June 24, 2013

Great Resources for Writers . . .

1.  Get thee to Kate Messner's amazing virtual summer writing camp.  (No fees.  No fuss.  No muss.  Just a great community and lots of inspiring ideas and "visits" from guest authors.)  Click here to learn moreClick here for today's mini-lesson. 

2.  You MUST read this article about saying "no" to protect one's creative time, written by Kevin Ashton.  Excerpt:  "Time is the raw material of creation."  "Saying 'no' has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined."

 3.  Every one of Marion Dane Bauer's blog (Writing, Revision and Life . . . ) entries is an insightful look at an aspect of a writer's life.  Here's a post she wrote about cobbling together a living as a writer.  (If you have a moment, check her posts before and after this one.)

4.  CYNSATIONS is a fabulous blog by Cynthia Leitich Smith.  It's frequently updated and loaded with great resources, information, interviews, giveaways and much more.

5.  WRITER UNBOXED offers more writerly wisdom than you could shake a pencil at.  One of my favorite contributors is Robin LaFevers.  Her post, "Clawing Our Way Back to the Creative Center" resonates with truth and wisdom.  (Be sure to read Donald Maass' comment after the post, about the questions that will lead you to your next novel.)

6.  If you're feeling discouraged about the process of writing a novel or you find yourself going over the beginning again and again, you are not alone!  Check out Barbara O'Connor's blog, Greetings from Nowhere.  She's got tons of great posts about the writing process (and her dog's cute).

7.  Prolific author, Donna Jo Napoli, gives an excellent Tedx talk about why we writers for children must dare . . .

Wherever you are on your writer's journey, here's hoping these resources excite and inspire.

Happy writing trails,

June 21, 2013


Did you miss me?  I've been off having delightful adventures in Philadelphia.

Here are some phun Philly photos . . .

Our nephew's prom coincided with my sister's birthday.  Happy to be there for both occasions!

Ellen and Kyle

 Kyle's date, Marissa, was lovely . . .

I also had the great pleasure of visiting with my 10th grade English teacher, Myra Durlofsky.  We've kept in touch for over 30 years.  I so loved her that I made her a character in one of my novels.  Here she is . . .

Myra Durlofsky

Our family summer party took place during our visit.  Lots of laughing and swimming and baby cuddling and, of course, eating . . .

I had so much fun visiting with family and friends.  There were graduations.  There were celebrations.  There were wild Wii championships.  It was fantastic.

Then I had the great pleasure of spending a few days with my niece in the city.

Here she is on the steps of her new apartment . . .


She cooked great meals and was an excellent tour guide.  The first evening, we watched the sun set over the Schuylkill River, then saw the public art displays behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Donna and Nicole

 We hiked all over the city . . .

City Hall and the Love Statue

And visited LOTS of bookstores.

Bookstore cat getting cozy on a display of new books

One of my favorite parts was spending time in the library on Vine Street.  (Not the first library in the country, which was created by Benjamin Franklin, but the first library system in the country.)

Inside the Free Library of Philadelphia
Of course, we had to visit the children's department.

Along the walls were framed posters for Children's Book Week.  Here's one of my favorites . . .

This one is from 1964
I was marveling at the collection when I recognized one of the librarians.

"Did you use to work at the Northeast Regional Library?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

She's been in the system for 37 years (19 of which were at my childhood library, that I loved so much).

Donna and Irene R. Wright, Head, Children's Department

I told her how much that library and the people who worked there meant to me.  I told her that I became an author of children's books for Random House.

When I handed her a card, she said, "We have your books!"

And indeed they did . . .

Not all the places I saw were filled with joy.  When we drove past the Mutter Museum, one of the settings in my new book, I saw something that made me gasp -- the rubble of the building at 22nd and Market Street that collapsed recently, killing six people.

There were flowers and memorials placed along the side

Despite the sadness of this, it was good to spend time in my home city.  And wonderful to spend time with family and friends.

June 3, 2013

Adventures in Aventura!

My last event of the season was a doozy!

It's not every day one gets to hang out with FLY GUY and call it "work."

Lisa Blair, president of the Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership worked with Aventura Mall to create a SIX-hour event called The Book Shop.

We arrived the night before and were greeted by this in our hotel room . . .

A lovely gift basket, filled with all the essentials, including Sharpies, bottles of water and Mint Milano cookies.

When we went out to dinner, we found these signs all over the mall . . .

Riley Roam, Me and Janeen Mason near a sign, advertising the big event

And what an event it was!  There were books galore and authors -- Cheryl Holder, Lisa McCourt, Janeen Mason, Riley Roam, me and Lucia Gonzalez!

Lisa McCourt and Riley Roam

Janeen Mason and her assistant, Lin
And there were some real characters there, too . . .

Hi, Madeline!
And what's a book event without a giant dragon . . .

reading a giant book?!
The fun never stopped with the dynamic duo of PAGE TURNER ADVENTURES.  They emceed the entire event and provided stellar entertainment for over six hours!

They also performed THE GREAT PIZZA CONTEST . . .

One unsuspecting audience member wore a very interesting wig!

I got to be scorekeeper and only cheated a little.  It was for the children!
 The best part was the endless stream of families, celebrating reading adventures together!

Thank you Lisa Blair, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership, Aventura Mall and MANY hard-working employees and volunteers for creating such a fun event and for allowing me to help celebrate a love for literature!  Thanks a million to my handsome hubby, who helped out in many ways throughout the event.

Happy summer reading, everyone!

Even you, Fly Guy . . .