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1. Walking on the Edge of a Knife


It takes courage to be a painter. I always felt I walked on the edge of a knife. On this knife I might fall off on either side. But I’d walk it again. So what. So what if you do fall off? I’d rather be doing something I really wanted to do.
— Georgia O’Keeffe

The post Walking on the Edge of a Knife originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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2. #MGGetsReal—A Joint Marketing Effort


a guest post by Shannon Hitchcock

A group marketing blitz during the month of August? My initial reaction was UGH!  I’m a writer, not a marketer, but since I have a new book out, (RUBY LEE & ME, Scholastic, 2016), I accepted the challenge.

I see only one negative to group marketing, which is losing total control. On the other hand, there are lots of benefits. Benefits like:

  • Better Results for Less Effort: A team can get more done than a single person. #MGGetsReal will be featured on at least ten blogs during the month of August, but I only had to write two posts.
  • Better Ideas: Brainstorming often produced better ideas than I generated on my own. We held a brainstorming session and decided on a hashtag to tweet about our marketing plan. We settled on #MGGetsReal.
  • Expertise: Joyce Moyer Hostetter, author of, (BLUE, COMFORT, & AIM, Boyds Mills Press), worked with her daughter and prepared a video that features all five of our books. I’ve never made a video before, and it would have taken me a long time to learn.
  • Greater Marketing Reach: We all have different professional contacts, so the number of people we can reach as a group is greater than if I were going it alone.
  • Motivation: Working as a group kept each of us motivated to do our part.


Any group of authors with a common theme could implement a plan like ours. Our plan:

  • Read/write reviews for each book.
  • Seek to engage teachers/librarians.
  • Write for two blogs not our own, (seeking blogs with national exposure where possible).
  • Develop “group ads” for social media.
  • Develop a unique hashtag for the effort. We chose #MGGetsReal because our books tackle a tough topic in a way appropriate for Middle Grade readers.
  • Post to social media 3x week for the month of August in a way that highlights all five books.
  • Retweet using the hashtag #MGGetsReal.
  • Feature other writers on our own blogs if applicable.
  • Develop a video that highlights all five of the books featured below:

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw– Kathleen’s mother was a Hiroshima survivor. In this novel based on that experience, Kathleen shows the effect war has on children, and that sometimes the enemy is very much like us.

WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER by Shannon Wiersbitzky– Shannon’s own grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s, and in this novel she paints a realistic picture of a man losing his memory and of the young girl who loves him.

COMFORT by Joyce Moyer Hostetter– COMFORT tells the story of how Ann Fay’s dad is tormented by combat memories following WWII, and how his trauma hurts the whole family.

JUST A DROP OF WATER by Kerry O’Malley Cerra– This book takes place in the aftermath of 9/11. It shows how normally tolerant people developed prejudice toward their Muslim neighbors.

RUBY LEE & ME by Shannon Hitchcock—Following a tragic accident, two friends, one black, and one white, struggle with school integration. I lived through integration so this book is close to my heart.

A group marketing blitz during the month of August? I hope your initial reaction is YAY! Join #MGGetsReal on social media and give us a retweet, a Facebook share, and consider reviewing our books.

The post #MGGetsReal—A Joint Marketing Effort originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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3. Writing Links


July is my blogging sabbath, a time for me to step away and recharge. Usually during this season I re-run popular posts once a week. This year I’ve come across a number of great writing articles, so many that I realized July would work perfectly for sharing them.

I hope you enjoy what you find here. Monday I’ll return to my regular blogging schedule.


On Despair and the Writing Process by Anne Nesbet :: Project Mayhem

Thirteen Writing Tips :: Chuck Palahnuik

Life Lessons from the Bronte Sisters :: The Daily Beast

6 Things I Tell Myself Once I’m Done Writing a Book :: Jody Hedlund

Killing Darlings :: Tara Lazar

The post Writing Links originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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4. Writing Links


July is my blogging sabbath, a time for me to step away and recharge. Usually during this season I re-run popular posts once a week. This year I’ve come across a number of great writing articles, so many that I realized July would work perfectly for sharing them.

I hope you enjoy what you find here. Join me next week for more.


On What To Ask A Prospective Agent’s Clients by Joy McCullough-Carranza :: Project Mayhem

On the Deep Disquiet of Finishing Your Book :: Lit Hub

Writing as Art, Publishing as Business :: Pub(lishing) Crawl

45+ Thrilling Historical Fiction Books for Kids :: What Do We Do All Day?
Lovely to see Blue Birds included on this list!

The Creative Pragmatist vs The Creative Perfectionist :: Seeking Intellect

The post Writing Links originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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5. Writing Links


July is my blogging sabbath, a time for me to step away and recharge. Usually during this season I re-run popular posts once a week. This year I’ve come across a number of great writing articles, so many that I realized July would work perfectly for sharing them.

I hope you enjoy what you find here. Join me next week for more.


Marrying Story Structure and Character Arcs by Joanna Roddy :: Project Mayhem

The most important thing a writer must learn to do :: Lisa Schroeder

Fear is Boring and Other Tips for Living a Creative Life :: Ideas.Ted.com

Rebecca Stead and Kate Dicamillo :: Number Five Bus Presents

The Best Suggestion I Ever Got From My Editor :: Penguin Random House News for Authors

The post Writing Links originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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6. Writing Links


July is my blogging sabbath, a time for me to step away and recharge. Usually during this season I re-run popular posts once a week. This year I’ve come across a number of great writing articles, so many that I realized July would work perfectly for sharing them.

I hope you enjoy what you find here. Join me next week for more.


The Hazard of Too Much Too Soon :: Marion Dane Bauer

Plot-Driven or Character-Driven? Why Not Both! by Chris Eboch :: Project Middle Grade Mayhem

What is Launch? :: Pub(lishing) Crawl 

Some Books for Now and Some Books for Later by Donalyn Miller :: Nerdy Book Club

Kinds of Success :: Avi

The post Writing Links originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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7. Writing Links


July is my blogging sabbath, a time for me to step away and recharge. Usually during this season I re-run popular posts once a week. This year I’ve come across a number of great writing articles, so many that I realized July would work perfectly for sharing them.

I hope you enjoy what you find here. Join me next week for more.


Creating Compelling character descriptions :: Ingrid Sundberg

A Prayer for the Writer :: Emily P. Freeman

The Power of the Long Walk :: 99u
(This one reminded me so much of the book Daily Rituals)

On Creating :: Lisa Schroeder

Breaking Down Scene Structure into Three Parts :: Live Write Thrive


The post Writing Links originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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8. Plowing, Planting, Hoping, Dreaming

I ran an earlier version of this post right after selling my first book. Because it’s one of my favorites, and because I so often need to hear these words myself, I’m sharing them again today.


It was 2004. While driving to meet my writing group, I happened to catch an interview on NPR with Adrienne Young, a folksinger just starting out. She talked about her first album, inspired by some advice she’d gotten while struggling to make it as a musician:

If you want to do this with your life, stay focused and see this through. You’ve got to plow to the end of the row, girl.

That simple phrase – plow to the end of the row – was enough to push Adrienne to continue. It became the title of both her album and lead song. I can’t quite explain what that interview meant to me, hearing an artist choose to create despite the struggle, to push against fear and sensibility and make it “to the end of the row.”

I’ve carried this image with me for years, the plant metaphor standing in for artistic endeavor, the plow the unglamorous slog needed to dig deep and make it to the end. Sometimes I find it funny I’d choose a profession so bent on forcing me to wait, so full of uncertainty and disappointment. An almost foolish optimism has kept me working, trusting that the next editor or the next agent or the next story would be the one to launch my career. I’ve haunted mailboxes and inboxes, waiting for something positive to come through. I’ve ceremoniously sent off manuscripts, chanting, “Don’t come back!” (entertaining postal workers, for sure). I’ve journaled again and again “this next editor is a perfect match!”, managing somehow to keep on plowing in midst of little validation.

After twelve years of writing and hundreds of rejections, I sold my first book, May B., a historical verse novel about a girl with her own challenging row to hoe. May’s determination carried me through a rocky publication experience: losing my first editor; the closing of my Random House imprint, Tricycle Press; the weeks when my book was orphaned, with no publishing house to claim it and its future uncertain; the swooping in of Radom House imprint, Schwartz and Wade; edit rounds seven, eight, and nine with editor number two; and finally, May B.’s birth into the world only three months behind its original release date.

I made it to the end of a very long, mostly lonely row, one that wasn’t very straight and was loaded with stones. But the soil got better as I worked it, and each little sprout was stronger than the last. The beauty of the writing life is I got to transplant the hardiest seedling and start again, this time working alongside others who nurtured it into something better than I could have ever created alone.

What is the dream of the artist-gardener? That our art will sprout and grow one day stand apart from us to thrive on its own.

But first we must reach the end of the row. Keep plowing, friends.


The post Plowing, Planting, Hoping, Dreaming originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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9. Wisdom from Every Single Second


I don’t think you can ever call kindness a mistake.

The post Wisdom from Every Single Second originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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10. One more reason to be a part of a critique group


They get it. They see improvement. They push us toward our best work. Here’s a little message from my dear critique group member, Uma Krishnaswami:

Congratulations on turning Jasper in. He grew into a fine young man on our watch, and I’m thrilled I got to be one of those who ran alongside him cheering.

The post One more reason to be a part of a critique group originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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11. Classroom Connections: Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe

age range: 8-12
genre: contemporary fiction from a dog’s point of view
setting: the suburbs
Victoria J. Coe’s website
classroom guide

Readers will relate to Fenway’s impulsivity and delight in descriptions from his dog’s-eye view. Teachers and adults will appreciate generous sprinklings of rich vocabulary. –School Library Journal

Fenway may not understand Hattie’s behavior, but readers looking through his uncomprehending eyes will follow her ups and downs easily as she adjusts to the move. They’ll also wince in sympathy as she tries, with mixed success, to train, or even restrain, her barky, hyper, emotional pet. Booklist

This perky, pet-centered tale takes readers inside the head of Fenway, an energetic and perpetually hopeful Jack Russell terrier with a deep love for food, intense hatred of squirrels, and undying adoration of his “small human,” Hattie. . . A fun, fresh frolic that animal-loving kids are sure to enjoy.—Publishers Weekly

Please tell us about your book.

 Fenway and Hattie is about a dog named Fenway and his girl Hattie who move from an apartment in the city to a house in the suburbs, where they each struggle with big changes. But you only get Fenway’s side of the story, because the whole book is told from his point of view.

What inspired you to write this story?

I was inspired to write this story when my own family experienced a move and our dog was afraid we’d leave him behind. The move was hard on all of us, but I was especially tuned in to my dog’s fears and insecurities. As we took long walks together, I noticed how he checked everything out and I started to wonder what was going through his mind. That’s how the character of Fenway was born.

Could you share with readers a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I’ve learned a lot about how dogs experience the world! Here are some interesting tidbits:

Dogs smell! But dogs don’t just smell scents; they use their noses to gather information. By smelling, dogs can tell:

  • What’s new vs. what’s familiar
  • If a person or another dog is a male or female
  • What foods you’ve eaten
  • What places you’ve been
  • If a scent is faint or strong (that’s how dogs tell time)
  • What you’ve touched and what’s touched you
  • Dogs can even smell people’s feelings

Dogs make sounds, but they primarily communicate by body language. How dogs carry their ears or tails, whether they’re panting or baring their teeth, and what posture they assume can tell another dog all kinds of information. And dogs read our body language, too. They know from our bodies how we’re feeling and what our intentions are.

Dogs are always studying people. They know our routines – maybe better than we know ourselves! They also pick up on cues, like grabbing the leash comes before going for a walk. Dogs know all of our habits and when something changes, a dog is usually the first to notice!

What are some special challenges associated with writing from a dog’s point of view?

Ha! How long is this blog, Caroline? I like to say that writing from a dog’s point of view is just like regular writing only with both hands tied behind your back!

Seriously though, since dogs don’t understand most human language, I can only write actions, sounds, or observations that a dog would know – I can’t rely on human dialogue.

There are so many elements of the human world that dogs don’t know. Fenway doesn’t know how old Hattie is or what town they live in. And he certainly doesn’t know what she does when she’s not with him — unless he can see, hear, or smell clues, and he often comes to the wrong conclusion!

For instance, early on in the story, Hattie is packing. Fenway remembers that he’s seen her do this before – right before she disappeared and left him alone. And something really terrible must’ve happened to her because when she came back she smelled like burnt marshmallows and squirrels.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

Fenway and Hattie is a perfect mentor text for both point of view and inference. My classroom guide contains both POV activities and exercises as well as a discussion guide for the book – which as you can see from the packing example I just described is a lot of inference!

The post Classroom Connections: Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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12. Top Reading Posts of All Time


This was my nightstand a few weeks back. Yes, The Life of Bees is still there. Why do you ask?

I turned in edits on Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine on Friday. So guess what? I’m going to do a LOT of reading in the next few weeks. As I dig in, I hope readers here might find some good reads of their own through the links below.

Theses posts are a part of a monthly series. You can see the first, Top Posts of All Time, here, and the second, My Favorite Posts of All Time, here, and the third, Top Writing Posts of All Time, here.

Fast Five: Novels About Teachers and Their Students

Reading in the Wild: 5 Things Wild Readers Do

Literary Lessons from Gone Girl

Starting a Book Club for Kids

Beyond Little House: Middle-Grade Frontier Books

Reading is a Generous Act

Reading Aloud to Older Kids

The post Top Reading Posts of All Time originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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13. PEI in July!


I’ve been revisiting book friends lately, books that have been a part of my life since fifth grade. It’s been years since I’ve re-read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, but I’ve got a good reason to pick them up again.

I’m preparing for a trip five years in the dreaming with my dear friend Jamie from Wednesday’s post. We’re to Prince Edward Island in July!

The post PEI in July! originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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14. Give Your Child the World: An Interview with Author Jamie C. Martin


An invaluable resource for any and everyone who has children in their lives! Jamie Martin has scoured the best in children’s literature from around the globe and compiled in one volume, book recommendations sure to appeal to the reader in your life.
— LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow

This is an especially joyous post for me today. My dear friend Jamie C. Martin, who has been steadily working on a book for five years, released it into the world earlier this month, and I want everyone to know about it!

Please tell us about your book.

Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time is a global reading treasury for those “can’t-get-enough” book lovers, map collectors, adventure seekers, and wanderers-at-heart. It’s a resource for those who want their kids to grow up loving the neighbor next door as well as the one on the other side of the world. It’s for parents and educators who hope to raise world-lovers and world-changers.

The book includes more than 600 of the best children’s book recommendations from around the world, organized by region, country, and age range (ages 4-12). It also shares the story of how my own family became a multicultural one, with four nationalities represented under our roof.

Could you tell us about yourself?

My British husband Steve and I have been married for almost 18 years. We have three children. Jonathan, our biological son, joined our family first. Next came our son Elijah, who we adopted when he was still an infant from Liberia, West Africa. Both boys are now 11 years old. And our daughter Trishna joined our family from India at the age of 4—she just recently turned 13 (our first teenager, wow!).

Martin Family

I’ve been blogging for over seven years now, and my main online home is currently SimpleHomeschool.net, where I write alongside a fabulous group of contributors about intentional education, mindful parenting, and the joy found in a pile of books.

Where did the idea for Give Your Child the World first come from?

Back when I was a new mom, there was a book I adored. Actually I think you might have been the first to tell me about it, Caroline?!* Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt is all about using books in family life. In it the author has categorized the best classic children’s literature into a variety of lists that parents can easily use. I loved that she had done all the work so that I didn’t have to! I spent hours poring over that book as a young mom and starting our own home library.

But as our unique, multi-cultural family grew, I realized I needed a way to connect us more deeply to other cultures. We weren’t able to do much traveling at that time, but I found I could use books to add that new dimension to our family.

When I started looking for the best global books out there, I was more or less on my own to research and separate the good from the bad. That got me thinking about a reading treasury, like the one I had loved so much, but with an around-the-world focus. I thought about how much time it would have saved me save me, and eventually I thought I might as well create that resource for others!

How has children’s literature shaped your family’s everyday conversations?

Now that my kids are a little older, I can see many of the benefits that weren’t as obvious when they were still young. We have this rich book heritage, made up of all those pages we’ve read together, and I love that. So when things come up in the news, or even a personal challenge arises, often there will be a connection to a story that we can turn to for help and encouragement.

I like to think that in twenty years when the kids are grown, married, and have kids of their own, they might look back on their childhood through the lens of all the books we read. I hope these titles have taken root deep in their souls, building their characters page by page, strengthening them for when hard times inevitably come, and leading them to look not just for a career but a calling. A way to make a difference, big or small, in this world.

How has children’s literature played into your children’s understanding of the world around them?

You shared a quote with me years ago from Newbery medal-winning author Katherine Paterson that I have gone back to again and again. She said that “the books we read in childhood are a rehearsal for experiences later in life.”** And I couldn’t agree more.

Creating a family culture of books means our kids have the chance to live a thousand lives before leaving home. They can travel the world (and beyond!) all while safe within our four walls. They can feel the pain of a character’s flaws and learn from their mistakes, without having to experience the actual consequences. I don’t see reading as a way to escape reality, but as a way to prepare our kids for real life in a unique and beautiful way.

In recent years, organizations like We Need Diverse Books, Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and Lee and Low Books have brought a spotlight to diversity in children’s literature (and the lack thereof). What does Give Your Child the World add to the conversation?

It makes me so happy to see organizations highlighting this issue, and I’m thrilled to add my work to all that others have contributed. Give Your Child the World makes the process of finding multicultural books so much simpler for parents, families, and educators. Taking the time to research titles is something that busy mamas and papas often don’t have, and knowing that a trusted voice has done all that for them means they can get busy with the fun part: reading their way around the world with their kids!

Read the World Book Club Logo

And speaking of reading around the world, Jamie and Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival are pairing up to run an eight-week online book club which does just that. Click through to learn more. The adventure begins 27 June.



* It’s very possible! I have a memory of the two of us reading Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Woman’s Heart: Growing Your World through Reading Great Books.

** I have to confess I’ve attributed this quote to both Katherine Paterson and Lois Lowry at various times and places! While I don’t know who originally said it, I do know I heard Katherine Paterson share these very words at an event in Washington DC in 2000 when talking about her Bridge to Terabithia.

The post Give Your Child the World: An Interview with Author Jamie C. Martin originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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15. Why We Read


Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.
  —Napoleon Bonaparte

The post Why We Read originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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16. When Art is Seconds Away From Total Collapse

As I’m in the midst of edits again, I’ve thought often of this post. Happy writing, friends.

The truth is that the piece of art which seems so profoundly right in its finished state may earlier have been only inches or seconds away from total collapse.

This quote has been running through my mind since July.

There are so many ways for a work of art to fail. But thankfully there are even more opportunities to try and get it right. During the editing process, BLUE BIRDS has balanced on the edge of disaster again and again, but it has come back, stronger, clearer, more fully itself.

And one day, I will set it free. It will be a separate thing from me. I’ll no longer need to stand by, ready to interpret or hold it steady.

It will fly.

The post When Art is Seconds Away From Total Collapse originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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17. An Interview with Tricia Springstubb, Author of Every Single Second

Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the “leap second”—an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being “secret sisters” to not talking at all.

Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. In the midst of this controversy, Nella is faced with a series of startling revelations about her parents, friends, and neighborhood. As Angela’s situation becomes dangerous, Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. Her heart tries to tell her what to do, but can you always trust your heart? The clock ticks down, and in that extra second, past and present merge—the future will be up to her. 

With an engaging protagonist, a fast-moving story, important themes subtly conveyed, and touches of humor, this is a richly layered story that will have wide appeal. — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Nella’s growing awareness of endings and beginnings, the meaning of friendship, and the power of choices combine to create an unsettling, compelling, and heartwarming tale. — Publishers Weekly, starred review

What drew you to this story?

Every Single Second didn’t draw me in—it yanked me! To be honest, I was afraid of this story. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write it. But it got hold of me and refused to let go.

I first began thinking about it when a local young woman (whose family I slightly knew) threatened to commit a crime. Even though she had problems that left her too frail and confused to hurt anyone, she was arrested and jailed. On-line, she became the object of scorn and mockery from people who, of course, knew nothing about her. Her family was already reeling from what had happened, and this casual cruelty devastated them all the more. I couldn’t stop thinking about how easily we can judge others, without any real understanding of them.

The other event was a shooting much like the central event of Every Single Second, which I read about in the news. An African-American man who’d been in a car accident knocked on a door late at night and the woman inside called 9-1-1. Police officers showed up, and within seconds the injured, unarmed man was dead. Photos of him and the white officer who shot him were printed side by side. The victim looked heart-breakingly young and earnest. The officer was also young, and his expression was a blur of confusion and fear. Their faces riveted me. Two unconnected lives had crossed; one moment had changed everything. I kept thinking about who the officer was, wondering how he became the person who pulled that trigger. Again, I wanted to know more, to look deeper and try, if I could, to understand. 

As I worked, national events, including the unthinkable death of Tamir Rice here in Cleveland, made the writing harder but also more urgent.

During my middle and high school years, three different accidental shootings affected my classmates, one resulting in death. Unfortunately, other young people have had similar experiences. Even so, I can’t think of one book I’ve ever encountered on the subject. What are some of the challenges you faced in writing about such a difficult topic?    

Writing for young readers is always an enormous privilege, but I especially felt that with this book. I so badly wanted to get this complicated story right! Stories, like our lives, don’t march in straight lines. They rush forward, slip backward, skitter sideways. We think in terms of beginnings and endings, but I wanted to show that every story starts long before “chapter one” and continues way beyond “the end”. I wrote from the point of view of Nella, a white girl who’s close to the shooter. She’s been shaped by her community, as we all are. For me, the book’s biggest challenge was to be true to who Nella is, while showing her begin to question what she’s been taught. It’s scary to reject things we’ve always believed. It’s risky to trust our own hearts, and form a new, untried view of the world. Every Single Second deals with class and racial divides, and questions of what it means to be “good” or “bad”. These are the kinds of issues middle graders get really passionate about, and my deepest, fondest hope is that the book will inspire lots of questions and discussions. (I’m very glad that HarperCollins will publish a reading and discussion guide teachers and book groups can use!)

When writing about difficult things, do you intentionally bring in moments to ease the tension of the storyline? If yes, how so? 

I was brought up to believe we need humor in bad times even more than in good. I’m a natural optimist, and love to laugh (one more reason I adore being around kids). While I was working on this book, the venerable Jeptha A. Stone miraculously appeared. He’s a monument who lives (in a manner of speaking) in the cemetery where Nella’s father is the groundskeeper, and he serves as a sort of Greek chorus. Jeptha is a pompous old guy with a heart of (what else?) stone, and he gets his own story arc. One of the book’s themes is that we all have powerful voices, if only we have the courage to use them, and one of my very favorite moments is when Jeptha speaks. Or does he?


the monument that gave me the idea for Jeptha Stone

Maybe the biggest challenge of writing middle grade is respecting the huge issues kids face without going too far into the darkness. Let there always be light and laughter!

How is Every Single Second different from your other books? How is it similar?

I’ve never dealt so directly with violence. Some people might also say I’ve never written about anything so topical, though really, unfortunately, the book’s issues have been with us for a very, very long time. Something I was aware of the whole time I was writing was that I didn’t want to hold back. With this book, I pinned my meaty heart to my sleeve. 

But Every Single Second does share things with my earlier books. Nella’s neighborhood is crucial to the story. A sense of place is always deeply important to me (What Happened on Fox Street and Moonpenny Island are titled for their settings!).  My characters often come from working class families, and economic class is always an issue, even when it just hovers in the background. Also, I can’t seem to stop writing about sisters or father-daughter relationships!

What are you working on now?

I just finished writing the fourth book in my series for younger middle grade readers. Cody and the Fountain of Happiness came out last spring, and Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe published this April. These are such fun books to write, and Eliza Wheeler’s illustrations are genius!

Now I’m tiptoeing around a middle grade novel set in a fictional country more than a hundred years ago. I’d really love to write fantasy, but I’m just too literal a person. I’m hoping that escaping the present and wandering the past will be the next best thing.

Tricia is offering one reader here the opportunity to win signed a copy of Every Single Second. Simply leave a comment below by Friday, June 17. A winner will be randomly selected. US residents only, please.

Tricia is the author of many books for children, including the award winning middle grade novels What Happened on Fox Street, its well-loved sequel, Mo Wren Lost and Found, and Moonpenny Island. Tricia has worked as a Head Start teacher and a children’s librarian. Besides writing and, of course, reading, she loves doing school and library visits. Mother of three grown daughters (and a brand new Nana!), she lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. You can contact her at www.triciaspringstubb.com.



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18. Writing Links


How to Make a Storyboard :: Uri Shulevitz

Don’t Worry, It Only Gets Harder :: Writer Unboxed

What Nobody Tells You About Being a Best-Selling Author :: Goins, Writer

Five Things I Wish I’d Known Five Months Before I Published My First Novel :: Medium

Books About Girls Who Rescue Themselves :: Powell’s City of Books
**Honored to find May B. on the top of the list!

Common Rejections and What They Mean :: Tara Lazar

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19. The Work Behind the Work: Second-Round Edits


Looks like no one ever taught me you’re just supposed to highlight the important parts. Oh, wait. It’s all important.

One letter, five highlighters, one notebook full of scribbling, one marked up manuscript, one calendar, one phone call with my editor. This is how second-round edits begin.

And this is the shrunk down version of the letter, a little cheat sheet that will guide me when I need direction…


… and here’s an expanded version to take me chapter through chapter.


I’ve never done edits precisely this way before and probably won’t do them just like this again. Each book is a journey, and I do my best to follow along.

Writers out there, do you always edit in the same way or does your approach change?




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20. Top Writing Posts of All Time


After six and half years of blogging, I thought it would be fun to revive some oldies but goodies. The plan is to do this once a month. You can see the first, Top Posts of All Time, here, and the second, My Favorite Posts of all Time, here.

The posts below are consistently clicked most when people come to the blog for writing advice. I hope you enjoy!

(BLUE) BIRD BY (BLUE) BIRD: On Small Writing Goals and Big Change
Writing Contests and Grants: Why You Should Enter
Will Verse Work for Your Story?
There is No Schedule
5 Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo
What’s the Purpose of Your Writing?
Book Mapping My Way Through Blue Birds
Novel Revision Class: Quotes and Links on Revision
Writing Advice for the Long Haul
Running as a Metaphor for Writing

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21. That Jasper Johnson


Jefferson “Soapy” Smith was an unsavory sort who worked Skagway, Alaska when Jasper passed through.

I can’t wait to introduce  you to Jasper next spring. For now, I’ll give you a peek into the way he thinks. (Coming across this section during edits has encouraged me. It might feel like I don’t know how to write a whole darn book, but this reminds me I don’t have to have it all figured out straight away. I’m responsible for showing up and doing my daily work to the best of my ability.)

Since leaving home I’ve stowed away and tracked down Mel and climbed a mountain and traveled the Yukon on a flimsy raft, and tackled a whole pile of other things I ain’t never done before. Now ain’t the time to start believing I got to have things figured out before I try.

Now, back to work on the editing…

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22. More Wisdom from Simply Tuesday


“May fear, discouragement, doubt, comparison, envy, and failure not have the final say in our homes, our work, our relationships, our souls, or our plans for the future. Instead, may we live into our truest calling as people who give and receive grace, forgiveness, and love in the small moments of our lives.”

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23. On Writing

A friend of mine who writes history books said to me that he thought that the two creatures most to be pitied were the spider and the novelist — their lives hanging by a tread spun out of their own guts. But in some ways I think writers of fiction are the creatures most to be envied, because who else besides the spider is allowed to take that fragile thread and weave it into a pattern? What a gift of grace to be a ble to take the chaos from within and from it to create some semblance of order.


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24. Five Bits of Encouragement from My Inbox


I ain’t going to lie. This round of edits has been really tough. So I was encouraged to find these good words waiting for me on Monday.

As soon as we realize that there is a difference between right now and what might happen next, we can move ourselves to the posture of possibility, to the self-fulfilling engine of optimism.
— Seth Godin

I’m an optimist. I don’t know why. But it has made things easier.
— Geoff Herbach (…wise words from his grandmother)

Place your attention on what is occurring now, not anticipating the future.
— Ennea Thought for the Day

In life, it’s impossible to always feel like everything is going well and that you’re exactly where you want to be in terms of success. It’s like the tide – it ebbs and flows. Sometimes you’ll feel successful, like the high tide, and other times, the tide will go out and you’ll feel dissatisfied with the way things are going. You just have to ride it out. Eventually, the tides will turn again.
— Lisa Schroeder (…from the podcast Millennial)

And this one came through on Tuesday —

Optimism is true moral courage.
– Ernest Shackleton

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25. Are you seldom disappointed or do you hold to wild hope?


Last year I recorded a podcast with author Tsh Oxenreider. As we talked about submissions and rejection, Tsh mentioned the idea of “it’s just business, it’s not personal” not being an entirely helpful or true way to look at the writing life, at least in her experience. “It’s business and it’s personal” is more accurate, she said. It’s personal because not only has she invested in what she’s created, a piece of writing grows out of who she is.

This is absolutely spot on in my experience, too. An author has hope for her work, wild hope that it will connect with an agent or an editor who believes in it as she does. That wild hope must also run through the writing itself. The creative act cannot hold back. It cannot be guarded or careful or tame. For me, both writing and the writing life must be all in.

Being all in has its risks. There is the possibility of rejection. (Not just the possibility. In this line of work the reality of rejection is always present.) There is the possibility that even books that sell won’t go the way you hoped or planned. Elizabeth Gilbert says “creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome.”

Your job is to create. You don’t get to decide the rest.

Uncertain outcomes mean sometimes you’ll be hugely disappointed. It’s important to let yourself acknowledge this, to let yourself grieve the work that didn’t have the future you’d hoped. This is hard and painful and so disappointing. But I rather do this than not hope at all.

Recently a friend told me she’d read Tony Hillerman’s memoir, Seldom Disappointed. The quote comes from something his mother told him: Blessed are those who expect little; they are seldom disappointed. He carried this idea into his writing life, a place he had huge success.

It’s interesting that just days after this conversation I started re-reading Anne of Green Gables and in it found Mrs. Hillerman’s advice, almost word for word, this time in the voice of Mrs. Rachel Lynde.

It’s Anne’s response to Rachel’s words that I prefer:

“You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.”

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.”

If I hold back hope I hold back heart, the very thing my writing needs.

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