August 27, 2008

Traveling Pantsuits

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a few funny lines during her passionate speech at the convention last night. My favorite was, “To my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.”

I felt inspired when Hillary talked about how hard women worked to gain the right to vote and because of those efforts, her daughter, Chelsea, was able to vote for her own mother.

This January, an article I wrote will appear in New Moon Magazine about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, fifty years before women were allowed to vote.

I'm fascinated and inspired by the fight for women's rights.

You can watch Hillary’s speech here:

And this is the letter I received from Hillary Rodham Clinton after I sent her my book for Chelsea.

It says: Dear Ms. Gephart: Thank you for sending a copy of your book, As If Being 12 ¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My mother Is Running for President!. You were very thoughtful to include me in the distribution of this work. With appreciation, I am Sincerely yours, Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

I'm grateful to be able to combine two passions: politics and writing books for young people. Because of these two passions, I've met fascinating people and had many interesting experiences. So, here's to that sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits!

All best,

August 26, 2008

Democratic National Convention

My first thought when I tuned into the Democratic National Convention last night and saw the giant screens and screaming delegates was, “That’s the climactic scene from my novel.” It felt like I was watching a scene from my book.

Three things from the convention made a big impression on me:

1. It was delightful to see the tribute to Jimmy Carter. Hubby and I are big fans of all the good work he's done and continues to do. I named one of the characters in my novel Carter – a blue, stuffed toy donkey that Vanessa keeps in bed with her and sometimes talks to.

You can watch the tribute to Jimmy Carter here:

2. I was deeply moved by Edward Kennedy’s passionate speech. Caroline Kennedy did a wonderful job introducing him. When Edward Kennedy took the podium, I couldn’t believe how good he looked for a man undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor. He vowed to be on the Senate floor during Barack’s inauguration in January. And he concluded his speech with the same urgent message he’s been saying for decades: Health care coverage should be a right for every citizen, not a privilege.

You can watch his speech here:

During the speech, you’ll notice Maria Shriver in the audience, wiping tears from her eyes. She’s such a cool lady. I sent her youngest son a copy of my book because a fictional version of Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in it. In fact, I sent copies of my novel to many people. Two of those people sent thank you letters. Maria Shriver was one of them. (I’ll reveal the identity of the other person in tomorrow’s blog.) Here’s a photo of the letter Maria Shriver sent:

It says, "Dear Donna, Thank you so much for taking the time to send a copy of your book, As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running For President. I appreciate your very kind words and thoughtful gesture. Again, thank you! Best, Maria Shriver"

3. My favorite moment during the convention occurred when Sasha Obama, Barack’s youngest daughter was given the mircrophone. When Obama introduced his host family – The Girardeaus – Sasha yelled, “Hello, Girardeau family!” You can watch the girls take the stage with Michelle Obama here:

A young fan sent a couple e-mails through my Web site. Most recently, she asked if I answer my own fan mail. With her permission, I’m including her original e-mail:

Dear Donna Gephart,
I love love love "As if Being 12 3/4 isn't Bad Enough, my Mother is Running for President!" I think Vanessa is a great character, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out who the threat notes were from. I think you're a great person, and I want to be an author when I grow up. I can't wait for your next book!!
From C. B.

p.s. I love Scrabble.

Thank you, C.B. Good luck with your creative writing. And yes, I do answer my own fan letters because, well, Brad Pitt hasn’t applied for the job yet.

Have an inspired day,


August 19, 2008

Lovin' Libraries!

Public libraries are the great equalizer. A person of very little means has access to the same information and resources as the wealthiest person. All that power and knowledge come from the ability to obtain a library card.

Whenever I speak at schools, I talk about how much I loved my local library when I was growing up, how I was limited to only 12 books and how few places there are giving something of value away for free these days.

Then I talk about well-known people who've said libraries/books have changed their lives.

Like Gary Paulsen. Students lean forward when I tell the story of Mr. Paulsen's difficult childhood, how he went into a library one day to get out of the cold and how a librarian offered him a library card . . . and a book. I tell the students how long it took him to read that book. Then the librarian gave him another book. And another.

But I'll let Gary Paulsen tell you himself about how a librarian saved his life . . .

August 18, 2008

Summer Reading Daze Come to an End

At the beginning of summer, it's all potential -- long, languorous days to linger over the books I'm too busy to read during the school year. A few classics, for sure. The latest children's and YA titles. Not to mention some of the great titles hubby's been recommending.

Yeah, right!

Our sons returned to school this morning. And I've read a total of six books for adults and six for children all summer. Not bad. But there wasn't a classic on the list. And I never did get to hubby's suggestions.

If you still have time to explore some great titles, check out the new list on Oprah's Web site. It was compiled by the American Library Association, and includes both current children's books and classics for a wide age range.

If you're looking for ideas to promote your novel, check out Shrinking Violet Promotions. Mary Hershey and Robin LaFevers graciously allowed me to do a guest blog, titled: 12 3/4 Ways to Promote Your Novel.

Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog post today is about the 2009 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market -- an invaluable collection of markets, interviews and articles edited by Alice Pope. Thanks, Cynthia, for mentioning my article on your blog today.

Finally, I'd like to wish a wonderful school year to those who sent their children off or are about to, also to those who are educating our children -- THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! -- and to the children themselves. Go get 'em!

August 14, 2008

What Garrison Keillor and Stephen King Have to Say About Writing

Garrison Keillor has some great advice about writing:

And Stephen King offers writers a few thoughts as well:

As an obsessive scribbler, I love reading about/listening to writers discuss their process or give advice.

Have you discovered any inspiring advice you'd love to share?

And to those curious about the end of my previous post, the pink cocktail dress for $7.99 was from PetSupermarket. Don't you feel sorry for some dog out there wearing a pink cocktail dress? Poor Fido!

Now if the thought of that doesn't inspire creativity, nothing will!

Happy scribbling,

August 8, 2008

Lots of Good Fun That Is Funny . . .

Yes, I dragged my nearly 14 year-old-son on The Cat in the Hat ride at Islands of Adventure. While waiting in line, embarrassed, he read the walls that contained the text from The Cat in the Hat “. . . lots of good fun that is funny.”

Since he rode The Cat in the Hat ride for me, I rode Revenge of The Mummy – an indoor roller coaster in the dark -- with him. Four times!

I also took our sons to Wonder Works in Orlando. My husband referred to it as the upside down museum because it looks like the building is upside down. Inside, we rode a virtual roller coaster, learned that a mosquito has 47 teeth, experienced an earthquake with a 5.3 magnitude and ate really bad pizza. Not all at the same time.

During down time on our family vacation in Orlando – okay, hubby worked the whole time at a conference – I read. Two delightful books reminded me that writing should be good fun that is funny.

A Beginning, a Muddle and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi and illustrated by Tricia Tusa tickled my funny bone. Avon, a snail, wants to write. His friend Edward, an ant, helps him. Here are a few sentences from the first chapter that showcase some of the wild wordplay:

Avon sighed. “The truth is, Edward,” he said, “I’ve read a lot of adventures. And I’ve been on my own adventures. But I’m making no progress writing about my adventures.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” said Edward. “Do you know anything about why?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s at the end of the alphabet,” said Avon, “next to Z.”

I can't imagine a writer who wouldn't enjoy this little gem.

The other book I read that reminded me to have good fun that is funny was Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex.


You must read it. Now. I’ll wait.


It's that good.

Got it?


Snortle. Chortle. Guffaw.

Wasn't it delicious?

What did you think of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon Doesn’t Wait an Hour Before Swimming?”

Me, too. Loved it.

Can’t wait to read the follow-up, Frankenstein Takes the Cake, but I can’t right now because I’m smack in the middle of The True Meaning of Smekday by, um, yeah, Adam Rex.

The guy writes perfect poetry, illustrates uniquely and has written a tremendously creative novel. Yup, hate him.

Actually I don’t. How could I? He's from my hometown -- Philly. Besides, I’m in awe that he retained that unbridled creative spark most children have, but usually have beaten out of them by middle school. Not Adam Rex. He's all about good fun that is funny.

The True Meaning of Smekday is about a Boov (alien) named J.Lo. Yeah, really. J.Lo. And a spunky 11-year-old named Gratuity. Yeah, really. Gratuity. But you can call her Tip. Somewhere beyond the hilarious text is an important message about how people treat each other and how we can do a better job of it. Even though the novel comes in at over 400 pages, I’m reading it as slowly and deliberately as possible because I don’t want it to end.

If I haven’t convinced you to treat yourself to his books yet, read Gratuity and J.Lo Present: 10 Reasons to Read The True Meaning of Smekday.

Then take a look at this clip:

Prepare yourself for a change of topic with absolutely no transition.

Here it is . . .

Now for a completely silly contest with a grand prize of absolutely nothing: A few days ago, I walked by a store and a receipt fluttered to my feet. Being a nosy, um, curious person, I snatched the receipt and examined it. The single item on it was for a pink cocktail dress. And the cost was $7.99 plus tax.

Can you name the store? (Bonus points awarded if you do it in rhyme.)

Now go have some fun that is funny!