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Nothing buoys an author's spirit more than readers taking the time to post good things about their books. Leslie Santamaria recently reviewed A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:
"This book is so satisfying. Hailee and her friends are realistic characters dealing with the challenges of middle school in a variety of ways. Hailee's voice rings true, and I was pulling for her the whole way, even as she made mistakes. When her family wins the lottery, she thinks her life will become full of luxury, but her parents' choices surprise and stretch her, and she makes some wrong choices that eventually help her find her way home. Haworth's tightly poetic use of language and metaphor is delightful."
Thank you, Leslie!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Monday, April 15, 2013
I've just wrapped up an excellent Skype visit with Mr. Jensen and students from Hunting Ridge Elementary in Illinois, where, I'm told, it's thirty-three degrees. I'm always impressed by students like these: attentive, responsive and inquisitive. Hunting Ridge students: You made my day!
They looked all nice and comfy, draped on bean bags and lying on the floor. And they'd decorated the whiteboard for me! Thank you so much, Mr. Jensen and students, for the great session!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Thursday, March 07, 2013
I've just ended a Skype visit with Mr. Michaels's class at Woodland Elementary School in Pennsylvania in which we talked about ME & JACK. What an excellent group of students! The class is almost finished with the book, so I had to be careful and not spoil the ending, but we had so much still to talk about!
As an Air Force kid, I lived in Pennsylvania for three years. To this day, Pennsylvania is my favorite Air Force home. My brothers, sister, and I, and our friends spent most of our time outdoors, climbing trees or exploring the mountain. Summer nights, we played Monster--some people call it Manhunt--and winter often iced over our steep mountain road, turning it into a giant slide.
When I wrote Me & Jack, it was important to me to take the reader up the mountain, to see the grandeur of the woods, how a person can be swallowed by its bigness. I also wanted to touch on the complexities of friendships: being an outsider, being an insider, jealousy, loyalty, and the whole mix of feelings involved. Of course, the heart of the book is the relationship between Joshua (the boy) and Jack (the dog). I think even adults connect with pets on a personal level. They're happy to see us; they're our friends when we feel alone; they make us laugh and they make us feel good. My dog, Casey, sits by me as I write, so it was only natural for her to appear a couple times during the visit. (Or maybe I just think she's so cute and I want everyone to see her!)
The students had great questions, and I could tell they'd put some thought into what they had to say. Thank you, Mr. Michaels and class, for a great visit!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Thursday, February 21, 2013
So last night we were second in line to get into the Improv to see comedian Orny Adams. In this big empty room, the server led my sister and me to a table in the back. I've been waiting months for this show, I got here early, and I own all of Orny's CD/DVDs. Clearly this was not going to sit well with me.
Me: Can't we sit up front?
Server: We like to put couples up there.
Me: *Walks over to front and center table.* This is where I want to sit.
Yes, dear reader, this story has a happy ending! We got the table of my dreams and some nice seatmates. The guy across the table from me asked if it would be okay for him to check Facebook during the show. "No," I said. "Don't do it! Orny doesn't like that!" And really, it's rude to do that to anyone who is presenting. Mid-set, a woman a few tables down whipped out her phone and started texting. Orny called her out! In a nice way, of course, but he wondered aloud if she thought he wouldn't see that bright light reflecting off her face. When the show was over, our tablemate thanked us for our astute advice. In any case, Orny was excellent!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Sunday, January 27, 2013
What an excellent weekend that just passed! For us, it was four days--four days of relaxing, sleeping in, NOT cooking, and the best part of all--COMEDY!
My sister and I saw Jerry Seinfeld for the first time. If you've seen only his clips as part of the Seinfeld show, you'd be in for a treat; he is so much more animated live. Later, as we recounted bits to each other, I realized Jerry was all over the stage acting out his stories. He worked the entire place and it seemed so natural. I couldn't believe some of the stuff he said--so trivial and so very true as to make you wonder How did he know I felt like that? For instance, he mentioned how we, the audience members, were finally sitting down after an evening of stress trying to get to the show. Specifically, he said, What am I going to eat when I get there? Will they have food? What if I'm hungry?
That's exactly what I said to my husband before I left!
It's those tiny moments of recognition that make an observational comic humorous.
While we were laughing in O-town, my brother and my cousin sat in front of Brian Regan at Detroit's beautiful Fox theater. Let's compare, shall we:
Here's where I was:
Here's where my brother was:
In any case, an excellent weekend for comedy. And it's not over yet--Chele and I see Orny Adams this Saturday--hooray!
Other chit chat: The season premiere for White Collar is on tonight; set your DVRs. My son came downstairs yesterday afternoon and asked me to watch the front door. Apparently, he'd ordered pizza delivery for himself! He told me the bill was $16 something, and his plan was to tell the guy, Keep the change. And that's what he did! The best part was that he offered some to me, and he'd purchased some pop for my husband. Yay! What a generous boy. Finally, we are having our second week of winter here in O-town--the highs are in the low 70s.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Since I love all things U2, I was shocked--shocked, I tell you--when my DVR picked up the September 26, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Megan Fox and featuring U2! I couldn't believe how lucky I was!
U2 played four songs during the original airing, one being performed after the cameras went off. Oh, those lucky audience members! For us TV viewers, the show closed with Bono wearing his laser jacket while singing "Ultraviolet." The newest album is not among my favorites, but I sure do love that laser jacket!
Here's a pic of my cousin* Paul during the 360 tour:
*I'm part Irish, so I figure we're related somewhere down the line.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Friday, January 11, 2013
Confession time! I do sometimes look around the Interwebs for my books. I try not to; you never know when you have to duck a rotten tomato. But tonight I stumbled upon the kind of review that makes any middle-grade writer's day--positive words from an elementary school librarian! From her review: "A Whole Lot of Lucky is a novel I will happily recommend to my middle grade girls. . . . I loved the Florida setting and the fact that Hailee loves reading and refers to the various books she is immersed in.
A Whole Lot of Lucky is a perfect realistic fiction novel for the middle grade reader."
Here's the link: Books Are My Thing
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Did I ever tell you you're my hero? haha
Did I ever tell you I have a You Tube channel? Please check it out! Danette Haworth You Tube Channel Great stuff for authors, including an interview with Barnes and Noble CRM, Geoffrey Shoffstall.
Bargain deals: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is available in HARDCOVER FOR LESS THAN $5.00 ON AMAZON! Perfect for your middle-grade reader this Christmas! Also, I've been keeping a craft book open as I work on my new manuscript--lit agent Mary Kole's Writing Irresistable KidLit, available in paperback and ebook. Perfect for the writer on your Christmas list! Look for my review soon!
JERRY SEINFELD and ORNY ADAMS! On separate dates in January, I get to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Bob Carr, Orlando, and Orny Adams at the Improv! I cannot wait! I've never seen Seinfeld live before, but I have seen Orny and he was excellent. Not only that, but he did a meet-and-greet afterwards and was so patient with me and my sister, spending probably fifteen minutes or so with us because my iPhone camera was flaking out (which, honestly, worked out, because we got to spend more time with Orny!). The only thing that could make the new year better? Brian Regan tickets in February! Dare I to spend more money on comedy?
And finally, Casey and I were hanging around in the backyard today, and I swear I smelled the sweet, powdery scent of orange blossoms. My neighbor's trees are ornamented with perfectly round, shiny oranges, but no blossoms. A close inspection of the greenbelt behind my yard (read: marsh populated by gators, river otter, rattle snakes, scorpions and more) revealed some kind of weedy tree, resplendent with tiny white buds, emitting the sweet perfume.
That is all for today! Tomorrow, back to work!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Sunday, December 16, 2012
Fifth grade reader Riley sent me this email:
"I love the book me and jack so much i am doing my book report on it so if you could write back that would be so cool. I love the book me and jack."
I wrote back, asking what Riley's favorite part was, and after receiving the answer, I provided never-seen-before behind-the-scenes info on that particular part of the book. In turn, Riley went all out on the book report. Here's the pic Riley's mom posted:
Yay, Riley! It looks like you did a lot of work on that poster! I hope you received an A for your book report!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Yesterday, I visited Blankner School in Orlando to talk about writing, inspiration, and what makes up a story. I'm here to tell you the students at Blankner were just the kind of people you love to visit! Attentive, engaged, responsive--I saw heads nodding when I hit certain points; people laughed when I hoped they would; and we all had fun with the audience participation bits. Thank you, Blankner students! And good luck on all your writing!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The University of Central Florida (UCF), my alma mater, place of fond memories, and land that occupies my dreams in which I have the cliched experience of knowing I have a test but have not attended class and I'm walking and walking and where the heck is the building and if I could find my friends (Ann, Grace, Sieglinde, Steve, Dennis, Colin, or Alan) they could tell me where I'm supposed to be and where my classes are. I can never find them, and the campus is endless, with high tech new building I am unfamiliar with. In any case, UCF vs Ball State! GO KNIGHTS!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Thursday, December 06, 2012
As a person who reads into the night, I've tried out and tossed out many a book light. But I've found one that I love--the Mighty Light. It's the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite someone who reads when they should be sleeping.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Friday, November 23, 2012
Mom: Are you going shopping Friday?
Me: NO! NO WAY! NEVER EVER EVER ON BLACK FRIDAY JUST SAY NO!
In honor of the Christmas season's soft opening in October, I join retailers in starting my elfin activities on (pre-)Thanksgiving. Even YouTube knows how much I love this video--I'd typed only BRU when YouTube filled out Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band--Santa Claus Is Coming To Town! (Start at 1:10)
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Well, most of us like Scrabble, and if you're anything like me, you like to win. My sister-in-law played on Words with Friends a word with no vowels. In preparation for turkey day, I am committing to memory a few words with no vowels; these are especially important because not only will you score with a challenging rack of letters, your opponents will likely challenge you and lose their turn, heh heh.
If you search the Internet for "words with no vowels," you'll find quite a few lists. Don't be hasty, though. Double check these words to see of they're in your dictionary, otherwise, you'll be the one taking a zero. If you come other across words you want to use, make sure they're not abbreviations, acronyms, proper nouns, or hyphenated words.
Here, from MW Eleventh Edition, are words to confound and conquer your loved ones with:
Posted by Danette Haworth on Tuesday, November 20, 2012
It's getting toward that time of year when lists start popping up: what's in, what's out. Let me be among the first to put up my List of Words and Phrases and Ideas that Don't Need to be Used Anymore:
List of Words, Phrases insert Oxford Comma and Ideas that Don't Need to be Used Anymore
--really? (intoned sardonically)
--"ish" (overused, not fresh)
--Not so much. (Not so clever.)
--Derisive comments about Twilight and the actors. (Hasn't everything been said already? Get over it.)
--Obama's birth certificate (Please, not four more years of this.)
List of Always Cool
--the word "cool"
--"Live long and prosper." Also, the Vulcan hand greeting/farewell, the Vulcan nerve pinch, and--if you can achieve it--the Vulcan mind meld
--allusions to Arrested Development
--physically/mentally strong female characters who are also nice, such as Sarah Walker in Chuck. I want to kickbox like her.
--my brown boots, twelve years old. They are so cool.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Friday, November 16, 2012
Barnes & Noble CRM, Geoffrey Shoffstall talks about in-store author events: how store personnel prepare for the visit, and what authors can do to make their visit successful before, during, and after the event. Please check it out!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Middle-grade author Chris Tozier and I had the pleasure of participating in Lake Forrest Prep's Book Fair at Barnes & Noble Colonial Plaza. By the way, if you didn't have the chance to make it, the store has signed copies of Chris's Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus and signed copies of my books, A Whole Lot of Lucky, Me & Jack, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, and Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning.
Chris has an unusual story behind the inspiration for Olivia Brophie. Enjoy!
Posted by Danette Haworth on Monday, November 12, 2012
Growing up Air Force (and BTW, I've learned you're not supposed to cap AF in certain contexts, but for me, Air Force will always be capped), I grew up not holding on to things, space-taking memorabilia that ends up needing to be dusted every now and then--the only attention you'll ever give it later.
This is part of the pragmaticism that flows in my Air Force dress blue blood.
My daughter has more remnants of her short life than I do of a life lived in three countries, including seven different US states before I was fourteen. My sister marvels at the stories I tell of our childhood. She doesn't remember this stuff, and she's older than I am. But my head was the only container I could keep my mementos in: the bear, chain around his neck, who walked down the main road--a dirt road, traveled by as many donkey and carts as by autos--he walked down the dirt road with his owner on Sundays and if you threw money in their general vicinity, the bear would dance for you. That was in Turkey. I remember the bear and the dust and the dirt road.
I remember England, too, and to this day I don't know why I had to share a room with my brother when it made more sense for me to share a room with my sister. We rode the train from Ipswitch to London to see Buckingham Palace and I waited for the queen to lean out of a window and wave to me, but she never did. The changing of the guard was boring to my five-year-old self. Better was my dad's shrill whistle, two fingers in his mouth--he stopped traffic with that whistle. The double-decker bus stopped for us and we ran, happily climbing to the top. This was even better than that boring old castle with a queen who never came out.
I'm all grown up now, with children of my own. I can't stand clutter. My wedding gown, dry cleaned at a fee almost the cost of the gown itself (though not to worry, I had no train and my mother taught me to be frugal), lies unseen, shrouded in blue plastic, boxed in cardboard, tucked away, forgotten in our closet. There is no one in the house who has any sense of curiosity about it. I weigh the same as I did then (not bragging, it's just the way it is); I feel no need to try it on, admire it, or gaze at it with feelings of any sort.
But in my head, oh, in my head: my mom had pleurisy when she flew down early to help me the week before my wedding. She spray painted and beribboned a hundred and fifty tiny candy baskets. She took birch tree branches and laced them with white Christmas lights and placed them around the reception hall. Even though they were divorced, my dad flew down about the same time. I remember how that felt, the wishing that they had never divorced because I knew, we all knew, my dad still loved my mom. He had a bad back, so he got the guest room and my mom got the couch. This was when I rented a house with my brothers and sister. One night, my dad talked about grandkids. It wasn't embarrassing. I wanted him to have grandkids--he was going to be a great grandpa. To this day I remember THAT conversation and I remember him crying over the phone two years later when I called late one night to tell him his first grandchild had just been born and I remember him sending me an airplane ticket when she was five months old just because he heard her laughing on his answering machine, and I remember he died three weeks after our visit.
I still have the shells from his twenty-one gun salute.
I never look at them.
I rarely visit my brother's grave. He is not there.
Photos are painful.
My daughter isn't going to wear my dress. Why am I keeping it? I threw out the portion of cake we kept because by our first anniversary, it was freezer burned and tasted awful. The dress is a dress; it isn't the fabric of my life--just a couple hours of my life, a costume, almost.
I got married. I am married. I plan to stay married.
But I need room in my closet for other things.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Wednesday, October 31, 2012
My editor sent me this nice review for A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY from BCCB:
You’d think winning the lottery would solve all your problems in an instant, but sixth-grader Hailee finds out it isn’t that easy. She has to go to a posh new school, for one thing, a circumstance that she did not foresee or desire, but her parents want her to have a better education than they had. Her new cell phone also brings new conflict with her parents, as she immediately becomes addicted to texting and checking her Facebooks updates. Her biggest challenges, though, are moral ones—now that she has access to the popular girls who live in the big houses, will she continue to do what she knows is right for her, like joining the Library Club, or sacrifice her principles to earn the favor of girls who don’t share her values? Hailee has a fresh, quirky outlook, peppered with wryly humorous observations that ring both wise and age-appropriate. Her direct questions to the reader as she ponders moral questions create a friendly intimacy, and readers will be gratified that she doesn’t always make bad choices, even when it’s tempting to do so. She’s got a down-home relationship to church on Sundays that threads through her decision-making in ways that many readers will relate to, and the changes that the lottery win makes in her daily life are small enough to insert a healthy dose of reality into that cherished fantasy. She also bookishly sets her emotional troubles in the context of familiar middle-grade novels, a trait that amps up both her likability and her credibility. Readers will definitely feel as though they have made a new friend in Hailee.
Posted by Danette Haworth on Friday, October 26, 2012