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The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Events! Events! Events! Join me in Las Vegas, New York City or Washington DC

By Appearances, Awards and news, middle grade, The Writing Life, young adult

I’ve recently had several glorious weeks filled with family, local friends, beautiful spring weather and time to write. It’s been wonderful. BUT, I will be hitting the road again soon and I so hope to see you in one of my upcoming events. If you’re near Las Vegas on May 29th and 30th, join Padma Venkatraman, Phil Bildner and me at the 2019 Summit on Teaching YA Literature at the University of Nevada. Next up, I’ll be jetting to New York City for this year’s ever-popular BookCon on June 1st! Join Tracey Baptiste, Soman Chainani, Raina Telgemeier and me for a conversation about the very best in middle grade. Soon after, I will be in the best company with my friends and well-respected authors Elizabeth Acevedo and Robin Benway for an evening conversation at Politics & Prose Bookstore at the Wharf. We’ll chat about our writing and how our personal experiences and recent awards have influenced our work. See you there? Check out my calendar of events for more details and other upcoming dates. Until then, I’ll have my head down working and enjoying my family and, of course, taking long walks with Hugo.    

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January Bargain at E-Volt: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

By Awards and news, Latino Life

This month E-volt – where you can get books for $2.99 or less – is offering  The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind on sale for $1.99. You might not remember the novel – quiet as it was – but it’s the book that has made the biggest impact on me as an author. The synopsis is here, but I describe the novel as a mix of magical realism and telenovela mostly because it’s one of those sweeping stories with large casts and a few spirits. It’s about secrets, traitors, and love stricken heroes, all hopefully drawn with some depth. But at its core, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is actually realistic fiction, too. That’s because it’s a tale of migration and why young people take unimaginable risks to move toward better circumstances. It names that terrible brew of longing and violence the powerless often see in this life. I’ve heard said that each novel you write teaches you how to be a better writer. If that’s true, this one was a strict SOB of a teacher. I rewrote The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind more times than I care to count, trying to preserve a stylized storytelling while getting at a contemporary issue with honesty. What a struggle! I reworked the manuscript top to bottom, axing plot lines and characters. Several times I thought I would abandon the project altogether. I couldn’t find my way somehow. I couldn’t settle on what I really wanted to say about Sonia and the people in…

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What are you doing in Arkansas? Thinking about Pura Belpré, of course!

By Appearances, Awards and news, Community work, Latino Life, The Writing Life

That’s pretty much what everybody asked me this week.  Maybe it’s because it’s hard to imagine a Cuban from Queens hanging out near Oklahoma where the wind does, in fact, come sweeping down the plain. But there I was: Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith is a quiet place with one of everything, as Ines, one of the district’s English Language Learners coordinators, told me. One Staples. One bridal shop. One mall. Church life is central to life here, which made me laugh when I toured their visitor center –  a restored brothel called Miss Laura’s Social Club. You can walk along the beautiful Arkansas river here, eat something called a Frito Chili pie, or find excellent Vietnamese food. You can experience a tornado drill on a moment’s notice or tour gallows and other bone-chilling artifacts of the “wild west.” Such a mix of unexpected things. Including people. Like a lot of small towns in the US, Fort Smith is warm and close-knit – and it now finds its demographics shifting. Schools that were once 90 percent white, now have Latino populations of over sixty percent, compounded in some cases by significant financial need. The challenge, of course, is to embrace change as normal and to pull from it the rich experiences that a truly multicultural community can provide. As I’ve had the chance to do  elsewhere, I spoke to kids about my books, culture, and where those two meet inside a writer. I had to tread lightly on Yaqui Delgado Wants to…

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An audio documentary on migrant deaths on our border

By Guests

Catherine Komp, radio producer at Virginia Currents on NPR (locally WCVE 88.9 FM,) recently sent me the audio documentary below. Created by her colleagues for a show called Making Contact, it examines migrant deaths on our borders. When I was writing The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, I struggled many times as I wrote scenes of unspeakable violence.   Should I write such gruesome things for young people?  Was it necessary or gratuitous? In the end, I chose to include the awful details, leaning toward telling fiction as honestly as I could. I hope you’ll carve out a little time to listen to the audio. January ushers in a new Congress and a fresh immigration battle. The debate will be heated on both sides, a healthy – if painful – exercise. What I continue to ask is that we remember that, in the end, we are talking about people, about human beings, and about the ethics of addressing suffering.

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Philly, Vicks VapoRub, Kids & Me

By Appearances, Community work

I’m back from Philly where I stayed at the lovely Four Seasons Hotel, a guest of the Free LIbrary of Philadelphia. The hotel is every bit as cushy as you’d expect. Chandeliers, thick rugs, polite people at every, single turn.  The staff even made me a beautiful candy version of the book cover for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind – which was both astoundingly lovely and funny. I was there to speak about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, after all. Hmmm. I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall when the dessert guru had to decide what to do.   Anyway, I spent the day as part of library’s well-regarded Field Family Teen Author Series, an endowed program that brings authors and books to students at no cost to their school. (Attention People of Means and Nice Shoes!  Consider doing this in your community, too!) The high school students in my groups were amazing. A sampling: Students with visual impairments who heard the audio version of Yaqui. Young people who were in a GED program and trying to get themselves back on track. A charter school that is over 90% Latino – and their teacher who is an aspiring author, too. We met at a branch in the Kensington area – decidedly NOT the Four Seasons ambiance. But it’s a dead ringer for the Queens that I knew growing up, right down to the trains running overhead the way they do in Corona, Jackson Heights, Jamaica and…

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Teen Read Week & More in #RVA

By Appearances, Community work, The Writing Life

It’s a great week to love books in Richmond, Virginia – especially middle grade and YA fiction. That’s because it’s not only the Library of Virginia’s Literary Festival, but it’s also the American Library Association’s TeenRead Week. Wao! So much going on, so what can I say except, Tengo los patines puestos! (I’ve got my roller-skates on!) Here are a few highlights of where I’ll be during the week: Meadowdale Library/Tomahawk Creek MS:  I’ll head down to Chesterfield County for a library book talk that is off-site on Wednesday, Oct 15, 7 PM.  We’ll talk The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Here’s the info and where you register.  Especially nice to see a partnership between the school and public libraries in a community.   Teen 14: Locals already know that the main branch of the Richmond Public Library on Franklin Street is always figuring out ways to make reading come alive, especially for kids. So, they’re going to play host once again for a teen author event. Join Virginia authors who have works for teens published in 2014. It’s a ready-made night for librarians, teachers, and readers who want to meet and make friends with the truly kick-ass authors we have in the Commonwealth. PLUS, food, music, giveaways.  If last year’s event was any sign, it’s going to be a really fun night. Details on their Facebook page or click on the jpg poster here. Hermitage High School Anti-bullying Book Event with Erin Jade Lange. You know her novel?  It’s…

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Banned On the Run…

By Appearances, Latino Life, The Writing Life

It’s a double whammy! Banned Books week and Hispanic Heritage month, so I’ve been on the road with no sign of rest in the near future. Fellow REFORMISTA Loida Garcia Febo just shared this link to Latino books that have been challenged and banned, including the book that turned me to writing in the first place: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.  Que cosa mas grande… Gracias, Loida. Lists like this inspire me to write more books that might cause alarm and discomfort – and hey, even thought. And they make me feel especially fired up about my first teaching gig at Las Comadres Writers Conference in Brooklyn this weekend. Las Comadres is more than a conference. It’s a movement based on the core principle of mentorship and culture. On Saturday, established Latina authors and publishing pros will come together at Medgar Evers College to help yet-to-be published authors learn the ropes. What’s in it for me?  Mostly getting more Latino voices at the literary table, especially those writing for kids since this year, for the first time,  our public schools will be a majority minority. Besides, I’ll be helping to create more amazing books that will end up on banned book lists. So, hermanas, if you have a story, if you’ve been too shy to admit that you want to be a writer, if you just don’t know where to begin, register for Las Comadres. Finally, here are a few pictures from my recent travels to the DC area.  I’m exhausted, but so grateful to Candlewick…

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Where books meet disaster: A brief reading list about kids and migration

By Adult books, Awards and news, Latino Life, picture book, middle grade, YA, The Writing Life, What I'm reading

I got home last week from the ALA conference, an experience that still makes me daydream, especially when I think of the energy and passion in the room at the Pura Belpré awards. You can find my speech and Yuyi Morales’s speech here, but the truth is that the text doesn’t replicate the emotion that was in the room. All of us receiving recognition were teary and humbled –and not just by the honor being extended to our books. A good part of our emotion stemmed from the unspoken presence of people who were not actually in the room with us. This summer, our news outlets have exploded with accounts of the nearly 40,000 unaccompanied childrenwho have arrived on our border to find themselves not only exhausted, afraid and alone, but also the target of explosive rage. Whatever your view on immigration policy, I hope you can agree that what we’re seeing is a human tragedy on the backs of the weakest and smallest among us. All of us writers on that stage work for young people because we respect them and treasure what should be a sacred time for all children. All of us on that stage have been touched by migration, either directly or indirectly, in our own families. All of us have been the recipients of our parents’ most ardent hopes for our futures, sometimes at the expense of their own. It is heartbreaking, then, for us to see children so completely lost and in need of help. As Javier and I traveled…

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Author Visit or School Book Experience?

By Appearances

On Wednesday, I did my last school visit of the 2013-14 school year at Stonewall Middle School in Manassas, Virginia. They’re author visit gurus over there, rolling out the red carpet with so much attention to detail that I didn’t really want to come home. (Sorry, Javier.) On the drive back to Richmond, I got to thinking about the many great times I’ve had meeting teachers, kids and librarians this year – and how much I’ve learned about how they build collections, how they connect with their staff, and how they have to navigate budget cut threats all the time. I feel really lucky to have met so many inventive, non-shushing, hilarious Bookish Ones this year. What I especially loved about Wednesday at Stonewall, though, is that it was a “best practices” event for me. All the best parts of school visits were rolled into one. They pulled together an author visit so that it wasn’t just a giant assembly. Instead, they created a book experience for the kids and teachers that stretched beyond the single day that I was there. So, in honor of the amazing job Stonewall did yesterday, here’s a little cheat sheet on School Visit Greatness, with a special thanks to Linda Mitchell, Hope Dublin,Laurie Corcoran, and Diane Hilland  who hosted me so expertly. Good planning: I despise paperwork, but I have to admit that it helps keep things straight. Linda Mitchell contacted me early (an October email about a visit in June.) We were clear on what…

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Show Some Love to the Readers and Writers on Your List

By Appearances

My last two appearances of 2013 are also two of my favorites. Friday, Dec, 6: Forget buying ugly sweaters. Instead, dazzle your book loving friends with a Jane Austen umbrella, a chic recycled bag, or a onesie honoring The Little Prince. It’s all at The Virginia Shop, inside the Library of Virginia this Friday. This gift store is where whimsy meets history and literature, and their Open House won’t disappoint. The event starts at 2 PM, but my slot is 4 PM – 6 PM. All afternoon, authors and historians will be on hand to meet you and sign books. The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (yes, for the holidays!) will  be on sale – and my titles come with a free, beaded milagro bookmark. If you’re inclined, please RSVP on the Facebook invite here. The PDF flyer is here:  OpenHouseVAShop Saturday, Dec. 7: I’ll head back down to Petersburg to the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for WriterFest. It’s an all-day youth writing conference. I’m looking forward to a book talk lunch about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and then a look at student first pages with Dean King and Virginia Pye. And then, friends, it’s time to rest and write…

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Happy Paperback Birthday!

By Appearances, The Writing Life

Feliz Cumpleaños, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind! It’s the first time one of my hardcover books is becoming a paperback – and the first time a school is using one of my works as a school wide reading project. Thank you Sterling Middle School in Northern Virginia for this lovely way to celebrate a very special occasion! “Fluent and lovely…” School Library Journal

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Hope Sprouts in Arlington

By Appearances, Community work, The Writing Life

I drove up to Arlington last week for a terrific ceremony for the graduating fifth graders at Claremont Elementary. Last fall, teacher Sherry Lord and art teacher Vicki Walchak decided to make a school hope tree with their students in honor of moving on to middle school. You might remember that the Hope Tree project began here in Richmond, VA when my YA novel The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind was published.  At the heart of that novel – and at the heart of the Hope Tree Project — is the question: What is a hope or dream that you have for yourself? Students create metal “milagros” to represent that hope and offer them to the world.  Here’s a poem that the students created together and read as part of the installation ceremony. I am so honored that they took on this project, and I wish all the graduates the best in middle school! Hope Poem If hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, then these are the things that keep it feeling safe and feeling whole. We hope that we’ll stay friends after shutting school’s door, we hope for family’s health and being sick no more. We hope for a healthy sibling to be born this coming summer. We hope for safe travels to this country from another. We hope Raul comes back, we hope our friend won’t go away, we hope when we grow up we’re as wonderful as we are today. We…

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A True Bienvenidos

By Appearances, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

I spent a wonderful morning at Good Shepherd Episcopal School visiting with students from Pre-K through the eighth grade. It is so exciting to find schools like this where  the students are so obviously honored and loved. Favorite comment: On hearing that my tía Isa was actually a terrible driver:  “Your next book should be Tía Isa Goes to the Emergency Room.” Three best questions: Do you ever find that you accidentally put pieces of one story in another story? How do you know if your idea should be a book? (With a worried look.) Is your tía Isa still driving on the streets? Most touching event: Chef Sue (who cooks homemade from organic produce every day for these sweet kids) made me “lechon” (pulled Cuban pork), white rice and black beans, so that I could enjoy un buen almuerzo. We even had merengues for dessert.  (A big hit. “Yum! You got this cookie right,” said one of the third graders.) Best slang I taught them: ¡Pin Pan Pun! (rollaway bed) Happiest coincidence: Señora Cardounel, the  Spanish teacher, is from Cuba, too. We chatted in Spanish and swapped lots of stories. I hope she’ll visit me soon. Thank you, Ms. Dysart and all the lovely faculty and students at Good Shepherd! If I had to go to school again, I would want to go to a place just like Good Shepherd.

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School visits: An Open Book Literacy Foundation

By Appearances, Community work

Back to DC, one of my favorite cities, this time thanks to An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation which gives Title 1 schools in the District access to books and authors. (Feeling charitable this season?  They make an excellent choice for your philanthropy.) So, it’s second graders and eighth graders for me today. I think we’ll make our own “Tía Isa” cars out of foam with the younger ones, since this gives me a chance to channel my inner craft geek. (I can’t help it. I love office supplies and the smell of Elmers Glue). Thrilled also to start a new Hope Tree in the DC area with the older guys. Raymond Education Center, here I come!

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Claremont Elementary Spanish Immersion School: The Hope Tree Grows

By Appearances, Community work, The Writing Life

What a week! A nail-biter election that took me late into the night, and then up at 5 am (when it was still tan oscuro!) to get to Claremont Elementary School in Arlington, VA. (Thank you to Sherry Lord for inviting me!) Claremont is a funky Spanish Immersion school that’s going to do a version of the Hope Tree project as their fifth graders move on to middle school. Again, we’re asking, What is a hope you have for yourself? Such a pretty school, and the art is everywhere you look. I love these giant looming heads over the stage (inside one of those strange rooms called a cafetorium). They are César Chávez, Pocahontas, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Oh! And look at these urns in their lovely garden. I spotted them when I arrived. Hmmm…they are sitting near benches and empty trees. You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?

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Dame Tu Voz: An Arts Celebration with Duende in RVA

By Appearances, Community work, Latino Life

What happens when you have a dream that you’re watching a Henley Street Theatre play and all the actors are speaking in Spanish? If you’re Rafael Seligmann, Board Chair of the Henley Street Theatre, you wake up, call Ana Ines King of The Latin Ballet of Virginia and plan a day-long celebration of Latin American music, theatre, literature and dance. On November 3, I’ll be part of Dame Tu Voz(Give Me Your Voice), a free, one-day festival to be held at Centenary United Methodist Church (411 E Grace St.) from 1 – 9 pm. Here’s why you should go. First, it’s a bargain if you’ve got kids. Free family-friendly things happen all afternoon: food, music, art, flamenco demonstrations, puppet making and salsa lessons, to name just a few highlights. But don’t worry; nobody is left out of the fun. At 4 pm the event starts to take a more adult tone. It begins with readings of favorite Spanish-language poetry.(Want to share one? Call (804) 307-5343 to sign up.) My performance is at 5 pm. I’ll be reading a short selection from my YA novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) and talking about magical realism and transformation. Afterward, we can enjoy some food and downtime together before the evening offers up truly refreshing fare for theatre fans. (This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Henley Street is already known for its free and innovative Bootleg Shakespeare series.) For  $10, you get to see two fantastic one-act plays. The Marvelous Pageant  is a comedy by…

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A Little Bit of Fiesta at City Hall

By Appearances, Community work

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This is a month for everybody to channel their inner Latino, but don’t worry if you don’t know an empanada from a salsa. I can help you, especially if you’re in the downtown Richmond, Virginia area next week. That’s because on Monday, September 17, 2012 The Hope Tree Project comes to the lobby of City Hall at Broad Street and 9th Street! (Map here.) We’re having a little lunchtime party as the kickoff, and I hope you’ll come. You’ll remember that this exhibit of the hopes and dreams of Richmond’s young people started out as a collaboration between me, eight area high schools, and the folks at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden last spring, when The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind first pubbed. Well, we’ve moved the exhibit to its final phase —  the concrete jungle — where the public can see what our kids are thinking about themselves and our community. The exhibit is, of course, free and open to the public. The lobby doesn’t have trees (bummer) but I have a plan. Or I should say… my friends at Pine Camp Art Center (Shaun Casselle) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (Tanya Gonzalez) have a plan. All those twigs that fell out of trees during last month’s gusty days?  Yep, they’re being recycled into the show. (How’s that for clever use of resources?) We’ll be spending our Saturday putting them in place. If you work downtown, please come down and join us for the  reception…

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Good news from the UK!

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind pubbed in the UK as paperback last month. Just got happy word that it’s  included in CBI’s Recommended Reads (formerly known as Bookfest Guide).  The guide features reviews of the best titles for 2012 – from January to December across Ireland and the UK (where there is a long tradition of magical realism!) Nice print run to go along. I am really honored. Thanks to everyone at Walker Books for your hard work at getting the novel in the right hands.

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The Hope Tree spreads a seedling to downtown Richmond

By Community work

I’ll be heading to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this week to take down the Hope Tree exhibit. (Tomorrow, when it’s not 100 degrees in Richmond, VA.) The happy news? Pieces of the exhibit will be traveling to City Hall for Hispanic Heritage month this September/October. Details to follow. Meantime, if you have any ideas on how to create a sturdy fake tree in a lobby, send them my way. Pronto.

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Loving Walker Books: It’s the little things

By Random howls into the world, The Writing Life

It’s no secret that I love my publisher Candlewick Press and its parent company, Walker Books in the UK.  I thought I’d show you just one example of why. This was in the mail from Walker. It’s publication day for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind in the UK (and my birthday, as it happens). This little card made my day even better. What a lovely thing to do for a writer. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Walker!

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When Characters Muscle In

By Awards and news

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind releases through Walker Books in the UK as a gorgeous paperback next month — and review copies are going out with their own milagro. Nice!  Here’s a post I did for Under Cover Books about the unexpected pleasures of surrendering to your characters. In life and in fiction, I’ve found that it’s always the quiet ones that surprise you. At least, that’s how it happened in this book. P.S. Love the cover? Me gusta tambien. Check out Olaf Hajek’s other beautiful work.  Here’s a teaser.

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Wordles: samples from The Hope Tree Project

By Appearances, Community work

Me again. Two posts in one week Geez. First, the spiffy StyleWeekly article is here!  Thanks Julie Geen for spreading the word about The Hope Tree Project! Also, do you know about wordles?  They’re handy as a wrap-up for a school activity or, in this case, as a display for a community project. You plug in words or phrases that emerged from an experience, and – POOF! — out comes a graphic. For phrases, separate each word with a ~. Give it a try here. Here are the Wordles of phrases describing the dreams represented in each milagros for The Hope Tree Project. I took the phrases from the artist statements the school provided. Click to enlarge each.  

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The Hope Tree Exhibit Opens

By Awards and news, Community work

Last night was a nearly perfect launch for the Hope Tree Project at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  I say nearly because the school bus carrying 27 artists from Meadowbrook High School got a flat tire on I-95. They missed the opening, but not to worry. The folks at the garden are going to send them free passes so the students can come see their creations. I do wish they could have seen the outpouring of support from the community, though, especially the Latin Ballet dancing in their honor. Here are some shots of the private unveiling. I’m including the program and the text of my comments, in case you love long-winded speeches. Here’s a link, too, to Latin Ballet of Virginia and to Kevin’s contagious music with Ban Caribe. Some photos of the milagros appear page 2 of today’s Richmond Times Dispatch (metro sec.), and there will be an article in StyleWeekly tomorrow. The exhibit runs through July 4. I hope you’ll take the time to visit the Garden soon. It really is a stunning place where you can gather your thoughts and refuel, whatever age or interest.  Be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by aspirations. Many, many thanks again to L.C. Bird, Meadowbrook High School, Huguenot High School, The Steward School, J.R. Tucker High School, Lee Davis High School, Hermitage High School, and Henrico High School. And a huge shout out to my publisher, Candlewick Press for the facebook ads and…

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Party Hats, Everyone!

By Appearances

There’s a celebration everywhere you look this coming week! Monday is World Book Night, that biblio-glorious event started in the UK to spread the love of reading. Right now, the event is targeted to adults and doesn’t include  children’s books. (I know. Sad.) I’ll be celebrating anyway by signing copies of my YA novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind at Barnes & Noble (Chesterfield Towne Center Mall) from 5 – 7 pm. Giveaways will include signed copies of my books for your favorite school library and a free school visit to one lucky raffle winner. But that’s not the only celebration on the horizon. It’s also El Dia de los Niños on Saturday, April 28– a national celebration of reading and children across many cultures. In honor of the fun, I’ll be at the Chesterfield County Public Library (Meadowdale Branch) for the morning, where I’ll read Tia Isa Wants a Car and do a craft with the little ones at 10:30. (Who doesn’t love a glue stick?) At 11:30, my favorite thing: a free writing workshop for teen writers. Here’s the address: 4301 Meadowdale Blvd., Richmond, VA 23234. Branch phone number is 804-318-8778. ¡Vengan, por favor! And of course, you know the Hope Tree Project is just around the corner at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Tune into  Radio Poder, 1380 AM, on Monday, April 23 at 11 am and I’ll tell you all about it. I’ll be talking with my favorite Richmond Latina, Tanya Gonzalez. The milagros are absolutely beautiful. Wait til you see… More soon!…

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The Hope Tree is Growing

By Appearances, The Writing Life

Just a little update about The Hope Tree Project. (Details en español here.) Student artists are working out their answer to What is a dream you have for yourself or for our community? I got a sneak preview of their milagros thanks to Megan McConnell, art teacher at Meadowbrook High School, who brought a few to share at my book launch party for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind this past weekend. (Thanks, Megan!) I’m also happy to announce that the fabulous Latin Ballet of Virginia will be joining us for the launch on April 30 and will perform selections of Verde. This work celebrates nature, hopes and dreams. What could be more perfect? (And check out these costumes!) Let me know if you are interested in an invitation to the opening. Latin Ballet of Virginia, scenes from Verde Where I’ll be next:    March 21, 2012: University of Richmond, Gotwald Science Center, 5:30 pm. Lecture, reception and  book signing. March 23, 2012: The Steward School 11600 Gayton Road, Henrico, VA, 9 am. International Day presentation March 28 – 30, 2012: National Latino Children’s Literature Conference: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Presentation on YA and community building — The Hope Tree Project!

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The Hope Tree Project

By Appearances, Awards and news, Latino Life, The Writing Life

There are all sorts of ways of launching a new book into the world. This time around I’ve decided to go big. I’ll have my regular launch at the ever-fabulous bbgb tales for kids on March 17. But when The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind pubs next month, I’ll have about 500 high school students to help me celebrate, too. That’s because they’re part of a project I’m working on in partnership with The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and eight area high schools here in Richmond. The Hope Tree Project is a connection of art, reading, and community building for young people – a good addition to the Virginia Commission of the Art’s Minds Wide Open 2012 celebration of children and the arts. The students and their art or ESOL teachers have agreed to create Latin American ex votives — or milagros — that symbolize a hope or dream that they have for themselves or for the community. When they’re done, we’ll decorate five crape myrtle trees in the beautiful children’s garden with their collective wishes. Milagros are part folk art and part religious votives in Latin America. The tiny charms are attached to statues of saints, to the walls of churches, or even to women’s jewelry. Why? To ask for a favor or to thank a saint for help, of course. It’s a connection of the sacred or mystical to every day needs. Not that this is new, of course. The ancient Romans made them, too, as did many…

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Trailer for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

By The Writing Life

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHhOiwsxpEs] Okay, friends. Steven Spielberg has been in town shooting for his Abe Lincoln film. Unfortunately, that means he’s been too busy to make my book trailer. Ha! So, instead, I offer you my humble, homemade effort. The Girl who Could Silence the Wind, is my young adult novel due from Candlewick in March 2012. I’m so excited to see this project finally come together. Of all my  novels, this is the one that I wrote and re-wrote to the point that I almost lost hope. But here it is — at last! If you’re curious about how to make one of these mini-movie ads for your own book projects, here’s how to get started on a Mac, using i-Movie or Garage Band. I recommend contacting Chris Cheng at SCBWI Australia for the specific, step-by-step directions on how to turn your laptop MAC into your own movie studio. (He gave a very worthwhile session at SCBWI a couple of years ago.) In a nutshell, I did this one by creating a Keynote slide presentation (just like Powerpoint, really.) I exported  the slide show to QuickTime and then used the movie as the movie track in a Garage Band podcast. For sound effects and music, I browsed the library available on Garage Band. All in all, not fancy, pero bueno, it was pretty fun. Thanks for watching, and please share this trailer with all your reading friends. Con muchos cariños Meg

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What a tough book can teach you

By The Writing Life

Well, we’re back from the beach and feeling rested in a way that only a seaside vacation can provide. But this year, instead of coming home and feeling gloomy, I had a present waiting for me from my fabulous editor, Kate Fletcher. Ta-da! The galleys for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind due out in March. I started writing this novel a few years ago, thinking it would be the story of  a girl named Sonia, a seasonal crab worker on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Originally, the title was Jaibera – which means “crab girl” in Spanish. If you know anything about crab picking, you know it’s hard and dangerous work. The young women who pick crab these days are increasingly from other countries. They come to feed their families, but they miss home —  and they’re vulnerable. My early manuscripts were met with very mixed results, and the truth is that I almost gave up on this book many times. Was it an adult book or YA? What was most exciting — her life at home in her own country or her life here? And what about that little taxi-boy, Pancho, who kept snagging my attention? Was romance going to be part of this story? I think every book teaches the author something new. My first novel taught me to dare to be a writer. My picture book taught me to try new forms. This novel taught me to be fearless in revision and to have faith that a solution…

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