Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Announcing the lucky winner of The Best and Hardest Thing


Before announcing  the name of the lucky of the Comment Contest for Pat Brisson's new book, The Best and Hardest Thing I'm thrilled to share this wonderful FIVE *****starred review from the highly regarded and well-known reviewer (I'm sure you'll all recognize his name from, Richie Partington a.k.a Richie's Picks. Here's a clip from his review:

". . .No matter whose statistics and trends you examine, there is no question that there are still far too many adolescents who lack accurate information, who engage in sex, and who engage in unprotected sex. THE BEST AND HARDEST THING is one of those high-interest books of great value that you want to get in the hands of lots of eighth and ninth graders in the hope that some of them will later recognize and respond responsibly to the developing signs of temporary hormonal insanity in their own minds." 

And NOW the winner from Amy!  Amy, please e-mail me by June 2nd with your full name and address to receive your autographed book. After that date the names will go back in for a new drawing. claragillowclark (@)

So what's coming in the months ahead? 

June and July, I'll be posting a summer workshop with a few surprises for writers!

Novelist Claudia Mills has agreed to talk about her forthcoming book, and also Lindsay Barrett George, author/illustrator will be sharing her new book along with a very special giveaway from both of us. Teachers/librarians won't want to miss that one!

Later on in the fall, I'll be hosting a Writing Contest with prizes, including K.L.Going's book, Writing & Selling the YA Novel.

Thanks, Pat, for sharing an inside look at the writing of The Best and Hardest Thing, and thank you, dear readers, for stopping by to comment! See you in a week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Author Pat Brisson talks about how she came to write, The Best and Hardest Thing

How I Came to Write The Best and Hardest Thing
Pat Brisson   published May 2010 by Viking Press 
I am primarily a picture book author, and tend to think short.  But several members of my writing group write novels and I’ve long been tempted to give one a try, although the thought of holding all those ideas, themes, characters, and scenes in my head for such a long time seemed daunting. So I chose an idea I could sum up in a single sentence: A fifteen-year-old gets pregnant and decides to give up her baby for adoption.
I’ve heard people compare picture books to poetry, because every word counts and the best are written in a lyrical style.  And since I’ve written picture books, I naively thought I could write a novel in verse. It would be easy!  Like writing a lot of little picture books!  Hah!
It wasn’t easy.  But it was definitely a learning experience.  I bought many books about how poetry works and how to write poems and gave myself a crash course, trying to learn as much as I could.  I would start each morning reading about forms and find one – a pantoum, for instance, where the second and fourth lines are repeated as the first and third lines of the following stanza, - and think: this form would be great for showing the character’s mind going back and forth trying to make a difficult decision.  Then I’d spend the afternoon writing a pantoum for the book.  This went on for months. Okay. . . years.
I learned about the aubade, the sonnet, the triolet, the haiku, the ballad, the blues poem, the villanelle, the list poem, the performance poem, the pastiche.  I learned about free verse and blank verse, the use of repetition, and meter, metaphor, simile, personification, line breaks and different kinds of rhymes.  And I tried to incorporate the things I was learning into the book I was writing.  It was a challenging undertaking, but one I enjoyed. 
And I thought that readers might enjoy learning some of the things I had learned about poetry, so I decided to include a Chatty Glossary in the back of the book.  This would be like an author chat – a chance for me to explain the different forms and why I chose them for that particular poem.  I thought it was a genius idea, but my publisher didn’t share my opinion. So if you want to see the Chatty Glossary, go to my website  and let me know what you think, okay?
I hope you enjoy reading The Best and Hardest Thing.  And I hope you read the Chatty Glossary.  But most of all, I hope you fall in love with poetry.  Read it.  Memorize it.  Let it speak to you and let it carry you through the rough times and the happy times.  Try your hand at writing it and find out for yourself how satisfying this search for the right word, perfect image and beautiful sound can be.

Pat, with help from her son, created a couple of  awesome youtube videos about her new book to share with readers. You won't want to miss that box of matches. Sparks fly! Listen as Pat reads excerpts on these links:

The Best and Hardest Thing will resonate with teenage girls on many levels, because it is about so much more than what happens when you're fifteen and make a mistake. I'm not going to say more about the story; I want you to read it for yourselves. I will tell you that the ending is unforgettable. Yes, I wept, and then I wept some more. If you are a teen or love a teen or was a teen, then buy this book. Share it; give it often as a gift. The story will stay with you long after you've read the last page. Thank you, Pat, for writing this book!

Pat has graciously donated an autographed copy of The Best and Hardest Thing. Simply leave a comment on this post by May 26th for a chance to win the book! The winner will be chosen by You can also purchase a copy by clicking on this shortened link:

While you're over at amazon, take a look at Pat's new picture book, Sometimes We Were Brave published Jan 2010 by Boyds Mills Press (
 Jerome's mom is a sailor. When her ship is in home port, she and Jerome bake cookies, read books together, and take their dog, Duffy, for walks. When mom's ship goes to sea, she gives Jerome a hug and says, "Be brave, Jerome. I'll be back as soon as I can." 

Here's the link to Pat's web-site one more time.

Leave a comment by May 26th for a chance to win The Best and Hardest Thing!  We look forward to hearing from you.

Oops! To view comments, please scroll down a lot! Thank you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maragaret and Sam share their winning stories in the SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST

Please welcome the 2nd and 3rd place winners in the Spilling Ink Writing Contest.The writers had a choice of two writing prompts taken from the book, Spilling Ink, co-authored by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. They had to limit their stories to 250 words. 

You'll be impressed by Margaret and Sam's stories and you'll also get an idea how tough it was to judge a contest with so many talented young writers. So thank you, again, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, for judging this contest for me!

The runner up in the Spilling Ink Writing Contest is Margaret Bruetsch. Please welcome Margaret and join me in congratulating her.Margaret received a $15 gift certificate to the bookstore of her choice and an autographed copy of Hill Hawk Hattie.  Congratulations, Margaret!  Please leave a comment for Margaret and let her know what you loved about her story.        

The AUTHOR in her own words: 
I am sophomore at Sullivan West H.S. I love to read and sing and act. I'm an aspiring author and I also write songs. I have so many favorite books but my top two are The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein and The Stand by Stephen King. Favorite book series on the other hand are The Magic Treehouse series (I learned to read with those books) by Mary Pope Osbourne and the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling...and of course your books. :) [She means me. . .Clara Gillow Clark. How sweet is that?]  I love music from the sixties and seventies like The Beatles, Carole King and Jackson Browne


   As I walked down the hallway, I caught his eye and the butterflies in my stomach made me feel sick. I had to do this; I had to ask him one question. He had his backpack in hand and his jacket in another and was ready to leave. I was hoping he’d wait for me and as if he had read my thoughts he stopped and turned around.
      “Hey there,” He said and I smiled the butterflies calming down.
      “Hi,” I shyly said and prayed for a little courage, “Are you busy tomorrow night?”
      “No,” he replied and I saw him smirk a bit, “Why?”
      “We’re going to the Liberty show and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me?”
      “Yeah definitely,” he smiled and I felt a little better, “Now it’s my turn.”
      “Your turn for what?” I asked the butterflies returning.
      “Asking you to the movies next Friday,” he laughed and smiled, “You free?”
      “Yeah,” I smiled and looked up at him, “I am.”
      “Cool,” he whispered and the butterflies finally stopped.
      We walked out to the buses together and, as the buses pulled out of the parking lot, I realized one thing. I had taken a risk and it didn’t hurt me, it helped me. The boy I had been crushing on for almost two years had agreed to go out with me and then; he had asked me on a date. Spring had sprung and had given me something new. Goodbye butterflies.


Please welcome and join me in congratulating the final winner in the Spilling Ink Writing Contest. Sam Murphy chose my book, Willie and the Rattlesnake King as his prize. Take a bow, Sam!

The AUTHOR in his own words  My name is Sam Murphy. I was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. I was born in the year of 1997. I have two sisters and one brother. I have an old English bulldog named Gunner that is two years old. I have a Dad that’s in the Army and a Mom that stays home with us. My brother is five, my sisters are eight and eleven. I also have another dog that lives with my Grandma and Grandpa. Her name is Amy Linn. She’s about twelve years old. I've lived in Humboldt, Iowa most of my life.
          I like to play just about every sport, but mostly I play basketball. I like to play football with my friends at the park. I’ve moved about five times in my life because of my dad’s job at Fareway. I have more friends than I could count because of all the moves. In my free time I like to draw. I mostly draw superheroes or cars. I also like to write stories about people getting into all kinds of trouble.
          Thanks for choosing me for one of the winners.
"Who is that Mystery Man?"
      One day in New York a man named Michael was walking down Main Street to see his mom at the local store, when all of a sudden he was handed a box by some stranger. He said, “Now I want you to go home and don’t open this until 6:00 at night. So that’s what he did. When he opened it this is what he saw in a vision.
      He saw something so amazing in that box. He saw him as a kid and growing up. He saw his football season in high school. He loved the part when he fell and got ice cream in his face. He kept watching and laughed at all kinds of stuff. He liked watching when he got his first car and his first jersey.
  He liked knowing that if he kept the box he could live his whole life every day. He just wished he knew the mystery man that gave him this box. He kept watching and seen him and his brother on their bikes they got for Christmas. He saw his Grandma before she got in that car wreck ten years ago.
      After that he shut the box and said, “Wow, I can’t believe I relived my life.”


It was a pleasure to host this writing contest and share these young authors with all of you. Please take a moment to leave a comment for Sam and Margaret to let them know what you liked about their stories or to congratulate them on winning! Thank you, dear readers.