Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't let the pigeon lose the race

So, I'm noodling around with an idea for my next book. While I have absolutely no story (heh), I know it revolves around pigeon racing.

Here's what I know about pigeon racing:


So when I learned that the national convention of the American Pigeon Racing Union was being held nearby, well, dang, how could I NOT go, right?

AND - there was going to be a Junior race (for kids who race pigeons). Oh, yeah!

It was totally fascinating.

I talked to lots of kids about raising and training their pigeons.

For this race, the pigeons flew 217 miles!!! From Ilion, NY to Somerset, MA.

Five hours straight.

Isn't that amazing??

And they find their way back to their loft!!??

Here is the loft:

These are breeders (as opposed to racers):

A fancy schmancy fantail pigeon:

Here they come!! This part was SO exciting!! They literally made a huge shadow over the ground and circled around and around in a big flock - having just flown FIVE HOURS and 217 miles:

Swooping down to the loft:

Landing on the loft. (They just flew in from New York and, boy, are their wings tired.)

A couple of stragglers:

When they enter the loft, they walk over a pad that scans their band and sends their time to a computer.

The kids I talked to were awesome. They told me about building their lofts out of scrap wood from the dump...and which pigeons were their favorites....and how sometimes they lose them, etc. etc.

Okay, now all I need is a story.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

National Gallery of Writing

This is my contribution to the National Gallery of Writing, sponsored by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Young Hoosier Award Nomination

How to Steal a Dog has been nominated for the 2010-2011 Indiana Young Hoosier Award.

That brings the total state book award nominations to 17 (but who's counting?).

A lovely review

Many thanks to Megan Germano over at Read, Read, Read, for this lovely review of The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by my friend, Grace Lin, has been chosen as December's book club pick by Al Roker of the Today Show!

Go, Grace...go, Grace....go, Grace.

I love you, Steve Jobs

You listened to me! Finally somebody listened to me!

A new Apple wireless mouse!

I am so happy.

Please, please, please be a GOOD mouse.

Stevie, tell me it's a GOOD mouse.

(I'm going to totally ignore that person who left a one-starred review on the Apple web site. I did NOT see that one star. I did NOT.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm back

Back from my temporary retreat. Thanks so much for all the kind words.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Temporarily closed

My beloved father-in-law passed away yesterday. He was a great man and I adored him.

So - I'm hanging up the ole "Closed" sign for a few days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make.

--Truman Capote

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


First she does this:

Then she does this:

How do you stay mad at a dog like that?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stupidest post ever

I know, I know. This is, like, the stupidest post ever. But I can't seem to get my writing in gear so I'm staring at my bookshelf.

On the very top shelf is a clock my son made when he was six. (He is now twenty-two.)

In the basket on the top shelf are my vices: video games for my Nintendo DS.

On the next shelf is my new little Willy dog, a Smoky Mountain thermometer, and my favorite writing books....and.... inspirational paperweight that I got from my uber cool friend and writer, Kim Marcus - at our crit group holiday gift swap.

One of my many bird nests (I have a collection) and some of my manuals because I have OMD (obsessive manual disorder).

Some of my many children's books and a vintage globe bank like the one I had as a kid.

More manuals (I told ya) and several tons of revisions.

The bottom shelf has a box I like that holds junk and my "Ego Books." Those are scrapbooks with every nice thing or semi-nice thing or sorta nice thing anyone has ever said about me (and reviews and letters and articles and stuff like that.) I save these things in notebooks because it's much cheaper than therapy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Notebooks and boxes

Because of my obsessively organized nature, I absolutely LOVE boxes - pretty, fabric covered boxes, little wooden boxes, handsome leather boxes. Sometimes I buy boxes and then have to think of something to put in them.

You'd be surprised the things you can put in a nice little box: spare keys, paperclips, all those chargers and cords that amass, letters and pictures from kids, etc.

I also love notebooks. Pretty fabric covered notebooks, handsome leather notebooks.

Now, oddly enough, I am not a journal writer.

So I use my lovely little notebooks for mundane things like grocery lists and phone messages.

But that makes the little minutiae of life so much more pleasant.

At any rate, I love this notebook so much!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Long ago and far away

A million, trillion years ago... a galaxy far away....

...I was a hippie.

See, I was a doggie gal even back then. Those dogs are named Bubba and Katie. And guess what? I still have that coat!!!!

I lived at the end of a long and bumpy dirt road, lined with blackberry bushes and wild day lilies...

In a ramshackle little house that I loved.

I worked three nights a week as a cocktail waitress way out in a country bar called Wayne and Jimmy's. I came home with $100 cash in my jeans each night and felt quite wealthy.

I had a '65 VW van with a rusted out bottom that was named "The Green Bean." That van took me to the Smoky Mountains many times.

This was written on the back of that photo:

And then I left the South where I had grown up and headed to California. I moved into the basement of a villa in the Hollywood Hills that used to be the home of Barbara Stanwyck but had been converted into apartments.

I took a class on writing for children at UCLA.

And a lot of other stuff happened and now I live in New England and write books for children.

The End

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


What am I going to do with SEVENTY Yoohoo boats?

I can't tell you yet.

But trust me, it takes a long time to make 70 Yoohoo boats.

(And B, aren't you impressed? I sure could have used your help when I was making these!)

Monday, October 5, 2009


Could there be a better review than this? So fun and spunky and, well, good!

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis

by Barbara O’Connor

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Ages 9-12

Hardcover: $16.99

Fall, 2009

Review by Grier Jewell

Barbara O’Connor has a knack for creating offbeat characters living a few degrees north of normal (but never with cartoonish effect). The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis is no exception.

Recipe for this irresistible middle grade novel:

Mix Together

1 very bored boy with a bad eye

1 no good, no account uncle

1 grandmother with an obsessive fear of cracking up


A pack of wild children stuck in a stranded RV

Several mysterious Yoo-hoo boats floating down a creek

1 eccentric girl with wings

Pour into a pan of mad talent and READ!

Though the world of Popeye is far from average, it’s normal as far as he’s concerned. All he needs is a little adventure to break up the boredom of every day tick tick ticking away.

As the title states, this is a small adventure. Small, as in: a spark of genius wrapped up in a tiny childhood treasure. Any world O’Connor creates is one I want to inhabit. Popeye’s is no exception. Get The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. I command you.

See more fantastic reviews by Grier Jewell, reviewing for the Whidbey Writers Workshop.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gentlemen, start your engines

I'm heading out to the Berkshires this weekend for our annual trip to the car races at Lime Rock Race Track.

We've been every year for about 15 years or so.

This year the forecast is for rain, rain, rain.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009