Catch-Up Post

29 09 2016

aaBUGGY2I haven’t posted for several months because I’ve been busy. I have 8 books releasing this year, plus stories in 2 anthologies, and I’ve been busy writing next year’s releases. It’s been one round of deadlines after the other, interspersed with book tours, conferences, and research trips. Because I write under several pen names, all my alter-egos have deadlines too.

As Rachel J. Good, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Lancaster County’s Pennsylvania Dutch country. And I’m headed back there in October for more events. The list can be found on my website. Change of Heart came out in May 2016  and Buried Secrets will release in March 2017, but is available for preorder now. My Amish Quilts Coloring Book also released in the spring.
Change of Heart - Comp - Dec4buried-secretsAmish Quilts Coloring BOOK cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to 3 nonfiction books for teens that came out in January, I’ve been working on some picture books. I wrote the story for The Mystery of the Missing Parathas, which will be coming out in November and I’ve been working on illustrations for another picture book that will be coming out in before Christmas.

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The two anthologies for this year are the paperback version of Love and Profanity and an anthology whose proceeds benefit Perry County Council of the Arts. Strange Magic will release in late fall.

LandP cover 2016strange-magic





Diversify Your Nonfiction With These 5 STEM Innovators of Color — Lee & Low Blog

28 09 2016

How diverse is your nonfiction collection? Often when we look at biographies featuring people of color, they repeat the same themes: slavery & civil rights, music, sports. But people of color have contributed positively in every field, including the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. These contributions should be celebrated all year long, not…

via Diversify Your Nonfiction With These 5 STEM Innovators of Color — Lee & Low Blog





Paper Dolls!

24 04 2016

Any fellow paper doll fans out there? I’ve loved paper dolls ever since I was old enough to work with scissors. I sometimes made my own dolls and clothes with the help of the Sears catalog. O…

Source: Paper Dolls!





Coming out of Hibernation

18 03 2016

polar bear

What did you do on the long winter weekends? Besides hibernating to meet deadlines, I’ve also been spending time on writers’ retreats.

The first one occurred during the worst week of winter. I was anticipating a lovely warm cruise to Mexico when the car got stuck in the ice in the driveway, and airports all over the east coast shut down. I worried I might not make it to Florida before the cruise ship left. My own cancelled and delayed flights left me wondering if I’d make it. I arrived about six hours later than I’d planned, but in time to spend a night in a lovely FL hotel.

FL hotel

But delays weren’t the only thing I needed to worry about. Nothing like trying to board a ship with an expired passport. My new passport was safely locked up at home hundreds of miles away. After hours of frustration, we managed to get a copy of my birth certificate faxed a short while before the ship left port.
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So we were off to the Caymans and Cozumel with a group of authors, editors and agents aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Some great pics of the fun and “work” we did can be found at the Seymour Agency website (scroll to bottom of page). Oh, wait, are most of those pictures of us eating? Believe me, we really did work, attend sessions, and pitch books. I returned with several editor requests for manuscripts and two more agents at the Seymour agency who will rep my work, so it was time well spent.

We did find time for fun and touring. I spent a day swimming with sea turtles and seeing babies to adults, touring small towns, and visiting Chichen Itza. My lovely editor gave me an additional week to finish my manuscript so I could enjoy the sightseeing and socializing.

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I returned home to warmer weather than when I left, but holed up in the house to finish that manuscript. Thanks to some wonderful critique partners, who edited while I wrote, I made the deadline.

After all that writing, I needed another break. So it was off to the North Carolina beach with a different group of authors. The weather was nice enough on Topsail Island for walks along the shore, picking up shells and sea glass, and sitting on my bedroom balcony to write and enjoy the view. Lots of craft sessions and fellowship filled the time between writing and meals. Hmm…are we eating again?

Topsail

The following weekend I headed to the lovely Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. Again, lots of great food and company, but time to work too. We created journals with pictures and notes about our book’s setting and details. As I researched, I stumbled across a valuable resource for my historical novel. I’m looking forward to delving into it further. I left the retreat refreshed and eager to get back to writing.
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I have some more hibernating to do before I attend one more retreat in April — this time an illustrators’ retreat. And then in May and June, I come out of my cave completely to attend a whirlwind of events for my book launch. So the next few weeks will be a mix of writing and planning.

As writers we often need to hibernate to get work done, but we should also plan to come out of our caves from time to time. And even if you’re not a writer, do you hunker down in winter and spend a lot time indoors? What do you do after an extended period of hibernation? Do you socialize or prefer quieter activities? And if you’re a writer, what are you favorite writers’ retreats?





Inspiration and Genius…

30 03 2015

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eye off the goal.”  ~ Henry Ford

 





Chocolate Book Blog

12 07 2014

When I agreed to do this blog, I wondered how I could possibly combine books and chocolate. First of all, I LOVE way too many children’s books to choose favorites and second, I’m not a fan of chocolate. Now before you run in the opposite direction screaming at such sacrilege, perhaps I should explain.

choc house I used to be a total chocaholic in my early years. Then I got the ultimate job ever at age 16 – working in the Chocolate House at HersheyPark. After eating chocolate cake for breakfast, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup topped with chocolate whipped cream for lunch, and following that with a chocolate milkshake and candy bars for my afternoon snack every day for months, I cured myself of my chocolate addiction.

But I never managed to cure myself of my book addiction. After I learned to read, I always had a book with me — a practice that grew into a 30-book-a-week habit from 4th grade on. I hid books in my desk at school and read while the teacher talked. I read with a flashlight under the covers at night. I read while my friends watched TV or played outside.

Of course, I grew up to become a librarian and later an author. So now in addition to reading, I’m also always writing. Or illustrating. Or spending time with other writers and illustrators, who share my passion for the written word. So choosing favorite books is even more difficult at this point in my life. So for every book I list here, there are hundreds or thousands of others I wish I could include. I went back to my childhood bookshelf to choose the books that had the most worn and dog-eared pages.

littleprincesspicturebook1I’m going to start with the book I reread most often: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved Sara Crewe’s journey from pampered rich girl to abused servant girl (a reverse rags-to-riches story).

I dreamed of being just like her — staying happy and cheerful even in the worst circumstances. In the end, Sara receives her reward when she’s rescued by her father’s partner and once again becomes a wealthy heiress. But no matter what occurred in her life, she remained a princess with a big heart. From her, I also learned the power of imagination.

 

Because one of Sara’s triumphs over the nasty headmistress was when she spoke fluent French to the language teacher, I chose a chocolate eclair to pair with the book.

eclair

wrinkle in timeMy second most-read book was Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time. It transported me to another time and place. I reread the whole series multiple times and dreamed of someday becoming a writer as skilled as L’Engle.

The whole trilogy intrigued me, but I have to say my favorite of the three was A Wind in the Door, when Meg had to fight for her brother’s life.

It was in this series that I was first introduced the Francis Thompson quote, “Thou canst not stir a flower / Without troubling a star.” That made me appreciate the vastness of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life. I realized the impact even tiny acts of kindness can have on the world around me, and to this day, I can’t pull weeds without feeling a vast sadness. I’d rather have an overgrown garden than remove a plant, any plant — even a weed.

Because this trilogy deserves something out-of-this-world, I chose a Milky Way.

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Moving back to very early childhood, two Little Golden Books that were worn ragged were The Poky Little Puppy and The Color Kittens.

Poky puppyJanette Sebring Lowrey‘s Poky Little Puppy was a slowpoke, but rather than learning the lesson to be on time, I realized it was better to procrastinate because the poky puppy ended up with more desserts and freedom than his siblings who arrived home on time. That turned into a lifetime habit of procrastination, and although at times, it causes problems, most often I find procrastination has many benefits. So I can thank the Poky Puppy for that life lesson. And the illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren, who also illustrated The Shy Little Kitten, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, many other Golden Books, instilled a deep desire to illustrate children’s books when I grew up.

 

Color_KittensThe Color Kittens, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Alice Provensen and  Martin Provensen, introduced me to the world of mixing colors. I spent hours trying to accomplish the color mixing with my box of crayons. Back then I determined to master the intricacies of colors, a goal I’m still trying to achieve in my art classes.

Margaret Wise Brown also proved to be an inspiration in my picture book writing. Someday I hope to be as prolific as she was.

For childhood dreams and coziness, I think a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows puddling on top sipped in a rocker evokes the warmth and joy of these picture books.

cocoa

My list wouldn’t be complete without my favorite heroine, Pippi Longstocking. I thrilled to her adventures and travel and independence. In a time when so many girls were portrayed as gentle and mild-mannered, Astrid Lindgren‘s Pippi jumped off the page, did what she pleased without adult supervision, and lived life on her own terms.Pippi She said what she thought without fear of consequences.

Pippi taught me to challenge authority and to never fear being myself, even if it meant standing out from the crowd. From her striped stockings to her wild red braids, Pippi demonstrated what it meant to be true to yourself.

In keeping with her tropical environment, I paired Pippi with my favorite coconut treat, an Almond Joy. And the fact that it contains nuts makes it a perfect match for Pippi’s zany nuttiness.

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So who do you have to thank for all this chocolaty goodness? Eileen Moynihan of Childhood Books asked me to participate in this Chocolate Book Blog started by Karen Hall. You can read Eileen‘s and Karen‘s Chocolate Book Blogs by clicking on their names. The next person who’s handed the baton has to write a blog post naming 6 of their favourite books and linking one kind of chocolate to each book. Luckily for me, I found a chocolate lover in Monette Pangan, who’ll be bringing you more mouthwatering books and chocolate next Saturday.





20 YA Novels for Thinking Adults: A Diverse List

14 06 2014

In my opinion, only the best (and most confident) adults read (and write) YA…

the open book

There has been a lot of controversy this week surrounding that now-infamous Slate article saying that adults should be embarrassed to read YA. Here at LEE & LOW, we couldn’t disagree more. We don’t think your enjoyment of a book should be limited by your age (or anything at all, really). YA novels are great. They can be entertaining, literary, thought-provoking, funny, sad, or all of the above at the same time.

There have been several excellent lists of YA recommendations floating around this week, so we thought we’d add our own. Here is a list (a diverse list, of course!) of YA novels that made us think, featuring some great books from LEE & LOW and some of our favorites from other publishers:

1. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)

When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on…

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