SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, 2014

 

I am blessed to be co-director of the annual SCBWI-New England Whispering Pines Retreat. I mean I could do a whole post on just THAT! Love the retreat. Love the venue. Love the people that attend. Love it all.

This year, our uber-talented and generous editor mentors were Regina Griffin, Executive Editor at Egmont USA, Sarah Dotts Barley, Editor at HarperCollins, and Christine Krones, Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Our fabulous author mentor was Audrey Vernick and our Marketing Extraordinaire expert was Kirsten Cappy of Curious City in Portland Maine.

Truly. These ladies were phenomenal. If only they could have heard the chatter after they’d left about how inspiring, intelligent, generous everyone thought they were. How grateful everyone was. It was a memorable year. One for the books :-)

Since a picture is worth a 1,000 words, here are some–you guessed–pictures :-)

 

The beginning...

The beginning…

 

 

Where we break bread...

Where we break bread…

 

 

The weekend Gang!

The weekend Gang!

 

SONY DSC

L to R: Lynda, Regina Griffin, Executive Editor of Egmont, Christine Krones, Editor at Houghton Mifflin, Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, Sarah Dotts Barley of HarperCollins, Audrey Vernick, Author, and Co-director, Mary Pierce

 

Our wonderful First Page Readers, Mary Pierce and Jenny Bagdigian

Our wonderful First Page Readers, Mary Pierce and Jenny Bagdigian

 

If it hadn't been raining, we would have done s'mores  here. :-)

If it hadn’t been raining, we would have done s’mores here. :-)

 

Instead, we made s'mores in the fireplace. Which was still pretty great :-)  As evidenced by the experts, Sarah and Jean.

Instead, we made s’mores in the fireplace. Which was still pretty great :-) As evidenced by the experts, Sarah and Jean.

 

With my Maine girls, Julie and Cameron  :-)

With my Maine girls, Julie and Cameron :-)

 

red hat

The incomparable Carlyn Beccia brought this hat and got a picture of everyone in attendance wearing it.

 

My corny thank you. :-) When a Transformers kaleidoscope speaks to the transformative nature of SCBWI - adding color to our lives.

My corny thank you. :-) When a Transformers kaleidoscope speaks to the transformative nature of SCBWI – adding color to our lives.

Moi with dear friends--and talented ladies--Mary Pierce, Laurie Murphy, and Jennifer Thermes

Moi with dear friends–and talented ladies–Mary Pierce, Laurie Murphy, and Jennifer Thermes

 

Awesome ladies--Kim Savage, Cameron Rosenblum, Annie Cardi, and Caroline Webster

Awesome ladies–Kim Savage, Cameron Rosenblum, Annie Cardi, and Caroline Webster

 

The fabulous Kirsten Cappy and her red hat picture.

The fabulous Kirsten Cappy and her red hat picture.

 

Circle of friends. Me, Penny Piva, and Jenny Bagdigian

Circle of friends. Me, Penny Piva, and Jenny Bagdigian

 

This year's get-up as Kid-lit Jeopardy emcee.

This year’s get-up as Kid-lit Jeopardy emcee. Obviously serious business…

 

Kid-Lit Jeopardy teams trying to win points for fabulous prizes and world wide prestige.

Kid-Lit Jeopardy teams trying to win points for fabulous prizes and world wide prestige.

 

Lovely Eisenhower Lake

Lovely Eisenhower Lake

 

With Nancy Tandon :-)

With Nancy Tandon :-)

The stylish and wondrous Jill Dailey

The stylish and wondrous Jill Dailey

Penny Piva rocks the red hat shot!

Penny Piva rocks the red hat shot!

 

Jill Dailey, Kristin Russo, Nancy Tandon, and Holly Howley :-)

Jill Dailey, Kristin Russo, Nancy Tandon, and Holly Howley :-)

Jennifer O'Keefe puts down her paint brushes to do the hat a favor. Thank you, Jen, for the lovely art work you did for people on the fly :-) BEST nametags we've ever had!

Jennifer O’Keefe puts down her paint brushes to do the hat a favor. Thank you, Jen, for the lovely art work you did for people on the fly :-) BEST nametags we’ve ever had!

The amazing Audrey Vernick. She spoke to picture books, but there was wisdom to be had for writers in any genre. Just wonderful.

The amazing Audrey Vernick. She spoke to picture books, but there was wisdom to be had for writers in any genre. Just wonderful.

 

kirsten

The extraordinary Kirsten Cappy of Curious City imparts tremendous marketing wisdom. *mind blown*

 

 

Christine Krones of Houghton Mifflin teaches us about herself, writing, and the business. Her visuals were awesome!

Christine Krones of Houghton Mifflin teaches us about herself, writing, and the business. Lots of fantastic info–and her visuals were awesome!

Love this picture of Sarah DOtts Barley, Editor at HarperCollins. It's just "so Sarah" - full of joy and affection for literature.

Love this picture of Sarah Dotts Barley, Editor at HarperCollins. It’s just “so Sarah” – full of joy and affection for literature. And sweetness toward writers :-) She spoke to us about revision – the rest of us scribbled wildly.

 

regina griffin

Regina Griffin, Executive Editor from Egmont was our final mentor to speak–and what a way to wrap up. I wish I’d been able to record it–such phenomenal wisdom-laden points laced with clever humor.

 

photggo

Group shot during evening portion of first pages. Mentors were awesome at this!

 

 

THANK YOU again to our wonderful mentors. This was a year for the books, as they say. :-)

THANK YOU again to our wonderful mentors. This was a year for the books, as they say. :-)

 

 

Now to start planning next year so that we may return...

Now to start planning next year so that we may return…

 

 

 

Categories: Whispering Pines, writing | 5 Comments

NCTE in Boston – Amazing Weekend!

Last weekend, I attended NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English). What an amazing weekend. And, no…I’m not just throwing that word, amazing, around. It really did amaze me.

It amazed me to see so many kid & book loving people all in one place. It amazed me to see the sea of publishers’ booths. It amazed me to meet authors whose work I’ve admired for years. It amazed me to meet friends “for real” from my online community and The Nerdy Book Club. It amazed me to attend workshops given by these people for their teaching colleagues – and it amazed me how much it all made me miss being in the classroom. Inspiration everywhere!

And I left feeling just so, so grateful. Grateful that I have been blessed with this career. And grateful that there are teachers in the world like the ones I met at NCTE. I had many teachers and librarians thank me for writing, which I so appreciated and was humbled by. But, let’s face it–without the teachers like the ones below (and tons of others!) most kids wouldn’t pick up books, discover how opening the cover of a book can open up things inside of them that they never would have dreamed. Books do change lives. I’m proof of that.

So here’s to teachers and librarians! There are so many gifted, big-hearted people in the trenches with our kids every day. Thank goodness.

Here is my picture wrap-up of the most excellent NCTE, 2013. :-)

Bostonbanner

boston

Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. :-)

Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. She’s a rock star in my book. :-)

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz  (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn't she have the best name ever? :-)

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn’t she have the best name ever? :-)

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with "her girls" at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with “her girls” at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Love these ladies!  Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel :-)

Love these ladies! Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel :-)

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Who doesn't love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Who doesn’t love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary , Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary Bellavance, Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen :-)

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen and Amy Romanowski :-)

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah :-)

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah :-)

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she'd have to edit it. :-)  So, let's just say that I'm blessed.

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she’d have to edit it. :-) So, let’s just say that I’m blessed.

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. :-)

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. :-)

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! :-)

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! :-)

Such fun to meet Colby Sharp in person!

Such fun and an honor to meet Colby Sharp in person! Nerdy Book Ambassador Extraordinaire.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club and renowned author, was such a pleasure. A sweet author moment for me.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, Co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club phenomenon and acclaimed author/literacy expert, was such a pleasure. Such a sweet author moment for me.

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) WOW! :-)

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) :-) Teri shared a bunch of cool online stuff to help teachers turn kids onto reading and help teachers organize including vine videos and livebinder.com

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with Author, Jenni Holm :-)

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with uber-talented author, Jenni Holm :-) “We want to give kids experiences that change lives.” ~Colby “Help your students make connections to authors via Skype, Twitter, and fan mail.” ~Jenni

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye  :-)

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye :-) “Set high expectations and hold the kids to them.” “You might as well be *that* teacher that talks books.” “Give the kids choices re: books.” “Don’t just hand out books. You must book talk them!”

A Nerdy workshop!

The Nerdy audience! :-)

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski :-)

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski :-) Conferences with kids should be like talking around a table.” “Going forward–it’s all about relationships. I’m not talking about me–I’m talking about *them* ” “Slow down. Talk less.”

Donalyn Miller! :-) "Every reader has value and their own voice."

Donalyn Miller! :-) “Every reader has value and their own voice.”

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

cindyminnich

Cindy Minnich presents at Nerdy Workshop! :-) “Our lives are constantly changing and we need to change with them.” “Have kids keep log of their lives.” “If we know where we are and where we want to be, we can plan.”

jackie woodson

Me with Jackie Woodson. Amazing writer. Phenomenal person.

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord  (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

Categories: agent, author, editor, friends, inspiring, writing | Tags: | 4 Comments

An Iron Whisper

.

For years, I knew that pit in the stomach every morning before school. Like so many others, I was bullied as a kid. A lot.

The first bout began in fourth grade under bright autumn leaves and continued until green buds returned. Three boys a year older than me decided they would make it their almost-daily task to DSC09712meet me at the same place and beat me up. Thing is, I could have avoided them, as I walked home every day and there were multiple ways to leave. I knew this. Yet. Every single day, I would show up. I’d put down my stuff. And…I’d try to win.

It was the 70’s. We didn’t tell. We were raised to believe that it was “part of growing up.” And, at that time, it really was. Some of my peer struggles were pretty extreme. In the sixth grade, I landed in the emergency room for stitches, but lucky that I didn’t lose my left eye. (I don’t think the other kid intended such an extreme result, but…)

It wasn’t just physical. For three years, there were some girls that used to share their opinions of me every day. Which was worse than a fight. Was I afraid of the bullying? I was. Did I hate it? I did. But, I reacted to mistreatment with a stubborn passion that I am forever grateful to my Mum for. When others would say and do things that were unkind, a message would meander through my head. Like an iron whisper. “They’re wrong.”

This was a gift. I know that. And I know that not everyone can react this way. But I do believe a reaction like this can be learned–for self talk is so powerful. When someone else tries to drag us down, most of us react in one of two ways: The first is “I don’t deserve that” which lights a fire inside—the kind of fire that fuels determination and success. The kind of thing that helps people rise above their circumstances. Turns victims into conquerors.

The second reaction is, “They’re right.” A deflation of the spirit. It’s an understandable reaction but one we must all fight to eradicate in the children/teens we know. Actually, in anyone we know.

For me, resilience was honed by being resilient. I have achieved things I never thought I would because I pushed through fear, dismissed the naysayers, and plugged away. There is no doubt that my struggles and heartbreak as a kid have aided in my success along the way. Although, a bit ironic, I think.

I recall when the anti-bullying campaigns were introduced to schools over a decade ago. Being good to each other is a great message, of course. But, with the seemingly constant reports of childhood despair because of bullying by peers…well, I have wondered why we don’t have more calls for resilience as well. A reminder to play the “I don’t deserve this” message rather than giving in to feeling ashamed about labels that someone else pins to us–which are probably inaccurate. After all, a bully’s actions/words have more to do with him/her than their target.

I’ll be honest. I’ve sat and long-stared at victims’ pictures—kids bright-eyed and beautiful and looking like they’ll take on the world when they grow up. Kids who’ve had supportive parents, people who love them…and yet…they end their lives because of bullying. The word, heartbreaking, doesn’t nearly cover it.

I love the “It Gets Better” campaign. It’s gone a long way in showing gay teens that they are not alone and that it really does get better.  Also, there is a wonderful video below done by Megan Kelley Hall, one of the editors of Dear Bully. (The other Dear Bully editor is Carrie Jones) We need more and varied messages like this for kids–and we need to introduce resilience earlier. When I visit schools, I discuss the phrase, “Be someone’s hero.” I touch upon being good to each other, of course. But I also point out that this phrase means being a hero to yourself as well. Knowing that just because someone says something doesn’t make it true. And every time. Every school. I see some faces of kids who I suspect have not heard this before.

Teaching kindness is a such a human thing to do. It’s because we’re protective. It represents our wish for peace and mutual understanding. Our desire to toss out the things about humanity we know don’t shine. It is a lesson we need to continue to teach–and model. I have seen wonderful changes in schools since the anti-bullying campaigns began. Sadly, though, there will be kids who are still unkind. Regardless of these lessons.

So, my hope is that we are spending some time teaching kids to stand tall as well. To be brave. Value who they are—for we all have gifts to offer the world. Know that others’ opinions are not necessarily facts. Self esteem doesn’t come from others; it comes from impressing ourselves. And how do we do that?

Stand strong. Seek out what makes you happy. Shake off the bad stuff and look for the good, because there’s plenty of it. Seek out the people who do care–because they are there. You can succeed. Be happy. Chase down any dream you wish. Make any life you want. Regardless of having been bullied.

Because you are worthy.

Of everything wonderful.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

GIVEAWAY:  Enter to win signed copies of BREAK THESE RULES and ONE FOR THE MURPHYS

by leaving a comment below, retweeting, and sharing. Giveaway ends

Sunday, Oct 27th at 11:59 pm. Thank you :-)

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, courage, Heroes, inspiring, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Welcome Back to School Giveaway

I am writing to THANK teachers for supporting One for the Murphys—but mostly I want to thank them for being who they are. For being with children every day. Affecting lives. Expanding imaginations. Bolstering self esteem. Seeing the child before the test-taker. Basically, being AWESOME.

So, I thought I’d express my appreciation with a giveaway. Giveaway includes:

August giveaway

  • Ten signed copies of Scholastic Book Club’s One for the Murphys
  • One copy of Break These Rules (I have one essay in here that I will sign. This is YA, though.)
  • Twelve  Be someone’s hero bracelets
  • A class set of signed bookmarks
  • Two Murphys pens
  • Two Be someone’s hero lanyards
  • A free 45-minute Skype visit with Lynda during the 2013-2014 school year

To enter, please make a comment below, share on FB, RT on Twitter, or post on your own Twitter acct. Please copy me there at @Lynmullalyhunt. Each share/tweet/etc. is an additional entry. Thank you!!  Winner will be chosen at 11:59 pm on Saturday, August 17th.

Also, here is the printable Teacher’s Guide with questions, graphic organizers, Writing prompts, and Common Core info for grades 5-8.

Here is the Official Book Trailer.

Again—my THANKS to teachers for all that you are doing. Many of your students may not understand your influence on their lives until years from now. But, having had some teachers that changed my life, I want to thank you on their behalf today. J

.

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, middle-grade, Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), Scholastic Book Club | 94 Comments

Domino Pushers

I sometimes wonder if the truly invested teachers and librarians out there ever take the time to think about the impact they have on the world. The impact on individuals that they meet along the way. And how their reaching out to elevate the spirit a child is like knocking down a winding path of dominoes. Dominoes that can fall for years to come.
.ncte
I wonder if teachers and librarians like this ever stop to think how they change the world within the walls of their classrooms and libraries. How paying attention to the quiet child who could slip under the radar can change a kid’s perception of themselves. Change their internal compass. How realizing that sometimes the kid who creates the biggest commotion is asking for help in the only way he knows how.
.
I just read a comment from a librarian who spent her vacation reading five middle grade books and couldn’t wait to get back to school with them because she knew the exact students she would share them with. She was not patting herself on the back. She was not boastful.
.
She is a hero.
.
Today, I am thinking of the teachers and librarians who are quietly going about their day just as they always do. Saving children. With the right book. Or a hand on a kid’s shoulder. A knowing glance or nod. Some acknowledgement of understanding. A recess period of one-on-one help. Whether it be academic or otherwise.
.
And, I’m thinking of one child who desperately needs one of these heroes.

.

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, courage, Heroes, inspiring, middle-grade, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Boston, You’re my Home. Sort of.

As a kid, when asked, “If you had three wishes…” one of those wishes was always to live in Boston.

On the way back home to CT from Boston family gatherings, I would practice my Boston accentwelcome to mass (which sounded more like a rogue pirate than a Bostonian). I wanted a poster of Larry Bird in those too-short seventies shorts even though I was not a basketball fan. Why? Because of the Boston Shamrock on his jacket. Even now, the “Welcome to Massachusetts” sign feels like a return home.

I have a blessed life, but at the end of it all I will regret one thing. That I never actually lived in Boston.

The events of the Boston Marathon break my heart.

Whenever things get rough—when life hands me cards I’d rather not hold—I come to whatever it is from a place of gratitude. This is one of my best qualities, I think. It has literally saved me.

The events in Boston are still weighing heavily on me, and so I look for the good. Looking for the helpers (as Mr. Rogers used to say) and there are many. I am grateful that the many people I love who were at the marathon were uninjured—even the ones that stood at the finish line and witnessed the blasts. I am grateful that others that I love were spared seeing it at all. I cry for the losses and I cry for the triumphs. And there are so many of both.

I love the phrase, “Boston strong” because it fits—-man, is Boston full of a bunch of scrappy we’re-not-taking-this kind of people; I’ve always loved that about the city. I love how everyone around you in Fenway is your best friend for the day. I love the history of Boston and how the fighting spirit of being free from tyranny was born on its street and on its fields. I love the beauty and the humor and the energy of the city. I love how I feel like I’m part of something special when I’m there. Some of my favorite movies are set in Boston: Good Will Hunting, Fever Pitch, and Far and Away. Heck, I even wrote a whole novel with a beloved Boston theme. Why? Because if you’re going to convey emotion, I believe that your story has to have threads of things you really love.

And, I love Boston.

In the midst of all of this, I am prouder to be a New Englander and an American than ever. But, as an American and a mom and a wife and a sister and a daughter, I mourn too. I will for a long while. I have no doubt, though, that the Boston Marathon will draw record numbers next year and I plan to be there to cheer on the runners. Bostonians—and others from around the world–will stand. And run. With pride and with grit.

I may not have your zip code, Boston, but I have your back. My heart is with you. Just as it’s always been.

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, courage, Heroes | Tags: , | 32 Comments

Murphys Teacher’s Guide

Hey, Folks!teacher's guide cover

For those of you who are teachers or librarians, my One for the Murphys Teacher’s Guide is all done. :-)

You’ll find it on the Murphys page on my main website. The link is right under the Image of the book cover.

http://lyndamullalyhunt.com/book_murphys.php

I would love your feedback. After all, I’ll have another one to do soon. :-)

Have a great day!!
Lynda

Categories: writing | 3 Comments

Full Circle — An Author’s Confession

.
.
So, I have a confession. A couple, actually.

In elementary school, I told both our school librarian and my mother an untruth—that I had lost my Copy of DSC09709copy of Theodore Taylor’s The Cay. The librarian was clearly annoyed and my mother was a bit more than that, having received a bill for the “lost book.” After that, though, it was mine. At the age of ten, it was the first book that I’d ever owned.

I knew it was wrong and I felt bad. I really did. And, I worried I’d be found out. It also bugged me that the librarian and my mother thought I was irresponsible. I wanted to tell them both that I hadn’t actually lost it, but I also knew that the lie was the only way I could keep it.

One for the Murphys has done well—I can’t even express the depth of how happy that makes me—and it has nothing to do with royalty checks or anything like that. (Very few authors are rich–monetarily speaking.) It’s the personal connections.

I have received letters, and e-mails, Tweets, and invitations that have really moved this formerly-Carley-esque author. I’ve further learned about the personal connections people can make to texts. How fictitious people can reach from the pages and save readers. But there are two different e-mails that came in months ago that keep coming back to me—can’t shake them.

One letter was from a teacher, and the other a librarian, who both wrote to tell me that their copies of One for the Murphys had been stolen by students. I got the feeling from both ladies that they both had an idea of who may have taken them, but I also got a sense that they were both going to “let it go.”  The idea of kids stealing does not make me happy—how could I be happy to hear about a child stealing something?

However, I do confess to dropping into my childhood-reluctant-reader-self and being torn. Because I remember lying underneath that scratchy bedspread, holding The Cay and thinking that I just couldn’t give it up. That it was the very first time that I read a story that got under my skin and I didn’t understand why and I knew I had to keep reading it until I figured it out. Over those many readings, I learned a lot about myself. And I learned some things about other people in the world as well.

I shouldn’t have forced my mother to pay for that book. And I am not happy about stolen copies of Murphys. But I have to admit…my heart wonders about the two kids that took them (one 6th grader and one 7th grader). I wonder why. I wonder what it is about the Murphys that spoke to them. I wonder how they feel about what they’ve done. I wonder how they are doing.

But, mostly, I hope that those kids feel like I did in meeting The Cay’s Timothy and Phillip. That meeting Carley, Toni, and the Murphy family will help readers understand themselves, the people around them, their situations, develop compassion for themselves and others, and formulate their own questions about the world.

As an adult who understands those kid-longings, my hope is that these two children find their answers.
________________________

In order to attempt to make amends to the universe, I am offering a HERO pack—for teachers, librarians, principals, and school social workers ONLY. Why? Because they are HEROES!!!!  (You may enter on behalf of a teacher/librarian and the box will be mailed directly to the winner at their school :-)

The winning Hero(ine) will receive all of the following:

giveaway

1) A new copy of THE CAY by Theodore Taylor because his story helped me so, so much and helped foster my love of stories.

2) A hardcover copy of the 1972 version of TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING—this is the same book my teacher, Mr. Christy, handed me one day—and changed everything. Read full story here on Nerdy Book Club Here.

3) A signed first printing (in third now) copy of One for the Murphys for you—the teacher or librarian.

4) A signed first printing copy of Murphys for your library/classroom.

5) A signed ARC (advance reader copy) of Murphys so that you may show your students what the “test run” looks like from a publisher—very cool to see if you haven’t seen one yet.

6) A bunch of bookmarks for your school

7) A One for the Murphys pen

8) Five “Be someone’s hero” wrist bands

9) ONE “Be someone’s hero/no cape required” T-shirt (teal, black, or red in size large now or other sizes can be forwarded later (Two are shown in picture to show front and back.)

10) A free 45-minute Skype visit with me. Because I love talking with kids and teachers. :-)

~~~

To enter, please make a comment below. Would love to hear your confessions, thoughts about the post, your favorite part of One for the Murphys, or how much you’d like some free stuff for your school/students–I’m flexible :-) PLEASE remember to include your e-mail address. (I’m sorry–USA shipping only)

***You may also earn entries by posting this link on Twitter and including my tag — @lynmullalyhunt . You may also retweet my tweet. Thank you :-)
GIVEAWAY ENDS ON Wednesday, January 23rd at 11:59 pm.

Thank you! :-)

Categories: author, confession, writing | 109 Comments

Anything and Everything — Sandy Hook

“Sad” is a thin word for how I’ve been feeling.

In making a comment on Facebook about raising kids, I said that “they are worth anything and everything.” And then my warmth and love tilted toward the sad as I, once again, thought of Sandy Hook.  For this community and those sweet children, and those heroic teachers and all those left to grieve have never been far from my thoughts.

I’ve analyzed and tried to process what has happened there. But how does a person ever process a tragedy like this? I’m supposed to be good with words, but I have had so much trouble finding them. While taking care of the everyday details of life, I am distracted. I am experiencing sadness and shock and awe. Optimism and hope. Loss and empathy. And longing. Lots of longing. All twisted together like the threads of a rope. 

Between teaching and volunteering, I have spent about 24 years in elementary schools and so my mind has shown me time and again how this may have played out. As a mother and teacher and human being, it will haunt me for a long while. All I want to do is hug those children and the teachers who protected them.

I am grateful to have my oldest home from college. I am remembering what is important. And I am crying. Still. For those mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. All those sweet faces—all that they undoubtedly offered the world in the short time that they were here. And all that the world has lost. And, my chest aches every time I think of their parents. How they probably think that their children are worth anything and everything, too.

I do see people pulling together, though. Reaching out. Opening their eyes and paying attention. I, too, have done these things. It is easy to get lost in the details of everyday life. Since December 14th, I have worked less and listened more. I have taken less for granted. I’ve made some overdue calls and will make more. The things that have been on my mind and have worried me, now worry me far less. And I have witnessed time and again how our humanity seems to flow in the face of events that are so inexplicable.

Late last night, my train from NY rolled into the station. There was a teenage girl who struggled with a large suitcase and so I offered to help her with it. A short time later, she waited in the station lobby holding a cell phone and I asked her if she was okay. If she had a ride. It was nothing—in fact, I almost didn’t ask at all—hesitating because I wondered what she’d think of a stranger asking her if she was okay (I am such an over-thinker.). I ended up asking only because she called after me to thank me for helping with her bag.

It was nothing. Seriously. But it seemed to make such an impression on her. And I began to think of all the little things people think to do—the kindnesses they almost extend and then don’t for some reason. Whether it be worry or overthinking or embarrassment.

I hope that we will all be kinder–strive to be someone’s hero. Not necessarily the kinds of heroes we hear about in Sandy Hook. Just regular, everyday heroes. Offering a smile or a kind word. Inviting someone over for tea who is lonely. For these small kindnesses may have a profound impact. I have been impacted by small gestures, and it makes sense that others would be, too. No more overthinking for me.

This tragedy has been a reality check for a lot of people. A lot of good has followed this horrible event. How it saddens me, though, that our world will go on without those 26 angels.

Drawing done by 7th grader, Connor, from Lousiana (used with permission)

Drawing done by 7th grader, Connor, from Lousiana (used with permission)

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, courage, grief, Heroes, parenting | 9 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

%d bloggers like this: