Monday, April 18, 2011

Art Linkletter was right!

When I was a kid, Art Linkletter had a show on TV about the sayings of kids. I guess I thought it was funny then, but it means so much more now as I listen to my grandsons explain situations to me. Their utter delight in saying something funny is totally refreshing. From talking to an imaginary friend in a pocket who, by the way, has a ladder that will reach to heaven so they really could visit Great Grandma, to deciding to have the name Tiger and declare to be 100 years old, their fun with words never stops. Even more rewarding, is the fact that most of the time they are purposefully using language to have fun! What a great lesson to learn from ones so small - using language to entertain, not bully; using language to be creative, not destructive; using language to share feelings, not hurt them. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not blinded by my love for these little ones - they use language in other ways, too. Poopy-head being a favorite. And they are quick to correct us grownups when we say something inappropriate, also. What I am trying to figure out is how to keep them having fun with words and how I can use what they teach me to write better books for them. Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy our witty and insightful conversations. So I will leave you with a recent exchange: Me: "I love you to the moon. " Grandson: "I love you to the back of the moon. " It doesn't get any better!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thunder Thoughts...

I thoroughly enjoyed the thunderstorm this morning. When we first moved to Maine from Pennsylvania in the mid-80s, there never seemed to be any thunderstorms. Coming from south central PA, we were used to some pretty hefty thunderstorms during the summer months. I missed them . The last several years, however, there seem to be more thunderstorms occurring. Perhaps global warming, or cyclical pattern changes or I am just more aware? I was born during a thunderstorm which may explain my affection for this particular meteorological event. (I actually spell checked that weather word because it didn't look right!) Spelling aside, thunder boomers rate high on my warm weather rain events. Of course, there is nothing better than the surprise of thunder snow in the middle of winter! Being a lover of books, I still like to think that they are bowling away in the Hudson River Valley as Rip Van Winkle snores on. What or where is your favorite thunder? Thunder Hole? Thunder Bay? Catching thunder?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Test Groups

I am finding that I am asking adults less often to give me feedback on my work and, taking a deep breath, having students be my critique group. My first adventure in this method was having 5th, 7th and 9th grade students edit my middle grade novel. I must admit I was more than a bit nervous when I returned to gather their feedback. But after pushing down that defensive dragon in me, I listened ,fascinated, as they told me what they thought would make the book better and what they liked. But even more gratifying to me, was the way they told me their thoughts. There was no sarcasm or derision in their voices - and, yes, these were typical tweens and teens. They wanted to be part of the process and appreciated the opportunity to have an author listen to their ideas and actually take notes on what they said. And they want to know when I will have copies for them published! That was the hard part - telling them I didn't know if it would ever be published. So now I am bravely trying out a new counting manuscript with second graders. This piece can be read as a book or done as a type of square dance. After five classes of second graders worked with me last week, I received a thumbs up from students and teachers to keep working on it. So off I go to Winslow this week to try it with some more second graders. Their feedback comes in giggles, sparkling eyes and hugs! Book signing for Cowboy Billy on Saturday, April 30th, at 11am at Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop in Bath. New research notes for the middle grade novel at