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Chop Suey Books

2020 bookish gift guide: Pandemic edition

By #LetsStayConnected, Self-care, The Writing Life
Oh, 2020. What a year you’ve been. As I did last year, I’m posting a holiday gift guide especially designed for the bookish people on your list. Consider this a very special Covid edition as well. Book lover masks. This is the year of the face mask, and they’re going to be with us for a while. So why not make the best of it and go in style? To me, Etsy has the best selection, including those that pull up like turtlenecks. bbgb books Gift cards to our favorite bookstores are always a good idea, and this year is a really good time to support our Indies. My local go-to bookstores are bbgb, Fountain Bookstore and Chop Suey Books. And bbgb has a fabulous subscription program, aptly called A Year of Tales. Ornaments: How about trimming the tree with a way to remember how we felt about this loooong year? Here are two of my favorite ornaments: Santa and his mask, as well as this rather cute bottle of hand sanitizer. Portable lighting: Authors who normally do school visits or attend conferences have had no choice but to become video stars.  One thing is for sure:  you need good lighting. Lume cube has a range of products, from standing lights to little ones that clip on to your laptop to give you a well-lit effect. Computer eyewear: All those hours on screen has spelled eye-strain for some of us. If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, how about glasses...
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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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It’s All About Bookish Virginia This Month

By Appearances, The Writing Life

I’m back home after a month of coast-to-coast book travel which ended this past weekend in the best way possible. I hung out with English teachers at the Arizona Teachers of English conference and then drove up I-17 for my first-ever trip to The Grand Canyon. Now I get to do bookish things for a month right here in my home state of Virginia. (It’s not the wide open west, but it’s gorgeous here, especially in the fall.) Whether you’re a young reader or adult, a reader or a writer, there’s something for you. September 27, 2017, 6 pm, Chop Suey Books, Carytown, Richmond, VA. Join me and members of our local ACLU as we talk about censorship during Banned Books Week. Are you remembering to celebrate it?  Now more than ever, we need to stand up for critical reading. October 6, 2017, Visiting Riverside High School in Leesburg, VA, where Lauren McBride and her fellow librarians and teachers are doing an incredible job of preparing the Rams for my visit. Looking forward to talking all things Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and Burn Baby Burn. October 7, 2017, The YAVA Book and Author Party. Richmond Public Library, 101 East Franklin,  offers you a chance to party for an afternoon with Virginia’s YA authors. Food, prizes, and a lot of silliness. October 13 – 15, James River Writers Conference at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Have you registered?  I’m doing a master class on writing characters on Friday (held at the…

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¡Feliz Navidad! Now, which social media platform gets axed?

By Appearances, The Writing Life

We have a holiday tradition at our place. Our Noche Buena table is set with a holiday ornament at each place setting. Each of us has to find the ornament that represents us that year. It’s a fun hunt for the perfect symbol and an interesting way to find your seat. But what I like most is that the ornaments eventually become part of our tree. When we pull out the dusty boxes, the memories are all there. Well, maybe not all. Needless to say, I don’t seek out ornaments to commemorate the uglier side of family life: angry disagreements, deaths, budget headaches, overbearing relatives. (It IS tempting to imagine what symbols I’d put up, though.) It’s not that we don’t acknowledge the sadder days of life. It’s just that there are plenty of reminders of that mess all the time. Instead, I choose to end the year with expressions of how each of us found a way to shine despite it all. The same is true, I suppose, for the author life. Authors use social media to make relationship with readers and to create an identity that’s recognizable to the people who follow our work. It’s not the whole story of us. What we toss-up is a curated version of what it takes to make a living through words. How we curate and where we do so is always a dicey decision. What do we say? What tone do we use? Where do we say it? Are we saying anything useful or just babbling? Some…

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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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