Tag Archives: Gae Polisner

Love it? Say it! Share it!

This week’s post is a recycled theme. I’ve previously written about the importance of sharing our “Book Love”, but the more authors I get to know, the more passionate I feel about this. The books we love don’t just appear. There is a hardworking author who chose every single one of those words that we are savoring! I frequently see posts on social media where they comment on how a review, tweet, or fan letter has touched them or inspired them.  When you work for months or years, all alone, pouring your heart into a piece of writing, you hope that it is meaningful to some reader out there. Well, dear readers, let’s show them if it is!

I know many who do.  There is a whole nerdy nation of readers who are passionate about books and authors.  One of the biggest tribes is the Nerdy Book Club . Here they are always sharing their love of books and love for their writers. But what are some other avenues readers can take to spread their appreciation for the writers who gift us their words?

Here are a few ways I have tried.

Last year one of my favorite authors, Gae Polisner, (The Pull of Gravity, The Summer of Letting Go, and on Sept. 6 The Memory of Things) reminded me, as I read her blog, about the importance of book reviews to authors. Click below.

Tuesday Feedback: A Little Conversation about Book Reviews Starring YOU

Her message was that authors need us to keep them in the public eye.  Sharing our favorite books on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr will inform our friends and followers.  But how can we expand our Book Love beyond our relatively small circle?  How can we support those authors we love so they can continue their writing careers and bring us even more Book Love??

Our reviews on sites like Goodreads will certainly expand our influence and love, but sites like Amazon have a much stronger impact for sales of books.  THAT is the ultimate way we support our favorite authors.  Love a book?  Let others know!! Don’t know how to post an Amazon review?  Go here.  Don’t worry about sounding like an editorial reviewer from Kirkus, New York Times, Booklist, or School Library Journal. The length and quality aren’t as important as the willingness to do it! Here are a few quick tips for posting reviews for the books you love!

  • (This book) is about brief synopsis (but I think it’s really about)what it means to you. (Your review  doesn’t require a complete retelling-editorial reviewers have already done that! What is this book about for YOU?)
  • If you like_____________this book is for you! Who would like this book?  Who would be a target audience? Why would they enjoy it?
  • I really liked ______________ . Were the characters compelling?  Was the writing engaging?  Was it humorous? Suspenseful? Realistic? Heartwarming? Mention one or two things about the book that made it memorable for you.
  • Mention the author’s name (and illustrator).  Remind readers of the person behind those words who pounded out that plot, those characters, that dialogue, those facts and worked their bums off. Books don’t just happen, someone dreams them and brings them to life-we need to honor that!

THAT’S IT!  Sure you could do more or less.  You could write a review any way you want. Check out how kids do it at The Spaghetti Book Club! The big idea isn’t HOW?…it’s WHEN?!!  When will you take a few minutes and go to the independent or big box bookstore or  the website where you purchased your copy and leave a quick, but important review?  We want to keep this authors “employed” and creating the books we love!

What if I can’t afford to buy the book?  No worries.  I try to be a book patron as often as possible, but my local library knows me by my first name.  I check out dozens and dozens of books a month.  I always make sure to tell the librarian about the books I love the most and that ensures they’ll be recommended to other patrons.  As I said, I’ve also been known to leave a post-it note or note card sticking out to grab readers’ attention, “Hey!  You should check _______ out!  You’ll love it!”

So now that you’ve read my soapbox spiel – click on over to Amazon and post a review for one of your favorite authors!  They deserve it!

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 9.00.11 AMSince the day I read A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, I knew I would pre-order any other book she would publish. Some writers help you visualize, Natalie makes you feel!  She creates characters that you want to befriend (or adopt!) Her writing is almost lyrical. I find myself rereading lines to taste them tripping across my tongue! Some may call it folksy, I find it charming.

The Key to Extraordinary  did not disappoint!! It is a joy to read. It is filled with imagery like this:

If God had a stethoscope, and if He held it up to this part of the dreary world to check for a heartbeat, I hope these are the sounds He’d hear: The sound of boots stomping rhythms out of the dust. The sounds of happy squeals and laughter when people spin out, nearly dizzy from joy. The sound of a scratchy voice, a thumping guitar, a plucky violin.  That’s what pure joy sounds like.”

When I came home from school last night and saw this book sitting on the kitchen counter, I ripped it open and dove right in.  Part of me wanted to slow down and savor it, but I just couldn’t. As I got into it, I was compelled to see what Emma’s Destiny Dream was, and how it was going to be realized. I wanted to see if the mysterious boy would ever speak again.  I had to know if they could save their family bakery, the Boneyard Cafe.  I was curious if the ghosts in their backyard cemetery were real. I needed to know what the key in her dream unlocked!

If you love stories with multi-generational families, compassionate characters, traditions, and eccentricity,  I think you will love it, too!  The Key to Extraordinary is extraordinary. It will satiate a hunger you didn’t even know you had!

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Manuscript Mentors

IMG_1908As I was finishing up the last of the proofreading and edits of my manuscript for Stenhouse (Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6) I solicited some ideas on Facebook from my author friends: “Calling on all my writer friends for any advice on final edits of a manuscript. Any tips on what works for you would be welcome as I venture into new waters here.”
I hoped to get a response or two.  I was a little overwhelmed with the wonderful advice from so many authors I look up to!

Lynda Mullaly Hunt Set a day aside and read the entire thing out loud. You hear things you don’t hear when he read silently. Good luck!

Franki Sibberson By final edits, I’ve learned that I need to let go and know I can’t do everything I want to do in one piece of writing (even though it is a BIG piece of writing!). So I work to make what I’ve already said the best that it can be instead of thinking of all the things I didn’t say and trying to add those in. If that helps at all!

Cynthia Lord Change the font and print a copy. It will look different enough that your eye will read every word again–if it looks familiar your eyes sometimes read what you think it says, not exactly what it does.

Charlotte Agell I love the Cynthia tip. Different fonts make me THINK differently. They are like the clothing of my words – punk, staid, all-purpose, snazzy…

Lester Laminack I find it helpful to put it aside and write a summary/note to myself what I hope the reader leaves with. Then I read the whole thing with that in mind.

Jennifer Richard O’Grady I tackle the smaller edits, the easier things first. That gives my brain more time to chew on the bigger questions. From time to time stop and savor the moment. Your dedication got you to this stage!

Sarah Albee Do a find/replace for words you suspect you use too much. I’ve horrified myself with this exercise, finding I use certain words way too often. Also search-and-destroy too many semicolons, or whatever your personal perils may be!

Kate Messner When I review copy edits, I take a blank piece of paper to cover up everything beneath the line I’m reading – helps me to slow down. Also, read aloud.

Donalyn Miller Appreciate all of the great advice here. I take a close look at really long sentences to decide if they make sense or need to be revised/shortened for clarity.

Maria Padian Hunt down adverbs. Wherever possible, replace them with stronger verbs that don’t need modifying, or give the character a physical gesture that conveys the meaning you’re after. Same with the verb “to be.”

Lynn Plourde My agent taught me this trick . . . you can delete “that” most of the time (i.e. I didn’t know that she lived in town . . . I didn’t know she lived in town). Btw, since I’m at the final edit stage on my MG novel–I’m savoring all this advice you’re getting, Paula!

Gae Polisner The biggest help is to put it away for a month or three and read it fresh then, but very few of us have the luxury or patience to do so.

Melissa Stewart Highlight your verbs in a different color and make sure ewach one is as strong and precise as it can possibly be.

Meg Frazer Blakemore Give yourself breaks and walk around, even if it’s just around your house.

David Lopez Read it backwards in a mirror, turn around three times and then set it on fire. Laugh with glee.

Ammi-Joan Paquette So many great comments here already! I would just add that it’s not easy, taking the plunge to “let go” and launch your baby out in the world. It’s helpful to remember that you have been diligent, and thoughtful, and thorough–you’ve done your best, and it’s GOOD. That’s why you’ve gotten this far. Once you give it that final read, and make any last changes that jump out, let it go with confidence. It’s ready to fly!

I wanted to save (and savor) their sage advice, not only for thisIMG_2205 project but for all writing moving forward.  They didn’t have to respond, but their passion for writing is so evident when they rush in to support another writing.  And so I am feeling thankful today. Thankful that the final proofread manuscript was sent back to Stenhouse, thankful for those amazing people who work there that will turn my words into a book, and thankful for all those authors who were willing to mentor me on my journey. It has truly taken a village to raise this ‘baby’!

What’s On My Book Radar?

23604418I am so excited that our recent school book fair had Kate Messner’s latest Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome. This copy is sitting by my bedstand waiting for me to finish this blog, log off, and pick it up!  I think this is such a fun and informative series.  I know the painstakingly careful research Kate does for her books, so I know I will learn something new with each of Ranger’s adventures.  If you haven’t discovered this series yet for yourselves, I encourage you to grab a copy of this and Rescue on the Oregon Trail

Share Our Book Love!

I love books.  I love reading.  I love so many authors.

z-Middle-Grade-Book-PileSometimes this is referred to as Book Love (thanks for that term, Penny Kittle).  Many of my friends have Book Love, too.  How do I know?  Because they share it!  Sometimes in person, but more often on social media. There are Facebook posts and groups.  There are Twitter chats and hashtags.  There are Instagram pics and Vine videos.  I have surrounded myself with Book Love.

I try to share my Book Love as well as receive it (A huge thank you to my Nerdy Book Club friends).

Last week one of my favorite authors, Gae Polisner, (The Pull of Gravity, The Summer of Letting Go) reminded me, as I read her blog, about the importance of book reviews to authors. Click below.

Tuesday Feedback: A Little Conversation about Book Reviews Starring YOU

Her message was that authors need us to keep them in the public eye.  Sharing our favorite books on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr will inform our friends and followers.  But how can we expand our Book Love beyond our relatively small circle?  How can we support those authors we love so they can continue their writing careers and bring us even more Book Love??

Our reviews on sites like Goodreads will certainly expand our influence and love, but sites like Amazon have a much stronger impact for sales of books.  THAT is the ultimate way we support our favorite authors.  Love a book?  Let others know!! Don’t know how to post an Amazon review?  Go here.  Don’t worry about sounding like an editorial reviewer from Kirkus, New York Times, Booklist, or School Library Journal. The length and quality aren’t as important as the willingness to do it! Here are a few quick tips for posting reviews for the books you love!

  • (This book) is about brief synopsis (but I think it’s really about)what it means to you. (Your review  doesn’t require a complete retelling-editorial reviewers have already done that! What is this book about for YOU?)
  • If you like_____________this book is for you! Who would like this book?  Who would be a target audience? Why would they enjoy it?
  • I really liked ______________ . Were the characters compelling?  Was the writing engaging?  Was it humorous? Suspenseful? Realistic? Heartwarming? Mention one or two things about the book that made it memorable for you.
  • Mention the author’s name (and illustrator).  Remind readers of the person behind those words who pounded out that plot, those characters, that dialogue, those facts and worked their bums off. Books don’t just happen, someone dreams them and brings them to life-we need to honor that!

THAT’S IT!  Sure you could do more or less.  You could write a review any way you want. Check out how kids do it at The Spaghetti Book Club! The big idea isn’t HOW?…it’s WHEN?!!  When will you take a few minutes and go to the independent or big box bookstore or  the website where you purchased your copy and leave a quick, but important review?  We want to keep this authors “employed” and creating the books we love!

What if I can’t afford to buy the book?  No worries.  I try to be a book patron as often as possible, but my local library knows me by my first name.  I check out dozens and dozens of books a month.  I always make sure to tell the librarian about the books I love the most and that ensures they’ll be recommended to other patrons.  I’ve also been known to leave a post-it note or note card sticking out to grab readers’ attention, “Hey!  You should check _______ out!  You’ll love it!”

So now that you’ve read my soapbox spiel – click on over to Amazon and post a review for one of your favorite authors!  They deserve it!

What’s on My Book Radar?

These two books are my contenders for Caldecott and Newbery awards so far!  Both are brilliant and imaginative.

23309640A little boy creates a boat out of newspaper and takes it out for a day’s adventure.  When the boat rushes away and down a gutter he goes on a hunt for his beloved boat.  I won’t tell you what happens-you’ll have to check out this gem for yourself.  I was so reminded of Ezra Jack Keats’ work as I savored this amazing book by Daniel Miyares.

23281919Cassie Beasley’s debut novel is like a cross between Water for Elephants and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-it’s FANTASTIC!! Micah’s grandfather Ephraim is on the verge of death and has shared with Micah his mysterious tales of Circus Mirandus.  He offers that the Lightbender from the circus owes him a miracle, and so Micah is determined to find the man he believes can save his grandfather.  This would be a fantastic read aloud in any middle grade classroom and a perfect gift for anyone who would like a little more “magic” in their lives!

HAPPY READING!

Tis The Season

book-christmas-tree-step-6Christmas is one of my very favorite times of year, but it is also one of the very busiest.  I’m not complaining.  There are so many festive and fun activities that can fill my free time and I feel very blessed to have these opportunities.  This year I have even less free time as I am engaged in writing a book and I’m ever aware of my self-imposed deadlines.

I find I can no longer carry on a conversation about the tv shows or series my friends look forward to.  My family, my kids’ activities, and my writing are my  priorities outside of work.  But after that I carve out time for my books.  Reading is something that is just for ME.  I can slip into a book and immediately be somewhere else, experiencing a range of emotions, and making new friends.  I can return any time I wish.  I can be gone for as long or short a period of time as I desire.  I can’t imagine my life without books.  It is why I have dedicated my career to creating literate lives for so many children.  I want everyone to have these experiences.

Christmas is a wonderful time to give books as gifts.  As my children were growing up, our collection of Christmas books grew each year and our traditions of reading them together are some of my most cherished memories.  I would wrap 25 books and place them under the tree. Each day Bailey or Casey would choose one to unwrap and we would read it together.  Some were old favorites, some were new gifts.  I still can’t read Patricia Polacco’s Welcome Comfort without remembering my kids snuggled up beside me near our twinkling tree.

I love seeing posts from friends showing pictures of their families creating their own reading traditions around the holidays.  Books have been such an important part of my family’s life, I wish it were so for every boy and girl.  If you have friends with children I encourage you to share your traditions and ideas for making books integral to their lives and memories.  Give books as gifts.  Read to a child.  Read to yourself.

If you are looking for book gift ideas, I would recommend some titles that I think are contenders for the American Library Associations Newberry or Caldecott Awards.  I’ve created a padlet for each to share these great books.

According to the ALA, the  Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Here are my “picks” for contenders of the 2015 award.

http://padlet.com/thelitcoachlady/y1hbyu87rhqv

The Newbery Medal was the first children’s book award in the world. It is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.  The books are usually middle grade level.

http://padlet.com/thelitcoachlady/3awykshazb79

So if you are looking for gift ideas, I would recommend starting with some books from these lists.  You won’t be disappointed.  Tis (always)the season (for reading)!

What’s On My Book Radar?

After meeting several of my favorite authors at NCTE, I wanted to go back and read some of their work. Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go was one of my favorite books of this year and so I sought out The Pull of Gravity, her first novel.  I LOVED it. She has a way of taking the ordinary and weaving in the quirky to give her characters depth and to tug at your heartstrings.  This coming of age road trip is less about the adventure and more about the discovery that everything is not always as it seems.

8891408So while I try to get my hands on all the newest books being talked about, its always kind of cool to discover a book  I missed my first go around that satisfies so nicely!

#TeachersWrite

10497946_876609592353825_1937506217078596531_o What are you doing this summer?  Want to participate in the hottest camp around? Teachers Write is a virtual camp for teachers to create, develop and share writing with published authors who donate their time to mentor, encourage and provide feedback to teachers . As founder Kate Messner describes it, “Teachers Write is a community of teachers and librarians who believe that people teaching writing should walk the walk.”

I’ve become more and more convinced that teachers of writing should be teachers who write.  That’s not to say we all need a goal to be a published author, but that we experience the highs and lows, the joys and the struggles of the writing process we are teaching our students. I first blogged (Teacher of Writing or Writing Teacher) about this in March after #Engchat on Twitter with Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle and Georgia Heard.  I was struck by a quote from Donald Graves…

“You can’t call yourself a writing teacher if you are not writing yourself. “

That became a call to action for me.  I needed to “Be the change I wished to see in the world.” (Gandhi)  I had already been journaling daily and blogging weekly, but I started trying out some of the assignments that kids were being asked to do, and not finding them easy!  I had a great deal more empathy for those novice writers and could better anticipate the supports that they may need to find success.  I could appreciate the commitment and stamina it took to stay with a piece of writing that you didn’t feel invested in.  One of the biggest perks that I hadn’t anticipated, was an even deeper appreciation for the books I was reading.  The turn of a phrase, the imagery, the word choice, or structure of a book suddenly tasted sweeter!

It also gave me the courage to try my hand at some professional writing.  I’ve immersed myself in reading, research and reflection on my teaching/coaching to help me compose some ideas around the teaching of writing.  I have made a commitment to this project for the summer that will be shared with precious little else (my family, #Teachers Write and my #BookaDay challenge!).

If you are looking for a challenge this summer to take your thinking and teaching to a whole new level, I would strongly encourage you to sign up for Teachers Write and visit Kate Messner’s webpage to get started.  You’ve only missed a few days as it runs July 7-August 15.  You can follow Kate on Twitter @KateMessner as well as fellow authors and mentors Gae Polisner @GaePo, Jo Knowles @JoKnowles, Jen Vincent @mentor texts.  There will also be guest authors throughout the ‘camp’ so you definitely do not want to miss out!

Kate asks that you support these authors by buying or checking out their books this summer.  It’s also a great way to appreciate the thinking of these mentors when you are familiar with their work!   So do yourself a favor this summer and join one of the BEST summer camps going!  You don’t have to post your work, but if you do you will receive encouragement and support from some of the best in the business!!

HAPPY WRITING!!

 

What’s on My Book Radar?

I just finished these two books for my #BookaDay Challenge and I am ready to dive into some #TeachersWrite author books.

18635089 18405537

Nothing like a bit of fantasy during those summer evenings reading on the deck or hammock.  These were amazingly quick reads as I was sucked right into the engaging plots.  Time travel in SLB and legends and lore in TNG!  LOVED them both!

TBR…

Now I need to check out the #Teachers Write guest author’s books!

YAY Books!  YAY Authors!!

9781416995005 9780763664558 9781250019332 9780375854118

wakeum

Happy Reading!

The Best PD of My Life!

IMG_824616 Years ago today I began the best professional development of my life.  With the arrival of my 9lb 13oz daughter, Bailey,  I became a mother and from that day on I was changed for the better.  Now I don’t believe being a parent necessarily makes everyone a better teacher.  I have many teacher friends who are unbelievably talented educators who are not parents and I have met some less than effective teachers who have begotten children of their own.

It is not the circumstances of our life that is responsible for shaping us, it is our perception, appreciation and responses that fashion the people we become. Having my daughter did not bestow upon me any special teaching expertise.  What it did do was offer me the opportunity to experience the world through a child’s eyes again.  It constantly reminded me that children are far more than just students, they are human beings with lives outside of those classroom walls and dreams that extend beyond the goals of any curriculum.  It allowed me to empathize with the parents of my students in ways I could not have imagined.  It helped me to deeply understand the developmental, emotional, cognitive and social needs as my children passed through each stage of childhood.

When my son, Casey, arrived two years later my understanding and empathy for boys became an eye opening experience.  It helped me to appreciate children as individuals on a much deeper level-I could no longer think of siblings in schools the same way.  I began to look for the ‘specialness’ in each of them, because I knew it was there.  I began to challenge prejudices and assumptions based on gender, birth order, family history, etc.  I learned to accept my children for who they are and not just for the hopes I had for them as babies.  I’ve watched my daughter grow into an amazing dancer  and not the tom boy/athlete I was in my youth- and I am in awe of her.  They will have lives that I can not even imagine and yet it is my role to prepare them for it.  That is the same task we as teachers have for our students.

So I want to thank my children for the professional development you have offered me over IMG_8254the past 16 years.  You have challenged my thinking (and my authority!).  You have provided me with experiences I would never have chosen.  You have taught me patience, stamina and empathy for others on a daily basis.  You have compelled me to seek balance in my life as I juggle my needs with yours.  You have helped make me the person I am today-not perfect, but perceptive, patient and positive.  I can’t wait to see what lessons the next 16 years will offer me.

The best professional development we as educators can have is that which shapes our world view and not just our classroom practice.  It helps us to be better people so that we can be better teachers of people.  It breeds understanding and empathy and not just pedagogy.  We all should look for those opportunities in our lives and embrace them when they come along.  What’s the best PD that you have received in your life?

 

What’s on My Book Radar?

IMG_8097I didn’t want this book to end.  I loved Gae’s message of hope and redemption.  I cared so much about Francesca and Frankie that I didn’t want to leave them behind when I’d read the last pages.  These characters have flaws that we can all identify with and hearts that break and mend and forgive in ways that can help us reflect on our own relationships. I didn’t want to let go of The Summer of Letting Go!

 

HAPPY READING!