When I run out of time, as I often do nowadays, but know I’m long overdue for a post, I think fondly of the books that got my mind and heart into this writing business in the first place. Anybody else remember The Five Little Peppers? Other favorite series from childhood were Donna Parker and The Tuckers. Some of the below books may be repeats from long ago posts, in fact I know they are, but it’s okay with me if it’s okay with you. 🙂
Although the 7-volume Donna Parker series was discontinued in the mid-1970s, it had its share of popularity during the two decades beforehand. Annette, (Funicello), a 5-volume series, was also popular during that time. Both classic mystery series were published by Whitman.
The Tuckers was another favorite series, written by Jo Mendel, and once again, published by Whitman. There must have been a dozen books in this series. For today’s readers, it could possibly be compared to The Penderwicks.
One of my favorite series when I was a young tween was Trixie Belden.
Trixie is the main character in a series of mystery books written between 1948 and 1986. There were 39 volumes and about 16 of them were already available in 1973 (which is when my character, Amy, was reading them). The first six were written by Julie Campbell. After she moved on to other projects, a variety of writers took over the Trixie Belden books under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Over the past ten years, or so, Random House has reissued most of the series. The books star a girl detective and her best friend Honey. Trixie lives on Crabapple Farm and Honey lives next door in the Manor House estate. The girls form a club called the Bob-Whites with other friends and have many exciting adventures.
The Mary Jane series was written by Clara Ingram Judson (1879-1960). My copy was published in 1921 by Grosset & Dunlap in NY. There’s an inscription inside the book which reads: Betty Lou from Ginnie, Eddie, and David—Christmas 1937. Anybody know Betty Lou?
Jack & Jill by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)—no copyright (perhaps it’s on the missing dust jacket?)—was published by the now defunct Goldsmith Publishing Company in Chicago.
The Secret Stair by Pemberton Ginther, was published in 1932 by Cupples & Leon Company in NY which was founded in 1902 and then acquired by Platt & Munk in 1956. The author Mary Pemberton Ginther (1869-1959) was also a successful artist. My copy was once owned by someone named Rudie Lindgren. I wonder what became of Rudie…
The three green books were published by The Mershon Company, an active publishing house between 1897 and 1906. These books were all written by Laura Lee Hope, a pseudonym used by at least ten authors who wrote many series for children under the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
The Bobbsey Twins has a 1904 copyright and the following inscription: Miss Beth Austin, Elm Street, Salisbury.
One of my Bunny Brown books was owned by a Dorothy Walmsley, who lived on Fairmont Street in Malden, MA in 1935. Many years later I bought her book for fifty cents.
Below are two inside views of Trending Into Maine by Kenneth Roberts. This book was beautifully illustrated by N. C. Wyeth.
The Story of Snips by Angusine Macgregor is my oldest ‘picture book’, copyright circa 1909. I always felt it had a rather homemade look and was therefore very surprised to discover a different version, once owned by Barbara of March House Books. (Barbara’s on a blogging break, but has a boatload of fascinating posts in her archives.) The below 48 page book is 9 1/2″ wide by 7″ high with 23 full page illustrations. Hard back binding is the publisher’s original illustrated grey paper covered boards with a red cloth spine.
Snips was a very naughty mouse, so his parents packed him off to boarding school. When he did not know his lessons, he was made dunce by the strict schoolmasters. 😦 BUT, to give away the happy ending, he escapes and eventually becomes a model mouse!
And there you have some of my favorite old books, still keeping their place on my shelves after all these years.
Writers are often told to write what we know rather than pretending to be in someone else’s shoes. I’m not sure how I feel about this. For the most part I get what it means, but I also think one can completely immerse themselves into a different lifestyle, time, place, or even person, especially if a lot of research is involved. As for myself, my characters and their situations are completely made-up, but I do tend to add in things that connect to my real life. For example, take my upcoming book, Roller Boy. I was trying to figure out where the whole idea came from, since I don’t have very much in common with Mateo. One small aspect, I realized, was we both enjoy eating Mexican food, and like Mateo, I take it gluten-free. Sorry if you’re reading this before lunch.As for roller-skating, I’m not good at all and I can’t remember the last time I skated, but I did enjoy whirling to the music as a teen and even attempted it again briefly as an adult when my children were involved. Watching them learn to skate well and do tricks was way better than risking my own life. At left, a picture of me, ha in my dreams! And here’s the necklace I’ll be wearing for my book release.As for Call Me Amy, there are several connections, the biggest being location. My grandparents lived on the Maine coast in a fishing village very similar to where Amy lives.Miss Cogshell, a character in Call Me Amy has a big ol’ lilac bush next to her back door and so do I.
Also, in Call Me Amy, Amy watches a seal take off for the ocean. After the book came out, I made sure I witnessed a seal release, too.Miss Cogshell collects miniature animals, which brought back memories of my mother’s own long-ago collection of them (and I think she still has them!).Amy’s Choice, a sequel to Call Me Amy, features a landscape painter and not only have I done some painting, but my great grandmother was a painter, too. Here’s one of her works:There is much talk about a lighthouse in Amy’s Choice, along with a tour to the top. Like Amy, I love lighthouses, too.In Amy’s Choice, Amy helps out in the town library, kind of like me! OK, maybe not this particular library, but isn’t it adorable?I’m sure if I thought about it long enough I could come up with more connections between my life and my characters’ lives, as I’m sure any author could. But, I think, what it comes down to is ‘writing what you know’ means more about the truths and emotions of life. We’ve all experienced loss, love, excitement, disappointment and a host of other emotions. To write about these feelings truthfully, whether your story is about a frog or about a leader of a foreign country is the heart of writing what you know. You don’t have to be a knight to know what it might feel like to wear that suit of armor and face a fire-breathing dragon, even if your only experience is with a scratchy sweater and a campfire.So, if you like animal stories with a coming-of-age character, set in a scenic coastal village, try Call Me Amy. To see that same character go through more adventures, such as climbing to the top of a lighthouse and setting up an exhibit of paintings, while making new friends, follow up with Amy’s Choice. And if you’re ready for a city boy who’s out to make the most of himself while practicing the fun sport of roller-skating, try Roller Boy, too! All are appropriate for ages 9 and up!
I am so excited to share the cover illustration for my upcoming novel geared toward readers aged 9 to 14. Roller Boy will be released by Fitzroy Books in late September. After working on the inside text for so many months (years!) I have to admit I was nervous about how the cover would turn out. Months ago I’d discussed possible ideas with my publisher—things I liked and things I didn’t like about covers. One idea in particular had caught my fancy, a wraparound city scene. But then I didn’t hear anything more, and didn’t see sketches. What would they come up with for Roller Boy? I wondered.
Covers are so important and there are some that just don’t work, either because they are poorly executed and designed, goofy cartoons aimed at the wrong age group, or the main character looks totally unlike how he is described in the book, or…, well, you get my point, the possible problems are endless. Would this be my new cover?Or how about this one? At least it shows a roller skate…As you can see, there are all sorts of ghastly possibilities when it comes to covers. BUT, I’m happy to say…I LOVE the completed Roller Boy cover!
First, here’s the back cover blurb:
Mateo always assumed he’d make the baseball team with his buddy Jason, but when only Jason makes the team, his mood sinks low. So low, he knows he has to do something about it. But what? What can he be good at?
When Mateo wins free lessons, he discovers he’s pretty good at roller-skating. And it doesn’t hurt that the most beautiful girl he’s ever laid eyes on happens to be Roller City’s star skater. But still, roller-skating? No way can Jason find out Mateo is whirling around in girly skates–anybody halfway to cool would be hanging at a skate park, on boards or blades.
Other issues stacked against him are the strong reservations of his mother, who feels Mateo should be spending his time studying, not skating, and his inability to eat gluten—no more grabbing a pizza with the guys.
Despite these conflicts, Mateo keeps his sense of humor and channels his innermost strength into an incredible ride on roller skates that just might take him all the way to regionals.
Here it is!
And the beautiful full cover spread:
What do you think? I can’t stop looking at it and all I can say is thanks to Fitzroy Books for producing such a gorgeous cover!
The next step in this exciting process will be my publisher sending out Advance Reader’s Copies to various major review sites. Please cross your fingers that they’ll enjoy reading about Mateo and his wild ride on roller skates, and as always, thanks for your interest and support!
We’ve all heard we have to “get into the chair” to accomplish our work. We’ve also all heard we have to “walk 10,000 steps” to stay healthy. ‘They’ say that sitting is the new smoking—yikes. Since there are only so many hours in a day, how can we possibly achieve this on a daily basis?
I’ll be the first to admit there’s no way I can squeeze in 10,000 steps, on vacation, easy, but every day, no way. BUT, I can do less, 7,000 if I push it. And I think getting up out of the chair frequently is just as important. This is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if there’s a deadline looming, whether real or self-imposed.
I’m finding if I plan on taking a long walk, it looms over me. I’ll tell myself just one more paragraph, just one social media comment. But, if I break it up into several short walks (which in the long run is healthier than all at once anyway), it seems much easier to accomplish. And I often come back with new insight on whatever writing problem I may have been trying to tackle.
Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much. Ralph Waldo Emerson
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. Hippocrates
It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. Socrates
We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising. Kenneth Cooper
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. John F. Kennedy