May 26, 2008

Last School Visit

Thanks to Ms. Supran for inviting me to spend time speaking with her and Ms. Crew’s third grade students at Jupiter Farms Elementary.

They were attentive and enthusiastic and came prepared with great questions, like, “How long did it take you to write your book?” and “Did your sons help you with it?” (Answers: Research, writing and revisions took about a year. And our sons did come up with a couple good ideas while I was writing.)

To top off a fine visit, the students created these wonderful thank you cards. Here is a picture of my cat, Jasmine, admiring them:

I’m grateful to the teachers, principals and media specialists who invited me into their schools this year.

During one of the visits, groups of students were talking and laughing. One student stood off to the side. Before I went over to chat with that student, I reminded myself that this is the student I’m writing for -- the one who might not feel part of a group. The one for whom a character in a book can feel like a friend. The student I was so many years ago.

Now that school visits are over for this year, I’m looking forward to writing, writing, writing and to enjoying the relaxed pace of summer with family and friends.


May 22, 2008

Creative Students!!!

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of signing books at Independence Middle School’s book fair. Ms. Petroccia, the media specialist, organized and promoted the event, made me feel welcome and provided a great lunch. Thanks so much for all your support!

Ms. Drum, an enthusiastic language arts teacher, had her highly creative students make projects in response to reading As If Being 12 ¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President!

The students created brochures, videos, posters, T-shirts and cakes. I only wish there were space to showcase all the projects, but here is a sampling of the amazing ideas the kids came up with:

Here I am with Ms. Drum in front of one of the posters.

Student-made brochures on a table cloth of "cherry pits" from Ms. Drum. You'll have to read Vanessa's list of deficiencies to get that reference. (Poor Vanessa!))

Several students worked together on this poster. (G.I'm impressed!)

The kids managed to include a lot of elements from the book in this one. (I love the little Scrabble tiles spelling out "president!" How many points is that worth?)

These girls also made a T-shirt for me. I (heart) it! The principal (left) and media specialist, Ms. Petroccia (right) are enjoying some of the FOUR cakes students made.

This cake includes the skimmer hat, "Vote 4 Mom" button and a lemon square.

And in the tradition of Vanessa's obsession with spelling bees, this student spelled it all out with cupcakes!

A big, heartfelt thank you to the great students and staff at Independence Middle School!

May 19, 2008

Three Questions & a Photo

Hello fellow book lovers!

If you have a minute, answer these three questions:

1) What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?

Mine was Mr. Grabbit, a tiny picture book about a rabbit who learned not to be so greedy. I loved it so much I recently purchased a copy of the $.19 book from Ebay for over seven bucks.

2) What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I loved Mr. Popper's Penguins so much that to this day I still love penguins. Last summer I found a copy at a book sale at my hometown library in Philadelphia. It cost only a buck (and that was for a whole bag of books).

3) What children's book do you love best now?

Tough one to answer, I know. There are sooooo many good ones. But I'd have to go with Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. It gets me every time.

Now onto that photo . . .

Can you guess which one is my super dooper uber wonderful agent, Tina Wexler from ICM? And which one is Tina's adorable cousin's daughter, Haleigh, who just finished reading my book? "Hi, Haleigh!" And Niko, Haleigh's cat, who, um, hasn't read my book. Yet!

May 17, 2008

Inspiring Video

I found this video inspiring. Thanks to Rachel at Obsessed With Life for posting this at her blog.

Have an inspired weekend,

May 15, 2008

School Visits Abound This Month

Yesterday, I had a great time talking with the fourth and fifth grade students at Greenacres Elementary as part of their Career Day program.

Even though I didn’t show a giant alligator skull like the woman from the Wildlife Management, the kids were really enthusiastic, especially those who read my book in advance. Thanks to the teachers who introduced themselves to me and to the media specialist who gave me a tour of the library and TV studio. What an awesome school!

Then this afternoon, I had a fantastic time at Independence Middle School.

A big thank you to Ms. Petroccia, the media specialist, for filming a video promo to announce a book signing I’ll be doing at the school Wednesday the 21st. The six young actors, um, students not only did a fantastic job saying their lines, they had me laughing harder than I have in a long time with their hilarious expressions. Way to go, guys!

Then it was off to Ms. Drum’s 7th grade Language Arts class with a few 6th graders thrown in for good measure. Most of the students had already read my book, so they had lots of excellent questions, like this one:

“Ms. Gephart, when you were young, did you meet a lot of Reginalds?”

“You’d better believe it. Didn’t we all? There are a lot of Reginalds out there. Fortunately, I didn’t marry one!”

What a wonderful time I had with the kids! Thanks so much for inviting me to speak with your class, Ms. Drum!

Next, week I’m off to Jupiter Farms Elementary, a signing at Independence Middle and a home school workshop for creative writing. And a radio interview thrown in for good measure.

I may not be writing a whole lot this month, but I’m having a fun, exhilarating and exhausting time!



May 13, 2008

Naked Lady . . . Soap!

Today's squeaky clean post is all about supporting small business.

If you're anything like me, you get a nervous tic just thinking about stepping foot in your local Wal*Mart. I'm a big fan of small, local businesses. The service is always superior and the quality excellent, so I support small, local businesses every chance I get.

As an author, I ALWAYS buy something when I'm lucky enough to spend time in an independent bookstore. The two closest to us are Vero Beach Book Center and Books and Books. Wish there were more.

For a big celebration of independent bookstore's, check out Shrinking Violet Promotions, created by authors Mary Hershey and Robin LaFevers. Each day in May, they're celebrating a different independent bookstore.

Something I enjoy nearly as much as the indies are local green markets. We have one right here in Abacoa. Sadly, this Saturday is the last one of the season and I'll have to get my fresh greens and hand-made soaps elsewhere.

Um, no I won't!

My friends at family-owned and run Naked Lady Soap sell their yummy smelling soaps on-line. I can replenish my supply until the green market opens again in the fall. If you want to support a lovely, small business and get some fabulous soaps for yourself or your friends, stop by the Abacoa green market this Saturday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. or shop on-line here.

And speaking of clean, there's a certain housewife in Utah who blogs about books she deems to be clean. My novel didn't meet her squeaky standards. Too bad about that. I nearly laughed my head off when she gave my book a little devil icon instead of the angel icons reserved for good, clean books. Check out her review here.

Now, if only my book would get banned somewhere, then perhaps I'd sell even more copies.

Stay clean (or not),

May 9, 2008

How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel

A camel arrived in the mail the other day. Okay. Okay. It was a book with a picture of a camel on the front. You don’t have to be so picky about things.

How to Fit a Car seat on a Camel and Other Misadventures Traveling with Kids is a collection of essays about, um, well, traveling with kids. It’s edited by the talented and well-traveled Sarah Franklin, who lives with her own kids and hubby in Ireland. Her essay is titled: “Splish, Splash, We’re in First Class.”

Here are a few other essay titles: “The Devil Wears Pull-Ups,” “Senseless in Seattle,” “Mouse Ears and Monster Faces: Adventures of the Medicated” and “Rock Me Like a Hurricane.”

My essay, “Road Trip Through Adolescence” is included in the collection. It’s about a memorable trip I took with our older son, Andrew, over the rocky landscape of Acadia National Park in Maine. Here’s how my essay winds up: “I realized that if Andrew handled the rocky landscape of adolescence with the same grace that he handled the rocky landscape at Acadia, he’d be just fine. And so would I.”

Do you have any funny/interesting/memorable stories about traveling? Do you have travel plans for this summer? With kids? Or will the soaring gas prices keep you closer to home?

We’re looking forward to visiting family and friends in Pennsylvania this summer. And I know exactly which book I’ll bring to read on the trip. Hint: There will be a picture of a camel on it.

Happy weekend,

May 5, 2008

What Do Children Read?

To find out, read this illuminating article from today's Washington Post.

I was delighted to read that children are still reading the classics, like Green Eggs and Ham for the younger set and Charlotte's Web for those a bit older and To Kill a Mocking Bird. And my favorite, Bridge to Terabithia, was a fifth-grade favorite.

Are any of your favorite books listed in the article?

Thanks to Dan's Distractions for the tip.

May 2, 2008

All Booked Up!

May is shaping up to be a busy month – brimming with school visits, workshops, radio and TV interviews, revisions and the start of a new work. No wonder I’m feeling a bit scattered. I can barely finish anything I

This includes books! I’m in the middle of four different books. And the list of books I’d like to read is even longer.

So, what did I do? I went to the local Barnes and Noble and bought two new books – Jerry Spinelli’s Smiles to Go and Varian Johnson’s My Life as a Rhombus because well, I mention rhombuses in my novel and I’ve heard such good things about Mr. Johnson’s work. As soon as I got home, I read on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog that Mr. Johnson sold a new novel to Delacorte Press. To my editor. Hooray!

Does anybody else have a stack of books by their bed that threatens to topple while they're sleeping and crush them to death?

Is anyone else on the Web sites Shelfari or Goodreads? I’m not, but hubby does Shelfari. And the number of books he’s read puts the number of books I’ve read to shame. And the books he reads are usually much thicker and with smaller print.

At least I've finished 25 books so far this year, most recently Sid Fleischman’s The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. It’s a short, powerful book about those who hunted for and murdered Jewish children during the Holocaust. Not his usual funny fare, but an excellent read. In his author’s note, he wrote: “It has taken me a long lifetime of novel writing to finally feel prepared to grapple with the Holocaust.”

WHAT ARE YOU READING this weekend? Which books do you hope to read soon?

Looking forward to hearing from you,