Friday, May 29, 2009
Loving Rachel chronicles the first years of her life, when the family discovers that Rachel was born blind. Rachel suffers from seizures and the prognosis is poor. She could be developmentally disabled as well. It is the most honest book I've ever read about raising a child with any disability. And yet, there is hope and joy mixed with the sorrow of having a child who will not do the same things as other children. I cannot imagine the will it took for Jane to write this book while facing crisis after crisis.
A child with disabilities grows up into an adult with disabilities. Rachel in the World spans her childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood. Like any 21-year-old, Rachel yearns to be independent of her mother and her numerous rules. I didn't realize how few options there are for adults with disabilities. This book was nowhere near as charming as the first memoir when Rachel was a cute baby and toddler. This book made me face harsh realities. I cannot even imagine the worry of entrusting your adult disabled child to the world. What will happen to them? Can society be trusted to give them the dignity and respect they deserve? The love and care and companionship they crave? Or will they be cast into isolation?
I do believe that as a society we are obligated to take care of those who cannot care for themselves. In many countries, disabled children are often left alone to figure out the world for themselves or worse, left to die. It is heartening to know that in the US, there are social programs to help integrate these children into regular schools, that there are programs for adults as well. But like anything, money is short and the needy many.
If you are interested in parenting a disabled child, I highly recommend these books.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Is there an inciting incident? What is the problem your character is facing?
Is there rising action? Is your character solving the problems and getting into new ones, raising the stakes every time?
Is there a climax?
You must be able to identify the parts of the story. As storytellers, we naturally place characters in situations where they get into trouble, but the important thing is to make sure the story is logical. It's not always easy to make the ending inevitable, yet surprising. But the paybacks are huge.
She's a huge proponent of outlining. I am too. I find that outlines help me to stay on track.
Michael Stearns also spoke about plotting, particularly on generating tension. Ways to this:
Add a clock. Deadlines of any kind add tension.
Hide the why of the story. Reveal slowly.
Take full advantage of subplots.
Know what's pulling or pushing your characters.
Take advantage of the fact that everybody lies!
Follow through on every action. Action leads to reaction.
Be as mean as possible to your characters. That's right. Hurt the bunnies.
Here's a helpful sheet that Lois Peterson made using The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler, Brent Sampson's Nine Steps for Plotting Fiction and the classic 3-act structure.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Feed Your Genius!
Here we are waiting for our wonderful Indian food to arrive, the blueboarders: Rachel, Elissa, Linda, Deb, Jeannie (I hope that's right), Denise, Laurie and Deb. So much fun to meet these ladies and talk shop. Denise has just sold her book, LOSING FAITH, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you all for coming.
Feed Your Genius!
I especially enjoy listening to local success stories ... so much heart and inspiration.
Kevan Atteberry wondered why he was even on the panel because his vision of success is to write and illustrate his own picture books. It will happen, Kevan. But it's lovely to celebrate the smaller successes along the way.
Justina Headley reminded us all to: "stop whining and do the work!" Yup, she was speaking to me.
Deb Lund wrote a poem about her inner critic!
Some of the best sessions that I went to were about plotting and deepening our work by Lisa Papademetriou, Michael Stearns and Grace Lin.
The keynote addresses were wonderful.
Adam Rex talked about getting his break in Spider magazine.
Grace Lin told us a story about wanting to be a champion ice skater and while she waited for winter, how she drew ... lovely, lovely presentation. She talked about being labeled as a multicultural author, how insecure she felt by it at first, but how these were the books that touched children. So now she doesn't worry about the label and instead writes the stories that only she can write.
Ellen Hopkins shared how she came to write her first book, Crank.
And Jon Scieszka made us laugh with stories from his childhood. What a knucklehead!!!
The best part was meeting up with old friends and making some new friends. Pictures forthcoming.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Marcelo in the Real World
What an amazing, amazing book. I finished reading it last night. Marcelo will linger with me for a long, long time. The fact that he does see the world in black-and-white makes him at once very much childlike and yet wise beyond his years. Yes, there are absolutes. Absolute truth. Absolute right. As Jasmine says, "The right note feels right." How true.
I hope you will pick up this brilliant book. It is perfect for an older teen, one who is learning about the world, questioning what he knows, the nature of right and wrong, of suffering and redemption ... and love.
I pay attention to who publishes the books I love and I must say that Arthur A. Levine picks books that speak to my heart. A year ago I met him at our local SCBWI conference and thanked him for publishing a little book: The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer. What a gem! I will urge you to read it as well.
This Easter I splurged on several copies of The Light of the World. Marvelous paintings and a spare text by Katherine Paterson about the life of Jesus. The publisher? You guessed it. Arthur A. Levine.
When I have finished writing my big books, Arthur's going to get them. So I'd best get busy.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
There's an unofficial kidlit drink night on Friday, 7-9 pm. And a dozen or so of us Blueboarders are planning to get together Sat. night at Mehfil's. If you want to join us, let me know and I can increase the count for the reservation. Can't wait to meet you all.
Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers and mother-figures out there! It surely is the most challenging thing I've ever done. Here's a conversation from this morning:
Daughter: It's nice that there is a Mother's Day. You should have one day a year when you can rest and not have to do anything.
Me: Only one?
Son: Well, maybe on your birthday as well.
Me: Gee, thanks.
We had a lovely sunny day and had a wonderful walk in the woods after church. My husband and children made a wonderful supper, with all the works. Ah. Bliss. And no, I didn't not do anything today. I couldn't stand to waste this beautiful sunshine so did several loads of laundry. And a good thing too ... the clouds are rolling in.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
If I recall correctly, Barbara took an honor prize for an article in Highlights the year I judged the Magazine Merit Awards. I love watching authors grow! Well done, Barbara.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Wishing you lots of laughter, sunshine and happy May days.