The Big Friendly Giveaway Has a Winner

Last night, I copied the names from the Comments section of my Roald Dahl post onto little piece of paper and dropped them in a bowl. I brought the bowl to my son.

He doesn’t get quite as excited as Trixie about helping me choose contest winners, but he does take the minute away from whatever he’s doing to close his eyes and pull out a name. I call that gracious.

And today’s winner of The BFG? Well, here’s your first clue.

And if you don’t know that this means the winner is…

Jama Rattigan!

You haven’t spent enough time at her blog, Alphabet Soup. And all I can say about that is, “Tsk, Tsk.”

Jama, send me an email at beckylevine at ymail dot com, with your mailing address, and I’ll get the Paddington’s copy your copy of The BFG out in the mail!


What We Can Learn from Roald Dahl & a BFG (Big Friendly Giveaway)!

I love books. I love authors. I am constantly impressed by what other people put on the page, how tightly they weave a story, how instantaneously they pull me into their characters. If you read my blog at all or follow my Facebook updates, you know this.

Honestly, though, there are only a few authors at whose altars I truly worship. Worship as in stand in awe at the magic they have wrought, at the perfection of their books, at how lost I get when I am in their world.

Roald Dahl is one of these authors.

For his birthday, I thought I’d toss up a few things I think we can learn from Mr. Dahl, whether we’re writers, readers, parents, or even a politician who’s capable of walking around with an open mind. Really. I think there are a few.

Distraction: If you want to read a delicious post about Roald Dahl and FOOD, plus get a RECIPE, check out Jama Rattigan’s birthday post here.

Here we go…

  • Chocolate is good. Just ask Charlie.
  • Love is also good. Even for us old folks. Read Esio Trot.
  • There are bad people in the world. Sometimes they’re witches (read The Witches), sometimes they’re aunts or parents (read James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.) If you try to pretend they don’t exist, that everybody is a kind friend, you aren’t fooling the kids–whether you’re writing for them or parenting them. Or censoring “for” them.  Are you really fooling yourself?
  • It’s okay to take on these bad people and do battle. Even if you are the child whom other people will tell to stay in your place, be quiet, don’t argue. You have power and strength. Sometimes that strength comes as magic (read Matilda again), and sometimes it comes as intelligence, creativity, and determination (read The BFG). Find your strengths, welcome them, and use them.
  • There are also good people out there, who will listen to you, give you friendship, and support you in your battle. Find them, trust them, and stick with them.
  • Push yourself. Take risks. Cross the line. Again, this applies to our life-life, but really, really, it applies to our writing life. (Read any of Dahl’s books.) Look at what Roald Dahl wrote. Look at the extreme situations he put his characters in, and look at the extremes they used to save themselves. Did he touch adult nerves? Oh, yes, he did. And does. Do the kids care? They do not. They just fall in love.
  • Do that with your writing—Fall. In. Love. I don’t know for a fact how Dahl felt about his own stories. I’m sure he struggled, as we all do, with early drafts, with revision that wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go. But I’m also sure, in my gut, that he could not have written the magic he gave us, without loving what he was doing. Without loving his heroes, without loving their worlds. Yeah, I’m sure.

I know I just had a contest, but, really, I need another one with this post. Leave a comment with the title of your favorite Roald-Dahl book and tell me why. I’ll leave the contest up over the weekend, and I’ll announce a winner on Monday–a winner for a copy of my favorite book by Dahl: The BFG.

Friday Five: Around the Blogosphere

For today’s Friday Five: a few writerly things other people are saying around the blogs:

  1. Janet Hardy on following through on the tension you’ve created.
  2. Jama Rattigan is celebrating the 4th anniversary of her delicious blog by welcoming everyone to her new site.
  3. Kurtis Scaletta talks about the five ways writers have to describe their story and gives tips on them all.
  4. Shrinking Violet Promotions on revising the BIG stuff.
  5. Jeannine Atkins shares a bit about her own, personal plot school.


Chronicle Books AMAZING Giveaway

Have you heard what Chronicle Books is doing?

They’re asking (more like letting!) bloggers post a wishlist of books from Chronicle, up to $500 (wow!), and then they’ll draw a winner from the (I’m guessing) ginormous pool of entrants. AND (yes, there’s more!), they’ll give the same pile of books away to a commenter at the winning blog.

So, what I’m basically saying is, if you comment here, you and I could win!

A very, very grateful thank you to Jama Rattigan for pointing me toward this contest. Make sure you check out her list and comment there, two, thus doubling your chances to win. And if you want to go crazy with commenting and entering, check out the list here of all the bloggers who are entering.

And now, without further ado…my Chronicle wishlist.

Vanessa Newton’s Let Freedom Sing

Bob Gill’s The Present

Jesse Hartland’s How the Sphinx Got to the Museum

Suzy Lee’s Shadow

Sandra Markle and Daniela Terrazzini’s Animals Marco Polo Saw

Muriel Harris Weinstein and R. Gregory Christie’s When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat

Peggy Mercer & Bill Crews’ Ten Cows to Texas

James Stimson’s Thirteen O’Clock

David Slonim’s He Came with the Couch

Robin Jarvis’ The Alchemist’s Cat

John Duggleby’s Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence

Michaela MacColl’s Prisoner’s in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

Dilys Evans’ Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Illustration

Susan Goldman Rubin’s Delicious: The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud

Susie Middleton & Ben Fink’s Fast, Fresh & Green: More Than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers

Random Thursday Thankfuls

Well, I’m pretty sure I won’t be blogging NEXT Thursday, since the house will be full of family and food and flaming flamingos. (Just checking if you’re really reading!)

So, a quick thankful for the week:

1. I’m thankful for how the eucalyptus across the road look mixed in with this morning’s fog, and for the office window that lets me look at it.

2. I’m thankful that, when we bought this house, we said, “Yes, it’s plenty big,” because, really, this means I don’t have too much cleaning to do by next week.

3. I’m thankful for a son who, when I say, “Please bring me home a donut hole,” tells my husband that it would be better to send me six and, of course, for a husband who says, “You’re right.”

4. I’m thankful that nobody from the refrigerator store has called (yet) to say, “Oops, sorry, your refrigerator WON”T be there on Tuesday.”

5. I’m thankful for the ear-muffs Paddington (the one on the left) is wearing today on Jama Rattigan’s blog, because they made me smile. Which of course means I’m thankful for Cynthia Leitich Smith’s & Barry Gott’s new picture book, Holler Loudly, which made Paddington ask Jama for those ear-muffs. Holler Loudly is definitely on my to-read list!

6. I’m thankful for critiquing clients who are happy with my feedback (in that oh-boy-now-I-get-to-revise way) and who send me a note to let me know. W…H…E…W.

7. Finally, I’m glad for a stretch of hours ahead of me today to get back to my YA and do some more work on the antagonist and plot.

Friday Five: Chit-Chat around the Blogosphere

For today, I’m sending you away, to a few fun posts that caught my eye recently. You know, from other people! Enjoy.

  • I love this comparison from Jan Gangsei about the similarities between middle-age and the middle-grades:
    The View from the Middle
  • My friend and critique partner, Terri Thayer, talks about her latest vacation/family reunion and the magic of cousinhood:
    Family Fun
  • Jenni Bielicki and Stacia Deutsch are doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and their team, Critters against Cancer, are holding an auction to raise money for the cause. I’ll be contributing a critique and a copy of my book. Check it out here:
    Critters against Cancer
  • Anna Elliott talks about stretching ourselves into the areas we think we can’t go:
    A Funeral of the I Can’ts
  • Jama Rattigan’s blog almost always makes me hungry. (Not to mention making me yearn for a few teddy bears to hug!). If you haven’t discovered her yet, this post on the victory of macarons over cupcakes is a beautiful place to get started. I’ve been trying to think of an Occasion coming up, just so I can order a box.
    Macarons: Love at First Bite

Happy Friday, and have a wonderful weekend.

Love Ya Award: More Blogs for You to Check Out

Last week, K.M. Weiland at WordPlaypresented me with the Love Ya Blog award. Thanks, K.M. for including me in your list!


Here’s the definition of the award:

The “Love Ya” Award states: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to other bloggers who must choose to pass it on and include this cleverly written text into the body of their award!

I like to add a few new blogs to your possibilities when I pass on one of these awards. On the other hand, some of the “old” blogs I read so fit this award that…well, you’re going to get a mix in this list!

My “Love Ya” awards for the week go to:

Enjoy! And if you feel like passing on the award at your blog, leave a link to it in the comments and we can all share.