I came across this title The Firehouse Light by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Marie Lafrance. It’s my kind of book, a story that starts with a kernel of truth and brings it alive through fiction, with the added fun of research along the way.
Apparently, in 1901, the owner of the power and light company in Livermore, Calif., gave that Bay Area town’s volunteer firefighters a four-watt bulb to help them find their equipment in the dark. The bulb, made of carbon filament and hand-blown glass, has been burning ever since, and is thought to be the world’s longest continuously burning bulb.
Nolan says, “I walked around in an excited daze for a while,” she says. “I kept thinking of all the things that have happened—all the things that have been invented and all the wars fought —while this tiny lightbulb kept burning.”
Posted in College Essay Writing, Review & Interviews | Leave a Comment »
Some picture book writers say the only way they can “test” their manuscripts is by reading them aloud. I’d venture to say this holds true for any manuscript. Reading your work aloud allows you to hear the nuances of sound, dialogue, voice, and helps you pick out awkward structured passages and transitions. This has been on my mind recently because I’m taking up learning a second language (once again). It’s something I’ve always wanted to commit to, but have never had the chance to do it the right way, ie, go live in the darned country and learn to speak! Reading out loud in another language, especially with earphones on so that you’re entire family won’t make fun of you, puts a whole new spin on diction and word choice. It’s got me thinking about how babies learn to speak, and kindergartners learn to read, and of course, how writers learn to write. Every word…every phrase…chosen and hand-picked. Deliberate and delicious.
Posted in Uncategorized, Writing Inspiration | 2 Comments »
I just found out that Peter Bacho’s book Leaving Yesler, that I reviewed for the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA student site is going into its second edition after only three months! He’ll be one of the visiting faculty at Whidbey in January 2011. Congratulations Peter! Here’s a reprint of my review. An interview I did with Bacho can be found here as well.
People who read novels know that fiction can sometimes get closer to the truth than facts ever can. For young readers, this is less of a revelation than an expectation.
Leaving Yesler is Seattle author and Evergreen College professor Peter Bacho’s new novel set in 1968 Vietnam-era Seattle about the truths 18-year old Bobby Vicente discovers about his past. What Bobby learns about his past weaves and merges fluidly with his present reality to ultimately shape his future—a forward-looking recipe young readers will take to heart. Continue Reading »
Posted in Review & Interviews | Tagged Filipino-American, MFA, Peter Bacho, Seattle, Whidbey, Whidbey Writers Workshop | 2 Comments »
Perfect chapters don’t just happen…I know that. But I just finished reading one that I like to tell myself did—Chapter 3: “The Possum Wars” in Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. The writer sat down one morning in her usual writing space, cup of tea or coffee at her side, cat curled sleepily near her feet. She opened her in-progress manuscript to where she’d left off the day before, took a deep breath, and wrote a perfect chapter.
So, what makes it perfect?
Continue Reading »
Posted in Craft of Writing, Review & Interviews | Tagged craft, gender, Jacqueline Kelly, middle-grade books, Newbury Honor | 3 Comments »
There’s a speciality group for everything these days. I was googling for information on “gammer,” an old English term for a countrywoman when I misspelled and links for “grammar” popped up. Being as easily distracted as I am, I began reading. One link caught my attention: The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, founded by our very own SCBWI member Martha Brockenbrough, editor of the Chinook Update and author of Things That Make Us [Sic]
SPOGG (I kid you not) sponsors National Grammar Day (March 4), and the Grammar Girl website, which I’ve actually used in the past, and their blog is a hoot. Rooting around some of the lesser links brought up some lovely examples from church bulletins. Thank God for those church ladies with typewriters! Read and enjoy.
- The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
- Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Craft of Writing | Tagged Chinook Update, grammar, Martha Brockenbrough, SCBWI, SPOGG | Leave a Comment »
Last night at Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle, Patrick Jennings one of my favorite kids’ authors gave a reading from his newest book Guinea Dog. Guinea Dog is a middle grade book for 8-12 year olds and it’s my kind of book. It’s the story of a boy who desperately wants a dog. But his dad says oh,no. Dogs bark and whine. They gnaw. They bark. They scratch, beg, and drool. So his mom offers a “think-outside-the-box suggestion” and brings home a guinea pig. But this guinea pig thinks she’s a dog. She barks. She bites. You see where I’m going with this….. Continue Reading »
Posted in Craft of Writing, Teaching & Workshops | Tagged inspiration, middle-grade books, Patrick Jennings, writing | 2 Comments »
ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense [look again or repeatedly (at)] ): from French réviser ‘look at,’ or Latin revisere ‘look at again,’ from re- ‘again’ + visere (intensive form of videre ‘to see’ ).
I’m beginning a final revise on my YA manuscript Chasing at the Surface in preparation for making it submission-ready for my agent. This is a story I began writing in 2007 and I’ve kept print-outs of each set that I thought was “finished.” Pulling the latest version out this weekend got me thinking about how often and how extensively we revise our work.
Or more pointedly, how do we learn to “look” at the stories we’ve written and what do we see when we do? Continue Reading »
Posted in Craft of Writing | Tagged craft, revision, writing | 2 Comments »