Without fail, all of the “How To Be a Better Writer” books agree on one thing – if you want to write well, read a lot of good books. I love advice that I actually WANT to follow. Because I have a 5th grader, I thought it would be fun for us to read some books together, some that I’ve enjoyed, some that she’s heard about from school friends, etc. So I recently downloaded/bought/borrowed the following titles for our summer reading pleasure:
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
My daughter is too young for most YA, but I think I’ll sneak off and read Eleanor & Park:
KIRKUS REVIEW – Eleanor & Park
Awkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha.
Eleanor and Park don’t meet cute; they meet vexed on the school bus, trapped into sitting together by a dearth of seats and their low social status. Park, the only half-Korean fan of punk and New Wave at their high school, is by no means popular, but he benefits from his family’s deep roots in their lower-middle-class neighborhood. Meanwhile, Eleanor’s wildly curly red mane and plus-sized frame would make her stand out even if she weren’t a new student, having just returned to her family after a year of couch-surfing following being thrown out by her odious drunkard of a stepfather, Richie. Although both teens want only to fade into the background, both stand out physically and sartorially, arming themselves with band T-shirts (Park) and menswear from thrift stores (Eleanor). Despite Eleanor’s resolve not to grow attached to anything, and despite their shared hatred for clichés, they fall, by degrees, in love. Through Eleanor and Park’s alternating voices, readers glimpse the swoon-inducing, often hilarious aspects of first love, as well as the contrast between Eleanor’s survival of grim, abuse-plagued poverty and Park’s own imperfect but loving family life.
Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike. (Fiction. 14 & up)
And most importantly, when we’re done, we’ll review them to show our appreciation for the authors, and to help other folks know what’s good.
In case there’s anyone alive who doesn’t already know about A Wrinkle in Time.
A little bit of this:
And a whole lot of this:
I’m trying to focus more on that first one, but the whole thing is crazy scary.
The road to this point has been paved with hours of writing and rewriting, disappointments, standing in the shower crying and cussing like one of those American Idol contestants who get rejected and flip off the camera, and all sorts of other highs and lows. And there’s a great big part of me that is freaking out that I’ll mess this chance up, let my new editor and team down, or worse, never get really, really good at this thing called writing.
But I’m going to stuff that part down into a drawer, one full of mismatched socks and other useless items, and just keep on going, day by day, word by word. Because this journey has taught me a lot of things, especially this – I’m not alone! I’m surrounded by awesome friends and family, great writing buddies, a terrific agent, and tons of people who want the best for me and this book. And that feels like this:
My resolution is always the same – write more. Last year, In order to create a more “writer-friendly” environment, I moved my office out of the dank, dark basement and into the pool house where I can at least SEE people frolicking in the water while I work.
I got the posters on the wall at the last writer’s conference I attended, and they make me happy when I come in every morning.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen an increase in my productivity like I’d hoped. I think it’s the view.
Who told my husband he could come out of the basement with me?
Anyway, here’s hoping you have a 2013 full of great books and lots of writing time!
My friend, Alison Hertz, has published her first picture book! I say “first” because she has 172 ideas floating around her brain at any given time, and writes prolifically. In fact, by the time I’m done with this post, she’ll have written another three picture books and illustrated their covers. She must be able to juggle so many projects at the same time due to her stint as a circus juggler. I’m. Not. Kidding.
You can buy a copy from Amazon or from Alison at her website, and she’ll even autograph them for you! I bought two copies as Christmas gifts for the little girls in my life, and I think you should too. Cause it’s super cute and fun and the author needs your support. The traveling-circus life is hard on a girl.
Man, you sit down to watch one episode of the new Dallas, and the next thing you know, months have passed and you haven’t blogged once! I blame J.R. In addition to rehashed dramas from the 80′s, I’ve been kinda busy with this thing agents call “revision”, also known as “rethinking every sentence you’ve ever written.”
Yes, I’ve been revising AGAIN. It’s been annoying, but through it all, I’ve learned one very important lesson – write it correctly the first time. Man, had I only know. This time I cut out almost 8,000 words! I know it seems like a lot, but since the entire manuscript was 67,000 to begin with, it’s not been too hard. Once you start “killing your darlings” it gets much easier.
Besides revising, I’ve also completed 14 picture books. Well, if you consider the mini-books I write for my daughter every morning and put in her lunch box, picture books. It started on the first day of school, where for some crazy reason, instead of the usual lunch box note, I folded an index card, wrote Moon Pie’s First Day, and made up a story. Guess what she wanted the next day? And the next day? Now I’ve written such masterpieces as Moon Pie Goes Fishing, Moon Pie Skips School, and Moon Pie’s Sleepwalking Adventure. Even though she’s a 5th grader, she still enjoys them, and reads them to her friends at lunch! Then she comes home and tells me what they think – “It was funny, but Brooke wants more illustrations.”
Awesome. Just what I wanted, MORE REVISION.
Thanks so much to everyone who played Grammar Nazi with Lisa today. Come on over anytime, there’s plenty more where that came from! The book, however, goes to the FIRST person to catch the error, so congratulations to Proofreader Patty! She correctly observed that I should have used “woven”, not “weaved.”
HOWEVER, according to Grammarist, the use of weaved in the review was only “questionable.”
Which is a label that can pretty much be applied to everything I do.
Patty, your book is in the mail. Everyone else, get on over to Tate and buy a copy.
As in keeping with this blog, I’ve written a Haiku Review of a new YA book.
Anne Summerton goes
to fetch handsome Jonas Blake!
A Fun YA Tale.
Was that helpful? Okay, so I’ve written a REAL review on Amazon. But here’s the kicker. It not only tells you how I feel about the book, it contains a *grammatical error. I. Am. Awesome. Be the first person to find it and post what it is in the comments, and I’ll send you a FREE copy of the book. I’ve enable the comment approval system so you won’t be able to see them until the contest is over. Let’s say Noon, tomorrow. Click HERE to go to Amazon.
If you win, I’ll mail the book anywhere in the US. If you don’t, buy the darn book anyway!
*I’m thinking of ONE specific error. There are no prizes for finding more than that, Smarty Pants.
UPDATE: The Amazon link says they are out of stock. If you don’t want to order and wait, OR if you want to download as an e-book, go HERE.
Well, it’s official, my book is OUT ON SUBMISSION. As in submitted, to a real editor at a real publishing house! My agent, the wonderful and talented Susan Hawk, sent me a list last week of editors she thought might be interested in my book. Fourteen people, at fourteen publishing houses, some of which I had actually heard of! Fourteen people who could make a decision and take a dream that started when I was in third grade and make it a reality. No pressure, people, just read it at your leisure!
As I understand it, once the editors have had time to look it over, Susan will get back in touch with them. And if they don’t like it? I have no idea what happens. I assume she’ll send it to another group, perhaps a bit lesser known, and see if THEY bite. I imagine this process will continue until finally, it’s just my book and some dude in the basement of his mother’s house in Detroit, cranking up his mimeograph machine.
Whatever. At this point, my book is like a little sister I’ve lovingly raised, only to watch her run desperately from person to person, looking for someone, anyone to tell her they love her. If she does find someone willing to put a ring on her finger, I’ll celebrate her great fortune. And if she doesn’t, I’ll pick her up, dust her off and remind her that she was lovingly and wonderfully made. Despite what the literary world says, she was created for a purpose. Her purpose might just involve a mimeograph machine.
The hotly anticipated YA novel Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi, hit the shelves on Tuesday and because I’m sick of being the last one to read anything, I bought it. And now you can benefit from my awesome review.
In Haiku, cause that’s how I roll.
Her touch will bring death
In this dystopian tale
Or is it X-men?
Was that helpful? No? Fine, check out more reviews here.
Almost everyone I know hopes to one day write a book, has an idea for a book, or has a half-finished manuscript under the bed just waiting to become a finished book. My friends have a lot to say, obviously. Maybe it’s because the first thing God did was “create” and we’re made in His image, but writing a book is a goal for a lot of people. I don’t know WHY we all want to write, but I know why most of us don’t – time. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in.
November is National Novel Writing Month, for real. There’s a website and everything. The goal is to complete a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days. Think it’s crazy? NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 participants. Last year there were over 200,000! It’s become such a phenomenon that I was told not to query agents in December because their in-boxes are full from just-finished NaNoWriMo manuscripts.
NaNoWriMo is perfect for people who need a deadline, a goal, or to be with other crazy people doing the same thing for encouragement. It’s free to participate, and if you complete the goal, you WIN. Not a prize or anything, but you don’t become a Mary Faulker by sweating the small stuff.
MARY FAULKNER (1903-1973) 904 books
South African writer Mrs. Mary Faulkner, whom the Guinness Book of World Records ranks as history’s most prolific novelist, wrote under six pen names, including Kathleen Lindsay. Her novels include There Is No Yesterday, Wind of Desire, and Harvest of Deceit.
Sign up! Besides Thanksgiving, what else does November have to offer?