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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetic Nod to Cleopatra's Moon

It’s a good week for historical fiction in the Atlanta area, specifically, in Decatur. – Lynn Cullen spoke about her hot-off-the-press Reign of Madness (Putnam) Wednesday evening at the Dekalb Library (shout-out post below), and tonight, Vicky Alvear Shecter is launching her YA Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic) at The Little Shop of Stories.

I’m lucky to be in a critique group with Vicky and happy to help celebrate. Hence my rather long-ish book spine poem in honor of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony. Caveat: I’m purchasing my book this evening and haven’t read it yet – so I hope my “poem,” scoured after bedtime from bookshelves upstairs and down, is somewhat on target! (Well, books and one DVD case.)

Congratulations to Vicky, whose novel is raking in rave reviews.

Here’s my poetic take on the story, if the titles aren’t clear in the picture:

Cleopatra Rules!
Golden Legacy
Between Parent and Child
Born Free
Girl in a Cage
Another Country
Night
Out of the Depths
New Moon –
Girl in the Mirror
Who Does She Think She Is?


For the Poetry Friday Roundup, start off the new school year with Libby at A Year of Literacy Coaching.
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Go, Lynn Cullen!

Lynn Cullen signing Reign of Madness
Go, Lynn Cullen!

Last night I met up with Kim Siegleson, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Vicky Alvear Shecter in Decatur (Ga.) to hear our friend and author extraordinaire Lynn Cullen
speak about her brand-new REIGN OF MADNESS (Putnam). The talk was sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book, and it was standing-room-only in the conference room at the Dekalb County Library.

I always enjoy hearing Lynn describe her European jaunts and treks down little by-ways, all for the sake of research, of course. She brought a fun slide show to share. I can't wait to dive into this story of Juana of Castile, daughter of Queen Isabella. Was she really mad, or was she the victim of rumors fueled by insatiable appetites for power?

From School Library Journal:

"While not as well known to American readers as her mother, Queen Isabella, or her son, Charles V, Juana is a sympathetic heroine, and lovers of historical fiction will enjoy her story."


I'm one of those, and I'm sure I will. Congratulations, Lynn! Read More 
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Exploring Big Cats and Little Kitties (and more) with Author Scotti Cohn

It's been a fun month of featuring nonfiction nature writers! For our last visit, I'm happy to host Scotti Cohn. I “met” Scotti online when her fellow Sylvan Dell author and my good friend Gail Karwoski told me about Scotti’s gorgeous rhyming picture book, ONE WOLF HOWLS (illustrated by Susan Detwiler). Needless to say, Scotti and I discovered we are pretty much from the same pack! The Illinois writer, who is planning to move to South Carolina in a few months, tackles a wide range of subjects for readers of all ages, and you should check out her great blogs. Today we welcome her for a sneak preview of her new book from Sylvan Dell, also illustrated by Susan Detwiler, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY.

Welcome, Scotti! We share a lot of passions, including members of the canine and feline families – wild or domestic. Tell us about your new book, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY. What does it have in store for young readers, and how did you come up with the idea for it? Read More 
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From the LeBrea Tar Pits to Outer Space - take a safari with Author Donna H. Bowman

On this Valentine's Day, I'm thrilled to welcome someone for whom I have a lot of love - Donna H. Bowman, children's author, long-time critique group buddy, and former Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Southern Breeze.

Her books include (two versions of) BIG CATS (Intervisual Books/Piggy Toes Press), and two nonfiction titles from Picture Window Books: DID DINOSAURS EAT PEOPLE? – And Other Questions Kids Have About Dinosaurs, and WHAT IS THE MOON MADE OF? - And Other Questions Kids Have About Space. Donna also has an entrepreneurial streak we'll hear more about in a moment.


Hi, Donna! Let’s start at the beginning. I know you grew up running wild – in a good way – in California. Tell us a little about your childhood adventures in the great outdoors. Read More 
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Nature Author Heather L. Montgomery on Snakes and More...

Author photo by Sonya Sones
I'm thrilled today that Alabama author and SCBWI Southern Breeze Assistant Regional Advisor Heather L. Montgomery has come out of the woods for a spell to spend time with us! What a great way to kick off a month of guest nature writers for children.

Heather's newest books are RATTLESNAKES and GARTER SNAKES in Capstone's
Wild About Snakes series. Her other books explore how to stay safe in an earthquake, what soil is made of, why teeth fall out, and mummy secrets! She's written many articles appearing in Highlights, Science World, Know Fun for Kidz, and Fandangle, and in professional publications as well.

But wait - there's more! Heather runs Dragonfly Environmental Education Programs, bringing folks of all ages and nature together. She helped develop McDowell Environmental Center in Alabama and currently serves as its Education Coordinator.

Heather, where do we start?  Read More 
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Nonfiction Nature Focus for February!

Okay, this is a commercial. But I want to give you a heads-up that February around here will celebrate some wonderful nature writers for children!

I had the blessed opportunity to grow up in a place and time that afforded hours of unsupervised time in the woods at the edge of my Florida neighborhood, and hours of solo bike rides to nearby lakes and parks. For many of today's children, the natural world is, well, unnatural to them.

Read Richard Louv's LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS - Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. It was originally published in 2005 and revised/expanded in 2008.

Another book I'm crazy about is A PLACE FOR WONDER - Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. The authors present creative ways teachers (and other adults) can open the doors of exploration for young students and help them to express these connections to the natural world. Read More 
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Explore 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA with Susan Rosson Spain and Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Elizabeth Dulemba and Susan Rosson Spain
Let’s ring in the Christmas season with another great book in Sterling’s “The Twelve Days of Christmas. . .” series, namely, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia, written by Susan Rosson Spain and illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba, friends I’m proud to have in my neck of the woods in the northern part of the Peach State.

If you are in this neck of the woods, be sure to stop by their next signings: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 4 – 5 p.m. at the HALL BOOK EXCHANGE in Gainesville, and Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at LITTLE SHOP OF STORIES in Decatur. Elizabeth and Susan agreed to drop by here, too, and tell us about their book.

Welcome, Susan and Elizabeth! The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia takes readers on a colorful journey led by cousins Ava and Jacob, from the mountains in the north to the Okefenokee Swamp in the south to the Atlantic coastline. Jacob describes their adventures in letters home, tucking in lots of history and fun facts.

How in the world did you decide which points of interest to feature?
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On board ROSA'S BUS with Jo S. Kittinger

This week of Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful for our guest. Jo S. Kittinger is a prolific author, co-Regional Advisor for our SCBWI Southern Breeze region, and all-around wonderful person. Jo’s insightful comments during a critique six years ago resulted in a submission that led to my first sale – Sir Mike to Eileen Robinson, formerly of Scholastic Library. So I love Jo for all kinds of reasons – including that she was willing to drop by and tell us about her new book, Rosa’s Bus (Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press), and a little more about herself.

Welcome, Jo!

How did you become a writer?


Some people know they are writers from a young age. Not me. Read More 
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VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER GIVES CLEOPATRA ROYAL TREATMENT

If you think ancient history is as stuffy as the inside of a tomb, think again. SCBWI Southern Breezer and talented author Vicky Alvear Shecter (ALEXANDER THE GREAT ROCKS THE WORLD) brings her “history with a twist” approach to one of the most fascinating characters the world has ever known, Cleopatra VII. In CLEOPATRA RULES! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen (Boyds Mills, 2010), Vicky shows readers young and old why you shouldn’t believe everything you’ve seen or heard about Egypt’s last pharaoh.

Welcome, Vicky! In this beautifully designed and kid-friendly book, you dig way past the stereotype of Cleopatra as a femme fatale and reveal her fiercely loyal, politically-savvy side. When did you first become Cleopatra-crazy, and how long have you wanted to write a book about her? Read More 
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Janice Hardy conjures up BLUE FIRE

What if pain were a commodity - a weapon? What if you were 15 and possessed the rare ability to draw pain out of someone, but you could release it only into another person? What if your daily choices literally meant life or death for others? Welcome to the world of Nya, the bold and struggling protagonist in Janice Hardy's THE HEALING WARS series for ages 10 and up (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins).
Book One, THE SHIFTER, came out last year and (drumroll...) Book Two, BLUE FIRE, has just been released.

Welcome, Janice! First, the question I'm sure you always get from young readers: How did you come up with the idea for this series? Read More 
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