Friday, November 14, 2014
Look for me at NCTE on Friday, November 21, in Booth 312 (Boyds Mills Press) at 1:00 and in the Anderson's Booth at 3:00. Our panel is at 11:00 in Chesapeake 4, 5, & 6.
And if not in DC, I'll see you in print. Creativity is the art of being yourself, with a little flare.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I make mine in a pressure cooker, but you could bake them in an oven if you use pre-cooked rice. I haven't tried them in a slow-cooker, but I don't see why that couldn't be done as well. Again, I think I would use pre-cooked rice. So without further ado, the recipe:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef/sirloin
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tbs minced onion (or more, depending on your tastes)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (remove the sauce from the can)
1/2 cup water
Combine the first four ingredients. Go ahead; use your hands. Shape into small balls. (Using a pound of meat, I usually make 7 to 8 balls for dinner servings. If I'm serving them at a cocktail party, I make them smaller.) Coat the bottom of a pressure cooker with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Arrange the meatballs around the pan. Pour remaining tomato sauce over meatballs to coat. Close the cover securely. Place the regulator on the vent and cook ten minutes on medium or low-medium flame with the regulator rocking slowly. Let the pressure drop on its own. Uncover and serve. In my family, we don't eat a lot of meat, so one dinner-sized meatball will serve one. For hearty eaters, serve two meatballs. (These are good, cold, in a sandwich with mayo and mustard the next day. Just sayin'. Then again, I've been known to eat cold, left-over spaghetti in sandwiches.)
Traditionally, my mom would serve these with Black-eyed Peas (or as my partner calls them, "One-eyed Beans"). When I'm in need of deep comforting (You know, when the post carrier leaves several rejections all on the same day or when the royalty checks are far less than anticipated.), I'll make them as my mom did, simmered in bacon fat with a little water. Usually, though, health rules out and I'll make them with a pinch or two of cayenne pepper and a dash of salt. I use the frozen variety. (Left over Black-eyed Peas can be whirred in a food processor and used as a sandwich spread. Can you tell we try not to let things go to waste around here?)
Until next time, I'll see you in print. Remember, creativity is being yourself, with a little extra flare.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Ms. Gibbons has been kind enough to respond to a few questions. Read on to find out more about the genesis of HALLEY and this talented writer.
Can you tell us a little about the evolution of Halley? From whence did it spring (for those who haven't yet read the author's note)?
Can you describe your writing process?
My writing process is not, sad to say, organized and controlled. I began HALLEY with some of those bits of family history but wasn't sure where I would take them. I circled around and around, cutting and rewriting and adding new complications through several revisions. Then I began polishing--adding a few new parts, but mainly just revising. There were also several long rest periods when I didn't look at the story for a couple of months. Sometimes I thought I'd reached a dead end and put it aside to begin entirely new and different projects. Eventually, I let two writer friends read the manuscript and give me feedback. Their enthusiasm--along with their suggestions for improvement--drew me back to the project, and this time I finished. If I live long enough, maybe I'll learn to use the late Pam Conrad's method. She said she didn't have time to waste on waiting for the story to tell her how to write it (as suggested by Madeline L'Engle). Conrad made an outline and unless a flash of pure inspiration proposed a change, she stuck to it. I wish I could write like that, but I can't seem to master it.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Kelly Milner Halls and I have known each other via the conference circuit for years and years. It's always fun when she has a new book on the block because she picks subjects that makes kids Oooo and Ahhhh. Her newest, GHOSTLY EVIDENCE, is no exception. And if you look closely, you'll see a haunted something that is docked diagonally across from my condo. Kelly's website can be found at http://www.wondersofweird.com/
Kelly, tell us about GHOSTLY EVIDENCE and your research process for it..
For almost a decade, kids have been asking me to write a book about
ghosts. But the concept of life after death is so personal, so connected
to religious preferences and beliefs, I was resistant. Then I met a third
grader who asked me for help with a problem. A ghost was coming to his
room and it scared him, he said. What should he do to handle it?
I asked him if he was sure it wasn't a bad dream, and he said he was. So
we built a strategy. First he'd ask her not to scare him so often. Next
he'd ask if there was something he could do to help her. Last, he'd learn
how to ignore her. After all, I told him, as a kid I only scared my
sister in dark hallways as long as it made her scream. The minute she
stopped being afraid, I stopped doing it.
That boy seemed confident he had the tools he needed when our talk ended, but I
wondered about all the kids. And I decided to do the research myself and
share whatever evidence I found to help them cope. Kids will read it because
they love to get scared. But I hope it will also give them the tools they
need to feel a little safer in their beds after being scared stops being
How does this work differ from others in this genre?
I hope the fact that I visited haunted places for four years sets this book
apart. Not all of my investigations made it into the book. About
half the text was cut -- my fault. My editor asked for so many words, and
I almost doubled that. But there is no such thing as wasted
research. The time I invested informed my writing along with my belief
system. I hope both skepticism and possibility are both reflected n the
Why do you write what you write?
I was a reluctant reader as kid. I could read well, I just didn't like the topics presented to me. I loved Abraham Lincoln, and read everything I could find about him. But I also loved snakes and bats and dinosaurs and movie monsters and sea monsters and vampires. Books about THOSE topics didn't exist. So there was nothing FOR ME to read. I write the books I would have loved as a kid. And to my great delight, I'm not the only one looking for them.
What are you currently
I want to write a book on sea monsters, one on Easter Island, one on
ventriloquism and one on ghost fishing -- all nonfiction topics. But
Andrew Karre has hired me to write three novels -- FICTION -- about kids who
rescue animals for middle grade readers. The novels will be inspired by
three true stories, but will be strictly fictionalized. I'm almost done
with book one, about a girl who saves 25 horses from a burning barn. The
other two should be finished by the spring of 2015. I hope they'll be
worth reading, but the kids will let me know. Kids are good at telling
the truth. It's why I love them.
Kelly and I will next see each other at the conference of NCTE in Washington DC the week before Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to it and want to thank you, Kelly, to participating in my journal. We will be joined by the fabulous and innovative Roxie Monro, the dynamic Selene Joy Castrovilla, and the talented Cynthia Levinson.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Jumping back a bit to look at the blogs of other celebrity writers on the tour, we have Loretta Ellsworth, author of In Search of Mockingbird. This is one that might be paired nicely with To Kill a Mockingbird, as it’s about a young girl who goes in search of Harper Lee seeking answers to questions. You can follow her blog here.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
As if I don't already have enough to do, I just signed up another research-intense nonfiction project about an unknown civil rights icon (I'll tell you who another time), and it's due December 15. When will I learn? Let me see where I hid the midnight oil.
Project #1: due end of May
Project #2: due Dec 15
Project #3: due June 1
At least the picture book is finished and off to publisher #1.