I had to share the next episode in the Winnetka, IL coincidence saga. At the Indy Author’s Fair I talked with Margaret McMullan, winner of the National Author Award. We had met before and I went to a workshop where she talked about her novels. One of her novels for adults, “In My Mother’s House”, really intrigued me, so I got it and started to read. It turns out that the family in the book moves to Winnetka, IL!! That really got my attention. Why all these Winnetka references? Stay tuned to as the story unfolds….
I’m one of those people who find meaning in even the smallest things, so when ‘coincidences’ happen I take notice. I believe that coincidences are really the universe giving us little nudges or responding to our thoughts and desires. Several serendipidous coincidences happened to me just recently. In October, I attended the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL) conference in Memphis, TN. The keynote speaker was Margaret Peterson Haddix, a highly regarded and prolific YA author. In her speech she mentioned that she used Conner Prairie as inspiration for her first novel, “Running Out of Time” (see post under ‘Conner Prairie’ 10/14/2011). I live right across the river and about two miles away from Conner Prairie. The really interesting coincidence is this -while I was at the confernce I purchased Ms. Haddix’s novel “Found” and discovered that one of her characters is from Winnetka, IL, which is the town where I grew up and is fictionalized in “Indian Summer”! So what made me pick that particular novel? Is there going to be some connection between me and Margaret Peterson Haddix? (I hope so!) Her books are mostly in the science fiction genre, which is the direction that I find that my writing going. (My science background is appearing more and more in my writing, but that’s a subject for another post).
Then last week I suddenly thought of my son’s first grade teacher for no particular reason. She just popped into my head while I was at the drugstore. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in over 10 years. A few days later while I was shopping at Costco, who do you think I ran into? Mrs. Tobias, former first grade teacher! We chatted for a few minutes and she was stunned to learn that my son is now a senior and applying to colleges. I have to wonder why I thought of her and ran into her.
The third synchronicity was that I called some friends of ours to get together for a night out and then I saw our friend Celia at the church Bazaar (shopping again!). She said that she had just mentioned to her husband that they should get together with us – she hadn’t gotten my message yet. ~ Que the theme from The Twighlight Zone!
So what do these synchronisities mean? Haven’t you ever had the phone ring and you know who it is before you answer or even more spooky, been thinking about a friend and have them call? Do our thoughts somehow communicate with one another remotely or telepathically? I’m exploring these ideas in “The Field”. I believe that we are all connected. I’d love to hear about ‘coincidences’ that have happened to you!
We had a party teen party at our house for Halloween and everyone dressed up – even the dog! Hope your Halloween was Spooktacular!
Its always interesting to me to discover where other authors get their inspiration. I was recently at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL – October 30th) for a book signing and the Keynote Speaker for the luncheon was Margaret Peterson Haddix. She is a prolific and award winning author of YA and Middle Grade books (something like 29 titles!) and the interesting thing for me is that she lived in Indianapolis at one time. In fact, her first novel, “Running Out of Time”, was inspired by Conner Prairie, a nearby Interactive History Park, which is just a few miles from where I live! She visited Conner Prairie as a reporter and interviewed the actors who portray the inhabitants of an 1800’s historical village for visitors to this “living history’ museum. It gave her the beginings of her idea for “Running Out of Time’. My children and I have always loved her books, so I was excited to wait in line to have her sign “Found”, the first novel in her “Missing” series. Of course I also gave her a copy of “Indian Summer” 😀 , which she gracious accepted, saying that she had just run out of books to read and she needed something for the plane ride home. I hope she enjoyed it!
Margaret Peterson Haddix “Running Out of Time” http://www.margarethaddix.net/books/runout.html
This year Father’s Day and our children’s 18th birthday fell on the same day. We decided to go kayaking on the White River. Even though it was overcast and a bit drizzly, we had a great time! I took the pictures with my phone from my kayak, while trying not to drop the phone in the water, so they are a bit blurry, but you get the idea. It was very peaceful and beautiful. We saw several Blue Herons fishing and a lot of turtles.
I had a busy month of May with school visits. Visiting the schools and talking with kids about reading and writing is really a joy! At Snacks Elementary, a group of students read Indian Summer as part of a reading group and had a pizza party during my visit. They asked a lot of great questions and everyone wants a sequel. I do have the beginnings of the sequel forming in my imagination, but it will have to wait until I get The Field, my next novel, down on paper (or into the computer). At Stephen Decatur Elementary, I did a presentation on ‘Reading for Literacy’ to the Muffins for Moms program and almost 400 people attended. They were very excited to buy books for summer reading. I spoke with 200 4th and 5th graders at Eagle Creek Elementary about ‘Bringing Characters to Life’. They were a great audience.
I’m getting a lot of great writing done on The Field this summer. I like to write outside when I can where I can look at my garden and take breaks to play fetch with Ernie.
I am doing an Author Visit to Stephen Decatur Elementary School on Friday, May 6th for 400 students and parents at Moms and Muffins. Yes, you read that right – 400! That will be my largest group so far. I am very excited. Okay, I’m a bit nervous, too. My topic is Reading for Literacy and I am, of course, trying to make my talk both fun and informative. The ultimate goal is to get the kids exicted about reading. Here’s something interesting I learned in doing my research:
“The single most important activity for building the skills to be a successful reader is reading aloud to children.” ~ 1983 National Commission on Reading
Reading aloud to children improves reading skills, writing skills, speaking skills, listening skills, attitudes about reading and even math skills! And we shouldn’t stop reading to our kids when they get into middle school. We should read to them up to eighth grade and even beyond. Share funny or interesting excerpts of what you are reading with your teens. I know you might have to wrestle them to the ground first to get them to listen, but it’s for their own good. The Read~Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a fantastic guide for parents interested in learning more.
Reading = Knowledge
Every spring I get this surge of energy as the weather starts warming up and nature gets busy. This year I really need it because it’s crazy busy at our house! All four of us have work (or school), writing and publishing plus just getting on with the usual things. My children are both juniors in high school this year, so we’ve begun the college search this spring and have visited several places. I am a little bit jealous. I want to go off to college and have adventures, too! My son’s band is going to the recording studio to lay down some songs and is planning a midwest tour this summer. My daughter is working on developing a senior picture business as her summer job. I hover over them offering support, advice (solicited or not) and make phone calls. My brother and sister in-law just had their second child, a beautiful girl, so I’m planning a trip to visit them, and this year is my 25th anniversary with my wonderful husband! Whew! I also have several school author visits that I’m looking forward to in May. Lots going on!