Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Blue-Eyed Mummy

Susanna Hill is hosting her 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest in which you must write a Halloween story of no more than 100 words and you must include the words creak, broomstick, and pumpkin. Sounds like a creepy enough contest for me!

Since I just recently spoke to parents at a literacy event about encouraging their children to enter writing contests, I figured I should take my own advice.

So here's my entry:

by Linda Bozzo

The boy pulled back the tattered curtain and peered out the cracked glass pane.  A cast of characters crept up the dark winding driveway. The group hesitated along the sidewalk illuminated by a narrow stream of light coming from the witch’s broomstick. A goblin tripped up the uneven steps leading to the front door. Dangling ghosts and the smell of rotted pumpkin greeted the strangers. Before they could knock, the paint-peeled door moaned and creaked open as if inviting the ghoulish guests inside. The blue-eyed mummy was the first to scream . . .
“Trick or treat!”
Be sure to check out the other entries on Susanna's blog and enter if you dare!
Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Favorite Lines

When I'm reading a book I like to bookmark or save my favorite line(s) so I can read them over and over again.
While I haven't quite finished reading THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, I already know what my favorite lines from the book are:
"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you into a third book. It's geometrically progressive–all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The "Book Dress"

I've been saying for a long time that I'm going to blog about the "Book Dress" so here it is . . .

I've worn the Book Dress to various events and everyone loves it, including me. I love it because well . . . it's a dress covered in books. But also because it's comfortable and has sparked many conversations. Best of all, I don't have to try to figure out what I'm going to wear to my next author event!

My story starts when I was looking for a dress to wear to Book Expo. I wanted a dress that would start conversations so I searched "book dress" online. I found one and ordered it, but when it arrived the dress didn't fit right and I noticed that while on the bottom half of the dress the books were right side up, on the top half of the dress the books were upside down! Disappointed, I returned it.

Octavia Spencer thinking "What a boring outfit she's wearing."
I continued my search this time for "book material"' thinking that perhaps I would sew a dress. Yeah, like that was ever going to happen. I found something to wear to Book Expo that didn't spark any conversations and I went on my merry way.

Then one day, I was walking through Macy's where I always check out the Tommy Hilfiger section. As I walked closer to the rack I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a BOOK DRESS! It was love at first sight. A shirt dress covered in books! I snatched one off the rack and fell in love with it. It was PERFECT! There was just one problem . . . it wasn't the right size. I immediately went home and searched the Macy's website and found one at another location. I rushed out the next morning and purchased it. So there you have it. Where did I get the dress? At Macy's.

Where can you buy the dress now? Maybe on eBay for three times the price I paid for it. At the last author event I attended everyone had their phones out searching for it online. Save yourself the time. They will tell you, they had no success.

I was so excited about the dress I called my daughter and described the Book Dress to her. She said, "Great, now you're going on school visits looking like Miss Frizzle." I'll be making her proud by wearing my Book Dress for an event at her school this coming October.

Naomi rockin' the Book Dress
Now, I'm not the only person in the world that owns the Book Dress. Writer Naomi Gruer rocks the Book Dress. She wore it to our New Jersey SCBWI conference and of course it was a big hit.

An employee of the New York Public Library was spotted in the ladies room wearing it and a New Jersey librarian told me she owns it. For those who don't own it and want to, I'm writing a letter to Tommy Hilfiger to request that he rerelease the Book Dress. I'm sure he will listen to me.

I was also asked by a fellow author to email her the fabric code number on the inside label of the dress so she could send it to her friend who works in the garment industry to see if she could get the material. Ummm, okay. I sent it to her but pointed out that Tommy is one smart designer. His name happens to appear on some of the spines of the books.

Hilfiger appears on the spines of some of the books.
The Book Dress was so popular at my last event that I began my presentation with, "For the
record . . . you can no longer buy the Book Dress."

The Book Dress even made an appearance on the television show Bad Teacher. She wore with a bright colored belt. Hmmmm. Maybe I'll mix it up a bit next time I wear it.

To My Dearest Tommy Hilfiger,
I'm writing on behalf of authors, librarians, teachers, and book lovers everywhere. PLEASE rerelease the BOOK DRESS. We will be forever grateful.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Writers Must Read

We all know writers write but writers who want to perfect their craft must also read. A lot! I sometimes find it hard to juggle reading books for my book club, books that I want to read that my book club does not, award-winning books, books for research, and books that my daughter hands me and demands "You must read this." But most important is setting aside the time to read those books that are like the ones I strive to write...great children's books!

I'm in Barnes and Noble at least once a week and I never go into a bookstore without heading straight to the children's department first. I spend at least one day a week at the library either searching for books or picking up books that I've reserved online. Thank goodness for inter-library loans so I don't have to drive all over the place to get the books I want.

Not only do I read these books but I choose the ones I really like for one reason or another and I'll type them up and save them in a folder on my computer that I call "Book Studies." I study things like the layout, the text, the openings and closings, the language...just about everything. Like writing down a list for the grocery store helps you remember the items even if you don't have the list with you, I find that typing the text from good books helps me to remember the great book qualities while I'm writing my own.

It's rare that you don't see my car with books in it. One time I was at the drive-thru at the bank and the teller asked me if I liked a particular book. I couldn't figure out why he was asking me this until he pointed to the pile of books on my backseat because the library was my next stop. We had a great conversation about the book through the speaker at the drive-up window.

And more books!
And then there's the trunk of my car. That's usually where you'll find a box that contains some of my own books. This is probably because I've been at an event and I'm too lazy to carry the box back inside the house. I opened the trunk the other day to put something in it for a friend and she was so excited to see my joke books and asked to buy a few. I've been known to donate and/or sell my books out of the trunk of my car.
I keep a special book journal where I am constantly adding books to read to my list. Once a week I check my library online to see which ones they have and place the ones on hold that will be transferred from another library within just a few days. Then once a week I take a trip to the library to return books from the previous week and gather my new books to bring home. I read at least one a day and if I choose to, I study it and type it up.
So, the fact that I'm reading so much and always writing is one of my better excuses for not having time to blog more often. I'll be blogging about some of the other reasons why it's hard to find the time to blog. But next I be blogging about...the famous Book Dress!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From Nonfiction to Fiction

One of the most common questions authors get asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Both children and adults want to know this. The list of places and ways ideas come to me is very long. Here are the two examples, that I like to share during my school visits and writing workshops, on how fiction stories were inspired from nonfiction articles.
This first idea came right from my own yard. Discovering a nest of baby bunnies in my flower garden surprised me. It was so close to our front door, sidewalk, driveway, and where we passed by every day. It made me wonder when Mama Bunny built this nest without us seeing her.
I immediately started researching baby bunnies which are called kittens. I was surprised to find out that you can touch the kittens without the mother minding your scent on her babies. I couldn't help but stroke a few of their heads but this made the kittens very nervous so I only did this once. It was fun to push back the ground cover every day and take a peek at these little creatures who are born with their eyes closed and are about the size of mice.  Many people worry that kittens are abandoned because the mother leaves the nest during the day so as  not to draw attention the nest. This mother covered her kittens with grass and her fur while she was away to protect them from predators, so after I was done taking pictures I was careful to cover them back up. I knew she would return during the night when she was less likely to be seen. I snapped shots of them over the course of about two weeks. Once their nest grew too small for them they disappeared.
The discovery of the nest prompted me to write a nonfiction article about wild bunnies which I never did anything with.  But just weeks later I had an idea for a fun picture book that I'm in the process of polishing for publication. If you come from a large family you will probably be able to relate to my story, TOO MANY BUNNIES!

The second example I show students is this picture of our green anole. We had several of these as pets so we did our research and once again I wrote a nonfiction article about green anoles. I learned that their color not only comes from blending in with their surroundings but it is also a sign that are are warm or too cold. This prompted the writing of my story, THE CASE OF THE MISSING LIZARD. It's about the day Lizzie goes to school for Pet Day. But it's not the missing lizard the teacher should be worried about. Believe me!
So, I encourage students and adults to look for ideas right in their own backyards and homes.
You don't have to travel far. But you do have to be an observer. You can start out with the facts, add some imagination, a storyline, and characters readers will care about. Top it off with a great ending and you could have yourself a remarkable story!
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just Labs

Just Labs Magazine is guessed it...just Labs! I learned about this magazine when they contacted me last year to do an interview after they discovered my book I Like Labrador Retrievers!.

You can read my Just Labs Magazine interview here. Here's a few pictures of me with my first dog, Suzie who is mentioned in my interview. Find out how she came to be a part of our family.