Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N #5 ~ Double for Me

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I have written about my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Christy, several times now as he was the inspiration for Fish in a Tree. However, there were other teachers who made a difference as well. Today, I’m thinking of two of them: high school algebra teacher, Carol Masonis, and high school English teacher, Patricia Yosha.

I was an average student. Looking back on it I could’ve done better, but to be perfectly honest I had bigger issues on my mind than school. I was not a student that stood out a whole lot and I suppose I wanted it that way. As a freshman, I had a terrible math teacher who’d get through a problem on the board only to find that her answer didn’t match the book. She was also unkind. I did not do well that year.

On the first day of 10th grade, however, Mrs. Masonis commanded the room. She walked swinging a pointer and playfully slapped our desks to get our attention. She gave us a rundown of the rules including, “If you’re going to chew gum in my class you better have enough for everyone in the class and double for me.” The other thing about mrs masonisher is that she knew her material very well. Math just made sense when she taught it. She obviously loved her subject matter and she obviously loved us as well.

So, there was this one morning when she handed back our quizzes. I had received a 100%. I remember lingering in my seat for a bit longer than my classmates at the end of class, staring at the number. When I finally did get up to leave, she called me over. She took the quiz from my hand, held it up in front of my face, looked me in the eye, and said, “You know something? You’re very good at math.”

I think I half smiled and I think I may have mumbled thanks. But on the inside, things churned and I wondered if she was right. I started doing extra homework and studying hard for every math quiz and test. From that day forward, I never received anything less than 100% in math.

The following year, Mrs. Yosha, my English teacher called me up to her desk, held up a paper I had written, looked me in the eye, and said, “You know something? You can really write.” What do you think the chances are that these two were friends? It led to a similar result. I did not leave English with a 100% average but my grades did increase dramatically.

invisible to invincibleSo, maybe I’m overly open to suggestions? :-). I think in both cases, it was the intensity and the brevity of their messages. People who know me well wouldn’t believe it, but I was pretty quiet in high school. However, these teachers both gave me a goal and reaching that goal helped me view myself in a better light. Those improved grades got me into the University of Connecticut which led to other big changes. Great changes.

When I sat down to write one for the Murphys and it was time to create Mr. Ruben, the very first thing I ever gave him was a pointer to swing that he would use to playfully slap the desks. Although his gender and appearance are different, both his command of the classroom and that pointer came from 10th grade algebra and Carol Masonis who appears in the acknowledgements of Fish in a Tree because she was one of the very best teachers I’ve ever had.

She has been the subject of much conversation at high school reunions. I knew in high school that she was special, but it wasn’t until the reunions when I heard stories of things she’d done for other kids that really blew me away. She is one of those teachers that made a difference. A huge difference. Many of us out in the world are still grateful to have been her students.

Happy Teacher Appreciation—you are most definitely appreciated. I think teachers rarely understand the impact they can truly have. Perception changers. Life changers. World changers.

Thank you all! I do hope that you have enjoyed this week of celebrating YOU! This is a much-deserved celebration!

I’ll leave you with this…I recently heard, “If you are married to a teacher, raise your glass. If you are not married to a teacher, raise your standards.”

GIVEAWAY #5:

In the spirit of awesome teacher who swing pointers like Mr. Ruben from ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, I am offering:

  • 5 signed paperback copies of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS which you can add to your library, give to kids, or use for a book club.
  • 1 signed copy of FISH IN A TREE
  • 30 bookmarks for your students

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHmath . This will help me find your entry.  :-)

Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and the number of students that you have.

THANK YOU!!!

Categories: writing | 24 Comments

Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N #4 ~ Norman Rockwell Visits the School Cafeteria

young teacher 30th birthday gilead

Here some cherished colleagues celebrating my 30th birthday. No better way to end the school day than with a surprise party. :-)

During my first year as a third-grade teacher the reading program called for a vocabulary lesson each Monday morning. In the days that followed, it was my job to motivate the kids to use those words in order to add them to their repertoire.

Sometimes, this involved the use of a marble jar that I used as part of my discipline program. The class would earn marbles for various things such as unsolicited compliments from other adults in the building, especially good effort and/or attitude, etc. The kids also knew that if they came up with inventive ways to use new vocabulary that they could earn bonus marbles. When the marble jar was filled they would receive a class-wide celebration.

Just before lunch on a November morning I stopped to tell the kids how much I adored my job. How much I adored being with them. I told them how blessed I was to be a teacher. However, there was one thing I did not like about teaching and that was lunch duty. I warned them that I had my first lunch duty that afternoon and that I expected them to be their usual wonderful selves. Just because I adored them, didn’t mean that they could get away with anything that other classes couldn’t.

What I didn’t tell them was that I was rather nervous. I was a first year teacher (22 years old) who had never done lunch duty before and it was the expectation of my school that while the 240 children cleared their trays there would be absolute silence. I think I was a pretty good disciplinarian but, I must admit, the number of kids worried me. So, when I introduced myself at the beginning of the lunch period, I laid out the rules and consequences so that the 220 kids who did not know me would know I meant business. Yes, I admit to trying to appear scary. But, when I was finished with my little speech, I turned to my class with my palms up and shrugged my shoulders a little bit as if to ask them, So what did you think? I expected a quiet thumbs up. What I got was far different.

My 22 students stood with rousing applause, yelling, “ENCORE! ENCORE!” It had been one of our vocabulary words that morning and they had, indeed, found a way to use it creatively.

I started to laugh but quickly realized that the other 220 kids were watching, so in an inexperienced-teacher-frenzy, ran to the end of their table and said, “Oh my gosh! You guys are adorable. I love you. But you have to be quiet. I mean you have to. Please sit down. Please be quiet. Pleeease sit down.”

As luck would have it, my principal strolled into the cafeteria at that moment. He paused about 8 feet inside of the door and just stood and watched me with my kids. I kind of thought I was doomed (This is the same principal from my job interview post). Much to my surprise he just walked out, never mentioning it.

To this day, I refer to this as one of my, “Norman Rockwell teaching moments” for I can see the painting clearly in my mind of a bunch of rowdy third-graders and a nervous, brand-new teacher. To this day, every time I hear the word, “encore” I think of those proud faces standing among the other silent, serious ones and hope they remember it, too. And just in case you’re wondering I did indeed give them a bonus marble.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you teachers out there. It is my deep, down-to-the-tips-of-my-toes wish that none of you are doing lunch duty this week.

GIVEAWAY #4:

In the spirit of a repeat performance, I am giving away:

  • A signed copy of my first book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS (first book)
  • A signed copy of my second book, FISH IN A TREE (second book)
  • A set of bookmarks (30)
  • Be someone’s hero/GOT GRIT? bracelets (30)

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHfun . This will help me find your entry.  :-)

Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and the number of students that you have.

THANK YOU!!!

FYI, here is Monday’s giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/happy-teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-day-1/

FYI here is Tuesday’s BIG giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-2-a-thank-you-letter-albeit-late/

FYI here is Wednesday’s giveaway:

Categories: writing | 22 Comments

Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N Day #3

Hello!

Back in February, I had the great pleasure of chatting with a wonderful teacher, Matthew Winner. He is also the genius behind The Let’s Get Busy Podcast where he interviews Authors, illustrators, and other members of the kid lit community.

Chatting with Matthew was such a pleasure. Even though we’d only met on the phone it was like chatting with an old friend. I’m posting our chat as part of my celebration of teachers this week because as Matthew described it, “It’s a hands down love fest for the work of great teachers in our schools and the thankless work that they have dedicated to their passion.”

Here it is:

Let’s Get Busy Podcast

Giveaway #3:

In the spirit of listening, I am giving away:

  • an audiobook of FISH IN A TREE
  • a set of bookmarks for your students.

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHAudio . This will help me find your entry.  :-)

Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and the number of students that you have.

THANK YOU!!!

FYI, here is Monday’s giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/happy-teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-day-1/

FYI here is Tuesday’s BIG giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-2-a-thank-you-letter-albeit-late/

Categories: writing | 20 Comments

Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N #2: A Thank You Letter–Albeit Late

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Dear Mr. Christy,

This is Teacher Appreciation Day and so you are on my mind.

I wish I could stand next to your grey, steel desk just as I did as a sixth grader and tell you all about the things that have happened. I wish I could tell you that I got the most miraculous call five years ago from my editor, Nancy Paulsen, at Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin who expressed her excitement at my first book being published. I took the call in the parking lot of a grocery store and, upon hanging up, stood with my fists in the air like Rocky. The ride I have taken since with Carley Connors, the main character of that first book, One for the Murphys, has been a dream-I-never-knew-I-had come true.

I know if I actually could tell you about all that’s happened and how different things are for me these days, you wouldn’t cheer loudly. You wouldn’t exclaim and make a big deal. I think you’d take a breath and look me dead in the eye and say that you aren’t surprised. Just as you did when the eleven-year-old me pulled off something unexpected.

Remember how you gave me my first writing award for a poem? That poem now appears in my second book, Fish in a Tree. It was a terrible poem. I knew it at the time as Icover with frame know it now. It was not award worthy but you deemed it so as an excuse to celebrate me–the child. Not the poet. In Fish in a Tree, Ally Nickerson is offended by this but in real life, I took my seat and watched you go on with the day feeling grateful that you’d been so nice to me. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget what you did and I’ll never forget when I figured out why you did it.

I remember the kids in the class who wrote you notes and drew you pictures. How they gave them to you with fanfare. I never once did that. Even at the end of the school year, I never thanked you for all you had done. As an adult looking back, I wish I had said something but I don’t think I had the words then. I was just so…well, ironically perhaps I don’t have the words even now. But one thing was for sure. I didn’t want to leave your room. Most kids are thrilled to see summer come. I was not.

I think you knew that sometimes the kids who needed you the most were the ones who didn’t make a fuss. I assure you that I was quietly grateful and carried the things you did and said into middle school, high school, college, grad school, and right into the editorial offices at Penguin Publishing.

As an adult looking back, I wish I had written you a thank you note, though. I want you to know that I’ve finally written it. It’s 288 pages long and entitled FISH IN A TREE. It’s a love letter to you—to the teacher who first saw me. Who saved me. And all other teachers like you.

Thank you, Mr. Christy. The world—certainly my world—is far better because you were here.

6th grade me with frame   Love,

Lynda Mullaly

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GIVEAWAY #2:

The FANTASTICO winning TEACHER winner will receive:

  • A signed hardcover
  • An audiobook (CD set) because Mr. Christy was such a great listener (Carley in Murphys notices that “silent” and “listen” have the same letters)
  • Wooden nickels (It’s okay to take them…)
  • Two lanyards (Be someone’s hero & Great minds don’t think alike)
  • Be someone’s hero/GOT GRIT? bracelets
  • Fish in a Tree t-shirt (This is a med but I will do my best to accommodate desired shirt size)
  • A Skype visit (If our schedules don’t work together I’ll record a video just for you and your kids!)
  • Guaranteed priority mailing within 24 hours of receipt of your school mailing address :-)
  • Also – here is access to Teacher’s Guide for Fish in a Tree  http://www.penguin.com/static/images/yr/pdf/FishInATree_lessonplans_Final_LR.pdf

teacher giveaway

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHListen . This will help me find your entry.  :-)

Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and how many students you have.

THANK YOU!!!

FYI, here is yesterday’s giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/happy-teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-day-1/


Categories: Fish in a Tree, Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), Teachers/Teaching, teaching | 118 Comments

Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N ~ Day #1

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HEY!    H A P P Y   T E A C H E R   A P P R E C I A T I O N     W E E K!

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I am thrilled to post this first of five posts this week to celebrate teachers. Some posts relate to my second novel, FISH IN A TREE. However, I will also post some personal stories about my own teaching days. Just for the sake of sharing.

EACH post will end with a giveaway of a different prize every day. Just my way of thanking all of the teachers like Mr. Daniels out there. I know there are many of you! And I am grateful for that every time I step into a school and meet some of you.

Teachers – You’re changing lives every day. As a kid whose life was saved by a caring  teacher, I extend my gratitude to each and every one of you.

Nothing and Everything to Lose

Three days before my twenty-second birthday, I headed to an interview for a third grade teaching position. I wanted it so badly, but I had gotten to the finals in eight school systems and then lost those jobs. I had been told, “You look too young” over and over. Frustrated, I went out the day before this interview and had my waist-long hair and bangs cut short. This made me look more like seventeen rather than twelve.

On the way, I listened to a cassette tape of Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All. It inspired me. It helped me visualize myself teaching those kids. There wasn’t anything I wanted in the whole world more than that job.

The interview seemed to be going well with the team of faculty members asking questions but the principal had spent most of the time with his hands clasped behind his head and looking out the window.  He hadn’t communicated at all until I answered a question by talking about how I preferred to transcend the teacher’s manual. How I’d prefer to connect to the kids by creating my own activities and assessment materials.

He looked at me and spoke for the first time. “So what you’re saying, then, is that you aren’t accountable.”

Well, I was annoyed and I figured I wasn’t going to get that job anyway, so I was polite but firmly corrected him. I walked out figuring I’d never see that school again.

Later that afternoon, the phone rang and it was that principal. “Hello, Lynda. I’m calling because we’ve decided to offer you the teacher’s contract. Congratulations!”

I was so happy that, before even responding, I jumped into the air, swinging my arm over my head, scraping my knuckles across the low ceiling of my mom’s bedroom. With three knuckles bleeding, I tucked my fist into my armpit and tried to stay quiet.

“Hello? Are you there?” he asked.

“Uh, yes! I’m here! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’ve made my year.”

“Good,” he replied. “I hope you’ll make ours.”

We chatted a bit more about the details and after hanging up, I stared down at my knuckles laughing. It seemed such a “Lynda thing” to do.

I found out much later that when that principal is impressed with a candidate he picks an argument during the interview to see if the applicant has a backbone. It was my standing up to him that secured the position. I taught in that school for several years before leaving to stay home with my children for a while. I still think of those students often. In fact, I have recently heard from a couple of them who have read FISH IN A TREE and have written to tell me their memories of third grade. I have loved these visits to my old classroom—among my happiest memories.

Fantastico.

GIVEAWAY #1:

~A signed copy of FISH IN A TREE mailed to you

~A personalized video for your class. You send me three questions that the kids would like answered and I will make a video for you. I will include your school name and the kids’ names if you would like. The video will be about ten minutes long and will be posted as a private link on Youtube. You may download or view it from there. I guarantee that you will receive the video within a week of giving me the questions.

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHvideo . This will help me find your entry.  :-)

THANK YOU!!!

Categories: writing | 55 Comments

Who is Travis Nickerson from Fish in a Tree? by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Lynda Mullaly Hunt:

My post on Nerdy Book Club. There is a giveaway on that site you may enter until Sunday, March 8, 2015. Find it here: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/who-is-travis-nickerson-from-fish-in-a-tree-by-lynda-mullaly-hunt/#comments

Originally posted on Nerdy Book Club:

Fish in a Tree is about a sixth grader named Ally Nickerson who thinks she’s dumb. She isn’t dumb, but she does have undiagnosed dyslexia until she meets Mr. Daniels, her new teacher. Ally learns that, although dyslexia poses some challenges, it also has some special gifts wrapped up inside of it as well. She learns to own and respect who she is. Really is.

Ricky and I at cottageBut this isn’t the very first thing I knew about Ally. The very first thing I knew was that Ally loves her brother, Travis. I mean really adores him. The second Ally came to be, I knew this relationship through and through. Why? Because I knew “Travis” when I was little.

He didn’t look like he’d play the part of someone else’s savior.

His own mother called him a hood. He had long hair, a history of fighting, some brushes with the law, and a…

View original 922 more words

Categories: writing | 4 Comments

Middle Grade Authors Love Teachers Giveaway #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers

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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS! <3 <3 <3

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It’s no secret to those of you who know me that I just adore and respect teachers and librarians teacherswho are out there every day with kids–reaching out to them with just the right book or just the right conversation and changing lives. As is said often in children’s literature circles, books offer both mirrors and windows to readers. We often discover things about ourselves and/or who we want to be through reading (mirrors). We also learn about the world–other cultures, ways of life, etc (windows). For some, a book offers a friend and the ability to revisit that friend (reread passages) in a stress-free way. Yes, we write the books. but YOU put those books into the hands of kids every day.

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So…to express this appreciation and love for ALL of you heroes/teachers/librarians out there, I have banded together with some author friends to offer one GIANT giveaway for one lucky winner. The winner of this giveaway will receive a signed copy of every single book below–mailed to you in separate packages. Most are new releases, so the winner will be ahead of the game reading-wise in 2015! You may click on each cover to see the author’s website.

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***There is also a YA giveaway as well.  CLICK HERE!  #YAAuthorsLoveTeachers (I think the YA one is on twitter with #AuthorsLoveTeachers  as well if you’d like to search :-) Here are the MG book choices: Caroline Rose Starr Anna Staniszewski Jess Keating Barbara O'Connor Jennifer Richard Jacobson Lynda Mullaly Hunt sarah albee Stacy DeKeyser Walk two moons leslie bulion loree griffin burns Nikki LoftinL Augusta scattergood Laurie Ann Thompson mark of a thief Jackie Woodson So a pretty cool line-up of signed middle grade novels, huh? Okay–so to enter the MIDDLE GRADE Giveaway to win ALL of these books:

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Entries are earned by:

1) Making a comment on this blog about anything book-related or kid-related. Or teacher/librarian related. Anything that suits you, really. :-)

2) Share to Twitter with the hashtag #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers. I know–long hashtag :-) But it will help us find your entry!

3) RT someone else’s tweet with both blog link and hashtag.

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Rules: ***Giveaway ends on Wednesday, February 18th at 11:59 PM. Winner will be announced on the 19th.

1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner must have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school. (Sorry–only US and Canada winners this time.)

***2) Please remember this giveaway is all about appreciation. We know that teachers do not get the appreciation they deserve. This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate you. Yes—we write the books, but YOU get the books into the hands of our readers. For that we are most thankful.

THANK YOU for visiting our giveaway! teachers2 .

Categories: writing | Tags: , , , , | 165 Comments

Happy Birthday, Ally Nickerson. Fish in a Tree Swims into the World.

Well. Today is the day. The launch day of FISH IN A TREE. I can hardly believe it.

On Sunday I had a party. A big party which was the official launch. Many friends and family came from far and wide and lots of hours went into its planning. But there was another launch that took place in Maine. At a small school off the beaten path. The whole thing caught me off guard.

I showed up at the school to do a school visit with fourth and fifth graders. I had been looking forward to it as I love fourth and fifth graders! And the teacher there is pretty awesome too. After meeting a bunch of AWESOME kids I was greeted with THIS:

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YUM!!!

The kids were excited that an author had come to visit. I spoke about FISH IN A TREE, where it came from and took questions. It was the first time I had spoken in-person to kids about this book. And they asked great questions!

One thing I’d mentioned to them is that there are several changes in the hardcover compared to the advanced reader copy (ARC). Reading the ARC felt like a real book, so I caught some things in it that I hadn’t caught earlier. I added passages here and there. Changed a few things. (One important change is to Albert’s shirt.) The young man in the front row boldly asked–which I loved–what the changes were. And I stood there listing them as they dropped into my head and they reacted to every change. It was cool. THEY are cool.

Okay. So, I had an awesome talk with them. Time flew. Later, I went into the hallway and saw many things I hadn’t seen earlier because they were around corners and such. I mean, really. The hallway was an explosion of FISH IN A TREE stuff. Visually AMAZING. But you know what else? These kids are SMART!

Life-sized paper figures of FIAT characters.

Life-sized paper figures of FIAT characters.

Look at Albert! He has "FLINT" on his shirt. Keisha has a cupcake. Ally has a rainbow. Attention to detail. LOVE IT!

Look at Albert! He has “FLINT” on his shirt. Keisha has a cupcake. Ally has a rainbow. Attention to detail. LOVE IT!

And the thing that is SO COOL about this project is that each character has a written description next to each one. But…if you lift the paper shirt, you see another written description of what he/she is really like on the inside. Because there is a theme in this book of pretending to be one thing when you’re really someone different and learning to own who you really are.

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Here are the other characters made by these AMAZING fourth graders!

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And Here is Mr. Daniels.

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And I LOVE their description of what Mr. Daniels is like on the INSIDE:

melissa's room

So…all of this would have been amazing on its own…but…

I LOVED the Writer's Wisdom wall! And I even got to add something :-)

I LOVED the Writer’s Wisdom wall! And I even got to add something :-)

melissa's bookshelf

LOOK! at the amazing books here! MANY that I love, too!

And there was an INTERNATIONAL DOT DAY board (HUGE FAN of this concept created by Peter Reynolds!) where each child created a dot of their own–to express what makes them each unique.

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I love Melissa's dot :-)

I love Melissa’s dot :-)

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills.

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills.

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills. And this is made out of cloth! cloth! Wow.  Below, is just one example but THESE WERE ALL GREAT!

writing assignment

melissa and I

This is Melissa – the teacher who orchestrated all of this! She is amazing, isn’t she? I mean seriously.

But, teachers–no author expects all of this. Not nearly. Most of us are happy if the kids have read our book(s). AND as a teacher, I would NEVER have pulled all of this off. Melissa must have elves. Or a magic wand. Or an extensive behind-the-scenes crew working day and night.

As I left the school, I looked back at this sign on the front door. And thought that is was INDEED a welcome. A big welcome.

welcome sign

I absolutely loved all of the things these kids and Melissa did for my visit to their school. But I can honestly say, I liked their hearts the most. This is a very special community. I find myself missing them as I type this.

As I walked to my car that day, I thought that this would end up feeling like the *official* launch of the book. And after my big party on Sunday which couldn’t have been any better…I still think that this visit was the day Ally Nickerson felt like she’d finally stepped into the world.

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Here is a podcast I did with Matthew Winner about the backstory for FISH IN A TREE:

http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/2015/02/lynda-mullaly-hunt-ep-121.html

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POST to giveaway of signed book, t-shirt, and swag for kids :-)

https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/321-launch/

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Here is the Book Trailer for FISH IN A TREE:

Categories: Ally Nickerson, Fish in a Tree, Great minds don't think a like, writing | 14 Comments

3,2,1…Launch Party!

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THANK YOU, ALL–my fantastic FANTASTICOS!

Yesterday, was my launch party for my book, FISH IN A TREE (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin–coming February 5th). Even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, we had a good turnout–and it was fun! I saw people I haven’t seen for years. A flurry of hugs at the doorway.

There were others on my mind though–such as Nerdy friends from across the country who I wish had been able to be there. Not just to buy a book but to celebrate a new book entering the world–and its future readers as well. That’s what we do as nerds–celebrate books and their readers! So, in honor of these people (and because I hate to see any party end) I’m going to offer a giveaway for a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, an official FIAT Launch Party shirt, and some book swag.

But, first….some pictures. :-)  (HUGE thanks to Greg Hunt and Liz Goulet Dubois for most of these pictures )

Getting ready :-)

Getting ready :-)

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Some of our FANTASTICO volunteers!

Some of our FANTASTICO volunteers!

Raffle Table!

Raffle Table!

Book poster and a shot of a young man who would prove to be very good at fishing.

Book poster and a shot of a young man who would prove to be very good at fishing.

Nerdy friend, Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, Susan Dee, and Gigi McAllister

Nerdy friend, Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, Susan Dee, and Gigi McAllister

I love to meet young readers! ((photo: Karin LeFranc)

I love to meet young readers! ((photo: Karin LeFranc)

One of the stations where readers could win raffle tickets - Add a Page to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things. GREAT Additions!

One of the stations where readers could win raffle tickets – Add a Page to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things. GREAT Additions!

One for my favorite volunteers :-)

One for my favorite volunteers :-)

Girls playing and enjoying chess!

Girls playing and enjoying chess!

West Hartford Librarian, Kari Karp, plays GO FISH!

West Hartford Librarian, Kari Karp, plays GO FISH!

:-)

:-)

Caption Contest booth with an enthusiastic facilitator :-)

Caption Contest booth with an enthusiastic facilitator :-)

Cupcake making!

Cupcake making!

Artistic folk :-)

Artistic folk :-)

A new page is added to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things!

A new page is added to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things!

A raffle ticket and the remnants of a cupcake.

A raffle ticket and the remnants of a cupcake.

Happy :-)

Happy :-)

Fish in a Tree T-shirts

Fish in a Tree T-shirts

Albert Jeopardy. Apparently, these two fine young fellows made up some pretty impressive questions for game-goers.

Albert Jeopardy. Apparently, these two fine young fellows made up some pretty impressive questions for game-goers.

Albert Jeopardy board :-)

Albert Jeopardy board :-)

Cupcakes! With a rainbow of frosting choices. :-)

Cupcakes! With a rainbow of frosting choices. :-) And a dedicated cupcake helper!

Gigi McAllister came all the way from Maine! (along with 3 others) Thank you!

Gigi McAllister came all the way from Maine! (along with 3 others) Thank you!

What are the objects in the mystery boxes???

What are the objects in the mystery boxes???

Reader :-) (Photo: Rebecca Smalian)

Reader :-) (Photo: Rebecca Smalian)

Fish for the tree!

Fish for the tree!

People :-)

People :-)

So happy to see these friends! Jeanne, Mary, Liz and Laurie :-)

So happy to see these friends! Jeanne, Mary, Liz and Laurie :-)

Kyle fishing for words

Fishing for letters to make words!

Creating fish for the tree :-)

Creating fish for the tree :-)

Fishing :-)

Author, Leslie Bulion, fishes for words. :-)

Lynda speaks to readers about where Fish in a Tree came from.

Lynda speaks to readers about where Fish in a Tree came from.

West Hartford librarian, Janet Murphy, is the master of making fish for the tree!

West Hartford librarian, Janet Murphy, is the master of making fish for the tree!

Artist at work!

Artist at work!

Making friendship bracelets next to The Caption Contest booth.

Making friendship bracelets next to The Caption Contest booth.

Tattooed hands!

Tattooed hands!

More people :-)

More people :-)

Susan Dee wins a bucket o' swag, a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, and a Skype visit :-)

Susan Dee wins a bucket o’ swag, a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, and a Skype visit :-)

BIg winner of Ally Nickerson's art supplies.

Big winner of Ally Nickerson’s art supplies.

Three *very* helpful members of the Teen Advisory Board, and West Hartford librarians, Kari Karp and Janet Murphy.

Three *very* helpful members of the Teen Advisory Board, and West Hartford librarians, Kari Karp and Janet Murphy.

Fish for the tree!

Fish for the tree!

Choosing the winners...

Choosing the winners…

Teacher, Melanie Swider, winner of the author visit. :-) Can't wait to visit her school!

Teacher, Melanie Swider, winner of the author visit. :-) Can’t wait to visit her school!

Laurie Murphy, another raffle winner ;-)

Laurie Murphy, another raffle winner ;-)

With me in spirit - my fantastico agent, Erin Murphy :-)

With me in spirit – my fantastico agent, Erin Murphy :-)

Also with me in spirit! My Penguin peeps: Eileen Kreit, Nancy Paulsen, Venessa Carson, and Alexis Watts. (I wish Sara LaFleur were in this picture, too!)  My editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen, is phenomenal. She is the steel penny of editors--one of a kind! I am most grateful for the day she called and every day we've worked together since.

Also with me in spirit! My Penguin peeps: Venessa Carson, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Eileen Kreit, and Alexis Watts. (I wish Sara LaFleur were in this picture, too!)
My editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen, is phenomenal. She is the steel penny of editors–one of a kind! I am most grateful for the day she called and every day we’ve worked together since.

Thank you all for an extraordinary day! I am so, so lucky...

Thank you all for an extraordinary day! I am so, so lucky…

My heartfelt thanks to all who came to celebrate with me on Sunday. It was such a great day – I just kept thinking how very lucky I am. I am blessed. Truly blessed. And I never take any of it for granted.

~~~~~~~~~

To my online friends ~ Thank you for “visiting” my launch party :-)

OKAY! NOW for the giveaway information :-)

fiat giveaway

I am offering a giveaway for:

1) A signed copy of FISH IN A TREE

2) A free, full-length Skype visit.

3) A FISH IN A TREE T-shirt from the launch party

4) Some FIAT swag for a classroom.

TO ENTER:

1) Please comment on this blog post :-)

2) Please tweet and/or retweet with hashtag #FIATbook. You must include hashtag to be entered. :-)

Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday, February 7th. TWO winners will be announced/notified on Sunday.

~~~~~~~~~

Thank you ALL, my fantasticos!!! 

~~~~~~~~~

Categories: author, books, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Great minds don't think a like, Love of teachers, writing | 88 Comments

Remembering the Query Daze – a Writer Looks Back with Gratitude

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Lately, I’ve been thinking back to the “query daze.” How hard it was to put my work in front of strangers who were experts and ask them what they thought. At that time, I received some pretty tough feedback. The first query/writing sample I’d ever sent out (for a book entitled Kicking the Beehive) came back with a written response—I was thrilled, believing that a hand-written comment on a rejection means you’re on the cusp of success! The note read, “I love your title. However, you never need send me anything again.”

Ouch, right?

Thing is…I knew the book wasn’t ready. That I wasn’t ready. I sent it as a Hail Mary. A hope and a wish. My head thought I had a chance. My heart knew better.

So, I began another book. The voice popped. I believed in it. Yet, there was this other voice, too. Not demanding to be written but relentlessly tugging at me. So, I began to write that one instead. It was entitled, One for the Murphys, and was later published with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin in 2012. The book I’d left in order to write Murphys is now under contract and due out in Fall, 2016.

Dreams come true, folks! Believe me; they do.

So, I’ve been thinking about my fellow writers in the pre-agent days. I wrote a love letter to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) after receiving an ARC of One for the Murphys because SCBWI was so crucial in getting published.

I’ve been replaying those times with friends and critique group members I met through SCBWI who both encouraged me and kicked me in the butt–depending on what was called for that day. We were a tribe. We still are. And I am grateful to benefit from their caring, honesty, and wisdom.

And, oddly enough, I am grateful for that time of querying and waiting for the phone to ring. Knowing that 212 was the area code for New York city where many agents and publishers would call from. And hoping. Hoping that when the phone rang, it would be a 212 call. These were the days of high hopes laced with days of wondering if I should just work on something easier. Like pulling a tire through a keyhole.

However, that time taught me about grit and determination and the business of publishing. I learned what I wanted and how very much I wanted it. It was a time of feeling both alone and part of something bigger all at the same time.

My second novel, FISH IN A TREE, (avail for pre-order now ~ release is Feb 5, 2015) has many themes that remind me of my early author journey:                                                                Copy (3) of FISH IN A TREE COVER high res

  • Grit and resilience
  • Having the courage to accept help
  • Don’t play the comparison game. Recognize both your strengths and short-comings not in terms of being better or worse but in being human with your one-of-a-kind voice.
  • Let your strengths shine in the first try (draft). Work on your short-comings later (in revision).
  • Being vulnerable to your audience can be hard–but it often deepens connections with others (Here is an old post on the vulnerability of being a writer )
  • Sometimes the things that make you feel like there’s something wrong with you are actually your strengths (i.e. – never being able to follow an outline like other writers)
  • Having others on the journey with you makes for a richer ride and a happier person.
  • Yup–we’re all in this together. And we have to support each other. That’s what it’s all about. Not just writing but the whole being human thing.

So, since I am making these connections between my early writing career and FISH IN A TREE…

and bubbling over with all of this gratitude for my tribe…

and looking for a way to celebrate the release of this book…

AND knowing how much I was/am helped by others…

I’d like to try to help other writers who are longing to break into children’s publishing. So…

I am offering a giveaway where two children’s writers will be randomly chosen. The winners will be contacted with instructions re: sending me the first ten pages of their book (12 pt, double-spaced) and I will give a balanced critique and speak with the writer on the phone for 30-minutes about his/her writing sample.

To enter, you must:

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1) Be an adult who has been actively writing fiction for children

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2) NOT be published in any genre (as I am trying to help those who have not broken in YET)

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To earn entries, you may:

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~~Make a comment below. Please enter your email address OR twitter name so I can contact you if you win

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~~Share this giveaway link to FB (which you must tell me about in the comments)

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~~Tweeting or Retweeting with the hashtag,  #WritingAllies  (This will help me find your tweets in order to enter you in the drawing. You may also tag me @Lynmullalyhunt )

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The winners will be chosen at 11:59 PM on December 10th. Winners will be notified by the following morning and also announced here. Due to travel plans, I must receive your ten pages via e-mail within 2 days of winning and I will schedule the phone conversation within a few days after that.

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**Thank you and good luck. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote about being a writer:

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Categories: author, courage, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Grit, SCBWI, writing | 65 Comments

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