Thursday, September 26, 2013

Books my Kids Can't Wait to Read... but will have to.

There are two books coming out in October that my kids can't wait to read. My son (after years of me encouraging him) has finally jumped on the Percy Jackson bandwagon... and then The Heroes of Olympus series. The fourth book in the series by Rick Riordan, The House of Hades, comes out on October 8th. The other book both of my kids are looking forward to is Exile by Shannon Messenger, the second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. This on comes out on October 1st. Both are on sale in the Nook store for 50% off through today. I considered getting them, but wanted to check to see if they were loaded in the library system first. And both are on order! I had already told my kids they would have to wait for them at the library so I have placed them on hold, but what caught my interest were these numbers.

The House of Hades:
     System Availability - 30
     Current Holds - 68 (we are now number 69)

     System Availability - 3
     Current Holds - 1 (that would be us)

This really amazes me. My kids seem equally interested in both books, and I know other kids would be too if they just knew about the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. But Rick Riordan is an established, well-known author with a fan base for his books. I will be interested to see where Shannon goes with her writing and who knows, maybe her second or third series will have numbers (at least for our local library) like The House of Hades sometime down the road.

What series are you reading and can't wait for the next book?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Author Amy Head Shots!

I had the pleasure of taking head shots for my good friend Amy. Her debut middle grade novel RED BUTTERFLY (Simon and Schuster), to be published under the name A.L. Sonnichsen, will be out February 2015. Go Amy! You can read about her book deal here.

So please help Amy by chiming in with your opinion of which of these shots is your favorite for an author photo on the back of her first book. You can respond here in the comments or go to her blog and comment there. Thanks so much!

Isn't she beautiful! :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

MMGM: Out of the Dust

It has been a LONG time since I did a MMGM post! I decided to pick a book my good friend Amy (A.L. Sonnichsen) gave me to read, one that inspired her in writing her MG verse novel RED BUTTERFLY to be published by Simon and Schuster in February 2015. If you haven't read about Amy's book deal click here to check it out. And come back on Friday because we will reveal all the beautiful glory that is Author Amy, as I like to call her, in the head shots I had the pleasure of taking for the above-mentioned book. And we need help in choosing the best one!

Now for Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

Book Description (from Amazon): Like the Oklahoma dust bowl from which she came, 14-year-old narrator Billie Jo writes in sparse, free-floating verse. In this compelling, immediate journal, Billie Jo reveals the grim domestic realities of living during the years of constant dust storms: That hopes--like the crops--blow away in the night like skittering tumbleweeds. That trucks, tractors, even Billie Jo's beloved piano, can suddenly be buried beneath drifts of dust. Perhaps swallowing all that grit is what gives Billie Jo--our strong, endearing, rough-cut heroine--the stoic courage to face the death of her mother after a hideous accident that also leaves her piano-playing hands in pain and permanently scarred.

Meanwhile, Billie Jo's silent, windblown father is literally decaying with grief and skin cancer before her very eyes. When she decides to flee the lingering ghosts and dust of her homestead and jump a train west, she discovers a simple but profound truth about herself and her plight. There are no tight, sentimental endings here--just a steady ember of hope that brightens Karen Hesse's exquisitely written and mournful tale. Hesse won the 1998 Newbery Award for this elegantly crafted, gut-wrenching novel.
Why it was Marvelous: I have read quite a few historical novels lately and I find myself intrigued with the fact that people in general lived so very differently than we do now. And for them, it was just the way it was... and they worked through their hardships and moved forward. I think that is what I liked most about this book. Bllie Jo is tough and while nothing is remotely perfect in her life, she perseveres. 
I also really liked the style of verse writing in this book. I have read a few novels in verse but this was the first one I really "got" the impact verse can have on a story. After I read this book I tried to write a scene in verse and found I really liked it... and plan to complete a manuscript in verse as well. I'm 800 words in, not much yet but a start. 
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What we are Reading

It has been a long time since one of these posts! What are you reading?

What we are reading now.

Son #1: (Age 11)
  • This boy has FINALLY started reading the Percy Jackson books. I gave him The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan who knows how many Easter's ago (yes, I know a rather odd present for Easter) and I think he only read it because there was nothing else around. Of course he loved it and was begging for the next two in the series and can't wait for the fourth this fall! 
  • Then he went back and to the original series starting with The Lightening Thief... couldn't get the second at the library so I was nice and bought The Sea of Monsters for him and he read it in one day, even with an entire 6th grade school day spent learning (I hope) not reading! He is more than half way done with the third (started today) and I have the next two ready to pick up at the library! I guess he likes them.

Daughter: (age 9)
  • She completed the Barnes and Noble reading program this summer and received Hoot by Carl Hiaasen as her free book. She LOVED it and went on to read Chomp and is now reading Flush. Hoot is her new favorite book!
  • Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. This is one I brought home from the library and she picked up. She has been enjoying it but put it to the side to read Flush (see above) although I am sure she will come back to it. When I asked her why she like it she said, "He's a kid, he's a lawyer. It has murder!" Wonderful... maybe I should have read it first! 

Mom: (not revealing my age!)
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I am really enjoying the writing in this book... more literary than I am used to with my usual middle grade reading. Adult books can be frustrating sometimes though because they take a lot longer to read. LOL! 
  • Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger. I am enjoying this book as well but put it to the side about a month ago. I think the pace was a bit slower than some of my other middle grade reads and I got impatient and moved to a few books I could finish more quickly...   
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange and Deadline by Chris Crutcher, two YA books I grabbed from the library for my Nook to read on a two-week road trip. Kind of ironic that both of these books had a similar theme... things you would do only when you think/know you are going to die, and how those things shape your life differently. They were both very good, but a telling sign that I had moved into YA territory - bad words! :-)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Elementary Writing/Reading Notes

I have been a bad blogger. I love the idea of blogging but haven't learned how to be very consistent. Next week I think I will plunge back in with a whole week of MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday) posts as there are a lot of books I have read this year but haven't blogged about. So stay tuned.

I still have some writing projects I am working on and one new project I am excited about.

I love going though my kids' school papers and looking at the ones about reading and writing. Sometimes there are some gems in there! Here are a few from my daughter's 3rd grade class.


Twenty Minutes a Day
by Richard Peck

Read to your children
Twenty minutes a day;
You have the time,
And so do they.
Read while the laundry in in the machine;
Read while dinner cooks;
Tuck a child in the crook of your arm
And reach for the library books.
Hide the remote,
Let the computer games cool,
For one day your children will be off to school;
"Remedial?" "Gifted?" You have the choice;
Let them hear their first tales
In the sound of your voice.
Read in the morning;
Read over noon;
Read by the light of
Goodnight Moon.
Turn the pages together,
Sitting close as you'll fit,
Till a small voice beside you says,
"Hey, don't quit."


Questions for Response.
When you read a story, ask yourself:

  • What things about the character(s) or events do I like of not like?
  • What feelings do I have as I read or listen to the story?
  • What makes this a good story or not a good story?
  • What part(s) of the story will I remember or discuss with others?
  • Are there other stories that are similar to this story? Characters? Events? Places? Times in history?
  • Is there anything about this story that I would change?
  • Would I read this story again?
This was a good one to think about as a writer and change the questions around. For example: "What feelings would I like my audience to have as they read or listen to the story?" or "Would I write this story the same way again?"


Author's Purpose: 
Does the story entertain, inform, try to persuade me, or teach me how to do something? 

I guess if it doesn't do one of these things, the author has failed! 


Spelling Tips

Bill Cosby "Pudding" Method.
Yo! Bill sez: Have your child write the words/sentences in pudding. Just spread your favorite flavor on some wax paper. Write the word, check it, then smear it out. Lick your fingers and go to the next word or sentence!