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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Authors for Obama

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Hi dear readers,
Just a quick note to say that I support Obama, and so do over ONE THOUSAND other authors of books for kids and teens!!! And the list is growing by day... check it out. I am proud to have my name there (and it alleviates my guilt for not going out door to door to register voters...).
I just discovered the site YA for Obama (Young Adult for Obama), which I highly recommend visiting. It links to author Sarah Zarr's blog post about why she's voting for him-- she made a right on-target point about how the concept of "evil" comes up in political speeches-- read her essay yourself! I was cheering.
Okay, now that I feel I did something for Obama's campaign, on to writing! I'm going to answer "Conversations with the Author" questions for the Readers' Circle Guide which will appear in the back of the paperback of Red Glass (which will come out in the spring.) I could write an entire (not nececssarily interesting) book on everything that inspired this book, so the challenge is to pare down my answers to a reasonable length. I'll have to be ruthless. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 22, 2008

RED GLASS Give-away and Banned Books Week!!!

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Hi all!

So, there were a few links I meant to post but plum forgot about. The first is to Yat-Yee Chong's blog. She's a Fort Collins area writer (a very talented one) who's interviewing the finalists in the young adult category for the Colorado Book Awards. The other finalists are friends of mine and wonderful writers-- Teresa Funke and Todd Mitchell. So here's the link to my interview.

And something very cool-- Yat-Yee is orchestrating a signed book give-away of Red Glass! Hurry-- the deadline for entries is Thursday!! Go! No matter where in the country you happen to live! Enter now! (And while you're at it, check out her blog-- I had lots of fun perusing it...)

Support the First Amendment, Read a Banned Book

The second link is for Banned Books Week, which is coming up in a few days. In celebration of it, why not read a banned book? Here's a list of books banned in the past. Some books on there that I read when I was young are:

Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret.
The Giver
The Headless Cupid
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
James and the Giant Peach

and when I was a bit older...

A Prayer for Owen Meany
Slaughterhouse Five
Snow Falling on Cedars
House of Spirits
DaVinci Codes

So go and read a banned book! (My, I'm being bossy today, aren't I? Must be a mix of living on practically no sleep (Baby has had a string of colds since he started daycare...) and fighting off one cold after another (it's a losing battle, since it's hard to avoid being covered with Baby's snot...)

Yet he's still adorable, even when he's a little walking germ colony. Very adorable. He is extremely polite and affectionate, especially to inanimate objects. He always says goodbye and blows a kiss to everything in the room/area before we leave it. My favorite is when he says BA-BYE to the river near our house and showers it with kisses from the bridge... because I think the river really appreciates this...

Okay, I digress. Time to go make a glossary and pronunciation guide for The Indigo Notebook! We're at the copy-editing stage-- it's exciting! I'm getting to see ideas for the cover art, which makes the book feel so much more tangible-- makes me realize it really will be out there in the big wide world soon. (Well, relatively soon-- the advanced review copies (ARCs) should be out in a few months.) Okay, I'm really going now...

thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Silver shooting star chaos

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Hello all,
(on the cusp of fall),

I just got home from El Paso. My baby and husband are both asleep now-- hubby is completely worn out from three days taking care of baby alone. Speaking of cusps, baby's fifth tooth is now poking through!

I still feel happy-giddy from the conference I went to. It's called REFORMA and it's the part of ALA that focuses on Latino literature and serving Latino people. It was fun to be in a place where pretty much everyone could speak Spanish (both in the conference and in the hotel and in the whole city). I was a little frustrated because (although I'm fluent in Spanish) French kept trying to weasel its way out of my mouth. I kept saying oui instead of si and maintenant instead of ahorita. (I was in France in July/August, so French is stubbornly clinging to its space in the Foreign Language part of my brain, elbowing out Spanish.) It's mystifying how the language parts of the brain work, isn't it?

I was BLOWN AWAY by the other authors there! I was on a panel (of award-winning authors of Latino literature-- Red Glass represented the Americas Award) with the lovely picture book author and illustrator Yuyi Morales (winner of Pura Belpre award among many others). There's a low-quality pic of us above (taken at the book signing with my cell phone camera), and another one of her, below, performing with these fantastic puppets she makes.

And here's Juan Felipe Herrera (winner of Tomas Rivera award, among many others). He was really, really funny.

These are two people I could listen to speak for hours and hours and hours without tiring. They are great story-tellers, not just through the written word, but in their speaking and performing. They (along with Carmen Tafolla, Lucia Gonzalez, tatiana de la tierra, and Freda Mosquera) did a spectactular Noche de Cuentos show. Wow!

Even though it was 11:00 by the time it ended, which is past my bedtime, I felt energized and wanting to learn more about oral story-telling. I want to find some good story-telling workshops or conferences to go to.

I feel like the pathway from my mind/soul to paper/computer is well-traveled and fairly confident as far as telling stories... but from my mind/soul to my mouth is a different matter entirely. It's like the thoughts get lost and mangled on the way to my mouth. It feels so much easier for me to write them down.

But as someone wise said (Nietzsche??) "I'm always trying to do that which I've never done before so that I may learn to do it." Well, someone along the lines of Nietzsche said something along the lines of that.

One thing that Nietzsche did say was, "One must have chaos within to give birth to a shooting star." I have that quote hanging in my lil writing trailer. I often feel I have chaos within-- lots and lots of it-- and sometimes that makes me feel distraught and overall yucky, but then I remind myself about the shooting star thing. If everything was always perfect and easy in life, I wouldn't feel motivated to write anything. I'd just kinda float around, content. And if I did manage to write anything, the characters would be flat, happy, boring people. Well, that's what I tell myself at least to make my chaos within seem useful. That's the silver lining.

I am terrible at remembering quotes. The only way I remember them is if I write them down and put them in an obvious place in front of my face, like taped to the wall just over my computer. I think that's part of the bundle of reasons why a storytelling workshop would be good for me. I never can tell jokes off the top of my head either. I really admire people who can. So, I will give this story telling/ performing thing a try.

Here is Yuyi's latest book. It's called Nochecita or Little Night and the story and illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful-- the colors start at sunset and end up at night-- a rare mix of soft warm reds that melt into twilight blues.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Victoria Hanley's New Books!

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Hi dear readers!

I'm slowly but surely getting back into the swing of life in Fort Collins... it took a while! When I got back from France, I had to work non-stop on the revision for my editor for The Indigo Notebook, putting on hold everything else in my life (including emailing... sorry if I STILL haven't written you back-- I should be up to speed by the end of this week!)

As soon as I get caught up with everything, I'll start revising my next book, Star in the Forest, and start preparing for a bunch of conferences and author visits i have coming up soon (El Paso, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Carbondale)... it'll be a busy autumn.

I went to my friend Victoria Hanley's book release party on Saturday. She has two great books out-- Seize the Story!: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write and Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults. She's included interviews with me and other authors in both books (but that's not the only reason I'm pitching her books-- I swear!)

I get lots of requests for advice and recommendations for books on how to write for teens and for books for teens who like creative writing.... and I'm thrilled that I finally have two books on those topics that I can whole-heartedly recommend!

Seize the Story! talks about how to write great fiction-- it covers dialogue, descriptions, voice, beginnings, middles, and ends, setting, plotting, point of view... and it does so in an incredibly readable, friendly, personal way. Hanley's insights are based on her own fiction-writing experiences (award-winning fantasy) and years of doing workshops with teens. Hanley uses plenty of vivid examples to illustrate her points, and gives fun writing exercises at the end of each chapter. This book isn't just for teens-- it's for people of all ages starting their own fiction-writing journey.

Wild Ink definitely fills a gap, and fills it beautifully! This book contains all the hard-earned wisdom and practical advice that I wish I knew before I got my first book published. What I love most about Wild Ink is the compassionate, funny voice, and the abundance of personal examples. Hanley covers a range of topics on writing for teens, from overcoming self-doubt (which was a HUGE obstacle for me) to finding an authentic teen voice to submitting your manuscript. She gives a great overview of the sub-genres of young adult literature, and addresses all the common questions, such as the pluses and minuses of self-publishing, whether to include profanity or sex, and how to find your writing self. Hanley also includes interviews with agents, editors, and authors, which bring in a variety of fascinating perspectives. One thing that really sets Wild Ink apart from others of its kind is that it's obviously written from the heart, acknowledging the mysterious role of the spirit/unconscious self in writing... and as a writer who delves into this realm every day, I appreciate the way Hanley weaves it into her book.

Thanks for reading!