Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing update & WIFYR tidbit

Wrote my thousand words again last night. I was racing my laptop to the end of its battery and I won! They weren't amazing words but they're the start of an important plot point. One thing I learned at WIFYR, from both Ann Dee Ellis and Carol: how to inject emotion from your own life into the life of your MC. We wrote exercises with the original incident IRL and then took the emotion we experienced and wrote it into a scene with our MC. It was very interesting and it was fun and a good reminder that our MC doesn't have to experience exactly what we do to go through the same emotional reactions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WIFYR 2012

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers was amazing this year.  I was privileged to work with Carol Lynch Williams and 14 other talented writers during the five day morning workshop.  In the afternoons, I attended several wonderful break-out sessions and listened to an inspired keynote address by Trent Reedy.  He urged us to write our story.  "You don't know who will read your book.  You can't know whose life it will save.  It will save someone's."


I will write more about it in subsequent posts.

Here's a quick story:

Carol motioned to me.  "I need to talk to you."

It made me feel the same sensation as when Don Seegmiller said, "I need to talk to you."  My first thought being, What did I do wrong?  We walked outside after class and she asked me about my manuscript.  I told her why it wasn't finished yet.  My plans for completing it in August after the kids go back to their dad.  She stopped me just outside the main building and said:

"I'm going to be mean to you now.  Ready?"


"This manuscript should have been done a long time ago.  This book should have been in the pipeline for publication two years ago and you should have finished your second book already.  You need to finish it.  You will get up early before your kids get up and you will write 1,000 words a day until it's done.  You will finish it this summer.  I know it's hard.  I know it's hard to write.  I know it's hard to work on, but you will work on it every day.  What are you going to say when someone (editor/agent) asks to see it?  What are you going to say to them?"

"What should I say to them, Carol?  Tell me what to say."

"You will say, 'It's almost finished,' and you will work every day on it until it is finished."

"Okay, Carol.  I will do that."

Then she hugged me.  That's not mean.  That's someone I admire greatly (writer of 28 published books) saying to me, "I believe in you so much that I am telling you this book you're working on WILL  be published.  It's a given.  All you have to do is finish it."

SO TODAY I WROTE 1,000 WORDS.  And it was easy.  It was so easy.  Here's why.  I turned off my internal editor.  I promised Carol I would write without my backspace or my delete.  I promised I would write an ugly, dirty, stinky draft that's not polished at all.  And I started writing that way today and it was AMAZING.

I will post updates here on my progress and make sure to let you know when I write.  Which will be every day.  Because Carol said so, and I do what my mentors -- like Carol and Will Terry -- tell me.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Reviews - May 2012

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carried Ryan

I just love this series, kicked off by the post-apocalyptic zombie tale The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Each book in the trilogy has a different protagonist, but they're all linked and their interweaving stories are very satisfying.  This book follows Annah, left to survive on her own in the Dark City.  She's a very compelling character, and I found her story almost impossible to put down.  Ryan's prose is lovely.  My favorite part is the chilling chase through the dead subway system, complete with a zombie horde.

This book is scary.

Warnings on: violence, gore, general scariness.

 The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Lots of werewolves.  Rippling muscles.  Fans of Twilight will enjoy it.

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Trella lives as a scrub, spending most of her time in the network of ventilation and water tubes criss-crossing Inside, earning her the name: Queen of the Pipes.  She is one of 18,000 other scrubs, stuffed into the overpopulated lower levels of Inside.  Their lives are circumscribed into 10 hour rotating schedules: 20 hours per day, five days per hundred hour week.  Thanks to the passage of time and a political coup in the upper levels, no one remembers what is Outside, but Trella makes it her mission to find out.

I loved how this dystopian tale unfolded.  And the fascinating reveal about Outside just added that many more questions.  Which might be answered in sequel!


Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

This middle-grade book details the story of a unique narrator: Melody, an eleven-year old trapped in a body limited by cerebral palsy.  Her brain is completely intact, and very precocious.  Melody has a photographic memory and an indomitable spirit.

I highly recommend this book, especially for children.  It could contribute to the real development of sympathy and charity toward people with disabilities.

No warnings.
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

When her father is diagnosed with multiple schlerosis, Payton Gritas finds it hard to talk about, so her counselor assigns her to find a focus object.  Payton decides to focus on the boy who sits in front of her.  Well, specifically on his head.  As she learns more about Sean Griswold, the boy who's been sitting in front of her for years, she finds a distraction from her problems at home, a new crush and a way to cope.
 That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Here is the description from Amazon: At five-foot-eleven ("and counting"), Haven is "all bony elbows and acute angles, like a jigsaw puzzle piece that can only go in the middle, waiting for the others to fit around it to make it whole." But it is not just a sudden growth spurt that prevents the 15-year-old from fitting into the comfortable grooves of her "old" life; her family is also changing at an alarming rate. 

I liked it.  

This was a debut novel, and as such, it's worth reading.

 Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

London and Zach were close as siblings.  When Zach dies, the family is torn apart.  London's mother refuses to speak to her and her father has withdrawn in his own way.

This book is lovely, lyrical and heart-breaking.

Highly recommended.

Warnings on: serious themes.

 If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Here's the description from Amazon: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

This is a beautiful book.  I recommend it.

Warnings on: a scene of disturbing imagery, language.

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider—the straight kid in a crooked family—as long as you ignore one small detail: He killed his best friend, Lila. Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  It had a series of satisfying twists that I found very entertaining.