THE EXPENDABLE, published in YOUTH IMAGINATION MAGAZINE, is a short story written by my friend and critique partner, Jerry Mikorenda. It is aimed at a slightly older audience than most of the books I review on this site, but it is an important read for everyone, especially today. Check it out.
Attending this workshop was quite simply the best writing experience I’ve had. Here are the “highlights” (pun intended):
16 amazing participants – a diverse collection of creative people who take writing for young people seriously. I enjoyed getting to know every single one of them. I look forward to keeping in touch, being part of this new community of writers, and seeing all their middle grade and young adult books on the shelves!
4 talented mentors – I learned so much from these amazing authors who gave so freely of themselves and their craft. I’m currently reading and enjoying all of their published titles and encourage you to check out the websites of Sarah Aronson, Nancy Werlin, A.M Jenkins and Jennifer Jacobson. I am especially thankful for Jennifer, a kindred spirit who writes about themes similar to my own, who found things in my novel that I didn’t know were there and encouraged me (okay, sometimes it was more like forced me) to dig deeper into the core of my story.
2 great workshop leaders – extremely knowledgable, approachable, and encouraging, Nicole Valentine and Rob Costello gave us so many great resources, cultivated connection, and set the tone for the entire week.
Lots of time to write – It was amazing to be able to immerse myself in my story and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning or keeping track of kids (thanks Grandma and Papa!) The food was amazing and the scenery spectacular.
I will do everything in my power to return to this magical place one day. In the meantime, I feel very grateful for the opportunity. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!
Today on the mixed-up files I’ve posted an interview with Kami Kinard. Check it out and enter to win a copy of her new book – The Boy Problem – a great middle grade book!
Jennifer Ellis, author of A Pair of Docks (a clever time travel novel – highly recommended), and the newly released In the Shadow of the Mosquito Constellation just tagged me in a series of blog posts about the writing process.
Here’s how My Writing Process Blog Tour works: once tagged, you answer four questions about the writing process and then tag three other authors. At the bottom of this post, you will find the three talented authors I managed to tag (I’m still out of breath – chasing authors can be hard work!)
And now, the questions…
What am I working on?
I am actively working on NOT checking email while I search for an agent for my latest middle grade manuscript, Inside Hudson Pickle.
My current work-in-progress, tentatively titled Fire on Red, is about Ethan Matheson who readers of Trouble in the Trees will recognize as Bree’s neighbor. During author visits, I’ve had a lot of kids (boys, mostly) name Ethan as their favourite character. In response, I’ve moved him from Cedar Grove to Rossland where he does not fit in with the hardcore biking / skiing lifestyle. Instead of making friends, he spends his time hiking the local mountains (and trying to find some trees to climb) where he meets a recluse and stumbles upon the cause of a mysterious rash of forest fires that are putting his new home town at risk.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Great question! My immediate answer is that it’s contemporary – an honest portrayal of ordinary but loveable children dealing with the everyday problems of the real (western) world. I write the kind of books I loved when I was growing up, books like Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, that made me feel like I was reading about a friend (or myself.) For middle grade readers, these books have become somewhat rare in a market that is dominated by fantasy and farce.
Why do I write what I do?
I start with a premise I love – and I come up with about a hundred of these a day (okay – that’s an exaggeration but I do get enough ideas to find it distracting). I only write when the character involved starts “speaking” to me. Not in a crazy writer muttering to themselves kind of way… in a way that makes me feel I could really bring the character to life on the page.
Without consciously meaning to, I tend to write books that give hope and indirectly encourage children to speak up and make a difference (things I wanted to do myself when I was kid but often couldn’t). I’m not sure parents appreciate this when they come home from my author visits chanting “No More Rules!”
How does my writing process work?
Once I’ve got the idea and the character I write a very brief outline. Then I start typing – at least two hours a day at my treadmill desk. I try to move the story forward as quickly as possible to get a rough draft. Then I begin the tedious process of revising and rewriting – but only if I still want to spend time with that character (which often times I do, but only after a little – or long – break).
That’s it, folks! Thanks for the tag! To find out more about Jennifer Ellis, who in addition to being a smart, talented writer is also a fellow Rosslander and great walking partner, check out her blog. And make sure to visit the websites and blogs of the three amazing authors I managed to tag;
Sara Cassidy lives in Victoria with her three kids. Her fifth novel for kids and young teens, titled Skylark, was released by Orca this spring. Skylark is about a girl who discovers the transportive power of poetry while she is living in a car with her mother and brother. Sara’s previous titles have all been Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books selections with a Junior Library Guild Selection and Chocolate Lily Award finalist among them. Rumour has it that Sara has recently finished a novel for teens with the awesome title… Yolanda. Can’t wait to read it!
Mark Smith is an English teacher who has written for journals, travel companies, marketing companies, newspapers… and also has three kids. His debut novel, Caravaggio: Signed in Blood, is being released in October by Tradewind Books. Caravaggio: Signed in Blood is a historical novel for 12-14-year olds which follows Beppo Ghirlandi as he flees Rome with the artist Caravaggio – an adventure complete with sword fights, pirate battles, and even a bit of romance.
Lindsey Carmichael may have been my sister in a previous lifetime. Our professional lives have followed a similar pattern – from science degree to graduate school (almost in the same lab) to writing for kids – but our paths have only crossed virtually (and I can’t wait to meet her in person one day). She is the author of the award nominated book, Fox Talk (highly recommended), and eight other non-fiction titles including the forthcoming, Fuzzy Forensics.
These three writers will be posting their responses in the next week or so. I learned a lot answering the questions and reading the responses of other writers “on the tour” so I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say. For now, I’ve gotta run – have fun, everyone!
With a new job doing freelance writing for our local paper (Rossland News) I haven’t had much time to do book reviews, but I did get the opportunity to interview Catherine Murdock about her new book, Heaven is Paved with Oreos.
Check out my Mixed-Up Files interview and enter to win a copy of the book which features D.J. Swank of the amazing Dairy Queen Trilogy.
And I’m celebrating because Ruth Lauren Steven picked my entry!
Which means that my query and the first 500 words of Inside Hudson Pickle has been posted here, along with fifteen other winners (thirty, including those chosen by fellow blogger Michelle Krys), for agent perusal.
And there are sixteen AMAZING agents who have agreed to participate this year. So please, cross your fingers for me… I would love, love, love to work with any one of these agents. And it all starts by WOWing them with my entry – enough for them to request the full manuscript.
Inside Hudson Pickle has been my labour of love for the last two years – thanks in part to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I would be thrilled to find a home for Hudson (and me), so please keep those fingers crossed!
This Friday CWILL BC (Children’s Writers and Illustrator of BC) is hosting The Walking Read, a costume benefitting the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Both these organizations are close to my heart as both have provided me with a community of caring people during times of need.
When Oliver and Spencer were born, they were in the care of BC Children’s Hospital for six months. Every day I am grateful for the care they received from all the talented people who work there. And now as a Children’s Author and member of CWILL BC, I am trying to do a little bit to give back.
Because The Walking Read is taking place in the lower mainland on June 14, 2013 (in the middle of my KLF book tour and all the craziness that the end of the school year entails) I will not be attending. I will, however, be bidding on the on-line auction and encourage you to check it out too. Because I have been responsible for sending letters to the donors, I know how many great things are up for grabs!!
More details about the event are available through the CWILL BC blog and the Georgia Straight. My thanks to all the many talented people who have organized this event, most notably the amazing and unstoppable Shar Levine. I appreciate all her hard work more than I can say and I feel lucky to have been a (small) part of putting this event together!
Now – go bid! The on-line auction closes at noon on June 13th. Or better yet – go buy a ticket! You’ll be supporting the BC Children’s Hospital and celebrating the 20th anniversary of CWILL BC, two truly amazing organizations.
The words of two beloved Canadian authors, Yann Martel and Alice Munro, have been now printed on straw. Read more about it in the Globe and Mail or through Canopy – the environmental group who collaborated with Random House to print collectors’ editions of Dear Life and Life of Pi on paper made from straw. How cool is that?
Thank you, Shelia Cornelison. I’m off to enjoy some writing time… Happy Friday!
I am happy to be supporting author Sheri Radford in her fundraising efforts for Team Diabetes. Go Sheri! For more information, check out her website.