Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who won EDDIE"S WAR? It might be you!

Dear Readers,

This month there is a special reason why this LUCKY WINNER won the giveaway of EDDIE'S WAR. . .
Read below to find out why!

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

Eddie’s War
 EDDIE'S WAR (reviewed on July 1, 2011)
In her first outing for children, Saller (The Subversive Copy Editor, 2009) provides a poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.
The novel in verse is a well-worked concept, but this effort infuses new life into a genre that's become almost trite. Eddie, just 5 years old as the story begins in 1934, lives contentedly in the glorious shadow of his older brother, Thomas. A few brief vignettes capture the flavor of the pre-war years, as Eddie befriends Jozef, an immigrant his Grama calls a gypsy, who carefully scans newspapers at the library, looking for the only word he can read: the name of his home in Poland, where his wife and son still live. Eddie comes to idolize his brother’s friend, Gabe, always the most reasonable of the older boys. Eventually, Thomas and Gabe enlist as the United States enters the war, and Eddie and his parents face the trial of never knowing if Thomas will live to come home. Prejudice against Jozef forces Eddie to make a hard choice to save the beleaguered man. In spare language and remarkably short sketches, carefully selected details effectively portray well-rounded, interesting characters, from Eddie’s abusive grandfather to his evolving love interest, Sarah.
Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)  

Sometimes it's all about LUCK & TIMING or being in the right town at the right time. Joyce and I met up for a cup of vanilla latte at a little cafe in my town, Honesdale, PA! So the WINNER of the fabulous EDDIE'S WAR by Carol Saller is none other than the award winning author of BLUE, Joyce Moyer Hostetter:
Joyce Moyer

We had a wonderful chat about books and writing and the writing life. If you're ever in town, let me know. I'd love to meet you, too! Please drop by to Congratulate Joyce or just say, "Howdy!"

I'm taking a month off from blogging now. My next featured author and book giveaway will be coming up in September! Thank you again, dear readers, for your wonderful and thoughtful comments!


Monday, August 1, 2011


Dear Readers,

Please join me in celebrating the release of Eddie's War with author Carol Saller. This book will be a special treasure for many of you, because it's historical fiction set in the USA Heartland from 1934-1944. I have a copy setting on my desk to giveaway!  I LOVE this book! 

In this post, Carol shares from the heart about her long journey to publication--I know it will touch your heart the way it did mine! Congratulations, Carol! 

Carol Saller

Bio: Carol Fisher Saller copyedits scholarly books at the University of Chicago Press and is the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A. In the past she has worked as an editor of children’s books and has published several books for children in addition to a book for adults, The Subversive Copy Editor . You can read more about Carol and Eddie's War at www.carolsaller.com.

Review Clip of Eddie's War

Eddie’s War
 “A poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.... Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The Writing Journey

Clara, thank you—I’m so happy to be here today! It’s the official publication date of Eddie’s War, nearly eight (yep) years after I began writing it.

I know it seems ridiculous that such a slender novel could take so long to write. I once calculated that I averaged eleven and a half words per day (not including the time I took off to write another book). Although I’m happy with the outcome, I wouldn’t recommend my method to anyone else, and I certainly don’t plan to use it again myself! In fact, that’s what I’d like to share here—one way not to write a book.

Let me explain first that the book consists of seventy-six scenes narrated by Eddie from 1934 to 1944, and they’re written in a spare kind of prose, in short lines like this:

Duck Hunting
Hunkered in the duck blind,
trying to keep still,
broken reeds
poking through my jacket,
I squirmed.
Long fingers
like barn nails
gripped my neck:
Grampa Rob.

That’s the shortest scene, and it leans toward a poetry style. Most of the scenes are quite a bit longer and read more like regular prose. Here’s the beginning of one:

The Gossips
“Edward Carl, don’t dawdle.”
Grama Lucy gripped my elbow
and lifted
till I was on the tips of my toes
as she hustled us down Main Street.
I wasn’t dawdling,
just trying to read the headlines
of Official Detective
in the five-and-dime window.

(It continues for seventy-three more lines.)

So here’s the main way I made trouble for myself: I wrote the scenes in no particular order, as they popped into my head. They weren’t told in the first person, because I had no main character. I also had no plot, and—for the first four years—no real dramatic tension. That is, for four years I just continued to compile my little vignettes about the townspeople of Ellisville without giving any of the characters difficulties. I wanted to get them into trouble. I just wasn’t able to put them there. Maybe because I’m a mother.

In 2009 I came back to the project after putting it down for a couple of years to write another book, and at that point I nearly decided it was hopeless. All I had was a jumbled mess, like a drawer full of quilt squares that didn’t fit together. Because the historical farming facts and the inspiration for a few of the scenes were drawn from family history, the book was very close to my heart. Feeling that it probably wasn’t publishable, I considered just throwing it all together and printing out copies for my family.

But I decided to make one last try and applied for a spot in one of Stephen Roxburgh’s novel-writing workshops at Boyds Mills. And a miracle happened: Stephen read through my mess, and in the first thirty-minute one-on-one session, he completely sorted me out. He gave me two books to read for inspiration (An Na’s A Step from Heaven, which I had read once before, and Steven Herrick’s By the River, which was new to me), and he encouraged me to simply keep doing what I was doing.

“You have a handful of pearls,” he said, “but it’s not anywhere close to being a necklace.” Still, he somehow had confidence that if I just kept adding pearls, things would start to happen. Over the weekend he gave me assignments: “Write a sentence telling something about Eddie we don’t already know.” That helped me identify Eddie as the main character. Or “Introduce a new character in the fewest words possible.” That ended up being the one about duck hunting with Grampa Rob: I wrote it in forty-eight words; Stephen took a pencil and in about twenty seconds reduced it to twenty-eight and moved the words “Grampa Rob” to the end of the piece. The brilliance of that editing just blew me away! And it also clued me in on how to trim and hone the pieces myself.

I went away with instructions to write a scene a day for a month and see what happened. I didn’t manage to work that fast, but I definitely did more than eleven and a half words a day, and Stephen proved to be right: I began to see connections, threads, developments in my vignettes. I was able to arrange them in an order that made sense. I made a flowchart to see where the holes were, and started filling them in. The character of Grampa Rob introduced drama. On my own, I promoted Sarah’s character in importance to add romance and humor.

I’ll stop there, because I really hope people will read the book to see the end result! I think it’s a minor miracle that a coherent book could have come together out of such a tangle. Next time, though, the first thing I’ll do is outline a plot.

This is actually the first time I’ve spoken publicly about my struggle writing Eddie’s War, so, Clara thanks for the opportunity!

Ah, Carol, thank you for sharing such a personal journey. I know it strikes a chord with a whole bunch of us!

Dear Friends,
Please take a moment to stop by and congratulate Carol on the Book Birthday of Eddie's War. Don't forget to visit Carol here: www.carolsaller.com.  Thank you so much for joining us!