Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Science of Character

This post is reblogged from Terri Eichholz’ excellent Engage Their Minds. Not only is it great to consider where our readers are concerned, but also in terms of fictional characters!

Engage Their Minds

image from image from

“Instead of asking students what they want to be, we should be asking them who they want to be.” 

I wish I could give attribution for the above quote.  It was something I saw on Twitter a few weeks ago, and it resonated with me.  The film called, “The Science of Character” delivers a similar message, except the question is, “How do you want to be?”

My 5th grade GT students study the “Dimensions of Character.”  This 8-minute film, “The Science of Character,” says everything that I hope they will learn from this year.  It stresses that you have the power to develop your own character – and that you can also shape the character of other people.  The video cites brain research that supports these ideas, and also cites Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets.

The video asks the audience to think…

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New Lucky Agent Contest!

Reposted from Writer’s Digest Blog:

Welcome to the 14th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing contemporary middle grade fiction, this 14th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, March 18, 2014.)


After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.


E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments.


The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of contemporary middle grade fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media. Please provide a social media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your offical e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino somewhere in your mention(s) if using Twitter. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks.


Contemporary middle grade fiction. This means any middle grade set in our present world and time — mainstream, thriller, romance, mystery, adventure, humor, etc. What the agent judge will NOT consider as part of this contest is stories set outside our present world — sci-fi, fantasy, historical, steampunk.


This contest will be live for approximately 14 days—from March 4, 2014 through the end of March 18, 2014, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.
To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.
The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.
By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)

Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to ($50 value)!


Christa Heschke is an agent with McIntosh & Otis. (Find her on Twitter, and see her blog, Neverending Stories.) Christa graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, young adult and new adult projects and is currently building her list.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Using Padlet.


by Heather Harris Brady

In the first of a series of posts focusing on apps and techniques from classrooms, I’m going to start off easy. If you already use Pinterest then Padlet is going to be a breeze for you. You have the option to start building right away with the center button, or you can sign up for a free account first. I’d recommend the second route, because then you can create your own password right off the bat.

To get started, just click the + sign in the upper right to create walls dedicated to whatever topic you like. You can name them for recognizable direct links.

You can choose to arrange them in rows like blog posts, or you can just stick them up willy-nilly. In the classroom it works nicely for showcasing student work, group collaboration or a writing prompt. I’ve seen a nifty wall where a teacher had students post examples of figurative writing passages along with photos supporting their concept. Here are more ideas.

For writers it can be a handy way to keep track of story ideas, research or a way to enrich the background of your story with supplemental materials. Here’s a quick example I put together for my story, The Case of Paris Couture. Do  you have ideas for padlet? If so we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Oh, one other thing – since I’m a writer I think there’s some kind of rule that I need to remind you Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) starts today. Yes, I’m participating! Whether you start a new novel from scratch or just use it as a way to rejuvenate your writing goals it’s all good IMHO. What you might not know is that they have some amazing writing resources for kids on their website. I know I learned a lot from them!

More Shel Silverstein (Maybe NSFW)

by Heather Harris Brady

I have to confess that I thought I had grown up without Shel Silverstein, when a friend gave me a copy of The Giving Tree for my firstborn. To this day I cannot get through that heartbreakingly lovely story without breaking down in tears. It was the first Silverstein children’s book I’d read.

It wasn’t until I watched Almost Famous a few months ago that I realized I did, in fact, grow up with Shel Silverstein but in a very different form – his music. Almost Famous includes Cover of the Rolling Stone, and the credits noted the songwriter – Shel Silverstein. Once I dove into it further, I found he wrote many of the songs for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. My mom had all their music on eight-track tape, and it was the soundtrack to my middle-grade years. I can still probably sing them all, which tells you something about the difference between being a middle-grader in the ’70’s and my middle-grade daughter today! You can listen here and here.

This is not to mention he was also a cartoonist for Playboy and a musician in his own right. So when someone tries to pigeonhole you into a certain genre, or you worry about it yourself, think of Shel and write that edgy young adult – even if you’ve been doing picture books!

At this point in my life, as I’m coming to the realization (helped along by my teenage son) that there are many, many people younger than me I feel obligated to post all this here. My next project will likely be a middle grade book set in the ’70’s, so consider yourself warned!

Words to Live By

Sarah Emma Edmonds (Edmondson/Franklin Thompson), Flint

by Heather Harris-Brady

Like a surprising number of Michigan women, Sarah Emma Edmonds (Flint) played an active combat role in the Civil War. Women were drawn into service through various ways – sometimes they would enter with a husband, brother or boyfriend; sometimes for the higher pay rate; and sometimes just because they felt it was their patriotic duty.

Sarah/Frank Thompson went in as a nurse April 25, 1861, volunteering for spy duties when a call went out from McClellan’s command. After some intense study she aced the interview and won the position. She used various disguises and completed 11 spying missions behind enemy lines in all.

Women who did not take part in combat supported the effort in other ways, raising funds for the soldier’s provisions and medical care through Sanitary Fairs.

More details

Thinking Ahead – Women’s History Month

by Heather Harris-Brady

Every year at our school the fourth grade puts on a wax museum in the spring where the students dress as a character from history and visitors must guess who they are.  The big names, like Amelia Earhart, are gone early.  I started to suggest a list of possible candidates: Florence Nightingale, Mata Hari, Anna Pavlova, Dolly Madison, and so on. My daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes.

“Mama, I don’t know who most of these are and no one else will either.” To be honest I was a bit shocked. But then again, women’s history is sadly neglected in my opinion.  This extends to the children’s bookshelves. The fact that it’s labeled as such at all sticks in my craw a bit, because in truth – as 50% of the population on this planet are we not as fully a part of history?

So, I am getting a head start on National Women’s History Month. I’ll be featuring some amazing women on this blog and I hope you’ll join me in helping our daughters get to know more about those who blazed the trail for us.

She still hasn’t decided who she’s going to be. Her big brother, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, suggested Marie Antoinette. . .


Pitch Madness on Twitter

Today is Pitch Madness on Twitter! Here’s the scoop on Celia:

History’s proven that skeletons are claustrophobic – if you shut them up in a closet they’re going to get out.

The summer twelve-year-old Celia Narro walks into her new closet in tiny White Birch Cove she steps back through a century of skeletons into a new outfit: leader of The Mis(s)fits, a club sworn to defeat a prejudiced secret society.

All Celia wants is a one-way ticket back to New York City, where she’s oh-so-close to her big break in fashion. Treasure hidden by her new home’s previous owner seems tailor-made – for years the whole town’s been dying to get their hands on it. With history disappearing around them Celia and twelve-year-old Joe Eli, a Renaissance Fair geek, get to work.

But seriously, it’s the worst way to win new friends ever: Celia and the geek versus the most popular girl in her class-to-be, a girl with the home-field advantage, family ties to the secret society and designs on Joe. The trail winds through nettles, traps and explosions, coming to a dead stop when Joe’s kidnapped. If you were in Celia’s designer shoes, would you give up your best friend AND your dreams to save a life? One answer will send White Birch Cove spiraling back to a time when women and minorities lived lives dictated by gunpoint, taking Celia’s future along with it.

The Mis(s)fits: Lost Soles struts down the catwalk at 35,000 words as a contemporary middle grade mystery, giving fans of stylish detectives like Nancy Drew a front-row seat to mystery, adventure and budding romance.

60 Seconds with the Meter Maid: What’s Today Like?

The Meter Maid is my poet alter-ego. I’ve given her permission to start posting. . .

What’s Today Like?

January, 2013



when you’ve swallowed a sneeze

and your hound dog has fleas,


you’ve fallen down and skinned both knees,

it might be another bad day.


you’ve riled up some bees

and running made you wheeze


wind pulled your kite up in the trees,

it might be another a bad day.


you forgot to say “Please”

then brought home a few Ds


your pizza’s too light on the cheese,

it might be another bad day.


when Mom’s run out of peas

and that test was a breeze. . .


No way! Yes, I’m happy to say,

this could be a very good day.

2012: A Year in Writing & Reading

What we’re reading:

The 4th grader – Goddess Girls and The Sisters Club series

The h.s. freshman – The Secret History of the MI6

Me – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Completed Manuscripts:
1) The Mis(s)fits – All That Glitters, Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery (Agent Round: Hook, Line & Sinker Contest at

Works in Progress:
1) Fiona Hartzgold’s Family Tree, Middle Grade Magical Realism
2) Glamour Kitty, Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery
3) The Artsy-Fartsy Field Guide: Major Movements – Middle Grade Non-Fiction Kickstarter Project (Jan. 2013)