Archive for April, 2012

Literary Rambles

April 23, 2012

I was so delighted to see that Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre received some well-deserved recognition for their fabulous blog, Literary Rambles. It made theWriter’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers in the May/June issue.  They came in at #13 under “Everything Agents.”   In addition to spot-lighting agents, they also profile writers.  So this is a great place to get more information on new releases.


Ghosts I Have Been

April 15, 2012

A hundred years ago today, the Titantic went down with more than 1600 souls lost. Sure, I’ve seen the James Cameron movie, but my favorite depiction of that horrific moment of history came out 25 years ago with the publication of Richard Peck’s GHOSTS I HAVE BEEN.   

Blossom Culp, the story’s main character, made her first appearance in Peck’s THE GHOST BELONGED TO ME as a member of the supporting cast.  I could certainly understand why Peck wanted to spend more time with Blossom. In fact, GHOSTS I HAVE BEEN was probably one of my favorite books in elementary school.  The first 120 pages or so are concerned with Blossom’s various activities from playing a ghost in a privy in the opening chapter to revealing the ‘shady dealings of a seance medium doubling as a con-man” in Chapter 10.   Miss Spaulding, Blossom’s formidable teacher and principal, invites a local newspaperman, Lowell Seaforth, to come to school in hopes that Blossom will “settle down to a quiet life and be a team player” after she receives some attention for her activities.  But Miss Spaulding is less than pleased by some of the details.

      “But, Blossom, is it not enough to tell us of your many actual, activities…without fabricating?”
       I opened my mouth to protest but closed it again.
       “In short, Blossom, you may play at being a ghost ,as you seem never to tire of, but you cannot see one. This flies in the face of science.”
        I’d sooner not fly in the face of science if it meant flying in the face of Miss Spaulding.  So I sat swinging my feet and examining my boots, which were my old ones.
        “And so, Blossom, for your own good and in the presence of the press, we must have on final confrontation with the truth. You have said that you have Second Sight, can see the Unseen, and have conversed with spirits.  Is this true and will you go on record for it?”
         I would and nodded.
         “Very well, Blossom. Then prove it. Now.” 

At that point, Blossom would have gladly negotiated for a thrashing but knew that Miss Spaulding didn’t make deals.  She tried to conjure up something. Nothing came.  It was not a good time for her Second Sight to quit on her until…

       Then I heard the first rumble. The sound I’d heard once before. The rasp of two great objects grinding together–iron against ice.  It was deeper than thunder and at first farther off.  But the roaring was soon in my ears and then in the room.
       The office began to throb and pound, like engines in the earth running out of control. I had hold of the chair arms to keep from pitching out.  If this was not the San Francisco earthquake, it was near kin of it….Just before the desk lamp fell over, I saw Miss Spaulding’s pince-nez glasses slip down her face. Her hand clamped over her mouth. The bulp in the lamp exploded. Lowell Seaforth’s voice came up strong: “Damnation! What have we unleashed?” 

You know that you want to find out!  I promise that anyone who liked Richard Peck’s award-winning YEAR DOWN YONDER and A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO will enjoy GHOSTS I HAVE BEEN.

Guest Post on Peter Salomon’s Blog

April 11, 2012

I agreed to serve as one of Peter’s victims guests, so  I’m his Wednesday interview.  Peter’s debut novel, Henry Franks, is coming out this September from Flux.  The description on the Flux website is only slightly different from the query letter that Peter used to get some book industry attention.  He was kind enough to share it with me when I put out a call for successful queries to share in a talk for an SCBWI retreat a few years ago:

Sometimes, the only thing worse than forgetting is remembering.

Sixteen-year-old Henry Franks almost didn’t survive the accident that claimed his mother’s life and, suffering from post-traumatic amnesia, he relies upon his father to tell him who he is.

If he can trust his father.

HENRY FRANKS details one man’s obsessive desire to save his son and one boy’s need to find himself.

While a serial killer stalks the small southern town he lives in, Henry unearths the bitter truth behind his mother’s death—and the terrifying secrets of his own dark past

Success…of a Kind

April 9, 2012

Emily Dickenson may have been of the opinion that “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.” But she only submitted her poetry to The Atlantic Monthly once.  After her first rejection, she never tried again. A few of her poems were published in her lifetime, but only because her friends wanted to see them published.  But today’s success is pretty sweet:  my agent was pleased with all those changes that I made last fall! In fact, that chapter that didn’t want to be written must have worked because her only requests for clarifications were on another matter entirely.

Back to Blogging

April 1, 2012

Believe it or not, I’ve missed my little soapbox.  Every once in a while I would find myself thinking that it would be nice to pull together a nice little rant on some topic or other.  But then I’d think about my stack of undone student assignments.  I know how hard it can be to wait for feedback, so I try to avoid making them wait any longer than I have to.  And then there was the siren call of Venice for my Italian chase novel.  I was really struggling with my first chase scene along the canals of Venice. Not that I was suffering. After all, I was busy checking out bird’s eye and ground level views of Venice courtesy of Google Maps.  This is such a great tool and time-waster all rolled into one. 

I’m also keeping copies of Rick Steves’ Italy and Art for Dummies  within an armslength of my computer. These books were invaluable when it came to deciding on what to visit when my family lived in Europe. 

I remember wrinkling my nose when my husband picked up the Dummies book until I saw it was by Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He definitely made art interesting and accessible.   And now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be writing this novel in this way without the  perspective he offered on one of his favorite artists, an artist who should be better known….