GUEST POST: BARBARA MARICONDA

Posted by | October 8, 2012 | 2 Comments

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Barbara Mariconda, author of the brand new, swashbuckling, spunky and spirited middle grade adventure story THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS, as well as the co-founder of Empowering Writers, company that trains teachers how to help their students improve their writing skills. Today she’ll be giving you insight into both of her areas of expertise, writer and teacher, and she’s created a free downloadable sample lesson that you can use to teach LUCY (and later, any novel) in the classroom!

From Barbara:

“Lucy P. Simmons – described as an “intrepid heroine with a swashbuckling spirit and a sailor’s heart” and as “a feisty, unforgettable character” – this protagonist of my latest middle grade novel, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons has been evolving along with me for over fifteen years. Set on the coast of Maine at the end of the Victorian era, it is the tale of beautiful, red-haired Lucy, how her life changes in an instant, propelling her on an adventure sparked with magic, hardship, courage, and love. It redefines family, celebrating the miracle of people whose lives cross in unexpected ways, weaving rich tapestries of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and the kinds of relationships that change lives.

Years of travel to coastal Maine provided the inspiration and sparked the imagination that brought The Voyage of L. P. Simmons to life.  Here, a shoreline mansion, not unlike the Simmons place.

In many ways, Lucy’s journey reflects mine – and surely, yours as well. True, my experiences have not been as colorful as Lucy’s – I didn’t survive the tragic sinking of a ship, or meet a mysterious siren on the beach, nor did I discover a magical flute or have my beloved home surrounded by glittering mist. But, in my own small way, in my own unique life, I’ve had some narrow escapes, met some mystical, mysterious people who’ve brought marvelous unexpected gifts, and thankfully, experienced a sense of mystery and magic in the stuff of everyday living. And that’s what I write – stories that reveal the edges and undercurrents of life that can be sensed and experienced, but never grasped.

As a teacher, I know children need to believe in magic – not so much the magic in the pages of a fantasy novel, but rather, in the miracles and possibilities often disguised in the ordinariness of life. And, a book can open that doorway metaphorically, can help hone the eyes of hope and wonder to see beyond the literal…toward “what if” and “why not.” Especially in this era of high stakes testing, where school can become wrought with stress and pressure, children need the escape that fantasy provides, and the opportunity for them to immerse themselves in the creative, imaginative worlds where the spirit can soar freely. But, given the demands of new national and state standards that increase the breadth and depth of what students must learn, is the luxury of losing oneself in a fantasy story a thing of the past? Is there time enough in the school day to indulge in a book like The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons?

To succeed as an author and as an educator, I’ve had to wear two hats and find ways to merge both worlds. When I’m not writing for kids, I’m writing for their teachers, through my company, “Empowering Writers” – our mission: to empower the next generation of authors in classrooms today. But, what I won’t ever do is compromise one goal for the other – in other words, I’m committed to find ways for teachers to nurture the imaginations and creativity in the souls of their students, while continuing to challenge them academically and prepare them to excel as the junior test-takers they have to be.

This is artwork that Barbara owns which has inspired her writing.  Can you see the any connections to Lucy’s story?

So, with both my writer and teacher hats squashed on my head, I went through my novel, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, looking for every opportunity within the text that can be used a jumping off point for teaching the Common Core State Standards in writing. You can click on the link below for an entire outline – and, not only that. The basic techniques I’ve applied to “Lucy” as the basis for instruction, can be adapted for all of your favorite pieces of high quality literature. But, of course, I’m hoping you’ll be applying them to mine!

And, lastly…while I’m talking about using literature to teach to the standards, I want to be clear. Reading a fabulous story that transports the reader into realms beyond the ordinary, beyond the classroom, beyond the challenges of life, is really enough! And, I think, if only there was a state standard that read: Standard L.11.1a: Students lose themselves in story, imagining worlds of possibility, embracing hope – Oh, what a world it would be!”

Thanks Barbara! THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS is available in bookstores now. And don’t miss Barbara’s wonderful, FREE downloadable PDF lesson plan, available here!

Comments

2 Responses to “GUEST POST: BARBARA MARICONDA”

  1. Jess from Alice in Baker Street
    October 9th, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    Great post!! That’s one of my favorite paintings :)

  2. Kathy Howell
    October 15th, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    Congratulations Barb! I can’t wait to get my copy!

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