Friday, October 25, 2013

Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month!

I thought maybe this would be the year I would participate in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, but one look at my travel schedule said otherwise. Then I saw this emblem on Facebook. I hopped over to Tara Lazar's blog and read about Picture Book Idea Month. The whole gist is that each participant will dream up 30 picture book ideas during the month of November. That seems doable and fun. Tara has lined up a stellar group of guest bloggers to guide us on our journey.

But to be honest, the biggest draw for me is that PiBoIDMo will be something totally different. It should be good for my creativity to shake things up! Have you ever participated in either PiBoIdMo or NaNoWriMo? If not, how do you get your creative juices flowing?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On The Wings of Angels

As a writer I often struggle for just the right word, just the right way to paint a scene, or express the proper emotion. My Aunt Abigail died unexpectedly on October 17th from a cerebral aneurysm. Shock, disbelief, anguish. I feel all of those things, but the words seem so, so inadequate.

They played Sissy's Song by Alan Jackson at Abby's funeral. It was as close to perfect as it's possible to come without a quartet of heavenly angels.

Abby was a gentle soul who was happiest in a flower garden. I don't understand why she had to go, but like the song says, I hope she flew up to heaven on the wings of angels. If anybody ever deserved to be there, she does.

Abby's obituary

Friday, October 11, 2013


I loved Grover's story. He's a likable character and so is his sister, Sudie. Their mom was recently struck and killed by a car. The kids are struggling to deal with their mom's death and with how it has affected their father. He's grown distant, prone to anger, and neglectful.

To cope with his guilt about the accident, Grover spends every spare minute in the bamboo forest weaving tapestries out of bamboo, leaves, and branches. He spends so much time weaving that he neglects his best friend, Sam, and lets his grades slide.

There are so many wonderful things about this novel. The setting is one of my favorite places, Asheville, North Carolina. The book has a cozy feel to it as Grover's family builds roaring fires, prepares a Thanksgiving meal, and hunkers down during a snow storm. I marked several passages on my Kindle because of the sacred truths they reveal. My favorite scene takes place between Grover and Matthew, the college student whose car struck Grover's mom. The book's title even comes from this scene. "What I came to tell you is this," Matthew said. "Sometimes things just happen." That's a simple, but profound truth. "When terrible things happen we want to blame somebody, even if that somebody is us. But what if nobody is to blame?"

My favorite line in WHAT I CAME TO TELL YOU is the last one. Sudie acknowledges that their father has been distant, she calls it away. "But it's all right," she said, taking Grover's hand. "my brother's been here the whole time." We could all use a brother like Grover.

To read an excerpt from this book and for more information, go to Tommy Hays's website.

Friday, October 4, 2013

THE LAURA LINE by Crystal Allen

I first picked up this book because of its cover. When I saw the family tree, I was pretty sure the book would have an historical fiction slant. I was not disappointed.

Then I flipped to the Acknowledgments because children's publishing is a small, small world. When I saw Donna Gephart mentioned, I gave the book a more serious look. As I kept reading, I discovered that Crystal Allen was the same author who wrote, HOW LAMAR'S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY.

And since I loved Lamar, that sealed the deal, and THE LAURA LINE came home with me.

What I enjoyed about both of Crystal Allen's books are the sassy voices and that her protagonists are not what you would expect. Lamar has asthma, and such a bad case of it, that bowling is his sport of choice. On the other hand, Laura, in THE LAURA LINE, is so overweight that the other kids call her Fat Larda.

I thoroughly enjoyed both books, and if you haven't discovered author, Crystal Allen, hurry to a bookstore and buy yourself a treat.