Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Kidlit is hot. We all know this. Stores rearrange displays to showcase best-selling children's books. Authors of adult books have added YA and middle grade to their oeuvre, while others hope to debut in the market.
Most interesting to me is that adults, as well as children, are reading kidlit for pleasure. What is it about youth that stimulates our imagination long after we grow up? Is there some part of us that never grows up? Most adults say they shudder at the thought of returning to high school days, and yet we crave stories delving into the uncertainty and pain of those years.
Today's children and teens have never known a world that didn't include the Internet, cell phones and texting, and the reality of cloning and genetic engineering. It's an astounding thing to consider.
But there is something at the core of a successful children's book that can appeal to any age. That is wonder--the sense of freshness that comes with experiencing something new, and when you've only been here a few years, there is much that fits this description. I think the best stories honestly portray suffering and fear but also show the excitement and adventure provided by life on this planet (or an alternate world of equally fascinating possibilities).
What do you think makes literature for children enchant and resonate?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
1) Consider yourself tagged and write the Q&A on your blog, leaving me a trail of chum.
2) Lurk to your heart's content. Remain untagged, and be assured no pestilence will plague you and your progeny.
3) Share a wicked comment on any of this.
Seven questions regarding seven deadly sins. Lying is highly recommended.
1) Pride--Q:What is your biggest contribution to the world? A: When I invented the Internet, I made possible all blogs and followers.
2) Envy--Q: What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours? A: The master list of followers.
3) Gluttony-- Q: What did you eat last night? A: Bread & water, but I spiced it with Literary Food Porn.
4) Lust--Q: What really lights your fire? A: A good e-book. I'm not lying. Really.
5) Anger--Q:What is the last thing that really pissed you off? A: A bad e-book. (See above).
6) Greed--Q: Name something you hoard and keep from others. A: First edition "Will the Bard and his Seven Secrets of Success or How to Extend Your Shelf Life by Centuries."
7) Sloth--Q: What's the laziest thing you ever did? A: Refused to answer question #7.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
There is a hike I take frequently up a boulder-riddled hill within the city. It's a three or four mile walk with lovely views, especially at sunset.
One of the cool things is it often leads to ideas for my fiction. I keep a pen and little notebook in my pocket for those thoughts when they come out of nowhere. It reminds me of a meteor streaking so hot and sudden in the sky that you gasp. And if I don't write those ideas down, they can fade like those falling stars.
Hiking today, however, I found inspiration for this blog. Two women in front of me were chatting, and I overheard, "I get so bored, I've got to kill some time."
All I could think is if you have time you don't want, GIVE IT TO ME. Sorry for the shout, but time is the most precious thing any of us have. There is never enough to do all I want to, and I fear running out of it. Part of this, no doubt, is that I am a cancer survivor and that tends to make you greedy to hang on to every minute. Part of this is that I am a writer and there are so many stories I'd like to have time to tell.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate 'down' time when we visit with friends, see a summer movie or just stare at a sky filled with stars, but that is not the same as killing time. I say, savor it, embrace it, make it count. I'd love to hear your reaction.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The contest is at Tabitha Olson's blog.
And another! P.J. Hoover, who did a funny and informative guest blog at Book Chic on MySpace, offers a contest for copies of her books to those who comment before 8 p.m. EST Sunday June 14. You must be a member of MySpace, however, to post here.
Contests. What would writers do without them? These days with authors expected to do a lot of their own publicity, there are countless opportunities to get the latest ARC or signed copy by entering contests on blogs. It's a great way to discover new voices or authors you somehow missed.
But I think Eileen Cook blows the competition out of the water with an offer of a $75 gift certificate at a bookstore of your choice. Woo-hoo! She is celebrating the six-month anniversary of the release of What Would Emma Do? In order to enter, you must do something that brings the book to the attention of other readers, for instance, write about it on your blog. *waving my hand wildly over here* And the beauty is how this ripples outward--I read about it on author Barrie Summy's blog.
I picked up a copy of Cook's novel, expecting to find some teen angst, boy troubles, parental difficulties, etc. I was surprised and intrigued to find a modern-day Salem witch trials with a escalating moral dilemma. Emma has a one-way conversation with God throughout the book, the title of which is a take-off of 'what would Jesus do?'
Emma is the square peg in a small, rural town dominated by an evangelical church. Her fervent dream is to win a track scholarship to Northwestern and escape the herd mentality around her. But she may forfeit her dream if she decides to speak up for someone wrongly accused.
I like that Emma makes a decision on her own, and the author doesn't answer how this affects Emma's future. If you are interested in more about the book and that phat gift-card, check out Eileen Cook's site.
In a different kind of contest, author C. Lee McKenzie has a competition to write some cool opening YA lines at http://writegame.blogspot.com/
Have fun! Isn't that what we'd all like writing to be?
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Faery Reel is an anthology wonderland, which has a prominent spot in my fantasy bookcase, so it was with glee that I stumbled across a Q&A with co-editor Ellen Datlow. Sometimes, when I'd rather not froth at the mouth trying to revise 300-plus pages of my own fantasy tale, I take to adventures in the realm of Blog. This is where I found her hanging out at Canadian writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi's site.
A few things she said stuck with me, so I'm sharing. But first, if you don't know her, she has creds that stretch decades from fiction editor at Omni to co-editing the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror with Terri Windling. The Faery Reel has pieces by Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link and more; Delia Sherman's delicious Catnyp is set in New York Between where a public library catalog is a lion and a changeling tries to research her human heritage. Okay, so now you know Datlow has serious experience and marvelous taste.
I was interested in a question to her about the future of sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres, especially since I read elsewhere that many editors are tired of epic fantasy. Datlow's response to the road ahead for speculative fiction: No shocks. Everything evolves.
That had a calming effect on me. She tossed the ball back into the writers' court, saying that markets fluctuate, and it is up to the writers to research before submitting. Then once you do submit to appropriate places, work on something else. If you get a dreaded rejection, just send it out again and again and keep writing other stuff. In simple terms, she said if you don't submit, you don't get published.
It made me think of an analogy which may work or not for you. I'm going to think of writing as a river flowing, not a backyard pond. So the work goes continually out into the wider world and doesn't sit around waiting for someone to discover it on the back 40. (acres, in ranch lingo, and, no, I'm not a cowgirl, sorry). As always, love to hear any reaction.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Hartinger said the imbalance of power forces the main character to change and grow or be destroyed. And that makes absolute sense.
So I thought about books where that is obvious or not-so-obvious. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo is way out of his league against Sauron, or, for that matter, even the Nazgul. Frodo may be reluctant at first but he grows into the realization that he must find the strength or his entire world will be lost.
In Susan Straight's A Million Nightingales, the antagonist is the entrenched system of slavery in Louisiana. That would be overwhelming for any slave, let alone a young girl sold away from her mother. In this case, the main character endures and finds a way to replace the family she's lost.
Any thoughts on this? Or is this so obvious to everyone that you're rolling your eyeballs? I can almost hear a chorus of duhs. Well, it spoke to me, and if that helps my writing gain power, that's all I can ask.