I love kids who love to write and earnestly seek advice from authors.
I was at a school recently and did a basic author presentation, followed by a writing workshop.
A 4th grade boy came to the presentation with a spiral notebook to take notes. He was the only one out of 100 students that did so.
When I went to his classroom to do the workshop, he called me over during one of the writing exercises. In his notebook he had written:
The Steps to Writing a Book
Step 1: Idea [Which he added based on the information he had learned from my presentation]
"So, what are the steps to writing a book after the idea?" he asked me.
Ummmm, well, ummm....gee.
"Character," I said. For me, a book starts with character.
He scribbled that down and looked up, eyebrows lifted, waiting for Step 3.
So I gave the old formula of: problem, then obstacle, then solution.
He jotted those down.
And then I remembered setting. Setting is an integral part of the story.
He jotted that down.
But then setting isn't Step 6. Setting belongs up there toward the top.
This was getting all muddied up.
It felt so unsatisfying.
And then I realized that How to Steal a Dog (the book he had read) didn't really fit that classic problem/obstacle/solution formula as clearly as other problem novels.
That boy and I needed to talk, discuss, brainstorm.
But, alas, I had a whole classroom of kids needing my attention. So I left him with his Steps to Writing a Book, wishing I had more time.
BUT, he did give me food for thought. After I left, I thought a lot about The Steps to Writing a Book.
There are times when they are clear: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.
And times when they aren't.
I hope some day that boy has a chance to figure it out. (And me, too. Ha!)
Dear Barbara O'Connor:
I liked when Georgina told Toby to shut up. I liked when Carmela cried her lungs out.
The drawing for the audio version of How to Steal a Dog will be held tomorrow at noon.
What have you got to lose?
You might even win!
Okay, so I just did the highly scientific drawing for the audio version of How to Steal a Dog.
I used this cool photo app to take pictures of the highly scientific process.
1. They came out in reverse order and I don't know how to fix it.
2. You can't read the name of the winner.
So here it is again...
KRISTEN!! (A teacher, yay!)
Congratulations to Kristen (I'll be contacting you.)
And thanks so much to everyone who entered. Don't give up. I have other things to give away.
|Go, Dog, go!|
This is the fifth year in a row!
It was runner-up last year.
I wrote How to Steal a Dog in 2003.
There were homeless families in 2003.
There were little girls in schools who lived in their cars.
But I never would have imagined that 8 years later, the situation would be so much worse. (Sorry about the darned ad at start of video.)
And I definitely never could have imagined this.
How to Steal a Dog was featured on NBC Nightly News last night in a piece about helping kids cope with this tough economy.
This is the preview.
And this is the piece that aired.
I'm happy to have this wonderful exposure, but, sigh....it is bittersweet. I wish the economy weren't such that such bibliotherapy is needed.
....sometimes makes a difference.
Received this from a 4th grade teacher:
This story touches the true lives of many of our migrant students who live the life of being transient and impoverished.
What a wonderful story to teach them about their moral compass and challenges they face every day.
(Seven paragraphs below the photo in the article, if you're skimming.)
From a fan of How to Steal a Dog:
Dear Barbara O'Connor:
I like Mookie because of his three fingered hand when he waved with his three fingered hand.
Look what I just got in the mail!
How to Steal a Dog on Recorded Books, y'all.
But what am I going to do with so many of them?
Donate some to libraries.
Offer some for silent auctions for charities.
And give one away to YOU!
Drawing to be held August 22.
I'm headed to Kansas to proudly accept the William Allen White Award for How to Steal a Dog.
My trip to Emporia, Kansas to accept the William Allen White Book Award for How to Steal a Dog was fantastic.
The day started with a tour of the beautiful campus of Emporia State University - decorated for the occasion.
A lovely dinner the first night, when I met Cynthia Kadohata, whose book, Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam, won the award in the Grade 6-8 division.
Cynthia Kadohata (left) and me
After dinner, Cindy and I went to chat with students who were attending a sleepover the night before the award ceremony. I got to meet the student who would be presenting me with my award, the lovely, adorable, funny, smart fifth grader Gracie Schmidt. Gracie presented me with a basket of HOMEMADE boiled peanuts. (She had read that one of my fond childhood memories was when my grandfather grew peanuts and my grandmother boiled them.)
Gracie Schmidt (left) and me
A band played in front of the auditorium:
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