Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to meet authors ~ Lurlene McDaniel

I'm writing a series of posts to answer a question posed by Helen of Helen's Book Blog:
"How the heck do you meet all these authors? That's awesome!"
Lurlene McDaniel

Before Donna and I opened our bookstore, I worked for two other bookstores.  I had never worked in retail, so I had a lot to learn about the bookstore business.  First, I worked fifteen hours a week with store near my home that specialized in rare and out-of-print books.  Then for a year, I was manager of a bookstore in Trenton, Georgia, about 25 miles from my home, that sold both new and used books.  It was there that I first heard about Lurlene McDaniel.  A teacher who was one of the store's regular customers told me that Lurlene mentioned the REAL name of a neighbor in one of her novels.  That neighbor was a teacher in Trenton, so it was good to know which book students meant when they came looking for the one that mentioned their teacher.

Donna and I opened our store, which we named Book Buddies, in 2004. To answer Helen's question, Lurlene McDaniel came to me.  To my bookstore, I mean.  I found out more about her online:
Growing up, Lurlene lived in different parts of the country because her father was in the Navy. Eventually her family settled in Florida. She attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she earned a B.A. in English. She now lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
One day, a customer was looking for books in the YA (young adult) section of Book Buddies and told me she was pleased to see that we had two of her titles on the shelves that day.  It was Lurlene.  Imagine getting to meet a recipient of both the RITA Award and the IRA–CBC Children’s Choice Award (several times for this last one).  She didn't buy anything that day, but it was nice to meet her.

Some folks wonder why she chooses to write about sad situations.
“I tell them that sometimes tragedy hits people — kids, too. They want answers. They want to know ‘why.’ By using novels, I show ordinary kids confronting and overcoming great odds.”
Her books affirm life and are definitely optimistic.  And guess what?   Her novel Six Months to Live has been placed in a literary time capsule at the Library of Congress, to be opened in the year 2089.  Here's a summary of that YA novel, the first in a series:
"When 13-year-old Dawn Rochelle is diagnosed with leukemia, she's scared. While in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy, Dawn meets Sandy, who also has cancer. Dawn and Sandy battle the disease together, and remain best friends even after they both go into remission and return home. But when Sandy gets sick again, Dawn wonders what the future holds both for Sandy and herself."
So guess which of Lurlene McDaniel's books I chose to re-read in April?  The answer is on my April reading wrap-up (it's book #80 for the year):
80.  Six Months to Live ~ by Lurlene McDaniel, 1985, YA fiction (Ohio), 8/10
I like it when authors use humor.  It makes the characters seem like people I know.  Here's Dawn talking to her college-aged brother (on page 39) after a discussion about bone marrow from a healthy donor, "preferably a sibling":
"You'd give me your bone marrow?" Dawn asked Rob shyly once they were alone.

"Absolutely!" Rob said, chucking her on her chin.  "I gave you the chicken pox, didn't I?  I can spare bone marrow for you, too."
I rate this 8 of 10, a very good book.

On her Random House web site, Lurlene McDaniel says:

"Here’s a fact you may not know.  My summer release, BREATHLESS, will be my forty-third original book for Random House!"


Linda Jacobs said...

I've never read any of her books but just might download one after reading this post. I know plenty of my students read her books so they must be good.

Re: Billy Collins. "The Lanyard" is one of my favorites of his. I read it every year to my students and they get it and like it, too.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Great post, thank you for answering the question and sharing a great story. I realize that owning a bookstore would lead to meeting lots of authors, how fun!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Linda, you have lots of her books to choose from. Lurlene has this on her web site:

"My summer release, BREATHLESS, will be my forty-third original book for Random House!"

Helen, owning a bookstore may be a great way to meet authors, but actually, except for a book signing we did for an author whose wife's a friend of mine, Lurlene McDaniel is the only author I met in my store -- that I can remember right now, anyway.

Did you see the two earlier "How to meet authors" posts I've done?

Frank McCourt

Naomi Tutu

I'm hoping to go through the whole list of them, eventually. For those of you reading this at some later date, this link should take you to all my posts about authors: