Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet my First Guest Blogger: Joyce Hostetter

Many of you know that ever since the Lord brought Joyce Hostetter and I together four years ago at Mid-South Reading and Writing Institute, we've collaborated together in several different ways. We've co-taught at NWRESA and  NCAIS; we've co-presented  "Is there a Children's Book in You?" three times at NCCAT and are about to teach there once again as well as at NCRA. Of yes, and we publish Talking Story together. By now, you'd think we were joined by the hip and were tired of each other! But instead, we constantly learn from one another; right now she is teaching me how to use OneNote and I am teaching her about wikis.

Sometimes we pose for silly pictures together,

and sometimes we get silly when we meet at Panera Bread for lunch.

But, we're always happy to promote each other's books.

And now we're going to be guest bloggers on each other's blogs! So, without further ado, here is Joyce's first guest blog --which I hope you enjoy as much as I did!


February is almost over and I've done nothing to acknowledge African-American History Month. I've hardly blogged at all, actually, but still - what kind of excuse is that?

This morning, my friend, Carol Baldwin unwittingly inspired me. She'd driven to Chapel Hill last night to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater live performance, Revelations. On her way home today, she called with all sorts of superlatives about the performance - "incredibly strong, controlled, liquid, amazing use of space". And more!

So naturally I scurried around to the video sites to get a feel for what I'd missed. Please watch this at full screen! It's not the same as a live performance but it will take you way beyond this tiny box of images.

Celebrating Revelations at 50 Film from AlvinAileyAmericanDanceTheater on Vimeo.

Since FIX ME JESUS is one of my favorite spirituals, I can't help but share it here.

Want to know more? View a timeline of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater History.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rise of the Young Adult Novel- YA Literature Panel Discussion

Tracey Adams, Beth Revis, Snow Wildsmith, Lois Moss, Carrie Ryan

Hosted by the newly formed chapter of the Women's National Book Association, last week's YA Literature panel packed in a lively group of young adult and middle grade writers. The panel was ably moderated by Snow Wildsmith, former teen librarian, writer, and book reviewer; her questions about writing and the business of writing kept the panelists busy. Here are some highlights of the evening:
  • How important are social networking sites? Panelists agreed that there are pro's and con's of maintaining a web presence. Tracey Adams of Adams Literary commented that when a new author contacts her, she is interested in seeing who they are friends with on Facebook. But ultimately, "All that matters is having a good book," she said. Carrie Ryan, author of  the trilogy, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places acknowledged that there were occasions when she spent too much time on social networking sites. "The best thing to do is to write your next book," she advised writers. But, the panelists agreed that teens enjoy connecting with their favorite authors and getting to know them through their blogs and websites.
  • What are agents and publishers looking for? Although historical fiction (my favorite genre!) was not at the top of the Teens Top 10 Trends in 2010, I was encouraged to hear that "a good book finds its home--no matter what." Dystopian fiction, which secured the number one spot in 2010, apparently is now declining on publishers' wish lists.
  • Why do you write for kids? Carrie Ryan eloquently answered this with, "Someone out there is now a reader because he liked my book."
  • What is the best book jacket idea to hit area bookstores? Beth Revis's publisher (Penguin) had the ingenious idea of making Across the Universe's book jacket reversible. One side appeals to girls (you have one guess to figure out what was depicted) and one to boys.
  • Must a book be polished before you submit it to an agent? Tracey Adams said, "Agents are looking for more polished manuscripts than they used to but don't make a change to your manuscript unless it rings true."
  • What are kids in North Carolina reading? Check out the NC School Library Media Association YA Book Award which is selected by middle and high school students.

While I was waiting for the panelists to gather for a group shot, photographer and book blogger, Lois Moss, was busy clicking away at candid shots. Check out her blog for great examples of her photography and a book review of  Exposed by Kimberly Marcus which Tracey recommended reading.

  • What did you learn, Carol? Writing trumps blogging. And future blogs will be directed to my future audience-- young readers looking for compelling historical fiction. And maybe I'll convince a publisher that Half-Truths needs a reversible book jacket. Hey, it's worth a try.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Young Adult Literature Panel

If you live in or near Charlotte, NC and you're interested in writing for teens, then mark your calendar for the free panel, "The Rise of the Young Adult Novel" sponsored by the Women's National Book Association.

When: Tuesday, Februrary 15 from 6:30-8 

Where: Quail Hollow Estates Club House. 7301 Quail Meadow Lane, right off Park/Johnston Road.

Who: Panelists: Tracey Adams (literary agent), Lois Moss (book blogger), Beth Revis (author- Across the Universe), Carrie Ryan (author- The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves, and Snow Wildsmith (writer, librarian).

No registration is required. Park Road books will have Carrie's and Beth's books for sale.

Come, read, and learn!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Write 2 Ignite is Around the Corner!

 It's not too late to sign up for the Write2Ignite conference on February 18-19. Conference registration has just been extended to February 15.

I am looking forward to teaching teens the elements of writing a short story, encouraging the conference participants who seek to write quality Christian literature for children, and meeting Terri Kelly. Terri is a writer and editor of and we have been emailing one another for months. You can read her interview of me here.

For more information about me (that you were afraid to ask!) you can also read this interview posted on the Write2Ignite blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I'm not much of a baseball fan. To be honest, it has always seemed like a fairly boring game and one that drones on without much excitement. Oops- has my honesty just alienated a baseball fan among my blog readers?

But wait. Reading Heat by Mike Lupcia changed my opinion. Before, I had no idea how much strategy went into pitches, batting orders, bunts and walks. But now I do! All because of a reader-grabbing story about a Cuban pitcher and his little league team.

I chose this book on CD figuring it would be a good book for boys. It is that for sure. But upper elementary and middle school girls will also enjoy reading about how 12-year-old Michael Arroyo, dreams of helping his team get to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. He's got the pitches, but when a rival coach challenges his age in order to block him from competing, Michael discovers what he lacks: his birth certificate to prove his eligiblity.

Michael's father died months before the story opens leaving he and his brother Carlos alone in New York City. His father's wish, conveyed to Mrs. Cora the family friend who watches over them, was that the children would not be split up and placed in foster care. Since Carlos is a few months shy of 18, this secret is the center from which this story spins out.

 Several supporting characters make this story funny and appealing to boys and girls. His best friend Manny is a wise-cracking comedian and Michael's first crush, Elly, turns out to be the daughter of theYankee pitcher who is Michael's hero. In the end, Manny helps create the "happy ending" that he believes his best friend deserves.

I hope this book trailer whets your appetite:


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