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."

           ******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

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!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It's been a thrilling week! Lindsay and Maggie should feel very loved! Thank you everyone for your enthusiastic comments!  

And the WINNERS are:

Posters:  Carriann Shultz
               Becky Povich
               Kristin Gray 
               Rebecca  T
               Susan Couture

Autographed copy of MAGGIE'S BALL goes to: Margo Dill

Congratulations, Margo!!!



   !!!!!!!!  PRESTON AREA SCHOOL !!!!!! 

All winners please e-mail me claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot)com with your mailing address! 

Preston Area School, please send me an e-mail with a contact person for setting up your FREE school visit with Lindsay! 
WOW! I can hear the cheering from here!  

Don't forget to visit Lindsay's website for your FREE coloring pages for kids!   lindsaybarrettgeorge.com  

Next up is author Linda Oatman High who will be talking to us about her historical fiction picture book, Tenth Avenue Cowboy


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Presenting the very talented Illustrator Author--Lindsay Barrett George

Please welcome my dear and generous friend, the very talented illustrator and author, Lindsay Barrett George. She's sharing with us about how she became an artist, about her writing/illustrating process and about her newest book, Maggie's Ball. Read to the end to learn about the very special Back-To-School giveaways from Lindsay! 

"I was born on an island where parrots and crabs and starfish and whales lived outside my bedroom window. I drew them. I now live in the country, where deer and otter and bear and heron inhabit my backyard. I draw them. How cool is it that some things never change?

My sense of wonder and belief in the power of books goes way back to my encounter with my parents' volume of the "Wonder Book of Knowledge". On page 469 there was a photo of a sea monster caught off the coast of Florida. At the age of two, I believed that the sea monster was alive in the book, and I would avoid walking too closely to the Wonder Book. . .way too scary! Do books have power?

My artwork has always been about my environment. While living in New York City, I worked in children's publishing, but in my free time I made wordless books. . .books about the city, city dogs, city foods and city stories. I fell in love with the book as a story telling object.

I love mysteries. As I start out to create each of my books, I feel as though I have a mystery to solve. Writing the story and designing the book is my way of finding the solution. There is magic for me in creating children's books. I also love the "aha" moments when ideas come together and pop. For me, that usually happens while driving the car, walking my dogs, or in the moments just before waking, in the very early morning. I often look for happy accidents, or patterns.

About my process:

It all starts with a concept -- concept is king! Without a concept, there is no book.
Next, I start writing down all that I want to say, what I think the story is. . .and then,
I start to tweak. And re-write.

As I revise my story, I'm also making little dummies of the book--paper folded into the correct pagination for my picture book (32 pages is a good start) with the text taped in place. Until I make my initial dummy, I can't see how the story will flow as a book, or how it will page out--a book's rhythm is critical to its success as a page turning object.

After several dummies, I start working on a sample full color spread to see how the book will look.

I go back and forth between revised text, revised dummy and painted samples of several pages. And after I feel that everything has balance, that everything is working together to make my story come alive for my reader, I then submit my dummy to my editor, along with the full color painting.

For a little girl whose passion was drawing birds and fish and flowers and trees, to end up as an artist whose passion is drawing birds and fish and flowers and trees--it doesn't get any better."

Learn more about Lindsay here: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com  It's very visual, of course, and filled with warmth, like Lindsay. You'll learn about the many books she's written and illustrated. There are special FUN pages for kids to color, and much more you'll want to check out!

Maggie's Ball by Lindsay Barrett George (Kirkus *Starred Review) "When a strong wind sends Maggie's ball bouncing away, the floppy-eared pup sets out on a mission. Through the town she traipses to find her beloved yellow ball. Decoys, including a lemon, a pocket watch and a balloon send her scurrying from market to clock shop and, finally, to the park, where the disheartened dog sits unknowingly near her toy. But the journey isn't without purpose, as a young girl finds the ball, and, what's more, a friend in Maggie. [Lindsay] George effectively communicates Maggie's physical and emotional journey through multiple perspectives. Close-ups tell of Maggie's curiosity, dejection and joy, while aerial-like views create a visual roadmap of the town. The artwork's flatness hints at pre-Renaissance perspective, but the textures and bright palette--done in a water-based medium--conjure Mexican muralism. A consistent, directional progression of the story, large, easy-to-red type, the challenge of finding the characters and naming the objects and places, and the gentle, sweet ending make Maggie's adventure a perfect title for young readers, who want their own pup to play with by tale's end." (Picture book Ages 2-5/Published by Greenwillow Books) Order your copy of Maggie's Ball: http://amzn.to/bjRQbP     Now meet the real Maggie from the book:

Isn't she sweet? Maggie loves people and kids! I know, because we're friends. Sometimes she even goes to school visits with Lindsay:

Speaking of school visits, it's time to tell you about the wonderful giveaways that Lindsay is so generously donating to readers!

First: Lindsay has donated 5 signed posters from the book.
Second: Lindsay has donated a copy of Maggie's Ball autographed by Maggie and Lindsay.

And now the BACK TO SCHOOL GRAND PRIZE:  ONE FREE SCHOOL VISIT  to one of you lucky lucky teachers or school librarians!  Lindsay will come to your school for FREE if your school is willing to pay her travel expenses. That's it. She'll go anywhere in the USA!

How to WIN: As always, you must leave a comment here. The more times your write in, the better your chances of winning, since ALL winners for ALL prizes are chosen by random.org.

HINT: If you are a teacher or a librarian and would like to win, pass the word to your colleagues in your school district and have them leave a comment, too.

If you are a parent and would like Lindsay to visit your school, make sure the teachers in your child's school know about this very special gift! You can leave a comment for your child's school as well, as long as the school is willing to front Lindsay's travel expenses.

Hurry, because the drawing is in ONE WEEK!!!! Please pass the word! Here's the link to Lindsay's website one more time: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com   If you want to be entered in the drawing for the book and posters only, be sure to put that in your comment. If you want to be entered in the contest for all the prizes, write: MY SCHOOL WANTS LINDSAY to come! Good luck!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who is the Lucky Winner of ONE SQUARE INCH plus more

Dear readers,

By now you know that I have a tasty treat in store for you before I announce the lucky winner, and today is no exception! How Oliver Olson Changed the World http://amzn.to/c2xnut is a very special book by author Claudia Mills, a book I know many of you have read or you've heard about. If you have kids in elementary school, you won't want them to miss this book. Just look at the wonderful reviews and the awards and honors that OLIVER has received:

*An American Library Association   Notable Book

*New York Public Library 100 

 Titles for Reading and Sharing

*BCCB Blue Ribbon book


"Better than gold.  Better than diamonds and jewels.  It's an early chapter book that's thoughtful, original, funny, and wry." - Elizabeth Bird, Fuse 8

"Mills has a knack for creating characters who demand compassion due to a pitch-perfect sense of humor and pathos." - School Library Journal

You want to read more, right? Here's the amazon link: http://amzn.to/c2xnut 
And in case you didn't check out Claudia's web-site, you can do it now: www.claudiamillsauthor.com 

Now that you are completely charmed by OLIVER (He's so winsome!), it's time to announce the winner:

The LUCKY WINNER generated by random.org is:  Nancye 

Congratulations, Nancye! Please e-mail me at claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com with your home address and your copy of ONE SQUARE INCH will be on its way to you. You have one week to respond. After that, the numbers go back in the random tumbler and a new winner will be picked!

Next up is the prolific author/illustrator, Lindsay Barrett George! She has an extra special giveaway for schools! Please spread the word to all your teacher and librarian friends. Thanks so much!