Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I love creating settings. I'm sure that passion is a holdover from my theatrical design days. When I write, I can build a world without slamming my finger under a misplaced hammer stroke.

In fact, my one hoarding tendency is the files and files I keep of old scenic calendar pages, amazing images I've come across on the Internet, and the endless pictures I take myself. 

I keep a setting diary full of sketches or bullet pointed details when I encounter delicious visuals. Later I can draw from this resource to combine elements from completely different places into a new reality.

I get a rush when I come across a funky or unique locale to add to my diary. On the road between LA and Las Vegas there is such a goldmine.

Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, CA. Now hang on all you alien activists - it's not jerky made from aliens. It's beef jerky in dozens of flavors from traditional to habanero to whiskey. All delish, and yes, quite fresh. 

The alien themed decor is trippy and plays homage to the Area 51 mythology.

Can you imagine a character in your story encountering this mecca on a road trip?

What fun!

Do you have a system for crafting settings? Any cool roadside   stops we should add to our "must visit" list?  

BONUS NEWS: From Wed. 8-29 to Friday 8-31, the e-version of Journeys of Wonder, Volume 1 (see sidebar) is free-free-free.
Click HERE to go grab it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cause and Effect

If you give your cat some freedom,

 it may dart out from under a table.

If the cat darts out from under a table, the fiend will trip you.

If you trip and face plant on the tile, taking a dining room chair along for the ride, you will sprain your wrist. 

(which hurts more than a break I'm told
I TOTALLY believe it)

If you sprain your wrist, you will have to wear one of these.

If you wear a wrist splint, you will have to type with one hand and take pain killers.

If you take pain killers, your cat will have total freedom and you won't care anymore.

I'm over at Lisa Gail Green's Blog 
this week discussing the issue of...
...da da da
When critique partners don't agree


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

View From the 5th Grade Trenches: August 2012 - Suggestions Please

Now that the new school year is upon us, my monthly feature:  View From the 5th Grade Trenches
where I crack open my classroom door so you can peek at life in 5th grade at a public school will be starting up again.

For the first installment of the 2012-2013 school year I'm going to pick your brains.

What books should I read aloud to my class this year?

I am thrilled to open the year with:

Stand by, Lee for a barrage of questions and comments from my new crop of 5th graders.

I am seriously toying with the idea of following that with:

since I have a "thing" about kids being exposed to the book before they see the movie.

And now, it's your turn.

What is a MUST READ for my kiddos this year?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lola and Sarah

A while back Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins was getting a lot of love in Bloglandia.

I read it and fell in love myself.

When Sarah H., a former middle grade student of mine, who has now entered the YA realm of readership asked me for a book recommendation, I shouted LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR.

Sarah graciously agreed to share her authentic teen opinions of this wonderful book with all of you.

First, let's get to know Sarah.
I'm in 10th grade. My favorite subject is French. I love to go horseback riding, draw, and cook.
(Aside from Leslie: Sarah is one of THE most talented artists I've ever had the pleasure to teach.)
My goals for right now are to try the best at what I'm doing, and when I get back to school from summer break, I'm going to study hard in every subject so I can pass my classes.
(Aside from Leslie: Sarah is every teacher's dream student.)

Did the characters in Lola and the Boy Next Door feel authentic to you? 
Yes. Stephanie Perkins made every character come alive for me in the way she described them and talked about them. I liked every character, yes, even Calliope. I mean, sure she was mean at first, but near the end she was nicer to Lola. The only character I disliked was Max from the start. The way he treated Lola was harsh. I know he's the antagonist of the story, but I still didn't like him even if he did make the story interesting.

Lola is an artist. Do you find that kids with artistic gifts are celebrated in high school as much as students with other strengths like academics or sports?
Kids with artistic gifts should be celebrated more in high school. It is a talent that should be acknowledged.

What was your reaction to Lola's unique family of two dads?
I love Lola's two dads. They're just the best. Andy and Nathan make the best dads for Lola.

Did you feel the author respected the intelligence of her teen audience in the way she told Lola's story?
Yes. Lola had her first boyfriend and her first love right in front of her. Some teens can understand how Lola felt trying to decide between the two. When you have your first boyfriend you can be too crazy about him to see the problems that are happening between you and you can't let him go. That's what Lola's problem was. She was too crazy in love with Max that she didn't see he was the wrong guy for her.

Any other random thoughts about Lola and the Boy Next Door?
I liked that the story was in first person so you know what Lola's thoughts and feelings are throughout the story. I also love how the author squeezes in humor. I thought the book was perfect.

Okay, Sarah, wish list time. If one of the amazing authors out there was writing a book just for you, what would you want it to be about?
Write about my normal high school life because it's full of drama, friendship, crushes, heartbreak, betrayal, enemies, etc., but in the end, make it turn out better.

I agree, Sarah. I love it when authors make crazy life turn out better. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Lola and the Boy Next Door. 

Have you read Lola? What is your take on celebrating the arts in high school on the same level as sports and academics?