Saturday, December 29, 2012

25 Years

This week my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
Bought these silver snowflakes to commemorate the 25 years.  Aren't they pretty?

That's a long time, folks.

And not that I am some kind of a marriage expert, but I have been in the trenches long enough to give two simple pieces of advice:

1. Make sure your significant other loves you just the way you are.  As a writer, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that my husband lets me be me.  He's a bit of an extrovert and is super active, and I need time inside of my head.  If he didn't understand that I need alone time to write, our relationship would be much more difficult.  There is the added bonus that he really believes in me.

2. Remember, it's not all about you. If you want to be accepted for who you are (writerly warts and all) then you have to remember to afford your significant other the same courtesy.  You have to love and appreciate them the way you want to be loved and appreciated.  Your dream may be to write a book or two.  Your significant other's dream might be, um, I dunno....maybe they have dreamed all of their life of having a sauna in the living room for after surfing or something like that.  And maybe you'll come home from the grocery store sometime and find that they have made their dream a reality and that there is a cedar sauna in the middle of your living room! That might happen to you sometime*.  It might look like this:
And it might be sitting right there in your living room!!!
And you'll need to remember that it's not all about you and that everyone has a dream.  And then you'll need to relax, grab a towel, and have a sauna.

Looking forward to what the next 25 will hold!


*by "sometime", I mean last Monday.  And by "you", I mean me.  Yes, it really did happen.  And yes, it is still there.....*sigh*

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Our principal, Mr. L, called me into his office yesterday morning before school to discuss the awards assembly that would kick off the day.
     "I think the kids need a little fun.  We all need some joy," he said.
He was right.  It had been quite a week.  Our district, though on the opposite coast from last week's tragedy, felt the ripples.  There were threats against one of our schools and the mood was tentative.

The awards assembly started and progressed as scheduled, with lots of kids getting citizenship awards and such.  Then came time for the Teachers' Ugly Sweater Contest.  Not owning any ugly clothing myself (har-de-har-har), I always serve as the emcee.  You can imagine the the laughter and cheers when straight-laced, wears-a-tie-every-single-day Mr L. came out in the most hideous sweater the world has ever seen.  I could try to describe it, but I am still trying to wash the image from my eyes.  Let's just say that it was a women's sweater, probably an XS, blinged up with so much BLING it would make my Granny (for whom there was NEVER enough glitter) say, "Well, that's a little over the top now, isn't it?"

Not only that, Mr L. had arranged for the current reigning Ugly Sweater Champion (who had been transferred to another site due to budget cuts) to attend the assembly to defend her title. The teachers laughed (and cried a little), the kids cheered, the whole auditorium rang with joyous laughter.

My heavy heart felt so, so much lighter.  And bigger.

We all need a little joy.

The rest of the day was pretty magical.  My students participated in "la Tour de France", which consisted of several French inspired activities including a visit to "le Cafe"(the empty room next door) where they got to eat crepes. Yum! (My students are in a World Language Programme studying French, you know.) One student said as he left, (after thanking me for the holiday Smencil*),  "Mrs. Thomas, this was the Best. Day. Ever." and he proceeded to get the kids chanting, "Best day ever!  Best day ever!"

So many hugs and so much joy.

The day ended with my daughter's birthday party--seven thirteen year-olds making their own ugly sweatshirts, racing through Target at night with an envelope of money and 10 minutes to get what they'd need to participate in the Thomas Amazing GingerBread Challenge.  As they stood in the checkout line, two adorable four year-old girls came up to them and said, "Your sweaters are so pretty.  They make us smile."


So today (my first day of vacation) I am sitting in a snugly sweater, nursing the beginnings of a horrible cold but feeling so thankful and joyful.  We never really know when those moments will spill over into our lives and fill us up.  We are smart if we can recognize them.


This is Henry trying to play Santa.  Joy.
*(best gift for kids EVER!  A Pencil Kids LOVE!)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Do Good

I am so sad for the families of Sandy Hook.  Actually, I am sad for us all.  Sad and sickened that these things can happen.

I have spent the majority of my life as a teacher.  Schools, for all of the bashing that they endure, are one of the best places to experience the magic of learning, the wonder of curiosity, and brilliance of creativity, and the innocence of childhood.  Everyday, my job gives me hope for the future, for I can see in the faces of my students the kind of world they envision, and I want to live in their world.

I am sure that every teacher, myself included, is trying to figure out how to handle Monday--how to handle the moments until then, how to get our own acts together so that we can be there for our students.

But this I know:  We never know what our future holds, but in the moments we have on this earth, we can strive to do good.  And that is my message to myself (and you, too).

 Do Good.

Though the path is hard and rocky and filled with prickles that get in that uncomfortable place between our socks and our shoes.

 Do Good.

 Though it is tiring and exhausting and there is never enough time to sleep.

 Do Good.

Give your best to the world.

Though sometimes the world may not appreciate it, may not even accept it and will try to turn you away without even a moment of consideration.

 Give your Best.

Our children deserve no less.



Saturday, December 8, 2012


Each year at the annual Jefferson Holiday Book Fair, I host a dragon art contest.  This years entries were the best yet!  Feast your eyes:

That's a lot of dragons.  Seriously.

Can't decide which I like better, the dress or the shoes.

An entry after my own heart!

Adore the eyebrows on this one.  Just right, I think.

Because dragons rock.  Literally and figuratively.

Who knew dragons did karate?

An entire family of little dragons.  So cute!

It would be so cool to make a paper quilt of them...but alas...not a lot of time these days.

We've had quite a week in the Thomas family--three concerts, a book event, a partridge in a pear tree and all that. I hope this weekend to get a lot of my shopping finished up and maybe start baking, as well as finish up a bit of a revision I've been working on.  I can't believe how close Christmas is!  I thought of  two amazing Christmas book ideas I can't wait to work on, but wait I shall.  First things first.  I must finish some stuff before I start the next, but dang!  I hope I think the ideas are as good when I get a chance in a few weeks.  That's always the danger...something seems great in the moment, but when I sit down to write it, it just seems dumbish.  Ah, the gamble of finishing one book before starting another.

Well, I've got stuff to do and dinner to make, but I'll leave you with one of my favorite hostess gifts:

You wouldn't believe how many of these I've purchased....and eaten.  Yum.  I mean,  Yikes!

What's your favorite holiday treat?



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winners and Such

How did it get to be Tuesday?  How? How?????

Anyway the winner of my book club give away is:

Faith E. Hough!

Faith, you can email me at and I'll ship them out to you ASAP.

Boy, time is really moving fast right now.  I am only working on two things right now in terms of writing, but I am having such a difficult time talking about them--and not because they are SEKRIT.  (I never write things that are sekrit because that particular spelling of the word secret really, really bugs me.  It just screams, "I know something that you don't know! Nanny, nanny boo boo!")    I have a difficult time talking about stuff I am working on because often when I say the words aloud, they sound stupid and then I lose faith in my project and have no desire to work on it anymore.  I usually just hem and haw around, trying to avoid the topic all together.  A few years ago (seems like yesterday!!) I would make myself write tag-lines and synopses for everything I was working on....I need to get back into that habit.  Badly.  It really helps me focus on the heart of the story. we go

1.  A half-dog, half-dragon breathes fire into the life of a little girl who wants a cat.

2.    Some people do some stuff.....

Okay, well, one out of two isn't bad.  

Even though the first one isn't really specific enough, either.  It's not that it's sekrit....just that I haven't figured out what happens after the set up.  And I need to before I get much further, or it will stall out on its own.  I hate it when writing stalls out. It's an ugly and boring thing.

My next few weeks are jammed packed with stuff, mostly not writing, but I will be here:

Barnes and Noble
Tuesday, December 4th
Jefferson Bookfair
I have been promised lots of copies of lots of my books, so hopefully we won't run out this time!

Yes, Oreo will be there.  With oreos.  And maybe some door prizes of the holiday variety.....



Monday, November 19, 2012

I am Thankful for Readers--Book Club Giveaway

I am so grateful for my readers that I decided to have a little early Christmas give-away.  Here's the deal:  I am going to give SIX copies of THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET to one lucky person. AND THAT'S NOT ALL!  I am including a special Discussion Guide especially designed for my book. YAY!  And probably some bookmarks, too!  YAY!!!

Now, what is ONE person going to do with SIX books?

Here are some options:

1.  Give them to your book club!! (It' like I'm an elf...doing your shopping for you!)

2.  If you don't belong to a book club, start one and then GIVE THE BOOKS TO YOUR NEW BOOK CLUB!

3.  Start a book club for your daughter or son and their friends and GIVE THEM  A BOOK!

4.  Give them to a teacher who can use them for an IN CLASS BOOK CLUB! (The teacher in me LOVES this idea!)

5.  Give them to family members near or far and start a FAMILY BOOK CLUB!!

6.  Give them as gifts to your friends, then TALK ABOUT BOOKS AND READING!!

My main purpose in giving a chunk of books away like this is to foster those special discussions that come from sharing the same book with friends.

I will personalize the books for your group---and even stick a big fat bow on them.  The only thing I won't do it read it for you....since I already read it myself.

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what book your are most grateful to have read this year and you will be entered.  I think I will include international entries...just in case Santa and his reindeer want to start a book club during their off season.
Imagine this...multiplied by six!!!  WOW!!  

Entries open until 12:00 noon, Pacific time on Saturday, November 24

I have so much to be grateful, friends, health, pets,students, colleagues.....and this.  More yay!


Friday, November 9, 2012


No.  The title doesn't have any real significance.

Except that, oh did I tell you?  I challenged my third-graders to do NaNoWriMo.

Seriously. (Except that NaCho cheese-mo sounds funnier so we like it better because third grade is all about the funny)

We are all (we as in me, too) going to write our books in November, then spiff them up in December. (Theirs will spiff into little hard cover books we will "publish" in class. Who knows what will happen with mine.)

Our plan is a little modified.  There is no word minimum that needs to be reached, thank goodness! (50 k is a LOT.)  I am working on a chapterbook, around 10,000 words so I think I can make it.  It's about a fire-breathing dog, in case you were wondering.  I have wanted to write about a fire-breathing dog for MONTHS but every time I started to do it, the story couldn't seem to decide if it wanted to be a novel or a picturebook.  I am forcing it to compromise, because that's what an author can do, you know?

This is my classroom after school.  You can see my head peeking over the desks.  I am busy painting a sign or dinosaur footprints or somesuch.  Photo take with my new phone that does far too much.
But before I can really work on my NaCho, I have to  finish a book I've been working on for MONTHS!!  And IT ENDS NOW!  This weekend.  It. Will. Be. Finished.

There.  I've put in in print.  I am committed.  I shall begin finishing.

Tomorrow, of course.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Stuff and Magic

It's been almost two months since The Seven Tales of Trinket came out.

To be perfectly honest, I did not expect it to feel so weird, having this book out into the world.  I thought it would feel kind of like when my other books were released.  Lots of happy feelings and all.

Maybe it's because this book is so much longer than anything I've ever written, or maybe it's because it contains a good deal of my soul, but whatever the reason, the first week after the book launched, I just felt....shy.

And all I could tweet about or blog about was the book, because that was stuff that people already knew.  I couldn't put anything new out there into cyberspace because so much of me was already out there.  And it felt so, so strange.  I mean, I was excited for people to finally be reading my story, especially kids, but at the same time, I just felt very Open and Odd.  And Awkward, too.

It is scary, having so much of your heart out in the world.  And I wasn't afraid of people hating it or anything--that's their prerogative--it is more just that it felt strange to have people knowing the truths I held in my heart.

So, amidst all of these strange and awkward feelings, I find myself trying to work on another book, for what is a writer but one who writes.  And the going is rough.

But there is magic in the world, folks. And the great thing about magic is that it comes upon you when you least expect it. I got a package in the mail, all wrapped in tye-dyed duct tape and inside was this:

It is a hinged seal-box.  And it was the most perfect gift I could have received.  My current story deals with Celtic selkie legends (shape-shifting seals).  What a beautiful and awesome trinket!  And what an amazing way for a friend to reach out and touch another friend, even if they had no idea that the friend was struggling with strange and unusual feelings. (Because this is all kid of weird to be talking about.)

So, thank you, Myrna, for making me feel less alone.  And thanks to all of you who have read Trinket and let her into your hearts.  I am so proud of how everything turned out, even if it feels as if I am broadcasting to the world all of my secrets between the covers of this little book.

Awkward hugs--


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Signs That It's Almost Halloween

1. A real-live ginormous spider has moved into my tree and I can't even put that fake cottony spider-web stuff out there because his webs are even scarier and he sits in the middle of them.......waiting.

2.  A frightening aroma has entered  my house--puppy and puppy pee.  Thank God for scented candles.  (Yeah, I wanted new carpet anyway.)

3.  Already overdosed on candy-corn and can't bear to look at any candy at all.  (Except, I would eat Dots. I can always eat Dots.)

4. Recently terrified 120 5th graders with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Although I have yet to tell The Ghost With One Black Eye.  Luckily there are still a few more days.)

5. Listened to my first Christmas Carol of the year.  Wait. WHAT???   Well, that's how I know that it's almost Halloween--when I start getting ready for Christmas.  Only so many hours in the day.

6.  While I was running, at 5:30 a.m., I passed a house that had people int he front yard playing croquet. Did I mention it was 5:30 a.m.?  I am pretty sure they were ghosts.  Not kidding.

7.  Read a scary book.  Watched a scary movie.  Ate some popcorn. Yeah, an exciting life, I know.

But the crispness of Fall is finally in the air here in SoCal and I am ready Halloween.  Bring it on.

Signs of Halloween in your neighborhood?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Meet Henry

Yeah, well, what do you do when your life gets incredibly busy and hectic?

At the Thomas house, whenever things seem extremely crazed, bordering on out-of-control, we like to add another element into the mix, you know, just to spice things up.

hello.  yes.  I know.  I am adorable.
We got a puppy!!

His name is Henry.  It was going to be Harry, because I loved the irony of Harry/Hairy because that's what Springer Spaniels do--they leave HAIR everywhere.  But the look on his little face was just so wise.  He looked like a "Henry".  That is the name that stuck. (Plus, my daughters refuse to give their dog a "dog" name.  He must have a people name.)

In other news, I will be at the California Reading Association Conference on Saturday, signing books from 11:00 until around 2:00 at the Yellow Book Road booth.  It is held this year at the Town and Country Hotel   in San Diego.  If you happen to be there, stop by!  I'll have bookmarks and also discussion guides for THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET that are aligned with the Common Core Standards for FREE!

More soon, I promise!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

And Then There Were Three...Stars That Is!

THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET just got her third star, this time from Booklist:

[starred review] The Seven Tales of Trinket.
Thomas, Shelley Moore (Author)
Sep 2012. 384 p. Farrar, hardcover, $16.99. (9780374367459).
Alone after her mother’s death, 11-year-old Trinket decides to follow in the footsteps of her father, a
traveling bard who left when she was six years old and never returned to his family. Trinket, who longs to
become a teller of tales as well, sets off with her loyal friend Thomas in hopes of reuniting with her father.
Along the way, they find hardship and trouble as well as friendship and magic. Relying on their wits, they
face cruel, powerful foes, including a banshee, a ghost, and the faerie queen. Readers may guess Trinket’s
father’s identity before he appears on the page, but that will not diminish the tension when their
problematic meetings leave her with conflicting emotions and a difficult choice of endings. The novel is
structured as seven tales Trinket tells of her adventures on the road. Each ends with a song. In the
appended notes, Thomas discusses the roots of the stories, which were inspired mainly by Celtic folklore.
A storyteller as well as the writer of Good Night, Good Knight (2000) and its sequels, Thomas offers an
impressive debut novel in which she weaves seven compelling stories together with narrative power and
considerable grace.
— Carolyn Phelan

See?  Trinket is deep in thought about what it's like to have three stars.

And then this happened (if you don't want to click the link, I'll just tell you that Trinket is on the amazing Anderson's Bookstore's Mock Newbery list.  Seriously, I am so awestruck.  And pleased, too.)

But the best thing is a boy came up to me the other day who said, "Mrs. Thomas, I finished your book!!"

Me:  "What was your favorite part?"

Boy:  "And so..."(referring to a specific part in the book.)

Me:  I liked that part, too.

Boy:  But you should have written more.  I mean, there could be more of the story....

I suppose there is always more of the story!  But the best part of being a children's author is having kids interact with your book, and then with you.  It's just, well, magical.

I've got a big, fat, truthful post brewing, but little time to write it.  Hopefully soon, before it just explodes out of me.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Excuse Me, Waiter? I'd Like Some Fall, Please.

What is going on with this weather?  Really.  I mean, it is now OCTOBER!!  Can I have an occasional cool breeze or something?

I am so ready for it to feel like Fall.

I want to wear sweaters.

I want to NOT have the play the Chipmunk version of Party Rock Anthem so that my students will dance raise the temperature the requisite one more degree needed for the A/C to kick on.

I want to run through leaves that crunch under my feet.

I want to drink spiced apple cider.

I want to wake up to Fog and Mist.

I want to wear my new BOOTS!!

I want to smell the wonderful fragrance of fireplaces in the brisk evening air.

I want to eat a marshmallow toasted on  Autumn bonfire.

I want to make soup and apple crisp.

My goodness, am I whiny tonight or what?  Chalk it up to the lovely cold I am nursing.  Having a cold in the heat is kind of cruddy, in case you were wondering.

And I want to write something good.  My well has been fairly dry as of late--second guessing every word I put down on the page.  Is this good enough?  Does it reek of trying too hard?  And the minutes that I am able to scrap together are choppy at best, as are the words that fill them.   I have convinced myself that if it only really felt like Fall, everything would be better.  Better food.  Better smells.  Better writing.

So bring on the Fall!


Favorite signs of Fall, anyone?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Give -Away Winner and a Book Signing in Less Than Two Minutes

Happy Wednesday!

The winner of the Trinket Swag Pack and book is:

Holly Anna

I'll be emailing you for your address, or you can email me at storyqueen at gmail dot com and we can work out the details.

So, this is what a booksigning looks like, in two minutes or less: 

Yes, those are my daughters dancing.  (Not the littlest one.  She is a student of mine.)

It was a lovely night--completely ran out of books, which is both good and bad.  A book event is kind of like a Punnett Square--four possible outcomes.  

No people/
No books
People attend/
No books
No people/
Books arrive
People attend/ Books arrive
As you can see, only one outcome is  favorable in terms of a book launch.  I was lucky.  Lots of people AND books.  Whew.  

I've got another event this weekend.  I'll be at the Orange County Kid's Book Festival.  I'll be on a panel called, "On the Tween End of Teen" at 9:45 at the Teen and Young  Adult Stage, and then on the Storyteller's Stage (sponsored by PBS) at 12:00ish.  I'll be signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Booth in between the two.  I cannot tell you what a thrill it is to say that I am on a stage sponsored by PBS.  I grew up with Sesame Street and the Electric Company, and my kids grew up with Arthur, Wishbone, and Reading Rainbow.  Such a huge contribution to the literacy of young children!!

So, if you are planning on going to the OC Kid's Book Festival, come by and see me.  I'll have bookmarks!

I've more to tell you, but it will have to wait.  I'm hungry and I've not had dinner and IT'S 9:37!!

A big thanks to everyone who came out for the Trinket launch.  Almost 300 Oreos were consumed, in case you were wondering.  (272 in actual fact.)


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Give-Away: The Seven Tales of Trinket


I am going about a billion different directions at about a trillion miles an hour, but I thought I'd stop by to remind you about a couple of things:

1.  Launch Party for The Seven Tales of Trinket at Barnes and Noble, Oceanside!
          Thursday, Sept. 20th, 6:00 p.m.

2.  Cyber party (ies) for those who live too far away!
         Leave a comment, ANY comment, and I'll enter you in the Trinket Prize Pack give-away which includes the following:
El Book!  

Handmade Special Edition Trinket Box

Mini-Trinket-Notebook for writing those secrets close to your heart

A bookmark or two

And there are also a cool give-aways on Myrna's blog here and Tricia's blog here.

I'll close the entries on the contest on this blog on Monday, September 24th, which is my birthday, so it is only fitting that  someone gets a present, right?

I just remembered I need to sew up a hole that appeared recently in my cape...maybe it'll be okay if I use a stapler.  No one will notice....


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Launch vs. The Distracted Brain

I am lacking focus right now---and it seems very difficult to get it back.  I have ideas, many ideas for things, but are they coming to fruition?  No.  Not right now.  I feel like everything is a squirrel that passes me by laughing and I am stopping to look, when I should be head down, focusing!  But I can’t seem to.

 But here is some I have worked on this summer: 

1.  In the Kingdom of the Selkies-A middle grade novel that continues to surprise me as I write it.  I thought it was about one thing, but it turns out to be about something else.  It has sisters (I have wanted to write a sister story for a long time) and creatures that turn into seals and old feuds and magical oars.  It has enchanted potatoes and a treacherous fin-wife.  And it has a secret island.  And that is what I know about it so far.

2.  Dingle-This one is getting a major overhaul, fifty pages in.  Nooooooooooooooo!  But, alas.  I think I want to change the POV.  Dingle is one of the main characters, and I’ve not even gotten to him yet!!  I cannot tell you much about Dingle, for he has not yet introduced himself on the page, but I am compelled to write his story.  Compelled, I tell you!

3.Tales from the Good Knight-This is a chapterbook based on my dragons from the Good Knight books.  I love the idea of carrying them into the next level of readability, but I am not sure if I have the right tone yet.  I have dabbled with this…but that is about all.

4.  Picture book #1- Cannot even type the name because it makes me laugh too hard.  Oh, the silliness!

5. Picture book #2-Sweet little story.  I like it.  I know, not very forth coming.  Sorry.

6.  Picture book #3-Le Dud. Yes.  Sometimes there are duds. (Although now that I have typed, “Le Dud,” I find myself rather fond of it as a title…)
7. The Secret Society of the Poisoned Posey.  All I know about this is that the main character has a long, presumptuous sounding name.  And she is a bit of a “pip”.  Perhaps very naughty.  Possible tagline:  She puts the PUNK in Steampunk.  Not really.  (It does have a ring, though…) I have half of a page of scrawled notes about this.

Did you notice?  I listed seven.  Isn't that unusual how it worked out?  

Because this Thursday is my OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET. (And I have been so distracted with other things!)

 But here is your official invitation:
I know!  It's too big!  It doesn't fit!  I don't care!

There will be door prizes!  There will be Irish Dancers!  There will be Singing!  There will be Oreos!!!  (Yes, my monkey puppet Oreo refuses to be left out of the fun--he wants you to come and have a cookie with him!)

I might tell a story, and I might read a teensy bit from the book.  Please come if you can! Even if you only know me from my blog--it won't be awkward. I promise.  The evening is a night for stories and tellers and lovers of tales.

The event is also a book-fair fundraiser for Jefferson Elementary School.  15% to 20% of all items sold will benefit the school. (You will need a coupon--I can get you one if you come to my table.)

Hope to see you on Thursday! (But if you can't come...stop by the olde blog....I just might be giving stuff away here, too!  I can't leave my cyber-buddies out in the cold just because they are far away, now can I?)

edt--Fabulous blogger Myrna is already having a Trinket giveaway!  And she is also giving away the most adorable seal trinket box ever.  Click here to enter!

But wait!  There's more!  Amazing blogger Tricia O'Brien is holding a Trinket giveaway, too!  Click here to enter!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

7 Back to School Books

There's something lovely about books that take place in schools. (Okay, I am a is my life. I live, breathe, and eat it most of the time)

Anyway, in honor of the release of THE SEVEN TALE OF TRINKET (which does not take place in a school--I need to get out sometimes :), I am highlighting seven "schoolish" books.  (Part of my 7 posts with 7 things each series.)

So, going from picture-book to chapter-book to novel, here are some great stories to start your school year with:

Being the parent of a "Wemberly", I loved this book!  Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is THE  I-fear-going-to-school-because-I-fear-lots-of-things book.

Captain Underpants=the best principal EVER!!  Except when he's not saving the world and actually being kind of a jerk...

Ah, Wayside School!  You had me when Louis ate that apple off of Mrs. Gorf's desk....(If you've read this, you know what I mean!!)  This book is great for kids moving from chapterbooks into novels.

This book is brand new!  Look at the title written in spooky tree branches!  The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is sure to be a favorite among kids who like a little mystery with their education.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is also brand new!  Oh, give me a good boarding school story any day!  Love the old-fashioned creepiness of the cover. ...something is not right here....

Did someone say creepy?  Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is classically creepy.

And my favorite school of all...Hogwarts.  I love Hogwarts, with its house points, quiddich, pumpkin juice and the like.

As I type this up, I realize that one of the things I like best about books that take place in a school setting isn't only the school part, it's the friendships that the characters have.  George and Harold. Ron, Harry and Hermoine.  The entire class in Wayside School...

School + Friendship + Danger (real or feared) = awesome!!

What are some of your favorite schoolish books?


Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Trinket!

Well, she's here.  My 10th book baby is ready to go out into the world.

This is what she looks like:
The lovely front cover.

The fabulous green spine.  (The green surprised me--but somehow I always knew it would be green.)

The back cover--blurbs and praise!  What a pretty baby!

So, on her birthday, I am offering 7 celebratory pictures regarding Trinket's entrance into the world.


September issue of Family Fun Magazine.  Why am I showing you this?  You'll see.


What's that in the top left corner?  Does that say, "Our favorite things?"  I think it does!


Yes!  A Page-turner!  


A home-made Trinket Box for the launch party (9/20)


Mini-notebooks (since Trinket collects stories, you can, too!) for the launch.


Bookmarks for launch and events (she makes a nice twin....)


So, not all of the fun has to wait until the launch.  These swag bags are for my class tomorrow.  A book mark, bubbles and an eraser birthday cake!  Happy birthday, Trinket!

Due to the craziness of the beginning of the school year, I am waiting to do my launch party until September 20th.  You are all invited!  Not only will there be some unique door prizes (as shown above) but there will be some pretty awesome entertainment as well.  (But that is top secret for now...I will not tell.  Stop looking at me with those puppy dog won't work, I tell you!)

Well.  There it is.

I find myself getting a little misty.  When I started this blog, Trinket was just 80 pages of an almost forgotten idea trapped inside of a Mac that broke in 2003.  I never retrieved those pages...just the idea....just the soul. Back then, I read Neil Gaiman's blog every day (I think he blogged every day, back then) and he said he had the idea for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK for  many years (like maybe 20) before he wrote it. This gave me courage.  Most of the time that is the reason that I read blogs--to gain courage.  And so I silenced the part of me that said I wasn't good enough to write this story and wrote a page a day, sometimes two or three, until it was all out of me.

And she is.

Thank you, my blog friends, for taking this journey with me and always reminding me that I was not alone.  I couldn't have done it without you.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seven Books I Read This Summer

I had a lovely first day of school, but I am always shocked on how fast the summer goes!  Wow.  It just...well...whooooooosh.  And it's gone.

But I did get some reading in. Yay!

Here are seven books I really enjoyed:

Really a fun and interactive book.  No wonder Mo Willems keeps winning the Geisel.  He really knows how to write a picture book that is such fun to read aloud.

For the Middle Grade crowd:

Sidekicks by Dan Santat is just plain fun.  Loved the friendship.  And I laughed about this book.  A lot.

Many people have praised this book, and I was a bit late to the party.  Why did I wait so long to read it??  It made me think hard about lots of important things.  Palacio's use of multiple POV really works.

This was my first book of the summer.  What a way to start.  I loved so many things about this book, especially the main character and his voice.  This is one trilogy I am can't wait to read more of.
For those that enjoy Young Adult Books:

I'd heard lots about this book over the years.  Finally tracked down a copy.  *Love*.  I wish I could think outside of the box the way Diana Wynne Jones did.  If you loved Roald Dahl and Eva Ibbottson as a kid, you will love this book. to describe this book.  Well, it's not what I thought it was going to be like--and yet it was exactly how it should have been.  How is that for vague?  And yet, I can say no more.  Except this:  Read it.

I am reading this one right now.  It's just  It is a very intellectual and lyrical take on dragon mythology.  (Want in on a little secret?  When I read this book, it makes me feel smarter....)

Such a great summer filled with books!

I started reading The One and Only Ivan to my kids today. I hope they love it much as I did.

So, what did you read this summer.  (You don't have to list 7 if you don't want to.  I just did because of my 7 post with 7 things to celebrate The Seven Tales of Trinket.  Which comes out in 5 days!!)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

And She Awakens...

Sleeping Beauty was the first movie I can remember seeing in an actual movie theatre.  It wasn't on its first run, though.  It was a summer matinee for kids in an air-conditioned theatre, not at a drive-in.  

I was so excited!  

Maybe that is why it holds such a special place in my heart--the first movie I didn't have to watch from the back seat of a hot car with two giant heads in front of me!!  

Regardless, I identify with this princess who lives, sleeps, and reawakens, more than most of the other mainstream princesses.  You see, the teacher part of me hibernates in the summer and now, with just a hint of Fall scent in the air, she awakens, her task before her.

Ah, the task.

As I was beginning to get ready for this school year, I read this post by Robin LeFevers about being silenced as a writer and finding power in your own voice.  Normally, it would have struck a chord deep within me anyway, but because the Sleeping Teacher was awakening, it took on new meaning.  And so, with a new brilliant school year dancing before me, I thought of Seven Things* I want to remember in my teaching this year:

1.  I want my students to find the power of their own voices.  I never want them to feel silenced.  I want them to see their writing notebooks as a place that is always safe.

2.  I want the classroom community to reflect the wonder of childhood and of each individual student.

3.  I want Curiosity to abound!!

4.  I want to remember the beauty we awaken to each day and I want to remind my students to stop, look, listen, smell, and appreciate.

5.  I want to keep the crushing realities of budget cuts as far away from the children in my class as possible.

6.  I want my students to feel empowered by learning.  Not overwhelmed by it. (Or worse...underwhelmed.)

7.  I want to allow teaching to fill me up, not drain me.  It's all about perspective.

And so, with an excited heart, I am off to conquer another year living and writing side-by-side thirty-two eight years olds.

Life is good.

*My second post on Seven Things in honor of The Seven Tales of Trinket.  Hoping to squeeze five more in before September 4th when it releases!!  When it rains it pours!


Monday, August 20, 2012

7 Things I Love Right Now

In honor of the upcoming release of THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET, I am doing 7 posts on 7 different topics, hi-lighting 7 things each time.  It's a fiesta of 7s!!

So, to kick it off, here are 7 things that I love right now:

1.  The BREEZE!!  It is so hot right now in SoCal.  But when the ocean breeze kicks in, it's about the best feeling in the world.  Kind of like a very cold angel is flapping its wings at you or something....sigh.

2.  Grapefruits.  I don't know why.  I used to love them as a child (with a little salt.)  Haven't really had them for years but now...I can't get enough of them!!  Come to me, my little lop-sided citrus wonder.

3.  SUP!!  This refers to Stand-Up Paddling.  What a blast.  You stand on a big, fat surfboard with a paddle and row yourself around.  I am only brave enough to risk the lagoon, not the waves, but still... (although I do hear banjo music in my mind when I paddle--kind of feels like I am Huck Finn.)

4.  A picture book I wrote involving a dog, a cat, and space travel.  (Because, I ask you, are there enough of books with those elements out there?  I think not.)

5. This poster:

I am hanging this in my classroom!  
6.  Twistable Crayons!!  I am a sucker for new school supplies.  I purchased these little babies just for me:

I don't know why the twistiness makes them better, but trust me.  It does.
7.  Enchiladas.  There's really not much else to say about that.  They are delicious.  That is that.

So, what are 7 things you love right now?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trinket's Trailer has Arrived!

Here is the trailer for The Seven Tales of Trinket!!

But before I show you, I want to talk a little bit about how I made it.

I really wanted to try and do it myself, and if it didn't turn out well, then I'd figure how to get some help (or get someone else to do it altogether.)  I'd read enough blogs by authors about their trailers to know that what I really needed was a SHORT storyboard that captured the essence of the story without giving too much away.


What I really needed before I began was the right music.  You see, music plays an important part in Trinket's story.  There is one lullaby in particular that, well...., it holds a lot of things together. Everything, actually. And I knew I needed someone to compose it for me.  Because I don't think musically.  I think in words and pictures.  But I knew the feeling this piece of music had to give.  It needed to be haunting, but not sad.

Luckily, my nephew is a composer, a musician, and an all-around swell kid.  I told him I wanted "something with a harp, and a flute.  It should sound kind of Celtic.  Oh, and here are the words to the lullaby."

I cried when I opened the file, folks.  He'd captured what I was hoping for so beautifully.  (He played all of the instruments and combined the tracks.) You are awesome, John!

For the storyboard, I wrote some stuff, cut HALF of it away (it would have been too long) and I had my script.

The pictures came from either the book or from photos taken by my husband in Ireland.  I almost had it finished, when I got a couple of awesome blurbs...and then some reviews....and I wanted to put them in because, well, why not?

So, last week, I finally finished it.  I hope you like it.  I hope it makes you want to read the book. And if any of you want to spread the word, feel free to share it on your blogs or such.  THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET releases on September 4th.



Friday, August 10, 2012

Trinket Gets Another Star!

The folks at Kirkus have awarded THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET its second star!
  (The first was from Publisher's Weekly!)  (Okay, I will stop using exclamation points....and parentheses.)

I am thrilled beyond words.  When your book is reviewed, it is often the first time that someone with no vested interest in the book really critically reads it.  It is a little scary.  And Trinket was (is) so close to my heart that I lost any objectivity about it long ago.  Hearing such nice things about it...well, it makes me happy in a mushy kind of way.

Here's what they said (the review goes live on August 15, I think.)

   Author: Thomas, Shelley Moore

Review Issue Date: August 15, 2012
Online Publish Date: July 25, 2012
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 384
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-374-36745-9
Category: Fiction

Like her main character, Trinket, Thomas clearly loves storytelling, and she has a real talent for it, too.

Seven interlinked episodes follow a brief exposition. The distinctness of these episodes keeps the text from seeming overlong, particularly since the smooth flow and intriguing elements will easily capture readers’ interest. Unusual characters (a gypsy princess, fairy queen and ghostly highwayman, among others) add excitement and suspense, while the overarching tale, which effectively connects the disparate characters and individual events, features a quest of sorts. Eleven-year-old Trinket recently lost her mother to a fever. Her father, a wandering bard, abandoned the family five years ago when he failed to return as promised from a storytelling sojourn. With no one to care for her, Trinket sets out with a friend to discover what became of her father—and to collect some stories to tell. Hardships abound, and the two often go hungry, but they persevere in their search. Readers familiar with Celtic folklore will recognize the outlines of some of the sections. But even those for whom selkies and banshees are brand-new will appreciate the clever way Thomas weaves together traditional elements and her fictional creations.

Though it’s filled with incident, emotion, magic and adventure, what stands out most is Trinket’s clear voice and loving heart, both of which will endear her to readers. (Fantasy. 8-12)!!!

And I will be debuting the trailer for THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET next week at Write On Con.

What?  You haven't registered for Write On Con yet?  Then click here.  Write On Con is a free online writing conference filled with mini-workshops from amazing authors, excellent editors, and incredible agents.  My session airs on Tuesday, August 14, 12:30 p.m. est. and it is about Do-It-Yourself book promotion (SWAG and stuff for middle grade books.)  (Basically, what do you do with a bunch of postcards that didn't come out right.....?)  At the end of my session, I'll show the trailer.  Then, I will put it here on the blog in the next few days in case you missed it.  If anyone wants to show it on their blog after that, please feel free.  The more people that see it, the better!

Also, over at Write On Con, I'll be giving away a pre-order of Trinket--and you just might end up with some of the cool swag I showcase in the never know.