May 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
Can you guys believe it’s already the last Friday in May? Although I can’t say I’m too upset–I’m psyched to move into June and into full-on summer weather. Let’s start the weekend with a few fifteen-word (or fewer!) book reviews:
2. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Fun memoir about a big family in early 1900s. TLC’s got nothing on the Gilbreths.
3. Brave Irene by William Steig
Irene battles winter to deliver a ball gown. Frequently read this on my own.
4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Interesting look at pre- and post-colonial Nigeria, but more interested in Obierika than Okonkwo.
5. The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events #8) by Lemony Snicket
The VFD mystery heats up–and a reference to Clarissa Dalloway makes this one a winner.
May 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
If I’d known about Basia Bulat when I was writing QotA, she would have been all over my playlist. Especially “I Was a Daughter,” which you can listen to:
I love when songs remind me of a character or capture the tone of something I’m writing. What songs connect with your work?
May 24, 2013 § 4 Comments
So glad it’s Friday! Let’s start the long weekend with some fifteen-word (or less!) book reviews.
2. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Excellent look at society terrorized by hate, hysteria. Would ove to see a good production.
3. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Burton’s illustrations are fantastic, and I love a good inanimate object story.
4. Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister (The Baby-Sitters Club #31) by Ann M. Martin
Not everything’s ideal when your mom marries your BFF’s dad? Who could have foreseen this?
5. Poems on the Underground ed. by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik, Cicecy Herbert
Collection of classic and contemporary poetry featured on the Tube. Such a cool project!
May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Finally Friday! And a beautiful Friday here, so let’s kick the weekend off with some good ol’ fifteen-word book reviews:
2. Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
Made me realize there were a few Salems in the US. Some outdated racial awkwardness.
3. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A romantic comedy with stunningly complex characters. Portia can be cruel, Shylock can be sympathetic.
4. We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Metafiction for the preschool set, as only Willems can do.
5. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Robin Hood with a kickass lady thief? Teen Annie would have been all over this!
May 17, 2013 § 11 Comments
One step closer to publication–copyedits!
Copyedits are different than the editorial letters you may get from your editor. These all deal with the nitty-gritty of your manuscript–consistent spelling, where the commas should be, if your character is supposed to be going to the moon on a Tuesday or Wednesday, etc. Basically, copyeditors are like Nancy Drews for the book world.
This week I received my copy-edited manuscript from Candlewick and, thankfully, it was a pretty painless process. This is probably helped by the fact that I a) have worked in publishing, so I’m familiar with the process/terms and b) I’m a huge grammar nerd at heart. I feel like copyediting is basically a game in which you have to find all the secret, hidden mistakes. Get all the points with correct grammar!
A few things my copyeditor caught:
When I switched the spelling of one minor character’s last name and then switched it back.
- Missing words in quotes by Amelia Earhart (which is probably why I shouldn’t try to type while holding a book open).
- That if Halloween is on a Sunday, Christmas shouldn’t fall on a Tuesday.
- Missing commas (a comma fan like I am was only too happy to put them in).
- When I try to use words that almost sound like the one I actually meant to use.
I’m so happy that someone went through my manuscript and was able to pick out all these little errors that would have looked so horrific in print. And I’m even more psyched that this means we’ve taken another big step in the editorial process!
May 8, 2013 § 11 Comments
In her keynote speech at NESCBWI, Sharon Creech mentioned, “Words generate words.” She was talking about the act of inspiration, and how ideas come to you, but I think this is also a good lens with which to look at rest of the weekend. Enthusiasm sparks more enthusiasm, creativity creates more creativity.
Which is one reason I like going to conferences like NESCBWI. When you put a bunch of writers and illustrators in a room, our excitement and dedication and talents are amplified, which is a pretty cool thing to be a part of. Writing can be a very solitary business and even though the internet has made it easier to connect with like-minded people, you can’t beat the feeling of gathering in one place for a weekend.
Last year was my first at NESCBWI, so I didn’t really know anyone and was afraid of not having anyone to talk to. This year, I felt like I kept seeing people I knew, both from real life and from social media. I wasn’t just someone at a conference; I was part of a community, a vibrant community that supports its members.
Of course, I got to experience lots of great panels and workshops and speeches from awesome writers and illustrators. A few conference highlights:
- Great keynotes by Sharon Creech and Grace Lin. I want to take a poetry class with Creech, who quotes Rilke and Robert Frost and Walter Dean Myers in her speech. Creech also mentioned the importance of taking naps for inspiration–duly noted! And Grace Lin was so dynamic and enthusiastic. Not being an illustrator or picture book author, I didn’t expect to connect with her speech as much as I did, but she was honest and thoughtful and energetic. Between her humor, her spirit, and her talent, Lin’s one of the coolest people ever. (And she dresses snazzy, too!)
- My critique group got matching t-shirts to celebrate member Tara Sullivan’s upcoming publication of Golden Boy. We rocked the guerrilla marketing.
- Very cool panel about the review process. Leila Roy of bookshelves of doom represented, which made me go all fangirl. Her blog has been a favorite since back before I knew I wanted to focus solely on writing YA. Also, very glad to hear that professional reviews really want to love every book they start, and that they want to find ways to connect books with potential readers.
- Workshopping first chapter/pages with Nova Ren Suma. She led a great session, and the other workshop attendees were all thoughtful critiquers. (Lots of us are trying to keep in touch online; can’t wait to see how all those first pages end up!)
- Great session on writing characters outside of your culture. It’s something several future novel ideas of mine involve, but I want to make sure I represent these characters and their backgrounds accurately and thoughtfully. One suggestion I liked was not to be afraid to go beyond the “romantic” parts of a culture, like holidays and folk traditions–get into the messiness of real life.
- On the social media side, one session about connecting with book bloggers (something I need to prepare for in the debut process) and making videos (something I should be doing now). My goal is to start a regular video feature here, so get ready for some visual aid.
- Getting to spend a weekend with my awesome critique group members, getting to see other friends and making new ones.
Thanks so much to this year’s organizers for putting on a great conference. I’m already thinking of next year when might book might be out, too. Eee!
May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Updates from NESCBWI coming when my brain isn’t fried, but first, a lovely video about why we should all be bookish kids, no matter how old we are:
I love the idea of everyone processing their own story and realizing the expanse of possibilities through reading. Maybe you’re not going to tesser to other planets and save your dad from a giant brain, but you can still better process your own life and the lives of those around you having learned about Meg Murry’s expansive love and bravery. All kinds of art can show you the possibilities of other stories, but I think there’s something to be said for reading in particular–it’s intimate and personal while still being expansive.