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.



Monday, August 6, 2012

SCBWI Reflections

My head is still processing all of the wonder.

I heard so many wonderful, wonderful writers speak over the weekend that my brain could almost explode.

 I have had a couple of internal debates about how I might present the information, insights, whatever on the blog...but somehow, I can't contain it all.
I laughed so hard that I was glad that I had not yet consumed
the thirty glasses of tea I eventually did.

I can tell you that we started with an amazing keynote by Tony DiTerlizzi.  He spoke about the importance of imagination--and we all know imagination is important, right?  But Tony brought the point home in a new and exciting way.  He was amazingly inspiring.

And sometime during the weekend, I was also inspired by the authors of the following incredible, award-winning books:

Patricia MacLachlan spoke from
her heart...such a big and beautiful
"We cannot write other people's books.  We can only do what we can do."  Eugene Yelchin

Lovely insight into writing strong, girl characters from Karen Cushman.

Memory, Research, from Clare Vanderpool

Better than Okay, Gary
And we ended with Gary Schmidt bringing us to tears, reminding us of the importance of our work in the lives of children.  I think that is what touched me so much about Tony and Gary--they kept bringing their speeches around to the impact we have on children.  (Well-chosen as a lead-out and a closing, SCBWI).

But there are other blogs that can give details of these presentations (and MANY others) far better than I can.  What I really want to tell you is this:

For many years I could not attend SCBWI.  How I longed to go!  But there were financial issues some years (I am a teacher, after all), timing issues other years (sometimes a family event fell on that weekend, sometimes, I could not afford to give up three days of precious summer writing time to go--I am a teacher, as I said).  However, this year, I was going and that's all there was to it.  I was putting all of the reasons I couldn't, including my hermit tendencies, into a box, tying it with a rope and putting it on the top shelf in a closet just like Frog and Toad did with a particular box of cookies they were hoping to forget about. 

 I wanted inspiration.  And I wanted to feel like a writer (even though I feared finding out the exact opposite---see insecure post below....)

But what I discovered, or re-discovered, is that going to a conference doesn't make you a writer.  Writing makes you a writer.  Putting your butt in a chair and doing the work, that is what makes you a writer.  As I reflect on this, I realize that all of those years I didn't go, and felt somehow like not a real writer because I didn't not go to conferences and talk about real writing with real writers, I was doing the work that I needed to do.  

I was writing.

So, if you were not able to attend this year, or any other year, don't feel bad.  The conference will always be there (I hope!) and there will be a time when things will line up in your life and you can go.  And when that happens, I hope you walk away with all of the inspiration that I did...but until then, remember, if you are doing the writing, You Are A Writer.