Blog Tour For WHEELS OF CHANGE

Tomorrow I begin the blog tour to help promote the release of my first book, a MG historical titled WHEELS OF CHANGE. I’m excited to be sharing the journey with all of you and hope you will visit some of the stops on the tour to learn about how the book came to be.  Here’s the schedule, and please send me your comments about your favorite post; I’d love to hear from you.  There will also be two opportunities to win a free autographed copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE at two stops on the tour.

8-19- Marriah Nissen:  http://www.divinesecretsofthewritingsisterhood.blogspot.com   and   http://www.therandombookreview.blogspot.com    Interview and Book review.

8-22- Yvonne Ventresca:  http://www.YvonneVentresca.com/blog.html    5 Things about the cover.

8-26- Roseanne Kurstedt   http://www.rlkurstedt.wordpress.com    How teachers might use the book.

8-29-  Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen  http://www.nerdychicksrule.com    Character and author Interview

9-2-  Gail Terp   http://www.gailterp.com      Q & A regarding literacy

9-8- Kathy Temean   http://www.writingandillustratingforchildren.wordpress.com  Fun facts about author and main character + book give-away.

9-9- Tricia Springstub  http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com   Book give-away

9-12-  Deb Marshall   http://www.readwritetell.com      Setting in historical fiction.

9-16-  Robin Newman   http://www.robinnewmanbooks.com     Author Interview

9-19-  Tara Lazar    http://www.taralazar.com   Popular toys and candies of the era.

9-22-  Tamera Wissinger   http://www.tamerawillwissinger.com    Essay post on authenticity in historical fiction.  (This is my actual Launch Party Day!)

9-23-  Holly Schindler    http://www.hollyschindler.blogspot.com    Sneak peek excerpt

9-26-  Natalie Zaman   http://www.nataliezaman.blogspot.com     WOC Acrostic poem

9-29-  Charlotte Bennardo    http://www.charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com/http://kidlitresiurces.wordpress.com/

10-3-  Jennifer Bardsley     http://www.teachingmybabytoread.com     Interview

10-6-  Irene Latham    http://www.irenelatham.blogspot.com   The delicious, the difficult, the unexpected.

10-7-  Kim McDougall     http://blog.castlelane.com      Character Interview

10-12-  Theresa Wallace-Pregent   http://www.booksalmagundi.wordpress.com     Questions

10-13-  Tamera Wissinger    http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com   Interview

10-17-  Bianca Schultz    http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com  Featured in My Writing and Reading Life Monthly Column

10-26-  Theresa Wallace Pregent   http://www.tmwallace.com     Interview post.   Final stop on the tour.

Hope you enjoy the tour!

 

 

 

Float Your Boat…20 Different Ways.

One of my favorite summer activities is being out on the water in a boat, enjoying the afternoon sunshine as the boat – any boat – glides through the water.  Even if you can’t take a ride in a people-sized boat, you and your kids can make an amazing flotilla of boats using all kinds of recycled materials.  And, best of all, they all float!  So save your egg cartons, margarine tubs, seashells, and sponges and get ready to have a boat race in your pool or even in the bathtub.  Don’t forget to take a video of the event and who knows, it may become an annual tradition.

Check out the model boats at: http://www.redtedart/2013/06/08/boat-craft-ideas-for-summer

Many of the boats have video instructions and cost little in terms of materials. Happy sailing!             origami boats 4

Interview With Award Winning Author Joanne Rocklin.

I first “met” Joanne Rocklin when she graciously read my manuscript for WHEELS OF CHANGE and provided a lovely blurb. As soon as I read one of her stories, I was hooked.  I couldn’t get enough of her heart-warming and delightful books. Her titles, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, and ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET, capture the joys and sorrows of childhood with wonderful, unique characters and prose that wedges itself into your heart and takes hold. Her new book – FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY – (FLF) debuts this month, so I thought it would be great to feature her on this blog. First, here’s a description of FLF:

A story about a special girl, an inspiring book, and a brilliant (though unintentionally funny) flea.

From the publisher: This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Release Date: August, 2014
Amulet Books/Abrams ISBN 978-1-4197-1068-1    fleabrain cover

 
FIVE THINGS LEARNED WHILE WRITING MY MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY
My novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant Fleabrain, her dog’s flea.

1.
Much of what I learned while writing FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY were writing concepts I had to learn yet again, concepts that are integral to my own personal writing process. I usually begin with a phrase which arrives out of the blue. The phrase feels promising but doesn’t reveal much about the book I’m going to write. The phrase for this book was “you can stop seeking messages in spider webs.” This was Fleabrain’s first message to Franny, although I didn’t know it yet. I had to remember to just go with the phrase and wildly thrash about while I figure out what it means. I had to learn yet again, that for me, the rough draft is messy and chaotic but eventually leads to the story.

2.
Fleabrain provided Franny a necessary escape while she healed, as well as exciting adventures, affection, companionship and joy. He also taught her when it was time to face the real world. Fleabrain taught me, yet again, that humor will always be present in my books, no matter the seriousness of the subject matter, and that’s a good thing.

3.
Research is an ongoing process. I began reading about this particular era and began to get ideas about my character and her dilemma. I realized I had to set it in Pittsburgh because that’s where Dr. Jonas Salk did his important research on the polio vaccine, and I wanted to include a scientist in the story. But I was already deep into my story when I realized I would have to visit Pittsburgh and interview Pittsburghers who remembered that time. My research kept giving me ideas for scenes and themes for subsequent drafts.

4.
A surprising thing I learned while researching and writing this book was that many, many people knew very little about the polio epidemics. Some had never heard of an iron lung, or any of the treatment methods and medical advances associated with polio. Many were surprised to learn about the isolation and prejudice experienced by those stricken, and that most of the young people were required to attend special schools for “crippled” children. In addition, I myself learned that polio survivors were at the very forefront of the disability movement, agitating for many of the things we take for granted today (curb cuts, handicapped-accessible public places, etc.).

5.
And so, I learned yet again that the theme of my story will only become clear to me during the writing of the book itself, not before, and sometimes at the very end of the process. One of the important things that Franny learned is that it is not she who needs to be repaired by learning to walk again, but society itself, in accepting her.New picture book:

Joanne’s picture book:  I SAY SHEHECHYANU  will be out in January, 2015

Visit Joanne at: http://www.joannerocklin.com

 

Interview With YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Today’s post comes from my writer friend Yvonne Ventresca whose debut YA novel PANDEMIC, hit bookstores in May.

BOOKLIST has this to say about Pandemic: 

Ventresca gives Lilianna a compulsive need to prep for disaster (a coping skill after her assault) and a father who works for a journal called Infectious Diseases. This ups the believability factor and helps the reader focus on the action and characters. As is to be expected in an apocalyptic novel, there is no shortage of tension or death and a few gruesomely dead bodies, but teen disaster fans will likely appreciate that the high schoolers are portrayed as good, helpful people, but certainly not perfect. This fast read will appeal to fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It  (2006), even though the type of apocalypse is different.”
After reading this engaging and suspenseful novel, I can certainly agree that it is, indeed, hard to put down.  Ventresca did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was part of the “going’s -on” and even checked my own pantry to see what kind of provisions I had on hand.  Here’s Yvonne:

Five Historical Facts I Learned While Researching a Contemporary Pandemic
By Yvonne Ventresca

My debut young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu pandemic. Although it is set in present-day New Jersey (what would it be like if a pandemic hit suburbia tomorrow?), I spent a lot of time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 while writing the book. Parts of my fictional disease are based on the historical influenza, and I was interested in finding out as much about it as possible.     ventresca pic 1

Here are five things I learned while researching Pandemic:

1.  The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide.

2.  The Spanish flu had a different mortality pattern than previous flu outbreaks, with the highest death rates occurring in adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. The reasons for that pattern are still not entirely understood, but according to the US website Flu.gov, the 1918 virus “evolved directly from a bird flu into a human flu.”

3.  In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.       Pandemic cover

4.  In 1918, sanitation measures included wearing face masks, blow-torching water fountains, hosing down streets, and locking public phone booths. Despite these measures, the Spanish flu killed more Americans than all of World War I.

5.  Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider is set during the 1918 Influenza. It’s a work of fiction (published in 1939), but was no doubt influenced by Porter’s memories of the pandemic and her own illness. The tragic story provides a sense of the war, the disease, and the desperation of that time.

For resources about preparing for an emergency, visit yvonneventresca.com/resources.html.

For more information about the Spanish flu, refer to:

Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections by Madeline Drexler http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7444179-emerging-epidemics
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29036.The_Great_Influenza
Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History by Lynette Iezzoni http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625882.Influenza_1918
“Pandemic Flu History” http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/index.html

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code and sharing technology tips with other writers. Yvonne’s the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, which was published in May from Sky Pony Press. She blogs for teen writers every Tuesday and for writers of all ages each Friday at http://www.yvonneventresca.com/blog.html.       Yvonne Ventresca Author Photo

To connect with Yvonne:
Website: http://www.yvonneventresca.com
Facebook Author http://www.facebook.com/yvonneventrescaauthor
Twitter twitter.com/YvonneVentresca
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/317481.Yvonne_Ventresca
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/yvonneventresca

Let’s Take the Children to a Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh-picked fruits and veggies now through the end of summer, providing the opportunity to take children to your local market for an appetizing outing and learning opportunity.

Whether you are in search of nostalgia or nutrition, you will find both at farmers’ markets. Vine ripened tomatoes, bushels of sweet corn, shiny purple eggplants, beets, potatoes, green leaf let-tuces, as well as fragrant nectarines and peaches are presented in baskets on low display tables within easy reach of children. Even picky eaters will likely want to take home ears of corn and watermelon.                    Eggplant closeup

They will meet the farmers who raised the food. If they are outgoing, they can ask how the food was raised or what the farmer expects to bring for next week’s Market Day.

Part of the allure is the possibility of encountering the unexpected and the opportunity to try something new. Several varieties of pickles are served from the modern equivalent of wooden barrels. Olives, relishes, jams, preserves and chutneys are usually available as well. Some markets feature cheeses that are unique to the cheese maker who brought them.

On a recent Thursday afternoon at the market in Somerville, N.J., Mount Salem Farm from Pittstown, N.J. was selling fresh lamb chops, ground lamb, sausage and kebobs. Griggstown Farm, in Griggstown, N.J. sells its chickens at more than a dozen area markets.

Looking for sweets? Pies, cakes, pastries, local wildflower honey, breads, dried fruits and nuts abound.

Most farmers’ markets are open one day a week. However, a particularly large farmers’ market, Union Square Greenmarket, is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in New York City’s Union Square Park, East 17th Street and Park Avenue South. It was established nearly forty years ago when a few farmers banded together to sell their produce there. These days there are more than 30 vendors selling a variety of comestibles ranging from whole ducks and fresh fish to ostrich eggs, lavender and maple syrup and on weekends visitors number into the thousands. http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/manhattan-union-square                 Shopper

To locate farmers’ markets to visit, search online for farmers’ markets near your city of choice. Go early for the best selection.

Be sure to take sturdy tote bags for carrying the produce home. A cooler will be important if you buy perishables such as fresh meat and poultry or dairy products.

Several related children’s books, available online, can reinforce the experience.

“Farmers’ Market Day” by Shanta Tant and Jane Dippold, follows a little girl through a farmers’ market as she searches for the perfect treat. This picture book is suitable for preschool through second grade.

“At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands” by Leslie Jonath, Eth-el Brennan and Sheri Giblin, profiles the fruits and vegetables available at most farmers’ markets, explaining how to tell which ones are ripe and how to store them. It offers age-specific tips plus dozens of recipes to put your farmers’ market produce to use.

Marilyn Ostermiller

This post was prepared by Marilyn Ostermiller, a long-time business journalist who has begun writing for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.       

Make your own Clarinet…With a Carrot!?

To make your own carrot clarinet:
Watch the amazing demonstration by Lindsey Pollack at TedxSydney2014.  When you get ready to make your own clarinet, use caution with the drill.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/02/he-starts-out-with-only-a-drill-carrot-and-mouthpiece-but-its-the-final-product-thats-leaving-people-in-disbelief/

Who knew carrots were not only delicious but also quite lovely to listen to.

For other interesting sites that have easy-to-make instruments, check out:

http://www.spoonful.com/crafts/music-instruments

and: http://www.freekidscrafts.com

Celebrate the Fruits of Summer With…Fruit!

I love all the fresh fruit that’s available this time of year.  Every trip to the grocery or farmer’s market is an olfactory and visual delight as summer fruits abound.  Why not take advantage of the color and variety and make your own fruit salad to have as a snack or for a refreshing dessert at the next barbeque.

For my fruit salad, I used peaches, kiwi, cherries, and blueberries.  You can add grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple or raspberries.  Think multi-colored and you’re sure to have a winning combination.  You can sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top or even some homemade granola if you want to add some crunch.   Don’t be afraid to try new combinations.   fruit saladIt’s all delicious!