Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Historical Fiction with Author Linda Oatman High

I love to read and to write historical fiction, so I was extra pleased that my friend, Linda Oatman High, agreed to be my guest and talk about the writing of her picture book set in New York City in 1910, Tenth Avenue Cowboy. Linda's book Tenth Avenue Cowboy is about a little known part of New York City history in a time when real cowboys rode the streets of Hell's Kitchen, warning children of oncoming trains.


Linda Oatman High is an author of books for children and young adults, as well as a playwright/poet/journalist/songwriter.  She holds an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College, and has been a professional writer for 20 years.  Linda grew up in Lancaster County, Pa., where she dreamed of being a Roller Derby Queen, a rock star, a TV cowgirl, or Nancy Drew.  She ended up being something even better:  a writer!  Linda presents at schools from K-college, and she is available for writing workshops, conference presentations, and school visits.  www.lindaoatmanhigh.com   Linda loves writing about history, but she also loves writing edgy young adult novels, poetry, songs, plays, and middle grade novels.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3—It's 1910, and Ben and his parents have just moved from their ranch in the West to New York City, "where they'd heard the work and the pay were the best." The lonely child, who still dreams of becoming a cowboy, misses his home and feels like an outsider in his crowded Hell's Kitchen neighborhood where the kids bully and tease him. Then he hears about the Tenth Avenue Cowboys, whose job is to gallop their horses alongside train tracks embedded in the cobblestone streets to warn people of an approaching locomotive. Striking up a friendship with these men and their horses, Ben finally begins to feel as though the city is truly his home. The lively narrative and realistic single- and double-page paintings provide a glimpse into life in early-20th-century New York City and highlight an interesting part of its past. This book could be used to expand studies of American history, cowboys, and cross-country migration. Ben's story will also speak to youngsters who have experienced change or felt like outsiders.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal  You can purchase Linda's book here:  http://amzn.to/9v1h2u
  
Linda Oatman High shares about the writing of Tenth Avenue Cowboy:

"I was reading a non-fiction book about New York City history when I came across a one-sentence mention of the Tenth Avenue Cowboys.  I was intrigued by the image of cowboys - real cowboys! - riding in the streets of Hell's Kitchen.  Upon researching the subject, I found that many children in Hell's Kitchen idolized the cowboys, looking up to them as heroes.  That was to be my plot thread, and the story turned out to be that of a young boy who moves from the West with his family.  He doesn't like living in the city, and when he connects with a cowboy named Johnny, Ben knows what he wants to be when he grows up.  My own childhood love of horses fueled the story, along with my adult love of old New York City history. 

I think that children today need more role models, and they need to know that they can follow their dreams and make wishes come true.  That is the underlying theme of Tenth Avenue Cowboy."


       SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM   
           ******LINDA OATMAN HIGH******


As an author of everything from picture books to young adult novels, Linda Oatman High visits schools from K-12 throughout the U.S.  Her school visits include a hour-long slide show assembly (may be presented up to 3 times per school day, with remaining time spent on writing workshops.)  Linda is offering a half-price DOWNTURNED ECONOMY SPECIAL for schools that schedule her during the months of October, November, or December.  Linda's usual fee is $1400/day, however during these three months her fee is cut in half to $700.00 plus travel to schools further than 50 miles from Lancaster, Pa.  Linda may be reached at 717-572-7152 or lohigh@frontiernet.net to schedule visits.  Mention the DES offer when scheduling. 


One of Linda's theme workshops is COWBOY WRITING, in which she wears a cowgirl costume and leads the students in cowboy prompts.  When Linda was a kid, she wanted to be a cowgirl.  Isn't it wonderful when real life helps us to make our dreams come true?  Learn more about Linda Oatman High, her school visits, workshops, her books, and much more by visiting her website: www.lindaoatmanhigh.com





A WRITING PROMPT FROM LINDA:
Write a story or a poem of a character in an incongruous place (i.e. a cowboy in Hell's Kitchen!)  Give that story a hero or a role model.  It could be a historical character in a modern setting.  GO!



Linda has generously donated a copy of  Tenth Avenue Cowboys, which she will personalize for one of you lucky readers.  For a chance to win, simply leave a comment. It's okay just to thank  Linda for dropping by, or to make things more interesting share what idea YOU came up with for Linda's fun and challenging writing prompt. The drawing will take place on October ONE!!!

25 comments:

  1. How interesting! I have to agree, a cowboy riding down the streets of Hells Kitchen would cause me to pause and stare. I have just begun writing a new MG novel that is based in history. It is so much fun to discover interesting ideas from the past and turn them into exciting stories. I would love to win Linda's book. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for interviewing her Clara. Always nice to meet great authors.

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  2. Thanks for leaving a comment, Jennifer. Cool that you're writing historical fiction. Your name goes in for the drawing.

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  3. Hey,

    I would LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE to win a copy! Thanks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much for dropping by Linda!

    Loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,

    Aishah

    oceanbreeze235@gmail.com

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  4. LOVEEEEEEEEEEEE your enthusiasm Aishah! Your name is entered in the drawing for the book! YAAAAAAAAAAY!

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  5. Sounds like a wonderful respite from vampires and elfs!

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  6. What a fabulous premise for a book! So amazing to have found such a fascinating historical tidbit and to have developed it into such a terrific book.

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  7. Claudia, I think it's a fabulous premise, too, and so inspiring. Now, off to look for one of those myself!

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  8. Hi Clara,
    Thanks for giving us a glance at Linda. She is Fabulous! I attended a writing workshop that she taught at Boyds Mills! She is a great teacher and motivator! I would LOVE to win the book!

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  9. I'm a big Linda Oatman High fan! Thanks for a great post!!!

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  10. I think historical picture books are the greatest. I am thinking about writing one when I get the chance to do the research. Have idea, need time. :) Thanks for sharing with us, Clara and Linda.

    Margo
    http://margodill.com/blog/

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  11. Thanks Susan and Pam for leaving comments! Your names are added for the book drawing.

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  12. With all the wonderful historical fiction and non-fiction that you review and talk about how to use them in the classroom on your blog, it seems as if historical fiction would be a perfect fit for you. Keep us posted.

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  13. Ooops--that last comment was a reply to Margo Dill. Check out her blog here: http://margodill.com/blog/

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  14. Now, here I am, New York born and bred, and I'd never heard of the Tenth Avenue cowboys. I'm very much looking forward to reading Linda's new book. Maybe I'll win it! Thanks for a great post, Clara.

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  15. Hi Toby, Thanks for stopping by! Where else but children's books can you learn such neat things. Your name goes in for the drawing!

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  16. I always love to learn more about American history. We live in a country with an amazing number of those historical tidbits that have been forgotten. Thanks, Linda, for sharing this one with readers.
    Comment by Kathy Wiechman

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  17. Tenth Avenue Cowboy looks terrific! Sign me up. Pull my name out when the time comes. Congrats Linda on a great writing career!

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  18. Thanks for stopping by, Joyce! Your name goes in for the drawing of TENTH AVENUE COWBOY!

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  19. Clara, I apologize for forgetting to let you know I received my goodies!! Your envelope, even though it is large, still got buried under junk mail and bills!! Thanks again!

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  20. Sounds like a great book that kids would really enjoy reading! I like to write historical fiction, too, so I would love to win this book. It's a great idea to find these little hidden facts and make them into a book for children to learn from and read. Thanks for the give away and the interview.

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  21. Janet. . .Thanks for stopping by! Your name goes in for the book drawing! Best wishes!

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  22. Reading historical fiction has always made history so exciting for me. It's great to know the dates and the places from history books, but when a novelist ties together the facts into a super story, the past comes to life. I've passed that on to my kids and they're historical fiction fans as well.

    I'm intrigued by the Tenth Avenue Cowboys, so whether I win or not, it's on my to buy list. Thanks to you both for the post and contest.

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  23. I agree with you, C.Lee.Historical fiction does make the past come to life!Your name goes in for the drawing!

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