Sunday, November 10, 2013
Above is author, Lois Ruby, talking about her latest ghost story, Rebel Spirits. To her right is Kimberley Griffiths Little, Uma Krishnaswami, Me, and Lauren Bjorkman.
Speaking of Vaunda, THIS WEEK I'm over at The Spellbinders Blog with my analysis of her book, Bad News for Outlaws. I've used my twelve step story system to discuss the plot of the book. It's a Coretta Scott King Award winner.
NEXT WEEK Vaunda and I will be giving a plotting presentation for NaNoWriMo on Saturday, November 16 at 2:00p.m. at Esther Bone Library in Rio Rancho. It's free and it's open to the public, so come on down!!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Go to the Haunted Hearts post over at Spellbinders to read the November feature article by author, Kersten Hamilton, and find out how to get a free eBook version of the critically acclaimed Tyger Tyger. This offer is available through the iTunes store through November 5!
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday afternoon Kimberley Griffiths Little (far left) and Caroline Starr Rose (far left) hosted a dynamic panel of authors at Alamosa Books for the Fierce Reads Tour. (Left to right - Jessica Brody - author of Unremembered, Leigh Bardugo - author of Siege and Storm, Gennifer Albin - author of Altered, and Ann Aguirre, author of Horde).
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 2 pm
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Lisa McMann spoke at Alamosa Books last Tuesday, September 10, as part of her tour for The Unwanteds: Island of Fire, the Third book in The Unwanteds series published by Aladdin (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Also available were the books from her Wake Trilogy, a haunting series for older teens published by Simon Pulse (also my publisher - yay!). Alamosa created a beautiful display of Lisa's books.
Lisa told the Alamosa audience that The Unwanteds is special to her because it was inspired by an experience with her own children. They came home one day with a letter from school saying the arts classes were going to be eliminated because of budget constraints. This was devastating news to her highly artistic children. She told them, "It sounds like you kids are being punished for being creative." That comment started a line of What If questions that led to The Unwanteds and the world of Quill where crazy rules, built up over time, prohibit any sort of artistic expression.
In Quill, thirteen-year-olds are placed into three categories: Wanteds go to college and have the chance at an education, Necessaries are trained to serve in menial jobs, and Unwanteds, those deemed dangerous because of their artistic tendencies, are sent to a death farm. Fortunately, the man who is supposed to be putting kids to death has secretly been saving them and training them in his own magical world.
Lisa talked about the creative process and reminded us that if you are creating a magical world you must have a lot of rules for governing that world. Her kids had a great time helping her come up with the rules for the spells in The Unwanteds books.
One of the highlights of Lisa's talk was when she shared how she got started as a writer and her inspiration for the Wake Trilogy. She had won a short story contest and it provided her enough money so she didn't feel pressured to find a job when her family moved to Arizona. She decided to take the time to write a novel, but it wasn't as easy as she thought. Finally, after a year and a half and no book on the horizon, she immersed herself in movies, going to the theater five times in one week. Then she reread books she used to love to read. A piece in one of the movies gave her the idea for her first novel which she wrote in three months. She then spent another three months revising it.
She didn't sell that book or the second book either, but one night she had a dream about being able to see inside her husband dreams. That's when she envisioned Janie, a seventeen-year-old girl who gets sucked into other people's nightmares against her will. Lisa worked feverishly, eighteen hours a day for seven days, until she completed the rough draft for Wake. She said this isn't hard to do if you have the entire story in your head, especially if the story is short. Wake is about 40,000 words.
I'm not so sure I agree. I would have a hard time sitting that long without some serious yoga. Lisa said after completing that quick first draft, she spent another two months rewriting the story. She found an agent fairly quickly who introduced her to the wonderful team at Simon Pulse.
Lisa's experiences were inspirational and informative. Many of the audience members were from our local SCBWI chapter. Lisa was gracious enough to pose with the other authors for the photo below. Oh, and it looks like somebody's granddaughter sneaked inside the photo, too. Perhaps she's an author in training?
Friday, September 13, 2013
Miss May survived hurricane Sandy, but the first floor of her home was uninhabitable. This is what her living room looked like when our work crew showed up to tear out the remaining walls and put up dry wall this past July. The week prior another group had come through to put in the sub-flooring.
Miss May had been living with her nephew ever since Superstorm Sandy destroyed much of her home. She walked with a cane and got around pretty slowly, but her mind was as sharp as ever. She had wanted return when the waters receded, but her nephew was worried about her safety. He was so concerned he took down the stair railings so she wouldn't be tempted to go back, but while he was out of town she moved back anyway.
We were in Long Island with Next Step, a faith based group that organizes work project like this all over the world. See my August 6 post for more details. The people you meet along life's journey are truly remarkable. Each one is full of stories.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Appearances can be deceptive. I've always known that, but often I forget. I was reminded of just how inaccurate perceptions can be when I traveled to Long Beach, New York earlier this summer. The beach town is located off of Long Island's South Shore and surrounded by Reynold's Channel to the north, east and west. It's stunning beach runs along the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
Some have even been condemned, but you wouldn't know it unless you got close enough to see a red X drawn on the window.
Superstorm Sandy raged across New York's eastern seaboard nine months ago, but the devastation it left behind is still painfully evident in the lives of Long Beach residents. Many of them are still living with family members, making due in small apartments, or squeezing their belongings into the second floor of their home while tearing out the ground floor and replacing dry wall still wet from last October's storm. These are not the second homes of the rich who live and work elsewhere. Most of the residents of Long Island are working class folks, just like the rest of us.
Next Step helping to rehab houses damaged in the storm. Next Step is a faith based organization that sets up long term construction and service projects all around the world. Various groups come to a location for a week of service. Our group ripped out damaged interiors and put up dry wall. The group coming after us will mud the dry wall. The group that came before us put in a new sub floor. Construction continues like that until the project is completed, with kids painting, hanging siding, putting in laminate and basically just showing up to be of service.
We slept on the floor of a church that we were also helping to rehab. It was quite a process just to get all the kids fed and showered. I never knew there was such a thing as shower trailers. Now I have first hand experience.
During our orientation the Next Step Staff (all young people themselves, mostly college students and recent graduates) told us that we weren't just helping rebuild houses, we were helping to bring hope to a struggling community.
There were several things the Long Beach experience taught me. First of all, you don't know when a simple gesture like buying coffee might bring hope to someone. Second, houses are like people. Sometimes they look perfectly fine on the outside, but inside they are crumbling. I try to remember that when I'm tempted to think that other people are more successful, lucky, happy, etc. than I am. I never really know what's going on inside.
Stay tuned next week when I report on the story of Miss May, one of the wonderful Long Beach residents I got to know while I was there.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
overwhelming event. I could have spent a week just hanging out in the Exhibit Hall. I got to catch up with old friends like Esther Hershenhorn - author, Chicago resident, and fellow panelist at the IRA Conference in April of 2012.
In addition to hanging out in the exhibit hall with authors, I attended the Coffee Klatch on Sunday morning. It's like Speed Dating with librarians. Thirty-eight authors, myself included, went from table to table speaking with young adult librarians about our books. Each table had about eight librarians and when the bell rang, the authors moved to a different table. It was exhausting and invigorating and I nearly lost my voice afterward, but so much fun!
YALSA SYMPOSIUM in St. Louis last November.
I'm already marking my calendar for ALA 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
I visited the International Folk Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico this weekend (July 13-14). One-hundred and fifty artisans from over fifty countries converged on Museum Hill. There were textiles, jewelry, clothing, pottery and more.
The group above is Ihhashi Elimhlophe performing Zulu music from South Africa. They did enough gymnastics onstage to qualify for the Olympics. They were amazing. They're even on Facebook (though I can't seem to find them now:)
Every piece of art at the entire festival held a story. so did the fascinating people who created it.
Friday, July 12, 2013
July 3 was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Lois even brought a woman civil war re-enactor. Over 500 women and girls served in the Civil War disguised as young men. There was a great slide show and treats - including hard tack that Lois made herself, but we were all warned not to try it without soaking it first - or else we might break a tooth. Good luck on your new book, Lois!!
Saturday, June 29, 2013
After a few silly poses, we started asking questions. How does something like this get started? Was there a sudden plot to decorate the wall in gum or did little blobs of Juicy Fruit just accumulate over time?
Saturday, June 22, 2013
I'm on my way to the Rockaways in New York to chaperone my daughter's youth group as they particpate in the Next Step Program to help rebuild houses on Long Island that were damaged during hurricane Sandy. They say we get to use shower trailers. I must work that into a story.
When I leave the Rockaways, I'm heading straight to ALA in Chicago (and a real shower and bed at the Hilton). Consequently, I've got a pretty diverse packing list: hammer, high heels, safety goggles, blow up mattress, books, nail apron, bookmarks, and on it goes.
On Sunday, June 30th, I will be taking part in the YALSA Coffee Klatch. I hope I still have some clean underwear by then.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
To read more about Nancy and her books visit Nancy's website.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Secret Language of Stories Tab at this blog.
To find my analysis of City of Bones, visit Spellbinders.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
As a follow up to last months letter writing project, today I will be discussing additional tips for connecting authors and readers. Here is tip #1. The other four tips may be found at Spellbinders.
1. Connect with authors through books and websites like Dear Teen Me. While serving on a panel at the Montgomery Book Festival in February, I met co-panelist E. Kristin Anderson and fell in love with the book she edited with Miranda Kenneally entitled Dear Teen Me. The book contains letters by various authors to their teen selves and includes entries by Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Oliver, Carrie Jones and Cynthia Leitich Smith. The various authors cover a wide range of topics including finding true love, discovering the true meaning of friendship, as well as surviving physical abuse, body issues, and bullying. The stories are sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but always close to the heart. I highly recommend this book as well as the website Dear Teen Me for connecting readers and authors.
While we anxiously awaited Cynthia's response to our letters, we read her excerpt from Dear Teen Me. Learning about Cynthia's experience of break up, heart break, and the girl bully who tormented, but ultimately admitted that she admired Cynthia, made it that much more meaningful when we received Cynthia's response to our student letters. She answered individual questions within a group letter and I made copies to hand out to all the students so they could follow along as I read the letter aloud in class.
For other helpful tips on connecting young readers with authors, go to Spellbinders.