Wednesday, October 1, 2014
HUM was an ALAN pick for September! “Holczer’s beautiful words and insights resonated on each page. The Secret Hum of a Daisy not only takes you on Grace’s journey, but on your own journey through childhood, friendships, and the meaning of home.”
TSHofaD was also chosen as an ABC Best Book of 2014.
In cover news, I saw a mock-up of the paperback coming next summer and am in love! Oxeye daisies galore. Can't wait to show it off when the cover is finalized!
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
And not really about September memories, but memories in general.
Because as a writer, I've found that memories, the good ones anyway, the ones I've told at dinner tables and to my children, are what have made me a story-teller, such as it is. In a large Italian family, all they did, at every gathering and holiday, was tell memory-stories. Embellished, most likely, but fun and meaningful. I learned, from a great many storytellers, how to pick the juiciest and plumpest memories, the ones with a beginning, middle, and most important, punch-line of an ending. We ate them up with the pasta and laughed so hard I choked. On several occasions. Those stories brought me out of my shell and made me feel like I belonged and took root in some deep place inside me.
People ask where my stories come from. I suppose the simple answer is the place where they were planted.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Then I dug around a little more and found the later drafts, heavy packets of paper that made me feel guilty (so much paper!) but also went about 200 pages into a story that still tugged at my soul. I found all of the clippings that I'd saved during research: newspaper articles about seals that had wandered into New York City waters, musings on what would actually happen if one fell into a black hole (nothing good), Yoruba folktales, analyses of C.S. Lewis and fairy tales, my photographs from a tour of a secret subway tunnel in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, and more from a sort-of secret swimming pool in the bowels of Columbia University -- one of the oldest indoor pools in the country, featuring a bronze lion's head that once worked as a fountain, spouting water onto the swimmers below. And chapters upon chapters reuniting me with a beloved, difficult, wonderful protagonist and her adventures above and below ground.
I had put it all away a long time ago, having gotten to that point where I could see neither the forest or the trees and needed to step away, for a long while, so that I didn't give up. Because I couldn't give it up. I was stuck, frustrated sick with that on-the-tip-of-my-tongue feeling of a book that dangled just out of reach. But I couldn't let go of it for good, but I had to let go for a while...before it got really, really bad.
Last week, I looked through those dusty, overstuffed accordion files and they breathed -- still living with the magic of story.
It's time to start again.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
...Have I learned more this year than I ever thought I would? Yes. Has 2014 been enlightening in a thousand different ways? Yes. Do I know more about myself as a writer than I did this time last year? God, yes. But the ups and downs of the past year are starting to exhaust me.
Usually, September does feel like a fresh start, a new beginning. Not this year. Right now, I sort of have the same feeling I used to in May, when the school year was starting to come to a close. That road weary feeling.
But I know myself well enough to also know that part of this feeling stems from the fact that I'm in the midst of finishing up. I'm finishing up the last of my blog tours, finishing up a rewrite. When I get this rewrite done, I'll take a deep breath, and I'll look toward the next project in line: a project I've wanted to get out into the world for a decade. And I'll get a second wind. And that September new-beginning feel will finally hit me.
Because it will be--it'll be a brand-new beginning.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
And of course September meant a new classroom and a new teacher. I always felt a sense of potential and possibility as I walked to school on the first day. I feel some of that same excitement now when I read the beginning of a new book.
For a fun reading exercise, have students choose three different book beginnings, a paragraph or page, that made them feel excited to read the book. Have them discuss why they found those beginnings compelling.
Then, for a writing exercise, have them write the beginning of their own story in three different ways. Share those with the rest of the class, and have the other students choose which beginning makes them want to continue reading and why.
And have fun.
Monday, September 22, 2014
I felt that way this month. My September memories are much like those of the other writers on this blog. I, too, delighted in shopping trips, new school supplies, and the idea of a clean slate. I entered every September with optimism and joy. As much as it wasn’t cool to admit it back then, I enjoyed school. Summers were often boring, especially by the end of August.
I thought I had nothing to add, and then I remembered books. Wasn’t it exciting to get all those new books at the beginning of the school year? I can still remember the inky smell of them. And making book covers out of brown paper grocery bags.
But even better, there were the school book clubs. In the beginning of the school year, when the teachers were full of energy and willing to do extra, they passed out those book club flyers and sent them home with us. Those flyers were filled with affordable books, and I almost always got to buy something. Of course I wanted ALL of them, but I could choose one or two.
It was through the book clubs that I discovered Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, and Marilyn Sachs—my favorite author in fifth and sixth grade—and too many others whose titles and authors elude me. But I can remember the day the book club box would arrive, and the teacher would pass out our books. I can remember the shiny, paperback covers, and the promise of getting lost in the story as soon as I got home from school. I’m sure that happened periodically throughout the school year, but I will always associate that particular joy with September.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
You’re the first audience to your work and the most important audience. Gloria Naylor
To the great artist, anything whatever is possible. John Gardner
What do I need in order to release my imagination? Toni Morrison
Fiction is forever fiction; but readers want to believe, if only for a few hours, that their lives and worlds have expanded. They want to respond as if fiction were real. Jewell Parker Rhodes
The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art. Junot Diaz
|Student work: Found object fish|