Friday, April 30, 2010

The Writers' Well: A Weekly Recap of the Best Kidslit Blog Posts



This has been an interesting week.  I took a vacation day on Tuesday, and joined a few of my friends at the taping of Dancing with the Stars.  We had lunch before hand at Whispers, and since we're all writers it was great to just chat about our WIPs and what's happening in the industry.  One of my friends has some exciting news on the book front happening, so it was wonderful to toast her success.

Now let's plunge into the Writers' Well!

Last Friday, Kirby Larson has a wonderful Quote of the Day that I think most children's writers will enjoy.  I'll give you a hint: it's from Madeleine L'Engle.  Speaking of Madeleine L'Engle, her novel And Both Were Young is being reprinted with a forward by her granddaughter and YA author, Léna Roy.

Guest Blogger Phoebe Kitanidis Debunks Writer Myths over at WriterJenn.

Beth Kephart has a lovely review of Rebecca Stead's novel When You Reach Me.  Finding Wonderland review's Stead's novel as well as Somebody by Nancy SpringerGeorgia McBride reviews Andy Brigg's novels Hero.com: Rise of the Heros and Villain.net: Council of Evil over at the YA 5 blog.

There's an interview with Lee Nichols (author of Deception) over at The First Novels Club blog.  Uma Krishnaswami interviews Plot Consultant Martha Alderson on her blog Writing with a Broken Tusk.  There's an interview with Kathy Erskine (author of Mockingbird) by Amy Brecount White.  Michele Markel interviews author of A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure, Edward Einhorn, over at her blog The Cat and the Fiddle.

Jordan McCollum some interesting posts on Backstory and Technique.

Since we're in the last week of Poetry Month, you don't want to miss these posts:  On Beyond Words & Pictures, Lorie Ann Grover, GottaBook, Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup, and Susan Taylor Brown.

There's a cover story and a book trailer about The Karma Club by Jessica Brody over at Melissa Walker's blog.

In response to listening to Meg Cabot at the LA Festival of Books, Suzanne Casamento poses a thought-provoking question on her blog about whether you read to escape or for some other reason.  Interestingly, Sara Wilson Etienne has a post comparing Meg Cabot's reasons for writing happy books with Kate DiCamillo's reasons for writing sad books (both authors spoke at the LA Festival of Books).

I've long believed that Kiersten White leads a far more entertaining life than me, and this was confirmed when I read her amusing post "In Which I'm Rescued by a Librarian, Meet Some Literary Idols, and Discover a Previously Untapped Propensity for Blushing." Though I will admit to sharing two thirds of that experience: meeting a literary hero and being utterly incapable of speaking an intelligent word (see "A Potentially Humiliating Encounter").

Charmaine Clancy has a fun post on Writing Wrongs over at her blog Wagging Tales.

Lisa Green has an amusing review of Libba Bray's Going Bovine by guest blogger Dave--I mean Dr. Paradox--on her blog Paranormal Point of View.

On Samantha Clarke's blog, Day by Day Writer, there's a post on Dealing with Rejection (within it, she has links to Cec Murphy's series on Rejection).

If you're interested in what Shannon Hale has been working on, then check out this post on her blog Squeetus.  You can also find out what Barry Lyga's been up to on his blog.

Does every book need a Happy EndingBryan Bliss has a post on that subject.  Elaine Marie Alphin tackles the question of whether a plot built upon a coincidence falls apart.

Writers are always being asked about where they get their inspiration.  Karen Hooper has a post about her favorite independent bookstore, and a muse, Haslam's.

Suzanne Young gives a brief synopsis of her novel So Many Boys that's going to be released in 40 days (she has a handy counter).

As usual, there were a ton of great posts.  Be sure to share any others you've found in the comments.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One State Passes Legislation to Stop Bullying in Schools

Massachusetts lawmakers have passed an anti-bullying bill.  It still needs to be sent to the governor for signing, but it seems that soon it will be reality.  I was alerted to this by the Young Adult Authors Against Bullying group on Facebook, and the article that gives all of the details is here.

The article described what the anti-bullying bill addressed:

The 12-page bill prohibits bullying on school grounds, school buses, at school-sponsored activities, and through the use of electronic communications.

The bill also bans retaliation against someone who reports bullying.

Under the bill, teachers and other school employees must report any bullying incidents to the principal. The principal must investigate those reports, take disciplinary action, notify parents of the victim and aggressor and alert police if necessary.

Each school district, charter school or private school must provide instruction on bullying prevention in each grade, according to the bill.


While I'm usually wary of giving teachers more work to do, I believe that this is important enough to warrant the extra time and training.  Bullying is something that far too many people feel is a normal part of school, and so the situations do not get addressed most of the time.

I didn't realize just how tumultuous a topic Bullying was until I inadvertently started a discussion in a Community Psychology class I took about ten years ago.  We were studying how Community Psychologists deal with violence in schools.  As our professor talked about stabbings and shootings, it dawned on me that this was antithetical to what Community Psychology was supposed to be about.  Community Psychologists focus on prevention first, then give attention to secondary issues (the problem is just beginning), and the least to tertiary issues (when the problem has been going on for years).  I raised my hand and innocently asked what was being done to prevent the violence, such as addressing bullying.  My professor said, sadly, very little is being done about bullying.  Despite his words, my question started a heated discussion.  It was like I dropped a lit match onto a gasoline soaked floor.

Half the room passionately felt that Bullying was a serious problem and should be addressed by schools and psychiatrists.  The other half of the room argued that Bullying was normal, and did not cause any lasting damage; Bullying is simply part of growing up.  Mind you, I was taking the course to satisfy a general education requirement, however, most of my classmates were Psychology majors.  I was disturbed, profoundly, by how so many budding psychologists were so unsympathetic to bully victims.

I decided to use Bullying in Schools as my research topic.  What I found was even more disturbing.  Very few psychologists in America (at that time, at least, which was about ten years ago) studied Bullying.  Out of necessity, I had to supplement my research with some studies from Europe and Australia.  One of the common findings was how bully victims continued to suffer even into adulthood.

I'm thrilled that lawmakers in Massachusetts have put anti-bullying policies into law.  Whether Bullying is normal or not, is material.  Children shouldn't be scared to go to school.  They shouldn't be victimized by their classmates while adults look on and do nothing.  Perhaps many of you will feel that the legislature has overstepped their bounds; that schools should have more control over how to handle Bullying; that there's no way to ever make our schools one hundred percent safe.

I might agree if I felt that schools adequately addressed Bullying on their own.  Since they haven't, I hope California follows with their own twelve page bill.

Monday, April 26, 2010

LA Times Book Prizes Announced



On Friday, the Los Angeles Times announced the 2009 winners of the paper's Book Prizes.  The prize in Young Adult Literature was awarded to . . .


Elizabeth Partridge, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Group)

In a tightly focused narrative, Elizabeth Partridge chronicles the events of Martin Luther King’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, shining a bright spotlight on some of its most important participants: children and teenagers. Their vivid and dramatic accounts are complemented by breathtaking photographs that, when woven into Partridge’s history, provide a sense of immediacy and provoke a sense of moral outrage.


The finalists for the 2009 LA Times Book Prize in YA Literature were . . .

James Cross Giblin, The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Frances Hardinge, The Lost Conspiracy (HarperCollins)
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
Elizabeth Partridge, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary
Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)

Here is a complete list of the winners.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Writers' Well: This Week's Not to be Missed Writer Posts


This was a fabulous week for writer blogs, so get ready to plunge into the well!

If I could only mention one post this week, it would be this one by Kathleen Duey: The Book I Write, The Book You Read...and The Real Wars.  If you've ever wondered if books can change lives, read her post.

There's an excellent post on Breaking the Rules on WriterJenn (Jennifer R. Hubbard's blog).  Beth Kephart's post on Moving Past No is in the same spirit.

Kephart has several posts on her recent talks at the Fox Cities Book Festival.  While you're at her blog, check out the exquisite cake from her party celebrating the release of The Heart is Not a Size.

Lori Calabrese (author of The Bug that Plagued the Entire Third Grade) was interviewed by the Hartford Writing Examiner, Michael Aloisi.  You can read about it on her blog, or go directly to Part 1 and Part 2.  Calabrese interviewed Danika Dinsmore about her soon-to-be-released Brigitta of the White ForestKirby Larson interviewed Karen Cushman (author of Alchemy and Meggy Swann).  Larson interviewed Kathryn Galbraith (author of Arbor Day).  There's an interview with agent Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency over at Market My Words.  Holly Cupala interviews Deb Caletti, author of The Secret Life of Prince CharmingHolly Schindler interviews Teen Writer and Intern Weronika Janczuk.

If you've ever considered writing a novel in verse, you should read this post over at Denise Jaden's blog.  She interviews Lisa Schroeder, author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

Kay Cassidy talks about the evolution of the book cover for The Cinderella Society over at Melissa Walker's blog. Eileen Boggess discusses how her book cover came about for Mia the Magnificent, also at Melissa Walker's blog.

Claudia Harrington always has inspiring quotes, and this week she had two wonderful writers share some wisdom: Joan Bauer and Lin Oliver.

It's Poetry Potluck month over at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup blog.

If you're looking for graphic novels for younger readers you'll be interested in Shannon Hale's post on her family's favorites.

Cuppa Jolie has an interesting Writing Prompt (even though, sadly, she thought of it after losing her computer).

Hilde Garcia recommends torturing your main character (not literally torturing, of course) in her post on Pen and Ink.  If you have problems with torture, then try Susan Berger's writing exercises on Bad Things Happen to Good People.

 I enjoyed the two Miscellany posts on Finding Wonderland this week (Midweek Miscellany, Further Miscellany).  There's good bits on the real Volterra, Hope Larson Graphics, Tim Burton, and several others.  James Dashner has a post with his own list of miscellany that has information about his tour, Maze Runner in foreign countries, and lots of fun facts.

K. A. Holt talks about her experiences at the Texas Library Association Conference on the YA 5 BlogJay Asher was there, too.

There's a discussion of how to use research to inspire ideas over at D. M. Cunningham's blog Literary Asylum.  There's also some pictures of Creepy Flowers.  Charmaine Clancy also has a post about Research on her blog Wagging Tales.

Sarah Dessen posts The Five every week, and I especially enjoyed this week's.  Maybe it was the reference to coffee.  I'm an addict.

There are a few posts on Earth Day: Peg Kehret Blog, The Question of the Day, and The Teaching Authors.

Kiersten White sings the praises of Twitter on her blog Kiersten Whites.  She gives suggestions on what to do and what not to do, so it's a good post to read if you're just starting out on Twitter.

I enjoyed the cute post on My Big Nose and Other Natural Disaster blog about Why Sydney Salter Writes Middle Grade.

Angela Ackerman was a guest-blogger at Tabitha Olson's blog Writer Musings, and wrote an interesting post on Naked Dialogue.

Laurie Halse Anderson vlogs on Revision (it seems to be geared to a younger audience, but it's still worthwhile to listen to).  I like her tip on how when you read over what you've written don't ask yourself if it's okay as it is. Instead, ask yourself how it can be better. It's so simple, yet such an important distinction.

There's a great discussion about Love Triangles (Part 1, Part 2) over at Beth Revis's blog Writing it Out.

Bish Denham has been blogging A-Z.  I especially enjoyed her J is for Journey and K is for Kryptonite.  She even finds a way to connect Kryptonite with writing.  How fun is that?

Speaking of Kryptonite, Jay Asher got to play the superhero by flying to Kansas to speak in place of a writer who cancelled at the last minute.  I envy the cool the CD of Harry Potter themed music he got, but hey, as the superhero he clearly deserves it.

I just heard about National Picture Book Writing Week over at Nancy Sander's blogPaula Yoo's blog has all the info.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and have an opportunity to visit some of these amazing blogs!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Inspiring Lyrics: The Ocean by The Bravery

Like many writers, I create a playlist for every project I'm working on.  The song that's been inspiring me the most lately is "The Ocean" performed by The Bravery (song composed by Sam Endicott).  It isn't simply the beautiful waltz, but it's also the haunting lyrics.

"The Ocean"

I climbed up a mountain, and looked off the edge
At all of the lives that I never have led
There's one where I stayed with you across the sea
I wonder do you still think of me
I carry your image always in my head
Folded and yellowed and torn at the edge
And I've looked upon it for so many years
Slowly I am loosing your face

[chorus:]
Oh the ocean rolls us away, away, away
The ocean rolls us away

Six's and seven's we live on jet planes
So many faces I don't know the names
So many friends now and none of them mine
Forgotten as soon as we meet
All of these moments are lost in time
Your caught in my head like a thorn on a vine
To forever torment me and I wonder why
Do I wish I'd never known you at all

[chorus x2]
Oh the ocean rolls us away, away, away
The ocean rolls us away

The sun and the moon
An ocean of air
So many voices
But nothing is there
The ghost of you asking me why
Why did I leave

[chorus]

Oh the ocean rolls us away away away

And I lose your hand through the waves

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Spell Check Fails with Comic Results

I was catching up on Pub Rants blogs when I found this gem.  Apparently, there was a typo in a cookbook published by Penguin that was significant enough to cause the poor publisher to have to pulp 7,000 copies.  You're going to love this one.

The publishing company was forced to pulp and reprint 7000 copies of Pasta Bible last week after a recipe called for "salt and freshly ground black people" – instead of pepper – to be added to the spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.

I'd really hate to be that copy editor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Writing with Passion: Paul Harding's Pulitzer Moment



The journey to publication isn't an easy one, so when I read the article Paul Harding's Pulitzer Moment in the New York Times yesterday I felt like cheering for Harding.  Apparently, Harding received a ton of rejections from editors and agents when he submitted his novel Tinkers.

“They would lecture me about the pace of life today,” Mr. Harding said last week over lunch at a diner in this college town, where he is now teaching at the workshop. “It was, ‘Where are the car chases?’ ” he said, recalling the gist of the letters. “ ‘Nobody wants to read a slow, contemplative, meditative, quiet book.’ ”

It was three years before he found a publisher for Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press).  Incredibly, the novel that was so difficult to be published managed to win the Pulitzer Prize last week.

What I found particularly interesting was how the story wouldn't seem to let him go.  This affected his writing methods:


After his first son was born and he was teaching expository writing to undergraduates at Harvard and creative writing to night-school students, the novel became an extracurricular project. “It got so it was guerilla writing,” Mr. Harding said. “I could flip open the laptop and start writing anywhere.” He wrote on bookmarks and the backs of receipts, transcribing the scraps into the computer later.

Finally, one Saturday night, he printed out his mishmashed computer file and laid it out on the living-room floor. Nursing a few fingers of whiskey, he cut up the document, stapling and taping sections into the structure that ultimately made it to publication.

I think it's necessary to have passion for the project you could spend years on, and Harding had an abundance of it.  He wouldn't allow anything to stop him from working on Tinkers.  I can imagine him standing in line at the grocery store and scribbling a sentence onto a back of a receipt because that's all there was available to him.  Then collecting all of these bits and pulling it together into a cohesive story.  Perhaps his novel wouldn't have mainstream appeal, but it was a story he was compelled to write.

It's wonderful to see such passion and hard work rewarded.

Monday, April 19, 2010

LA Festival of Books



The LA Festival of Books is a fantastic event if you're in town, and it's just around the corner (April 24th & 25th).  You can get information about the festival here.   I've copied the panel information that relate to Children's literature below to make it a bit easier.  Admission to the panels is free, though there's a processing fee if you get tickets to any of the panels through ticketmaster.


Saturday Panels:
12:30 PM
Young Adult Fiction: ‘Tween the Lines
PANEL CODE: 1102
Moderator: Mr. Neal Shusterman
Mr. Pseudonymous Bosch
Mr. Gordon Korman
Mr. D.J. MacHale

Ackerman Grand Ballroom
10:30 AM
Meg Cabot in Conversation with Cecil Castellucci
PANEL CODE: 1121
Interviewer: Ms. Cecil Castellucci
Ms. Meg Cabot


Korn Convocation Hall
——————
10:30 AM
Children’s Books: Feeding Imaginations
PANEL CODE: 1071
Moderator: Ms. Sonja Bolle
Mr. Kadir Nelson
Ms. Pam Munoz Ryan
Mr. David Shannon


Fowler Museum Lenart Auditorium
——————
10:30 AM
Fact vs. Fiction: Storytelling in Young Adult Nonfiction
PANEL CODE: 1061
Moderator: Mr. Jonathan Hunt
Ms. Deborah Heiligman
Ms. Stephanie Hemphill
Ms. Elizabeth Partridge



12:30 PM
Kate DiCamillo in Conversation with Susan Carpenter
PANEL CODE: 1052
Interviewer: Ms. Susan Carpenter
Ms. Kate DiCamillo

Sunday Panels:
Moore 100
——————
11:00AM
Young Adult: The Kids Are Alright
PANEL CODE: 2101
Moderator: Ms. Amy Goldman Koss
Ms. Robin Benway
Ms. Meg Cabot
Mr. Don Calame
Ms. Rosalind Wiseman


Korn Convocation Hall
——————
10:30 AM
John Green & David Levithan in Conversation with Denise Hamilton
PANEL CODE: 2071
Interviewer: Ms. Denise Hamilton
Mr. John Green
Mr. David Levithan

Fowler Museum Lenart Auditorium
3:00 PM
Young Adult Fiction: Teens and Turmoil
PANEL CODE: 2064
Moderator: Ms. Sonya Sones
Ms. Gayle Forman
Ms. Cynthia Kadohata
Ms. Jandy Nelson

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Writers' Well: A Weekly Recap of the Best Kidslit Blog Posts


Happy Friday!  Welcome to the Writer's Well where I recap the best of the kidslit blog posts from this week.  It's been a pretty busy week in the kidlitosphere, so let's plunge right into the well.


There's an interview of Tenner Leah Cypess (author of Mistwood) at Amy Brecount White's blogLori Degman was interviewed by Monsters and Money in the Morning on CBS.  You can read about it at Habitual Rhymer (Degman's blog).  Debut author Jame Richards was interviewed at Janet Fox's blog Through the Wardrobe.

Beth Kephart usually has beautiful photographs at her blog.  I especially enjoyed this one (the caption underneath makes it special).  I also liked WriterJenn's post on Writer Friends.

Jordan McCollum continues her Series on Writing the Senses (Dealing with Sensory Overload, Tapping into Your Character's Senses, Selecting Character Senses, Experimenting with Your Character's Senses).


There's a sneak peek of Holly Schindler's A Blue so Dark here.  The YA novel received a star review from Booklist!

Bryan Bliss guest blogged on Suzanne Young's site about what it's like as a male reading YA.  This is a must-read post.  It's so funny and true!

There's some interesting agent and contest information over at Samantha Clark's blog Day by Day Writer.


There are a lot of posts related to National Library Week.  [It's also National Library Month, so it's not too late to celebrate libraries.]  Market My Words explains why libraries are so important and she has a HUGE list of links to other bloggers who are celebrating libraries, too.  On The Teaching Author's blog they have two: Your Local Library (by Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford) and To All the Libraries I've Loved Before (by Esther Hershenshorn).  Edith Cohn has a post Libraries=Love over at her blog LocketLaurie Halse Anderson most recent blog on why we need to fight for our Libraries is hereTina Nichols Coury has a Library of the Day interview over at her blog Tales From the Rushmore Kid.

Yesterday, was Operation Book Drop.  Check out Holly Cupala's blog as well as Melissa Walker's blog.

Claudia Harrington's words of inspiration on tax day was amusing.


The Books, Boys, Buzz blog has a series of posts on Time Travel to celebrate the release of Heather Davis's YA novel The Clearing.

The Bookshelf Muse has had an ongoing series on Symbolism Thesaurus.  I especially enjoyed Angela Ackerman's recent entry on Coming of Age.

Today is National Day of Silence and Lee Wind has a thoughtful post on how to get the most out of the day.

Gregory K. continues his 30 Poets/30 Days series on his blog GottaBook.  You may be especially interested in this one by Arthur A. Levine--yep, the editor who brought Harry Potter to America.  I've also been admiring Susan Taylor Brown's 30 Poems/30 Days all father-daughter themed.

Fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Dead Tossed Waves will be happy to know that Carrie Ryan announced there will be a third book called The Dark and Hollow Places!  Plus, there will be three short stories taking place in the same world.  You can read about it on her blog here.  Yah, so excited!


 P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast are doing a book tour for Burned the next book in their House of Night series.  It's announced on PC's blog here.  They're going to the Grand Cayman island, but not California.  Go figure.  Holly Black posts the second half of her tour on her blog.

There's a great post over at Ana Staniszewski's blog on Knowing the Purpose of Every Scene.

The First Novel's Club continues their parody of Vampire Diaries (episode 17).

Cecil Castellucci wrote a Comic Book Opera and if you're in Montreal you can go see it!  Check out her blog for more info.

D. M. Cunningham talks about the uses of Text Novel on his blog Literary Asylum.

As usual, there were a ton of brilliant writer posts. I'm sure I missed some so if you think of one that should be here, please add it in the comments area.

Also, if you have a children's or YA writing blog and it isn't in the list of Writer Blogs on the right panel (you'll need to click on Show All), you can email me or add a comment with your blog address and I'll add it to the list.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seriously Disturbing: Race Segregation in Mississippi Schools



It's been forty years or more since schools were integrated, yet today I read in the Christian Science Monitor that a school district in Mississippi has been ordered to end policies that segregate students by race.  Has the district been sucked into a time warp where it's still the 1950's?

Apparently, the district was segregating students in two ways.  First, they were allowing hundreds of white students to transfer to schools in predominantly white areas.  Second, their Elementary schools were creating separate classrooms for children of different races.  So even though the schools weren't technically segregated, the children didn't mingle with each other.

What disturbs me about this is that the school district looked for ways to get around the laws instead of trying to find ways to heal the divide between races.  If anything, schools should be trying to find ways to help children socialize with different races, not keep them apart.

It's quite disappointing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vlog: The Road to Publishing a Children's Book

Today I learned about the Google Search Stories Tool on YouTube from Greg P.'s blog The Happy Accident.  He created a video to support the libraries, which is an awesome idea.  I haven't done that yet, but I did manage to create a video showing the steps involved in getting a children's book published.  It's extremely simplified, and doesn't include ingredients such as blood, sweat, and tears, but, hey, I was limited to seven searches.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What the Dystopian & Western Genres have in Common


There has been some buzz recently about the rise in popularity of dystopian novels (PW Article, My blog).  Some of my friends and I are among the people clamoring for more novels like Hunger Games and The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  The other day, we discussed just why we enjoy dystopian (also referred to as Post-Apocalyptic) novels.  After all, the subject matter is depressing.  The future has descent into a chaotic, poverty-stricken world where most people die young.  It doesn't matter if the cause is an evil government or zombies, the effect is that the characters' lives are far more difficult than our own.

That's exactly what I believe is the reason why we love these novels.  It's man versus environment.  The survivors are heroic because they haven't allowed their harsh world to defeat them.  Katniss in Hunger Games has learned how to hunt for food for her family, and crosses into forbidden territory to do so.  Mary in The Forest of Hands and Teeth takes many risks through a forest full of zombies to reach the ocean.  I think this is clear to me, because it's the same reason that I love wagon trail stories.

Every novel based on wagon trails I've ever read has followed the same pattern.  The protagonist has a desperate reason why they need to reach their destination.  Once the train is off, they are challenged in every possible way.  Not enough food was packed; unexpected weather conditions lengthen the journey; mules become lame; people become sick and die; a pregnant woman miscarries; and there is always one family who fails to listen to the wagon master and rides towards a mirage (which leads to their death).  When the destination is reached, only a handful of people survived.  The protagonist is forever changed by the experience.

Sounds kind of bleak, right?  In my teenage years, I read a ton of western novels, and particularly the wagon train subgenre.  I gravitated to these books because the characters were strong.  They worked hard and they persevered.  When the terrain was so rocky that the wagons broke down, these hardy people would carry the food and other necessities on their backs and travel onward.  I didn't want to be them, but I respected them immensely.

I think teens today (and many adults) are reading post-apocalyptic novels for the same reasons.  The protagonists are determined to survive, and we readers watch them pursue their dreams with something close to awe.  It is never easy; and it is always costly.  Yet, no matter how tough their lives are they never give up.  Living in a world where every day brings hardship makes even the most ordinary person heroic.  Whether the novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world or the old west, a writer doesn't need to give their protagonist an arch enemy to fight against.  Every day, the protagonist must fight the environment they live in for their survival, and that's what makes them admirable.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Writers' Well: A Recap of the Best Kidslit Blog Posts


I'm so happy that it's Friday again.  I can taste the weekend in the air.  There are plenty of awesome children's and YA writer posts this week, so let's plunge right into the well.

 On the blog Mad Woman in the Forest, Laurie Halse Anderson discusses why school libraries are so important.  There's also a video from her visit to Mexico High School.

There's a book drive happening for Ojo Encino Day School and Alchesay High School.  Learn more at Guy Lit Wire (also there's information at Finding Wonderland).
  
Jennifer Hubbard has collected various posts on Peer Abuse at her blog WriterJenn.  [Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones have created a Young Adult Authors Against Bullying group on Facebook.]

Does anyone have a monkey Christy Raedeke could borrow? If you do, or you're merely curious about why she needs one, check out her blog JuvenescenceSarah Beth Durst's post Tweeting the Tales of Hans Christian Anderson also made me laugh (that's over at her blog Sarah's Journal).

Beth Kephart's had a post reflecting on the essay by Julie Just on Parents in YA Fiction.  [The monkey photo on the right does not in any way reflect on Parents. Well, not intentionally anyway.]

On Tina Nichols Coury's blog Tales from the Rushmore Kid, Mark McVeigh gives his revision tip of the day.


Tour Dates for Aprilynne Pike are up at her blog ApparentlyHolly Black has announced her Tour Schedule as well.  [On a side note, I'm still excited that she's going to be a Writer in Residence at the VCFA summer residency!]

There's a series of fantastic posts on Writing Your Senses on Jordan McCollum's blog.


Test your knowledge of Young Adult Novels by playing Name That Book at Suzanne Young's blog.  She gives the last line of five novels.  Leave a comment today and tomorrow she'll post the winners. 

Girl in the Arena author Lise Haines is interviewed by K. A. Holt on The YA 5 blog.  On Holly Cupala's blog, there's an interview and book trailer to promote Lauren Oliver's new novel Before I Fall.  Holly Cupala also has a series on How to Land an Agent with the Author perspective and the Agent perspectiveBeth Revis interviewed Maria Snyder, author of Inside Out, on her blog Writing It Out.  She also reviewed Inside Out hereLori Degman was interviewed on Chicago Public Library.  There's a link to it on her blog Habitual Rhymer.  On HipWriterMama, Vivian Lee Mahoney interviewed Jeannine Atkins (author of Borrowed Names).  Kathy McCullough interviewed debut authors Rhonda Hayter (author of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams) and Angie Smibert (author of Memento Nora).

Fans of Marlene Perez's Dead Is... series will want to stop by her blog Not of the Normal to see her book trailer for Dead Is Just a Rumor.

Congrats to Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery for winning the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award!  You can read about it here at Kirby's Lane.  Also, Jay Asher is racking up the Young Adult choice state awards (7 so far) for his novel 13 Reasons Why.  They are well deserved!

There's some great poetry this month over at Gregory K.'s blog GottaBook.  There's a different poet featured every day, and there's also background information on each writer.

Reading your favorite book from your childhood isn't always a good idea, according to Megan Frances (her blog is On Beyond Words & Pictures).

Whew!  Well, that's it for this week's Writers' Well.  Have a wonderful weekend. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mistwood Arc Giveaway at Amy Brecount White's Blog

You can enter to win an Arc of Mistwood by Leah Cypess through Twitter, Facebook, and Blog entries.  Check out Amy Brecount White's post for details.

Good luck!  :)

 

First Discovery


There is something magical about discovering a wonderful novel for the first time.  It's like meeting a kindred spirit; you know the friendship will lead to something special.

I had felt a bit sorry for children who were too young to have read the Harry Potter novels as they were being released.  There was a sense of discovery for that first generation.  Fans of all ages lurked in chat rooms discussing theories such as how Harry Potter would defeat Voldemort, or if Harry would ever think of Jenny Weasley as more than his best friend's sister.  Yes, I was one of those fans.  My sister and I would meet for dinner once a week and discuss our theories.  At the time, my husband was deployed in Iraq and this was a way to distract myself from it.  When the last novel was published, we bought our books at midnight and read them together.  Some of our theories were correct, while others were proven wrong.  It didn't matter, though.  We loved the journey.

I read today in the PW Children's Bookshelf newsletter that Scholastic is going to promote the Harry Potter books to a new generation of readers.  They have set up a website with a sweepstakes.  I think it's a great idea to add some excitement for children who were too young to have experienced the fun the first time around.  Still, it won't quite be the same.  There was always at least a year of waiting between Harry Potter books when they were being released, which gave readers time to formulate opinions.  Now that all of the books are in print, there is no reason to wait and ponder what might be in the next novel.

Regardless, there is something special about discovering a new novel, even if it's only new to you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Quote on the Writing Life


I found this over at The Quote Garden today:

Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.  ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

Ah, so true!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Choose your Words Wisely

A couple of weeks ago, I added the Follower widget to my site and wrote a post about why.  The experiment is paying off, since most of the people who are following my blog I hadn't met before, and several had blogs I had previously been unaware of.  It's interesting and fun getting to know the people who stop by.  I hope you always feel free to comment, though lurking is perfectly okay! :)



I get a newsletter from Change.org, and in today's it talks about a recent Twitter exchange between Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian (there's also a blog post on Change.org on the subject).  Normally, I wouldn't bother with celebrity gossip, but since writers are concerned with word usage, I thought this was interesting.  Here's what occurred (taken from Access Hollywood):

Kardashian wrote, “Big pimpin w @SerenaJWilliams @LaLaVazquez @Kelly_Rowland Love u girls!”

Moore responded asking Kardashian, “Are you using the word “pimpin” as in pimping?”

Kardashian Tweeted back, “Doesn’t everyone? LOL… Nothing wrong with dancing to Big Pimpin’ by Jay Z in the club! Having a girls night out, gotta love that song!”

Moore stated, “No disrespect I love a girls night out but a pimp and pimping is nothing more than a slave owner!” Demi Tweeted, adding in another post, “If we want to end slavery we need to stop glorifying the “pimp” culture.”

Words have power.  By arguing against the word Pimp, Demi Moore has sparked a discussion of sex trafficking across the internet.  What we write has the power to inspire our readers, so we need to make sure we're choosing the right words.  This is not to say we should censure ourselves.  If there's a reason to use the word pimpin' then that's fine, as long as the writer does so understanding the connotation and derivations of that word.
 

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Writers' Well: A Weekly Recap of the Best Kidslit Blog Posts


Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you all were able to get off at least one good prank yesterday.  I managed two.  On Facebook, I created a status saying that Facebook and Twitter were going to be merged and the new name would be Twitbook.  My friends and I had such a great time choosing funny names (TwitFace was one of my favorites), it didn't really matter that it all started as an April Fool's prank.

Since there are so many wonderful writer posts this week, let's plunge right into the well.

Finding Wonderland has an extensive list of sites that are participating in the Kidlit NaPoMo--the 2010 KidLit Celebration of National Poetry Month.  Gotta Book has a list, also.

Kelly Barnhill on YA-5 has a post titled "Listen to Yo' Mama: How Every Sex/Dating Truism my Mother ever Told Me Ended Up Being Just as True for Writing."  I know you want to read it.

Anna Staniszewski discusses how Characters Don't Have to be Nice over on her blog.

Dan Greenburg is interviewed by D. M. Cunningham over at Literary AsylumCynsations interviewed Editorial Assistant Andrew Harwell (Dutton Children's Books).  Holly Schindler on her blog interviews a teen Librarian.  Lori Degman was on TV!  She has a link to the television interview on her blog Habitual Rhymer.  On Through the Wardrobe, Janet Fox interviewed debut author Judith Graves.  Also, Edith Cohn on her blog Locket interviewed Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

Quite a few blogs are hosting interviews all week.  Here's a few: There's a whole week of interviews over at Kathy McCullough's blog (Kristina McBride, Janet Fox, Shari Maurer, Michele Corriel, Angie Smibert).  Elana Johnson has been interviewing up-and-coming authors (Natalie Whipple, Jamie Harrington, Beth Revis, Heather Petty, Lisa and Laura Roecker).  Market my Words has a huge list of the blogs that conducted interviews this week, so please refer to her post for more of these interviews.

Over at CynJay, C. J. Omololu has an amusing yet instructive post on Waiting (I believe that word should always be capitalized).

Susan Berger on Pen and Ink lists magazines that accept submissions for Children's literature.

Myra McEntire posted her first vlog over at her blog.  She has a cute Peeps in the Microwave metaphor for writing.

Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall on their blogs talk about ways that authors can help children who are being bullied in light of the recent Phoebe Prince tragedy.

I'm naming Kiersten White the luckiest author/blogger on the planet (maybe the universe...do they blog out there?).  As kind of a joke, she said the other day that whoever found the most famous author who would read the ARC of her book would get a free ARC of their own.  Within minutes, one of her blog readers tweeted Neil Gaiman who immediately said yes, he'd read it.  On her blog Kiersten Writes, she discusses how awesome this is and how the contest could have gone terribly wrong.

On Market my Words, Shelli has an excellent post on how rejection letters are like dating.