Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Year; New Phrase

So far, I think the phrase of 2014 is "Polar Vortex."  I never noticed this term before, and now every time I turn on the TV, someone is talking about the Polar Vortex.  Polar Vortex, where have you been my whole life?

Happy reading,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Help an Editor

One of my editors is researching a piece on mindfulness initiatives in elementary schools.  Do you know of an elementary school that has introduced meditation or breathing techniques to help children focus?  If so, please contact Linda Rodgers at

Happy reading,

Monday, January 27, 2014


Sorry for the blog silence and invisibility.  I've been working on a couple of articles which have taken up my writing and blogging time. (More on those upon publication.) In the meantime, I couldn't have asked for a better return-to-blogging prompt than last night's debut of Hunter Hayes' new single, "Invisible."  What a perfect song and message for young people as we close out No-Name Calling Week

Happy reading and listening,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Be in a National Magazine: Voice Your Opinion on Opting-Out!

Opting out is in, but does it work?
More parents are choosing to opt out of high-stakes standardized testing for their kids. But what impact does not participating really have—and is it really the best way to implement change?

Answer this question here in the comment section, or email me at
bookgirlblogger(at)gmail(dot)com, and your opinion could appear in a national magazine.

Happy reading and writing,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Learning from Lyddie

I recently read Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson and I couldn't put it down.  Why?

1.  Ms. Paterson followed the most important rule of writing by creating a character readers care 
     about.  I liked Lyddie as a person, and was willing to stick through 200 pages with her to make
     sure things turned out in her favor.
2.  Ms. Paterson grabbed me with all of the sights, sounds and smells of the time period.  I felt like I
     was on a farm in Vermont, and then in a filthy, crowded factory in Massachusetts.
3.  She didn't preach.  I felt what it was like to be a factory girl, working long days in a hot, noisy
     factory with the windows nailed shut, going back to the corporate housing so exhausted that one
     could only collapse into bed. 
4.  She seamlessly wove in history.  (Minus the preaching, -see above)  The Underground Railroad,
     the plight of the runaway slaves, the courage, fairness and kindness of the Quakers are shown
     through well-crafted characters and plausible plot events, not pedantic tirades.

For young adults, this book would be a great lesson in the 1800's prior to the Civil War.  Debates could be launched on the obvious topic of workers' rights, but also on the issue of why more factory workers in crowded northern cities were unable/unwilling to take on stronger roles as abolitionists. 

For aspiring writers of any age, this book would be a great lesson in writing historical fiction that grabs the reader.

Happy reading,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Opportunities for Writers

Here are some opportunities to hone your writing with the folks at The Highlights Foundation:

Your Room to Create At Just $99 a Day

Image by Linda Della Dona

Didn’t get that gift you wanted for Christmas? Have the holidays been too hectic to write a page? Or maybe you’ve just been neglecting your writing lately. You think, "But life got in the way."

Ever so many responsibilities crop up and put us behind in doing what we really want to do.

A number of writers and illustrators who have come here for workshops have suggested that our facility is the perfect place to get away and create. I don't know if it's because people aren’t distracted by Facebook on their phones, or if it's because the food is spectacular. Our chef, Joseph, can meet most special dietary needs.

In addition to The Barn, where you can gather to meet, eat, and write, we have private homey cabins and a first-rate, rustic lodge with plenty of space for quiet writing time or discussion with fellow authors. There are shaded nature trails to walk that wind along a babbling creek in the beautiful countryside of Boyds Mills, and we’ve even started offering yoga sessions.


What we will do:

·         Give you a comfortable place to stay with a writing table and other amenities (refrigerator, coffeepot, tea bags, heat and air) right in your private cabin or lodge room.

·         Offer three squares a day, where you can eat with like-minded people (or take the food back to your room on a tray if you are in the middle of a landslide of writing inspiration).

·         Ignore you when you are in your cabin (unless you need something).

·         Provide a place for group meals, chats and socialization all you want. Around the clock. With beverages, snacks, and at least five flavors of ice cream. You can hold critiques with other writers. YOU set the program.

·         Have printers and a couple extra computers on hand for your use.

·         Perhaps we will have an editor or so happening by for dinner most nights. And likely you will bond with some like-minded creative folks. But the focus is on your creating.

Would have been simpler to say we will pamper you while respecting the sanctity of your writing space? Come relish the treasured time of your own. Get back in touch with your writing self. Let us provide the setting, and you come relax, revitalize, and write.

We have weeklong
dates to choose from, beginning in January and through to December. Arrive any time after lunch, and leave before dinner on the departure day of your choosing. Stay for a day or a week, as long as you need to write. See what works for you. At just $99 a day, this retreat is an affordable writer’s oasis.
For more information about this workshop, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail, or visit to request an application.


Chris Crutcher, Rich Wallace, and Lenore Look



Are boys reluctant readers? It’s a common belief, but we know that boys will read when the right stories grab them.


February 6-9, the Highlights Foundation offers a dynamic workshop to help you create the kind of stories that boys can’t put down.


Writing for Boys provides a firm grounding in the fundamentals of fiction that appeal to boys. Join authors Rich Wallace, Lenore Look, and Chris Crutcher as they show you how to fully develop your characters and provide them with truthful motivations and inner lives. They will focus on two key elements: action and humor.  To learn more, click here.


If your intended readers are boys, this is your opportunity to work with three accomplished authors who know your audience. Rich, Lenore, and Chris are ready to share their collective knowledge of writing stories that keep boys turning the pages. To register, e-mail or phone 570-251-4557.


Check out these writer’s tips from faculty:


Keep a writer's notebook. Aside from reading, keeping a notebook is the most important thing a writer does. It's your writer's PDK (Personal Survival Kit) – it contains everything you need for all your books. Without it you're lost. You have no map, no flashlight, no toilet paper. You'll never make it out of the woods. I'll show you how to keep a notebook, how to use it and where it can take you.

—Lenore Look


Be specific with your details: the jelly stain on the kid's shirt; the smell of gum on his breath; the crumpled parking ticket on the floor of his father's car. The more specific you can be, the more universal the appeal. Use all five senses to immerse us in the character's world. —Rich Wallace


Remember your time at the age you're writing about.  That's what makes your character intimate with the reader, and vice versa.Chris Crutcher

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blizzard Books and Movies

As the East Coast braces for a blizzard, I was thinking about some of my favorite wintry tales for young people.  Of course, Snow Day comes to mind, as well as Little House in the Big Woods.  The Twistrose Key is a 2013 release about a frozen realm.  I just picked it up, so I don't know yet if it belongs in the same category as the first two. 
Last February, as we braced for a blizzard, I wrote about my favorite winter movies.  I've reposted it below if you're looking to curl up with a dvd tonight.

February 8, 2013
A group of childhood friends and I get together every year for a  grown-ups only, no-kids Christmas dinner.  Two years ago, a heated debate broke out over the best movie of all time.  Today, as we brace for the impending blizzard, I was wondering, what are the best winter movies of all time?  Excluding Christmas movies, (it is February, after all) here are some of my top contenders:
Groundhog Day
The Shining
Dumb and Dumber  (just for the fun of it)
While You Were Sleeping
Beautiful Girls
Mystery, Alaska
and one you can watch  with the kiddies:
Big Miracle

YouTube Video

Happy blizzard reading and stay safe,