What I really look like.

Every year as school comes to an end, my singing partner, Craig Reeder (the other half of the duo Hot Tamale) and I play for a really enthusiastic audience, the kids of Crawfordville Elementary.

Here’s what we look like when we are up on that stage playing for K-3rd.

I think those are the notes floating over us. And check out Craig’s slick move with his guitar.

Or maybe we look like this–I never noticed how bald and big-headed Craig is, or how skinny my legs are. Read more

Children’s and YA Literature Festival in Salisbury.

Boy, have I been remiss about posting! But things have been pretty darned busy. I’ve  been to Salisbury Maryland to celebrate children’s lit and the life of Dr. Ernie Bond, the power behind the festival. Sadly Dr. Ernie recently passed away.

Here I am, doing a public radio spot–look how nicely we cleaned up to be on the radio! To my left is author Jen Cullerton Johnson, then Dr. Patty Dean, Dr. Ernie’s faithful sidekick (she kept saying, what would Ernie do?), and author Shelley Ratner.

We did lots of authorish things, but we also went to Assateague and hung out with the wild ponies–we didn’t impress them, but they sure impressed us!

Authors in Apalach!

Apalachicola is a sleepy Florida town famous for oysters and the invention of refrigeration–and a great gathering of authors called “Authors in Apalach.”

(If you live in Apalachicola you shorten it to Apalach).

This is me and my buddy Jan Godown Annino. She is holding up her book, She Sang Promise,  the true story of Betty Mae Jumper, the first elected woman leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Before becoming chief Betty Mae earned money wrestling alligators. Check it out!

Writers eat Oreos.

Every January I lead two writer’s retreats for women–I know men write too, but sometimes women have to be free to act silly and eat Oreos while they work on their stories.

Here are the writers in my second group, The Sisters of the Sentences. We are, standing on the deck of Always Awesome, a house overlooking the beach on St. George Island.

See the lady on the far right? That’s Sharon Ketts, a retired teacher. She is writing a book called “The Boys on Mars.” I think you are going to like it.

Seriously, a song about English teachers?

I forgot to mention…

At NCTE I did quite a bit of singing, including a song I wrote in honor of English teachers and the conference.

Want to hear the song and see the stage full of authors? Click here.

Seated behind me is a bunch of authors you have probably read and loved. To my right is Sharon Draper, to my left is Ibtisam Barakat. The camera also catches quick glimpses of Meg Medina and G. Neri.

Jason Reynolds was there too (I think he was right behind me). eE Charlton-Trujillo was off camera, but definitely there. And my buddy Dr. Joan Kaywell was the moderator.

Bet you can’t tell how scared I was. I was singing for a HUGE CROWD.

Writer’s retreat at the beach.

untitled

If you teach English you probably have a story in you that has yet to find its way onto the page–you’re just too busy to write it down.

Every January I lead a pair of women’s writing retreats on beautiful St. George Island, Florida. There are daily workshops, time to work on individual projects, and I critique pages all day long.

The gathered writers share their work, encourage and support each other and the food is, well, writers have been known to gain weight while on retreat at “Fiction Among Friends.” We have nothing against male writers, they are some of our favorites–but by limiting enrollment to women we feel relaxed enough to do things like handstands on the beach.

Perky Granger and Gina Edwards are the organizers of the gatherings, and they will make you feel right at home.

If your writing needs a time and place to grow, I hope you’ll take a look!

 

NCTE Conference

15171266_10211712740280568_8287699116376553829_n.jpgDid you notice that there were NO ENGLISH TEACHERS at school for days and days? That’s because they were all in Atlanta meeting authors and trading the secrets they have come up with for getting YOU to write.

See if you can find me, and authors Chris Crowe, Jon Scieszka,and M.T. Anderson in this photo, along with student teachers about to start teaching in a school near you, and Dr. Joan Kaywell, USF professor and champion of YA literature. Hint: I am not the bald guy.

New book?

bead.jpgWriters disappear between books, kind of like moles, we go underground. While out of sight we work on–you guessed it–the next book.

The next book for me is not at all what I expected. It is not realistic fiction–I would call it unrealistic fiction (you might call it fantasy).

Here is the premise:

Imagine there is a bead that is the portal through which all of time flows. It has been passed down from generation to generation by the women of the Summers family–a man may never be the guardian of time, such power turns men into monsters.

Read more

Summer sure went fast!

artmax_612

Teachers and students, you are either in school with new back packs, sharp pencils and great lesson plans, or shopping last-minute for school supplies and putting away your flip-flops for the sensible shoes that will let you stay on your feet all day.

I have had a summer of flip-flops, and family, and vegetable gardening, and playing lots and lots of music.

And I finished a new novel which has everything but a title.

It is a YA set in Manhattan and on the Wakulla River in North Florida–and it is incredibly romantic. If only I could come up with the right title. So far the only word floating in my brain is “river,” and that is not enough!

I guess all of us are in the season of homework! Mine is just coming up with that title. It’s harder than it looks.