February 22, 2010


This past November, needing something to kick-start a new book, I decided to write a novel in a month.

So . . .

After 29 days of intense writing, I typed the last words of OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN. It's about a trivia-obsessed girl who will do anything to get on Jeopardy! . . . and to get her father back home. Throw in a goofy little "bother" who spouts gross trivia, a mom who loses her job at the local newspaper, her mom's (Ugh!) live-in boyfriend and an annoying boy next door, whom Olivia absolutely, positively does not like (except when she does) and you've got OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN.

If you'd like to read about the experience of writing a novel in a month, click here. If you want to read about each day of NaNoWriMo, start here. (There's a fun trivia question at the end of each day.)

I sent a five-page synopsis of OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN and the first fifty pages to my uber-agent, Tina Dubois Wexler. She sent them to my wonderful editor at Delacorte Press, Stephanie Lane Elliott.

Tina called with the delightful news that Stephanie has acquired rights to publish OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN.

WAHOO! It will be my third novel with Stephanie and Delacorte Press.

For some reason, with the sale of a third novel, it feels like this is more than a lucky break . . . or two. This feels like a career. My career -- a career I've long dreamed of and worked toward.

As if that weren't enough good news, HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL comes out April 13th, and I'm busy preparing to speak at schools, bookstores and conferences. My schedule is filling fast, so if you'd like to arrange an author visit, please get in touch soon.

After that, AS IF BEING 12 3/4 ISN'T BAD ENOUGH, MY MOTHER IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! comes out in paperback in time for summer reading -- May 25th.

Who knew that this nerdy kid, who used to ride her purple, banana-seat bike to the local library in Philadelphia would end up creating books that have landed on the shelves in that very library?

Although I'm a person of many words (Really. Ask my husband and kids.), I have only one to describe how I'm feeling: GRATEFUL!

February 19, 2010

big, Big, BIG NEWS . . .

I'll post details early next week.

Have a great weekend,

February 12, 2010

Friday Five (and a half)

1. Dad's in town. He's happy to be away from the snow that's been dumped on New Jersey.

Our favorite day was spent at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

What a peaceful place. If you're ever in South Florida, treat yourself to a day at the Morikami.

The exhibits were fun and informative.

Here is a mailbox from Japan.

2. Dad's visit follows our friends, Elysa and Peter, who came from Connecticut and our niece, Nicole, who arrived from Philadelphia.

Nicole and I had a delightful time together. We strolled the beach, picking up shells, laughing at the little gulls and spying a cool spinner shark, spiraling in the air above the waves.

My favorite thing was taking Nicole on her first kayaking adventure. We paddled inside Munyon Island, docked the kayak and explored the island, narrowly missing a gigantic spider web. "Thanks for spotting that, Nicole."

Nicole loved the big turtles who were being rehabilitated at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

3. On a sadder note, Dad and I heard a Holocaust survivor, Irene Zisblatt, speak yesterday. What a lovely woman. And her story was both harrowing and hopeful. She was interviewed by Steven Spielberg for his documentary, The Last Days. You can purchase her book, The Fifth Diamond here.

4. On a sad personal note, we had to say good-bye to a dear friend, Kieran Doherty. I've been in a wonderful writer's group with Kieran for over a decade. After a hell of a fight, Kieran succumbed to the ravages of lung cancer. You can read about Kieran and his struggles on his blog.

Kieran, signing his book, Sea Venture at an event in Ft. Lauderdale.

Kieran exchanging gifts with his buddy, Peter Hawkins, also from our writers' group.

We will miss Kieran's exceptionally good writing, his sharp editorial eye, his wicked wit and the warmth and compassion that lurked just below the surface of his gruff exterior. Good-bye, dear friend.

5. On a more upbeat note, I had the great pleasure of helping judge a writing contest at Independence Middle School this afternoon.

Kit Bradshaw, from the Jupiter Courier, another judge.

Two other of the seven "celebrity" judges.

The students wrote about a variety of topics, including helping the people in Haiti, being inspired by Lance Armstrong, Abraham Lincoln, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and becoming an NFL superstar. Reading the students' essays was great fun. Thanks to Lisa Petroccia for coordinating this and providing a yummy lunch!

5 1/2. I'm delighted to share with you and excerpt from How to Survive Middle School's first review from Booklist. Here's an excerpt:

"Gephart crafts for her likable protagonist an engaging, feel-good
transition into adolescence that’s well stocked with tears and laughter."

February 8, 2010

A Delightful E-mail

E-mails from my Web site are often from young readers or someone inviting me to speak at a school, library, book festival or conference. I love getting e-mails from my Web site.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from a young reader that really made me smile. It reminded me that when we send a book into the world, we never know how it might affect someone.

AS IF BEING 12 3/4 . . . is about Vanessa's practice/panic as she progresses through her school spelling bee, county spelling bee, etc. I had hoped my book would land in the hands of spelling bee enthusiasts. And in this case, it has.

"I just wanted to let you know I read your book and absolutely loved it. I went to the National Spelling Bee last year and had so much fun. I got pfeffernuss, the word Vanessa misses in your book, at my Regional Spelling Bee! Thanks to your book, I knew the word and went on to win.It really inspired me to study hard."

A big THANKS to that young reader for her delightful e-mail. And a wish for much success in the bee. Study hard and let me know how you do.

February 4, 2010

What's a Nice Line Like You Doing in a Book Like This?

Sometimes, a line in a book I'm reading will bonk me over the head and demand to be read a few more times.

Is there a line in a book you've read that bonked you over the head?

For me in Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli it was this funny line on page 208: "There's nothing sadder than a sobbing waffle." (Regarding a girl dressed like a waffle for Halloween.)

In The Kid by Dan Savage, every line is funny or poignant or thought-provoking; sometimes all three. I'm really enjoying the ride and look forward to reading Savage's other books.

I'm looking forward to all the meaningful lines in The Wisdom of Wilderness (Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature) by Gerald G. May, given to me by my friend, Paul. I've been saving this one to savor; I have a feeling it's going to be a very special book.

So, what's your favorite line from a book you're reading . . . or writing?

February 2, 2010

You Don't Say . . .

A few quotes from creators of literature and art for children:

"You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone." -- John Ciardi

"I like the idea that magic can be hidden under the surface of everyday life." -- Trina Schart Hyman

"I want to remake the world; anything less is not worth the trouble." -- Karen Cushman

"A good picture book begins with delight, ends with wisdom, humor, warmth, or love, and means more than it says." -- Barbara Williams

"The longer you put off getting serious about writing, the longer you put off success. Procrastination is a writer's biggest enemy." -- Barbara Seuling

"I tell kids to read like a wolf eats." -- Gary Paulsen

"Possibly the greatest role a book can play in the lives of young readers is to assure them that they aren't alone." -- Richard Peck

That last one, my friends, is why I read as a child. And it's why I write for children today.