So, I'm writing a new YA novel. No! No. The other books I've written have not been published yet, but one day they might and in the meantime, a girl's gotta stay busy.
My new story takes place in Nashville, TN, because I love the South and want my books to take place there. At least my first few books. Things could change. I live in New York now and also love the North. But I'm from Mississippi and maybe it was the heat and humidity I endured throughout childhood. Maybe it was all those early day trips to New Orleans--the French Quarter leaves an impression, y'all! Maybe it was living in Memphis and visiting Graceland during college. Maybe it was frequent relationship-related trips to Nashville after moving to NYC and frequent Jewish weddings in West Palm Beach throughout my twenties. Maybe it was having my mom stuck in FEMA housing for a year after Katrina hit. Maybe it was watching the Mississippi Gulf Coast rebuild, post-Katrina, despite the looming threat of global warming and more frequent, bigger hurricanes. Whatever. Probably a combination of all those things. But the South is burned into my brain. Although the North is also cool.
I am a walking/talking peace treaty between the Union and the Confederacy.
Anyway, my next book is set in Nashville. I don't want to say too much other than that I'm currently learning a ton about Music City USA--including devouring every ounce of info on The Hermitage Website. The Hermitage (in Hermitage, TN) was Andrew Jackson's home from early adulthood, throughout his Presidency and up until his death in 1845. Fascinating stuff, especially given the current election year antics. Yeesh. Honestly? Politics looked to be just as vicious and oily nearly 200 years ago as they do today. Just no Fox News, MSNBC or Internet!
Most interesting new fact to me: Andrew Jackson was America's first Democrat!
Ahhhhhh…book research is awesome.
Next up on my Nashville-info-quest: research on The Grand Ol Opry, Brentwood and boots...Type your paragraph here.
SCBWI Conferences Rock!
Just registered for the NJ SCBWI conference being held this year in at the Hyatt Regency in New Bruswick. I'm so excited! Unless you collaborate regularly or have a gang of readers and critique partners (I LOVE my gang), writing can be a solitary profession. Solitary can be good, but too much time alone can lead to hallucinations and mutterings and tankards of Cabernet. Believe me--I know! The Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators is unceasingly awesome in the opportunities it allows us to gather, network with each other--as well as publishing professionals--and to share the pain of rejection and living inside one's mind much of the time with those who TOTALLY understand. The NJ conference (June 3rd & 4th this year) is one of my favorites because it allows for lots of volunteer opportunities, too! Interested? Check out their website by clicking here!!Type your paragraph here.
Let The Research Begin!!
Goodbye, Cursive & Keyboards:(
I'm a pretty laid back mom who typically lets my kids have free reign of the TV. I let them pick their own books, mags and comics. They can roam the hood within a few blocks, knocking on doors and asking for play dates. And, most importantly (I think), I depend on them to do their schoolwork on their own--everything from buying pencils with money earned from babysitting and cleaning the house, to approaching their teacher for help during designated office hours. Don't get me wrong! I love their teachers and know the material they're learning in class and am active in the PTA--BOY, do I help with a lot of fund raisers!
Last night, though, my daughter needed extra help on her 6th grade literary essay and something struck me.
Yes, my kids have great grades. And, yes, all the kids in their top-notch, Westchester elementary schools are dealing well with the common core. But not sure that any of that matters if none of them know how to...write?
Last night, I noticed that my daughter had painstakingly printed seven, enormous paragraphs in long-hand and was now trying to type and revise with the "hunt and peck" method. Not only did she admit to having forgotten what little cursive was taught and then dropped in 3rd & 4th grade, but she'd never learned proper keyboarding. Ever! And not only had she not learned to type, but there were no plans to teach typing at any point through out the remainder of her middle or high school years.
Coincidentally, I caught my 8th grader writing a report on his school issued iPad with his thumbs. His thumbs! We're not talking a 140 character blurb, here. Or a single emoji text. This was several paragraphs of material that he was having to compose with correct punctuation using only two of his ten digits.
His thumbs, you guys!
As a woman who has recently had enough literary success to officially declare herself a writer, I'm saddened by the fact that my kids simply can't. Write, that is. There is no greater high than to be able to skim across QWERTY and produce words at the speed of thought. I can't imagine future generations being robbed of this skill. And cursive! Ugh! In the absence of a good keyboard, cursive is the only other way to get thoughts down on paper quickly.
I found these two articles that mirror my angst somewhat: article one and article two.
And as much as I love my hand's-off approach to education in lieu of making cupcakes to raise money for new playgrounds, I guess I will tune in and inquire more actively about this generation's inability to get thought to paper with ease.