Thursday, June 4, 2015

Summer Break

School's out here in Colorado, and the weather is nice--I hope it is in your part of the world also. And Summer means I take a little blogging break, to catch up on some reading, writing, and playtime with the kids.

I hope to see you back here in August, with fresh pencils and notebooks!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Skills you wish you had--part deux

Last week, I talked about wanting to learn new things. Clearly, photography should make that list...

Here's the picture I took of R.L. Stine's keynote at Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. Beyond horrible... Mr. Stine was very funny, by the way. If you have a chance to hear him speak in the future, I recommend you go.

And at least this time I remembered to take a picture, so there's progress.

Oh, and speaking of skills: I updated my author website and Double Vision's book website, so at least I have some minor skills there (thanks to website templates...).

Happy (early) weekend, y'all!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Happy Children's Book Week!

I've been pretty busy writing, plotting, etc., so I shamefully almost missed Children's Book Week... Not that I needed motivation; in my world, every week is children's book week :-)

I love the poster (by Grace Lee) this year, don't you? It reminds me of how much I wish I had some illustrator skills, but alas, I don't. I spend a good amount of time around picture book artists, and I'm always in awe. Wish I had some talent...

How about you? Any talents/skills you wish you had?

Playing the banjo, carpentry, and photography are on my list. I should really take a class or two sometime.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Edgar Awards!

I come to the surface (from conference recovery and web redesign--my most hated chore aside from filing taxes) to congratulate the Edgar winners! Alas, I have not read all of the nominees as I had planned, but will remedy this over the summer.

In the Best Juvenile category, Greenglass House by Kate Milford was the winner, and The Art of Secrets by James Klise in Best YA.

You can find the full list of nominees and winners over here...


Friday, April 17, 2015

Kid Problems: When suddenly, everything is so much bigger than you (or: #IWishMyTeacherKnew )

Last Saturday, I went to the Colorado Teen Literature Conference in Denver. It's a one-day event for teachers, librarians and teens, all about books. I love it, even if it starts pretty early. There's breakfast, and this year's keynotes were Wendelin Van Draanen and Andrew Smith. I was inspired, and got to eat a dynamite sandwich for lunch with some cool librarians for company.

I was honored to be invited to talk about how to reach YA and middle-grade reluctant readers. This is a bit of a soapbox topic of mine, so it was a good thing I had a whole hour. I've done this talk at too many library conventions to mention (in AL, MS, GA)--basically, I try to share ideas on how to reach reluctant readers, and ask for teachers and librarians to share theirs. It's fun, inspiring, and I love it when I see heads nodding in agreement as I talk. Makes me feel like we're all in this together.

But I'll admit: this talk has changed over time. I now talk more about how reluctant readers are often kids with undiagnosed reading disabilities (hate that word, but it's the best I've got). I talk about how I have one of those kids in the house, and how easy it is to miss this struggle. How kids become experts at hiding their difficulty reading. And I also talk about how often, much of this reading reluctance is really about the kid's home life. Whether Mom and Dad or guardians read.

And about money. Because after doing so many school visits, and talking to many teachers and librarians and the issues they deal with, so much of it all is an issue of economics. No money=less time=less education=forgotten kid problems. We need to fix economic inequality, that's the bottom line. Teachers and librarians shouldn't be forced to be the Band-Aid to society's ails when kids come to school with gorilla-sized problems in their backpacks.

I could go on about this forever... But I won't.

But I will share this story, since I'm still on my soap box: it's of a third grade teacher who asked her students to share things with her in a note: I wish my teacher knew... These are third-graders being honest, and it'll make you cry, I swear.

After my presentation at the Colorado Teen Lit Conference, a parent stuck around, crying about her struggle to get her son (who has a reading disability) through life. It's a lonely gig, being a parent, kid, teacher, librarian dealing with these enormous problems. Sometimes, it's good to know you're not alone.

Chapeau to the teacher in this online story. Makes me think we should all write a note...

And since this is all a bit sad, I thought I'd surround this post with a bunch of nice drawings I got in the mail after doing a Skype visit not too long ago. Because sometimes, you get a nice note, too. And you make a kid reader friend named Dezarae.

I'm a lucky duck, to be an author of kid books.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vacation!

I'm taking a vacation for the next few weeks---exciting, but also tiring, at least ahead of time. I'm right at that point where I wonder why we were going in the first place. There's pet care to figure out, stuff to pack, weather to research... We're flying this time, so that's always extra complicated.

But I'm looking forward to a break! Good for the soul. We're not going anywhere tropical like the picture (I wish), but to London, which will be cool.

Earlier this week, someone asked me in an interview what places I still want to visit. I realized most of my wish list location have to do with food: Italy, Greece, Ireland... I also want to see more of the U.S., especially our parks so I can hug a few trees.

How about you? Any wish list destinations?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Remembering where you came from, and 2015 plans

There's a thing on Facebook called Throwback Thursday. It's pretty fun: people post old pictures of themselves (or others) from a while ago. You're probably familiar if you hang out at the virtual watercooler that is Faceybook.

This is me, I'm thinking around three years old. And laughing at someone's joke, clearly. As I flipped through my old picture album, I was reminded how nice my childhood was, and how lucky I am to have all these good memories (there were a lot of smiley-me pictures to choose from).

As a writer, I'm not the same girl who wrote those dark stories umpteen years ago--which is understandable, especially since I write for kids now. But it's good to remember where you came from sometimes. I actually wrote a short story recently, and was reminded to do more of it. And I ticked off one of my plans for 2015, so that felt good.

I still like to have a good laugh like three year-old Fleur, though, so that hasn't changed.

How about you? Do you look back and realize you write differently, or read different books?