Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Finding an honest person or good in the world is much harder these days than finding ugliness and violence, unless you're really looking. It's the media as a whole. The news, reality t.v. shows, opening up a paper.... there's always fighting, greed, and badness. But, I found a video on Mary Kole's Kidlit website about Josh Ferrin, an honest guy with integrity. He found over $40,000 in his new house and returned it to the previous owner's family. This is amazing. Go to Mary's website to watch the video. It's a feel good story for the day.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hold Still

Hold Still by Nina LaCour....what a haunting book. It was recommended by Lisa Yaskowitz at the IN-SCBWI conference a few weeks ago. Talk about drawing you in. If you ever hear from an agent or editor, "We're looking for a good voice" this is a prime example. The characters in this story will resonate with you long after you put the book down.

I started reading the book last night (right before Emma's science fair at school, bad idea because I didn't want to put it down) and just finished. I took it to the soccer game with me this morning and had to quit reading it there because I kept crying (and it's kind of weird to be crying at a youth soccer game and not watching your child). It's not a sobby, boo-hoo read. It's just such a sorrowful, hopeful, true tale. A story that grabs you. A voice that speaks to you. A tale about adolescence and hardships and finding your way.

Read it, you won't be sorry. But be sure to have tissues handy.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Edgy Middle Grade Fiction

I just finished reading Jenny Han's book, Shug. Literally, I finished it like, about three minutes ago. Great read...I loved it. The story was a recommendation from Mary Kole, from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, who was at our IN-SCBWI conference last weekend.

During one of Mary's sessions, she talked about middle grade (which is what I'm working on) and the importance of friendships getting complicated, characters starting to make tough, sometimes wrong, choices, and also the edginess that comes with YA, but making it not quite as edgy, and reserving those major problems for secondary characters.

Han's book did just that. I struggle with that edginess and working it in correctly to the story. Jenny Han took her secondary characters and made them come to life, showing their faults and their strengths through scenes so real I could hear the fights between Shug's mom and dad, see the tears on Shug's face when she walks home because Mama forgot her after school, smell the dinner Mama cooked up as an apology....the list goes on.

After I let this one sink in for awhile, I'll go back and reread, taking notes as I go. If you're after a great novel with excellent voice and characters that will stay with you long after you're done reading, Shug is the book to get.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This past weekend was our Indiana SCBWI conference. We always have a large conference during the year and it is usually held in Indianapolis. No exception this year, so I packed up the car, met my friend Peggy along the way, and with beautiful driving weather and good company, made the journey.

Except.... errr...... did I say good company? Two is company, three's a crowd. And there was a third passenger in my car. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted movement. At the same time, Peggy says, "Uh, Katie, there's a spider in your car."

Hold the phone. I don't do spiders. And apparently, neither does Peggy! So I replied with, "We have to pull over. Now."

The nearest (and only) place to pull off the highway was a tiny cemetery. How appropriate. So I pulled in and we quickly got out of the car to assess the situation. Big (the size of a grapefruit), thick, hairy, fast moving spider and no one brave enough to kill it.

After trying to get it to climb onto a piece of paper, which wasn't going to work because the thing has eight eyes and can clearly see us, I decide I've got to be brave. I grab the Kleenex (five, so there will be a cushion between the spider and me), give myself a pep talk, and go for the kill. Only, I'm not brave, and I miss. And the thing falls under my driver's seat, which prompts me to scream my special spider call.

Another chase ensues, with me pulling the car seat forward and backward, and Peggy sticking a pencil under the seat trying to get this creepy thing to move. Under the car seat, by the way, we find all sorts of unspeakables...old food, a flashlight, wrappers, pens (sorry for the mess, Peggy). And luckily, in those yuckies under the car seat is an old white water bottle cap. And the black spider crawls on that white cap so we can see him.

This time, brave as I can be, I pick up my Kleenex, count to three, and..... I did it! I got him, tossed the remnants into the cemetery, and gave myself a loud cheer.

Somehow, we managed to make it to our meeting (almost on time) and I learned a great deal, which I'll share in future posts.

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