Friday, March 25, 2011

Little Details

So I read a Twitter post by Don Maas, author of "Writing the Breakout Novel" and his prompt was to find three tiny details that your main character would notice that no one else would. It's funny how one twitter pitch can leave you thinking so deeply for days. Because really, aren't those tiny details the thing that make up the difference between going beyond and just going.

So, if I am my own main character, what are three things I tend to notice?

Jewelry. I was a jeweler for years and the first thing I look at when I met people, new or known, is what earrings, rings, necklaces they wear. If the jewelry is hand-crafted I look longer. If I like it, I make the assumption, I'll like them.

Posture. Watching how someone carries themselves informs so much of my assumptions about a person. I particularly love watching the children where I teach, how they lean into one another, whisper excitedly, twirl when they're wearing a new outfit, slouch when they're feeling down.

Hands. I guess because I'm a creator of stuff as well as words, hands are fascinating to me. I love when I meet older folks who have long flighty hands that dart like hummingbirds. My massage therapist has hands like this. Her hands tell stories. My dentist has enormous hands so I'm always fascinated at how effortlessly he works inside of people's mouths. Seriously, a dentist with hands like a bear.

So, what are your details. What are the things you notice about people, or nature, or traffic, or buildings?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kid Stuff

Just returned from D.C. with a student and her family - she won a big ART competition and being her ART teacher, I tagged along. The reception to honor the winners was at the Rayburn House Office Building, just across the street from the Capitol.

Now I'm not one to get all geekified about movie stars, but I am one to get geekified about political figures. I just think it's so cool that big fat decisions are being made as I walk around in the hallway - country wide decisions at that.

Leave it to the children to bring it back to perspective.

So, I'm sitting in the hallway, looking for Senate pins on men and women in dark suits, when I hear a "POP!" Leave it to two boys to find the only piece of bubble wrap for miles. Oblivious to the VERY IMPORTANT place they're hanging out in, that piece of bubble wrap made it fun.

These are the little things that as writers for children, we need to keep in our perspective, what are the little things (to us) that are the big things (to kids)? Have you noticed some little something recently that put it all back into perspective for you?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Glass Ceiling Dream

So this industry is hard.
First off, becoming a writer is hard work, time, sweat and toil.
Then you have to play the game of agents and queries, knowing when to hold them and when to fold them, so to speak.

I can't help but imagine that this dream is connected to my dream of becoming a published author.

I'm in an Asian restaurant, it's multi-storied, I'm trying to get out. I approach a stairwell, three women, not all Asian, are lounging there wearing some type of lace-up corset shirts. I ask how to get out. One of them points to a spiral staircase and says "Next floor, there's an exit to the outside." They laugh. I look at the staircase. There are no steps, only the curved iron balustrades that spiral up to the floor. I can see the restaurant is lively on the next floor and I can even see the walkway that leads to the exit.

I woke up and immediately thought of breaking into the publishing world. Sometimes when you're sitting in the "not-agented, thank you for your submission, unfortunately your project isn't right for me, this is very subjective, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah" bean bag chair, it feels as if you will never be able to make your muscles strong enough to push yourself out of the chair. Or monkey your way up a stairless spiral staircase.

So, how do you build your stairs?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I have the Flu. Boo

The flu it makes me weak and bleary
My chest is tight, I'm far from cheery

I'm supposed to be writing the next big thing
But my head is just pounding, ring a ding, ding

My honey brings me juice, water, and tea
But won't come any closer than two feet or three

The doctor says "too late for Tami-Flu
Just lay in your bed and cry, boo-hoo"

"But my word count!" I cry as I sniffle and snort
"It's March Madness, and I'll have nothing to report."

"Get over it," say the teenagers disgusted by chores
"You need to get better and make us s'mores."

"I'm trying" I sniffle and cry some hot tears.
"Do you think a donut would help? Or maybe some beers?"

Nope, it's nothing but vitamins and healthy stuff for you.
If you'd just washed your damn hands you'd have no darn flu.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Indigo Star by Hilary McKay

I just finished Hilary McKay's Indigo Star. First, let me say, I never read Saffy's Angel, so I had no background about this amazing family. Can I just say, I LOVED THIS BOOK. It reminded me of the Penderwicks, only British. Each character was so lovingly drawn, with their own quirks and idiosyncracies, yet done in such a minimal way. An amazing, amazing book.

Here are descriptions I am paraphrasing from memory that I loved.

Rose - she has an endless painting on the wall of their kitchen, and only when she finally realizes her father is not returning from London does she finish it. She is definitely the strongest character in the book and the family anchor, the youngest as well at 8 years old.

Caddy - who starts bringing home "boyfriends" that are really more her mother's age though she truly loves Michael. She collects them like pets and leaves them sleeping around the house. (hoping her mother will like one?)

Sarah - the self-named wheelchair girl who is kick ass with bullies and always there.

Saffron- a true friend to Sarah, she helps find the tins of soup from Christmas when their mother, Eve, has forgotten to get food.

Eve - who at first just seems like a dotty artist, but really is suffering from depression, though it is done in such a light and loving way - she has a garden shed painting studio and has clogged up the kitchen sink with wads of oil point. When she grocery shops she often brings home only berries.

Tom - the boy from America who seeks heights to play his guitar (so he can see America?) and dreams of owning a black guitar from the local music shop. He is cool with the bullies even in the face of their tirades.

Indigo - the MC, though I question that since Rose was so strong, he is a back-down kind of guy, but in his very quiet way, helps Tom find his way back to his family in America. I love the last scene when they're looking at the stars from the roof of the school.

I love when I find authors who make me envious - make me say to myself, wow, if I could write like THAT! Just amazing. I love, love, love, love, loved it. Now I must get all of them!