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Archive for October, 2011

I really enjoyed this book. It is about a twelve year girl who runs away to walk the Appalachian trail. Her brother died not long ago and her parents are recently divorced. She feels neglected from all the years her brother was ill. Not a day into the hike, her mother finds her and the two walk together.

I picked this up because the Appalachian trail is something I’m beginning to want to hike and for the story itself, a hurt girl who needs to heal. Adults may wonder how a girl so young and alone manages to get to the trail and start the hike without any adults asking some serious questions, but other then that, it’s quite believable.  The reasons why her brother died isn’t made clear at the beginning of the story, a hook to pull me in. His story is told in bits here and there and makes the story interesting. This is a book I’ll want to read again.

The book doesn’t say if Ms. Baker actually walked the trail, but if she hadn’t, she certainly did her homework.  I would have liked to have known if she had or not.

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Writer’s at Conferences

Being a librarian I am fortunate to attend conferences and meet authors. Being a school librarian, I get to meet the YA and children’s authors of books the children read. I always make it my mission to visit my favorite authors. I try to get early to the room so I can have a front row seat. This way I get to talk to the author before hand if they too are early. I had a nice discussion with Will Hobbs about nature and hiking.

Before my library conferences, my acquaintance with ‘real live’ authors had been from going to book signings, visiting authors at the university, and a book conference open to the public. I found the latter two to be rather disappointing. Unfortunately all were science fiction writers, which was really disappointing because I thought they’d be really neat human beings. All were condescending and, like, we’re paid authors and you are the lowly readers. Be glad we grace your presence.

The book signers I appreciated better. I couldn’t say much to Dick Francis there being a long line, but I did get to speak a bit to Stuart Woods and found him a very nice person.

Authors at library conferences are gems. I wanted to pack Walter Dean Myers in my conference bag and take him to my school

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Angus woke me up from a nap by sticking a piece of hay in my nose. He’s very fond of hay. He loves hay. He talks about hay even more then he talks about football. More than anything he would like me to sample some.
“I’m a carnivore.”
“You eat rice.”
“One grain of rice on occasion.”
“You eat whip cream.”
“Which is a milk product and it comes from cows. It’s acceptable.”
“You eat bread.”
“When?”
“It’s mountain hay.” He pronounces it mounnn-tin hey.
According to Angus, the best hay is mountain hay and the best mountain hay comes from Scotland, with Swiss mountain hay coming in second. German mountain hay is not even considered due to past conflicts. Scottish Miniature Sheep have long memories. One thing I have to say positive about hay is that it does promote good breath.
“Try it.”
“No.”
“Try it.” He pokes me some more with the piece. I get up and hop higher onto the bookshelf. He can’t follow me here and he knows it so he waves the piece around like a sword.
“More for you, if I don’t eat it.”
“But I want to share,” he hollers.
“You can bake me a cake. Lots of whip cream. Only whip cream.”
“That’s no proper cake. You should have an oat cake!” I guess the thought of oak cake gets his taste bud’s attention because he goes away and I hear him plugging in his Easy Bake oven and whipping up a batch of something. Proper rams don’t bake stuff, but with no mommy or grandmommies around, he’s reduced to doing his own baking and he’ll bake scones, veggie pizzas, oat cakes and what not in there. It’s really amazing what he can bake in it.
“I made meself a hay pizza.” He holds up a light brown oval topped with hay. I can’t even respond to that. “And I didn’t make you anything.”
“I didn’t want anything.”
“You should. You should want hay.” He waves a topping around. I close my eyes. I can hear him take a bite and hear his jaw move back and forth over and over again. Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew. It doesn’t make me hungry.

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Letting Go

Last week I was reading some of my stories. Some were still in their second draft stage (typed into the computer from their original) and one was in it’s first stage. That one needs a lot of work. As I read it I thought how, some years back, I was of the mindset that I would never, underline never, change my stories, i.e. cut back and pare pieces of it. Now even I could see this needs some major pruning.
I see this as a major milestone and I can say it comes from having good critiguers. Even if no one, but me has ever seen this piece, they’ve helped me see that there are times when you have to let go. That page and a half of story that reads well, but has no impact on the story? Chop. Those sentences that I think is important, but have a back story only I know about. Chop. That funny section that’s just filler. Chop.

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