Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blogger Comments

I'm trying to respond to comments made, but Blogger won't allow me to do so, oddly enough. Thank you to those of you who have written comments, nonetheless.

Write on!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Boy, a Book, and an Old Yeller Dog

[Note: Blogger has decided that today it will not necessarily retain my paragraph breaks uniformly. Sorry.]

I am so pleased to welcome guest blogger Kristi Rice today. How do the books children read affect their lives? Read Kristi's story and find out.

My "Yeller" Dog
I can't fathom the idea of not having any children in the single digit age group. As of today, that is exactly what has happened. Where did the time go? My St. Patty's Day boy has turned ten. We thought we would do something really special to mark this occasion and so decided to give him a pup--a yeller pup.

It all started this summer when my Ethan's cat ran away for the zilynth time. Ethan decided he was fed up with cats. Dogs were the way to go. My response? Heck no! I just had brand new carpet laid. No way were we going to house break a new puppy!

Then, my big mistake. See, the fall is my absoulte favorite time of year. I am an outdoor girl. I still love to climb into big old trees with a good book. I decided it would be sooo nostalgic to take my children along with me and read a classic novel. "How about Old Yeller? I thought. Well, let me tell you, it worked out just as I had it in my mind--no, better. My children loved the book. Ethan especially loved it. At the end of the novel, he looked up at me with a tear streaked face and said, "Momma, I want a yeller dog." Oh boy, if that didn't pull at my heart strings.

That brings us to this past Saturday. I put out a search to see if anyone knew where I could find one. A fellow homeschooler emailed me that he had golden retriever pups ready to take home.

It was road trip time! My daughter Olivia and I took Ethan in the car. (My husband would have come, too, but he had to attend to some other business.) We told Ethan we were taking him to get his birthday present.

His eyes lit up. "Are we going to Wal-Mart or Target?" Olivia and I laughed. Neither, was our reply. We told him he would never guess in a bizillion years where we were going.

When we pulled into the home of the dog owners, Ethan asked, "Where are we?"

"You don't remember this place?" I said. He, of coarse, had never been there.

The front door opened, and a very smiley man invited us in.

"Ethan doesn't know why he is here," I said. "He just knows he is getting his birthday present." The man's smile broadend even wider. He said he had to go put the big dog away and then we could take a look.

As the man walked away, Ethan looked up at me with the same face I remember from right after we had read Old Yeller. My heart melted, and tears burned my eyes.

"I'm gettin' a puppy?" He spoke softly as tears leaked down his face. Oh boy, I lost it. We both stood there in this stranger's kitchen weeping. The man returned with a look of bewilderment on his face. I couldn't even speak to tell him what was happening. I'm not sure that I would have been able to explain it to him anyway.

Ethan went in to the kennel room, and within five minutes he had snuggled up to one "yeller" pup in particular. Now that pup, which he named Lady Bella Elizabeth Rice, is living in our home.

We have already had some pretty exciting adventures which I hope to write about soon.

Do, do tell us more, Kristi, as the days go by. Guests of this blog may visit Kristi's blog, also.

Now, gentle readers, would you be so kind as to comment about a book from your childhood that significantly impacted your life? If you are a writer of children's literature, how do you hope that your work will influence your readers?

Friday, March 12, 2010

What's in a Name? You'd Better Find Out!

Though this entry is a short one, it carries an essential message for writers. Simply put, be careful what you name your characters. Check potential names on the Internet.

While sipping my Plantation Mint tea this morning, I learned about a middle-grade novel--published by a Christian house--that sounded interesting. Since I write mg, I try to stay alert regarding that genre. I clicked on the blog link that had the author's interview. When I saw the protagonist's name, I was startled. No. Shocked. It was the name of a 1980s sit-com actress who was released from the show because of her heavy drug usage. Further, in a tell-all biography, the actress wrote of a long-term incestuous relationship with her father. Not exactly the baggage you'd want your pre-teen main character to lug around--Christian or not.

Exactly what is in a name? Check it out before your character gets stuck with it, and you have to be reminded of your oversight every time you crack open the cover.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I Love You, Tomorrow!

Indiana ACFW writers will gather in Indianapolis for a state meeting. I can hardly wait to meet some of my fellow scribes and members of the Body of Christ whom I've gotten to know only through Facebook and the ACFW loop.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: SWEET BY AND BY by Patricia Hermes

Published by:  HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2002
192 pages

First line:  "Tell me about the snowstorm," I said.

If your taste in middle-grade novels runs toward fast-paced adventures, this is not the book for you. It is a quiet, rather sad, very sweet book.

Eleven-year-old Blessing lives with her grandmother, Monnie, up on the mountain. The two make beautiful music together. When Monnie tucks her fiddle under her chin and Blessing lifts her voice to sing, everyone stops talking and scoots closer to hear. Together they make the moutains echo with "The Old Churchyard," "Bar'bry Allen," "Amazing Grace," and "Sweet By and By."

But Monnie's health is declining, and Blessing must confront two terrible fears: Monnie could die, and "Wolf" Cotter, the social worker, could take control of Blessing's life, deciding where and with whom she would live.

Sweet By and By explores the relationships forged among Blessing, Monnie, and the mountain community. It also reveals the struggle Blessing has to gain some control over her own destiny.

Patricia Hermes is the author of nearly fifty books for readers from early middle grades through young adult, as well as two nonfiction books for adults. Her books have won many awards and recognitions, including American Library Association Best Book, Smithsonian Notable Book, and C.S. Lewis Honor Book. She also has won many state awards, four of them for the novel You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye.