100 Books!

3. The Benefits of Being an Octopus – by Ann Braden. A good book about socio-economic class divides, growing up, and facing challenges!

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

“Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?”

100 Books…

My goal this year is to read 100 books. Currently, I’m at seventeen. I actually think I’m a little over that since I’ve read some unpublished works and there are a few books I did not finish (DNF). But there is nothing wrong with lofty goal and I’ll just continue it on to 2019 if I don’t conquer it this year.

Here are the last two books I’ve finished reading thus far. I’m putting these up in no particular order. Just counting up to one hundred!!!  At my current pace, I should hit my goal roughly 2021…

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne  Jones

Howl's Moving Castle gif

“Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye”  – Goodreads description

Howl’s Moving Castle was also made into an anime by Hayao Miyazaki. The movie is a bit different from to book, but both had moving castles…and were cool.

2. Front Desk by Kelly Yang


“Front Desk tells the story of 10-year-old Mia Tang. Every day, Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel while her parents clean the rooms. She’s proud of her job. She loves the guests and treats them like family. When one of the guests gets into trouble with the police, it shakes Mia to her core. Her parents, meanwhile, hide immigrants in the empty rooms at night. If the mean motel owner Mr. Yao finds out, they’ll be doomed!”
– Goodreads description

This was another great book! The author immigrated from China as a child and her family managed hotels while she was growing up. The author’s note explains how many parts of the story were inspired by parts of her life.


Write-On Camp at the Weymouth Center

I’ll be instructing again at Write-On Camp for 3rd-5th graders at the historical Weymouth Center and home of the NC Literary Hall of Fame. Click the picture above (from the Weymouth webpage) or read below:

“Each August, in a setting that has inspired writers for more than a century, Weymouth hosts Write-On Camp for students in grades 3-5.  This year’s camp will run Tuesday, August 1st – Thursday, August 3rd.

Hours are: Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am – noon; Thursday from 9am to 1pm.

Write-On Camp is a summer tradition that includes writing fiction and poetry.  This year, an art element has been added to explore the visual nature of the writing process.  Professional North Carolina writers and a professional art instructor will teach the August camp.

Experienced writing instructors, Beth Copeland, Laurie McKay and Karen Poppele are joined by artist, Ellen Burke, forming an outstanding team under the direction of John Amen for this year’s Write-On Camp.  Copeland is a highly acclaimed author, poet and essayist whose work has been featured on PBS Newshour.  McKay is the author of the popular young reader series, The Last Dragon Charmer. Poppele is a skilled writer and editor, specializing in creative writing.  Amen, the author of multiple books of poetry is currently on tour with his highly acclaimed, Illusion of and Overwhelm.  Burke, an experienced educator and local artist will be teaching the art of “in depth observation by exploring not only what they see, but what they think.”  Students will explore writing with inspiration from personal experience, imagination and the beautiful gardens and grounds at Weymouth Center.

There will be a student performance for parents and guests on Thursday from 12-1 pm.

Cost: $50 per child includes all supplies and snacks;  Scholarships, generously sponsored by Turnberry Press, are available for students unable to meet the cost.

Please call 910.692.6261 for more information.”

School Visit – Ocracoke!

I had a wonderful school visit with the fourth and fifth-graders of Ocracoke School on Ocracoke Island, NC. The kids were fantastic. So were the teachers and parents – including Ms. Sundae Horn who wrote an article about the visit for the Ocracoke Current. I got to eat a delicious lunch from Eduardo’s with everyone.


Also, I was much impressed with the hearts the students made for the visit. The visit was in February around Valentine’s Day.

It was a lovely visit. I hope the kids will decide to write, write, write, and that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.