Thursday, October 9, 2014

Katie's Book Basket - NEST by Esther Ehrlich

It's high time I started blogging again. And what better way than to start with a book? I finished this lovely novel two nights ago. I wish, wish, wish, I wouldn't have read it so fast. Here are some fast facts:

Author - Esther Ehrlich (her first novel, a middle grade)
Setting - Cape Cod
Main Character - Chirp (be ready to fall in love with her)
Chirp's sidekick - Joey (be ready to fall in love with him)
Plot - Chirp's mother is ill, and Joey, Chirp's neighbor, lives in an abusive situation. Together these two tweens navigate difficult times and circumstances, learning the meaning of true friendship along the way.
Why I love this book - Esther's writing is so realistic. It's full of laughter and sadness, both at the same time, just the same as real life. The relationship she develops between Chirp and Joey is perfect. And the relationship between Chirp and her other family members is completely genuine. This is the kind of story you have to keep reading. And once you're done, you just keep thinking about the characters and how the rest of their lives play out.

I'm telling you, this is good, good writing. Thanks, Esther Ehrlich, for a beautiful, touching novel. I look forward to reading your future books!

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Highlights Unworkshop Scholarship!

My last post was just over a year ago. If you know me, you know why. Life got a bit crazy for awhile. If you don't know me too well, let's just say life can dramatically change overnight.

But, that doesn't mean I stopped writing! I just didn't have the time to blog about it. Here are some writing updates:

~ In summer 2013, I signed my first book contract with State Standards Publishing. I've written a 4 book series on the geographical regions of Indiana. The books are targeted to a fourth grade level and I'm almost finished with revisions.

~ I took on the position of Assistant Regional Advisor and went to Los Angeles for the annual SCBWI conference.

~ Just last weekend we held our spring Indiana SCBWI conference, which was splendid! No major glitches and I met some wonderfully talented, kind and inspiring faculty and attendees. Here's a selfie I took early the morning I left. I'm never sure where to look when I do a selfie!

~ Perhaps the most exciting writing event happened this week.... My application was selected as the winner for a Highlights Unworkshop Scholarship, offered by an amazingly generous and talented group of writers! You can read about it on Kristy Dempsey's blog

My heartfelt thanks to Kristy Dempsey, Loree Griffin Burns, Katy Duffield, Kathy Erskine, Alma Fullerton, Sara Lewis Holmes, Anne Marie Pace, Tanya Goulette Seale, Linda Urban, and Casandra Reigel Whetstone for choosing me to go and believing in my novel!

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Katie's Book Basket - Prairie Evers

This is my book basket. It sits in the corner of my entryway, corralling my borrowed library books. Even though my books are always returned late (because, really, who can read 20+ books in 2 weeks?) at least the book basket helps me keep track of all the books instead of paying for lost books (because, really, who can keep track of 20+ borrowed books without a dedicated basket for them?). 

I know, stop checking out so many books at once. But, when I walk into the library and see all those glorious books, something comes over me. Anyway, that's for a different day. 

Here's the point. In my book basket is currently a gem of a book. A middle grade novel that I wish I wrote.

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood
 I love, love, love this novel. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was done (so much for dinner that night). And then I felt sad because I read it so fast and it was all over way too quickly. It's one of those books. 

Prairie Evers, the main character, she's a girl with spunk, optimism, and drive. She's the kind of girl you wanted to have as a best friend growing up. Her witty narrative throughout the novel makes each scene come to life and feel so real. I loved the relationship that the author created between Prairie and Ivy, but especially between Prairie and her grammy. Oh, this novel is a dream, and if you've got room in your book basket (or on your bookshelf, or on your nightstand, or wherever) I strongly recommend picking up a copy of Prairie Evers. 

Now, if you know me pretty well and you're looking at the three hens on the front cover of Prairie Evers and thinking, "That's why she loves this book," well, yes, it helps, but it is not the only reason I love this book. It is a well-written delight of a novel, that's why I love this book. 

And if you don't know me that well and you aren't sure why I would be super-excited to see three hens on the front cover of a middle grade novel, you should visit my other blog at

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome, 2013!

Well, writing friends, we've made it through another year. And as the title of this post suggests, 2013 is a welcome sight, particularly after trudging through the year-end sludge and yuckiness of 2012.

I don't write about 'controversial' topics here. Not because I don't have an opinion (just ask any of my family members, they'll tell you quite the contrary) but because I assume you aren't stopping by to read about my gripes and dislikes. However, I'm going to write about something controversial now as it ties in with my wish for the new year.

The culture and direction our country is headed in scares me more than ever. It worries me for my daughter and generations beyond hers.

The horrendous violence, the unspeakable crimes, and the senseless acts that take precious lives, young and old.

The portrayal of sex in the media. The inability to watch a family-friendly television show in the evening because of the inexcusable t.v. commercials that aren't explainable to an 8 year old.

The mentality of deception and lies as a way to succeed. Look at the recent game show, Take It All. The premise - tell the best lie at the end of the show to get all the money. Greed. Power. Yuck.

I'm not sure when, as a society, this all became 'okay', but what I know is this; it's not okay with me or my family. Here's hoping that 2013 brings with it some decency, common sense, values, morals, compassion and love for each other.

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Indiana SCBWI Holiday Potluck

Kristi Valiant, our IN-SCBWI Regional Advisor, had a splendid idea that I hope becomes a yearly tradition. She suggested we throw holiday potluck parties for our members across the state. And this past Saturday, I had the pleasure of hosting the potluck for northern Indiana.

Some of us enjoying dinner

The marvelous evening was filled with enriching conversation among dedicated writers, a fantastic spread of tasty holiday fare, and a (rather polite) white elephant gift exchange that left me with an entertaining new fondue pot!

Thank you to all who came to this event and made it so magical.

Happy Holidays,
Katie M.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Katie's Friday Finds #5 and Peter Jacobi

My find for this Friday is a book I've known about for years. It was an instant hit when I read it to my fifth grade class and now my daughter loves it, too!

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney; middle grade fiction
Birney took the ordinary and made it extraordinary by writing this novel about a class pet from the hamster's point of view. You see, Humphrey isn't an ordinary hamster. He's learned to read and uses his tiny notebook and pencil that are hidden behind his mirror to write. When the kids speak to him, he tries to squeak back, but they just can't understand 'hamster'. Not only is the book funny and full of adventure, which will keep a reader's attention, but Birney brings a unique voice to all the characters and tells their stories brilliantly. There are more books in the Humphrey series and I'm thrilled to revisit these books now that my daughter is reading them.

Zionsville Library

Last weekend I attended Indiana SCBWI's autograph party and luncheon event at the library in Zionsville, Indiana. We ate a boxed lunch and listened to Peter Jacobi speak about writing. The event was a few hours long, but I could have listened to him talk all day!

Here's what I loved about Peter's lecture; he was inspirational. There are so many conferences where you listen to a speaker and the talk is all doom and hard it is to write children's books, the state of the children's book market, and on and on. A serious writer knows all of this.

I found it refreshing to listen to a well-respected professional in the field tell us that we are warriors, brave, tolerating years of rejection as we hone our craft and still we don't give up. Thank you, Peter Jacobi, for understanding that we know the hardships of writing, and instead of dwelling on that, you gave us solid, useful information on the craft spoken from your heart, encouraging us to reach for excellence.

Here's a picture of our committee with Peter. I'm on the end, in blue jeans. Egads - I didn't plan to have my picture taken. Note to self; even if you're just attending an informal two hour event at a library, dress in slacks. Someone may want to take your picture.

IN-SCBWI Steering Committee and Peter Jacobi 

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Katie's Friday Finds #4; A Cookbook

I found this book several weeks ago and I love it so much I decided to put it on my Friday Finds list. This is not a children's book, nor is it a novel of any sort. It is a cookbook and it's a fabulous cookbook if you like to use a slow cooker!

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow; The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking by Stephanie O'Dea
Five reasons I've fallen in love with this book:
1. The recipes are easy to make and adaptable.
2. There is a huge variety of meal choices and types.
3. The entire book has gluten free options for every meal.
4. The author gives her family's verdict on every meal in the book.
5. Every recipe I've made from the book so far tasted delicious!

If you use a slow cooker, give the recipes in this cookbook a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.