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The winner of this week's Holiday Giveaway for K.L.Going's wonderful new book, PIECES OF WHY is Leslie Widener

CONGRATULATIONS, Leslie!!! Please send me an e-mail with your address and to whom you'd like the book personalized: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Don't forget to visit K.L.'s website: www.klgoing.com 

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2. Author K.L. Going shares about Music as Inspiration

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my very dear friend and Award Winning (and brilliant) author, K.L. Going, to the Holiday Bookfest and giveaway! Despite her many accolades and achievements, KL is an all around fabulous and grounded person!

K.L. Going
BIO--K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections,  NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and winners of state book awards. They’ve been featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Children's Book Council as Best Books of the year. Her work has also been published in Korea, Italy, Japan, Germany, and the UK, and her novel Fat Kid Rules the World is now an independent film. It premiered at the SXSW film festival and won an Audience Award.

K.L. began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel -- a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer's Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has multiple picture books under contract. She lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. She’s also a mom to the world’s cutest little boy.
(That's the truth!)

To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com, www.facebook.com/klgoing, and http://twitter.com/#!/KLGoing.

                                        Music as Inspiration by K.L. Going

Many people ask about the sources of inspiration for my novels. Honestly, there are many of them: personal experiences, artwork, events in the news, an overheard conversation … but the most consistently powerful is music.

Fat Kid Rules the World was inspired by the music of Nirvana and the in-your-face bravado of vintage punk rock.

King of the Screwups celebrated the wild antics of glam rock.

Even Saint Iggy got its title thanks to one of my favorite musicians, Iggy Pop, with his larger-than-life personality and awkward mix of good guy and bad boy.

My latest novel, Pieces of Why, is also infused with music. Pieces of Why is the story of Tia, a young girl growing up in New Orleans who must come to terms with her father being in prison for murder. The plot is shaped by the deep soul of gospel music and the setting is infused with the distinctive strains of New Orleans zydeco and jazz.

Why is music such a powerful well-spring of inspiration? I think it’s because music captures the essential element of writing: emotion. Writers often talk about plot, character, and setting, and those are all important, but emotion is every bit as crucial, both for the author as we craft our text and for the reader as they experience the story.

My best tip for aspiring authors? Don’t leave out the emotion! And if you find yourself blocked, try letting music move your mind and soul. You might be surprised by the results.

 Review Quotes: Going’s new novel, with its nicely realized New Orleans setting, is a tender, accomplished story about the coming-of-age of a girl whose good intentions are challenged by uncertainties and her efforts to do what is right, even when that’s frightening and painful. Readers will empathize with Tia and wish her well as she struggles to deal with the truth and hold on to her dream.”—Michael Cart, Booklist

 Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, Tia is a sympathetic protagonist searching for that joy, and the answers she needs to rediscover her voice come from some unexpected sources. Going (Fat Kid Rules the World) skillfully tackles topics of race, class, and violence in a moving testament to family and friendship, love and loss, and the power of forgiveness.”—Publishers Weekly
Read more: www.klgoing.com

 Pieces of Why – Playlist

This is the list of songs I imagine would be on the Pieces of Why Soundtrack! Enjoy!

1. When the Saints Go Marching In
performed by Louis Armstrong – Classic New Orleans!
2. Come on Children, Let's Sing performed
by Mahalia Jackson – Mahalia Jackson is one of Ms.    Marion and Tia's favorite singers and this song showcases the spirit of gospel music.
3. His Eye Is On the Sparrow performed
by Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston is another one of Tia's favorites; this is an example of a slower gospel song.
4. Banks of the Pontchartrain performed
by Nanci Griffith – Tia's mom listens to Nanci Griffith; Lake Ponchartrain is located nearby.
5. Amazing Grace
– performed by The Mississippi Mass Choir – Here's an adult gospel choir showing us how it's done!
6. Deep River performed
by Mahalia Jackson – This is the song that Ms. Marion sings when she gives Tia her lesson.
7. There is Hope performed
by Mississippi Children's Choir – This is exactly the kind of song I imagine Tia's choir singing.
8. My Zydeco Shoes
– performed by Zydeco All-Stars – Not only is zydeco a classic New Orleans sound, but it's also the type of music Keisha's folks would dance to at Le Bon Temps Roule.
9. Burn
-- performed by One Voice Children's Choir – Another example of what I imagine the Rainbow Choir singing; one of the leads reminds me so much of Tia! (Available on YouTube)
10. Heal the World --
performed by CBS Children's Choir (of Seoul Korea) – Children's voices are so powerful! I love the fact that we can watch and listen to singers from all around the world. (Available on YouTube)
11. Note to God
-- performed by Charice – This is the song Tia imagines singing for the Raven woman.
12. Pyramid
-- performed Charice (featuring Iyaz) – This is Keisha and Tia's favorite song that they sing with Kenny at the end.

Thanks for sharing with us, KL. Your post got me thinking about what is the most powerful source of inspiration for my writing. Music is a source, but for me the power comes from nature--long walks in the woods and on the dirt roads where I live and reading poetry. So, dear reader, what about you? What are your sources for inspiration in your writing or in your other creative pursuits?

Please leave a comment below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Pieces of Why
You can just say, "Hi," share your favorite song, or tell us what inspires you--we'd love that! THANK YOU! Don't forget to visit KL's website to learn more about her books and school visits: www.klgoing.com

We'll be back on Saturday with more from KL and I'll announce the WINNER of Pieces of Why!!!!

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Dear Friends,

It's been a great week thanks to so many of you who spread the word or stopped by to leave a comment. THANK YOU! The winner will be announced at the end, but first I wanted to share more book goodies from Lindsay. Below are two favorites!

Don't forget to visit Lindsay's website for information about school visits and books and much more: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com

School Library Journal. PreSchool-Grade 3-A narrator introduces readers to two mice: "Inside my house there is a mouse,/Outside my house there is a mouse." The inside mouse sleeps in an old-fashioned clock, while the outside mouse snuggles in a tree stump. Line by line, with side-by-side, full-page illustrations, the story unfolds, tracing each mouse's journey from its home to the window of the house, where the two meet face to face, one looking out and one looking in, and say, "Hello." Gouache paintings in breathtaking colors create zoom-lens views of each of the not-so-different worlds of these two creatures. The pictures are packed with interesting details just waiting to be explored. The simple text, presented in a large typeface at the bottom of the pages, compares and contrasts the animals' environments and lifestyles. The overall effect is mesmerizing, and the intriguing parallels will capture readers' imaginations.This creative book makes a great choice for sharing aloud and for independent reading. It's also an excellent tool for teaching the concept of compare/contrast. -Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL

School Library Journal. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ

PreSchool-Grade 2-- A day in the life of a box turtle is rendered carefully in words and lifelike illustrations with a text that respects its subject, avoids any anthropomorphism, and is simple enough for very young listeners. It records the turtle's actions as, slowly but with perseverance, he drinks, searches for food, evades danger, and sleeps. The outstanding gouache paintings in borderless, horizontal two-page spreads are so realistic that one almost reaches out to feel the turtle's textured shell. Although at times the turtle seems to be camouflaged, blending into his surroundings, he stands out clearly once located. The animals he encounters are equally well illustrated--readers will almost hold their breath so as not to frighten the raccoon and chipmunk. The book's design is excellent; even the well-chosen type, superimposed on the illustrations so that there is no visual break from the scenes, is clear and easily read. This is superior nature study for young readers and listeners. 

The lucky winner of MAGGIE'S BALL is. . .  Carol Baldwin!!!!! 
Carol, please e-mail me with your mailing address: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. If you'd like the book personalized to a special child include that info. THANK YOU!!!

Wait. . .don't stop reading yet! Award winning & bestselling author, K.L. Going, shares with us next week about her new book, Pieces of Why. The giveaway for autographed books continues through the Holiday season! See you soon. . .

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Lindsay in her Studio
Dear Friends,

Please welcome my friend, the multi-talented Lindsay Barrett George, who offers a glimpse of the inner workings of a creative mind. Her thoughts will delight and inspire you! Now, here's LINDSAY and her writing pearls of wisdom. . . (Details for the book giveaway of Maggie's Ball at the bottom of the post!)

The idea for Maggie’s Ball came from a few sources:

 -- a Popeye sing-along from the 1950’s (follow the bouncing ball)

-- the Sony Bravia TV commercial – where you see thousands of bouncing colored balls
descending down a SF city street
--my friend Mary Maxon’s dog – Tobey, now gone – who would drop his favorite ball down the stairs and then catch it… the ball
                               and bounced
                                                  and bounced…
              Tobey loved playing ‘Fetch’, even if by himself

-- and, the fact that my puppy Maggie and I played ‘Fetch’ every day with her yellow ball (lots of bouncing!)

"A consistent, directional progression of the story, large, easy-to-read type, the challenge of finding the characters and naming the objects and places, and the gentle, sweet ending make Maggie’s adventure a perfect title for young readers, who will want their own pup to play with by tale’s end.” --Kirkus *starred* review

School Library Journal PreS—An eager little dog is looking for someone to play with when her ball bounces down a hill into town. A colorful spread shows the park and four buildings set around it, with many children and adults playing and going about their business. Maggie searches for her ball everywhere, circling the town and looking in all the shop windows. The illustrations are bright and big, as is the minimal text, making the oversize book a winner for preschool storytimes as well as for individual perusings where the ample small details will fascinate children. Eventually, Maggie ends up disconsolately resting near a bench occupied by a girl reading—but wait—is there a yellow ball next to the bench? The little girl asks Maggie to play ball with her, and the pup delightedly complies. The pictures of the dog bursting with joy and happiness when she finds her ball and a friend are priceless.—Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Thoughts on Process. . .
There is no intelligent way to talk about the creative process. Great ideas – when they arrive - hang in the air. And ideas don’t come from me, but to me. I collect, store, safe-keep them… I let them simmer and out they pop!

You CANNOT lose faith in the fact that this process--this simmering--will happen - again.
It does …but in it’s own good time.
Some thoughtful words for readers/lovers of books for children
. . .Maybe that a picture book is its own ‘thing’… and that every stroke, every word is there because someone  - the author or illustrator – either painted it or wrote it. You start with a bank page and – you want to create an experience for a child, one stroke at a time. One word -- and it has to be the exact right word – one word at a time.

I LOVE making books for children – they are the best audience - and they believe in the magic that lies between the covers of a book. That expectation of something extraordinary that might happen –
when you turn a page… is part of why I love the bookmaking process. And of course, the children…to delight them and to connect with them – that’s the best part.

More about Lindsay and her wonderful picture books:
 Lindsay Barrett George’s books have been picked as Outstanding Science Books for Children,  American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, and have received Children’s Literature Choice Awards. Box Turtle at Long Pond was chosen as a Children’s Book of the Year by the Library of Congress.

Lindsay received the Carolyn Field Award (1989), and the Drexel Award (2007).  Inside Mouse/Outside Mouse was chosen as the first selection in Pennsylvania’s ‘One Book Every Young Child’ initiative.

Lindsay began her career in the children’s book field as a book designer in a New York City publishing house.  She has combined a fine arts background with her graphic design experience to produce books that, hopefully, make the animals she cares about come alive for children.

Lindsay lives with her husband, as well as a sweet mini-Dachshund, a big brown dog, 5 cats, and a very handsome duck in Northeast Pa. For more about Lindsay, her books, and her school visits, check out her website: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com 

The #Giveaway: Lindsay is generously donating a signed copy of Maggie's Ball to one lucky reader, and it can be personalized just for YOU! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment on the post. Winner will be announced on Saturday, November 21st. Thanks for stopping by!

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Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for all the comments and good wishes! Before I announce the winner, I knew you'd want to know more about Jan and his books. Here's a sampling of his YA books, but you'll want to stop by his website: http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko and check out his books for younger readers as well.

SLJ Grade 8 Up: Chris Serbo, a senior, is an outside linebacker for the Valley View High School Dragons. He is also an alcoholic. His first-person story is revealed in two ways. Before each chapter, a brief italicized account tells what's going on in the present as Chris grapples with the Twelve Steps and, after football season is over, tries to finish high school at a rehabilitation facility that he's been forced to enter. In the main body of the novel, the troubled teen recounts his championship season with the Dragons, along with the downward spiral his personal life took due to his drinking. Cheripko portrays a young man whose mother died when he was five and whose absentee, career-military father is a drunk. Chris's two main pleasures, football and partying, are intimately detailed in the story. While the signs of dependency are all around him falling grades, lies, losing friends, Chris remains firmly in a state of denial. Only toward the very end of the book does he show that he might be ready to face up to his problems. While the locker-room lingo and dialogue are presented in a mild manner, the author doesn't hold back in describing Chris's stupefying behavior during his weekend binges. A frank account of an at-risk teen fighting for his life. Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Booklist: sun moon stars rain. Gr. 10-12. Danny, 17, seems to have everything going for him, including a full scholarship to music school, but he drops out--and not because his girlfriend dumped him. He and his mom never talk about his dad, who died eight years before while rescuing a dog from the rushing river in their vital, rural community. Danny meets Stephanie, a beautiful single-parent mom, and he loves her. She reveals guilt about an addiction and more, and she helps him find peace in church. The religious message is understated; the issue that really drives the action is the locals' confrontation with the state officials attempting to confiscate land, but it's the honest characters, with all their scrappy, irreverent individuality and compassion, that grab attention. Fast, clipped, immediate, raucous (there are a few instances of the f-word), the dialogue is poetic; so is what's left unsaid. The simple words, and the spaces between them, reveal secrets, breakdown, betrayal, and love. Hazel Rochman 

Don't forget to take a look at Jan's books for younger readers. Books may be purchased directly from him and personalized for you for holiday giving! Check them out here: http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko

And now. . .the lucky winner of Jan's book is: auntiejenni Congratulations!
To receive your autographed copy of RAT please send your home mailing address here: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com, and your book will soon be on its way!

Next up on the Holiday Giveaway is the multi-talented, author/illustrator, Lindsay Barrett George. See you soon!


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6. Where Do Ideas Come From. . . Author Jan Cheripko shares

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my long time friend, Author Jan Cheripko! In this post, he shares about the spectrum of ideas and experiences that ultimately became his book RAT. To celebrate the Holiday season, Jan is generously donating a copy of his book. You'll find details for a chance to win an autographed copy at the end of the post!

Jan Cheripko in his backyard
Jan Cheripko has authored seven books, including three award-winning young adult novels. His works focus on choices that people make and how those decisions affect their lives and the people and events surrounding them. In Imitate the Tiger, a football player struggles with the beginning stages of alcoholism. In Rat, main character, Jeremy Chandler testifies in court against a popular coach whom he has seen molesting a cheerleader. Jeremy then has to face the wrath of the basketball team. sun moon stars rain is a multi-layered tale of love, addiction, power, and redemption.

Jan also taught English and philosophy at a residential school for at-risk teens in upstate New York. He is the past assistant to the publisher of Boyds Mills Press and currently serves as a consultant to the Highlights Foundation where he occasionally leads workshops for writers. He and his wife, Valray, reside in Bethany, Pennsylvania, with their adopted dog, Max, and their cat, Smokey, who adopted them. Jan is a member of the Bethany Borough Council and the Bethany Public Library Board of Directors.

You can learn more about Jan and his work at:   http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko

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7. Writing Advice from Roald Dahl

Sometimes I read something so wise and good that I can't wait to pass it on to my best writer buds. That happened this morning. Tara Lazur reviewed the biography of Roald Dahl on her blog--Read it here: wp.me/p7jVE-18t

But THIS is the part that gave me happy goosebumps:

What makes a good children’s writer? The writer must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading…[He or she] must be a jokey sort of fellow…[and] must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things. He must be unconventional and inventive. He must have a really first-class plot. He must know what enthralls children and what bores them. They love being spooked. They love ghosts. They love the finding of treasure. The love chocolates and toys and money. They love magic. They love being made to giggle. They love seeing the villain meet a grisly death. They love a hero and they love the hero to be a winner. But they hate descriptive passages and flowery prose. They hate long descriptions of any sort. Many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence. They like stories that contain a threat. “D’you know what I feel like?” said the big crocodile to the smaller one. “I feel like having a nice plump juicy child for my lunch.” They love that sort of thing. What else do they love? New inventions. Unorthodox methods. Eccentricity. Secret information. The list is long. But above all, when you write a story for them, bear in mind that they do not possess the same power of concentration as an adult, and they become very easily bored or diverted. Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate them on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself, “Is this too slow? Is it too dull? Will they stop reading?” To those questions, you must answer yes more often than you answer no. [If not] you must cross it out and start again.

 The quote above is from a letter Dahl wrote to “The Writer” Magazine in October, 1975: “A Note on Writing Books for Children”.

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8. 5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write Science Books for Children!

3 Myths About Why Writing Science Books for Kids is Hard

April 29, 2015 …and 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Believe Any of Them!
Jennifer Swanson
From Jennifer Swanson: Let’s face it, many people think that science and writing are two different entities. Science requires you to use your left brain. Why? Because it involves math, logic, and, well . . . science. Writing requires you to use your right brain. It allows people to be more creative, tapping into their emotions, intuitions, and expressiveness. Do you believe all that? Well, the right-brain-left brain thinking is incorrect. Thinking that left-brained people are logical and right-brained people are creative is a myth. Just like these myths about science writing.
Perhaps you’ve heard some of these:
1. You have to have a degree in science.
This is absolutely not true. While it may help a little to have a background in science, especially if you are going to be using scientific papers in your research, it is not a requirement. Plenty of great science authors don’t have formal training in science. What they do have is the willingness to learn and the determination to succeed. If you have that, that’s all you need to be a science writer.
2. You need to work in a science field.
Not true. You don’t need to be a science teacher or a scientist to write books about science for kids. In fact, sometimes the best writers are the ones without any science background because they can really look at the facts and make them understandable to kids who may know very little science, too.
3. Science books are boring and informational.
Not true at all! Today’s science books are fun, exciting, and engaging. Some are extremely interactive and chock full of fun facts, amazing images and active words. Others are beautiful narratives with a thread of science woven so skillfully that readers are drawn into the story and learn something without being aware of it. Science books come in all shapes and sizes these days.
5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write Science Books for Children:
1. To cover new and innovative topics.
Want to learn about new discoveries in space, a brand new animal from the ocean deep, or how robots work? You can do it here!
2. To get kids excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and writing together.
Help kids to see that writing and science go hand in hand with learning and allow them to expand their imaginations
3. To relate science to real-life things/events people actually do.
Write books about real-life scientists or engineers and help kids to see themselves working in these fields one day.
4. To start a conversation about a science topic.
Need a topic for your dinner table? Why not discuss fracking or maybe nuclear power, or even how one plastic bag can change the world.
5. Anyone can write them!
Yes, anyone who is curious about the science all around them every day can be a science writer.
Jennifer Swanson is faculty, along with Miranda Paul and editor Shelby Alinsky, at the Nuts and Bolts of Science Writing workshop this July 5th-9th. They invite you to engage both halves of your brain and leave your myths at the door as they navigate the rocky and sometimes aquatic narrative environment of science writing!

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Time is running out for the deep discount!

Until January 15th, my rate of $4 per page is slashed to $2.75 per page, and all you have to do to lock in that rate for the next six months is to send a deposit of fifty dollars by the cutoff date. 

The price of $2.75 includes a full edit and an editorial letter outlining what’s working and what may need a closer look--plot, story arc, character development, conflict, sub-plots, and more. If you have questions or concerns, send those along.    

In most cases, an edit will take from a week to ten days for a completed work, but you can also submit in installments and pay as you go. You are welcome to send by regular mail or electronically. I accept payment through PayPal or by personal check. 
E-mail with questions or to ask about how and where to submit: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com

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10. ACT NOW! Price Slash for Manuscript Edits!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all my writing friends! 

It’s the season of giving, but also of resolution and new beginnings. To help you get moving on those writing goals, I’m offering a discount for writers with a YA or MG manuscript for a limited time only. 

From today until January 15th, my rate of $4 per page is slashed to $2.75 per page, and all you have to do to lock in that rate for the coming year is to send a deposit of fifty dollars by the cutoff date. 

The price of $2.75 includes a full edit and an editorial letter outlining what’s working and what may need a closer look--plot, story arc, character development, conflict, sub-plots, and more. If you have questions or concerns, send those along.    

In most cases, an edit will take from a week to ten days for a completed work, but you can also submit in installments and pay as you go. You are welcome to send by regular mail or electronically. I accept payment through PayPal or by personal check. 

Want to learn more? Simply e-mail with your questions or to ask about how and where to submit: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com

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Dear Friends,

The Highlights Foundation has a great year of writing workshops lined up for you. I'm pleased to share a spring offering that will show you how to raise your novel to a higher level. 

I know you're wondering, so, YES, I'll be giving a talk one evening on transitions and characters. 

Just click on the workshop title, and it will take you to the website. Of course, you'll want to check out the other workshop offerings while you're there!  

Happy writing!


Beyond Main Characters: An In-Depth Look at Your Supporting Cast and Transitional Scenes 2015

March 29 – April 1, 2015
Your protagonist is real. The conflict concrete. The plot compelling. Your novel seems complete. Yet something is missing. Maybe those supporting characters and transitional scenes need more attention than you’ve given them. But what to do? How can you make …

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If you're in the area, please stop by and join in the fun and activities! Be sure to bring the kids along!

Winterfest At the Library
Saturday, December 13, 2014
10:00 am to 1:00 pmCreate a Free Holiday Card. For all ages. Compliments of the Boathouse Restaurant
10:00 am to 12:00 pmChildren's Creative Marshmallow Event. For ages 4-10. Must be accompanied by an adult.
Make a "creature" out of edible supplies. Compliments of Wayne Bank. For registration or details, call the bank's Hawley office at 570.226.6565.
11:00 am to 4:00 pm: Meet the Authors. Local authors will be on hand to talk about their books. Books will be available for sale. 
Jan Cheripko, Clara Gillow Clark, Lindsay Barrett George, Madeline Coppola, Lucia Dailey, Michael Gadomski, Natalie Harnett, Christine San Jose, Patricia Thomas, Terry Mooney, Will Wyckoff, and others.
11:30 am to ??: Soup's On at the Library. Enjoy a variety of homemade soups to eat-in or take out. Small cup is $2, large cup is $4. Bottled water will also be available.

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13. Highlights Foundation!

Follow the links to highlightsfoundation.org

Unworkshops: Your Room to Create with Writer in Residence Dec. 14-20, 2014

December 14 – December 20, 2014
Clara Gillow Clark will be joining us as the writer-in-residence for this week’s unworkshop! She will be available during the week to meet with writers to discuss craft, career goals, and offer manuscript advice. All writers and artists need to …
Workshop Faculty: Clara Gillow Clark

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Dear Friends,

I'll be back in about a month with a surprise or two.  Thanks for staying in touch. The answer to the question you've all been asking is:  "Yes, I'm writing."  :o)  

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Link to Full Interview!

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16. Winners of the Weenie Books for Halloween

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for joining the Halloween party with David Lubar. Wasn't he a perfect guest for getting into the spirit of things? I thought so, too. Be sure to read down past the winners, for another treat and a slightly different side of David. Well, sort of . . .

CONGRATULATIONS  to LUCKY WINNER #ONE: Mjolner (the guy in the beret) Please e-mail me (claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com) within one week with your mailing address and your autographed copy of  The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies will be on it's way to you asap!

 CONGRATULATIONS to LUCKY WINNER #TWO: Janet (Writing in the Blackberry Patch) Please e-mail me with your address, and your Halloween treat will be in the mail asap!

You can purchase a copy of Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar from your favorite bookseller! (Available in paperback!)  Don't forget to visit David's web-site: http://www.davidlubar.com

FromSchool Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7-10 -ScottHudson is the quintessential freshman. He's small, he's lost, and seniors yokehim for spare change. His honors homework keeps him up all night and his gymteacher is trying to kill him. He joins the paper, runs for student council, andtries out for the play, just to be near a girl he likes. This all backfires. Heturns out to be the least athletic sports reporter in school history, andfreshman lackey to the sadists on stage crew. Meanwhile, his mother ispregnant. The plot is framed by Scott's journal of advice for the unborn baby.The novel's absurd, comical mood is evident in its entries, like "ScottHudson's List of Good Thin

3 Comments on Winners of the Weenie Books for Halloween, last added: 10/25/2011
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17. Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar

Dear Friends,

No tricks here, just a great treat from a really funny writer and friend, David Lubar. David has treats in store for you. He has generously donated two copies of his Weenies' book, The Battle of the Red Hot Weenies. I know the middle grade crowd will gobble up these stories faster than candy corn.

Read about Author David Lubar's unique sense of humor and imagination in his personal essay, and then meet David at the end of the post and find out how to win one of the autographed copies of his books! Thanks so much for celebrating Halloween with us! David's books are great reads for anytime of the year. Read on . . .

Hats off to the Weenie Guy by  David Lubar

 For most of my freshman year in college, I wore a black cowboy hat. I had no legitimate reason to do this. I didn't grow up on a ranch, wrangle cattle, or engage the Clanton boys in gunfire. Since this fashion statement occurred in New Jersey during the mid-seventies, nobody questioned, or cared about, my authenticity. When people met me, they'd stare for a moment, and then, as recognition clicked into place, say, "Oh, yeah. You're the guy with the hat." There was a lot more to me than some ratty piece of felt, of course, but that was my identity back then. The guy with the hat. I have a new identity these days -- one that I suspect is far rarer and more amusing than any clothing-inspired description. I'm the Weenie guy. And that's a good thing.
 My passion for short stories was spawned during childhood by the fortunate combination of a short attention span and a lack of athletic or social skills. The latter ensured I would have lots of leisure time for reading. The former nudged me away from lengthier works. I devoured short fiction as a kid. I started writing stories when I was in high school. In college, I wrote the typical angst-driven literary pieces that most freshmen feel compelled to inflict on their friends, roommates, and professors. I wanted to be James Joyce. Alas, my eyesight was too strong and my liver too weak to completely emulate my idol's path through life.

20 Comments on Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar, last added: 10/20/2011
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18. Annoucning the Lucky Winners of JOE and SPARKY early readers

Dear Readers,

Thank you, each and everyone, who stopped by to leave a comment for the lovely and talented author, Jamie Michalak. Jamie has graciously donated two books, which she will personalize and mail to the winners. How cool is that?  

So, without further ado, Lucky Winner #1 is:  LORRIE ZIEMBA! Congratulations, Lorrie. Please e-mail me [claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com] with your mailing address, and your book will be on its way to you asap.

A Kirkus Best Children's Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library Best Children's Book of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Selection

Joe and Sparky are unlikely buddiesturtle Sparky enjoys the safety of his shell while giraffe Joe is up for any adventure. Joe, convinced that he has won a contest, decides to take the prize, a bright yellow sports car, for a spin. . . . New readers ready for the challenge of more words per page will appreciate the humor of the story and illustrations. Children familiar with the Froggy books will recognize Remkiewiczs distinctively funny style and will laugh out loud at the inno

10 Comments on Annoucning the Lucky Winners of JOE and SPARKY early readers, last added: 9/30/2011
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19. BOOK BIRTHDAY with Debut Author Shannon Wiersbitzky

Dear Readers,

It's always exciting to introduce a debut author and her first book. To help celebrate her extra special day, Shannon has generously donated an autographed, hardcover copy of her gorgeous book, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, to one very lucky reader who leaves a comment (see jacket and link below). Please give Shannon a warm welcome! She's written a post filled with writing gems just for you!

A brief bio: Shannon Wiersbitzky was born in North Dakota, but grew up in West Virginia, Florida, and Minnesota before her parents finally settled down on the East Coast. Her days have three clear parts, writing, “regular” work, and family. Shannon lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young sons. This is her first novel. Learn more about Shannon at www.shannonwiersbitzky.com

My first novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, officially launches today.  Hooray!  If we were all together, I’d be sure to offer you a drink and an appetizer.

The book tells the story of a young girl, Delia, and a summer that starts off about as bad as any summer could. An inspector threatens to condemn her house and her Mama is struck by lightning. To make matters worse, with no other family to speak of, Delia is forced to move in with her neighbor, Tommy "as-dense-as-a-stump" Parker.

With her best friend, Mae, and Tommy (but only because he seems handy), Delia resolves to tackle the long list of repairs, one by one. What she discovers is that it takes more than energy and willingness to handle some problems. When things go from bad to worse, Delia has to take another tack, one that starts with admitting she just can't do what needs to b

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Dear Readers,

I didn't intend to lie about WHEN I was going to announce the winner of debut author Shannon Wiersbitzky's  www.shannonwiersbitzky.com first novel, the summer of hammers and angels for middle grade readers, but, alas, that's the way it turned out. Sometimes, LIFE makes other plans for us, and I'm sure you are all well-versed in sudden interruptions that delay your best laid plans and goals. But I'm here now, and eager to ANNOUNCE the LUCKY WINNER!

First, I wanted to share a terrific review of  the summer of hammers and angels from KIRKUS:

Author: Wiersbitzky, Shannon
Publisher: namelos
Angels in the form of members of the First Congregational Church of Christ come to Delia Burns' rescue after lightning strikes her house, leaving her mother in a coma and Delia trying to do the long list of repairs left by the inspector who has condemned her home.
Set in Tucker's Ferry, W.V., this idealized picture of small-town cooperation recalls a simpler time. There are no electronic devices beyond the television in the corner of her mother's hospital room and no chain stores with computerized inventories. There is also little supervision of the children: hard-working, resourceful Delia, her flighty friend, Mae, and mean Tommy Parker, who turns out to be both helpful and handy with tools. Delia’s age is never given, but the first-person narration reflects her innocence and naïveté. Thanks to summer Bible camp she knows something about religion. She wonders about the efficacy of prayer and the existence of angels. She hasn't gone regularly to church like the Parkers, neighbors who take her in after the lightning strike, but her conversion is swift. After two weeks of porch carpentry, ivy-pulling and screen-mending, she’s ready to ask for help, which arrives in true feel-good fashion.

The heartwarming conclusion is an unlikely miracle, but it is entirely in keeping with the flavor of this nostalgic story, which will leave readers hungry for fried chicken and Coke from glass bottles. (Fiction. 9-13)
---Kirkus Reviews   www.kirkusreviews.com
                             * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The LUCKY WINNER of The Summer of Hammers and Angels is: KRISTIN GRAY
Congratulations, Kristin. I know you'll give this book a good home! Please e-mail me [claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com] with your mailing address, and the book will go out to you asap!

Please take a moment to congratulate Kristin! You, dear reader, may be the lucky winner next time!

And next up will be an interview with the award w

4 Comments on THE LUCKY WINNER of THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS, last added: 7/11/2011
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21. Interview with Susan Campbell Bartoletti -- Newbery Honor Award Winning Author

Dear Reader,

It is such a great honor to introduce you to my long-time and treasured friend, the Award Winning author, Susan Campbell Bartoletti. www.scbartoletti.com   As Susan says, we were babies together, but what she means by that is baby writers. How lucky for me to grow up with this author!

Susan gives so much of her time and expertise to the writing community and to our children through her books. Please join me now in celebrating her newest title, Naamah and the Ark at Night.  amzn.to/p2NyxU

What was the source of the inspiration for your soon-to –be-released picture book, Naamah and the Ark at Night?
A very old wooden ark that sits on a shelf in my dining room.
As a little girl, when I visited my grandmother – my father’s mother – I played with the ark. I lined up the animals, two by two, and boarded them safely. I imagined the falling rain. The rising floodwaters. The ark tossing and turning on the churning sea. The screaming and crying people Noah left behind, pounding the gangway door, begging to be let on.
Okay, I’m just kidding about that last sentence, but this part is true: I was a very impressionable child. To this day, I remember clearly a coloring book illustration that depicted the terrified men and women Noah didn’t allow on the ark. And I was supposed to do what? Color it with my crayons? Colorize their terror? That illustration haunted me.

Can you share something about the character of Naamah, Noah’s wife?
One day, I found that my imagination turned to Noah’s wife.
In the King James Version of Genesis, we’re told Noah was a just man, full of grace.
But what about his

30 Comments on Interview with Susan Campbell Bartoletti -- Newbery Honor Award Winning Author, last added: 7/22/2011
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22. Who won NAAMAH and the ARK at NIGHT? Could it be you?

Look what Naamah’s done!


Starred review: Horn Book. “A lovely lullaby, in a beautiful, masterfully integrated book.”
Starred review: Kirkus. “This captivating interpretation creates a remarkable partner for Noah, who uses her special talent in a memorable way.”
What others say:
School Library Journal. “In an author’s note, Bartoletti explains the Arabic poetic form, the ghazal, that inspired the structure of her poetry. Young listeners who hear her bedtime verse will be aware only of its soothing rhythm carrying them to the final ‘Hush hush hush, good night.’”
Publisher’s Weekly. “It’s a story of quiet confidence and comfort, during trials of truly biblical proportions, as well as a gentle bedtime book.”

 Dear Readers, 

Thank you for joining Susan and me for her pre-book celebration and for sharing your intelligent and thoughtful comments! You get **stars**, too, for being so loyal and supportive!

And now the super lucky winner of  Naamah and the Ark at Night: Take a bow, SIOUX!

Sioux, Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and the autographed book will be on its way to you asap! I hate to part with the book, but my copy will be on it's way August 9th when the book is finally released.

Next up is a book birthday giveaway--Historical fiction, a novel in verse, set in the heartland during WWII. It's splendid, I think!

Don't forget to visit Susan's web-site: www.scbartoletti.com  

7 Comments on Who won NAAMAH and the ARK at NIGHT? Could it be you?, last added: 8/1/2011
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23. BOOK BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION with Author Carol Saller

Dear Readers,

Please join me in celebrating the release of Eddie's War with author Carol Saller. This book will be a special treasure for many of you, because it's historical fiction set in the USA Heartland from 1934-1944. I have a copy setting on my desk to giveaway!  I LOVE this book! 

In this post, Carol shares from the heart about her long journey to publication--I know it will touch your heart the way it did mine! Congratulations, Carol! 

Carol Saller

Bio: Carol Fisher Saller, the author of  a new middle-grade novel Eddie’s War, copyedits scholarly books at the University of Chicago Press and is the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A. In the past she has worked as an editor of children’s books and has published several books for children in addition to a book for adults, The Subversive Copy Editor . You can read more about Carol and Eddie's War at www.carolsaller.com.

Review Clip of Eddie's War

Eddie’s War
 “A poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.... Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read.” —Kirkus Revie

23 Comments on BOOK BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION with Author Carol Saller, last added: 8/2/2011
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24. Who won EDDIE"S WAR? It might be you!

Dear Readers,

This month there is a special reason why this LUCKY WINNER won the giveaway of EDDIE'S WAR. . .
Read below to find out why!

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

Eddie’s War
 EDDIE'S WAR (reviewed on July 1, 2011)
In her first outing for children, Saller (The Subversive Copy Editor, 2009) provides a poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.
The novel in verse is a well-worked concept, but this effort infuses new life into a genre that's become almost trite. Eddie, just 5 years old as the story begins in 1934, lives contentedly in the glorious shadow of his older brother, Thomas. A few brief vignettes capture the flavor of the pre-war years, as Eddie befriends Jozef, an immigrant his Grama calls a gypsy, who carefully scans newspapers at the library, looking for the only word he can read: the name of his home in Poland, where his wife and son still live. Eddie comes to idolize his brother’s friend, Gabe, always the most reasonable of the older boys. Eventually, Thomas and Gabe enlist as the United States enters the war, and Eddie and his parents face the trial of never knowing if Thomas will live to come home. Prejudice against Jozef forces Eddie to make a hard choice to save the beleaguered man. In spare language and remarkably short sketches, carefully selected details effectively portray well-rounded, interesting characters, from Eddie’s abusive grandfather to his evolving love interest, Sarah.
Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)  

Sometimes it's all about LUCK & TIMING or being in the right town at the right time. Joyce and I met up for a cup of vanilla latte at a little cafe in my town, Honesdale, PA! So the WINNER of the fabulous EDDIE'S WAR by Carol Saller is none other than the award winning author of BLUE, Joyce Moyer Hostetter:
Joyce Moyer

6 Comments on Who won EDDIE"S WAR? It might be you!, last added: 8/12/2011
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25. Interview with author/editor -- Jamie Michalak

Jamie Michalak
Dear Readers, 

I'm pleased to share a very special writer and treasured friend with you this month. I've never met Jamie Michalak face to face, but she was my wonderful first editor at Candlewick Press and worked with me on Hill Hawk Hattie and Hattie on Her Way. In fact, I dedicated Hattie on Her Way to Jamie! Not long after we finished the edits for Hattie on Her Way, Jamie started a new life as a mother and an author. 

I'll share more about Jamie at the end of the post along with details about her generous giveaway--two personalized copies of her early readers. But I don't want to take anymore time away from this gifted editor and writer, Jamie Michalak, or the pearls of writing and editing wisdom she has for us!

Interview with author Jamie Michalak 

Can you tell us about where the idea for your first early reader, Joe and Sparky, came from?

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