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Meg’s 3rd Annual Bookish Gift Guide: 2021

By The Writing Life
The holidays are here! If you’re one of my blog readers, chances are you have lots of bookish friends on your gift giving list. Here are some of my favorite finds for 2021 that could help Bookish fun for kids This Lego Bookshop is the best thing ever for your book nerd / Lego fanatics. It's 2,500 pieces of book joy. The box says for people 16 and older, but it looks like a perfect parent/kid project, too. Rechargeable reading light For the late night reader in your life, you just can’t have enough of these* in the house. I try to keep one in everyone’s nightstand, even for guests. For another option, try the lights from Mighty Bright, which are rechargeable, too. Bookish t-shirts I have a whole collection of bookish clothes, but t-shirts have become my pandemic wardrobe go-to. Etsy has great options, like the one pictured below, but  you can also look to Out of Print for t-shirts and so many other book-ish delights.  Bookish t-shirts Goldbelly gift certificate:  My friend, Lamar, turned me on to Goldbelly. It’s how I ate a lobster roll last summer and how I got through hard times, when cooking to feed myself seemed overwhelming. A gift certificate here gives both help or, in happy times, a reason for a culinary splurge!  Moveable table for working/snacking* Every place in my house is now an office, so why not make moving this around a little easier? I bought this for Javier, and he...
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Sleepy summer?

By Appearances, The Writing Life
Hi all.  August. This should be a slow and sleepy time in publishing, right?  But no. An awful lot is happening during what should be my sleepy summer. Maybe that's a good thing, though. It will keep me from missing pool days or fun beach trips.  OK, the huge NEWSFLASH:  the SCBWI Summer Spectacular is living up to its name. Full disclosure, I sit on the board of advisors for SCBWI, but that doesn’t influence the fact that I think the digital conference has offered us an incredible silver lining of access. A lot of folks who can’t plunk down the big bucks for airfare and hotel of a live conference, can pay $100 and click a zoom link to learn from people like the legendary Phillip Pullman. That’s a huge bonus for people early in their careers when the cash flow from writing is a trickle. Check out the lineup yourself. And please, if you are registered or plan to register, join my conversation with the fabulous Laurie Halse Anderson on Tuesday morning. We’ve decided to ask each other all the stuff nobody else does. We’ll talk a little bit of craft, but also what career blips we’ve had, what we wish we could do over, things that scare us now, and new voices we’re excited about.  There’s a lot of bookstore and educator love happening in my world this month, too. I’ll be at Belmont Books, virtually of course, in support of a program called Read it Forward,...
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Stuff your writer’s stocking: last minute gift ideas for your bibliophile

By Self-care, The Writing Life
There are just a couple of weeks until the holidays. Are you panicking about the writers on your list? Here are a few of my favorite ideas that have a quick turnaround. Happy holidays, everyone! Worth it! Tools of the trade: These are the best pencils in the world: Palomino Blackwings*. And spring for the sharpener, too. Flash drives* for all our presentations are welcome, especially if they're stylish. My favorite drive is Marvin the Martian, but bright colors will do. It's amazing how much printing you need done: cool stationery to write thank you’s, stickers as swag, postcards for new books, or business cards to share at conferences. I like to design at Moo.com. These days, I'm ashamed to say that I forget the details of a book fairly quickly. Here's a book journal* to help keep track of the plots and important info on the ga-zillion books we read. I am guilty of dog-earring pages. But a set of beautiful bookmarks in wood* might change that. These are pretty. Writers have to be big readers, so help us as we keep up with our professional libraries by giving us a gift card to our favorite local indie. Are you in Richmond? Try bbgb, Fountain Bookstore, and Chop Suey Books. Self care: Literary candles* to soothe the nerves when deadlines loom! Literary candles* I saw a version of this Resting Book Face t-shirt at NCTE this year, but they were all out by the time I went to buy...
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Want an early copy of Merci Suárez Changes Gears? Get to the National Book Festival

By Appearances, The Writing Life

Cooler weather, pansies, and pumpkin-everything are on my mind as we head into Labor Day weekend, but this year, I also have a new book. And while it has felt like a long year of nail biting, here we are. How do I handle all that pre-publication angst? Here’s a little clip. Say what you will, though, bookmarks are useful. And I didn’t lose my mind, just the pads on my fingertips! [wpvideo vy0XcJgf]

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A letter to RVA about Girls of Summer 2017

By Community work, The Writing Life

January 16, 2017 It’s MLK Day in our nation, during a time when our country is heartbreakingly fractured. On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the two of us took a stand and walked in the March on Monument, a peaceful coming together of the various social justice groups that serve the Richmond community.  Two thousand or so of our neighbors stood shoulder to shoulder chanting a call and response: Show Me What Democracy Looks Like! THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE! What do we need? LOVE. When do we need it? NOW. What do we need? Unity. When do we need it? NOW. There were older women and men. Parents pushing strollers and carrying signs. Old Basset hounds. Seasoned activists and college students. Wheelchair users. Artists, writers, musicians. And, members of the faith community. Looking around, we saw our community celebrating diversity and inclusion at the statue of Robert E. Lee asking, How do we knit ourselves together in strength? How can we make our community a place where all people are respected and cared for? What can each of us offer? We had been thinking long and hard about Girls of Summer, our curated reading list for strong girls, now approaching its seventh year. To be frank, last year, we wondered if it might be time to let the list go. Exhausted and overscheduled, we could point to dozens of other reading lists for girls to choose from. But then the world got upended in deep and disturbing ways, most…

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Where 2 Get Signed Copies of Burn Baby Burn in #RVA

By The Writing Life

Before I hit the road, I am leaving behind some signed copies of Burn Baby Burn in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Please don’t forget to support your bricks-and-mortar bookshops. They’re the most knowledgable and can turn you on to lots of other authors you might love. Here’s where you can get your signed, first editions:   West End: Barnes & Noble (Short Pump) 11640 West Broad Street, Henrico, VA, Phone: 360-0103 Carytown:  bbgb books 3003 West Cary St, Richmond, VA, 23221, Phone: 804 353-5675 Chopsuey Books, 2913 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA, 23221, Phone: 804 422-8066

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A book birthday – and time to remember las abuelas who inspired the story

By Appearances, picture books, Trailers

Today is the book birthday for Mango, Abuela and Me – my second picture book, so sweetly illustrated by the talented Angela Dominguez.  So far, so good. It has earned very nice reviews and mentions, including stars in Booklist and PW. Plus, I got word last week that it has gone into its first reprinting, so I’m thrilled, to say the least. This time around, I’m delaying the launch a couple of weeks until Sunday, September 13, 2015, 1 PM – 3 PM. That’s when my pal, Gigi Amateau (Two for Joy) and I will do a joint book event at bbgb in Carytown to celebrate our new books and, even more important, National Grandparents Day. According to USA Today, more than 4.9 million kids in America are being raised by their grandparents, a number that basically doubled since 2000. That wasn’t exactly the case for Gigi and me, but our grandmothers helped raise us just the same, and we love them for it. Our own grandmothers are gone, but Grammy, Abuela Bena and Abuela Fefa continue to make impact on us as women, mothers, and authors. Benita Metauten was my mother’s mother. She had an eighth grade education and rolled cigars for a living in her family’s small enterprise. She would eventually marry a bicycle salesman, have four children, and find herself in the US. When she arrived from Cuba in 1968 –her nerves in tatters – I wasn’t sure I’d like her. The worried look on her face and the…

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Girls of Summer’s Big, Bad, Birthday Bash

By Appearances, Community work, The Writing Life, What I'm reading

It’s here! The Girls of Summer Reading list goes live on our blog today. (Click over and check out the titles and our reviews.) But what this really means is that we’re at the start of a big week for us, since our live events happen this week, too. Last minute plans, airport pickups, raffle items – agh! Gigi and I are so proud of the collection this year – especially since it marks our fifth anniversary of celebrating strong girls and reading. Where did five years go? We launched the list as our daughters were making their way out of high school. Today, Judith is living her dream of running a barn in California, training horses with a sure and skilled hand. Sandra has just moved into her own apartment in Washington, DC and will take the helm of a second grade class in the fall. And Cristina has recently landed her first official office job with Midas Auto Parts – an employer whose embrace of community extends to helping individuals with disabilities make meaningful contributions. Gigi and I have changed, too. We continue to write and publish books about strong girls and to see our respective careers unfold in ways that we could never have imagined five years ago. Earning the Pura Belpré award for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass has provided me an incredible platform that I hope I’ve used wisely. I’ve crisscrossed the country encouraging more books that represent all kinds of young people. To Richmond’s great fortune, Gigi recently became the…

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