Thursday, September 30, 2004

Jane Peddicord

I had the distinct pleasure of lunching at Katz's today with new Austin author Jane Peddicord, who has picture books under contract with Charlesbridge and Harcourt. She was fun and friendly, and full of questions about the author's life. (Also another recovering lawyer).

More personally, Stephanie sent me the most gorgeous scarf--knitted herself. It's a deep fuschia/burgundy pink, soft and fuzzy, along with two books on grieving. Such a sweetheart.

Planning to watch the presidential debates with Greg tonight.

So far, no keying in changes on the new mss, but the day is young. I have hope still.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Julie Lake

The lovely Julie Lake is taking over as the Austin SCBWI regional advisor. She's the author of Galveston's Summer of the Storm, and I'm one of her biggest fans.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Knopf Delacorte Dell Fall 2004

Received the Knopf, Delacorte, Dell Young Readers Group Catalog today and found many titles to read, including:

The People Could Fly: The Picture Book by the late Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon; 0-375-82405-7; Tio Jose And The Singing Trees by first time author David Gonzales, illustrated by Stacey Schuett; 9-385-32744-7; A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff; 0-385-73066-7; Molly McGinty Has A Really Good Day by Gary Paulsen; 0-385-32588-6; Laugh Till You Cry by the late Joan Lowery Nixon; 0-385-73027-6; Bucking The Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis; 0-385-32307-7; Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes; 0-385-73072-1; Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez; 0-375-82760-9; Red Palms by Cara Haycak; 0-385-74648-2; To Establish Justice: Citizenship And The Constitution by Patricia McKissack and Arlene Zarembka; 0-679-89308-3; Orphea Proud by Sharon Dennis Wyeth; 0-385-32497-9.

For the fun of it: To the extent I can tell from the bios, of the children's/YA book creators featured in the catalog:

29 live outside the U.S. (mostly the U.K., mostly England);

19 live in California or the NE United States (New England);

6 live anywhere else in the entire U.S. (a book by Texan Joan Lowery Nixon is featured in the catalog, but sadly, she has passed on);

6 are members of traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups in the children's book creator community (all Latino or African American, including Newbery winner Christopher Paul Curtis and first-time author David Gonzales)(a book by Virginia Hamilton is featured in the catalog, but sadly, she has passed on).

3 are teenagers (Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Christopher Paolini, and Kelly McWilliams (who lives in Arizona)(all three pages make mention of their youth)).

On Cyn's Mind

This past week's episode of "Dateline," "How Safe Are Your Favorite Restaurants?", rated the top ten moderately priced family chain restaurants for health code violations. They measured critical violations, which are the kind of things like cross-contamination, food temperature, and vermin (ew!), which can send you to the hospital.

The upshot is that Denny's is the best, Red Lobster and Bob Evans aren't bad, and pretty much avoid everything else. Given the option, I choose an Austin-owned restaurant locally and apply that same approach to most major cities, but sometimes on a highway or in a suburb, the choices are few. Yikes!

This reminds me, Greg says that according to a recent Rand study, people living in suburbs live four fewer years than people living in the cities. Supposedly, this is because of traffic stress and fatalities during peak commute times.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Idiot Speak

Tried reading a book last night and found myself distracted by all the "idiot speak."

"Idiot speak" is when the characters say things to each other that they all already know. It's a transparent vehicle for the author to offer backstory. Seamless integration is the much better, though more difficult, way to go.

I hasten to add that I'm not the person who named "I.S." that, which I admit sounds harsh. I've seen it referred to that way in writing articles.

More personally, I revised from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today--reading and cutting. Had dinner with Greg at Katz's (scrambled eggs and turkey ham).

People on my mind: Elisa Carbone, Kathi Appelt, Fred Bortz, Debbi Michiko Florence (who sent my chocolates and a bookmark from Hawaii), and Dian Curtis Regan.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hope Vestergaard

Hope Vestergaard's site has been redesigned, and it's adorable. One of my fave author sites on the 'net.

Robert's Snow: Buy A Snowflake And Beat Cancer

Own a piece of art by your favorite children's book illustrator and help fight cancer at the same time! How? By participating in Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure ( , a unique fundraiser for cancer research. Over 100 children's book illustrators have made original works of art - on snowflakes - to be auctioned online from Oct. 31 to Dec.12.

Using the news of her husband's cancer as a catalyst, children's book author/illustrator Grace Lin rallied her colleagues to create Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure, a fundraiser on behalf of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. On snowflake templates, children's book illustrators such as Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express), Marc Brown (Arthur), and Mary Grand Pre (Harry Potter) have created exclusive images that will be auctioned off at

Help it snow by spreading the word! Download a press kit or flyer from and distribute it to your local community. And, of course, bid on a snowflake yourself!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

June Franklin Naylor Award

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Committee announced the establishment of the June Franklin Naylor Award for the Best Book for Children on Texas History. Beginning with books published in 2004, the award will be given annually to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for children and young adults, grades K-12, that accurately portrays the history of Texas, whether fiction or nonfiction.

The award is granted for a book published for the first time within a calendar year, or to a book that has been annotated or revised to make the story accessible to today's students. Submission consists of two copies of the book, along with the entry, sent to Library Directory, DRT Library, P. O. Box 1401, San Antonio TX 78295, or delivered to the library, 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio.

Deadline for entries to be received is January 31 of the year following publication. A three-member panel of judges composed of historians, educators, librarians, and/or DRT members will choose five finalists in February. A representative of the Naylor family will choose the award winner from the finalists.

Winning entry is cash prize of $400, with certificates for second and third place. For books with multiple authors and illustrators, all will be recognized and the prize divided among them. The award will be presented in May during the Annual Conference of the DRT.

The award is named for Odessa schoolteacher and DRT President General 1989-1991, June Franklin Naylor.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Author Events

It's September so all of my wonderful event coordinators are sending contracts to follow up on dates they scheduled last year.

I'm excited about talking to librarians, teachers, and young readers.

This fall is clearly way overbooked, though; something to keep in mind as invitations for next fall start rolling in. I'm going to have to really work for writing time.

Flipping to spring... Spring is not as intense. Perhaps the spring calendar should stay as is. Especially with both WriteFest and ALA in the summer.

Watched "Chasing Liberty" this morning; spent most of the day in T-shirt nightwear featuring gray tabbies that says "Yoga Pawsitions;" hopeful to talk Greg into Chinese food for dinner. (Last night's chicken marsala didn't work out too well).

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Weiner Winner

A fellow Austin children's writer, Alison Dellenbaugh, is one of fifty U.S. winners in an essay contest sponsored by Oscar Mayer in which they will each have a day in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. (There were more than 70,000 entries!).

And what did the lovely and brill Ms. Dellenbaugh write about in her essay?

Using the Wienermobile as a bookmobile to go to parks or libraries with her children and crit buddies to giveaway books to kids. The event has been scheduled for Oct. 9.

Woo woo!

Allison has a lovely sweet sparkle; I expect more great things from her in the future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bibliotherapy and Star Wars

I'm pleased to report that I'm back to writing. It's wonderful. I found myself dancing around the kitchen yesterday evening. Not that I don't normally, but... With particular zeal! I plan to curl up this afternoon on the day bed in the sunroom with some tea and turn the TV onto a music channel. Something non-distracting like "atmospheres."

NPR did write again and asked for the name of a librarian to interview about children's self-help books. With rare exceptions, I'm somewhat biased against these books.

For example, I'd rather suggest Molly's Family by Nancy Garden than a more didactic introduction to the idea of two moms because it's the story, writing, quality of the illustrations that make us care about the characters. Molly is our hero, and that makes us more aware, more sensitive than any published lecture of how an intrusive adult voice would frame her family diversity.

Anyway, researching the subject a trusted librarian did assure me that some of the self-help books were good (which I knew, though I thought they were more rare).

So, I gave NPR the names of three ALA uber librarians and contact information for IRA's special interest group on bibliotherapy. (This is not to say the bibliotherapy experts wouldn't use a literary trade book).

Planning to watch "Smallville" tonight in hopes it'll improve, and fascinated to study the DVD release promo for "Star Wars" with Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia clinging fearfully to Chewbacca as the men jump forward with their blasters. It's totally out of character for Leia as portrayed in the films, which is interesting, though Greg reminds me that this was still several years before Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

I'd like to thank writer/actress Carrie Fisher for making sassy, petite, smart, curvy, long-haired brunette women the ultimate male fantasy for my generation. A lot of us owe you, honey!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Mystery At The Club Sandwich

New titles include: Mystery At The Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman (Clarion, 2004). It's this sort of Humphrey-Bogart-esque dectective story in black-and-white illustrations about an elephant detective, Nick Trunk, on the case of Lola Gables' lost (lucky) marbles. Very tongue in cheek. Ages 7-up.

Last night Greg and I went out to dinner at Katz's and then to the bar at the Hyatt, mostly because it has a nice lake view through the trees. One thing I love about this city, even at its most famous 24-hour deli, you can still order anything on whole wheat. Ie., lox on a whole wheat bagel with no-fat cream cheese. Delicious. The restaurants and bars on the south side of the lake are less popular because they don't offer the view of the bats available from the north (largely in part to the size and proximity of the Austin American Statesman complex). I don't begrudge them of it though, being a former reporter myself, and besides, my pal and children's illustrator Don Tate works there.

Today I have officially nothing on my calendar, which means I'm pretty busy. I just finished reading and critiquing a friend's middle grade novel manuscript, packaging up a signed book to donate to a fund-raising auction, and pulling together a list of children's books related to various issues in case NPR's All Things Considered wasn't just flirting with me via email and they really do follow up about an interview. What I'm not doing (yet): working on my revision, but the muse has started whispering.

Monday, September 20, 2004

2004 Picture Books

Some highlights from the picture book front lists:

A Woman For President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Walker, 2004). A well-crafted and inspiring picture book biography about the first woman to own a newspaper, speak before Congress, have a seat on the stock exchange, and run for president. Highly recommended. Ages 7-up.

Note: only this past week, I was talking to an education professor about how incredibly few women (and, for that matter, minorities) are on the standards requirements for Texas elementary students. I strongly encourage educators and parents to keep in mind that just because it's not required to introduce a particular historical figure of note by one's state doesn't mean that they can't make the extra effort. This biography is an excellent step toward balancing against the many biases in the system, and it's lovely in its own right.

Cesar Si, Se Puede!/Yes, We Can! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish, 2004). Written in eloquent palm poems, this picture-chapter book eloquently illuminates the life of Cesar Chavez, Friend of the Farm Workers and American hero. Ages 7-up. Highly recommended.

Note: in South Austin, a mural of Cesar Chavez on the side of a building was defaced some time ago with gray paint, splashed carelessly across his face and the surrounding landscape. It always made me ache as I drove by, wondering who in the predominately Mexican-American neighborhood would do such a thing. Wondering if it was someone inside or outside of that community. Wondering if they had even known who Chavez was or what his life's work had meant. Then one day I saw that someone had spray-painted over the gray paint in red. "Viva Cesar!" they wrote. I don't normally have much patience for folks who get creative with paint on other people's property. But in this case, I'm willing to make an exception.

The Train Of The States by Peter Sis (Greenwillow, 2004). Sis offers a journey from one state to another with each turn of the page, highlighting the official symbols and related facts for each. A must-buy for every elementary library. Ages 5-up.

Note: the dedication is to twenty-two years in the U.S. and at Greenwillow. The latter, in today's volatile publishing climate, is stunning.

For those with an interest in English-Spanish bilingual books, surf over to Raven Tree Press, which among other front list titles is featuring My Pal, Victor/Mi amigo, Victor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand, illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland. I've already featured Diane quite extensively on my Web site. She is a fellow Texas writer though from San Antonio (not Austin, like me). We often see one another at events like the annual TLA conference. I enjoy her company and admire her stories. They are refreshingly inclusive of middle class Mexican Americans. She's a great speaker, too.

And some picture books in my In box, which I haven't yet had a chance to read include: An African Princess by Lyra Edmonds, illustrated by Anne Wilson (Candlewick, 2004); The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (Albert Whitman, 2004); Hana In The Time Of The Tulips by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick Press, 2004); Going North by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated Jerome Lagarrigue (FSG, 2004); My Chair by Betsy James, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma (Arthur A. Levine, 2004); Mary Ann by Betsy James (Dutton, 2004); I Know It's Autumn by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi (HarperCollins, 2004).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Banned Books Week

Vote on the top 10 banned books via the Louisville Courier Journal.

Also learn about the Schneider Family Book Award, designed to honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

The Foot-Stomping Adventures Of Clementine Sweet

THE FOOT-STOMPING ADVENTURES OF CLEMENTINE SWEET by Kitty Griffin and Kathy Combs, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Clarion, 2004). Set in the Texas Hill Country, this tall tale is a winner! Ages 4-up

Parent Wise Austin

Hey Austinites! Is there a children's book you're longing to recommend? Surf over to Parent Wise Austin and tell the world (or at least the World Wide Web).

Intensive Picture Book Workshop

Subscribe to ipb-news, the Intensive Picture Book workshop newsletter, sponsored by author Anastasia Suen. The newsletter features news related to children's/YA publishing and of Anastasia's upcoming classes.

Teddy Award

I'm pleased to announce that Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003) by Greg won the Teddy Award, sponsored by the League of Texas Writers, in the longer-works division and that the other two finalists, My Father's Summers by Kathi Appelt and My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital Of The World, likewise were celebrated. More on each of those great titles:

MY FATHER'S SUMMERS: A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR by Kathi Appelt (Henry Holt, 2004). Poignant. Powerful. Poetic. Appelt's memoir is her best work to date. Heartfelt and hopeful, she describes the impact of her father's departure, her first kiss, and a surprisingly close connection to a defining day in American history. This book will resonant with young adult and adult readers alike. Five stars. Ages 12-up. Recommendation by author Anne Bustard. This memoir is already getting Newbery buzz.

MY ROAD TRIP TO THE PRETTY GIRL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD by Brian Yansky (Cricket, 2003). In this journey to the self (and from Iowa to Austin), Simon’s struggling to keep things together. He’s skating the law, recently dumped, and dealing with a dad who just doesn’t understand. Overwhelmed, he hits the road to find his biological parents and wisdom about evil advertisers, scary giants, witches, ETs, friendship, nature/nurture, and, well, pretty girls. One part magic, two parts tall tale, this YA debut is one to read and remember. Ages 12-up. This novel was honored earlier this year by the Texas Institute of Letters as the winner of its YA award.

Finalists in the shorter-works division, included an Austinite I was honored to meet for the first time: Karin Cates, author of The Secret Remedy Book: A Story of Comfort and Love (Orchard Books).

A number of additional children's and YA authors attended to show support for the various finalists and celebrate Texas literature, which was quite gracious.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

PEN award

Are you a writer with two (but no more than five) published books and financial need? Or, rather, do you know someone who is? If so, check out the PEN award. Past winners are: Lori Aurelia Williams, Graham McNamee, Franny Billingsley and Deborah Wiles.

Note: this is not a hint. Though I'm certainly a working writer, as is my spouse, he had a substantial day job. Other writers need it more.

Speaking of Greg, tonight is the Teddy Awards! Ah, the suspense!

Wondering what's new and noteworthy? Check out Hot Off The Press from the Children's Book Council. Congrats to my pals Carolyn Crimi (Boris and Bella, illustrated by Gris Grimly (Harcourt, 2004)) and Carmen T. Bernier-Grand (Cesar: Si Se Puede! Yes We Can, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish, 2004)) on the most deserved attention.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Jane Kurtz

Author Jane Kurtz talked about "Unpuzzling the Mysteries of Chapter Books and Other Novels" via the Institute of Children's Literature chat room recently; check it out and then visit Jane's site. Jane is lovely and one of my original mentors; her latest is a fantasy, The Feverbird's Claw (Greenwillow, 2004).

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Texas Tales Auction

The Austin Public Library Foundation is sponsoring a Texas Tales auction as a fundraiser. If you're an Austinite, surf by and check it out. In addition, the foundation is hosting a concert with Los Lonely Boys. Sigh. Hope I'll be able to make it.

What else? I'm watching "The First Wives Club," and Greg is trying a new chicken marsala recipe.

Haemi Balgassi

Author Haemi Balgassi has a new blog. Haemi is the first real friend I made in children's books, and I love her wholeheartedly. Surf over to check it out, then stop over to her Web site, and if you haven't already, pick up copies of Peacebound Trains and Tae's Sonata. Peacebound Trains can even be read online as part of the U.S. government's Korean War Commemoration.

Real Kidz

Received an email today from Real Kidz, which makes biracial plush dolls, about their new online shopping. Very cute site and dolls, though I've yet to see a doll in person (so to speak). In any case, biracial dolls are an excellent idea; very long overdue. Important for families that are mixed race and those that are not.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Critique Group

My critique group met tonight at Anne's. We have one very important message for you all: prologues are back! All the really cool people are writing them.

In other news, Debbi Michiko Florence has a new blog.

Mail Call

Today's mail brings the recent issue of Book Links along with the following review copies:
Close Encounters of a Third-World Kind by Jennifer J. Stewart (Holiday House);
Offsides by Erik E. Esckilsen (Houghton Mifflin);
Cecilia's Year by Susan & Denise Gonzales Abraham (Cinco Puntos);
The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (Albert Whitman);
Cesar Si, Se Puedo! Yes, We Can by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish)(my apologies for my inability to use the proper Spanish symbols on this keyboard);
My Pal, Victor (Mi amigo, Victor) by Diane Gonzales Betrand, illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland (Raven Tree Press);
Lucky Leaf by Kevin O'Malley (Walker);
A Woman For President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Walker).

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The New Rules of High School

Read The New Rules of High School by Blake Nelson (Viking, 2003), which is about a smart, self-absorbed boy's fall from perceived perfection. The voice was outstanding, and the story was a compelling, one-sitting read. The author does a particularly good job with reversals. Ages 12-up.

Received a wonderful T-shirt and sweatshirt from the ever-darling Katie Davis, each featuring one of her fun and emotive illustrations.

Low self esteem day? Read a rejection letter of Ursula K. LeGuin's.

Moccasin Thunder

The Native American YA anthology, edited by Lori Carlson and published by Harper, apparently will be called: Moccasin Thunder.

Speaking of thunder, it rained like crazy today, though I did make it out to have my hair and nails done. I know, I know, it's indulgent. But hey, how many writers out there aren't in therapy, AA, or on some kind of prescribed mood-stabilizing substance? This works to de-stress me, so I'm unrepentant and, well, cuter than I would be otherwise.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Teddy Award Short Works Finalists Announced

And, the finalists for the 2004 Teddy Children's Book Awards are:

Short Works

Lee Merrill Byrd, The Treasure on Gold Street (Cinco Puntos Press)
Karin Cates, The Secret Remedy Book: A Story of Comfort and Love (Orchard Books)
Joyce Gibson Roach, Horned Toad Canyon (Bright Sky Press)

Just a reminder, the previously-announced...

Long Works

Kathi Appelt, My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoir (Henry Holt)
Greg Leitich Smith, Ninjas, Prianhas, and Galileo (Little, Brown)
Brian Yansky, My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World (Cricket Books)

While we're talking Texas awards, for anyone who missed the Texas Institute of Letters announcement this past year:

Friends of the Austin Public Library Award ($500) for Best Children’s Book
WINNER: Betty Lou Phillips, Emily Goes Wild (Gibbs Smith)
FINALISTS: Lee Merrill Byrd, The Treasure on Gold Street (Cinco Puntos Press); Bryce Milligan, The Prince of Ireland and the Three Magic Stallions (Holiday House)

Friends of the Austin Public Library Award ($500) for Best Young Adults’ Book
WINNER: Brian Yansky, My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World (Cricket Books)
FINALISTS: Anne Estevis, Down Garrapata Road (Arte Publico Press); Tim Tingle, Walking the Choctaw Road (Cinco Puntos Press)

Note: My Father's Summers by Kathi Appelt, My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital of the World by Brian Yansky, and Walking The Choctaw Trail by Tim Tingle all are highly recommended by me personally. I'm also fond of Greg's Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo, but you know, I married him. Of course I think he's a genius.

"Love Actually"

Maybe it's the emotive place I'm in today or the fact that all of my muscles are still screaming from this weekend's yard work. But I find myself a happy, hopeful, gushy mess after watching this movie. Tremendously affecting. Okay, total chick flick, but hey, guys have hearts, too, don't they? I'm pretty sure.

Linda Sue Park

Author Linda Sue Park has updated her Web site and now offers a reading journal.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Grandparents Day

Nikki Tate writes to say she has a new book out: Grandparents' Day, illustrated by Benoît Laverdière (Annick Press, 2004).

Grandparents' day falls the second Sunday in September. And no, it was not invented by Hallmark. I would like to wish my grandma Dorothy and grandma Melba a happy Grandparents' Day.

Anyone wishing to find out more about me and Grandma Dorothy should read my short story, "The Naked Truth," from In My Grandmother's House: Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About Their Grandmothers, edited and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen (Harper, 2003). Other contributing authors: Joan Abelove; Alma Flor Ada, Bonnie Christensen; Beverly Cleary; Pat Cummings; Jean Craighead George; Minfong Ho; Ji-li Jang; Gail Carson Levine; Beverly Naidoo; and Diane Stanley.

Along those same lines, three of my books feature strong grandparent characters: Grampa Halfmoon from Indian Shoes (Harper, 2002), Grampa Berghoff from Rain Is Not My Indian Name (Harper, 2001), Grandma Wolfe from Jingle Dancer (Morrow/Harper, 2000).

And Greg's next book, Tofu And T.Rex (Little Brown, spring 2004) features a wonderful grandfather character, Opa Kowalski. Keep an eye out for it.

You also can check my Web site for an entire bibliography of grandparent-related titles.

Promoting cynsations and spookycyn

Satisfied that I'll keep it up, I've enabled the link to spookycyn on my profile, and I've registered both blogs with such indexes as Popdex.

Essentially, spookycyn focuses on my gothic fantasy work while cynsations is more globally about writing, reading, and the life that goes with both.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Alia Waking

ALIA WAKING by Laura Williams McCaffrey (Clarion, 2003). In this debut novel, Alia, 12, hopes to be chosen as a keenteen, or warrior woman, when she turns thirteen. But then Alia and her best friend, Kay, capture two of the enemy, a boy and girl about their age, and are assigned to care for them in prison. As she gets to know the prisoners, Alia is forced to question her own assumptions and prejudices. A fast-paced adventure for fantasy fans. Ages 9-up. Recommended by Frances Hill, author of THE BUG CEMETERY, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt, 2002).

Visit Laura Williams McCaffrey.

The Truth About Sparrows

THE TRUTH ABOUT SPARROWS by Marion Hale (Henry Holt, 2004) This poignant historical novel, revolving around a close-knit family's efforts to survive the economic hardships of the Great Depression, will warm readers' hearts. Twelve-year-old Sadie Wynn, an young adolescent with timeless appeal, isn't happy with anyone or anything. Sadie doesn't want to leave Missouri and move to a fishing town on the Texas coast, especially when she realizes that her new home will be a tar paper shack on the seawall. She doesn't want to make new friends. She doesn't like the startled stares of strangers when they first see her father's disability. Sadie's self-consciousness and her refusal to accept change in her life parallels her reluctance to grow up. The story of Sadie's search for a place she belongs is deftly handled, and in her debut novel, Hale's lyrical language makes her characters and the gritty life on the Texas coast particularly evocative. Ages 9-up. Highly recommended. Recommendation by Frances Hill, author of THE BUG CEMETERY, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt, 2002).

Note: Marian Hale lives with her husband on Copano Bay in Rockport, Texas, just twenty miles from the Aransas Pass seawall where this story takes place. This first-time novelist is one to watch.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Delaware State Awards; Francesca Lia Block Site

Lisa is in the process of updating my site, so I don't want to make her crazy with link change-outs at this point. So, I'm just going to flag incoming for a while on the blog:

Delaware Diamond Primary Award:

The Blue Hen Children's Book Award

Also I need to add Francesca Lia Block to the main author/illustrator listings.

Dinner tonight at Houston's; Greg and I are staying in, watching the "Cheaper By The Dozen" remake with Steve Martin and Tom Welling from "Smallville." Just made out cards for my grandmas for Grandparent's Day.

Docs & More Sympathies

Both Greg and I went to (separate) doctors today. Me for my skin (which I'm assured is like a 26-year-old's--ha! doubt that) and Greg for his foot, which is oddly misshapen in my opinion (but apparently no emergency). The dermatologist office in West Lake reminded me a lot of the plastic surgeon office from "Doc Hollywood."

Received a surprise gorgeous bouquet of garden flowers from Gail and several cards, including one from Barbara Lalicki's group at Harper, which was quite thoughtful.

Web site redesign is ongoing. Still fretting the weather in Florida.

Hoping for a quiet weekend, for a change. Off to bathe and peruse the Coldwater Creek (I got a discount special card in the mail) and Eziba catalogs.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ninjas Review

New online review of Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg from Meridian Magazine. It's a Mormon magazine, and I noticed the author published the same review in another magazine available online.

Dinner planned with Sean for ZTejas Grill.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Red Dirt Book Fesitval

Just got news that the new Web site for the Red Dirt Book Festival in Shawnee, Oklahoma is up and running. The theme this year is "Mysterious Oklahoma." It might apparently include: "sessions on the mystery genre, [] programs on true crime, myths and legends, politics, sports - anything related to Oklahoma with an element of mystery (including the "mystery' of finding an agent, or getting published, etc.)."

I attended Red Dirt a couple of years ago and enjoyed it very much, especially because Kelly Bennett and Sharon Darrow also were speaking.

Dinner tonight at Page and Erik's--shrimp fajitas. Going to miss them when they move to the San Francisco Bay area. Sob!

Monday, September 06, 2004

My (Mostly) Non-Writing Life

America is my country, and Paris is my home town. -- Gertrude Stein

My (Mostly) Non-Writing Life

Date of Birth: 12/31/67; only child "who's spoiled?"

Lived in HI, IL, MO, MI, KS, OK, TX; prefer central time zone

Dog: pom named Sir Gallahad XIII; called "Tramp"

Great Teacher: Mrs. Woodside, First Grade

Won public library reading contest, 3rd grade

First plane trip: to Disneyland; fond of "It's a Small World" ride

Heroine: "Mighty Isis," featured with "Shazam" on Saturday AM TV

Favorite Play Place: woods behind house

Family vacations: summers in Estes Park, exclusively

See Famous Person for First Time: Dolly Parton

Begin life-long desire to visit Dollywood (still haven't)

4th grade career goal: magician

First kiss: David Somebody on cheek; broke up next day. Alas!

Wrote "Dear Gabby" advice column for 6th grade paper

Great Teacher: Mr. Rideout, 6th Grade

6th grade nickname: "Olive Oil"

Spend every Weds & Fri night rollerskating

Great Teacher: Mr. Bigler, 8th Grade Social Studies

YMCA cheerleader, 5th-9th grade

Favorite Singer: Donna Summer

Favorite Band: Meatloaf

"Inappropriate" Donna S, Meatloaf lyrics pointed out to Mom by Uncle Al

First car date: "Two of a Kind" with John Travolta & Olivia Newton John

First post-babysitting job: making popcorn for movie theater

First car: red '68 Mustang coupe (fave high school boyfriend had white classic Mustang coupe)

Favorite hang out: Minsky's Pizza

Often called "Cindy Lou"

Great Teacher: Mr. Pennington, AP European History

Took tap, jazz, & ballet until 18

High school varsity cheerleader

Editor, high school newspaper

Waitress, Mexican restaurant

Dated boy called "Panama"

Graduated high school, 1986

Pledged Alpha Delta Pi

Majors: news/editorial & public relations

Concentrations: English, history, human development and family life

Took financial inactive status at sorority

First apartment has Murphy bed

Minority issues reporter, campus newspaper

Great Professors: Houston/Franklin "Children & Television"

President, KU chapter of Public Relations Student Society

Great Professor: Mary Wallace, "Reporting II"

Great Teacher: Tom Eblen "Reporting III"

Graduated college, 1991, walked down "The Hill" with cousin Stacy

Summer starter, law school, first met Ivy Leagers en masse

Study abroad, Paris (okay, went to Paris, didn't so much "study")

Senior editor, feminist law journal; which was shortly thereafter sued

Engaged to Greg, 7/3/93 in Dallas, Texas

President, Native American Law Students Association

Graduated law school, 1994 in one piece but serious debt

Moved to Chicago 5/94

Married, 9/4/94 by husband's uncle, a Presbyterian minister

Federal employee "yikes!"

Moved to Austin, 2/95

Full-time writer, reviewer, teacher, happy person AKA world's shortest legal career

Tutor for migrant student program, St. Ed's University

Moved Back to Chicago 2/97

Adopted by Cat: grey tabby, "Mercury Boo"

Moved to back to -- guess where? Austin, 2/99

Adopted by Cat: another grey tabby: "Sebastian Doe"

Receive historic castle from very cute husband for Christmas; plan to keep husband

Breakfast at the White House w/ Reading on the West Lawn

New kittens: Leo & Blizzard; Total of four kittens.

Release of Greg's debut novel, NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO

Chatted on Delilah -- Love Songs; & she played "Dancing In the Dark" for me!

9/4/04 Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Absolutely fave superhero: Oracle (the original Batgirl)

Rainy Labor Day

Not much to report today. Ran out to Containers and More for something to put my sprawling variety of goofy costume jewelry in; finally settled on a plastic drawer set designed for screws and what not.

Greg bought himself a toaster oven at Best Buy. (He has this issue with regular toasters because they can get dust in them. Really. And I'm supposed to be the O-C one.)

Then on the way home we picked up three packages of Solar Hummus at Central Market and of course a piece of dark chocolate for me.

Right now, Greg's reading The Hobbit again and has started making some noises about possibly doing a high fantasy, sometime down the road. I'm blogging with Mercury sleeping on a box beside my desk. General mood is blah.

One bright spot: listened to an audio interview available for download with Kathi Appelt about her recent memoir, MY FATHER'S SUMMERS.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Looong & Lovely Lunch--Bawk!

Lunch today with Anne and Kathi turns into multi-hour affair, full of friendship and, well, rotisserie chicken.

When I finally got home for dinner, Greg served, um, rotisserie chicken. I'm sorry, chickens, I know I've eaten over my fair share of y'all today.

Had a chance to preview my site redesign proposal. Hold onto you gigabytes, babies, the best is yet to come.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

10 Year Anniversary

Ten years today of marriage for me and Greg. Woo woo! Shopping in Gruene, followed by a rest at the homestead and dinner at Kyoto (sashimi, baby!) and drinks at Shoreline Grill. But those are just the details. Big picture is ten years, and I love Greg more than ever! So my ever after is, in sum, all good.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Lee & Low, Poetry House Interviews, E.B. White Read Aloud Award

I'm saddened to see in my fall catalog that Philip Lee has left Lee & Low Books, the company he co-founded with Jason Low. I wish Philip well in whatever life brings him next. I first heard him speak at the 25th anniversary SCBWI national convention in LA, back when I was getting started in the business and then again at Reading The World last spring in San Francisco. Lovely man. He's made a great contribution to children's, particularly multicultural, literature.

I'm pleased though that the company is beginning to publish books for older readers. This season's catalog includes Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories From A Native American Childhood by Ednah New Rider Weber (Pawnee), illustrated by Richela Renkun (Lee & Low, 2004)(Ages 8-up). I also see another Native American title, this one a picture book: Sky Dancers by Connie Ann Kirk (Seneca), illustrated by Christy Hale (Lee & Low, 2004)(ages 7-9). It's an extraordinarily useful catalog for teachers/librarians, though I can't seem to figure out how I'm supposed to request review copies. Hm.

Today's mail also brings sweet sympathy cards from Kimberly, Tracie, and Haemi. So comforting to have friends who care.

This reminds me, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's site has some excellent author interviews with: Kristine O'Connell George; Nikki Grimes; Heidi Roemer; Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

I also received a review copy of Hunger Moon by Sarah Lamstein (Front Street, 2004).

Passing on Owen Foote: Might Scientist by Stephanie Greene, illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith (Clarion, 2004) to one of my readers whom I meeting for tea at three at Sweetish Hill. Already had lunch today with my friend Amy at Guero's, so needless to say, dinner will be a minor event.

What else? SkippyJon Jones by Judy Byron Schachner (Dutton, 2003)(ages 3-up) has won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award established in 2004 (covers both picture books and novels), sponsored by the Association of Booksellers for Children.

More personally, dinner tonight at Magnolia Cafe. Concerned about my in-laws and my friend Chris in Florida during Hurricane Frances; Chris is a fantastic pro photographer surf over and check out some of his shots.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Correction: Now It's NOT The Moccasin Telegraph

The Native American YA anthology, edited by Lori Carlson (who also did Cool Salsa) for a fall 05 release will not be called The Moccasin Telegraph after all, my Harper editor tells me, because of concerns that "telegraph" might sound too old-fashioned to teens. It's a valid marketing observation, I think. I'll keep y'all posted on the new title.

Tried to watch "Firefly" today, being a big Whedonverse fan, but just couldn't get into it. I'm going to see if there's a novelization, try that, and then return to the DVDs because I'm guessing it's a back-story issue.

Out to Eastside with Frances and Brian tonight. Lentil soup had too many carrots but otherwise fine dining with good conversation.

Hannah Is My Name

Hannah Is My Name by Belle Yang (Candlewick, 2004). Hannah and her family are so excited to immigrate to the United States, to become Americans, to be free. But how scary and worrisome it is to wait to see if they will be sent green cards so they may stay legally and make San Francisco their home. Joyful, vibrant, and optimistic without minimizing the challenges faced by newcomers, Yang's book should be an essential part of any immigration, Asian American, California, and/or patriotism unit and a treasure for home and public libraries. Ages 4-up. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Teaching and Mooove Over

Attention Writers: I'm teaching a class "Coming Of Age With The Young Adult Novel" on Saturday, November 6th at the Writers' League of Texas Resource Center.

Surf over to Debbi Michiko Florence's Web site for a new interview with Karen Magnuson Beil on MOOOVE OVER, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Holiday House, September 2004).

Dinner tonight at P.F. Chang's.