Monday, October 28, 2013

A Curious Big Deal

While walking my dog last week, I found the most curious thing. If it had been you who found this thing, you probably would not find it curious. The man who passed me on the path while I photographed this thing certainly did not find it curious. I'm sure he found me curious, however -- because I was photographing this thing. But to me, this curious thing was a Big Deal. And before I go any further, here's the Curious Big Deal I found and photographed.

The Curious Big Deal is that tiny wadded-up piece of paper in the lower mid-right corner. To you, the wadded-up piece of paper probably just looks like another fallen leaf strewn about by the breeze. But it's not a leaf. In fact, it's not even a wadded-up piece of paper. It's a wadded-up grocery receipt.

And here's why the wadded-up grocery receipt is a Curious Big Deal: The story I'm currently writing opens with a wadded-up grocery receipt tumbling along a walking path, and then the wadded-up grocery receipt scoots up a boy's leg and lodges in his hand.

Curious Big Deal, indeed, wouldn't you say?

Now, my story's beginning was written months ago, eight to be precise. But isn't it curious how this tiny wadded-up receipt, which is No Big Deal to anyone besides me, flitted across my walking path now? Like a miniature reminder of what a Big Deal writing is to me.

So, I'm curious, have you ever had a Curious Big Deal pop across your path?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: A Tangle of Knots

The cover of this book. Ahhhh. The colors, the cake, the hot air balloon -- what a combination. But it's what's inside a book that really counts, and what's inside this one really got me. I think it'll get you, too. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff is one part magic, one part real, and every part wonderful.

The premise: Eleven-year-old Cady has a Talent for baking just the right cake for everyone she meets, and although she's an orphan, her life has really been a pleasant one -- thanks to Miss Mallory. But when Cady moves to the Lost Luggage Emporium, she discovers that everyone who lives there needs a little something. In fact, she discovers that even she needs a little something. And maybe everyone's answer is in one of those powder blue suitcases.

What I loved:  The mix of magic and real. All the characters, Cady included, have real problems, and the way Lisa Graff weaves magic in with these real problems is, well, more than magical really. A Tangle of Knots helps readers see how our stories and our lives are connected and how very much we need one another, mostly when we think we don't.

And . . . A Tangle of Knots is on the long list for the National Book Award!

For more middle grade recommendations, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday

Last week I had the pleasure to finally meet Shannon Messenger in person. She's the author of both middle grade and YA books and organizes the Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays. Right now she's on tour for her latest book, Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile, and stopped at this crazy-cool little bookstore in St. Paul called Addendum Books. It's housed right across the street from a superb restaurant called W.A. Frost (which has the greatest outdoor dining patio as well as delectable creme brulee). So, consider this a little tourist advice should you ever visit my cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul: Shop at Addendum and then eat at W.A. Frost.

And here's a photo of Shannon and me because you're dying to see us.

Secondly (but most important to me of my miscellaneous) is this: I'M WRITING AGAIN. Let me say it one more time; it feels that good. I'm writing again. After a four-month writing break, which included a lonely bout of disbelief in my writing, I finally broke through my funk -- or at least I decided to write despite my funk. Probably the latter. Anyway, I wrote some new stuff this past week. It's new stuff in a story I began last winter, but still, it's NEW and it's WORDS.

Lastly, I'm chugging through a long editing project for a client of mine. In fact, I've never tackled a project this long (122,000 words!), so the length is breaking my brain a little. And being so keyed in and close to someone else's plot, characters and conflict makes it pretty impossible to write my own stuff during an edit, but those shiny new words I added last week are glinting and golden and winking away at me, and I'll return soon to add even more.

So, what's been going on with all of you?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Saturday Boy

The Saturday Boy by David Fleming is one of those books that has readers laughing and crying -- sometimes on the same page. It's poignant and real and funny. It's also a book for boys . . . and a book for girls . . . and a book for adults. Truly, everyone will find something to love about The Saturday Boy.

The premise: Derek's dad flies Apache helicopters for the Army, but Derek's not too excited when the Army calls his dad back to Afghanistan for a second tour. Feeling like his dad is gone more than he's home makes the letters they write back and forth something of a treasure to Derek. But being bullied by your used-to-be best friend and having your dad halfway around the world leaves Derek wondering if his world will ever make sense again.

What I loved: The range of emotions. Derek and his mom travel some high highs and some low lows. Told by Derek in his very real, very honest, eleven-year-old way, the reader can't help but feel what Derek does and step right into his shoes. David Fleming brings readers into a world where many of us don't live -- a world where loved ones are separated because of duty. And if this is your world, this book helps others understand just how difficult your world can be.

For more middle grade recommendations, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading!