Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I'm celebrating over here on Author2Author today!
After months of procrastination and a break from writing, I have finally gotten some new words written on my current work in progress.
Yay!! Just doing a happy dance, since I've been in a serious writing slump. And I'm glad to find some motivation and a new idea to tie up some loose ends that have been bugging me for months.
That's all I really have to say.
Okay...now back to work.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Last week I talked about the Rochester Teen Book Fest and said I'd discuss my take aways from the event as a writer.
The overarching theme from the presenters I saw was to write to your emotions. Torrey Maldonado really brought this home with his invigorating speech. To all those sixth graders who have him for a teacher: you are so lucky!
Shari Maurer and Selene Castrovilla, who I spent most of my day with, kept reminding me and their audience to write "the emotional truth." If the story calls to be written in a certain way, write it. The plot of the novel doesn't need to mimic a real life experience the writer has had, but the EMOTIONS evoked from the manuscript should reflect a real emotion that has been experienced.
Some books are hard to write, but hard books need to be written. They will touch at least one reader. And that reader is important. That reader is who you are writing for. Selene's second book deals with cancer, and she had teens from the cancer center at one of her talks. Shari's book deals with heart transplants, and she had a 16-year-old who'd had 2 heart transplants at her talk. It gave me chills to hear these teens tell the authors what their books meant to them; that it made them realize they weren't alone. Chills.
TBF was not the first time I'd heard the expression about writing the emotional truth BUT it was the first time it really hit me about what that meant. In 2010 I rewrote the first novel I'd ever written and heavily revised my YA that is currently on sub. Both of those books were important for me to write because of the significant parts that pieces of them have played in my life. Not exact replicas of the situations or plots -- I made sure to NOT regurgitate my life in a novel -- but I realized in revising both works that in trying to avoid writing memoirs, I had skimmed over the emotional truths! Watered them down!
It took me a long time to figure out what emotion I intended to write, and that I needed to get there in whatever way felt natural, not by forcing the books to go in different directions to avoid autobiographical elements. And not by adding in autobiographical elements either.
Thank you, TBF authors, for giving me this reminder. I plan to use it in every writing session from now on.
*Another gem completely unrelated? When I asked Selene and Shari if they thought contemp realistic fiction like theirs would have a resurgence of popularity, they said they believe books like theirs will always have readers and followers -- it's just that the paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy readers are a lot more demonstrative (as was evidenced by manga author/illustrator Svetlana Chmakova's fans in their costumes at the Fest).
I think she's totally right. Trends will be trends, but those books that offer fun costumes and creatures will always have another avenue of marketing and drawing attention to the work.
Thoughts on any/all of this?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
When I first started writing it seemed like the ideas were always flowing. Just like with anything at the beginning it's always new and exciting. But after a few years it feels harder to keep pushing yourself. Keep trying to get creative. Keep coming up with new ideas.
Every author seems to have the joke that they get their ideas from the Idea Store. Because it is sort of funny, no one knows where ideas come from. They are just everywhere.
At the same time, I think you can help yourself spark creativity in so many ways. Some of my favorite:
Reading a good book.
It's hard not to find inspiration when reading other people's work. Usually I get so excited about writing my own that I often have to put down the book I'm reading to work on my own. And usually the inspiration has nothing to do with the book I'm reading. Just reading is inspiration enough.
Trying something new.
I love trying new things. One of my biggest fears is that one day I'm going to run out of new things to try. This weekend to inspire creativity, I worked on some polymer clay jewelry. Similar to these beauties found on polymerclay.craftgossip.com.
What are some of your favorite ways to spark creativity?
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
This was my first book, back in 2007. It was about an 8th grade boy who gets suspended for directing an avant garde sex ed movie called La Dolce Pubert. The original draft was a bit more explicit - the F word appeared once or twice. Random House offered to go to bat for me if I felt strongly about those words, but also said it would hurt sales a lot, because books about eighth graders are usually going to be read by younger kids, and are more likely to be bought by the parents. I left a few good swears in (they even but one in the tagline on the back of the dust jacket: " you don't have to be smart to be a smartass, but it helps."), but took out the F word. Since store availability was still low, I sort of regret it now. The times it got challenged in libraries were the best publicity I ever got.
This was my first middle grade book - all about a school spelling bee, but based on Watergate. Towards the end, there's a scene in which the students frighten a couple of threatening old ladies by pretending they're about to moon them. The original draft had the old ladies objecting to the use of the word "ass." I discussed this with RH, and they agreed with my fears that this was too risque for a middle grade book in 2008 (in 1988 I would have probably gotten away with it, but not anymore). I don't regret this one; having them object to "butt" is funnier, anyway, and the book was meant to exist a few steps beyond reality. Gritty realism was not the point here.
This is still listed as "Smartass Guide" on my hard drive, but I knew I'd never get away with that. One publisher (a very big one) that was bidding on it threw some pretty shocking numbers at me as to what their first print run would be, but told me I couldn't call people stupid, swear even a little, discuss sex, or anything that anyone, anywhere, ever, could be offended by. I don't think you can do satire without offending somebody, no matter how good your intentions are. I decided not to go with that publisher.
The rough draft of this one contained the F word once or twice, I think, and the S word several times. Alley was much more casual about sex, and it was a bit more explicit about the fact that the lack of a beating heart and flowing blood meant that Doug the Zombie was never going to be able to get it up. It wasn't THAT explicit about the "list of things they could do instead," but one certainly got the message that it wasn't all holding hands.
Find out more about Adam and his books at www.adamselzer.com.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Oprah's Surprise Spectacular was high on spectacular and low on surprise. Oh, that doesn't sound right does it? Don't get me wrong, it was way FUN! And it really was a SPECTACULAR thing for us to see. Wow. So cool. I'm so glad I went! I've never seen that many celebrities in one place at one time. Here's a quick list of who I remember (aside from Oprah of course): Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Jackie Evancho, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Madonna, Dakota Fanning, Beyonce, John Legend (via satellite), Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry, Katie Homes, Queen Latifah, Rascal Flatts, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michael Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O’Donnell, Nate Berkus, Dr Phil, Dr Oz, Simon Cowell, Gayle King, Maria Shriver, Tyler Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Angelou, Alicia Keys, Stedman Graham, Aretha Franklin, and Usher. (omg, can you imagine the party they had afterward?). So yeah, it was really cool!
I guess I just expected there would be some big **SURPRISE** though. Like something that would knock Oprah's socks off. I mean, it's awesome to see so many celebs but Oprah spent her whole career seeing these people. She'd interviewed all of these guys like a dozen times a pop. So where's the surprise? I guess the surprise is that they are just all there at the same time? But they're all there each time there is an academy award or whatnot too. I guess the difference was that this was like a "this is year life Oprah! event". See all the kids you sent to school? All the books you made bestsellers? All the houses you gave away? The careers you launched (btw, Dr. Oz was so cute dancing). We were basically at Oprah's retirement party. Not that I'm complaining! I would go to any party of hers any time! It really was "spectacular" to see. I just wanted them to give her a really big surprise. But is Oprah just to big of a name that there is nothing left that would really surprise her?
My only real actual complaint? The whole night was really long. I mean reeeeeeally long. (we had to leave at 3:30 to get there by 5pm, they stalled with warm up people chatting and dancing and being goofy until 7:30, first show didn't end until 9:30pm and the second show started right away, then that didn't end until 11:30pm and we got back home by 12:30am). And they didn't even give us a bottle of water. For real. I tried to bring one in my pocket and they took it at the door. They said I could get in the line of a million people and buy a replacement bottle for $5 if I really wanted to. But then not to bring it to my seat. And they didn't want us eating. At all. Nothing during this time because it might be seen on camera. Which I'd understand except from where we were sitting we could see the people in the box seats that were having waiters bring them out food and drink and were chowing the entire time on camera anyway. And they didn't want us going to the bathroom. Which again, I get, empty seats and all that don't look good. But I have to say around 9:30 we took a chance and ran past the ushers to a bathroom anyway. I mean, I love Oprah and all but six hours with no drinks, food, and bathroom breaks is a little much.
BUT, it was mostly a really cool, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm glad I went! I think it airs next Monday and Tuesday so you can check it out if you're interested.
Kristina, Miss Author in Action
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Holy cow, what a great day Rochester area readers had on Saturday at the Teen Book Festival @ Nazareth College!
Here is Fairport Public Library's YA Librarian Stephanie Squicciarini, the founder of TBF and all around amazing person. Yes, author Terry Trueman crowned her TBF Queen.
The opening author panel allowed the audience to get a feel for all the authors at the Fest even though there isn't time to visit everyone's individual sessions.
I had a lovely time chatting with "my" authors, Selene Castrovilla and Shari Maurer. Here they are with my intern Kelley, me, and our two teen author volunteers.
Author Inara Scott was not an "official" part of the Fest, but we connected online and I learned she would be in town to help promote Writers and Books summer writing programs for kids and teens.
The day completed with the author signing session that lasted for over 1.5 hours. Holy moley! Rochester loves their authors!
As a librarian, my take away was that people love books. They love to read. And we need libraries to provide free access to the books they love. OK, that was all obvious and stuff.
As a writer, well, I'll talk about those take aways next week.
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Five things that I'm crushing right now...
These adorable E-reader covers which you can have made at http://hobop.etsy.com. Almost makes me want to splurge on an e-reader!
All the cute umbrellas at Bella Umbrella. Given all the rain I'm surprised everything isn't out of stock.
I've been wanting these curtains from World Market ever since seeing them on Better With You.
These paper flowers. So cute. There's also lots of ideas about what to make with old books at Alisa Burke's blog.
And last, but not least, I couldn't help but point these out. One of my new favorite stores Francesca's Collections has lots of fun retro accessories and knick knacks. Including these...
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The world-famous mob of teens waiting to meet Ellen Hopkins. The line will extend outside the auditorium door for hours.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I am unable to focus on anything but The Rochester Teen Book Fest this Saturday (9AM to 5PM @ Naz College. FREE!). It's my Christmas!
I also get to have a fab author IN MY CAR as I drive her to the hotel from the airport and I plan to ask her to rub some of her talent and publishing luck into the fibers of my passenger seat.
OK, OK, I won't, I promise! I'll play the YA Librarian Fangirl instead of the Writer Asking for the Magic Pill to Publishingdom.
Will any of our blog readers be there on Saturday?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Working at a library, I can't help but have Summer Reading Program information on the brain right now. Which got me to wondering how many people usually participate in Adult Summer Reading Programs.
I have to admit that I only have when they are super easier and I can track my books read online. I rarely participate at the library I work at because I feel bad taking prizes, so this applies only to my "home" library.
So I thought I'd ask a quick informally survey. If you want to participate (just for curiosity and to help with future planning) feel free to answer in the comments.
1.) Have you participated in an adult summer reading program at your library in the last 5 years?
2.) Why have you participated or why haven't you?
3.) Regardless of if you've participated or not, do you normally keep track of the books you read throughout the year regardless?
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
His first novel, FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE (Egmont), had me laughing out loud (you must read the soccer scene!), and I obviously wasn't the only one; it was the winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award in 2010. And it is now available in paperback -- a total deal!
Allen's second novel, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES is out on May 10 -- oh my gosh, that's Tuesday! Woo hoo! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Here's what Publisher's Weekly says about it: "Zadoff captures the confusion, torn loyalties, and overwrought drama of teenage life—not to mention student theater. All the world's a stage, indeed, and these players earn their applause."
After reading in the acknowledgements in FOOD and learning that Allen spent some of his teen years in my hometown of Rochester, NY, I practically mauled him at the YALSA Symposium this past November. Fortunately for me, he accepted the upstate NY craziness and allowed me to ask him even more questions here. So enough about me! On to Allen!
(Oh wait, that picture's still about me...let's try this again. ;-))
1. When did you start writing novels with the hopes of having one published?
Not too long ago! I wrote my first novel in 2006 while I was waiting for my memoir HUNGRY to be published. I’d written a lot of things before this time. Plays, poetry, sitcom specs, screenplays...but I never thought I’d be able to write a novel. I thought novelists were geniuses. Then I wrote FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE. Believe me, I’m no genius. I’m a storyteller, and novels are just stories told in a particular form. I know that now.
2. What was your first paid writing gig?
I wrote for a puppeteer named Mark Weiner, creator and star of Weinerville on Nickelodeon in the 90s. I loved the gig. Someone was actually paying me to write. I felt like a pro for the first time, even if I was writing for a piece of felt on Marc’s hand.
3. Did you have an agent when you sold your novel?
I did indeed. My wonderful agent (you don’t hear that phrase very often) had sold Hungry, and connected me with Elizabeth Law, who was the publisher of the brand new Egmont-USA.
3a. Can you tell us a little about how the sale went down?
Elizabeth Law says that when she read my memoir Hungry she heard the voice of a YA author waiting to emerge. When she became publisher at Egmont, she asked me to bring her something. I showed up with fifty pages of the book that was to become FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE. She must have liked what she saw because she signed me to a two-book deal at Egmont. That’s a lot of faith in a new author! The second book of that deal is coming out on May 10. It’s called MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES.
4. How has your writing/writing process changed since selling your first novel?
My motivation has had to change. When you write for as many years as I did without outward success, it twists you up a bit. You’re trying to get someone to pay attention, to take you seriously.
Now I’ve got three books out with deals for several more on the way.
The world is saying, “We’re looking. We’re listening. Now what do you have to say to us?” This is how it has changed. The focus is off of getting publishing and onto sharing my point of view with the world. When I work with writers as a writing coach, that’s what I try to share with them. Let’s stop worrying about how to get published and think about the stories we have to share with the world.
5. How do you work to keep your books on the shelves?
I do a lot of blog interviews. LOL! The secret job of being an author is that you must promote your work, talk about it to friends and strangers, blog, post, update, tweet. Ask for help from friends around the country (“Would you go to B&N and turn my book cover face out so more people will buy it? Do you mind writing a little Amazon review for me?”) You have to stay active, and I struggle a bit with that. I mean, I wasn’t sitting in the library at Brighton High School twenty years ago dreaming of doing Facebook updates, I was dreaming of writing books. So you have to accept that there is a business aspect to being an author, and do the whole job, not just the writing part.
6. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR LATEST YA RELEASE?
My latest book, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES, was inspired by two things. The first is that I loved theater when I was in high school. I was a shy, pudgy kid, but when I got on stage, I totally transformed. I did maybe 40 shows in the 5 years of middle school and high school. Then I went on to become head of the undergraduate theater company at Cornell and I went to grad school as a director at Harvard. Theater was an enormous part of my life, and I wanted to share some of the magic I felt during that time. The funny thing about LIFE/THEATER is that the whole story is told from the perspective of the techies, the backstage crew. They’re at war with the actors in my story.
The second inspiration was a sadder one, the death of my mother last year. This was a huge event in my life, and the theme of tragedy and how you move on afterwards is a major component of the new book.
7. AND WAS YOUR REAL HIGH SCHOOL LIFE AS FUNNY AS YOUR WRITING?
Life is always funnier in hindsight. It wasn’t so funny to be a fat, unhappy kid, and I had a lot of angst throughout my high school career and afterwards. Actually, I have a lot of angst now. What’s wrong with me? Okay, back to the point. Life looks a lot funnier today because I have some perspective. This is good to remember if you’re having a hard time now. It gets better. And who knows? Today’s hard times may end up being the inspiration for the book, song, movie, or painting you’re going to create years from now.
Wow, thanks Allen, for that great interview. I'm so excited that you have more books up your sleeve, and I know I always need to hear stories -- truth or fiction -- about how to overcome whatever tragedies trip us up in our days.
Thank you so much for your time here today! And readers, if you need a pick-me-up through the glut of dark YAs, Allen Zadoff is the author for you! I promise you will laugh out loud. :-D
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
My latest WIP is a stretch for me: it's written in two alternating first person povs. All my previous novels have been in one clear pov. It's taken some courage to plot it out.
On top of that, this is my first time writing from a boy's pov (the main characters are a 16yo girl and a 17yo boy). Can I realistically tap into the teenaged guy's mind???
I resisted writing this book for a long time because I knew there would be a learning curve. But you know what? Now that I'm on chapter 9, I'm really enjoying switching stories and perspectives every 5 pages or so. I find it's keeping my writing fresh. And it's fun getting to know two main characters in one book!
What have you done lately to stretch your writing muscles?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
When we recently bought our house we inherited the opportunity to participate in an upcoming home and garden tour. There's been a bit of publicity going on lately, and since several people have been asking me to post pictures, I'll go ahead and use some of the ones from the newspaper. For the complete article click above.
I'm debating turning this desk into a writing area. Somehow the thoughts of working in a round room seem very promising. Keep the ideas circulating around. Sounds very Feng shui to me (though I don't know anything about Feng shui or if it's principals are supposed to help with writing productivity at all :) ).