Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #26

I am half way through this experimental year of writing exercises.  That's a lot.  But it's always fun.
There are so many great events coming up the rest of this year.  I'm looking forward to the SCBWI National Conference in August.  I am hosting my first event as SB County Coordinator on Sept 29 with Mary Hershey as the instructor.  That workshop looks so amazing, I can't wait.
So here is the exercise for today.  Enjoy!

WEW #26
Prompt: oak, pure, mist, weepy, mod 
Shadowed in the mist, deep in the bogs of Louisiana, lived an old, old oak tree.  Not the usual place to find one, which made it all the more special.  People came from as far as Montana to witness the weepy leaves and the massive trunk. 
In the middle of the serrated bark was a hole.  Locals knew.  Which is how the legend grew that you could ask the pure oak any question and receive the answer to that question.
People would write in a frenzy and pop it in the hole and come back the next day and there their answer would be waiting.
Some called it a miracle; some thought it a mod way to talk to God.  But little Penelope “Peppermint Stick” Farrow (Pep or Pepper to her friends), knew the truth behind the hole in the oak and who really answered those folks’ questions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

What reader hasn't imagined herself into the pages of a much loved story? In the novel Between the Lines, Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper) and daughter Samantha Van Leer deliver an interesting twist: this time, the prince wants out.
 Between the Lines
Fifteen-year-old Delilah is obsessed with a book. Not a cool romance novel or science fiction, but a fairy tale meant for little kids. Her mother is worried. So is her best friend, Jules. But Delilah feels a connection to this storybook prince: "The very first thing you learn about Oliver is that it's not easy growing up without a dad. It was as if the words had been taken straight out of my mouth." Plus, Prince Oliver is smart, cute and he knows how to kiss. Delilah reads the story over and over, until one day an illustration in the book changes. The next thing she knows, she's talking to Oliver and... he's talking back.
The engagingly written novel moves from the storybook itself (with full-color illustrations as chapter openers) to Oliver (his narrative appears in blue type) and to Delilah (hers is in green type). The alternating chapters portray the budding romance between Oliver and Delilah, and juxtapose the fairy tale with the turmoil of contemporary high school. Plenty of obstacles keep this unlikely pair apart, yet they persevere through adventures with mermaids, accidents with wizards and a visit to a real-world psychiatrist. It's a fun romp that fans of both fairy tales and teen romance will enjoy. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI. Review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.
Discover: From mother-daughter team Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, a fun romp from fairy tale to the real world in search of true love.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #25

WEW #25
Prompt: askance, towel, matchmaker, garbage
Going through other people’s garbage is messy and dirty but so much fun!  My rubber gloves on, face mask in place, hairnet and an old shirt and off I go.  Now, normally I’m looking for hidden treasures since one man’s garbage is another’s gold.  Or something like that.
One evening – you have to do it at night so you aren’t seen – I hit the mother lode.  I looked askance up and down the road and dove in.  I had laid out my treasure towel – that’s what I call it – and placed items of interest on it.  Tupperware – perfectly good – a bunch of nails – couple pieces of wood and then – a ream of paper.  Not just Any paper – but stacks and stacks from the Matchmaker.
Now, I don’t know if these names were discarded because the people were no good – or because the Matchmaker was recycling – which the garbage is not.  But I pulled those coffee grounds, banana peel covered papers out and stared.  Hundreds of names – eligible men from all over New York.
        Harold Appleby would be my first call.  It might possibly be his last.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Launch - #3 with Lee Wardlaw

Here is the last book launch interview - until I happen upon more!   
Lee is always generous with her knowledge and experience and here she 
offers us those gems. I give you the inimitable Lee Wardlaw.

Do you get nervous at all?

Absolutely!  I always worry...will anyone actually show up? :)
Is it easier now? 
Yes, it's much easier now.  I've learned, over the years, that the event will be 
what it will be.  People will come, or they won't. People will buy a book, or they won't.  
I have no control over any of that, so all I can do is relax and enjoy the celebration.  
And that's what a book launch is to me:  celebrating with friends and family the 
publication of my book.
Do you learn from each one about what to do or not do or you just know 
what works for you now? 
I've published close to 30 books, and have had only four official book launches.  
But there are a few things I've learned:
*Sunday afternoons work best!  (People tend to be super busy on Saturdays; 
evenings aren't great, as folks often don't want to go out again after they've come 
home from work or play)
*People are more likely to attend if the launch is NOT held in a bookstore.  
(It seems more like a party of it's off-site.)
*People are more likely to buy multiple copies of your books if you serve good wine.  :)
Do you think different genres require different launches?
I think it's easier to come up with themes for your event if you have a nonfiction book 
or a book that appeals to a wide variety of ages.  Many people will not buy a picture 
book if they don't have picture book-aged children.  But a picture book that appeals 
to adults as well as young readers will sell like crazy. For example, at my book launch 
for Won Ton - A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, I sold over 100 copies of it because it appeals 
to children, cat-lovers, poetry-lovers, animal shelter enthusiasts, etc., etc. 

 Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku    

*Any favorite tips or must-do's?
You will often attract more people to your event if it also serves as a fundraiser.  
Ask your bookseller to donate a portion of the book's proceeds to a 
charity/organization that people care about and that fits with the theme of your book.  
For example, with Won Ton, the bookseller who supplied copies agreed to 
donate 20% of the proceeds to a local cat shelter.

Bio: Lee Wardlaw is the author of more than two dozen award winning books for young readers, including 101 Ways to Bug Your Teachers and 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents.  That’s just a few of the gobs of books she’s published.  Lee lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, teenage son and three cats!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #24

WEW #24
Prompt: In the fashion of a folktale, folklore or myth, write a passage using these words or any others you choose.
Bundle, bird catcher, travelers, raven, astronomer
On a path, in a forest, in a land upon the earth, stood a Raven, breast of oil, feet of twigs.  He floated up to a high branch on a tree, for travelers traversed his path.
Upon the back of one of the four travelers, were berries overflowing from a bundled pack.  The travelers set down at the base of the bird’s tree and commenced eating their food.
The Raven was ravenous and hopped to a lower branch.  And, then again, lower.  The traveler with the bundle looked up, startled, for the Raven was a large bird, and then he started laughing.  He picked a berry and tossed it at the bird.
The Raven bobbed and caught the berry.
The traveler got an idea to be a bird catcher and coaxed the Raven closer with each berry.  When the Raven was the closest, the traveler lunged and grasped the Raven, only for the bird to slip up and away.
The traveler fell onto a broken branch that stabbed through his stomach, and died.  The three other travelers shrieked then ran away, leaving the greedy traveler dead and alone.
The Raven returned to finish the berries and shared the last one with the dead man and placed it in his mouth.
          Astronomers often tell the tale of the Raven to travelers not inclined to share their goods.  For the Raven's constellation follows those traversing his path in the forest, in a land upon the earth.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book Launch - #2 with Robin Mellom

What a perfect day to post my interview with Robin Mellom, because it's her birthday! I had a fun time at her book launch in San Luis Obispo at the B&N. Make sure you check out the book trailer for The Classroom.

Heeeere's Robin!

I’ve had the fortune of planning two book launches in six months—one for my teen book, DITCHED, and the other for my middle grade novel, THE CLASSROOM. It definitely was easier the second time around since I knew what to expect (somewhat), but the planning that went into each one was definitely different.

For DITCHED, I knew most of my audience was going to be adults (friends, family, fellow writers) so I tailored the party to them. It was held at an indie bookstore, Diesel, in Los Angeles, and it was catered with light appetizers and cake. In my speech, I talked about my road to publication and how my writing dream finally came true. Was I nervous? Good grief, yes. But I decided it would be best to not have any notes in front of me and sort of “wing it.” I knew the few stories I wanted to tell and I just let myself tell them in a natural, conversational way. I think it was more entertaining for the audience and it was much easier for me to simply TALK than to worry about following a speech.  Plus, if I’d had notes I would’ve just dropped them since I have an issue with being a dork.

For THE CLASSROOM, there were many kids there and I made sure there were things at the party that would appeal to them. Before I spoke, I walked around and gave out wristbands that said “Be Epic” and at the front of the room I had an animated book trailer playing for them to watch. I kept my speech conversational (and notecard-less again) but this time I focused more on the writing of the book itself. I read some passages from the book but made sure they were pretty short and funny (hopefully!).

Mostly what I’ve taken away from these experiences is to keep your audience in mind and tailor the presentation to them. Then be prepared to think on your feet and change things up if you need to…at THE CLASSROOM launch I had planned on reading three passages but ended up cutting one during my presentation because I could sense my reading was getting too long. So sometimes you just have to “wing it” the whole way through!

Bio: Robin Mellom used to teach middle schoolers and now she writes about them. (Any resemblance between fictional characters and real-life students is purely coincidental. Probably.)
She is also the author of Ditched: A Love Story. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California. Learn more at and follow her on Twitter (@robinmellom).