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.

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.

Summer sure went fast!

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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.

Italy!

IMG_9922_edited-2My sister said, would you like a free trip to Italy?

I said yes.

Then she made the same offer to my brother, Chris.

He said yes too, so Claudia took us to Italy for twelve days.

We stayed in Vicenza, which is near Venice. We saw snowy mountains, men skulling gondolas around canals, we ate gelato and more pasta than you can shake a stick at (why would you shake a stick at pasta?).

Claudia and I practiced our very bad Italian. My brother only speaks English and German. Fortunately many Italians speak English and German too. Not to mention Italian.

This photo is one of my favorites from the trip. The stone lions are guarding a fountain in Bergamo. I think the dog is pretending to be a lion too.

If your sister ever says, would you like a free trip to Italy? say yes.

The Front Porch Library on TV!

WFSU segment on FPLSo many of the characters I write about begin as real kids in my real neighborhood. I get to know most of them because of The Front Porch Library, the very local kid’s lending library that now fills all of what was my dad’s house until he passed away.

Our Tallahassee public television station, WFSU, did a piece about the library for their “Local Routes” show. Click here to watch the segment and meet some of our kids and volunteers.

Authors in Missouri!

12805856_10153575041653786_7891030413469590644_nTruman State University gathered a fine mess of authors (including me) and then brought in busloads of kids so we could tell them about our best-job-in the world as writers–not to mention John Parra, our one illustrator.

Okay, so who are all these authors?

Back row, left to right: Angela Cervantes author of “Gaby Lost and Found,” a volunteer whose name I forget (so sorry), Mike Graf, who writes beautiful books about the national parks, John Parra, our lone illustrator, me, and Maryrose Wood, author of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.

Front row, left to right: Michelle Houts (Miss Red Shoes) author of “Kammie on First,” Shelley Pearsall, author of “Trouble Don’t Last,” Mary Casanova, who writes “American Girl” books and many others, Gennifer Choldenko, author of the “Al Capone” novels, and Phil Bildner whose latest picture book is “Marvelous Cornelius” set in New Orleans circa Hurricane Katrina.

I wish you all could meet these folks–they put out great books, but they are also funny and boy can they eat a lot of brownies!