Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Review: The Chosen One

The Chosen One The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I sat down to read this book and didn’t leave my chair until I’d finished it four hours later. Compelling, driving narrative and great characterization combine in this moving novel. I wanted Kyra out of her situation from page one, while I was equally torn by her family loyalty. This is not a black and white book, and the ending is fittingly unresolved. My only quibble is that the antagonists are so dreadful that they border on purely and flatly evil – but that’s a minor flaw in an otherwise rich and fast-paced read.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Until January...

Ah, the come down to earth moment...leaving another Vermont College of Fine Arts residency. Truly, this is a magical experience for a children's writer. We all talk about books, books, our kids, books - the conversations include references to the unreliable narrator, the protagonist's arc, the inciting incident, and the objective correlative. And if you want to find out what those things mean, come to the best college experience you could ever imagine.

Now, those of you who live in or near Texas, there will be an event in Austin: Vermont College in the Lone Star State, on October 2-3. I'll be there, and Kathi Appelt and Sharon Darrow, VCFA faculty, will be there as well as many students and alums. It'll be a mini-mini residency. Here's the blurb:

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: A VCFA day in the Lone Star State to challenge what you already know about writing and the writing life and to inspire you to take the next steps in your professional life and education.
The Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults Program intends for this retreat to serve as an opportunity for alumni and their colleagues to reconnect with one another, as well as reigniting their passion for the craft of writing for children.

So, come-on down!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tales From the Northland...

I'm not sure how she finds the time, but our wonderful resident Poet Extraordinare Julie Larios is blogging regularly on the Vermont College experience. It's a wonderful summary of events. I'll try and put my own spin on things in the next few days - but be assured, this is one of the finest experiences a writer can give him/herself. Intense and extraordinary.

Oh, and my new advisor is Uma Krishnaswami! I am so so so excited. She is brilliant. I hope I can make her proud.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Albert Borris and CRASH INTO ME

As I've written previously, Albert Borris, debut author of CRASH INTO ME and member of the Class of 2k9 authors, suffered a severe stroke last December resulting in aphasia, or an inability to talk. Because of his situation, his fellow 2k9 writers have created a publicity campaign on his behalf, resulting in some extraordinary media and internet attention.

I want to salute Albert - a brave and giving soul who has written a remarkable YA book - and the Class of 2k9. What a wonderful community of writers.

As I'm off to Vermont College tomorrow for two weeks, I may not be posting, unless I find a moment and can fill you all in on the exciting developments there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Craft Issue #7: On Getting the Job Done

Summertime, and the livin' is easy! - right?

Not for those of us obsessed with writing. I've just received the first edit letter and comments on my novel, FAITHFUL, and I've got a lot of work to do. Nothing horrific - just a lot of polishing and cutting and deep digging to get it right.

Creativity is a tricky thing. You might think that creative artists are lit by a fire from within. That the creative spark is given as a blessing only to some...or that it is given as a blessing only at certain times. I hate to spoil the idea of the creative artist as someone who has it easy, who just receives the messages and lays fingers on the keyboard and out comes glory. Nope. Creativity is like bricklaying. Hard work.

This video, of a talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE, is inspirational. She evokes in a distinctly original way one of my favorite maxims, which comes courtesy of children's author Jane Yolen: BIC. Behind in Chair, to put it nicely. Like the bricklayer, I get up in the morning and sit down and go to work, laying one brick down at a time, stepping back occasionally to examine the structure, taking a row or two of bricks out (with a hammer), and generally sweating through the effort.

The June 22 issue of THE NEW YORKER magazine has a fascinating peek ("Real Romance", by Lauren Collins) into the working life of best-selling author Nora Roberts, who has written 182 novels at a typical pace of 5 per year. She works 6 to 8 hours a day. 27 Nora Roberts books are sold every minute. This is a lady who definitely keeps BIC. (I like the fact that this picture of Ms. Roberts shows her holding "hearts on fire". Is it about her books? Or about her own writing passion?)

So, I'll be busy this summer. Busy with edits. Busy with my newest work in progress. Oh, and yes, I will be a bit busy enjoying the green mountains and blue sky.