“Sometimes I miss the “newness” of [being a teen]. There were many new things that I was experiencing. Discoveries about myself and others and life. I try very hard to keep that newness going even now in my old age.” Love this interview with Francisco X. Stork!
Happy Friday, guys! This weekend I’m doing a writing retreat with my crit group, so I’m psyched for a weekend of fun and productivity (and not only wearing sweatshirts and yoga pants). Let’s get things started with a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or fewer.
Reading: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I’m like the last person to read this, but so sensitive and touching.
Writing: I’m running faster than I have in months and I could run forever.
Protagonist in the new draft is on the upswing.
This is one of my all time favorite quotes, and it feels like a pretty appropriate one to share on E.B. White’s birthday. (He would have been 118!) Thanks to a writer who brought us such a thoughtful, compelling story, and possibly the only spider I will ever like.
“Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it!”–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! In case you’re not up on your astronomy, this is when the northern hemisphere of the earth is most tilted toward the sun, giving us the most daylight of the year. (Summer hemisphere friends, this happens for you in December.) This year the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, aka June’s full moon. Lots of cool stuff going on in the sky today!
It also marks the beginning of summer, which feels like a great day to share some of my suggestions for summery reading. In ascending order of target age of reader:
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Cozy and clever story of sisters on summer vacation.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Life and death and eternity, all on the hottest day of the year.
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle
The most famous of the Austin family novels, about grief and hope and dolphins.
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen I never went to summer camp, but I want to sign up for Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Fun and surprisingly moving story of family, love, and why you need your friends.
Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Set at a summer program for gifted and talented students, Gloria is in my heart forever.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Touching story about family and coming of age, paired with beautiful art.
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
When a summer at home means having to face your old loves and mistakes.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Old money and secrets and tragedy on a private island.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Magical lights and cakes and wallpaper feature in this summer story of coming home.
Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
The original summer love story.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Wild parties and the most self-destructive summer romance ever.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Set on a day in June, a lyrical story of connection.
What are your favorite summery stories? Share them in the comments!
At the annual NESCBWI conference, surrounded by writers and illustrators and editors and agents, it’s easy to think about community. Writing can feel like a solitary job, and it’s good to spend a weekend with people who really get it. And being around people who get it was just what I needed.
Due to scheduling and budgeting, I didn’t get to go to any writing retreats in the last year, and I didn’t realize how much I needed that time with my writing community until I got to Springfield. There’s something about being surrounded by people who share your passion and by setting aside time to remember that, no matter what the struggles, you are a writer.
A few favorite moments from the conference:
Getting to spend time with my critique group, including two members who no longer live in the New England area and make the trip out for the weekend.
Showing off our love for The Bitter Side of Sweet by crit group member Tara Sullivan.
Wendy Mass‘s touching and hilarious keynote, including gems like “It’s easy enough to write what you know. Write what you want to know about,” her giant scroll of rejection letters, and how she takes magic lessons.
Also, Wendy Mass’s blueprinting/outlining method that might legit change my writing process for the better.
Tara Lazar on how picture books need to be the more exciting narrative roller coaster.
Patrick Carman’s keynote about being inspired by Evel Knievel and how we are all entrepreneurs.
Amitha Knight and Padma Venkatraman‘s thoughtful and engaging workshop on writing disability, with tons of helpful resources and frank discussions about things like how “sympathy is not a positive attitude.”
An awesome panel about working with booksellers and educators, including shoutouts to graphic novels as legit reading.
Winning a copy of Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles in her fabulous ‘improv’ writing workshop.
Seeing The Chance You Won’t Return in the conference bookstore alongside so many wonderful books (and so many wonderful books by friends!)
Spending time with lots of my favorite local writers and illustrators (even though there were still people I somehow didn’t run into all weekend).
I headed into May feeling inspired and rejuvenated and ready to write. No matter what you’re working on now, I hope you can find a chance to connect with your fellow writers and remember what we’re all in this together.