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Countdown of my favorite books – part 7.

These next two books absolutely made my list! Check them out.


What a classic middle grade. I first bought it after hearing Kate speak at the New England SCBWI. This book won the E.B. White read aloud award and I’m not surprised. Excellent writing and storytelling with a moving ending.

HAPENNY MAGICK by Jennifer Carson

I’ve read this story. I’ve critiqued this story. But I can’t wait to read it again, not on my computer or on my Kindle, but holding a book. It’s out folks! Another classic middle grade story filled with heart, humor, and a terrific climax! Watch out for trolls!

What are your favorite read aloud middle grade books?

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Another super contest!

Sarah Wylie at Sarah with a Chance is celebrating her book contract for All These Lives due out in 2012 with a contest!

You don’t want to miss this one.

Um, let’s see. A partial critique from an agent. Twizzlers. Query critique by an agent. Lunch with two agents. And a copy of Hex Hall, which I can’t wait to read. And more.

Go check it out and fill out the contest form!

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A few awards!

 I didn’t have to put on a fancy low cut dress or walk a red carpet but I  received some awards, and it’s time to pass them on!

   Thanks to Heather at Edited to Within an Inch of My Life, for The  Silver Lining Award.

And I pass it on to to Kristin Torres-Toro at Write in the Way. I think everyone that peeks at my blog, reads hers too, but if not check it out. She had a very inspirational post today (Monday).

Thanks Karen!

Thanks to Karen Strong for the Over the Top award. Check out her thought-invoking post from Monday. Guarranteed to make you ponder life and writing.

And before I try and answer all the one word questions I want to pass this award onto Anna Staniszewski for all her recent posts on POV. You’ve gotta stop by and read them. (Even though you probably already have.)

Where is your cell phone?  Gulp. Don’t have one.                                                 Your hair? medium                                                                                                             Your mother?  Cool.                                                                                                            Your father? A running fool.
Your favorite food? Pizza.
Your dream last night? None.
Your favorite drink? Coffee.
Your dream/goal? Be happy.
What room are you in? Kitchen.
Your hobby? Not quilting.
Your fear? Hornets.
Where do you want to be in 6 years? At home
Where were you last night? Watching Super Bowl.
Something that you aren’t?  Stuck up.
Muffins? Pumpkin Spice.
Wish list item? New computer desk.
Where did you grow up? Small town.
Last thing you did? Chatted with my crit group.
What are you wearing? Fleece jammies.
Your TV? Okay.
Your pets? None.
Friends? Super.
Your life? Can’t complain.
Your mood? Right in the middle.
Missing someone? No
Vehicle? Mini-van.
Something you’re not wearing? My puffy coat.                                                         our favorite store? One with the shortest line.
Your favorite color? Blue.
When was the last time you laughed? Today.
Last time you cried? Depends on how you define cry.
Your best friend? Too far away.
One place that I go to over and over? Elementary school.
One person who emails me regularly? My husband.
Favorite place to eat? Papa Gino’s.

I have a really hard time believing anyone read that! I’ll be having a test next week.

Okay, I’m leaving the lime light, trying not to trip on the red carpet on my way out. Seriously, go check out those awesome blogs! 

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Aftermath of tension. You gotta have it.

It doesn’t matter what kind of tension is in your story.

Street chase through New york. A blood thirsty vampire hunting for its next victim. A dark alley when the reader knows something bad is going to happen(which happens way too much). A big secret is revealed that changes the direction of the story. A moment of confrontation. A boy wizard facing his arch enemy.

It’s important to the believability of your story to give your character a chance to calm down.

I knew this but only fully appreciated it last week. At my daughter’s spelling bee. I know. Geez. Not even a hotty fallen angel or vampire involved.

My daughter is a good speller. She won last year. She wanted to win again and felt the pressure. My heart pounded for each kid that willingly put themselves in the spotlight in front of their classmates. Talk about tension. But when my daughter stood in front of the microphone, my heart pounded so hard it almost broke a rib. I think the judges could hear it from the front of the room. Maybe even the first graders could hear down the hall in their rooms with the doors shut while watching a Magic School Bus video on insects. Seriously.

Each time my daughter got up, my hands shook and my heart danced the tango – if someone was watching I’m sure I showed all the classic symptoms of high stress. Now, picture an entire hour and a half of this. I was a quivering, shivering wreck of a mom rooting for her child. She got to the final two. They went back and forth, of course, drawing it out just to torture me. It ended. My daughter won.

And I crashed. Totally.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I felt it the rest of the day. And I was not in a life or death situation. No witches cackling in the shadows with a wand pointed at me. No vampires swooping out of the night mist. Not even a big bad bully, which these days isn’t so scary anymore.

But it felt like it.

So, if your characters are being stalked, chased, bullied, or if they are in a spelling bee, remember that they will have side effects of feeling that tension. And giving them a moment to catch their breath and relax will only make your high tense scene, your character, and your story that much more believable.

Now, I’m heading off into my wip to, uh, give my characters a breather. You know, the whole scene/sequel, pacing thing.

What kind of tense scenes have your characters gone through? How do you show them recover?

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Surprise. Twist. Turn!

A couple months ago, my sister offered me the perfect opportunity to bond with my niece and nephew. I could come babysit while her and her husband went to Jamaica. Hmm. I’d rather be in Jamaica…but, Nashville should be definitely warmer in February than New Hampshire. Right? I mean right?

You see, it’s really hard to bond with my niece and nephew over a container of Play-Doh or a good book when my kids are around. And, what a great chance to escape the snow storms and knee deep snow for a while. Maybe see some grass. Green grass.


My sister called and said there was a whopping snow storm coming through TN of 3-5 inches. You might have heard about it on the news. I kinda laughed to myself. 3-5 inches? I mean come on. That’s like a sprinkling of fairy dust in the land I come from. So I lost a day of preparation and got on an early flight to miss the storm. Well, good thing I did. She wasn’t kidding when she said Nashville closes down before a flurry even hits the pavement.

TWIST! (and I don’t mean the dance)

The airports closed for over 24 hours. I learned several things about Nashville.

One, they have like one plow truck for the whole city. So side streets don’t get plowed! (gasp) They wait for the snow to melt! Except, in this case, it stayed cold here, like 15 degree New Hampshire cold. (so much for green grass) So, it’s day three and the streets are still covered with icy chunks of snow.

Two, I learned that I’m a total sledding snob. The day after the snow here, people flocked to the hills like Julie Andrews. And they weren’t wearing matching LLBean snow suits. Kids were wearing sneakers, their mom’s furry fashion boots, mix-matched sweatshirts, jeans, and a few actually had snow pants. I felt like I’d gone back in time.


The kids and adults were sledding in the streets! No worries about snow plows. No worries about cars because no one has snow tires. I watched one lady use a rake to shovel her driveway. We walked to the nearest sledding hill and it was packed. And really, who needs a sled? A laundry basket, cookie sheet,  or piece of cardboard will work just as well. Or your parent’s 40 year old runner sled. You know, the dangerous kind, they suggest not to use anymore. It was a joy to watch.

In New Hampshire, we take snow for granted. We only hit the hills when there’s been a good snow, then we wait a day for other sledders to pack it down, then we go. And if there’s sleet, so the hills turn to a sheet of ice, well, we know to stay home.  And some people don’t go sledding – they go skiing. Like I said, we’re total sledding snobs.

In Tennessee, I feel like I’m in Southtown when the Cold Meiser was allowed to make it snow for one day. And, it has been a lot of fun to watch EVERYONE hit the hills singing and sledding and having plain old fun.

And now, I’ve heard that on Wed. when I’m flying home, New Hampshire might get a snow storm. I just might have to patch up my laundry basket. Or not.

All this to say, I love unexpected surprises, twists, and turns when I’m reading. Have you added one to your story?

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