Friday, June 25, 2010

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


I was given a blog award this week by Julie Musil.  It always brightens my day when I hear that someone enjoys my blog.  It's nice to be appreciated. :)

This has been a busy week with work and getting ready for my first residency at VCFA, which is just a couple of weeks away now.  Since next month is going to be so busy, I've decided that I won't be blogging for the entire month.  In August, I'll be sure to share my experiences in case any of you are considering the MFA program.

Now let's get started and discover some fantastic kidslit posts:

Inspiration
WriterJenn talks about the importance of Refilling the Well.

For Fun
I loved this post on The First Novels Club about how their mothers read YA.  It's really true that many adults are now gravitating to the YA section.  There are many theories as to why, but I think it's because the books are just freaking awesome.

Apparently, Carrie Ryan's mother reads YA novels, too.  Ryan discusses how they share a love for the series Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.

Writing Craft
In the Wordy Wednesday post over at Kirby's Lane, she discusses tight writing.

Sarah's Journal has a great list of links on Writing Advice and she also shares her own thoughts on how to start a novel.

If like me, you enjoy reading about how other writers work you'll enjoy Kathleen Duey's recent post on what she's currently working on.

Author Appearances
Amy Brecount will be signing Forget-Her-Nots at the ALA conference on Sunday.  You can read more on her post here.

Interviews
Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy, is interviewed over at Market My Words.

Hanna, the main character of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, is interviewed over at Paranormal Point of View.  ;)

Literary Asylum interviewed Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X.

Alyxandra Harvey, author of Hearts at Stake, is interviewed at Cynsations.

Teaching Authors interviewed Claudia Fridell, author of Goliath.

Through the Wardrobe interviewed N. H. Senzai, author of Shooting Kabul.

Announcements
Laina Taylor's new book has been announced.  It's tentatively titled Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and was purchased by Little Brown at auction.  You can read more about the novel here.

Kiersten Whites novel Paranormalcy will be released August 31, a month earlier than planned.

That's it for this week!  Have a wonderful weekend.  See you in August!

Friday, June 18, 2010

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


Happy summer! It's finally starting to heat up in southern cal, and I'm LOVING it.  I'm also excited because in July I'll be starting my first residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts!

As usual, there were plenty of awesome posts this week so let's plunge right in.

Inspiration
I enjoyed WriterJenn's post on Novel Milestones.

This post isn't writing related necessarily, but it's by a kidslit writer so I'm including it! Jay Asher talks about being grateful for what you have.

Technically, this series of posts is from a week ago, but they are too good not to mention.  Beth Revis discusses her transition from college to teacher to author (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, & Part 5).

Interviews
Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart, is interviewed on Janet Fox's blog Through the Wardrobe.  Fox also interviewed JT Dutton, author of Stranded.

Kirsten Miller, author of Eternal One, is interviewed over at Market My Words.

Barry Lyga, author of Archvillain (as well as Fan Boy and Goth Girl, one of my favorite YA novels), is interviewed over at Literary Asylum.


For Fun
Suzanne Young occasionally posts excerpts from unfinished manuscripts.  The latest in her Novel Graveyard is a lot of fun.

Megan Frances shared how she reconnected to a childhood favorite book: The Golden Phoenix. 

Conferences
Julie Musil had a post on a free Writer's Conference called WriteOnCon.  Registration begins July 1st!

Writing Craft
The Bookshelf Muse thinks outside of Character Sheets and gives some great tips on Characterization.

There's a panel of writers over at Kirby's Lane that discuss the benefits of Critique Groups.

Bish Denham has an interesting writing prompt on Dreams.

Sara Wilson Etienne talks about how she uses music to Hear Her Story.

Points to Ponder
Uma Krishnaswami has a post discussing outsider narratives.  It's an interesting issue.

I loved Carrie Ryan's post on the difficulty of sharing too much or too little on your blog.

That's it for this week.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SCBWI-LA Critiquenic

On Saturday I attended the LA Critiquenic in Roxbury Park.  It was the first time I had attended it, and now I wonder why I didn't attend before!  There were about sixty attendees, and we were in groups of about eight.  Each group was organized by genre and was led by a published author.  I was lucky enough to be in Cecil Castellucci's group (she's the author of young adult novels and graphic novels).

Our group would begin by the author reading her work, and then Castellucci would "send the author to the moon" while the rest of the group would critique what we had heard.  The point was for the author to listen to the comments before asking questions or addressing the critique in any way.  I thought this was a brilliant way to keep from getting defensive or talking over the critiquers.  If you're at the moon, then you can't respond even if you'd like to.  After everyone gave their comments, the author would return from the moon and get to respond.

I'm glad that I attended because Castellucci's comments helped me look at my novel in a fresh way.  I think you can be so close to a work that sometimes you miss things.  I left the Critiquenic feeling energized.

Next year if you're in the Los Angeles area I would highly suggest attending.  It's free, which is incredible considering that I've paid forty-five dollars for a critique from a published author not including the price of the event itself (usually around eighty-five for a half day seminar).  It isn't perfect.  You have to deal with the noise of children playing in the park, and worry over parking meters, but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

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


Happy Friday! As usual, there were some wonderful kidslit posts, so let's plunge right into the well!

Writing Craft
Beth Kephart tackles two issues in a short post (yet still beautifully written as all of hers are): Losing Sentences to strengthen story and Pursuing a project that is just beyond your skill level.

On the Writers in Residence blog, Jackie Houchin discusses interview techniques.

WriterJenn gives examples of novels that start with character, not necessarily action-packed sequences.

Barbara O'Connor shared an inspirational quote to help writers stay focused on writing.

On her Question of the Day blog, Suzanne Casamento discusses the importance of structure in your novel and finding a mentor.

On Kirby's Lane, Kirby Larson discusses how food can add spice to novels.

Interviews
Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade, is interviewed on Market My Words blog.

Denise Jaden interviewed Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X.

Sea author Heidi Kling is interviewed by Holly Cupala.

Marketing
There's a fantastic marketing roundup over at the Market My Words blog.

Themes
It was friendship week over at the Books, Boys, Buzz blog to celebrate the release of Lifted by Wendy Toliver (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).

New Kidslit Blog
Gregory K. had a post about a new kidslit blog launched by twenty-six middle grade novelists.  It's called From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors.

Interesting Discussions
Shannon Hale discusses the flaws of a Book Rating System.

Carrie Jones posted a video on her blog of Colin Farrell speaking out against Bullying.

For Fun
Nancy Sanders is beginning a Summer Reading Club over at her blog.  Sounds like fun!

If you like reading the Kiersten Writes blog, you'll love the guest post by Stephanie Perkins that uncovers the real Kiersten White.

D. M. Cunningham over at Literary Asylum reminds us that it's Batman has recently published it's 700th issue!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 4, 2010

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



I believe someone has been influencing the time space continuum. Just before I left for vacation time slowed down to a crawl, while the vacation time zoomed by.  Regardless of time problems, there have been a ton of fantastic writer blogs this week, so let's plunge right into the well.


Writers Speak Out
Holly Black answers questions about White Cat, Spiderwick, and The Modern Faerie Tales.

Donna Gamble talks about what it's like to work on book number two.

Georgia McBride has an interesting post on what YA writers really make.  She has links to a ton of articles and posts on the subject.

I loved Aprilynne Pike's post on You Are Not Your Novel--and how you shouldn't apologize for not having written a bestseller or award winning novel.

New Releases
Suzanne Young's next novel So Many Boys comes out next week.  The first review is in and it's positive.

Author Appearances
Carrie Ryan fans who live in the south will be happy to hear that she's going to be attending the Con-Carolinas this weekend.

For Fun
There's a fun post on The Pen and Ink blog titled Writing Seminars I'd Like to See.

I found WriterJenn's post on The Evolution of Ideas hilarious.


Laurie Halse Anderson posted a video made by University of Washington Librarians that's awesome.  It's Lady Gaga in the Library.  Now you've got to watch it.  By the way, Holly Cupala posted it to her blog, too.

Writing Craft
Bish Denham has a series of posts on Writing Prompts. 


The Wagging Tale blog has a fantastic post on how Imagery beats Description.

Claudia Harrington's blog has some motivational quotes from Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson.

The fabulous Teaching Authors blog has a post on Reading as a Writer.

I'm sure there are other great posts out there.  Be sure to add any that you find in the comments area.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remembering the Fallen: Specialist Ross A. McGinnis



Specialist Ross McGinnis would have only been twenty-one if he had lived to receive the Medal of Honor.  Regardless of his youth, he made an impact on the people he worked with.  They call him a natural leader and the comedian of the group.  His parents said that after he came back from his Army training it was as though he had grown taller.

McGinnis was part of a group that was delivering a generator that would increase electricity in the community when they were attacked.  When a grenade was thrown, McGinnis covered it with his body and absorbed the impact, preventing it from injuring anyone else around it.  The entire narrative can be read here.



Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006.

That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.

Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

The citation can be found here.  McGinnis should not have had to die that day, however, his courageousness will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Remembering the Fallen: Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti



None of us know how we will react in a crisis, until we are confronted by the situation.  When Staff Sergeant Monti saw one of his fellow soldier's in harm's way he didn't hesitate.  He went out to try to save him.  Perhaps some people might have tried once, and when it seemed impossible to help without losing your own life, would have stopped.  Certainly, no one would have blamed him.  But Jared Monti didn't stop.  He continued to try to get to the wounded soldier even though it meant walking into enemy fire.  Unfortunately, Monti did not survive, but his courageousness motivated the other soldiers and led to a victory.

Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on June 21, 2006. While Staff Sergeant Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Staff Sergeant Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation. He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Staff Sergeant Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Staff Sergeant Monti then realized that one of his Soldiers was lying wounded in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol's position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his Soldier, Staff Sergeant Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his fellow Soldier. Staff Sergeant Monti's selfless acts of heroism inspired his patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Staff Sergeant Monti's immeasurable courage and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the United States Army.
The Army has a fantastic website in honor of him, where you can see photos from his childhood and learn more about who he was and how he earned the award.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Remembering the Fallen: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith

I just returned from a relaxing vacation in Lake Tahoe with family.  It was peaceful and calm there, cold enough for there to be snow in the mountains, but warm enough that my husband and I were able to kayak on the lake.  At one point, though, I watched a documentary on Medal of Honor recipients and was amazed by the bravery and selflessness of these individuals.  Memorial Day has just passed, and so I think it's a great time to recap some of their stories.



Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith proved how much he cared about his fellow soldiers long before he earned the Medal of Honor.  When he learned that one of his soldier's family couldn't afford to have a Christmas with their children, he went out and purchased gifts for their children.  When one of his soldiers had a baby in the hospital, he drove an hour every day to visit them.  You can read more here.

He earned the medal of honor in 2003, when he was part of an Engineering company in Baghdad, Iraq.  He gave his life to ensure that other soldiers could escape safely.

Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

 The official citation can be read here.

As writers of fiction, we create heroes from our imaginations.  Paul Smith was the real thing.