Monday, May 31, 2010

Three Authors, Three Posts, One Memorial Day Weekend

I'm at the TeensReadToo Book Club Blog today, talking about military families for Memorial Day. My post is the third of the weekend. On Saturday, Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd) gracefully and purposefully addressed the challenging topic of Patriotism and Military Fiction. On Sunday, Suzanne Morgan Williams (Bull Rider) wrote movingly about Traumatic Brain Injury and how war affects communities. Today, it's my turn, and I tell a personal story that begins with four words: Your dad is okay.

If you comment on Suzanne's post, you have a chance to win a copy of her excellent Bull Rider, and if you comment on mine, you could win a copy of the Operation Yes audio book (as a digital download from

Come join us!

I'm also excited to announce that Rosanne, Suzy, and I will be presenting a panel on Military Fiction at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Orlando this November. More details to come.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poetry Friday: Memorial Day

Today, I'm reposting my Memorial Day poem from two years ago. And asking you to watch the TeensReadToo Book Club Blog where Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd), Suzanne Morgan Williams (Bull Rider) and I will be doing back-to-back guest blogs this weekend to honor military families.

"The past is never dead, it is not even past."
~William Faulkner~

Photographer: Adam Skoczylas 


They have been given
flags, these children,

to plant between the stones;
decorated sticks, each insertion

point chosen with grave
care; the same care

they give to tugging lace tights onto
stiff-kneed baby dolls, building

landing craft from perforated
plastic blocks, and arraying–

piece by piece–
squads of battered

soldiers along the arms
of couch and chair.

They have been given
flags, these children.

-Sara Lewis Holmes

From RN Clara Hart's post at The Sandbox:
It’s Memorial Day and while I want to remember, I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to remember my friends killed on September 11th, or the others who've died serving our great country. Those who I’ve worked so hard to save only to fail. I don’t want to remember the broken bodies I try so hard to fix. I don’t want to remember the scarred hearts that may never be mended. Read the rest.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bringing Books to Life

Mike and I were invited by RIF President, Carol Rasco, to attend the RIF Gala last night at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.  (You might remember that Carol is in my awesome DC Kidlit Book Club and that she invited me to visit the RIF offices not too long ago.)

I wish I'd taken more pictures, but honestly, I was too busy having fun. Before dinner, there was a reception and silent auction of incredible art work by both children and professional children's book illustrators. (You can see the art in a gallery on the RIF Gala site. I adore that frog! Also the alien with lots and lots of arms so he can read multiple books at once.)

There was a photo area with props--- huge funky glasses and striped Cat in the Hat toppers and wildly colorful parasols. (Why oh why didn't I scoot over there and take a picture with my husband?)

There were lots and lots of lovely people milling about, including some of the wonderful RIF staff members who remembered me from my visit, and of course, Carol to hug and thank, and surprise! a fellow blogger. Carol had invited Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, who was in town for a meeting of librarians from the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. (You can read a wonderful interview about her work here.) But I knew Liz also from her tweets about books and pop culture, so I had to bring up our mutual love of Friday Night Lights. (If you're not watching this show, why not?) Luckily, Mike is a big FNL fan, too, so we had a great conversation about how FNL portrays teens so well in a way that is rare on TV. We also told Liz, who served on the Schneider Family Award committee last year, how thrilled we both were with the choice of Marcelo in the Real World. Liz, I hope to see you again at ALA!

The reception was followed by a yummy dinner, and an honoring of volunteers, including a beautiful slide show of former RIF kids who grew up to be awesome RIF adults. A boy who was given a book about the excavation of Troy who grew up to be an archeologist. A girl who was given My Brother Sam is Dead, and grew up to be a college professor of literature and later tracked down a copy of that same book to hold with delight in her adult photograph, proudly showing the RIF stamp on the side of the worn paperback.

And my favorite image of all? A boy slyly hugging his book---the book he'd just been given by RIF---his book, and his alone, and you can see the joy and the incredible glee and the "I'm the king of the world" grin on his face.

At the end of the night, we were served a buffet of desserts that included chocolate mousse on silver spoons and tiny pastel colored macaron cookies. While munching on those goodies, a woman came to talk to Mike, who was in his AF uniform. She told him her husband had flown F-4s, and had been killed in an accident with the RAF over Wales many years ago. She'd gone back to school and started a new life, and is now a professor of children's literature in Ohio. We talked a bit more about military families and kids books, and then in a mind-boggling moment, she said to me "You should really read Operation Yes."

I don't know if there's much cooler than a person recommending your own book to you! She also told me that her university has a Creative Drama department for teachers, which I must check out.

Also during dessert time, we could sign up to sponsor a set of multi-cultural books to be given to RIF kids (which of course, we did. You can too.) We were given the lovely books in the centerpieces to take home and share with children, as well as plantable bookmarks.

Look at these beautiful centerpieces! 

All in all, it was a book-and-light-filled night. If you don't know RIF, you should. If you aren't supporting RIF, you should. If you want to know more, check out the nation's oldest and largest non-profit literacy organization. They change lives. They really do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Audies

Operation Yes won an Audie last night! I had zip to do with the audio book production (other than, ahem, writing the "script") but I'm happy the terrific work by narrator Jessica Almasy (who handled the huge cast of Operation Yes beautifully) and the team was recognized. Also, grateful to my agent, the always wonderful Tina Wexler, for negotiating the audio rights in the first place.

Here's the slate of Children's/YA awards:

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES UP TO 8 For excellence in narration, direction, engineering, mix, and abridgment (when applicable) of a children’s audiobook. Audiobooks accompanied by book product are accepted in this category: Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat (Live Oak Media)

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8-12 For excellence in narration, direction, engineering, mix, and abridgment (when applicable) of a children’s audiobook for middle readers: Operation Yes by Sara Holmes, narrated by Jessica Almasy (Audible, Inc.)

TEEN For excellence in narration, direction, engineering, mix, and abridgment (when applicable) of a young adult audiobook: Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson, narrated by Dion Graham (Brilliance Audio)

Oh, and I'm excited to see that Connie Willis's intelligent and amusing story, Bellwether, won in the Science Fiction category.

The full list is here.

You can listen to a sample of the Operation Yes audio book at the site.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Writers are Writers are Writers

Members of the Young Writers Café at the Arlington Public Library,
holding Little Green Army Men

A couple of weeks ago, I hung out with those dedicated writers you see in the photo above. For an hour and a half we talked about stuff like whether it was okay to start with the ending of a story (yes, definitely) and why my laptop computer keys were dirty (um, using them so much?) They were honest, funny, totally positive about writing, and eager to hash over the finer points of Operation Yes and Letters From Rapunzel.

There is nothing like talking writing with other writers. Sure, they were under 14 and I'm over 40. But it doesn't make much difference when you're talking about how to make a character live on the page or how much you love a brand-new notebook to scribble in.

Thank you, Young Writers Café! I'll be looking for your names on a book cover one day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poetry Friday: Crossing Stones

For April, in honor of National Poetry Month, my D.C. Kidlit book club read Helen Frost's novel in verse, Crossing Stones.

One of the things we discussed was how much we loved Frost's use of form to structure the telling of this war/homefront story. Set during America's involvement in World War I, the novel alternates between the free verse voice of eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgensen, and cupped-hand sonnets written in the voices of two other characters: Muriel's best friend and cross-over-the-stream neighbor, Emma Norman, and Muriel brother, Ollie, who is far too young to go to war, but winds up there anyway.

Muriel's voice flows beautifully in the free verse sections:

"You'd better straighten out your mind, Young Lady.
             That's what the teacher, Mr. Sander, tells me. As if I could
                        stretch the corners of my thoughts like you'd pull
                                 a rumpled quilt across a bed in an attempt to make
                                    it look like no one slept there, no one ever
                                 woke up screaming from a nightmare, or lay there
                         sweating until their fever broke, everybody
               scared they'd die---but then they didn't, they got up
and made the bed. My mind sets off at a gallop
       down that twisty road, flashes by "Young Lady,"
                 hears the accusation in it---as if it's
                           a crime just being young, and "lady"
                                     is what anyone can see I'll never be
                            no matter how hard I try, and it's obvious
                  that I'm not trying."

Then in the cupped-hand sonnets strewn between this flow of words like stones in a river, we hear the more reserved thoughts of Emma, who is more traditional and contained in her expression, and from Muriel's brother, Ollie, whose thoughts begin in naively well-shaped excitement and slowly turn darker and more powerful as the war's reality overtakes him, eating away at the shape of his life.

                                                  Dread weighs me down
                                            like a rain-soaked wool jacket.
                                       We move in the night, through towns
                                     where little girls like Grace must be asleep
                                  in their warm beds, through countryside where
                                cats toss mice around in dark corners of the barns.
                             One thing bothers me: I don't know the overall plan.
                             None of us do. They're moving us to the battlefront,
                             that's obvious. I'm sure they have a strategy for use to
                               win; maybe they'll fill us in. To tell the truth, I don't
                                 care as much about their lofty goals as I do about
                                     seeing my family again---there's a man on a
                                       bike, pedaling into the morning, bringing
                                               bread home to his family, I bet.

The story itself weaves together both the horror of World War I and the political realities of the homefront, including fascinating glimpses into the Women's Suffrage Movement. It's a beautiful, beautiful book, made even more so by the attention Frost has paid to form, using the very shape of words to carefully place her story, stone by stone, into your heart and mind.

You can read more excerpts from Crossing Stones here, but I recommend you go ahead and buy the whole beautiful thing. As I blogged on Wednesday, Kidsmomo is looking for kids' reviews of war/homefront stories for Memorial Day, and this book, while more in the YA category, would be excellent for a perceptive teen to read and respond to.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by author and poet, Laura Purdie Salas. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Critique Group Is . . .

a) a blessed gathering of like minds, dedicated to the creative development and uplift of all, capable of launching a career into the heavens like a bottle rocket by instantly exploding 300 crappy words into a breath-takingly beautiful, 50,000 word sunburst of a novel.

b) a snarled bramble patch of furies, guaranteed to plunge you into the flaming pits of self-doubt hell with their prickly comments and murmured jealousies.

c) an excuse for eating chocolate and talking about other writers

Stumped? Newbery Honor author, Kirby Larson, is taking your questions about critique groups. (And I'm part of the slate of authors she's lined up to help answer them.) So fire away. What would you like to know?

Post your questions at Kirby's blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

War Stories: Reviews Wanted

For Memorial Day, Kidsmomo is calling for kid reviews of war stories: "books about war — stories of those who fought and also those whose lives at home were affected." Anyone interested? Operation Yes is on the list of suggested books, but you can submit a review for any book on the theme you like.

One book I would add to that list is HOMEFRONT, by my friend, Doris Gwaltney, which is set during World War II. It received starred reviews from both School Library Journal and Booklist, and I adore the frank, funny voice of its main character, Margaret Ann Motley. It also has that deep connection to physical place that I loved so much in Hattie Big Sky.

The new paperback cover

Please pass the Kidsmomo link to teachers and librarians who might be able to encourage kids to submit reviews. There have been many recent articles highlighting books about war and military families but I've yet to hear much from the actual kids who read them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Market My Words

On Saturday at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, I led the audience in a jody call:

I don't know but I've heard it said
A book's not finished 'til it's been read.

So how do you finish the job---and get your book into the hands of readers? I'm with Shelli at Market My Words today talking about just that.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Beautiful Day

It was a beautiful day at the first annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Me (Operation Yes), Erica Perl (Vintage Veronica) and Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda)

Acting out a scene from Operation Yes

Born to Read

With Linda Acorn and Tom Angleberger
(plus a LGM and paper Yoda)

The OY books meet

Tom juggling

Erica Perl with Vintage Veronica
Thank you to the volunteers and organizers of the festival, who totally rocked their roles by being organized, helpful and kind. And thank you, brave audience, for making Operation Yes come to life on the stage. Send me photos of your LGM on the move!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver's Reckless Poem

Be yourself. How many times have we been admonished---by movies, books, and talk shows---to obey that ridiculous order?

I like Mary Oliver's suggestion better: Be other. Grow leaves from your fingertips.

Reckless Poem
by Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,

the rest is here

Poetry Friday is hosted today by the always fabulous Jama Rattigan at alphabet soup

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm getting nervous about the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday.

Immediately before my presentation (at 12:00), Sam Riddleburger is going to juggle live children or flaming bananas or light sabers. He's also going to wow them with his reading from The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Tweens will run from the tent to follow him to his book signing, like he was Yoda himself.

Immediately during my presentation (at 1:00), Phyllis Reynolds Naylor will be speaking at a different pavilion. (Which also means her book signing afterwards will also align with mine (at 2:00), although hers is at the Meet and Greet Stage, so any hopes of me sitting near her, hob-nobbing and gushing over how much I love Shiloh, have been sunk.)

So, that leaves me, doing one-armed push-ups and jody calling about Operation Yes to those who dislike Star Wars AND Shiloh. Whoever in the universe could that be? I think I need to arrange for the Flying Farmer to buzz my tent.*

More information on the Gaithersburg Book Festival Author Speaking and Signing schedule is here.

*and work on my one-armed push-ups. How do those work, exactly?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I haven't got a clue, but . . ."

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I have a fondness for Big Questions, and indeed, several of my posts are tagged with that label. Occasionally, in a writer's workshop, I'll lead an exercise called 100 questions. Being able to ask crazy questions is one of the reasons I'm glad I'm an author. And if I were a punctuation mark, I'd be .... you guessed it, a question mark.

So you'll know why I loved this bit from David Almond, who recently received the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award.

(from the interview in Shelf Awareness by Jennifer Brown)

Brown: It does seem as though we lose track of the big questions when we enter adulthood, doesn't it?

Almond: Because we realize that the questions are unanswerable. There's a tendency to turn away from them, to say they're boring or beyond solution. One of the things about writing for children is you look at the world through their eyes, and the world remains astonishing. I haven't got a clue what it is, and it seems to me more and more beautiful, but more and more unanswerable.

My yoga practice this morning was centered around the idea of releasing fear in order that there be more room for love. We hold both in our chests, in our hearts and lungs, which tighten when we're afraid. The Big Questions (along with a few Cow or Fish poses) are those that untangle that fear of the unanswerable and open our hearts and minds to the astonishing. It seems to me that if we uncurl, our question marks become exclamations.

Me: ?
World: !

Maybe David Almond hasn't "got a clue," but I don't think it's an accident his books explore "The Art of Transformation."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Emily's Book Shelf and Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week! In honor of the week and my niece Emily, who lost her battle with cancer last summer, the Westlake Public Library in Ohio has launched Emily's Book Shelf.

It's an online book club for kids grades 3-8, so they can talk about the books they love---as our talkative, book-loving, enthusiastic Emily did all the time. I remember her at my kitchen table, seriously debating the merits of various book choices with her mom, Debbie. The two of them were in a Mother-Daughter Book Club for two years. Thank you to the wonderful people at Westlake's Porter Public Library for putting this site together!

Also in the good news department, my brother, John, (Emily's dad) reports that the construction of Flying Horse Farms (a Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for kids with serious illnesses) is going well. The camp will open for limited family weekends this fall. At that time,  the books that all of you were so generous in donating will be out of boxes and in the hands of campers. When Flying Horse Farms is completely up and operational, we'll be looking for more ways to provide books for the week-long camper visits. You can read more about Emily and the Flying Horse Farms connection here.

One idea I bounced around with John was a sponsored author visit to Flying Horse Farms once or twice a summer. What would you all think of that? Any collective wisdom on where to begin, what to consider, and how to make this idea successful?

Monday, May 10, 2010


I was walloped by this Mother's Day story.  In the Washington Post Magazine, Steve Hendrix writes about his mother, one of the first teachers in a new program in 1976 for gifted students. He says:

"I've often wondered what she meant to the handful of students who knew her in that school room. Wondered, but never asked."

In the article, he finally asks.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Poetry Friday: D.C. Poetry Walking Tours and More

If you're trekking to Washington, D.C. next month for the American Library Association's Annual Conference, here are my poetry/writing/book related recommendations:

1) Devour as much of the National Gallery of Art as you can, leaving room for an afternoon shot of energy from the Espresso and Gelato Bar in the East Building and browsing time among the fabulous books of the NGA shop. You might want to check out the exhibit Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg. I have yet to see it, but this description makes me want to: "The same ideas that inform his poetry—an intense observation of the world, a deep appreciation of the beauty of the vernacular, a celebration of the sacredness of the present, and a faith in intuitive expression—also permeate his photography."

2) Ogle the elaborate decor of Library of Congress, including the Poetry Gallery, as well as its more sober collection of Jefferson's original books and the massive Gutenberg Bible. Then go online and discover their wealth of poetry-related programs, including the source of many of my Poetry Friday finds, the amazing high school poetry program, Poetry 180.

3) Wait on line at the National Archives to see the words that established a nation. Or show your respect at Arlington Cemetery to those military men and women whose lives are marked by only a few words on a tombstone. Many journalists and writers are buried there as well.

4) Pay (yeah, I know it's a lot) to view the intrigue and odd hiliarity of the Spy Museum (dog poop surveillance, anyone?) Or don't pay and just visit the ultra-fun shop with unique gifts for writers.

5) Come to the free KidLit Drinks Night.

6) Take a poetry tour. Three downloadable podcasts are available: Full Tour, National Mall, and Northwest Washington. "The DC Poetry Tour features poems by legendary American poets who have called DC home, including Georgia Douglas Johnson, Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, May Miller, Sterling Brown, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, and Randall Jarrell. In addition to these seminal voices, you’ll hear contemporary poets . . . talk about the ways in which DC inspires their writing today."

7) Check out the progressive vibe of restaurant and poetry venue, Busboys and Poets, named for poet Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1930s. Even the menus spotlight political and social justice issues. Three locations.

8) Browse the packed bookshelves at Politics and Prose Coffeehouse and Book Store. (I did my first event as a new author here.) Check out their 25 Books for 25 Years List (Children and Teens Edition).

9) Visit the incredible FDR Memorial. It's filled with eminently quotable words ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"), as well as emotionally rendered and thoroughly touchable statues. You can stand beside Eleanor Roosevelt in her sensible shoes and rub President Roosevelt's dog's ears. Don't believe me? Read these vistors' reviews of this oft-overlooked memorial.

10) For more ideas, both literary and non, see the wonderful Going Out Guide from the Washington Post or the list of 62 "Hidden Gems" suggested by readers of Washingtonian magazine.

And you? Do you have something writing/poetry related to add?

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Random Noodling.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

"The joke's on you, narrow-minded cur!"

*Found on Facebook, courtesy of Edna Cabcabin Moran via Christy Lenzi. (Facebook time courtesy of Mac Freedom, which enabled me to write this morning so I could play at lunchtime.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Come see me at the brand-new Gaithersburg Book Festival

I'm honored to be part of the brand-new Gaithersburg Book Festival
Come see me at 1:00
 (Book signing follows at 2:00)

Young adults - from tweens to teens - have an opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite authors and express their creativity in several workshops at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 15, 2010. 
A free event open to all, the first annual Gaithersburg Book Festival offers a day packed with activities for young adults, from author presentations, interactive discussions, hands-on workshops and book signings.  Highlights include:

Featured Authors 
Throughout the event, authors whose works appeal to young adults will be featured presenters, sharing from their books and answering questions from festival attendees.  These authors include:
  • Tom Angleberger - A juggler, newspaper writer, square dance caller and long-time Star Wars fan, his book "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" was inspired by both his love of the movie and his disastrous middle school years.
  • Fred Bowen - Writer of the weekly KidsPost sports column in The Washington Post, his new book “No Easy Way” is a gorgeous picture-book biography of Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Bowen has two other new books - “Hardcourt Comeback” and “Dugout Rivals” - to add to his sports-fiction series for ages 8 and up (13 books in all).  Bowen was a Little Leaguer who loved to read, and now he loves showing today’s young sports fans how much fun reading can be.
  • Marfé Ferguson Delano - Author of more than a dozen non-fiction books for children, including award-winning biographies of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Annie Sullivan. Her most recent book, “Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World,” which explores global warming, won the 2010 Green Earth Book Award. Among the other awards her books have received are: American Library Association Notable Book awards, the Jefferson Cup Honor, the James Madison Book Award Honor, and the Orbis Pictus Honor. A resident of Alexandria, Virginia, Delano loves to visit schools to talk with children about her books.
  • Elizabeth Eulberg - Her first novel, “The Lonely Hearts Club,” is being touted by “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer as "a must-read for anyone who's ever fallen in love - or sworn it off completely.  A funny, fantastic debut!"  It is the story of four teenage girls who swear off relationships as they assert their independence and attempt to find themselves - all in a tapestry rich with imagery inspired by the music and lyrics of The Beatles.
  • Sara Lewis Holmes - Author of "Operation Yes," a story about a group of sixth grade students who put together a fundraiser that grows into a nationwide effort to support injured troops. As the wife of an Air Force pilot, Holmes has lived, written and raised a family in 11 states and three countries, including Germany and Japan.  She currently lives in Northern Virginia.
  • Erica Perl - After publishing three picture books, Perl has authored her first novel, "Vintage Veronica,” for young adults. She has also written about children’s books and popular culture for Slate, Double X,, The Huffington Post and others. In addition to writing books, Perl is the director of the First Book Marketplace at First Book, a nonprofit organization that has provided over 65 million brand new books to children in need.
  • Jennifer Roy - Author of “Yellow Star,” the true story of her aunt’s childhood in Poland’s Lodz Ghetto, in which a quarter of a million Jews entered, but only 800 were left alive when liberation came in 1945. Twelve of those survivors were children, including Roy's Aunt Sylvia - who now lives in Rockville, MD. The book won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award for Excellence in Children's Literature. It was also a Jewish Book Awards Finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book and a NY Public Library “100 Books For Reading and Sharing.”  Roy also co-authors the young-adult fiction “Trading Faces” series, including new book "Take Two."

Three hands-on workshops are planned to encourage young writers to explore their creativity. Pre-registration is highly recommended as these workshops have space limitations. For more information about the workshops and how to pre-register,
  • Basic Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels (ages 8-adult): Learn how to draw for comic books and graphic novels through the use of panel and page layouts and create a three-panel comic strip featuring characters of your own creation. Taught by Jonathan Cohen, owner of Beyond Comics and “Creating Comics” instructor for the Frederick Community College Kids on Campus program.
  • Poetry and Prose, Ideas Alive: Discover Your Inner Writer (grades 4-8): Learn how to bring alive a “big idea,” in either poetry or prose, using sensory imagery and metaphor. Writings will be illustrated and ultimately bound as a book. Taught by Carol Peck, who has taught creative writing at University of Maryland University College for more than 30 years, was Writer-in-Residence at Sidwell Friends School for 13 years, and has been a Poet-in-the-Schools since 1970.
  • Comedy Writing (ages 12- Adult): Learn the basics of comedy writing and satire through examples and in-workshop writing. Taught by Adam Ruben, a freelance comedy writer whose work has appeared in National Lampoon and who regularly performs stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges and private venues. Ruben’s first book, “Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School,” will be published this month.
For younger children, see the listing of great authors and workshops here. (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor!)

The inaugural Gaithersburg Book Festival will take place May 15, 2010, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of City Hall in historic Olde Towne Gaithersburg. The free event will host more than 45 nationally renowned fiction and non-fiction authors - many of whom are residents of the Washington, D.C., area. In addition to featured author presentations, there will be workshops for attendees of all ages, book signings, vendor booths, new and used book sales, and a coffee house with poets and singer/songwriters.  A full schedule of activities can be found online at

About the Gaithersburg Book Festival
The Gaithersburg Book Festival, conducted in partnership with Barnes and Noble-Gaithersburg, Friends of the Library, the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, and Chloe's Coffee and Gallery, is an annual, all-day celebration of the written word, designed to become the region’s premier literary event. It debuts on May 15, 2010 on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall, with shuttle buses running from Lakeforest Mall.  Activities include author appearances, discussions and book signings; writing workshops; a full Children’s Village; a Coffee House with poets and singer/songwriters; onsite book sales from Barnes and Noble (featuring the books of the festival's presenting authors) and Friends of the Library (used books); exhibitors; and, of course, food, drink, ice cream and more from local restaurants, with perhaps a taste-test or two from some of our food-related authors. Admission is free.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

These Aren't the Droids . . .

Lately, in an effort to break my habit of surfing around the 'net instead of drafting my new middle grade manuscript, I've taken to using a series of Star Wars lines on myself. 

"These aren't the droids you're looking for." Click. Close Facebook. 

"She can go about her business." Click. Close Google Reader.

"Move along." Click. Stop reading email. 

"Move along." Click. Open draft and start writing. 

The only thing weird about it is that I must use the slight Obi-Wan wave of my fingers. Otherwise, it doesn't work.

P.S. If you aren't practicing Jedi mind tricks on yourself to get off the Internet this morning, my editor, Cheryl Klein, has re-posted a link to her "Lines from 'Star Wars' That Can Be Improved by Substituting 'Pants' for Key Words."