E-book Release of Syncopation Scheduled for March 15

Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo will be available as an e-book on March 15, 2016. This gives me time to do some marketing and pre-order work including several give-aways. The formatting of my novel in Smashwords was not the disaster I feared in my last post. Everything worked and looks beautiful.

I want to thank Caitlin Hartlaub at Hartlaub Creations for the lovely new e-book cover:

Syncopation_Ecover

NaNoWriMo 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner

It’s almost November, so I’m getting ready for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. For the past several years, I’ve used this month as a time to revise and polish on-going writing projects. But The Stepsisters (my steampunk Cinderella) and A Mobius Tale (my Snow White with a twist story) are in fine shape, so it’s time to introduce my new project:

The Little MERmaid

This story has been percolating in my mind for many months, and I’m excited to use NaNoWriMo to begin writing it. The Little MERmaid is a steampunk version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale. My main character is a coal-mine automaton, a MER (Mechanical Emergency Responder) who becomes human after seeking help from the mischievous Prince of the Elves (a character from my Snow White story). She has one year in which to make a certain boy fall in love with her–if he doesn’t, she’ll return to her automaton form and be made into scrap metal. Intrigued? My story is more similar to the Andersen version than the Disney version, but with the steampunk elements, it’s my story now.

November is a busy time of the year for me, so I don’t anticipate finishing a first draft. But, with NaNoWriMo, I’ll keep track of my word count, and I’ll get lots of support from other writers.  If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, you should visit the website. November wouldn’t be November without NaNoWriMo!

For Teachers

Comprehension Questions for Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Chapter One
1. Who was making a mess in the grocery store?
2. What did Opal name the dog?

Chapter Two
1. What job does Opal’s father have?
2. Why does Opal’s father let her keep the dog?

Chapter Three
1. What does Opal do to clean Winn-Dixie?
2. How are Opal and Winn-Dixie alike?
3. Why does Opal ask her father to tell her ten things about her mother?

Chapter Four
1. What are the ten things Opal learns about her mother?

Chapter Five
1. What does Winn-Dixie do when he is left alone?
2. What does Winn-Dixie do with the mouse when he catches it?
3. What does the preacher do?

Chapter Six
1. Why does Winn-Dixie scare Miss Franny?
2. Does Miss Franny let Winn-Dixie come into the library?

Chapter Seven
1. What did Miss Franny get for her birthday when she was a girl?
2. What did the bear take with him when he left?

Chapter Eight
1. How is Opal going to get the money for Winn-Dixie’s collar and leash?
2. What does the parrot Gertrude do to show she likes Winn-Dixie?

Chapter Nine
1. What does Gloria give Opal and Winn-Dixie to eat?
2. Is Gloria Dump a witch? Describe Gloria.
Chapter Ten
1. What kind of tree does Opal plant?
2. Where does Winn-Dixie sleep?

Chapter Eleven
1. What is Winn-Dixie afraid of?
2. What is a “pathological fear” ?

Chapter Twelve
1. What happens when Otis plays his guitar and sings?

Chapter Thirteen
1. What three places does Opal go to every day?
2. Who thinks the Dewberry boys want to be friends with Opal?

Chapter Fourteen
1. Why did Gloria hang bottles in a tree?
2. How does Gloria say you should judge people?

Chapter Fifteen
1. What does Winn-Dixie do when Miss Franny has a fit?

Chapter Sixteen
1. What happened to Littmus’s home and family during the war?

Chapter Seventeen
1. What did Littmus do to bring something sweet to the world?
2. What do Littmus Lozenges taste like?

Chapter Eighteen
1. What book does Opal read to Gloria?
2. Who is Carson and what happened to him?
3. What does “melancholy” mean?

Chapter Nineteen
1. Why did Otis go to jail?
2. What does the Littmus Lozenge taste like to Sweetie Pie?

Chapter Twenty
1. Who are the 7 people Opal invites to the party at Gloria Dump’s house?

Chapter Twenty-One
1. What food and drink do Gloria and Opal make for the party?
2. What does Miss Franny bring?
3. What does Sweetie Pie bring?
4. What does Otis bring?

Chapter Twenty-Two
1. What 4 things does the preacher thank God for?

Chapter Twenty-Three
1. When it starts raining, what does Opal forget?

Chapter Twenty-four
1. Why does the preacher cry?
2. Does the preacher think Opal’s mama will come back?
3. What did Opal’s mama leave behind went she left?

Chapter Twenty-Five
1. Where was Winn-Dixie?
2. What happens when Winn-Dixie smiles real big?

Chapter Twenty-Six
1. What does Opal tell her mother under the mistake tree?
2. What is everyone doing when the story ends?

Children’s Literature, Fall 2015

I usually post here the books that my students will be reading each semester. I’ve changed things up a bit, which means a lot of extra (and fun) reading for me. We focus on middle-grade books, for children ages 8 to 12.

We start with fairy tales. All students must read Charles Perrault’s “Cinderella” and the Grimm brothers’ “Aschenputtel”. Then, they choose two versions of one other fairy tale to read.

Everyone is required to read The Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum.

Next, students choose one book from each genre:

Modern Fantasy:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Historical Fiction:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Contemporary / Realistic Fiction:

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Novel-in-Verse

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

I usually re-read every book I assign before the literature circles meet. I’ve got some work cut out for this semester. It’s great to have a job that requires me to read and re-read great books. I’m so lucky!

A Big Breath of Beautiful

The news, my Facebook and Twitter feeds, even the people I talk to, all demonstrate and discuss what is wrong with the world. Change won’t occur if people are unaware of the problems, the disasters, and the corruption in the world. We need to know. We need to know, so we can work to make the world better. But from time to time, we all need a big breath of beautiful.

Follow Kate DiCamillo on Facebook. Kate posts infrequently, but every post is like a soul cleansing shower. She notices the beauty in the world and shares it in words witty and wise.

If you know of other short bits of shared beauty like Kate’s posts, please mention them in the comments below.

Fairy Tales
I’ve always enjoyed escaping to a fantasy world where good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior punished. I prefer the stories in which it is mildly punished, and the perpetrators forgiven and allowed a reformed life. Revenge is dirt on the soul. So, I find many of the original tales too dark. I love the modern re-tellings and fairy tales. Here are a few I’ve read recently and enjoyed:

Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted

Wendy Mass’ Twice Told Tales

Marissa Meyers’ The Lunar Chronicles

Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy

Kate di Camillo’s A Tale of Despereaux

Laura Amy Schlitz’ Splendors and Glooms

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races

Gregory Maguire’s Egg and Spoon

L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and all his Oz books

The evil in the world can seem overwhelming. We can feel utterly powerless when confronted with it. This is why I write. In my head and on the computer screen, I create a world of problems. Then I solve them. I give my characters resolution and happy endings.

The problems of the world will find you. You don’t have to look.

Happiness can seem elusive and fragile, but it exists and it is strong. You must go looking for it. Your soul-cleansing places may be different than mine. Seek them out. And when you find them,

take a Big Breath of Beautiful

Pitch Contests

The Writer’s Voice/Pitch Wars competition featured many talented writers with intriguing concepts. I did not make a team, but I wish good luck to those who did and to their coaches. You can follow the competition at Brenda Drake’s blog.

Many conversations about the contest were on twitter, and I didn’t want to miss out, so I set up a twitter account:

@elizabethcfelt

Follow me if you do that sort of thing.

New to twitter, I did a lot of lurking so as not to mess up or offend anyone (sorry if I have!)

Immediately, I learned about #PitMad, a day in which writers pitch their completed novels in 140 characters, all day long.  Wow! I should have gotten on twitter a long time ago!

I participated in #PitMad and had some success getting noticed. I’ll be sending out queries over the next few days.

So, though I “lost” on Writer’s Voice, I’m still a winner!

Pi Day

two piesTo celebrate Pi Day, I’ve written a poem about pie, using pi. I’m not much of a poet, as you will see, but it is fun to do something a little different. Each line of my poem has the number of words for the first nine digits of pi:

3.14159365

There they lie.

Pies

blueberry and chocolate hazelnut

forbidden

baked for an adult gathering

a dinner party to which I was not invited

two pies

not for me but eaten by me

and well worth the punishment