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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in cynthialord's LiveJournal:

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    Sunday, July 20th, 2014
    6:52 am
    Six Things on a Sunday
    Photo: My assistant is ready to go to work.

    1. I've been working on my 2015 novel, A Handful of Stars. My editor and I are doing a fast pass through to get it ready for copyediting. Milo, my little assistant, is always ready to work!

    2. Yesterday I went up to Camden, Maine to meet with Nancy Johnson and Scott Riley, with whom I'm presenting at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in November. Our program is about my books and keeping the ARTS in Language Arts. They are such amazing and inspiring teachers. It was great to meet them in person and spend the day with them.

    3. I had another special treat yesterday, too. Author/illustrator Chris Van Dusen is Scott's neighbor. Chris and I have done lots of events together, but I'd never seen his studio! He gave us a tour and showed us what he's working on right now.

    I got to see the sketches for the second "Tales from Deckawoo Drive" book by Kate DiCamillo (Wow!) and a book called Hattie and Hudson that Chris both wrote and is illustrating about a girl and a sea monster (publishing date 2016), which I think is already my favorite book of his! I absolutely loved it! Here's Chris with the original art for President Taft is Stuck in the Bath.


    Photo: Today was so fun! I had a fabulous and inspiring time with Nancy Johnson and Scott Riley planning our program for NCTE. It's about keeping the ARTS in Language Arts. Then I had a surprise! Author/illustrator Chris Van Dusen is Scott's neighbor.Chris and I have done lots of events together, but I'd never seen his studio! He gave us a tour and showed us what he's working on right now. At the risk of making you all jealous. . . I got to see the sketches for the second Tales from Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo (Wow!) and a book called Hattie and Hudson that Chris both wrote and is illustrating about a girl and a sea monster, which I think is already my favorite book of his!  Here's Chris with the original art for President Taft is Stuck in the Bath.

    4.  For the 10th Anniversary of the Schneider Family Book Award, I was interviewed on The Late Bloomer's Book Blog. Rules won the Schneider back in 2007. I talk about the award, my purple dress from Goodwill, and a surprising and lovely moment at the Schneider luncheon with Katherine Schneider and her seeing-eye dog.

    5.  This week, I am visiting a girls' day camp in Wilton, Maine that has read Half A Chance. The program meets at a local park on a lake with loons. How perfect!

    6. Yesterday was also the official loon count day in Maine. It makes me smile to think of all those people out doing Loon Patrol!

    "Since 1983, citizen scientists have gone out to their favorite lakes and ponds on the morning of the third Saturday in July to count loons. . . .With more than 900 volunteers statewide, their observations help us promote policies that protect loons and their lake habitat in Maine. Volunteers make their observations between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. – this early morning time provides an excellent snapshot of Maine’s loon population."


    Photo: Today is the official loon count day in Maine. It makes me smile to think of all those people out doing Loon Patrol! "Since 1983, citizen scientists have gone out to their favorite lakes and ponds on the morning of the third Saturday in July to count loons. . . .With more than 900 volunteers statewide, their observations help us promote policies that protect loons and their lake habitat in Maine. Volunteers make their observations between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. – this early morning time provides an excellent snapshot of Maine’s loon population."

    Current Mood: busy
    Monday, July 14th, 2014
    11:11 am
    Books in Boothbay
    I had a lovely day on Saturday in Boothbay Harbor. First I signed books at Books in Boothday, a summer book festival, and I saw lots of friends, which was so nice!



    The book festival was held at a railway museum, and in our envelopes was a ticket to ride the train if we wanted to. So, hey! You don't have to ask me twice. So children's author/illustrator Gary Urey and Betsy Sholl (Maine's former poet laureate) and I rode the train together.





    In honor of Half a Chance, I bought some rock candy in the gift shop.They had great flavors: blueberry, root beer, watermelon, etc. I bought blueberry.



    But I think my favorite photo was this family who was so excited to see a new Hot Rod Hamster book that they read it right there in front of me!




    Current Mood: pleased
    Saturday, July 12th, 2014
    6:20 am
    Books in Boothbay
    Today I'll be at Books in Boothbay: Maine's Summer Book Fair from 9 am to 12 pm. It's a gorgeous day and Boothbay Harbor is a beautiful place. Win-win!



    Current Mood: happy
    Thursday, July 10th, 2014
    7:23 am
    Painting and Writing


    We are painting a room in our house this week, which is always a bit stressful because nothing is where it should be. So I'm going to stare at this photo my husband shot in Rangeley, Maine last week and say ahhhh.

    And yesterday I was one of the guest authors at Teachers Write for the Question and Answer Wednesday, along with Donna Gephart and Lynda Mullaly Hunt. If you'd like to see our conversations and ideas, they are here. I wondered if we'd have many questions, so I was glad we had so many!

    Current Mood: busy
    Monday, July 7th, 2014
    7:02 am
    Teachers Write

    Note taking for Half A Chance

    Today is the first day of Teachers Write, a free online summer writing camp for teachers (or anyone!) who wants to work on their own writing this summer with some fun prompts and activities.

    I wrote a post last week on Facebook, talking about what it takes to add writing into your life. Kate Messner who is one of the organizers of Teachers Write asked to copy it to their blog. You can read it here if you'd like. Life Doesn't Permit.

    And each day, you can check the blog for the lesson or Q&A or whatever the day's activity is. Today's is about setting and the activity is to go outside and isolate one sense at a time.  You come, too.

    I always set my books in real places for just this reason. You will go past the common details that everyone would think of. Real places have contradictions and history and surprises. In my school visit presentation, I tell kids that when I am writing details, this is my rule for description:

    The surprises that you couldn't have imagined often become the gold in the description.


    Here's a photo of a setting from Rules. If I had simply imagined a parking lot for that scene where Catherine and Jason go running, I never would've imagined the hard things that Catherine would've had to deal with in relation to the wheels of Jason's wheelchair. Rocks, sticks, pinecones, the sewer grate--and because I live in the north, SAND. I would've imagined a flat parking lot, but the real parking lot was much more complicated. She would've had to look out for all those things and they would've shaped her decisions.



    "Jason’s head and shoulders shake as I bump him over cracks in the tar. There’s so much to look out for: holes and rocks and sand near the side of the building. "

    It's a simple mention, but it carries an unmistakable truth.


    Current Mood: working
    Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
    12:54 pm
    The view from here.
    counter create hit


     I finished my novel revision pass yesterday so I have a few days to read it beginning to end, front to back, catching any last little changes before it's off to my editor. This is always the time where I'm suddenly startled into realizing this is for *real.*

    It's both a humble and exciting startle:

    Wow. I really get to do this? These characters will reach out and maybe find a home in a child's heart? How amazing is that?

    And a horrified startle:

    What? Wait. We're going to send this into the world? Whose idea was that?!

    It's like being at the top of the rollercoaster, realizing there's only one way to go and that's ahead.

    So Page One, here we go.


    Current Mood: determined
    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
    8:32 am
    Cookie in the Clover
    While I changed Cookie's cage yesterday, he enjoyed the "all you can eat" outdoor buffet.



    Nom nom nom nom nom.

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
    12:12 pm
    Hot Rod Hamster Early Readers
    Our first Hot Rod Hamster early reader (HRH and the Wacky Whatever Race) comes out at the end of August.



    And the second one (HRH and the Awesome ATV Adventure) comes next January! The cover for the second one just went up online, so I can share it with you now.



    Hamster is ready for some down and dirty fun!


    Current Mood: dirty
    Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
    8:21 pm
    Upta Camp
    My friend, author Tamra Wight, owns the Poland Spring Campground with her family. A few times a year she invites some writer friends to come to camp for the weekend and write. I had such a nice time last weekend.

    Not only did I get some good writing done, I had the chance to see some beautiful birds. There's an eagle nest with two eaglets. The adults came to feed the eaglets, but then these two little kingbirds kept dive-bombing her (no doubt to protect their own babies).



    And here are the babies waiting for more breakfast.



    I took a sunrise kayak ride.



    And I had a "Lucy in Half a Chance" moment when a loon suddenly appeared right beside me.




    It was startling and beautiful.



    A lovely weekend with good friends.





    Current Mood: rejuvenated
    Thursday, June 19th, 2014
    6:28 am
    Summer Events
    I have three author events this summer, all in July. I have two signings that are open to the public:

    Saturday, July 12, 9 am-12 noon, Books in Boothbay, Boothbay Railway Museum, Boothbay Harbor, Maine. This is a big group signing of Maine authors. Children's authors are in the morning and authors who write for adults are in the afternoon.

    Thursday, July 17, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, Massachusetts. This is a joint signing with me and Kate Egan. Kate will be signing her "The Magic Shop" series, and I'll be signing Half A Chance and Hot Rod Hamster Monster Truck Mania.



    Fit Girls of Wilton Maine
    , a running and reading program for girls, is hosting a week-long summer camp centered on "Half A Chance."

    "During the summer camp the girls will: read a great book titled, Half a Chance by Maine author Cynthia Lord; participate in a photography scavenger hunt; and share in healthy games and running activities."

    They meet at a beautiful park on a lake in Wilton (that has loons!). And I'm going to visit one morning and talk about the book and answer questions and listen as the girls tell me about taking their own photographs for the scavenger hunt in the book.

    Those of you who live in that area, if you know a girl who might like to participate, please let her know about it.


    Current Mood: excited
    Monday, June 16th, 2014
    8:43 am
    Surprise Irises
    Every year, I buy some plants at my local animal shelter's plant sale at the end of May. The plants are donated, so they aren't usually marked with color or variety.

    I always buy a pot of unknown irises and call them my "Surprise Irises." I plant them with the other years' surprises around the bird bath and wait to see what color they bloom. I have a whole collection of them: white, yellow, and purples.

    This year's surprise.



    Current Mood: pleased
    Thursday, June 12th, 2014
    4:32 pm
    Away
    Northfield, Maine. Population 131. I've had a great week here.



    Blueberry Barrens



    The dock at our cabin



    A Common Merganser and her chicks



    The view from the dock. And no matter how many times I see them.



    Some things are always special.

    It's been a great and productive week. I've worked hard on my revisions, but also had time for this:



    Current Mood: peaceful
    Friday, June 6th, 2014
    8:31 am
    A week of stars and loons
    counter create hit


    Every year I rent a camp/house for a week in June as a reward for a full year of events. It's a week of writing, hiking, kayaking, and it's usually in the location (or one similar) to the novel I'm working on. This year's house is on a lake way Downeast Maine, almost as far as I can go without needing my passport. And my week starts tomorrow.

    I asked Mona, my very first writing friend, to join me, and the two of us will explore in the evenings and write during the day.

    I took this photo last year during my writing week. Different Maine lake this year, but same peaceful, quiet. Before I signed the lease, I looked up on the Maine Audubon website to see if loons nest on this year's lake and they do. So it felt like a nice place to be immersed in the setting of A Handful of Stars, my 2015 novel, but with a heart-full glance backward to Half A Chance.


    The "stars" in the new book's title have two meanings. Stars in the sky, and a blueberry has a star on top. The Native Americans in Maine called them "starberries."



    Current Mood: excited
    Thursday, June 5th, 2014
    12:54 pm
    Shelter Pet Squad
    A couple days ago, UPS brought me a package from my publisher. Inside were galleys of my new series (illustrated by Erin McGuire) called "Shelter Pet Squad."



    Cookie, our rescue guinea pig gives it a big PAWS UP!



    It comes out in hardcover and paperback on August 26th!

    Current Mood: jubilant
    Sunday, June 1st, 2014
    8:53 am
    Salem, Massachusetts
    I did my last school visits for 2013-14 at the Salem Public Library in Salem, MA. Fourth graders (and a few third and fifth) were bussed from all over the city to the library to hear me speak on Rules, Touch Blue, and Half A Chance.



    It was a wonderful visit in a beautiful and historic place.



    My daughter came up to join me for the first night. We went out to supper and then on an evening tour of the city.



    While there, I visited the Witch Trials Memorial and paid tribute to my ancestor, George Jacobs, who killed there at that time. There is a bench for each victim.



    I brought some forget-me-nots from my yard at home to leave on his name.



    I also visited the House of Seven Gables.



    Salem is an interesting place! Here's a Harry Potter store.



    It was a great last visit for this year!



    Current Mood: grateful
    Monday, May 26th, 2014
    6:38 am
    NPR
    Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
    Today on NPR:

    Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, and that means the tantalizing prospect of having more time for reading stretches ahead of us — long, lazy summer days curled up with a book.

    With that in mind, Newbery Award-winning author and National Ambassador for Children's Literature Kate DiCamillo shared some summer book recommendations for readers ages 8-13 with NPR's Melissa Block.

    Kate DiCamillo's Picks For Summer Treehouse Reading

    She included Half A Chance! If you miss the broadcast and want to hear her, the audio will be available tonight on the website.

    Very exciting!!!

    Current Mood: excited
    Sunday, May 25th, 2014
    7:31 am
    Camden, Maine
    I had a fun time in Camden yesterday, signing at the Owl and Turtle Bookshop.



    Camden is a lovely place right on the ocean in Maine.



    Author Kate Egan and I had a such a nice group of people, including some wonderful friends who came!



    Now, I'm down to two events before summer starts for me. I have a signing at Falmouth Elementary School in Maine from 6-7 pm at their Scholastic Book Fair, and then I have two days of school visits in Salem, Massachusetts!

    After Salem, I have an editorial letter and revision waiting for me on my Summer 2015 novel, A Handful of Stars. Excited for all of it!

    Current Mood: grateful
    Saturday, May 24th, 2014
    8:35 am
    Signing Today


    I'll be signing books today at Owl and Turtle Bookshop in Camden Maine at 3:30 pm.  Here's the line up for the day!

    10:00 Chris Van Dusen (If I Built a Car, Circus Ship)
    11:00 Sharon Creech (Walk Two Moons, The Great Unexpected)
    12:00 Melissa Sweet (Firefly July, Balloons Over Broadway)
    1:00 Vicki Doudera (Deal Killer, Final Settlement)
    2:00 Liza Gardner Walsh (Fairy House & Fairy Garden Handbooks)
    3:30 Cynthia Lord (Rules, Hot Rod Hamster)
    4:00 Kate Egan (Vanishing Coin, The Incredible Twisting Arm)
    4:30 Dave Morrison (Hot Tears of Shame, Stethoscope)


    Current Mood: excited
    Friday, May 23rd, 2014
    6:38 am
    The Sakura Medal


    I received a message on Twitter saying Half A Chance has been nominated for its first kids' choice award--and it's the Sakura Medal for schools in Japan. So I went looking to see if loons are important in Japan and found this:

    "Arctic and Red-throated loons were made national monuments in Japan because of their importance to Japanese fishermen of the Inland Sea. Fishermen use loons to guide them to lance, a small bait fish, which they net in great numbers (Austin and Kuroda 1953). If a loon is killed by being entangled in fishing nets, it is put in the bottom of the boat so as not to disturb other loons, and later is taken to shore where it is gently placed at a shrine."

    Wow. As an author I do a lot of research into my book's own small world, but then when it's published, so many new things come back to me that open up *my* world.


    Current Mood: touched
    Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
    7:14 am
    Half A Chance


    HOW FUN! The Washington Missourian newspaper is doing a kids' photo scavenger hunt contest to go with their recent review of Half a Chance. The winner gets a new camera and runners up get autographed copies of the book. How absolutely, utterly awesome!


    Current Mood: impressed
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