I spend a lot of time giving advice to young writers. It’s cool, I like doing it, and I really don’t mind spending time with newbies discussing the business and the art. But I thought it might be useful to everyone if I put some of my favorite stuff here in one post. I find [...]~ read more ~
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I love the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. Love. It. TLA is one of my favorite events of the year. Sometimes I describe it as Christmas for book lovers. What’s not to love? Signings! Advance copies of your favorite authors’ books! Plus, as an author, meeting your readers and librarians and teachers is absolutely a highlight. I didn’t take TOO many pictures, but I’ve scavanged quite a few from Facebook and Twitter that I’d love to share with you here.
I rode up to Fort Worth from Austin with P.J. Hoover, K.A. Holt, and Jessica Lee Anderson. It was a long but fun trip, in which I totally got in trouble for cracking open Slim Jims. Hey, it’s perfect road trip food, right?!
That evening, after a fantastic party hosted by Guys Read, John Scieszka and various publishers, K.A. Holt, Jo Whittemore, and I headed out to fill our bellies. And, you know, generally get into trouble. I’m pretty sure our waiter only hated us a little.~ read more ~
“The first time I heard poetry read out loud (aside from in a secondary school classroom, by reluctant students reciting Milton or Shakespeare) was at a Riot Grrrl gathering. “Spoken word” poetry was what I heard, and the speaker employed an arresting rhythm and form coupled with brave content about sexual assault. Her words were so powerful that I thought I might pass out before she was finished; then, after having pulled through the reading, I wanted to hear more.
The first poems I wrote (again, outside of the secondary school classroom) were the result of an outreach project for at-risk girls. Like numerous successful community-based art projects, it was based on the idea that vulnerable people who make art can take ownership of their stories and ideas and, in turn, develop greater self-esteem and community ties and reduce the harmful activities in their lives. I believe that only a form as dynamic and fundamentally creative as poetry could have provided a medium in which my personal story could unfold.”~ read more ~
About six years ago, after I’d written a bunch of Silly Dilly songbooks such as TAKE ME OUT OF THE BATHTUB AND OTHER SILLY DILLY SONGS, ARE YOU QUITE POLITE?, and WHERE DID THEY HIDE MY PRESENTS? (all illustrated by the wonderful David Catrow), the wonderful Emma Dryden said, “How about writing a poetry book?”
I said no, explaining that my wife (the wonderful Rose Horowitz) was an amazing poet, but that I didn’t think I could write poetry.
Emma said try. I said no. She said try. I said no. She said try. And so I tried.
I wrote a few poems. She liked them. I liked them. I learned not to automatically say no to new ideas. And I’m proud to say that that was the start of the book OOPS! (McElderry Books, 2008), which was illustrated by the wonderful Ed Koren.~ read more ~
was a spoken word artist long before I imagined the first line for my young adult novel, THE SWEET REVENGE OF CELIA DOOR. “At fourteen I turned Dark. Now I’m Celia the Dark.”
For ten years before writing fiction, I wrote and performed poetry and was deeply involved in Poetry Slam, both as an organizer and poet. I competed on multiple slam teams, published two books of poetry, and toured both nationally and internationally. So, it makes sense that my first novel would feature an outsider, teen poet, who writes poems to deal with and understand her world. In the course of the story, Celia tells us, “I’ve been writing a lot of poetry since I turned Dark.”
I learned some lessons from writing and performing poetry that have helped me immensely in publishing fiction.~ read more ~
So a few months ago I got an email from Jenni B. Baker at Found Poetry Review.
I was super excited. Because a) Jenni is awesome and b) I love Found Poetry Review and c) she had a project she was working on, and I was invited!
Given, she invited many, many poets. So color me surprised when I received yet another email, letting me know I was in. I was all squee-y. I’d made it into a super awesome sororifratitudiny club, and I would be hanging out with the cool kids, and participating in a frakkin’ awesome group event.
The Pulitzer Remix is a celebration of National Poetry Month, found poetry, and the 84 novels that have won the Pulitzer Prize in literature since its inception in 1918. Each participating poet will be posting one poem a day, each poem created from the text in one of the novels.~ read more ~
Growing up, I was your typical reluctant reader. I was afraid of reading. Seeing a book that was more than 100 pages – I automatically shut down. But two things helped encourage me to read, and improve my schoolwork: SE Hinton’s novels, and comic books. My parents didn’t care what I was reading, just that I was reading.
That’s why we’re excited to be teaming up with best-selling young adult author Julie Kagawa to develop a manga/comic book adaptation of her novel, THE IRON KING. As a huge fan of YA, this benefits me as both a reader and a publisher – and as a fan of manga, Julie herself couldn’t be more thrilled. She is totally hands-on in the project, getting every character right
But of course, producing a comic book is not cheap. So we decided to turn to crowdsourcing to fund THE IRON KING comic book adaptation. This lets us get fans of Julie’s books involved in the process, seeing it develop from character design to the final product.~ read more ~
So it’s International Women’s Week, and I feel . . . okay . . . so? And? Yes, you’ll read this and decide I’m the oddball here, the one ornery curmudgeon in the bunch when it comes to celebrating women and women’s accomplishments.
But here’s my dilemma: International Women’s Week means very little to me. I had no women role models. No women inspired or mentored me. No women helped me along the way. Not a single woman was in my corner. If I succeeded in medicine at all—my first profession before I turned to writing—I succeeded in spite of being a woman.
There you go, short and sweet.
Now, I’m not being woe-is-me here, nor am I one of those self-hating women. But this was my reality in the late 70s, early 80s: there were women in medicine but not many. I competed and lived and tried to get ahead in a world dominated by men. Other than a single solitary female anatomist, I had no women professors in medical school. Other than a few OB-GYNs, the attendings were, to a man . . . well, men.~ read more ~
If variety is the spice of life, then—when it comes to my work ethic, at least—wearing a variety of “hats” is the productivity of life. Setting aside for a moment the somewhat awkward wordfeel, not to mention how I’ve butchered that time-honored quotation, for me it’s the honest truth.
There is a certain type of person who thrives on long blocks of interrupted work time. Once they wade all the way into that churning creative flow, they might write or revise for hours without ever coming up for air, producing reams of high-quality, inspirational prose. Me? I am not that person.
I started writing seriously (that is, with an eye toward publication) when my children were young. So, by necessity my writing time consisted of little stolen quarter-hours here and there. I think at this point, if I were faced with an eight-hour writing period, I wouldn’t know what on earth to do with it.~ read more ~