Posts Tagged ‘children’s’

The Gift – a writer’s extra

February 16, 2008

Some good writing blogs I heard about on the children’s writing list today:

The Longstockings. It’s eight writers who discuss areas of interest to writers and readers of children’s and teen literature. They share info about the next two blogs.

The first blog, Pound, is by a 36-year-old children’s book editor in Chicago who also writes about body image, weight issues and the diet culture. She has an entry for beginning children’s writers entitled:

Seven things I would tell you about publishing a children’s book if you bought me a drink and didn’t mind me getting all worked up.

She is irreverent, doesn’t mince her language and very informative.

The second blog is: Editorial Anonymous – A Blog of a Children’s Book Editor. The site description of who Editorial Anonymous is reads as follows:

Editorial Anonymous’ anecdotes are mostly true. Names of authors, illustrators, editors, agents, publishers, manuscripts, and a few random nouns have been changed to protect her ass.

LOTS of good information on the day-to-day workings in publishing.

Advertisements

The Post – A Sidetrip to Essays – But the Bus NEVER Came Up This Far on the Curb Before!

February 16, 2008

Before I start talking about the Under the Pier process, I need to address the one side that calls to me in a big way – essays. I’ve sold a couple already and I yearn to do more. While this blog is a collection of all the bits of me, perhaps the one area of my soul most fed, is the ability to “speak in essays.”

I have spent most of my time over the last 12 years calling myself a children’s writer, though I have noticed that a lot of my focus is geared toward adults. Is this a contradiction or betrayal of a certain writing path? I don’t think so. Perhaps Madeleine L’Engle handled it best. She used to hate it when she was referred to as a children’s writer, as if that was all she was or it was a special category considered “not quite a writer.” She insisted on being referred to as a writer and considered her children’s writing just one aspect of her career, though certainly not the easiest or least important. Her observation there was: “If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children.”

So in the same vein, I am first drawn to writing for children as there is the very alive open child within me who wants to speak. However, like everything else in my life, I do not fit neatly into categories. The label “children’s” writer is not totally accurate because I find, I just write. Who it fits, I leave for the readers to determine.

As to my essays, they run the range – spiritual, humorous, nature-based, flippant. One current essay is a list I keep of irreverent things to put on my tombstone: “But it was HER fault, really!” “But I had the right of way!” or “But the bus NEVER came up this far on the curb before!” – the last one from a moment at Colonial Williamsburg where my husband and son expressed concern at how close to the bus stop curb I was standing. When I reassured them the bus never comes that far up, they offered to put that one on my tombstone. 🙂

I love to write essays because my right brain revels in being able to take a single quote or line of dialogue, a comic, photograph, painting or a life question, and just write. Something that starts in the specific and ends up at a universal truth. A journey where I start with the concrete and wander around always surprised where I end up, usually someplace emotional.

In a lot of respects, though I’ve started this blog in the midst of writing a novel for upper middle-grade/Young adult readers, a lot of it so far has been more essays, journaling, unearthing the soul of the writer, rather than a lot about the Children’s Writing business. That’s okay. I need to have that soul of the writer to do that novel. The reality is, that novel has been a journey to answers in life. Maybe in a way, novels are just one long essay because the characters in those fictions worlds still ask the same life questions we all do.

This blog is also my “raw material” that I can mine at will for whatever projects come along. It’s my toy box of thoughts that I can spin into something for adults or children. Truth, is truth.

My “internship of the essay craft” has involved continuing education classes at nearby Duke University, as well questions. Always, questions. They are the catalyst for life, for growth, for wisdom. At least to me, if I stop asking questions, I stop growing. I lose the path to peace

The internship has also included reading countless books. Fiction, philosophy, spirituality, nature guides, and of course, books on essay writing. One in particular is my favorite, and has been the most useful for seeing how to first collect, then transform life experiences. I recommend it highly:

Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal – The Art of Transforming a Life into Stories, by Alexandra Johnson. She teaches memoir and creative nonfiction writing at Harvard and has been published extensively. The book is divided into three parts. It’s possible to only use one of the three at a particular time in life, or ever. The first is about having a journal – creating one, the various types, what raw material to collect; the second part is about transforming your life – finding the patterns and meaning in what you’ve collected; the third section is called “Crossover: Moving a Journal into a Creative Work.”

Whether you just collect raw material, mine it for meaning, or use it to create fiction and nonfiction works, the process changes you. Like that overly used cliched example of a rock thrown in a pond, change one thing and it touches places unseen. Even keeping a list of favorite phrases over a lifetime does something deep inside to your soul and alters your outlook on life.

So I am a writer for all ages. I love to write essays, whoever reads them. They are my journey to answers. They are the playground of the right brain, and the compost pile that fertilizes the rest of my works.

The Gift – a writer’s extra

February 10, 2008

Just an FYI. Every day, even if I don’t post, I try to put up a gift of some kind. This new group “a writer’s extra” has evolved. I put these up in addition to the regular gifts. Whenever I come across something of interest to writer’s – web pages, books, blogs, whatever – I post them as extra gifts.

I’ve been mentioning blogs of various writers. There is one I have to mention, Anastasia Suen’s blog and website. It is a wealth of information on the writing business, including information on editors, other authors, agents. etc. She is the author of 106 books, a children’s literature consultant, former elementary school teacher, and writing workshop instructor. Her blog also has a gold mine of “author blogs” listed under alphabetical headings. If you’re looking for an author blog, chances are, she might have it. She also has two of her own blogs. Everything can be accessed at Anastasia Suen’s Blog Central.

The Gift – a writer’s extra

February 9, 2008

I had the pleasure of talking with children’s author and illustrator, Kevin Scott Collier via email regarding blogs, life, kids, God. In the course of it I had a chance to visit his blog. His entries on being a father, losing a father, gaining an unexpected friend in a convalescent home, have real heart. There is also a link to a very rich homepage. There you can see the many many books he’s illustrated or written, along with the many authors he’s worked with, including his wife, Kristen Collier. To visit the home page, just click on the link at the top of his blog. Enjoy!

The Gift – a writer’s extra

February 9, 2008

Here is an amazing blog about nonfiction for kids. It’s called “I.N.K. – Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.”

Whether you write for children, are looking for books for children, or love nonfiction topics, this site is an amazing collection of facts, tidbits, book info etc. If I count correctly there’s 14 nonfiction authors who are part of the INK team so there’s a wide variety of topics on the site. Enjoy.