Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Three Picture Books for You or for Your Classroom


I've bombarded your inbox this week because of some timely reviews and announcements. I'll be taking a short blogging break, but will be back soon with more giveaways and reviews.


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I'm the fortunate recipient of many fine picture books to review and give away. Here are three that I think would be great resources in a classroom library --although you are welcome to try and win them for a beloved young reader!


America, Here I Come!


The author, Kyra Burton, is passionate about helping child immigrants transition to living in the United States. Her story follows Anna and Artem who live in Odessa in the Ukraine--"the most beautiful place in the world"--and a city that has beautiful butterflies. The children are upset when their parents announce they are moving to Raleigh, NC, where both of them have obtained jobs. The siblings dread having to make new friends and going to new schools; Anna finds some comfort by expressing her feelings in a journal. After getting settled in their new home, both Anna and Artem make new friends at a neighborhood park. On the way home they spot a butterfly and Anna points to it and thinks, "This butterfly is almost as pretty as the ones...back home." See Kyra's website for more resources on making America home. 



Miep and the Most Famous Diary: The Woman Who Rescued Anne Frank's Diary


Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is a classic that's informed a world of readers of the atrocities of the Holocaust. But, who knows the story of Miep Gies--the woman who put her own life on the line in order to save Anne's family and several other Jews? Miep and The Most Famous Diary written by Meeg Pincus and illustrated by Jordi Solano, gives a different perspective on this famous story. The day that her friends are arrested is one that Miep has dreaded for two years. After they are carted away by the Nazis, Miep finds Anne's diary, knowing that Anne dreamt of publishing it after the war. She hides it and refuses to read it. But when Mr. Frank returns after the war, Miep gives him this wonderful reminder of his intelligent, hopeful daughter. 



Everybody Says MEOW 


Readers of my blog aren't strangers to Constance Lombardo and her love for all things feline (Mr. Puffball, anyone?). In her debut picture book, Constance has written and illustrated a fun, colorful picture book that is short on words, but big on a lesson about inclusivity. Toddlers will enjoy identifying the different animals and repeating the noises that each make. Great pre-reading skills are reinforced for first readers.



GIVEAWAYS

Please leave a comment by 6 PM on December 14. Leave your NAME and email address (I don't know who UNKNOWN is!) and which book you'd like to receive. Both America, Here I Come and Everybody Says MEOW are autographed by the author. I'll mail them on Monday and hopefully you'll get them in time for Christmas. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Give the Gift of Writing

Do you know a teen or tween who dreams of writing a book? Or, perhaps your spouse or best friend is a budding poet. Either way, Write2Ignite has the perfect gift opportunity!

Starting in January, Brenda Covert and I will be giving writing workshops in several South Carolina Hobby Lobby stores.

The cost for each two-hour workshop is $25.00. But, if you purchase a workshop by December 31, it is only $20.00. (See payment details below.)

Cracking the Core of Fiction Writing: Character and Conflict for Teens and Tweens


Date and Time: January 11, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Location: Hobby Lobby, 1511 Woodruff Rd, Greenville, SC 29607

Supplies: Notebook and a pen. Or, use a journal from Hobby Lobby and a special set of colored pens!

Description: If you’re between the ages of 11-17 and love creating stories, then this is the workshop for you. Join North Carolina author, Carol Baldwin, for a fun and informative workshop that will help you create memorable characters with conflict—the driving force of a riveting story. Whether you’re writing fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, or a contemporary story, the principles you’ll acquire will move you forward on your writing journey.

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Date and Time: January 18, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Location: Hobby Lobby, 7816 Charlotte Hwy, Indian Land, SC 29707

Supplies: Notebook and a pen. Or, use a journal from Hobby Lobby and a special set of colored pens!

Description: If you’re between the ages of 11-17 and love creating stories, then this is the workshop for you. Join North Carolina author, Carol Baldwin, for a fun and informative workshop that will help you create memorable characters with conflict—the driving force of a riveting story. Whether you’re writing fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, or a contemporary story, the principles you’ll acquire will move you forward on your writing journey.


From the Heart: The Gift of Poetry 


Date and Time: January 25, 1:30- 3:30

Location:  Hobby Lobby, 7816 Charlotte Hwy, Indian Land, SC 29707

Supplies: Notebook and pen, laptop, tablet, or whatever you're most comfortable writing on.  Or, use a journal from Hobby Lobby and a special set of colored pens.

Description: This poetry writing workshop is for teens and adults who want to craft the perfect poem for Valentine's Day. Brenda Covert, author of a teen poetry curriculum, will help you find your poetic voice so that you have a poem suitable for framing and gift-giving. A gift from your heart is the best gift of all!

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Date and Time: February 1,  3:30-5:30

Location: Hobby Lobby, 6007 Wade Hampton Blvd, Taylors, SC 29687

Supplies: Notebook and pen, laptop, tablet, or whatever you're most comfortable writing on.  Or, use a journal from Hobby Lobby and a special set of colored pens.

Description: This poetry writing workshop is for teens and adults who want to craft the perfect poem for Valentine's Day. Brenda Covert, author of a teen poetry curriculum, will help you find your poetic voice so that you have a poem suitable for framing and gift-giving. A gift from your heart is the best gift of all!

TO PURCHASE A WORKSHOP AND REGISTER


Email Cathy Biggerstaff.  Let her know which workshop you are purchasing and who will be attending. She will then send you a PayPal invoice. DEADLINE for the discount is 12/31/19 but participants can also pay when they come. Checks should be made out to Write2Ignite. Questions? Contact me or Brenda Covert.

Coming in March: Self-Publishing with Sandra Warren and Gretchen Griffith in Hickory, NC.


Date to be announced.

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc - An Audiobook Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden who won Sandra Warren's book, Obsessed By A Promise.

If you want to read a masterful portrayal of deep POV from multiple perspectives (as well as from the perspective of objects) then I recommend that you get hold of a copy of Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc. Not only will you have a great mentor text for deep POV, but you'll also experience multiple types of poetic forms from the medieval period. Plus, you'll discover what life was like for Joan of Arc

Kudos to author, David Elliott. I can't imagine the research needed to write this short book in beautiful, classical poetry. 




REVIEW


Joan's story is told through herself, her mother, father, different witnesses at her Trial of Condemnation and testimony from the posthumous Trial of Nullification. But that is far from all. Charles VII also has a voice--one that is filled with his embarrassment over a young maid who said he needed her to rescue France from the English. 

Joan was a diligent, virtuous daughter, who could spin and mend better than any other woman in her village. But she was bored by these common, household tasks that bound her. In her fierce loyalty to her king, Charles VII, she believed that she could help him win the Hundred Year War. Around the age of thirteen she reported that she started receiving visions from saints and angels. They were her guides as she left home on her passionate journey to save her country. The archangel Michael has a voice of his own in the narrative. 

The author personifies both objects which Joan encountered as well as concepts. For example, here are parts of the poem from the voice of Joan's needle which she used as a young woman:


In the circle of women, is where I am found. Stitching and hemming and mending. I've been handled by many both maiden and crone...No one could touch her, the girl they called Joan. Ferocious, focus, strong-willed. She was a warrior,  the linen her foe. I was her weapon, her sword in her hand.

Other objects had voices. A pitchfork used by a farmer turned soldier, ("Why did he take me away from the farm?");  a 700-year-old sword she requested be brought to her ("How did she find me? Why did she take me from my rest?"); the alms she gave to the poor ("I felt precious in her hand"); the cattle she cared for ("Why did she see angels?"); her hair ("Cut off to her ears because it was too alluring to men"); the arrow that missed its target; the crossbow that found her thigh; her red dress she always wore and the tunic that replaced it; her virginity, and lust. Dramatically repeated was the somber voice of Fire: burning, soaring, and ready to devour. 

Because of the graphic and intimate portrayal of Joan's life and death, I recommend this for mature teens and adults. It would be a remarkable gift for someone who fits that category of readers.

Outside of Nikki Grimes' books, I rarely listen to a book and recommend that the audio version is the best way to "read" the novel. But in this case, I can't say enough about the dramatization that the three narrators, Saskia Maarleveld, Celeste Ciulla, and Luis Moreno provide. Their voices give a rich depth to the characters and objects that populated Joan of Arc's last years. Here is an audio snippet


GIVEAWAY

To enter, please leave a comment by December 12 with your email address if you are new to my blog. This is another giveaway courtesy of Recorded Books. Continental Unites States only. 


Monday, December 2, 2019

Obsessed by a Promise: A Review, Author Interview, and Autographed Giveaway

I blogged about the Orphan Train at the time that I reviewed Rory's Promise. When Sandra Warren told me about her new book, I was intrigued to find another book on the subject, this time from the perspective of an adult. 



REVIEW


In this multi-point-of-view "rags to riches" story, the reader meets a young boy, nicknamed Blue, who in 1929 is left in charge of his younger brother, Bo. Blue is devastated when they are separated and he promises that he'll find Bo. This obsession drives Blue (who later goes by his initials, JT) for fifty years. 

Living on the streets of New York City, JT gets a lucky break and is taken in by a storekeeper, Mr. O. The kindly man realizes that JT is smart and responsible and gradually gives him more and more responsibility. At the height of the depression a rich man, Mr. Trasinski, comes to the store wanting to sell apples. JT makes a deal with him that saves Mr. Trasinski and his family--something Mr. Trasinski never forgets.

Fast forward two decades, and JT is like Mr. Trasinski's son, working hard for his land development company.  Although JT marries Mr. Trasinski's beautiful daughter, Adrianna, his marriage and the subsequent birth of their son, Jake, is marred by JT's incessant search for Bo. Even his business trips become excuses to find his brother. When he realizes that Bo was taken west on the Orphan Train, JT hopes his search is almost over.  It's not until JT risks losing Jake that he realizes the mistakes he made always putting Bo, his "phantom brother" before the people he truly loved. 

Two unexpected twists at the end bring the story to a satisfactory close. This well-researched family saga is full of love, the price of success, grief, and regret. 


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

CAROL: What drew you to the story of the Orphan Train?

SANDRA:  The idea that children, most homeless but not all, could be taken from the streets, put on trains and shipped across country, lined up on a stage and given away, auction style, to couples who asked for them, surprised and horrified me. Even though the concept was developed with good intentions, all I could think of were the pitfalls. When I learned siblings were often separated, the story of Blue and Bo began to unfold. 

CAROL: How did you research and for how long? 

SANDRA: My introduction to the Orphan Train was back in the late 1990’s. The Internet was in its infant stage of development when I began writing the screenplay so I had to rely on the resources listed in a book I found. My research revolved around the basic facts and a few personal accounts as well as information about the era between 1929 and 1979. Twenty-two years later, when the novel finally came together, the Internet was immensely helpful in fine tuning time and place aspects of the story. 

      CAROL: Why did you choose different POV? 

SANDRA: The story was first written and optioned as a screenplay. Having developed it as such, each character had motivations, flaws, and purpose. It seemed a natural progression to write the novel from different points of view. For me, it was the easiest way to weave the basic facts into the story, allowing each character’s side of the issue to come forward. 

CAROL: What were your challenges writing in this manner?

SANDRA: Each character had to appear and behave in a manner different from the others, yet consistent with their role in the story. Having it first written as a screenplay helped tremendously. 

CAROL: Who is your readership? 

SANDRA: The screenplay was written with adults in mind. However, I’ve had two agents tell me it fit the young adult (YA) genre and what is now called a crossover book. 

CAROL: As a self-published author, how are you marketing the book?

      SANDRA: The trick is to be creative in getting the word out.        
  1. Social Media; Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, my website, podcasts, radio interviews, etc.
  2. Collaboration with other authors.
  3. Personal appearances: exhibits, holiday markets, artists galleries, bookstores, festivals. I use personal appearances to get the word out about my presentations. 
  4. Presentations: schools and local organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Historical Societies, Veterans groups, Newcomers, festivals, church groups, etc. 
  5. Offering workshops and classes. 
  6. Revising the screenplay and pursue options again. Obviously, selling the screenplay will lead to many book sales. 

ONE LAST WORD FROM SANDRA: Writing Obsessed By A Promise made my respect for novelists grow immensely. Previously, the longest books I’d written were non-fiction and military memoirs where I gathered the facts and make them readable. It was super challenging to have to create the scene, give it a sense of time and place without appearing to do so, as well as develop characters that can tell the story I wanted told.  

GIVEAWAY 


Sandra is giving away an autographed copy of Obsessed By A Promise to one fortunate reader. It would make a great holiday gift for the history lover reader on your list. Leave me a comment by December 5 for a chance to win. Double your chances by sharing this post on social media or following my blog. Make sure you leave me your email address and let me know what you did. Continental United States only. 


Bumps In the Road and Writing Roles: Part II of Co-Authoring Dialogue with Cat Michaels and Rosie Russell

 Congratulations to Gwen Porter who won the second copy of The Teachers March! from the bonus blog. ***** Welcome back to my second conversa...