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Just Left of Lucky

I'm fresh back from the 2018 Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) conference in Osage Beach, MO. Since neither my husband nor I had ever been to Missouri, we flew into St. Louis a few days early with two specific goals. Mine—to visit the renowned St. Louis Zoo. His—to indulge in some world famous barbecue. I'm happy to say we both achieved our goals! The ribs at Pappy's Smokehouse were the best, and the zoo was awesome! I especially loved the hippo exhibit because, well ... I've always loved hippos.

The conference itself was also wonderful and I learned a lot. I got to meet and mingle with 600 school librarians and other book lovers, meet fellow authors—Emily Arnold McCully, April Henry, and Amy Engel—as well as accept the Mark Twain award for A Million Ways Home. I also had opportunity to give two workshops on my publishing experiences and share some background on my latest book, Just Left Of Lucky. Since everyone asked where my idea for the book came from, you may be interested to know yourself, so here's a brief recap.

The idea for Just Left Of Lucky first came to me a few years back when I read an article in my local paper about our food bank running low on provisions because the need kept increasing. I was surprised to learn the extent of the problem here in my own little hometown in north Idaho. Also around that time, a good friend revealed that he and his teenage son had spent 11 years homeless in Anaheim, CA from about 2000-2011. When I started asking questions about his experience, I was amazed to learn he'd been working steady in construction nearly that whole time, but could never save up enough for a down payment and security deposit in order to get an apartment. So, a couple times a week they'd pay for a motel room to shower and sleep in a real bed, and the rest of the time they lived in their pickup truck.

I really started thinking about what it would be like to be a kid in that situation. How would you wash your clothes or do your homework, or keep people from finding out? And how many kids in our schools today are lugging around the overwhelming weight of that secret themselves? So, I created Shannon, the main character in Just Left Of Lucky. If you think it sounds interesting, you can read the first chapter here.

For now, I'm back to working on my next book and trying to squeeze in time to read. Here's a few books I've recently enjoyed:

Patsy Ann, Queen of the Waterfront by Laura McCarley
The Time Hunters (Book 1) by Carl Ashmore
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Until next time ... Happy Reading!
Dianna