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sarahtales July 11 2014, 15:13

Turn of the Story, Part IX

Originally published at Sarah Rees Brennan. You can comment here or there.

This part’s a little different from the others, but I hope you still enjoy it, my petals. You know the drill by now: free book-length story about the crankiest boy in a fantasy land.


This part is also dedicated to Courtney and Jen Lynn, who convinced me to go on.


Part I of Turn of the Story


previous part of Turn of the Story




Turn of the Story, Part 9Collapse )
slayground July 11 2014, 13:05

Poetry Friday: If I can stop one heart from breaking by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

- Emily Dickinson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

laurabowers July 11 2014, 12:05

My tweets

author2author July 10 2014, 16:43

BLACKOUT is ON SALE! (or 66% Off Now!)

http://author2author.blogspot.com/2014/07/blackout-is-on-sale-or-66-off-now.html

Tip of the Day: Join BookBub for daily ebook deals emailed directly to you!

In anticipation of the upcoming official release of DESERTED, BLACKOUT is on sale for just $.99 for a limited time on Amazon and B&N!

Read about bro and sis Leo and Jenny's NY and PA adventures in book #1 before being whisked off to Las Vegas in book #2....



Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

kellyrfineman July 10 2014, 15:22

A report from Revision Camp

Hello, pretties! *waves madly at people in the internet*

I am still enjoying my revision camp, although I have to confess that (a) "enjoying" is sometimes not the right word ("frustrated by" is often more apt) and (b) things are not progressing speedily.

What picture book revision involves

What I picked out to work on this week: five picture book manuscripts in various stages of completion, plus my Shakespeare poems. You see, I binge wrote picture books for a week back in early June, forcing myself to work on a new idea each day for five days in order to get past a sort of block where I wasn't writing because I couldn't get my drafts right on the first try. Not that anyone can actually do that, except for rare occasions where something falls in your lap, but still . . . I'd been twiddling my thumbs for too long and decided to follow the Nike ad's advice and "just do it".

This week, I expected to quickly knock things out. After all, I've been working on these manuscripts off and on since they were written, and I figured it wouldn't take GOBS of work to get them all whipped into shape. (Cue the maniacal laughter of the writing/revision gods.)

What I grabbed first: a picture book that needed, like, three more couplets (yeah, it rhymes) to be a finished draft, plus it needed smoothing and polishing. Friends, it is still not finished, and I've been working on it most of the day every day since Monday. The three additional couplets are done. The polishing and smoothing up of the rest is done. I made a thumbnail dummy (not sure that's what anyone else calls it - I draw a bunch of pages on a single piece of paper and write a word for what happens on each spread.) It works, and could make for great illustrations.

But when I woke from a nap on Tuesday, I realized that one of the couplets up in the middle doesn't actually match the premise, so it has to be hauled out and replaced. I am still struggling to get it fixed.

The total word count on that picture book is around 200 words. Experienced picture book writers know how much every single word matters, and how it takes time to get them "just right", but it's nevertheless easy to think "well, how long can it actually take to fix things when the book is that short?" I'm here to tell you that I've put at least 18-20 hours of work into the poem this week, and it's still not there. And that doesn't count the time spent drafting the initial poem, plus earlier revision passes on the stuff that was written. As of now, before I start work today, I probably have close to 40 hours of time into this manuscript, and it still needs more work once I get the new stanza written and put it in place. (It will have to rest, then I have to revise it again, then it has to go to first readers, etc., ...) At any rate, I thought it might be helpful to some folks to know how long a manuscript can take. Some go faster. Some, I might add, go far more slowly.

It hasn't all been obsessive work on a single manuscript. Yesterday, in order to retain my sanity, I pulled out a different manuscript, also in rhyme. It was a complete mess on the written page, so I typed it up and tweaked it and . . . whaddya know, it's not too bad. I have to consider whether it is "done" or needs another entire stanza (which is significantly longer than a couplet), and whether the ending words stay or need to be replaced. But it's so much closer than I thought it was, so YAY!

On today's schedule: Continued work on the first picture book I mentioned to replace the troublesome stanza, plus make a dummy of some sort (actual or thumbnail) for the second one. There are three more picture book manuscripts plus a poetry collection still sitting there on the sidelines with their arms crossed, scowling at me, but they will have to stay there until I can get to them.




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bostonerin July 10 2014, 14:29

Meet Ollie

Ollie Truong.
Geocaching addict.
Wilderness Scout.
Asthmatic.
Accidental hero.
Two weeks after Ollie and his best friend Moxie solved one of the biggest mysteries in the US, the media explosion has yet to die down and life has become difficult for Moxie and Ollie. Very difficult. Like, TV vans outside the house difficult.
To escape the onslaught and recover what's left of his summer vacation, Ollie is headed to Wilderness Scout camp on the Boston Harbor islands. Instead of blending in with his new troop, Ollie's celebrity status follows him--and not to good effect. Dealing with jealousy, rival tentmates, and a last-man-standing amped up game of tag called "Gotcha," Ollie has his hands full.
Or thinks he does.
Enter Grey, the daughter of a park ranger who has a lot of secrets. Grey has a habit of showing up when she shouldn't and hearing things that people want to keep to themselves. Grey, Ollie's speed-talking tentmate Chris, and Ollie soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery surrounding hundreds of year old pirate treasure and a mysterious *someone* who is after it.
Relaxing vacation? I don't think so.
bostonerin July 10 2014, 14:26

Ollie & the Science of Treasure Hunting is OUT!!

Today is the official release day of Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting! Yay! I'm celebrating on a thunderstorm-filled day in Viterbo, Italy, where I am spending the month of July teaching in a summer study abroad program (tough life, I know).
But, I DO miss cheering this book on from the States. OLLIE is a special book to me because it hits a bunch of "firsts" for me as a writer:
- first companion novel/sequel (it's the companion to last year's MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING)
- first time writing from a male protagonist's point of view (yikes! I am still stressing out over that)
- first adventure story (although it's also a mystery, it's got a big adventure element to it)
These were all big challenges that I set out for myself. I love writing stories, and with each project I want to try something new--something that will help me grow. And with growth, comes risk. MOXIE was a risk because it was a mystery story, when I'd written three contemporary humorous novels before that. OLLIE takes that risk even further, which can make people uncomfortable (readers, maybe. Publishers, definitely). But, I was given a lot of support for it. I worked really hard on this book, doing draft after draft with my very patient editor, Liz Waniewski (the book is even dedicated to her!). My writer's group cheered me on, helping me iron out plot twists and flesh out characters. And I had help from some great readers who are 13 year old boys--to make sure I got 13-year-old-boys right.
Even with all that help, though, as when I release any book (and holy smokes I can't believe this is my FIFTH published novel. That in itself is an unbelievable gift) I'm nervous. I'm worried that I'll have made a mistake. That I will have gotten something wrong. That you won't like it. And worst of all: that no one will read it.
This is the type of worrying that keeps me up at night, especially for the past week.
But that's not productive. Instead, I should think about how I worked my butt off on this book, and Ollie is a great character and worthy of his novel. I have to remember that. So I'm going to take a deep breath, eat some gelato, and enjoy the day.
With risk comes reward.

(want to learn more about Ollie? Go here)
cynthialord July 10 2014, 11:23

Painting and Writing



We are painting a room in our house this week, which is always a bit stressful because nothing is where it should be. So I'm going to stare at this photo my husband shot in Rangeley, Maine last week and say ahhhh.

And yesterday I was one of the guest authors at Teachers Write for the Question and Answer Wednesday, along with Donna Gephart and Lynda Mullaly Hunt. If you'd like to see our conversations and ideas, they are here. I wondered if we'd have many questions, so I was glad we had so many!
kimmiepoppins July 10 2014, 06:01

Rereading When There’s A Mountain of New Books

Originally published at Kimberly Sabatini. You can comment here or there.

In general, life is too short to reread books–even great ones–when there are so many amazing books out there that I haven’t read yet. There are mountains of books to be consumed and I’m greedy. But there are always exceptions to general policy LOL!

Many books

 

Unfortunately, this year I’m slower than usual in my reading, making every opportunity to read something, that much more valuable. So, to find myself doing more rereading than usual surprises me. I lost huge chunks of time when we moved and when my boys changed schools. But when I took a peek at the book I do have under my belt for 2014, I found that more than any other time I can remember, a large percentage of these books I’ve read before. In my read column 4 out of 33 are rereads and in my currently reading column I have another 2 books that are rereads with the potential for more. (I have a couple in the que of my iTunes audiobook list.)

As I noticed the number of rereads creeping up higher, I began thinking about why I was returning to these books. I discovered I had a variety of reasons…

*I’m rereading books with my younger boys that I’d read with my older son. He had a different school schedule and we’d pick out books he and I could share in the car when the other kids weren’t around. If we loved the story (audiobooks aren’t cheap) we’ve been happy to recycle. THE AIRMAN by Eoin Colfer and UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman were fabulous rereads for everyone.

*I’m also sharing great books I’ve read as ARC’s (and didn’t have time to read with the boys) or books they weren’t ready to read with me before, but now they are. Like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

*I also love reading books on craft using a tangible paper copy I can underline and make notes in. I feel writing books are meant to be written in, but I often like to do follow-up reads of the same amazing book on audio. So far I’ve done this with Stephan King’s ON WRITING and I’m currently soaking up BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. I HIGHLY recommend BIRD BY BIRD on audio BTW–it is amazing. I am also confident that these amazing books will be listened to over and over again over the years. Inspiration and motivation!

Do you reread your favorite books? Do you reread books in new ways, like a paperback and audio versions of the same story? What’s your favorite reread and how many times have you consumed it? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

 

aprilhenry July 10 2014, 02:59

Pow! Right in the kisser! How martial arts have helped me be a better writer

I have been doing martial arts for close to five years now.  First it was kajukenbo and then for the last two and a half years, kung fu.

I love martial arts, an idea that would probably really surprise anyone I went to high school with, where PE was the only class where I ever got a C. (In my nightmares, I am still being taught a dance to Winchester Cathedral by Miss Fronk, who only shaved her lower legs.)

My gateway drug was a kickboxing class, where I found out I love hitting things as hard as I can. The teacher was also a kajukenbo instructor, and I ended up taking kajukenbo for about 18 months. I had an orange belt and was training for purple. My sifu even helped me figure out what moves my character could do in various situations in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

When he stopped teaching, I started taking kung fu at the Westside Academy of Martial Arts (which also offers cross training, so our sifu often throws some in at the end of a session). I love sparring, learning techniques like the spinning back fist, and going up against guys who are a half-foot taller than me. I'm even getting better at grappling. I hold an orange belt and hope to test for purple soon.

What I've learned

Martial arts have helped me be a better writer (after all, mysteries and thrillers often contain an element of violence), as well as a stronger and more prepared person.

Women often deal with threats, even physical ones, with social behaviors. We ignore the people who threaten us or try to appease them. We try to ally ourselves with the person who made the threat by acting like we are really on their side.

But you know what? These skills won’t work on most predators. They won’t work on the person who sees your purse or phone as something they must have – and sees you as about as valuable as the packaging they originally came in. They especially won’t work on a predator who only wants to take you to someplace private so they can hurt, rape or kill you.

Sparring and grappling have taught me what it feels like to get hurt or simply experience the surprise of having someone attack you. Getting hit in the face or even having your hair pulled is shocking. In our culture, even close friends don’t touch our faces. Once you’re no longer a little child, no one even pats you on the head. Knowing a little something about surprise, pain and fighting back helps me write about them.

I can write authoritatively about fear, about how things blur, about the way people move and hold their bodies and eyes and mouths. I can tell when someone is about to hit me and where. The eyes focus, the breath catches and the shoulder drops or the hand goes back.

I also know how to hurt people – and that means my characters might be able to do it too.


A future book idea?

In a weird twist, a man who was looking for girls and woman to abduct was killed by police right outside my kung fu school a few months ago (you can even see my car in the top picture). He had already kidnapped a teenager from Paradise Tan.  She was only able to escape by jumping from his moving van while still bound with duct tape.  I am thinking there might be a book in there someplace.  Like what if he had taken a girl from the school?

writerjenn July 10 2014, 00:27

Losing and finding the center

"For many of us, sooner or later there comes a point where work gets hard and there’s no support at all from the outside world. That’s when you feel besieged. The fear of getting it wrong stops you."

The above quote comes from a post by Tricia Sullivan on the inner turmoil that can result from too much second-guessing and self-criticism.

And then there's this post by Michelle Davidson Argyle about being paralyzed by too much feedback.

And this one by Dawn Metcalf on not writing when life gets in the way, and the self-perpetuating negative cycle that can result: "I felt like I'd failed across the board, which didn't improve my mood or my ability to write. And that is the flipside of having a public voice and a private life--there is so much of our stories that cannot be told because while being a writer is public, being a human being is private."

Sometimes, a writer's mind is her own worst enemy. We need to be listeners, sensitive, attuned to our environments. We need critique. We need professionalism. Yet those are the very elements that can turn poisonous on us. And on top of any inner struggle comes a pressure not to admit it, not to reveal weakness. To be honest and vulnerable and creative while also having review-proof hides and boundless optimism ... Got all that? And can you juggle on a high wire, too?

I have always loved the way Anne Lamott approaches the writing life in Bird by Bird. She talks craft and practical matters, but she admits that the writing life is filled with inner battles, filled with apprehension, mind games, self-doubt, despair. Not only with those things--of course, there is joy, too, or why else even do this?--but she shows that you can feel all those things and admit it and still write, still publish, still live.

I hear tell that not every writer experiences this, and to those who don't, all I can say is: I'm happy for you, bless your heart. But the writers who do go through this don't do it to be precious. It's not because they've bought into some myth of the tortured artist. The more writers discuss this, the more we realize how common it is, and the more we learn to recognize where some of the pitfalls lie. When we find ourselves lost, we make finding the center again a priority. We know it's around here somewhere.
carriejones July 9 2014, 12:06

My tweets

soniag July 9 2014, 10:38

A view of the Camera



I love seeing the dome of the Radcliffe Camera when walking through the Deer Park and Old Quad of Brasenose College, but this is the first time it's seemed like a face peering over the wall -- am I the only one who thinks this face vaguely resembles the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Yesterday was rather cold and wet, but today the sun is shining. I'm looking forward to dinner at The Trout with the Oklahoma alums who currently are enjoying the Oxford Experience, but first I really need to get serious about the work I brought with me...

Or maybe I'll take a walk with Steve. It's just too gorgeous outside!

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