Five Things on a Friday

1.  Last night, my editor sent me the almost-but-not-quite-final cover for THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z, and I absolutely LOVE it.  I just sat and stared at it for about ten minutes.  I swooned.  Then I sent it to my mother, who also stared and swooned.  This morning, I Skyped her and we stared and swooned together.  I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you in a few weeks when it’s final-final! 

2. After many months of revising and editing books under contract, I have two new projects "out there" in the big world this week — my MG novel called SUGAR ON SNOW and a new picture book.  For those of you in the earlier stages of submitting work and wondering if that excited, scary feeling goes away after the second or third book, the answer (at least for me) is no.  

3. Kara LaReau, my former editor at Scholastic, has launched a new business that will be of special interest to writer friends.  After leaving publishing this fall, she decided to start her own creative consulting company called Bluebird Works.  (If you know Kara, that name is so perfect – she’s an absolute joy to be around.)  She’s offering manuscript critiques, among other things, and if you have a book that needs a good critical eye, I can’t think of anyone I’d trust more.  Here’s the PW article about her new venture.

4. I’ve read a bunch of great books lately, mostly MG and YA but also this one for teachers.

THE BOOK WHISPERER by Donalyn Miller comes out this month and is all about helping kids love reading again.  The author is an amazing 6th grade teacher whose ideas will be familiar to many of us who promote reading and help kids choose books in our classrooms all the the time.  (cfaughnan , the author of this book reminds me a lot of you.) I think it ought to be required reading for every teacher, especially those who are so worried about standardized testing that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to love a good story.

5.  I’m just starting to teach one of my favorite units — a research project where the kids choose a character from Colonial America, research every aspect of that person’s life, and write a work of historical fiction in a first person diary format.  We have a Colonial Tavern in the school cafeteria as our celebration at the end of this unit, complete with musical performances, dances, displays, and TONS of colonial treats. 
Snickerdoodles, anyone? 

Have a terrific Friday and a wonderful weekend!

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