HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO…

Stories

Girl Code—the latest in the Brianna Justice series. Our sixth-grade heroine has set aside her mixing bowls to pursue a new dream—TV anchorwoman. However, when she winds up working for a print newspaper in Detroit with her new mentor, Brianna soon learns that much like baking, great journalism requires the right balance of ingredients. Is she up to the challenge of staring down prejudicial stereotypes—especially when SHE is part of the group doing the stereotyping? Get ready, ‘cause Brianna Justice is here!

A Writer’s Life…

Stories

The Breakdown Cure

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I’m juggling a couple projects, but on deadline for only one. So, of course, it takes precedence. My brain has jet lag even though it’s been months since I’ve been near a jet. And I’m trying to plan marketing strategies for my two newest books as well as a book giveaway. Too early for vodka. So, comfort food it is. #amwriting

Homemade tomato soup is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Not to mention creative meltdowns and middle-of-the-night panic attacks. (“Oh, god! Did I remember to rearrange paragraphs three and four? DID I? THE WHOLE MANUSCRIPT IS DOOMED!”)

Quick zesty tomato soup recipe. Eat like a published author or manic insomniac. Either way, the soup tastes good.

1 can tomato sauce (I prefer Contadina, but hey, you do you)

1 cup 2 percent milk (I’ve done it with pure cream or whole milk; richer taste, but can feel greasy)

2 tsp butter

1 tsp basil

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Tomato sauce, basil and pepper in saucepan, bring to boil. Lower heat, add butter, milk, and nutmeg. Bring to slow boil. You can get your bowl and crackers, or toast points or grilled cheese ready while you wait. Takes about six minutes. Watch carefully. You know that milk will rise up like a frothy beast if you’re not careful. Voila! Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan or cheddar. Soup is served.

 

A Bright And Shiny Day

Stories

 

Authoring can be tough. You are the creator, the whimsical-minded engine that brings imaginary worlds to life.

But you are also the businesswoman. The one-woman-shop, who must handle public relations, promote, plan speaking events and marketing strategies. When you are trying to be an up-and-comer in the publishing world and produce a beautiful piece of work, which I shamelessly proclaim The Sweetest Sound to be, you expect the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD will love it as much as you.

The reality, however, is that despite critical accolades, a dedicated marketing team at your publisher and determined efforts on your part, your little book hasn’t yet set the world afire as you’d hope.

Which is why Saturday was so awesome.

I awoke to an email from a dedicated school librarian in Upstate New York. Talk about chicken soup for the soul. Stacey Rattner contacted me to says how much she enjoyed The Sweetest Sound and how much her students loved it. She even sent along copies of letters the children had written to me about what they thought of the book.

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As I was already preparing to go out and visit bookstores to Twitter and Tweeter and all sorts of social media stuff for Sweetest paperback, feeling the love energized me. I wore makeup, put on a dress and even wore heels. Then I met the cutest, sweetest bookseller at Books-A-Million in the Loop Mall, Kissimmee. She was so excited to meet—Me?

At the Barnes & Noble near downtown Orlando, bookseller Cassie was an angel, helping  take pictures as I grinned like a mad woman upon seeing my new paperbacks.

It was one of those days when us little-known yet determined authors can, for just a while, feel like a J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or Jacqueline Woodson. It was a very good day.

TIME TO HIT THE ROAD

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I want to thank everyone who participated in my gofundme.com/sherri-winston fundraising campaign. I was overwhelmed by how many of you reached out and helped me toward my goal of donating hundreds of books to needy young readers. Even though anticipated donations fell short or never came to fruition, I’m sill going to donate as many as I can–approximately 400 books–purchased with my own funds and funds raised and donated by you.

I want to give these children more than a book. I want to give them courage and inspiration. I want them to look at that book and realize it’s not just paper and cardboard, but a dream that lived in me when I was their age, eating square pizza and drinking not-quite-cold chocolate milk. I want them to understand that I came from the most improbable of circumstances for an author–low-income, working class, broken home, even though I never ever thought my home was broken. I want these kids to hold this book and study its shape and edges. I want them to know that even if they never read a word, that book has power. Its existence proves that you can start in a small, distant place; a place of poverty and struggle; and you can capture the light in that place and hold it against your chest and follow that light into more light until you are lifted.

All I ever wanted to do was to write and illustrate books. Maybe working as an illustrator is a ways away, maybe its around the corner. But for now, I will hold this precious book and thank the Lord above for blessing me with this opportunity. For all of you who cared enough to send checks or go online and donate, from the bottom of my heart, It hank you. Your support will allow me to share my dream with young faces. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make a difference in some child’s life.

I can’t wait to try.

Good News REVIEWS!

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Authors love, love, love it when reviewers say awesome things about their work. Check out this review for President of the Whole Sixth Grade courtesy of the American Library Association’s Booklist Magazine:

President of the Whole Sixth Grade
By Sherri Winston
November 2015/ $17/ Ages 8 to 12
ISBN 978-0-316-37723-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-37722-5

When we last saw Brianna Justice she was on top of the world, fresh off the victory of being elected president of her fifth-grade class. But nothing bursts her bubble faster than starting middle school, where no one really cares about things anymore and everyone is trying to be someone else. Worse, two of her longtime BFFs have started blowing her off to hang out with a pair of nasty “popular” girls (the Peas). To top things off, Brianna has to contend with a rival who is determined to see her middle-school political career fail, and she only has a limited amount of time to raise money for the class trip to D.C. But Brianna has never been scared of a challenge, so she gathers up other allies and her trusty clipboard and gets to work. Brianna’s determination and follow-through make her a great role model, but the true value here is the very real depiction of the ebb and flow of middle-school friendships and the difficulties that come with growing up. An important resource for anyone who’s ever been in Brianna’s shoes.

Spooky Writing Contest

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SEPT. 2 THROUGH OCT. 17 <> SEPT. 2 THROUGH OCT 17 <> SEPT. 2 THROUGH OCT. 17 <> SEPT 2 THROUGH OCT. 17 <> SEPT. 2 THROUGH OCT.

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Today I am announcing my first-ever spooky writing contest. I am so excited. During my years as a journalist at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, I was privileged to play host to such a contest for young writers. It has been a goal of mine since becoming published to offer a contest on my blog. Thanks to the success of President of the Whole Fifth Grade, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has blessed me with an opportunity to write a sequel — President of the Whole Sixth Grade.

In honor of the recent announcement of the book’s 2015 anticipated publishing date, I would like to encourage little authors to think big. Therefore, I am holding a writing contest that features spooky themes, fun prompts and yes, even candy-filled gift bags.

The contest begins Sept. 2 and ends on Oct. 17. When is the deadline, you ask? Oct. 17, 2014. When does it begin? Well, thanks for asking. It begins Sept. 2. It is open to all third, fourth and fifth grade classes. How much does it cost? Well, though the experience is valued in the gazillions, the fee is $0. Last-minute entries will have to pay double.

Each Monday, on this site, I will include tips for writing that the kids can use not only for the contest but in there daily writing, as well.

I will continue to update, cajole, pester and otherwise make the contest known to as many as possible. Come on media specialists, teachers and reading coaches, don’t leave me hanging. Check out the attached flyer for details. Entries can be either scanned and emailed to sherriberries@gmail.com or sent through traditional mail upon contacting me.

All emails relating to the contact should say SPOOKY in the subject field. Allow me to boost your writing programs and help make the 2014-15 school year an absolute blast!

Contest Instructions

2014 FLYER