IT’S THE TWELVE DAYS OF PARIS

…and this is what I’ve learned:

Trois voitures

Deux pizzas

and I know that orange is feminine.

With twelve days remaining before I set off for Paris, I’ve been hard at work studying French on Duolingo. I am officially in a panic.

Indeed, I’ve learned over two-hundred-fifty words. I can say “I want” (je veux) and “I have” (j’ai). I know how to say phrases, such as, “I have three cars” (J’ai trois voitures).”

But, I’m not certain that will help me check into the hotel. It probably won’t even get me a ride from l’aeroport.

What’s worse is when I get frustrated and my mind starts to search for the correct word or phrase, it defaults to the only foreign language it know–Spanish. And if you knew how poor my Spanish was, you’d know how much trouble I’m in.

I’ve been in love with the idea of Paris since I was a kid. I learned a lot of cool phrases while I was writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy. The idea of creating an African American girl born in New York, who lived in France for five years, was like putting my own childhood fantasy on paper.

Sherri Winston on writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy

The spy part, too. I always wanted to be a spy. (My mom said soon as someone tickled my tummy, I’d giggle and give up all the secrets. Mom was a dream killer.)

I’ve got twelve more days. That’s all. I can’t become fluent in the time I have left, but perhaps I can manage not to humiliate myself while asking for le metro.

A bientôt!

(That means “see you soon!)

FIRST TRIP ABROAD

In twenty-one days, I take my first European vacation. I feel like Chevy Chase! Paris here I come.

It’s been a life-long dream to travel to France. I even created a character in my newest book—Jada Sly, Artist & Spy—who lived for five years in Bordeaux, France, before moving back to her hometown, my other favorite city in the world, New York City.

I’ve been immersing myself in all that is ooo-la-la. Back over the summer, I started using the Duo Lingo app to study French. It’s a great app, but with only weeks left until time for me to leave, I realized I wasn’t learning fast enough. It’s a solid learning tool, but unless I bump into Paul or Marie and want to use their “voiture” (car), I need more help.

I’ve added Mango languages to my learning repertoire. Now I can sound like a bumbling American on two separate platforms!

To keep myself on my toes, every day between now and departure I will post updates on my preparations. I thought it would be fun to share details of my upcoming departure as well as fun details about my favorite young spy, Jada Sly. Until tomorrow, bonsoir!

Come see me!

I love you, Central Florida. Please come hang out with me today, 2 p.m. at Writer’s Block bookstore, 124 E. Welbourne Ave., Winter Park.

Today I’m celebrating the release of my new book, Jada Sly, Artist & Spy. I would love to share my story of perseverance with your kids as I discuss how I turned my lifelong dream of being an author/illustrator into reality.

Jada Sly is a book that has fun, intrigue and adventure. It also deals with complex issues of loss, grief and anxiety. It’s a great story and a fast-paced read. So bring the kids and come get the perfect book for your child’s summer reading.

A Writer’s Delight!

    Serendipity is a beautiful thing!

An unexpected email led to a delightful afternoon.

Hometown grandmother Nancy knew I grew up in Michigan and wondered if I’d autograph a book for her granddaughter visiting from Washington state. Then she realized I now lived in Florida. She expressed how much her daughter loved her new book, President of the Whole Sixth Grade—Girl Code.

Well, just so happened I was in Michigan for the wonderful author-illustrator experience, Nerd Camp, in Parma, Michigan. I reached out to Nancy, set a date, and it was on.

Meeting Nancy and Sarah was a true highlight to my week. Sarah, 10, was adorable and very smart. We sat around chatting like ladies who lunch.

Divine!

And if that wasn’t enough of the serendipity sauce, Nancy brought along a friend—my middle school civics teacher whose habit of teaching us to read newspapers in her classroom directly led to the plot of the third book in the President series—Mrs. Western. Now, I’m sure the woman has a first name but I still feel like raising my hand when I see her so I didn’t ask.

Thanks Sarah and Nancy for renewing my understanding of why I write stories for children. Your kind words motivated me to carry on. And thank you, truly, to Mrs. Western, whose caring yet no-nonsense teaching style helped open my eyes to the world around me, inspiring me to see greater and be greater. Thank you, ladies for a wonderful day.

BIG BOOK NEWS: THE SWEETEST SOUND PAPERBACK

FA0F5610-9192-4A2E-B914-17A5C53C5F55

It may be rainy today throughout Florida, but there is sunshine in my heart. My sweet, sweet little book about a 10-year-old girl who has the voice of an angel—Mariah Carey is her hero—but is afraid to be heard. I wrote the book so that each chapter would feel like a song. I love this book and now that she’s a brand new paperback, I hope you get to know Cadence Mariah Jolly and fall in love with her story, too. Kisses!

New LEGO build.

After doing several school visits with April is for Authors, I heard from the boys. They said all my LEGO stop-motion movies had girly stuff. So I went out and bought a police boat, complete with a little crook.

While daughter worked on bigger boat, I took these brightly colored parts and made a cool rescue boat.

 

The Sweetest Sound

cropped-img_0296.jpgWhen you were a kid, was there ever a celebrity whom you looked upon as sort of a fairy godmother? When I was little, my cast of good-natured spirits ranged from Julie Andrews to Diana Ross.

In my latest middle grade novel, The Sweetest Sound, my main character has a fairy godmother of sorts–Mariah Carey.

Cadence is a quiet girl who enjoys her solitude. However, she is also a shy girl who longs to define her time among others as she sees fit. And one way in which she sees fit is through singing. She has an amazing voice. One that would be compared to her hero, Mariah Carey, if only Cadence would allow it to be heard.img_0298

In my late teens when Whitney Houston became an instant icon, my mother was immediately drawn to the bubbly, brown-skinned diva. She rejoiced at Whitney’s every move. And a few years later, when I first saw Mariah Carey perform the National Anthem at a Detroit Pistons game, I knew how my mother felt.

The 90s were a time when I was finding my professional self and discovering what kind of woman I was to become. And Mariah Carey was an integral voice in the soundtrack of my life.

So when I sat down to craft a tale about a young girl on a similar mission of self-discovery, a young woman whose heart is filled with song, and music and light, I drew upon the lyrical influences of one of my all-time favorite angels, Ms. Carey.

The Sweetest Sound is a delightful, lyrical story about voice, perceptions and misconceptions. It’s the story of a girl with dreams both big and modest. A gospel singer who makes a promise to God, then struggles with what will happen if she can’t keep it. Who then turns to her emotional fairy godmother to see her through her journey.

Cadence must cope with an absentee mother, over protective father and an over-the-top best friend. All the while, balancing a secret that has been eating away at her for years. One whose time has come.

Please enjoy the musical stylings of a beautiful soul. Introducing Cadence Mariah Jolly, and The Sweetest Sound.

COUNTDOWN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

At this time of year, everyone is posting lists of faves. Us book lovers get filled with holiday glee at the thought of books fresh from the book garden, or wherever great books are born. So here are a few goodies on my list of recommended must-reads:

Must Read:

Stunning tale of heartache and redemption.
Stunning tale of heartache and redemption.

Lost In The Sun (LISA GRAFF): Masterfully written and heart-achingly real. Trent starts middle school desperate to hit the restart button on his life. He craves a new beginning after a fifth-grade tragedy left one classmate dead and Trent feeling the weight of his friend’s loss. After all, he surmises, it was all Trent’s fault. How would you cope with causing the death of another kid? Trent’s struggle feels real and honest. The kind of book that makes you clutch your chest and shake your head while you’re reading it. A darned good book!

 

 

Monsters don't stand a chance against the PIB!
Monsters don’t stand a chance against the PIB!

Princess In Black and the Perfect Princess Party (SHANNON HALE): I mean, really? Who wouldn’t want to attend a perfect party in honor of a monster hunting princess? Welcome to the castle, y’all. Princess In Black is in the house. Is it wrong that I buy these books knowing I have no age-appropriate reader with which to share? The PIB (Princess In Black) delivers charm, hilarity and plenty of action. You may scoff, but her tales are a pure delight!

 

 

 

President Cover with Bleed_CMYK[1]

President of the Whole Sixth Grade (SHERRI WINSTON): Brianna Justice thought she had sixth grade all figured out. Until she was actually in sixth grade. Then everything she thought she was sure of–her friends, her future, her Self!–began to shift. How Brianna chooses to find herself and figure out her next move is an inspiration to anyone who has ever faced a challenge and then challenged themselves to figure it out. In a story filled with Ancient Roman facts, yummy cupcake recipes and a class trip from Detroit to Washington, D.C., Brianna Justice learns a few things about life. And maybe teaches a few things, too.