Monday, June 30, 2014

Exhibit #1 or When I First Fell in Love with Writing, by Tracy Holczer

I will start off by saying I really don’t know when it was I decided to become a writer. What I do know is that it was gradual. Which I guess is what the word “becoming” is all about. Anyway.

Reading was a big part of my life when I was young. Books helped me make sense of a world that was, on a good day, seriously confusing. But I’m not sure it occurred to me to be a writer. At least not in a realistic way. I looked at writers as movie or rock stars. So you could do your best, but still might not make it. Plus I had a serious shortage of confidence.
Does this look like a girl would
survive in the jungle?
One of the turmoilish things that happened back then was that moved to a new school at the very end of sixth grade. I mean the very end. There were three weeks left in the school year. And because of the aforementioned shortage of confidence, the idea of making my way out into the jungle, er, playground, and trying to infiltrate groups of kids who had been together since kindergarten, terrified me. So I played jacks in the classroom. In the dark. Seriously. I turned off the lights because I didn’t want anyone to see me in there.

This is not as pathetic as it seems (and I am actually, eventually, going to make my point) because it was in this sixth grade classroom, in the dark, where I met my soon-to-be best friend, Kendra, who was also a hiding sort of person. We would go on to introduce our families who would hit it off spectacularly and spend the next several summers vacationing together in glamorous destinations like Lake Almanor where we would fish for Kokanee trout.
I don’t remember much of those three weeks, mostly just the jacks and Kendra. But I do remember a writing contest. Back when they had contests where there was only one winner. Surprisingly, despite my lack of confidence, I lit up inside at the prospect of writing a story for a contest. I wrote madly and re-wrote. I was consumed by the contest (this is when I discovered how competitive I am – which I have come to believe is an ingredient in the stew that is a writer). It was a terribly frightening story about an evil book in a particular room in an old hotel. Chaos ensued. People died. The book won. It was my best work.

And I won the contest! Of course, I believed at the time that they let me win because I was new and played jacks during lunch in a dark room. But still!
Like I said, I don’t remember if this was when I first dreamed of becoming a writer. But it was definitely the first time I remember loving writing.

So let's call it Exhibit #1 in the writer that I have become.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How Writing Found Me (Jen Cervantes--june theme)


I wouldn’t define my journey to writing as typical. I wasn’t born knowing I wanted to do it. I didn’t dream about it as a child. The realization came to me much later in life, but not by accident. These things never are.

But then my youngest daughter, Juliana asked me to write her a story one day while she was away at school.
I picked up a pen and was hooked (yes, I wrote my first book long hand) and something happened, something other writers would understand. If ever there was a moment of magic, this was it.
I set aside her story and began another and as all stories do, it unfolded bit by bit and before I knew it I realized I was writing a book.

Looking back now, it doesn’t surprise me that writing found me. The world of story has always been a part of me. When I was a little girl, I spent many days getting lost in stories and magical tales. I read everything I could get my hands on. I was transported to another time and place where I could dream, explore, and discover.  Now I get to do the same as a writer...and hopefully do the same for my readers. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June Theme: Wanting To Be A Writer by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

All I know is, I'm sure it started with stories.



The ones my mom told about her childhood.

The first one I "read" over and over, Dr. Seuss' ABC's.

The ones I told my little sister (when I wasn't threatening her).

The ones I read after those glorious trips to the public library when I came home staggering under a load of books.

The ones that loved me for me by Camille Yarbrough, Julius Lester, and Eloise Greenfield.

The ones I read before I understood them, but "got" anyway (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.)

The ones I read on days when I was home sick -- especially that bout of scarletina when I went through the Andrew Lang Fairy books and The Chronicles of Narnia.

The one my mom read to me at bedtime under the mosquito netting in Lagos (A Wrinkle In Time.)

The ones I wrote and illustrated for my little sister (when I wasn't threatening her.)

The hours I spent poring over the "story of everything" in the volumes of my Encyclopaedia Britannica set.

The ones my dad told about his childhood.

The ones that shone through tedious "units" at school (Macbeth, Moll Flanders).

The epic love story (Their Eyes Were Watching God).

The ones...



Definitely starts with the stories.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SHORTLY AFTER BIRTH, I DECIDED TO BE A WRITER (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

I've been writing as long as I could hold a pen.  That's really not much of an exaggeration, either.  I was a really shy kid--I used to cry when my parents took me to playgrounds, because I was afraid of having to interact with the rest of the kids.  Sometimes, I wonder if writing wasn't initially a way for a shy girl to "talk."

But it's more than that, too--there's something about making up stories that just fits.  Here are a few early examples:

This is one of my mom's favorite early "stories," about a kicking machine that kicks you when you're mad at yourself...

Another early story, this one illustrated, about a rabbit searching for his next meal.  (He did live "happily ever after" with that full belly of his...)


My earliest fan (Mom, who saved those first stories) is also now my first reader.  She read all eleven billion drafts of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY--a process that took the story from picture book to full-length novel.  I'm celebrating those fabulous people like my own mom--librarians and teachers and parents--who are right now encouraging their own children to read and play with words.  Get in on the giveaway for a signed copy.  (And, if you're a teacher or librarian, feel free to get in on my giveaway for a Skype visit!)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June Theme: Wanting to be a writer

by
Stephanie J. Blake


I've always known that I'd be a writer.

THE END.




Just kidding.

Creative Writing came to me naturally when I was in junior high. I wrote a ton of poetry. Most of it was angst-filled and heart-wrenching about my first high school love. I never showed my writing to anyone.

I took a playwriting class my 2nd year of college, and got serious about submitting my poetry to magazines and literary journals. Had a few publications. I got my BA degree in English. My minor was Technical Writing. I come from a long line of teachers and educators.

My father said, "What on earth will you do with an English degree if you aren't going to teach?"

I got a job in telecom. For seven (boring) years, I wrote employee handbooks, policies & procedure manuals, training materials. I drafted proposals and benefits summaries.

It wasn't until I was a stay-home mom of three, in 2005, that I started writing stories for kids. I was inspired by something one of my babies said.

"Mama, if I were a baby kangaroo, I could ride around in your pocket all day."

I wrote a picture book about baby animals. It came very close to being accepted at a small publisher.

I started writing lots of (mostly bad) picture book manuscripts. I wrote a novel. Then, I wrote another one. And another. Finally, I sold THE MARBLE QUEEN.

"Hey Dad, that's what I'm doing with an English degree (and $30,000 in student loans)."

THE END.

Just kidding.

I just sold my first picture book. It's also inspired by my children who are obsessed with zombies.

MY ROTTEN FRIEND will be out next year with Albert Whitman.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Smack Dab in the Classroom: Story Endings, or Did Charlotte Really Have to Die? By Dia Calhoun


Having just finished the manuscript of a middle grade novel--one I've been working on for over three years--story endings are on my mind. Any good writer hopes that the ending of her story is inevitable. That given the choices her characters make, no other ending works as well.

On school visits, kids sometimes ask why one of my novels end one way instead of another. I tell them to go ahead and imagine a different ending, but they have to explain why it is the “right” ending for the story.

This would be a fun writing exercise to offer your students.

Have them choose a book and write a new ending. Ask them to justify why they think their ending is better for the characters. Why it makes a more satisfying conclusion to the plot—and not just because it’s a happier or more ideal ending.

As students think through this problem, they will learn about the design and integrity of a story, and learn that endings are not arbitrary but must be true to the situation laid out earlier.

Who knows, maybe they will come up with something wonderful. Maybe Charlotte the spider didn't really have to die.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Becoming a Writer by Laurie Calkhoven

I was fascinated by books and stories from a very young age. I remember my mother giving my two sisters and I a choice between listening to her read a story and watching a television program. I voted for the story, and I was outvoted.  I also remember my older sister getting a set of Dr. Seuss books when she was learning to read and being desperately jealous that I couldn’t read them myself.  And of course there was the pride and excitement that came with my first library card.

I was a reader. That was established early on. I had a secret wish to be a writer, but I didn’t really believe that it was possible.  And then a teacher turned that around for me with a fifth grade nonfiction writing assignment. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it was definitely fiction.  My teacher, Mrs. Azzolini, pulled me aside and very gently explained the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Then she told me that I was a good writer. Being a writer when I grew up was something I should think about.

Hearing someone, a teacher no less, say my secret wish out loud and tell me that it was possible was a magical moment. I didn’t wait to grow up—I went home and started writing a novel.  And I’ve never really stopped.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wonderful, Exciting June (Kristin Levine)

The past month has been an exciting one for me.  I just got back from an amazing trip to New York City where I got an award from the New-York Historical Society (presented by New York City School Chancellor Carmen Farina.)





I also got to speak to a bunch of middle-school students...





...and hang out with two of my very favorite people, my editor Stacey Barney (left) and my agent Kathy Green (right). 



 
Even though writing is something we do alone, there are all these people working behind the scenes, on promotions, publicity, cover design etc.  It was so exciting to meet all of them when I got a special visit to the G.P. Putnam's Sons offices!

And the fun continues...

I'm going to be at ALA this year, speaking at a dinner with the amazing Joan Bauer and Jacqueline Woodson.  I'm so honored to be at an event with them and thrilled to meet them both in person.

Finally, I'll also be signing galleys of my new book, THE PAPER COWBOY, Saturday, June 28 at 9:00 AM.  So if anyone else is going to be at ALA please do come say hi!


Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  Happy writing!!

Kristin Levine


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Rejection, First Triumph by Claudia Mills (June theme)

I had my first major rejection as a writer and my first major triumph as a writer the same year: eighth grade. And they both had to do with the same boy, Dick Thistle, with whom I fell in love on October 17, 1967 (in case you think I might have forgotten the date). I called him Apollo and wrote sonnets to him in the voice of Clytie, the Greek maiden in love with the Sun God who is turned into a sunflower from all the hours she spends rooted in place watching the majestic progression of his chariot across the sky.

Here is one of them, written to him on his birthday, January 10 (in case you think I might have forgotten the date -- I also think of him every year on January 25, the day I was kicked out of class for talking and he walked me to the office, and on April 5, the day we held a dance to raise money for the new junior high water fountain and he asked me to dance; the song was the dreadfully saccharine "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro; I played the 45-speed record over and over and over again for months afterward).

Okay, the sonnet:

To Apollo on His Birthday

My humble words do naught but waste your time.
They are not even fit for you to scorn.
So I do dare to beg, forgive this rhyme.
Pretend my words of love had n'er been born.
Apollo, all my being cries in love,
My starving gaze does feast upon your face.
I worship you, oh god of sun above.
But I must stop ere I forget my place.
All that I want is just to kiss your feet,
To feel your gaze one moment on me rest,
To let our eyes for just one second meet,
And this will make my life forever blessed.
Apollo, on your birthday let me cry
I love you, and for you gladly I would die.

I showed the poem to my friend Judy Harper, making her swear she would not show it to Dick Thistle, but of course she gave it to him instantly, and of course all-too-predictable disaster ensued. In fact, I happened to see, some time later, a list he wrote of things he wanted in a girlfriend, and the list began: 1) isn't blonde; 2) isn't emotional; 3) doesn't write poetry.

So that was my first major rejection as a writer.

But my first major success came when I wrote about the whole experience, including the part where he asked me to make good on my poetic protestations and actually kiss his feet right in the middle of the Algebra I class, and I DID IT. It's an experience so embarrassing I can hardly bear to write about it now. But I wrote about it then, in an autobiographical book I was scribbling all that year, called T Is for Tarzan (further embarrassing revelation: my 8th grade nickname was Tarzan, and I used to do a legendary dance called the Ape Dance).

When I finished T Is for Tarzan, I typed it up on a manual typewriter, with carbon paper to make two copies, and began circulating it among my friends. The book became the sensation of North Plainfield Junior High. There was a lengthy waiting list for people to sign up to read it. Of course, part of the appeal was that everybody was in it, names unchanged, and I wrote everything - EVERYTHING - that happened to all of us that year in wrenchingly honest detail.

When I go back to New Jersey for my high school reunions (I've never missed one), some of the events in T Is for Tarzan have now become questions on the reunion trivia quiz: e.g.,  "Who were the two boys who ran the famous race-around-the-track with Tarzan?" I'm often asked to perform the Ape Dance. The now-grown man who organizes the reunions sent me an email about the last one with the subject heading: "T is for too long since we talked."

So that was my first major triumph as a writer.

It taught me the power of taking even the most cringe-worthy moments in life and writing about them, unflinchingly, unsparingly, as honestly as I could, with what Brenda Ueland calls "microscopic truthfulness." And I've tried to keep on doing that, ever since.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My 5th Grade Teacher Was Losing It! Or, When I Knew I Wanted to Become an Author

“Danette needs to work harder in reading.” -My fifth grade teacher.

Welp, I thought she definitely had me confused with someone else. Either that, or she had gone crazy. Since I always had to have the last word, I set out to the library just to prove dear old Miss. Gotlieb wrong (she was young but dear old sounds better). Funny thing was, while I was doing all of that ‘proving,’ I was hopelessly falling in love with books.

It was in that library where a tiny seed (my dream seed) was planted. I thought maybe one day I’d be able to be on the other side of a book. Maybe one day I’d write one.

With each book I read, the seed grew stronger but life got in the way and stunted the growth of that seed. It wasn't until after I re-met (a story for another time) the man who would become my husband, had two kids, sprouted some grey hair and acquired dogs, cats and lots of goldfish, that that seed began to grow again. Only, this time it was at a fast and healthy rate.


Maybe life, with all of its twists and turns, was actually Miracle Grow in disguise for that seed. 

Whatever the case, thank you, Miss Gotlieb!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Little by Bob Krech

I normally stay on topic with my monthly blog post, but I wanted to share something fun I found out about very recently.

My daughter, Faith just finished her junior year at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Faith is an English major so when she announced back in March that she had secured a summer internship with a small publisher in Durham, NC my wife and I were very excited for her. When I asked Faith last month if she had visited the publisher's office building yet she said no, that the office was basically "the basement of this guy's house." Totally reassuring to any parent.

As it turns out, Bull City Press is completely legitimate and very fun particularly it you're into poetry. It is headed by nationally known poet and professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, Ross White.  Bull City is a self-described "micro-press" specializing in small poetry and short prose.

Their quarterly journal is called, appropriately enough, INCH. The physical journal itself measures about 5 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches. It consists of just six pages (not counting front and back cover). The Summer 2014 issue contains three poems and one prose piece. Submission guidelines state that poems can be one to nine lines. Prose has to be under 750 words. Their mantra is "We believe good things come in small packages" and they are definitely living that.

When I got my first copy of INCH I found myself reading slowly and deeply, savoring the three little poems and one story like each was the last chocolate in the box. I read and re-read. I let them melt in my mouth just like the last chocolate. The fact that there were only three poems let each one have a depth of attention that I would not normally give if I were reading a larger collection. The prose piece was nuanced and again, let me ponder and revisit, because, well, it was the only one. This small focus really worked for me as a reader. I think it's particularly good for poetry and short fiction.

I love everything about this concept. It is hard to write "small" but it is also a nice way to begin or a great thing to aspire to as a writer. If anyone wants to experiment with this kind of writing (and we all did a little flash fiction a few months back), I'm thinking this is a great venue. I've urged my daughter to talk to them about maybe considering doing something similar for kids. Don't you think that would be cool?

Bull City Press also publishes poetry collections and chapbooks. By the way, Faith's not getting any commission on sales or anything with this, I was just totally won over by the whole approach and wanted to share with you all.

You can find our more about Bull City Press and their publications at http://www.bullcitypress.com


Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Long Way Home to Becoming a Children’s Author – June Theme by Tamera Wissinger

For me, knowing that I wanted to be an author, in particular a children’s author, came about in a long and zigzagging way.

I have always loved rhyme, rhythm, and stories. Here is the first book that I remember reading and chanting when I was very small:

In school I loved writing stories and poetry:
But if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said:
A DOCTOR.
Because at the time I knew of no women who were doctors, and that fact alone was great fuel. My plan would have worked if it weren’t for:

SCIENCE 

AND MATH.
My back up plan was to be an:
OLYMPIC SPRINTER.
This plan would have worked, too, if not for:
LONG AND GRUELING TRAINING.
So when I graduated from college with a non-teaching English degree, I did the most logical thing and:
ENTERED THE BUSINESS WORLD.
It was right up there with my doctor and Olympic athlete plans, but I became quite a proficient business writer and at least it paid the bills. The whole time I worked in the business world, though, on nights and weekends I was:
SECRETLY WRITING STORIES AND POETRY.
One Friday night, after many years of doing a type of work that I didn’t love, as I lamented to my husband that I wanted to be a writer, he said:

"IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, THEN WRITE."
Oh. 
In that one phrase, he removed all of the years of obstacles that I had built up. He is also the person who, a year or so later, suggested:
"MAYBE YOU SHOULD WRITE FOR CHILDREN."
Coming off of a horrible screenwriting experience, his advice sounded very good to me. That was more than eleven years ago and I’ve never looked back.

No short cuts here in recognizing that I wanted to be a children’s author, but after taking so long to arrive it feels as though:

I’M HOME.

Note: I made a short video on this same theme, and am sharing it today on my website: The Writer's Whimsy.
~~~~~
Now that she has figured out what she does well in life, Tamera Wissinger spends much of her time writing stories and poetry for children. Here recent work includes GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse, and THIS OLD BAND. For more about Tamera, you can visit her website: www.tamerawillwissinger.com, or follow her on Twitter @TameraWissinger.

Friday, June 13, 2014

MAUREEN MCQUERRY GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY



I (Holly Schindler, blog administrator) got a chance to read McQuerry's BEYOND THE DOOR; what an incredible adventure!  Just the kind of "sneaky" read that keeps young minds active throughout the summer months...it's so engaging, they won't realize they're learning new material...

Without further ado, here's more about BEYOND THE DOOR from the author herself:

Beyond the Door Blog Tour 

What have I learned about the world from myth as a writer and a reader? Since writing Beyond the Door and The Peculiars I’ve been thinking about why myth matters. During this tour I’ve blogged in the U.S and U.K. about six things I’ve learned from mythic stories that have inspired me. The links are below in case you missed any! And don’t forget today’s give away!
U.S.
6/9  http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com  Beyond the Door, the backstory
6/10 http://middlegrademarch.com/     Cover artist Victo Ngai post, giveaway
6/11 thebookcellarx@gmail.com   What I’ve learned from Myth Part 1
6/12  http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com  What I’ve Learned from Myth part 2

6/13  http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com   Interview/ give away


1.      Where did the idea for TIME OUT OF TIME come from? It all started with the Greenman. For the full story see my inspiration post on Day 1 (link) http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com

2.      What is your writing process?  Was the process different for this book?  How much research was involved?  How / where do you do your research? I often begin with scraps: an image, a character, a line of dialogue, and add to it a question that has been rumbling in my brain. I came to fiction writing through poetry, so visual images are very important to me as are the sound of words. When enough scraps come together I start to think through plot. I’m better at this now than I was when I first wrote Beyond the Door. I know my protagonists have to change by the end of the book and I need to know what major events cause that change. Stories are not about plot, but about the inner journey, changes of the protagonist. A great plot, lots of conflict and tension drive those changes.

I did quite a bit of reading about Celtic mythology for Beyond the Door and the sequel The Telling Stone. I knew I wanted to stay true to the essence of the mythic characters, but also knew that I needed to change them to fit my story. I tried to balance that desire all the way through. I like research and do a lot of it for all my books. The temptation is to get stuck in the rabbit trails of research and not get back to the writing.


3.      Timothy feels like an outsider.  As writers, we also find ourselves being observers, watching and listening as much as (sometimes more than) participating.  Did you feel like an outsider growing up? That’s a great question with a long answer. I was an only child and I think only children grow up as observers, spending a lot of time in their heads, perfect training for becoming a writer. Some of my closest friends were in books, and I think I always looked at the world a little “slant”as Emily Dickinson might say. I wanted Timothy to be an outsider because when I wrote the book I was teaching in a program for gifted and talented kids. They often think in quirky ways and don’t always fit into school. A telling moment for me was when I saw tears in a 6th grader’s eyes and she said I’ve found people who are like me. They get me. It’s just not the reluctant, struggling students who are outsiders.


4.      I love the Ogham script at the bottom of the book, which readers can decipher for themselves.  It offers a way to interact with the book without being drawn completely out of the text (as some digital extras in an e-book tend to do)…How has your experience as a teacher (which involves working to keep your students engaged in your current lesson) influenced your attempts to keep your readers engaged in your books? I want to appeal to readers in as many ways as possible: visually, auditorally, and analytically. We need to engage kids on as many levels as possible.
As a kid, I loved mysteries and codes. Mostly I write with what I love in mind and hope it works for other readers as well.

5.      I’m also intrigued by Jessica, who is “never nice and never did the right thing.”  How do you build your antagonists?  Is your depiction of the school bully influenced by your observations as a teacher and parent, or more by memories of your own childhood experiences?
 I remember and have observed the pecking order that emerges in late elementary middle school. It’s based on body changes, style, coolness factors, and an undefinable something that can look like self-assurance even when it’s not. This pecking order can be especially viscous among young girls and yet boys are often portrayed as the bullies in books. But even the bully is more than meets the eye. I wanted to show Jessica as more than a stereotype. Like each of us, she’s complex, makes decisions that are both good and bad and ultimately longs to be understood.

6.      Your passion for mythology shines through in the text.  How did you get hooked on it? My mother read to me. Such a simple, but powerful statement. She didn’t read Greek myths, but fairytales from books like The Big Book of Make-Believe and Andrew Lang’s fairytale books. From earliest days, I was immersed in European myth and fairytales. A strong Irish ancestry probably supported her choices. When I began reading on my own, I feel in love with Jane Yolen, Susan Cooper, T. H. White, Tolkien, Lewis and other writers who weave myth into their stories. I read all the King Arthur legends.



7.      The title of the book is referenced by Star Girl, who claims, “The land you see is still your land, but tonight we are in time out of time.”  How does the title play into your feelings about the importance of mythology’s role in history / society?  (I love the line which states, “All myth is a reminder of things people have forgotten they know, and of things yet to be.”)  I am a huge fan of the Inklings, that celebrated group of authors that included Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Lewis believed that myths were sign posts to deeper truths. Myths deal with the big questions of life: why are we here, is the world safe, who are we really? These are the common questions of our humanity and myth feeds that conversation. For more thoughts on this, read Tolkien’s brilliant essay “On Fairy Stories.”

8.      As a kid, I loved to play Scrabble.  I enjoyed Timothy’s thinking in Scrabble words.  Were you a Scrabble aficionado (16 points) growing up?  Is this one of the observations you stored in your memory (as you mention on your bio on your website)? I did love Scrabble, but not quite as much as Timothy. I loved words and I loved the wooden Scrabble tiles. I am a synesthetic—I see letters, days of the week and numbers in color. That’s another reason why I’m fascinated with Scrabble.

9.      At the end of the book, you leave us with some questions that just beg for answers.  How do you handle books in a series?  Do you write the entire series at once?  Or do you handle it one book at a time?  Yes, to both. Each book has to have a story arc and a series must have an arc as well. I had to think in terms of how I wanted the three protagonists to change by the end of each book and then by the end of the series.


10.  Your book is filled with so many great reading experiences; I especially liked Timothy saving his mother when she’s bitten by the rat.  Looking back on it, your book is incredibly visual.  As a writer, I find action scenes incredibly challenging.  Do you enjoy writing action scenes?  Why / why not? Action scenes are very hard for me to write! I rewrote the action scenes time and time again. I blocked them out with real people just like actors on a stage. Battle scenes are the worst since I have little experience with weapons. I had to find some people who did and talk to them. You’ll read some epic battle scenes in Book 2 The Telling Stone.

Because I came to fiction through poetry and because I love visual art, I think in visual terms. It’s interesting that both The Peculiars and Beyond the Door have received comments about how visual they are.

11.  I’m a young reader.  I’ve just finished TIME AFTER TIME, and you’ve absolutely hooked me on mythology.  What do I read next?
 Margi Preus just came out with West of the Moon and Jonathan Auxier’s Night Gardner (both are also published by Abrams), The Wood Wife,  Wild Hunt Jane Yolen   and two fantastic sites for lovers of myth and fairytales…Goblin Fruit http://www.goblinfruit.net/, Endicott Studio http://endicottstudio.typepad.com/news/.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Love Affair with Writing




My love affair with writing began with letters.   Not the alphabet ones.  I’m talking about letters sent to someone and received from someone via the US mail.  Once upon a time – even after the Pony Express Days – letter writing was a common form of communication.  Really!
            When I first began to practice the art of letter writing in school, I often thought about who I could write to.  In addition to the usual relatives, I sent letters to pop stars requesting autographed pictures.  Amazingly, I got some.  That success encouraged me to continue my letter writing campaign to pen pals.  Here I had a chance to tell stories about a “day in the life” of ME, to young girls far away.  While I don’t remember who I wrote to or what was said, I know it was exciting to receive a letter from someone.  So exciting in fact, that I immediately wrote more letters to get more mail!
            When I went off to college in the 70’s, there were no cell phones, and regular phone calls were often too expensive for the college student budget, so I ramped up my letter writing to family and friends, again spurred on by every response I received.  My mother kept some of those college letters – written on wrapping paper, paper bags, and many other blank surfaces that could be folded and sent in an envelope.  Then, at the end of my Freshman Year, I met the young man who would become my husband.  He was in the Navy at the time and we’d only see each other when he was on leave, so in between those visits, we wrote letters.  I’ve saved all the letters he wrote…more than 200 of them, each in response to one I wrote to him all those years ago.
            In this age of instant communication, letter writing is a lost art.  I don’t write so many letters any more, but all that practice has made me a better writer. And, I still get a warm feeling whenever I receive a handwritten letter.  Admit it…you do too!