My short story titled "Stork Time" was published in the latest issue of Cricket Magazine.
"Stork Time" is about Costi, a boy living in an underprivileged village in the eastern Romanian judet (county) of Vaslui. Costi's brother Pavel is overdue home from Germany, where he went to do seasonal farm labor. Costi misses him a lot. Surely, surely, Pavel will come home before the storks leave the village for their autumn migration trip to Egypt.
I loved working with the editor to get the Romanian facts and illustrations right. You can see a short preview here, along with an illustration. The entire story is found in the October issue of Cricket.
For me, the best part of the school day is right after noon recess, when I get to read aloud to my students for 20-30 minutes. Not only do I get to reconnect with my favorite childhood books, I also get to share those books with kids who've never read them. The fact that I've been able to introduce dozens of students to Mrs. Frisby, Maniac Magee, and Johnny Tremain is a privilege I don't take lightly. Here are two favorite books from my favorite era in United States history:
Johnny Tremain...my current read-aloud and a long-time fave. An imperfect and oh-so-sympathetic hero, secondary characters who actually existed (Hello, Paul Revere!), and a wonderful setting in pre-Revolutionary Boston.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond isn't just a favorite kids' book; it's one of my favorite books, period. The two main characters charm you right off, and the book gives such a picture of how suspicion and gossip can ruin people's lives. (I often edit this book as I go, because there are quite a few prim colonial courting scenes and I don't want to lose the interest of 6th grade boys and such. I do tell the 8th grade girls they can borrow the book later and read all the skipped parts!)
White Horse to Bucharest is now available for purchase from the Gospel Publishers website. I do not plan to make this title available from Amazon at this time. If I get enough requests for an ebook version, I will probably pursue that option.
For readers in the central Kansas area, you can now purchase White Horse to Bucharest at the Gospel Publishers bookstore in Moundridge. Also, it will soon be available at Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton.
For members of Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, your local book agent should have the book for sale in your congregation later this month.
White Horse to Bucharest is not yet available online but will soon be up and ready for purchase from Gospel Publishers' website.
I received a box of crisp new books in the mail today.
As I held the final copy of White Horse to Bucharest in my hands, my mind winged back to Romania, where all these stories were born. Tapped out on my Neo keyboard on bumpy van rides, through tears in airport waiting areas, or on swaying overnight trains through Ukraine. Labored over in our cozy fourth-floor apartment, or stuffy hotel rooms, or chilly Romanian train stations. Composed to the tune of gypsy music, to the scent of flowering plum trees, to the taste of Italian espresso with milk and sugar.
Now, thirteen years and nine days after we first stepped off the plane in Romania, our story is officially told. I can't change it. Can't explain or expound or correct. What a worry. What a relief.
Here's one more sneak peek, this time on issuu.com, before the book becomes available from Gospel Publishers and other bookstores.
Cuvintele sunt lacrimile celor ce ar fi voit aşa de mult să plângă şi n-au putut.
“Words are only the tears of those who so much wished to cry but couldn't.”
-Lucian Blaga, Romania philosopher and poet
I went over the proof copy again and found some formatting errors. My husband read it (first time for him to read the entire book) and marked a few typos. I mailed the proof back to the printer and emailed them my corrections.
That wasn't the end of proofs though. The printer made the corrections and then emailed me a PDF proof. Surely this one was perfect, right?
Nope. I found two missing page numbers (I somehow eliminated them during my last edits) and two other errors.
But now it's done. All I can do is wait for the final product. (When I read that version, I will most certainly find mistakes it's too late to fix. That, my friends, is a picture of life.)
White Horse to Bucharest doesn't have a release date yet, but I'll announce it on this site soon. Until then, I've added an excerpt to my books page.
For me, summer has always meant books. Yes, it also meant bare feet and watermelon and sleeping in and wheat harvest and playing in the sprinkler. But the best part of summer was the chance to read and read and read.
I no longer sleep in very long or often and I haven't played in a sprinkler for decades. Sadly, there is very little wheat harvest where I live. But the bare feet and watermelon still happen, and summer still means books upon books.
Here are the last two middle-grade books I read and enjoyed:
If I could choose just five authors to read aloud for the rest of my teaching career, Sid Fleischmann would definitely make the cut.
Fleischmann never disappoints. The characters are always fun, bigger than life, and a joy to read aloud. There's always a twist, plenty of humor, and a compelling Old West setting. His books are usually short reads, like Jim Ugly, leaving you hungry for more.
For some reason, I've never read much by Richard Peck. I've heard of him all my life, and back in the 80s I had a short love affair with Secrets of the Shopping Mall, but that was it. Until I discovered The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail and fell in love all over again.
It is a delightful read, with loads of humor I'm not sure the kids got. Very British, quite random, and just a lot of fun. I'll check out more of Peck's work in the future.
Happy Summer, whatever that might mean to you!
I told you about my new project.
The graphic artist I hired has sent me the final copy of the cover for my newest book, a memoir/anthology about Romania that will be available later this year.
Here she is:
Cover art is by Maple Cat Press. That photograph shows my favorite place in Romania: Sighisoara, Romania, in beautiful Transylvania. I've walked that exact street, stood looking up at that exact clock tower at least a hundred times.
Here's the back cover book description:
He who has not seen Bucharest,
nor ridden upon a white horse,
knows not what is beautiful in this world.
An elderly, illiterate woman hears the story of creation for the first time. A Christmas shoebox finds its way to a street boy in a snowy parking lot. The secret police trail a Bible smuggler through the streets of communist Romania. An old woman in a dreary hospital ward demonstrates the meaning of true love. One of Romania’s many orphans finds his roots in a poignant homecoming.
When their church sent them out as humanitarian workers, Lee and Vila Gingerich expected a positive experience, but they never guessed how much Romania would teach them. Through this collection of over seventy short stories, let Romania steal your heart like it did theirs.
I'll be teaching my class from home until further notice. Maybe that will mean spare time in the afternoons. Maybe that will mean I'm busier than ever. Who knows. At any rate, if I have any extra minutes I plan to spend them doing some of my favorite things: reading, writing, or cooking.
The latter hobby may suffer from a sheer lack of grocery store access. I may not be able to go to the library, but I have full bookshelves and a full Kindle e-reader. Writing? Anywhere, anytime, almost no supplies needed.
During spring break, I've been revisiting a few of my favorite classic short stories, many of which I first discovered in my beloved 7th and 8th grade ABeka readers.
For those of you stuck at home, I've included links to a few of my favorites. (Maybe now is the time for cheery, happy stories, but I happen to love imperfect endings. Sad stories, twist endings, stories with a side of creepy...) So here goes:
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant
"Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
"The Green Door" by O Henry
"The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton
"The Dinner Party" by Mona Gardner
"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell
"Miss Hinch" by Henry Sydnor Harrison
"The Man with the Twisted Lip" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I have a couple of new writing projects I'm excited to tell you about, one of which I hinted at a few months ago.
Ten Bible stories, including these titles: “Let My People Go,” “The Widow’s Oil,” “Jonah,” “Thank You, Jesus,” and more. The simple, yet compelling language combines with detailed and captivating illustrations to ensure children will remember these Bible stories for years to come. Suitable for reading aloud. Compiled and published by Theresa Boeckner and Judith Spence. Hardcover; 78 pages.
My other project has been years in the making: an anthology of over seventy-five short memoir pieces and a dozen poems about our time in Romania. Many of the stories were written while we lived in that country, and most of them focus on the things Romania taught us. The things we never want to forget. The things I think others might be able to learn from, too.
The book is now in the hands of my editor. Whew. What a freeing feeling. No more tweaking phrases or moving around commas until she's finished. It's her baby for a while.
I'm on the fence about a title. The one I chose years ago...well, I googled it and found out it's slang for something I want no association with. Tentative titles are Beyond Bucharest or possibly View from a White Horse. (That last one comes from a Romanian proverb I happened upon in an out-of-date tourist guide book and fell in love with.)
It's exhilarating to go public with the project. Almost as though, if I say it aloud here, it might actually happen someday. I'll keep you posted!