Teen Tech Week—Check Out the Activities at Teen Fire and YALSA

March 8, 2010

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is promoting this week as Teen Tech Week. The emphasis is on ways teens can meld technology with reading and literacy. There’s a list of activities at the YALSA website, including book lists for both fiction and nonfiction books.

Sourcebooks is also hosting a whole list of activities for the week at their website, Teen Fire, including a Teen Fire Trailer Contest that goes on until March 19. Teens can make a book trailer for any Sourcebooks Fire title and be entered into a chance to win titles for themselves and their libraries.

Notes on Writing a Nonfiction Book—Northwest Author Series

March 4, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at the Northwest Author Series, which takes place at the Wilsonville Library near my home. Writing coach and teacher Christina Katz runs the series, and each month an author talks about something that may be helpful to other writers.

My talk was on The Nonfiction Book: From Idea to Publication, and my advice centered around my own experience of writing and publishing Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. If you’re interested in the points I made, click on over to the Northwest Author Series site, where notes from my speech are now up.

Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Photo by David Kinder

Keeping Book Club Going After High School

February 17, 2010

This past weekend I had the chance to travel with two other book-club moms down to the University of Oregon where we met our three daughters. Since our book-club girls graduated from high school last spring, we’ve been searching for ways to keep the group active and involved, and parents’ weekend at school was a good opportunity for some of us to do just that. We ate lunch together, went to see The Lightning Thief at a local theater, had dinner together and brunch the next morning. We hadn’t read a book to discuss, as the girls are all pretty overwhelmed with all the reading they have to do for class. But we did get to take advantage of one of the other major benefits of mother-daughter book club: having fun socially and talking about issues that are important in our lives.

When we finished brunch on Sunday, a mom commented that she hoped other diners weren’t put off by our loud, frequent laughter. Her daughter responded, “I’m sure they could tell we were just having a good time. We always have fun when we get together.”

Maybe we’ll be able to pick up the threads of a normal book club and read together in the future, but for now, I’ll take the fun and the laughter.

Photo by Jill Greenseth

The Saints and New Orleans

February 8, 2010

Today’s post is a departure from my usual talk abut books and authors and mother-daughter book clubs. I know many bloggers today wrote about the Saints winning the Superbowl, and my little voice won’t add significantly to what anyone has to say. But as this win is near to my heart, I have to talk about it a little bit.

I grew up in Louisiana near Baton Rouge, and I was very young when the Saints first got started in 1967. They had losing records their first 21 seasons, and I remember watching the fans go to the games with paper bags over their heads to hide the fact that they were fans. Everybody called them the Aints. But throughout those years and years, no one wanted the Saints to leave New Orleans. It was the city’s team. New Orleans lost the Jazz to Utah, but the Saints would stay, win or no win. The team was kind of like the relative that you really don’t like to see every holiday, but you put up with him just the same and you wouldn’t wish him out of your family.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Saints have come to be more than just the hometown team and the tiresome relative. The Saints started winning, and people began to think, “If the Saints can win, maybe New Orleans can get better.” Now, the Saints have scrapped their way to the top of the heap, and in some cases, they have made it look easy. Suddenly, anything is possible—a better New Orleans and brighter times must be ahead for everyone.

Hope is a wonderful thing to ignite in people who have long felt downtrodden. But maybe even more significant for the city and what it can accomplish is the election Saturday of Mitch Landrieu as mayor. Mitch is the son of “Moon” Landrieu, who as mayor in the 1970s brought a lot of good things to the city. He’s twice been elected as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, and his sister is U.S. Sentaor Mary Landrieu. The two events together over the weekend has created a city basking in hope and enthusiasm. And it’s all happening in the week leading up to Mardi Gras, when tourists are pouring into New Orleans and spending money that will help the economy.

There’s just no better time to start anew in one of my favorite cities. Here’s a link to one of my favorite videos about the Saints and what they symbolize to the city of New Orleans. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugV6gcXGPwk

Inkpop: New Online Teen Community from HarperCollins

February 5, 2010

HarperCollins has introduced a new Web site for teen readers and writers called Inkpop. Billed as an “online community that connects rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals,” Inkpop is also a social networking forum that spotlights aspiring authors. YPulse, the online forum that provides information on youth media, is featuring an interview with Diane Naughton, who is vice president of marketing for HarperCollinsChildren’s Books. The interview is interesting, because it shows how HarperCollins came up with the idea for Inkpop and what they have planned for the site.

Reading Poetry on Fridays

January 22, 2010

For the last couple of years, children’s book bloggers have observed Poetry Friday, a time when kid lit bloggers post poetry of their own or feature poetry and poets they want to write about. For a more detailed explanation, check out this blog at Chicken Spaghetti.

Each Friday, a host blog lists the others who are participating for the day. Kelly Herold, at Big A, Little A recently printed a list of each poetry Friday host through April. But since today’s host is a private blog (?), I’ll link here to last week’s host, Farm School. At Farm School you can click on links to participating blogs. I especially liked the poem at Two Writing Teachers from last Friday, January 18. Enjoy the poetry.

National Gallery of Writing

January 18, 2010

A couple of months ago I attended a lecture where author Katherine Dunn (Geek Love) talked about how writing as personal communication was making a comeback. She said that even though most people no longer write long letters to each other, they are staying in touch more often through email and other forms of communication. It appears the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)would agree. Here’s a comment from their website on the National Gallery of Writing:

“Whether we call it texting, IMing, jotting a note, writing a letter, posting an email, blogging, making a video, building an electronic presentation, composing a memo, keeping a diary, or just pulling together a report, Americans are writing like never before. Recent research suggests that writing, in its many forms, has become a daily practice for millions of Americans. It may be the quintessential 21st century skill.”

The bring attention to their assertion, last year NCTE sponsored a National Day on Writing. Their purpose?

“By collecting a cross-section of everyday writing through a National Gallery of Writing, we will better understand what matters to writers today—and when writing really counts. Understanding who writes, when, how, to whom, and for what purposes will lead to production of improved resources for writers, better strategies to nurture and celebrate writers, and improved policy to support writing.”

While the National Day of Writing has passed, you can see what’s already been collected and contribute writing of your own to the National Gallery of Writing. Submissions are being accepted until June 1, 2010, and the gallery will be online for reading through June 30. You can read samples of already submitted work, then check the guidelines for submitting something of your own. When you’re ready to send in something, it’s easy to do it right from the website. Then you can have fun browsing to see what others have written. Children as well as adults are eligible to submit.

Mom’s Night Out—Christopher Hitchens

January 11, 2010

Last week the moms in my mother-daughter book club gathered for the third lecture of the Literary Arts speaker series we’re attending. The speaker was Christopher Hitchens, a polarizing figure if there is one. Hitchens is the author of God is not Great: How Religion Ruins Everything. It’s a provocative title for a provocative book by a provocative author. But agree or disagree with Hitchens, and the moms in my group did both, one has to concede that he has thought through the positions he takes, and his views fall on both the right and left side of the political spectrum.

This means he both pleases and offends pretty much everybody. But listening to him speak was very interesting, and it prompted great discussion among the moms afterward about our own beliefs. Too often I find there’s no room for discussion about the things we believe, only pronouncements from both sides that shut down other voices. Hitchens is also willing to concede room for discussion for points about his own conclusions: he recommends readers pick up The Language of God: A Scientest Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins for an excellent book about the other point of view. I plan to add it to my reading list.

The nice thing about buying season tickets to a lecture series is that it exposes you to a speaker you may not be inclined to buy an individual ticket for. That’s been true for us about all the speakers in this series so far: Wally Lamb, Lydia Davis, and Christopher Hitchens. Next up in our series is Ruth Reichl. We’re all looking forward to this one.

New YA Publishing Imprint, Sourcebooks Fire!

January 8, 2010

Sourcebooks publishing is introducing a new imprint for young adult literature. It’s called Sourcebooks Fire! The website to go along with it, http://teenfire.ning.com, has a couple of interesting pieces of news that may appeal to teen readers.

One is a writing contest for teens that will accept submissions from February 1 to February 28, 2010. Sourcebooks Fire! is also searching for teens to give editorial input into the titles they choose to print. Here’s a description from the website of what review board members do:

“What you’ll get to do:

• Make editorial suggestions on novels in progress • Give feedback on covers in progress • Discuss books with other teens as smart and cool as you are—long before the books are in stores • Participate in the publishing industry • Meet authors, editors, and designers • Shape the next wave of teen fiction”
For complete details of how you can be eligible and apply to be a member of the teen review board, visit http://teenfire.ning.com/events/join-the-sourcebooks-fire-teen. You can also take part in discussion groups of  Sourcebooks Fire! books.

Louisiana New Year’s and Cabbage Roll Recipe

December 31, 2009

When I was growing up in southern Louisiana we celebrated many holidays with the same traditions each year: chicken barbecues and egg boxing for Easter, crawfish boils on Mother’s Day, fish fries and dances for my parents’ anniversary on the 4th of July, crab boils and German chocolate cake for my birthday in August, All Saints Day services and flowers in the graveyard on November 1, gumbo for Christmas Eve dinner. Now that I live far away in Oregon, a lot of those traditions are hard to maintain. The one I keep alive, without fail, is also one of my favorites, the New Year’s Day tradition of eating cabbage and black-eyed peas.

I know Louisiana isn’t the only place in the country with this tradition, and although I’m not sure of its origin, I believe it goes way back as a way to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Cabbage is supposed to symbolize the greenbacks that will come your way in the new year. Black-eyed peas signify coins in your pocket. I know lots of friends and family who could use more of both of those in the coming year. So once again, tomorrow morning I’ll be at my stove cooking cabbage rolls to eat for our dinner. It’s something everyone in my family looks forward to. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about the black-eyed peas. Every year we all manage to choke a few down, but as long as I’ve been eating them I still don’t really like them. I can doctor them up with bacon and hot sauce, but I can’t imagine ever looking forward to heaping a pile of black-eyed peas on my plate. Cooking should be a great activity to take up the time I’m not cheering on LSU’s Tigers in the Capital One Bowl, or the U of O Ducks in the Rose Bowl. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2010 this way.

Here’s my recipe for cabbage rolls. While I got this from my mom, who has been making them for as many years as I’ve been around or more, I think most cabbage rolls recipes are similar. Enjoy!

New Year’s Day Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 small cabbage
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 16-oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Toothpicks


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Carefully cut stem from cabbage and steam for about 15 minutes over boiling water. Let cool. Loosen cabbage leaves.
  3. While cabbage is cooling, heat oil in large skillet. Sauté onions, celery, garlic, and bell pepper in oil until limp, about 7 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
  4. Sauté ground beef in skillet until well cooked. Add reserved vegetables, tomatoes, egg and cooked rice. Mix well.
  5. Have a large casserole dish on hand. Take one cabbage leaf, place about a tablespoon of meat mixture at the base, fold over the sides and roll into a ball. Place the roll into the casserole dish and secure with a toothpick in the middle. Repeat until meat mixture is gone.*
  6. Place a 1/2 cup water over the cabbage rolls and bake for 45 minutes.

*If you don’t have time to put the rolls together, you can also layer the ingredients in your dish to make a cabbage casserole.