Monday, June 29, 2015

What It's Really Like: #ALAAC15

I got home yesterday from the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco yesterday, although the festivities are still going strong. For those of you that don't know, this conference hosts the celebrations for the winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards, (the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Wilder, the Printz, the Geisel, etc) so it is a veritable who's who in children's literature. The last time I went was three years ago, right before THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET came out. This year, I was there to celebrate the release (July 7th!!) of SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY.

Let me be honest here. It is an overwhelming event.

What happens is that there are so many people that you "know" either from their books or their online presence--like SO MANY PEOPLE. You kind of feel like you might be friends with them--the trouble is that you have never really talked to them in REAL LIFE so it is...weird. This is how it went for me:

Me:  Is that who I think it is? is!  Now wait...maybe, yes, it is!


Me:  Okay, so that person is totally talking to someone else. I won't interrupt. I'll just...hang out over here...close enough to say a minute, of course...not yet...L'll look over at the desserts so I don't look too creepy like I am eavesdropping or something...even though it is impossible to eavesdrop because it is SO LOUD IN HERE.  Hmm..that looks like salted caramel frosting on the cupcake...oh..darn..


Me:  So there's another person that I know...Hey!  It's my editor!  Yes!  Okay, I'll talk for a bit, try not to be too clingy or anything.  


Me:  Rats. Editor has to move on--I guess he edits more than just my books. Figures. Okay, back to spotting people I know. OMIGOD!!!  I cannot believe it!  It's really her!  I finally get to meet an author idol...I just...okay...well, what am I going to say?  "Hi, you don't know me but I know you from your twitter and your books, which I LOVE and it's not creepy, or anything, that I favorite everything you it?  Because I am just a fan, but I write books, too, not anything you've heard of or anything....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..."  NO!  I AM NOT GOING TO SAY THAT.

Me: Stares blankly. Examines tops of shoes.


So, yeah, It is weird. There were so many people there that I knew in the virtual world, but only a handful I was brave enough to talk to. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely and all. I actually talked to more people that I "knew" than I thought I would.

This was the set up right at the beginning of the Macmillan Dessert Party. Look how friendly my book is to Caldecott Honor Book FRIDA by Yuyi Morales. They are having a conversation. Unfortunately, I never did get to have a conversation with Yuyi Morales and tell her how much my students loved her book and how, with her multi-media art, she is inspiring an new generation of artists. Alas
Before the dessert party, I didn't want to eat too much so I settled for bread and water. (NOT REALLY!) I ate a few grilled oysters that were awesome, but they didn't last for pictures.

Breakfast meetings would be incomplete without oatmeal at The Grove.

Obligatory Golden Gate Bridge Picture. I am pretty sure that there is an alien craft in the upper left part of the picture. 

At Dean and Deluca in Napa. So true
Stayed a night at Harris Ranch on the way home. Someday ask me why I needed to stay at Harris Ranch on the way home and I will tell you--it is far too long a tale for this blog, filled with events so quirky and unbelievable it defies reason. But yeah, there were cows there.
The takeway?  Actually, I don't know what the takeaway is. The ALA conference is awesome. I got lots of arcs and swag and had a great time looking at colleges with my daughter and her friend afterwards. I got to live in the world of children's publishing for a day and it's a lovely place to be. So many dedicated people.

But now I must venture back to the land of writing. It is a little less crowded, which is good for me. Just me, actually, and a desk, and my Darth Vader flash drive.

And Darth Vader doesn't seem to mind much if I don't make eye-contact or talk. He's probably sleeping inside of that mask anyway.



PS. If you saw me there and I didn't talk to you, it's probably because I was cowardly. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Story School #2

Hello and welcome back! 

What is Story School, you ask--let me tell you.  Every Wednesday this summer, I'll post a story starter of sorts.  It might be an idea or a prompt.  It might be just a single word.  Who knows!  Story School started as a way for me to continue to connect with the students from my school (about writing) over the summer. But really, Story School is for everyone, young or old.  Writing exercises often get my writing juices flowing so I thought it would be good to share some of the stuff that works for me! 

First off, thanks a bunch for the responses to last week's prompt. I foresee lots of books in the future about baby monkeys!!  I loved the poem that began:

"What do you do
When a baby mokey
shows up at your house
and demands
a banana?"

And there were several great stories.  A few were realistic, with an essence of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, but most were very funny. So were their names: Chim-Chim, Rascal, Bob, Margaret (a girl!) and Banana-Head. 

As for me, I named my baby monkey Babby. He was quite mischievous!!  He somehow ended up in the Space Program!

Now for this week's Story School idea.  

Here is the word:  ESCAPE.

I am hoping this prompt will help me out a little. I am in the middle of revising a science fiction book, and I need to rewrite an escape scene since it is boring--even for me to have to read it!  So, I need to completely re-do this chapter to is buzzes with intensity. 

As for you, well, have fun with the word ESCAPE. You can have your characters escape from a villain in an unusual and amazing way. You can pretend you are escaping from school (ha!) or someplace else into the wild and have an imaginary (or not) adventure . You can write a poem or a song about escaping--what do you wish you could escape from?


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The New Book blurb #2

Se there's this book coming out in two weeks called SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY.  Perhaps you've heard of it?  (hahahaha!)

(I didn't make it as huge this time because I don't want you to get sick of the cover. I myself will never get sick of looking at it...)

Anyway, here's another blurb for my little book:

"Secrets of Selkie Bay lies somewhere between fantasy and reality, creating a wonderful place where readers can be both pragmatists and believers in all things magical, like the characters who inhabit the pages of this poignant, bewitching book. Shelley Moore Thomas has created a world layered with stories and mysteries and pain, one that calls like the sea, draws us in, and never lets go. After they turn the last page, readers will dream of seals and selkies and the deep love of family that shines in the darkest storms." - Nikki Loftin, author of Nightingale's Nest and Wish Girl

Yes, it's the same Nikki Loftin that wrote this: 

Oh, the creepy deliciousness!

And this:
Made me cry and that's the truth.

And this:

Image result for wish girl nikki loftin
Nikki Loftin just keeps getting better!

I am thrilled and honored to have her support for Secrets of Selkie Bay.

Come back tomorrow for our weekly Story School. Wait until you see what I've come up with!


Monday, June 22, 2015

The New Book blurb # 1

I've got a new book coming out in less than a month.

This pub date has really snuck up on me! July 7. Yeesh!

There is so much to do--so much I want to tell you about it before it's here and it will have to do the talking for itself.

First of all, here is the cover:

Art by Gilbert Ford, Yay!

Two lovely writers whom I thoroughly respect had nice things to say about it. Here is the first:

"Shelley Moore Thomas has a wondrous way of weaving magic and myth, loss and longing, wonder and hope into stories that sing. Cordie’s seaside fairytale cast a spell on my imagination. If I lift up the pages and listen closely, I’m certain I can hear the ocean." 
                                                   Natalie Lloyd, author of A SNICKER OF MAGIC

That's right--the same Natalie who wrote this masterpiece:

And she has this one coming out, soon!

Yes, the amazing Gilbert Ford does Natalie's covers, too!  Wouldn't this look so nice sitting on a shelf next to SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY? But you will have to wait for THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY because it doesn't come out until March, 2016. 

More blurby blurbs tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Story School #1

Hello and welcome! Welcome to the first Story School of 2015!

What is Story School, you ask--let me tell you.  Every Wednesday this summer, I'll post a story starter of sorts.  It might be an idea or a prompt.  It might be just a single word.  Who knows!  Story School started as a way for me to continue to connect with the students from my school (about writing) over the summer. But really, Story School is for everyone, young or old.  Writing exercises often get my writing juices flowing so I thought it would be good to share some of the stuff that works for me! 

Often, I get inspired to write by looking at pictures.

When I was talking with my class last week about Story School, we starting googling images of stuff to get ideas. 

Somehow we ended up with baby monkeys:

Image result for baby monkeyImage result for baby monkey

Now, I have long been a fan of the BabyMouse series:

 I was thinking maybe it is time for a Baby Monkey book (or series!)

So, that is the prompt for today, Baby Monkey.

You can write a poem, a story, or ANYTHING you want!  You can share your writing with me at if you like, but really, the writing is mostly for you. Have fun with it! Because the truth is, I keep writing because it is fun for me. And it is fun to do fun things, right?

(Whatever you do, do NOT google "Baby Monkey Riding a Pig Video" or the song will be in your head FOREVER!)

Have fun!


Saturday, June 13, 2015


Thursday was the last day of school.


It was...weird.

I am still trying to process it all. To be honest, it was one of the least relaxing year-ends I have ever experienced. A lot of things got switched around on our calendar this year (due to TESTING) and then a bunch of things just kinda got stuck during the last two weeks of school. This week alone, we had the annual Multicultural Festival with performance form each class, two field trips, and our annual Third Grade Marketplace Day (where kids buy and sell home-made items from the fake money they earned in class.) On top of that, our school is getting new carpeting (yay!! long overdue!!) but that means we all had to pack up. And those of us that are moving to new classrooms had to box up EVERYTHING.

Note to teachers:  If you are leaving a school or a room and decide to leave a bunch of your stuff there so the next teacher can use it--DON'T. Far worse than coming into a room that is completely barren is a room filled with other people's stuff that they couldn't bring themselves to get rid of.

I found stuff in my classroom from three teachers ago!  And while it was cool to go through the old stuff, we were on a time crunch. The carpet folks gave us one day from the end of school until they would arrive.

It was crazy.

And then, in my class, I was reading the Seven Tales of Trinket*. We finished it on the last day and I have to admit, the ending is a bit emotional. Right after I closed the book, my students presented me with a lovely gift--things they had written about me. I read it aloud and got a little teary. Some of the kids called out, "Let it go, Mrs. Thomas. Just let the tears out!"  though I was determined to keep it together.  But then I looked down and Uliver was weeping. Weeping, folks. And once it started, it was contagious. Kid after kid after kid began shedding tears. Some were sobbing.

It was the crying-est last day of school I have ever seen in my life.

I think we were all just pretty exhausted. It's normal to cry when tiredness takes over.

However, this was a special class. This class really bonded over the course of the year.   They were not a perfect class, but they were a perfectly awesome class. I will miss them so much!  (Yes, I know I told them I would be at the Cole Library every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. to help them find books.I know I will see many of them next week.) But I will still miss them. I will miss US--the people we were when we were together. They filled me up, every single day.

Truth: Sometimes teaching does not fill you up. Sometimes it drains you. Sometimes it takes little  pieces of your soul and makes you ache because despite how much you are doing, it is never enough.

And then, sometimes teaching is joyous. Sometimes, you thank your lucky stars every day that you get to do the job that you do.

That was my year. Sigh.

And so, as I look towards summer, (and I still can't believe that I an standing on summer's porch, getting ready to run into its big yard and whoop like a wild thing) it is bitter sweet. But you know, I kind of like a little bitter with my sweet.  What do they say, better to have loved and lost blah, blah blah...?

I guess it is better to have had this class and promoted them on, than to have never had them at all.


* I have read Trinket to my classes for the past few years. What an awesome experience to read your own novel to a group of students. Their questions are the best. Their favorite voice?  The Old Grave Digger.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What is On My Desk Today

A Star Wars baseball cap.

A half-filled bottle of S. Pelligrino mineral water (or half-empty, depending on your mood.)

7 post-it notes

Shampoo and Conditioner (?Why???)

2 empty shoe boxes (but they are cute, so I want to do something with them other than throw them out.)

A six inch stack of books about Ireland.


Highlighter (yellow)

A turbo-force fan

a screw driver

2 thank-you cards awaiting inscriptions

a roll of fluoro green duct tape (why did I buy this??)

National Geographic (IS ANYONE OUT THERE? Space issue)

Dia de los Muertos mug filled with receipts for school that I will forget to turn in, and thus, never be reimbursed for.

3 royalty statements (Yay Good Knight Books!!! Hundreds of thousands of copies in print!!)

One expired Disney Pass

Deflated beach ball (I am not making this up)

Yup. It's the end of the school year. The avalanche has tumbled down the hill. There was no stopping it. Now I must deal with the aftermath...provided I survive the next few days, of course.


P.S. What's the most random thing on your desk?