Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flux's new podcast

I don't know if you know that I had a thing last summer for Steve Bertrand who interviews authors on Meet the Writers for How could I help it? He was so present with each of his interviewees, making the conversations so friendly and natural. Do you hear how I'm speaking of him in past tense? Perhaps because I have already replaced Steve Bertrand with Brian Farrey. I listened to his first podcast today. I will take Brian out with me this summer while weed the garden. He had just as nice a tone(he interviewed Susan Fine, writer of upcoming book INITIATION and Lucienne Diver, author of VAMPED) as Steve Bertrand. And YA all the time! Yay!

As Always (I can still listen to Steve Bertrand too),

Friday, April 24, 2009

Question 2: from The Loft's Festival

Who will be a local Betsy Bird?

I went to hear the editors talk, Brian Farrey from Flux and Andrew Karre from Carolrhoda and, of course, the talk went to blogging and the web 2.0 of book/author publicity. Which, as you may or may not know, I have been trying to teach myself and, in the year since Big Sur, have read a whole lot of blogs(and I have made my book exceedingly better, if not finished). I have done some blogging, but mostly I became a reader of each of the blogs that Andrew Karre mentioned. He asked, who is going to be the Betsy Bird of Minneapolis? Who is going to organizing the local kid-lit-o-sphere. In fact he challenged us.

I mentioned it to Josh when I got home, what if I could do that? and he said, we are not up to that kind of socializing. Isn’t that the truth? I really love the couch, our new Roku, and the stack of books I came home with from the festival. I can barely keep up with the neighborhood, let alone a bunch of literary shut-ins like myself.

Maybe the answer is The Loft itself. It has blogs coming soon. Those could be Betsy and if someone else took it on, dyanu.

But to begin with, let’s get some locals commenting on each others blogs. For all I know everybody is out there already doing that. Comment on mine so I can find you. I already found Steve (at the festival). Yea! Let’s help each other out.

Speaking of organizing and being seen at literary events, there is a Raking Through Books Happy Hour at Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis tonight to feature the nominees and publishers of the Minnesota Book Awards. (I saw this on Andrew Karre’s blog and in The Loft’s newsletter.)

As Always(going to yoga),

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auto-tune my day!

Thanks to

As Always (wasting time),
Have you been following The Battle of the Books?

I don't know what it is but it has been thrilling for me. I love the format of it. The comparisons. I'm not sure that any of the books that have gone head to head were both ones I had read. But reading a comparison between one I had read, to one I hadn't has been so concrete and ultimately so interesting. Today Kistin Cashore's Graceling which I read and liked got beat by The Lincolns which I haven't read. Although my criticisms of Graceling were different, the judge justified the win for me and I am now dying to read The Lincolns.

Go see for yourself.

As Always(spending too much time on the internet),

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Question 1: from The Loft's Festival last weekend

1. As print media becomes obsolete, what will book publicity look like and how can I influence it?

Writers and educators, who have access to young people who read, how are they a part of the book buzz? I have no answers, just gut feelings.

I have realized it needs to be a conversation, where I am open to and want to be as influenced as I want to influence. I was initially going to ask, how can writers/educators influence what young people read, but I don’t mean that. It's too intentional. And forceful. As artists it would be unlike us force ourselves on others, right? Instead we respond and contribute.

I was driven to the internet to try to understand how to market myself and a future book, but I also have genuine interest in technology, how youth use it, how other writers use it. The consequence of my reading and responding to blogs is exposure to books and writers. I have become the recipient of the buzz. I don't think I can say my blog has become part of the buzz, but personally I have(currently my neighborhood book club is reading Tender Morsels and that is completely because of my hearing and seeing it on the internet). I'm not sure where teens are in my equation yet. I have a writer's group with teens and we talk books. But I am not fooled by how it works, I need even more exposure.

As I watch my librarian friend do it in Saint Paul. He is a resource for teens, holding his arms open, saying, I an here for you. Tell me what you want. He gives away books for free and reads an amazing amount. And the teens come.

Only semi related is that my husband and I have a joke about that texting application on cell phones. Is it called "t-9", where the phone guesses the rest of the word so you don't have to type the whole thing? I think it is. I'm guessing our joke started from some snide comment between my sister and I about t-9ing, isn't that foreplay? And Josh stepped up to the joke saying, yeah, it's like when you're anticipating your partner. This comment he made with a smoochy, suggestive move. And we continue the joke to this day, so that it has now become a part of foreplay.

But if I look at the way the joke evolved, it required that each of us meet the other partway, meeting each jest with yes and taking it farther. So however I got there I guess I think the answer relates to the t-9 application on your cell phone, allowing yourself to text a little faster and the rules of improv which always makes your partner look good.

So how are you a part of the equation? How can I be?

As Always(not sure if I make any sense),

Monday, April 20, 2009

Loft's Children's Literature Festival

Went to the conference this weekend. Loved the talk by Pete Hautman. Bought Godless but I haven’t read it yet. The list gets longer and longer(just started The Order of Odd-Fish, love the beginning and Korsekov's digestion).

Anyway. Pete told us a list of "bumps" that he needed to have to make him a published writer. He started by joking about how some of his epiphanies were small ones(like the spelling of separate), which was extra funny to me because last week I had had an epiphany that felt as if I were about to change the world, I felt taller and lighter and all the epiphany boiled down to was, I was making this writing thing harder than it needed to be. After I realized what a tiny epiphany it really was I, of course, thought I'd blog about it.

But, instead I will blog about Pete Hautman's larger ones, they seem more worthy. Some of his realizations, I’m just learning myself. He spent a long time talking about trusting the reader and had this cool exercise where he told a story and then asked questions about it. I perhaps will have to steal it someday (give him credit of course) but it was a great teaching tool for how mind fills in the gaps. When I first started my WIP, I was always so worked up about getting the reader places. In the first draft, there are so many scenes without necessary oomf. It causes such pain just for me to look at all those unnecessary words. Because I didn't know that the reader knew this already. How come it takes so long to learn this stuff?

Another thing Pete talked about was point of view. He told a story about watching his dog hunting voles in the back yard, how in each part of the action, there were different perspectives to take, depending on what was at stake. Oh, point of view! Did Pete say that it was the most important part of the novel or did someone else say that to me recently? I certainly believe it.

More about the festival later.

As always(looking for the crux of things),

Monday, April 13, 2009

Reading as Writer

I have been reading the beginnings of things. Once in a while my reading appetite becomes fierce and insatiable. It is like a vitamin deficiency for words in a particular arrangement. Earlier this year it was about pacing, I craved books that I could power through and I read them as if I had been empty for way too long. Putting word after word, book after book into my head in its entirety, but lately it has been just the beginnings. I start them, read first chapters, get stuck in second chapters, loose my impetus. But I keep picking up the books voraciously. It is telling that when I write, bits and pieces of the first chapter are coming out(a revision of it) and I guess that is what I am working on now. It is so uncanny that it is my reading appetite that knows before the rest of me. It is done so instinctively, not as I was taught to it in grad school, it is more like a gesture, as I was taught to do in a drawing class. I’ve been trying to write in gestures as well as just reading or drawing that way. Big sweeping imperfect strokes of words that work to capture a feeling of something. Sometimes it works and sometimes I feel hurky-jerky, my thoughts running ahead of my fingers, getting me lost until my eyes come halting back to try and find the thrust of it. But sometimes I go back and still make out a graceful line that strikes through the prose. It is important to find its shape, it is important to find a shadow in it, because that will be what the rest is built around.
But it is work it is to get into the sketching frame of mind. Finding loose and easy is sometimes harder than any other place in the world. But then to have the eyes to see your way through, now that is hard too. On the days when I cannot find either either what do I do? Perhaps that is then that I need to read things convulsively. That is when my eyes fall across the page, outlining, sketching it invisibly on my brain. Yes, I think so.

As Always(thanks, Julie Schumacher)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Writing Groups

I got a novel group that shares chapters every other week. I pile the work on them and they diligently plug away at it. Their feedback on my narrator and other aspects of the novel has been invaluable.

I got a productive group--we, Rapid Writers, get together and do timed writings and then read them out loud. It has been immensely helpful in the process aspect of writing. We are a mixed crew of teens and adults. Great fun and industry.

I got a writing group that is left over from my grad school days. Lovely women, we do lots of career commiserating and looking forward to someday helping each other out with the writing.

I got an artist's group which has fallen off the weekly meeting wagon, but our creative support of each other has been priceless. I look forward to seeing where these ladies' brilliance will take them.

I am prolific as far a groups go, shall I tell you of others? Two book clubs (one which reads, the other read, then quilted, now reminisces about our reading days--we started in the nineties, my oldest group by far), a chavurah, and my foodie club(which I just made up, they exist but we have never labeled ourselves as such) who meets to eat and drink once a month.

As Always (in between gigs),