Badass dames

Helllllllooooooo Women’s History Month!

The fantabulous dames over at readergirlz have designated March as Risk-Taking Month. On the last day of February (Loyalty Month) they featured Independent Dames; What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution. But given the subject matter, I think we can celebrate it in both February and March!

You can read the short essay that I wrote about the book. Then hop into the conversation; do you think women’s contributions are still being marginalized today the way they were during the American Revolution?

Friday Five Linkety Love for You

1. Thank you everyone for the kind words about my vloging* attempt. Based on the feedback, I’ll be doing  lot more of this. In fact, I’ll be taking questions on my Twitter feed this afternoon, so if you have something you want me to answer on camera, let me know. I will try to post the next vlog tonight or tomorrow. You should subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a scintillating moment.

*blog + video = vlogging  I am still looking for a better word.

2. Many teachers and librarians wrote to say that Youtube is blocked at their schools. So I set up an account at TeacherTube. (If you are a member there, you’ll find me listed as lauriehalseanderson. I’m not terribly impressed with the site, I must say.)  I am in the process of setting up acounts at SchoolTube and, too. (I hope they are more functional than TeacherTube.)

3. I finished recording all the PSAs for next month’s 25th anniversary of School Library Month, thank goodness.

4. Have you read my guest blog on Why not? It explains why I call myself the Mad Woman in the Forest. While you are at, listen to the very short audio clip of me explaining the correct pronunciation of my name.

5. Just in time for Women’s History Month, check out this wonderful librarian’s review of INDEPENDENT DAMES. Although the publisher put "grades 2-6" on the jacket, I have long argued that it is perfect for middle school classrooms that are studying the American Revolution. This teacher agrees with me. What do you think?

Friday Five – Book News Edition & Twitterpation

Thank you everyone for the very sweet comments and emails about the O’Dell Award! I am still tingling with excitement and hyperventilating.

Christmas is finally over up here on the Tundra. We’ve had Daughter #1 (aka Bookavore) and her boyfriend up here for the final celebration. Author Alert – Bookavore is moving to the Big Apple and will be managing WORD, a super-cool bookstore in Brooklyn, starting next month.

I have finally signed up for Twitter. I think it will be most fun while I’m on tour. My Twitter name is halseanderson. Feel free to follow!

My Friday Five is an assortment of book news I’ve been accumulating for a while.

1. Along with all the other amazing news this week, Isabel in CHAINS garnered a Cuffie Award. Be sure to read through the whole list!

2. The Israeli rights to TWISTED have been sold. Check out this student project about the book.

3. Penguin has posted my poem “Listen” on their website. The poem shares reader reactions to SPEAK. I wrote it for this year’s 10th anniversary of the book. (Follow the link, scroll down, and open the pdf.)

4. Illustrator Matt Faulkner has posted a DAMES video on YouTube.

5. We have a WINTERGIRLS Facebook page now. Another nice review has come in for WINTERGIRLS, but I can’t post it for a few weeks. Stay tuned!

I’m headed into the Writing Cave this weekend, hoping to blast through a plot knot and weave in a subplot. What are you doing?

down to the wire pesto recipe & WFMAD 30

The Goddess of YA Literature ventured into picture book territory yesterday and reviewed a number of recent picture books, including INDEPENDENT DAMES. It is an honor and a hoot to have the book compared to the MAGIC SCHOOL BUS books, which I love.

A couple of you have asked for my pesto recipe. I mostly wing it, but here is how I made yesterday’s batch:

6 cups basil leaves (I stuff the cups, cram the basil in, so it’s a lot) washed and destemmed.
1 generous cup chopped pine nuts
1 and one-fourth cup grated Romano cheese (you can use Parmesan – it’s worth buying the good stuff)
10 cloves of garlic. Maybe 12.
Somewhere between three-quarters of a cup and one cup of good olive oil

I don’t have a food processor so it takes a while to chop all the basil into a mush, but the smell is worth it. Once the basil is chopped, stir in the other ingredients. Add a dash of salt and two dashes pepper. Make sure everything is well mixed.

Last night I tossed the fresh green beans with pesto. I think I could eat it with anything, including oatmeal. Might experiment with making pesto bread….

Making it fresh in the summer is fun, but I wanted to have some to enjoy when the snow piles up into 15-foot drifts come February.

Step One – freeze small portions of pesto in glass jars.

Thaw slightly to remove from jars.

Stick in vacuum sealer bag.

Suck out all the air and seal (this is really fun to watch).

Voila! Let it snow! Yesterday’s batch was enough to fill seven small jars worth of pesto, plus eat at dinner, plus have enough to munch on for a couple day’s snacking.

How do you make your pesto?


Today’s goal: write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: fantastical

Today’s prompt: Start out with the magic words “Once upon a time….” and write a fairy tale about the upcoming presidential election. Use common devices like villains, enchanted objects, interventions by fairies, etc.


More Getting Published Stories & WFMAD Day 20

It finally rained last night and I slept in. I feel like declaring today to be a national holiday.

Another faithful reader of the blog posed a few publication questions yesterday: Have you ever spent time (be it weeks, or months) on a story proposal to the publisher and they (for whatever reason) turned it down?

If so, how did you feel about it having put all that time and effort into it and then have it get slapped down?

Or….do you suggest ideas that may interest you and submit it to them first so that you don’t waste any time on it?

Funny you should ask, because yes, I’ve gone through that. I am one of those folks who has acres of rejection letters from just about every publisher in America. Nobody likes rejection.

When I was breaking into this field, I must have proposed at least fifty different non-fiction book ideas to various and sundry publishers. With the crystal-clear glasses of hindsight, I can see now that most of them were bad ideas. Some of them were good ideas, but I either a) did a poor job explaining how the book would be structured or b) because I was still a pre-published author, no one was going to take a chance on me, so I should have written the whole thing without a contract and then tried to sell it.

Let me tell you the story behind INDEPENDENT DAMES. It started in the mid-1990s. I wanted to write a book that would highlight the Revolutionary War exploits of six unknown heroines, and I wanted the book to put the roles of women and girls in the Revolution in context of the larger war and society.

Nobody wanted the book. They all sent me form rejections. I had done a fair amount of research and had enormous files stuffed with information, but I realized the idea wasn’t going anywhere, so I packed them away in my drawer.

Over the next five years, I had a number of picture books and novels come out. At Simon & Schuster, I published FEVER 1793 and the editors there knew loved American History. They also knew (because of my earlier picture book, TURKEY POX (now out of print)) that I loved Thanksgiving. One of the editors suggested I investigate the exploits of Sarah Josepha Hale. There was no promise, no contract. I researched and wrote and researched and wrote and sold THANK YOU, SARAH to those editors a couple years later.

SARAH (illustrated by Matt Faulkner) turned out so well, the editors asked if I had another historical subject I’d like to pursue with the same illustrator and format. I brought up the idea about women in the American Revolution, thinking about that treasure chest laying in my file cabinet. The editor liked the concept, but encouraged me to go beyond six women, far beyond. I went home and did oodles more research and wound up with eighty-nine women and girls. I put together a giant proposal, including biographical information on each woman, sent it in and was offered a contract.

Which is a long story. I guess the moral is, don’t throw out your old files and keep moving forward.

Note for next week: Colleen at Chasing Ray has suggested we use this week to discuss some of the issues that have been brewing in the kidlitosphere. Are you interested?

WFMAD Day 20

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes. Then take a nap.

Today’s mindset: adapting to overcome.

Today’s prompt: This combines observation with perspective.

1. Describe what your house or backyard looks/feels/smells like to a four-year-old. Don’t write more than four paragraphs.

2. Now describe the same place from the Point Of View of a fourteen-year-old.

3. Now describe the same place from the POV of an eighty-year-old.