?
Most of my favorite books had elements of fantasy, such as the Narnia series and the Mary Poppins series. I also inhaled all the Nancy Drew books. As I got into my teens I was into Dragon Lance and The Forgotten Realms.

Do you have any strange rituals that help you get in the mood to work?
No rituals, but it needs to be quiet. I’m not the type to write with music playing.

Coming from a mother of three kids; how do you achieve quiet at your house? Enquiring minds want to know!
It is not often. Sometimes I skip dinner and evening TV and write while dad keeps the kids occupied. Other times I try to squeeze in some while the youngest is at preschool. If I’m desperate I lock the bedroom door and tell the older kids to watch the younger kids. I’m not a writer that sits down to write every day, so I go with the flow.

Which writer would you travel back in time and spy on, if you could? I’d like to spy on Jane Austen. I love her quirky sense of humor and am inspired that she wrote such amazing books during a time when women were not thought of as authors.

Who is your favorite Austen character?
I have to stick with Pride and Prejudice and say Elizabeth, but honestly, it is Jane’s writing and all her slights that get me laughing.

If you could meet any literary character, who would it be? emerald_ring_2x3
Harry Potter. I know, totally modern day, but I love magic.

At this point in your life, is there a genre or style of writing that you are afraid to attempt?
I’ve always been afraid to attempt romance. I can come up with a great story line, but I have no clue how to put intimate parts on paper. Also, I don’t like horror, period. I don’t want to have nightmares, and as a writer, you always think about your stories over and over. Yuck. Not going there.

Thanks for chatting, Dorine. I enjoyed your book and hope others do, too!

New Release: The Emerald Ring by Dorine White

Coming May 14, 2013- Cleopatra’s Legacy
Book 1- The Emerald Ring. A new action packed middle grade fantasy series from
debut author, Dorine White. Read below for an excerpt not found in the
published book!

“Egypt- 30 BC
The velvet pouch hurtled across the room. Its cords whipped behind it and tangled in the servant’s outstretched hands.
Cleopatra’s tense voice rent the atmosphere. “Hurry, there’s not much time.” The horrified servant looked down at the lumpy sack resting in his palms. The queen continued, “I’m placing all my trust in you. Don’t let it fall into Roman hands.”
The servant’s legs trembled. He knew his own life was worth nothing compared to the precious objects imparted to him.
“I will not fail you.” The words fell from his lips in reverence. “Your legacy will be safe.”
The queen paced the floor in determined strides. Her short black hair bobbed against a tan face. Her eyes met his. “On your life, see that it is! I’ll not allow Egypt conquered so easily.”
He stuffed the precious bag into his linen tunic and left the royal bed chamber. Halfway down the hallway he abruptly stopped mid stride and quickly ducked down a narrow side passage. His timing was perfect as he avoided two Roman Centurions lurking in the torch lit corridor, but he collided with one of the queen’s maid servants. The wicker basket she held awkwardly in her arms wobbled and an angry hiss emanated from within its dark confines. The maid cast him a nasty look before hurrying on to the queen. He knew the queen’s plan was now in motion and rushed to leave the building before the chaos began.
Just as his bare feet touched the hot desert sand the sound of running soldiers filled his ears. The deadly asp had done its job. He paused to catch his breath, pressing his back against the palace walls. The last ruler of Egypt felled by a snake. His head shook in frustration, and then he hurried on to find the royal historian and give him the first piece of the royal treasure.”
The adventure of The Emerald Ring begins…
Exclusive sneak peek at chapter 1 for readers! ClickHere.

Orderly Books

As noted earlier this month in my Three Confessions post, I had a messy book situation. The books were tidied up more than a week ago and here at the visuals to prove it.
BEFORE:

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AFTER:
Do you see any of your favorites?

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I do have a few more bookcases not pictured, but they are looking good as well. Some of the books are still in cabinets, but they are easier to see and find. What shape are your bookshelves in? Do you have any goals to fill, reduce or organize them?