Monday, August 19, 2013

Catching Up

News alert: Since I last posted, I became a published writer of fiction. Okay, so it's flash fiction and it's online, and I was paid all of $3, but it's a publishing credit. Visit this page on Every Day Fiction if you'd like to read my story. I have another story coming in September from Twisted Endings.

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So sorry I haven't been around lately. I'm back from my blogging break, which wrapped up with two weeks' vacation in Maine. My family and I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania. So why do we go to Maine, when we could more easily drive to New Jersey's beaches, or the Chesapeake Bay?

I think a few photos will explain that.

Back Cove, West Boothbay, Maine





Back Cove, West Boothbay, Maine

Looking the other direction toward Boothbay Harbor




My husband walking on Ogunquit Beach 
Ogunquit's rocky coastline 


That, my friends, is a Lobster BLT, and it was delicious



But enough dreaming about my vacation (sigh!). It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. And on my blogging break, besides finishing a much-needed revision and blueprinting a new novel, I tried to catch up on some middle grade classics I'd missed. I bought these books from my friendly local second-hand bookshop. I recommend all three of these, though by today's standards, they're a wee bit old-fashioned.


The Witches by Roald Dahl (Puffin paperback 1998)

Synopsis from indiebound: This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches.

Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There's nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma's stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself.

My take: Like every Roald Dahl book, this is imaginative, funny, fast-paced, and well worth reading.



My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (Puffin paperback 2001)

Synopsis from Indiebound: Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever. Named a Newbery honor in 1960.

My take: Lovely, in an idealistic sort of way. I've always enjoyed books about a kid on his own in the wilderness (Hatchet, for instance) and how he manages to make fish hooks, build a shelter, and figure out what berries to eat. I doubt real parents would be as unconcerned about his adventure as Sam's seem to be (but I was really glad his Dad came to visit him at Christmas). This is one of those quiet books that simply don't get published today. If you're looking for more excitement, stick with Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.




The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois (Puffin paperback 1986)

Synopsis from Indiebound: Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions. Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal.

My take: A fun, old-fashioned story, this felt like The Wizard of Oz meets Around the World in 80 Days. No one writes books like this anymore. For one thing, the main character is an old man, not a child. I'm not sure if today's kids would enjoy this, but I did.

While in Maine, I read Neil Gaiman's new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is not for kids. But it's filled with gorgeous writing, so read it if you get a chance.

What did you read this summer?

36 comments:

  1. Congrats on being published! We have to celebrate those moments, whatever they are.

    My summer was busy, busy, busy. Sigh. Had hoped for lazy, lazy, lazy.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. And sorry you haven't much time to relax. Hope you can get a long weekend somewhere.

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  2. Congrats again!!
    Maine looks beautiful. Can't wait to catch up.
    I'm just glad school is around the corner. :)

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    1. I saw a school bus in my neighborhood today. They're getting ready!

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  3. Congratulations, Joanne! How exciting!

    The pictures are lovely -- and nothing like New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland beaches. I can see why you prefer Maine!

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    1. Thanks, Dianne. Yes, Maine is never really crowded.

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  4. Looks like you had a beautiful vacation! I just bought The Twenty-One Balloons (ebook version) earlier this summer. It's still waiting its turn to be read. (I was far too optimistic as to how much reading I would have time for on vacation.) But I'm glad to see my hopes of it being a good book matches your recommendation :-)

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    1. I'll be interested in hearing your opinion on the book when you read it, Kim.

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  5. Summer is far from over here. I read and also did campnano.
    On my way to read your published piece. Congratulations!!!

    ~Akoss

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    1. Ah, where you live it's summer all year round, isn't it? :) We got back yesterday, and today I noticed signs of autumn already. My burning bushes are starting to turn red. And it's cooling off at night here.

      Thanks, Akoss. How did Camp Nano go? I'll be over to check your blog soon.

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    2. Campnano went well. I wrote 20000 words. :)

      ~Akoss

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  6. Welcome back Joanne! And congratulations on your publishing credit, so awesome! Your photos are beautiful. Besides The Witches, I've missed these classics too. Hmm. Will have to check them out. Oh. And can I have that Lobster BLT? Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Melissa!

      You can have a lobster BLT anytime you want to make the trip to Maine. :) Lots of restaurants were serving them. It's a bit different from the standard lobster roll I usually eat.

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  7. Great job! I'm heading over to read your story now. Congrats! Also, I love the photos it looks like the perfect place to spend a vacation. That's my kind of place to chill out and and slow down. Beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Pam.

      Chill out and slow down is exactly what we did!

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  8. I totally u dear stand why you went where you went! Oh. My. Gosh. Reading mostly middle grade arcs right now including Real Boy by Anne Ursu. Also read The Center of Everything by Linda Urban. Loved! My Side of the Mountain was my favourite book growing up. When I re read it recently I thought YIKES on the parents lol!! Thanks for the post and welcome back!

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    1. Maine is simply lovely, isn't it?

      Sounds like you've done plenty of reading this summer, Deb. How funny you had that thought about Sam's parents too.

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  9. Congrats on the publication! :)
    I love all these stories, as well as the new Neil Gaiman book.
    And I really wish I could have joined you in that scrumptious lunch!

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    1. Thanks, Faith. Glad to hear you liked the new Neil Gaiman book too.

      I didn't take anywhere near enough photos of lunches and dinners. Now I wish I had.

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  10. And CONGRATS on your story!

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  11. Congrats Ms. Fritz! :D I love Roald Dahl's Witches!

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  12. Welcome back! I haven't read any of the classics you mentioned, although I have read other Roald Dahl books. Gorgeous pictures!

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  13. Exciting! Congrats on your publication and I love these pictures you've shared! It's nice to meet you Joanne and I look forward to following your updates :)

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    1. Nice to meet you too, Emilyann. Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Looks like you had a lovely vacation. Congrats on your new status as published author and welcome back!

    Cindy

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  15. YAY Joanne-- well done on the publications! I will check them out. Your photos make it really clear why you visit Maine-- WOW! Gorgeous!
    These are all books that I have heard great things about but never gotten around to reading. I will put them on my list. :0)

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    1. Thanks, Kat. Good to hear from you. And thanks for tweeting about my story!

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  16. Congratulations! I'll check out the link.

    Those pictures are beautiful. What a wonderful break.

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  17. Love your vacation pictures. I can definitely see why you go back! :) Congrats on your publishing credit, very exciting for you!

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.