I had a good day today. First I met with my good friend and fellow writer, JaNay Brown. We are working on a collection of seasonal poems and are making great progress. She’s a very talented writer, and I am excited to be working with her on this project. I felt pretty energized after our meeting today, and that would have been enough to be a good day, but there was more.
I had received an email recently announcing a mini-workshop being put on by the San Francisco North and East Bay Region of SCBWI. They had a holiday get-together that was fabulous. That particular region puts on a lot of events that are really nice – mini-workshops, nice get-togethers, and a great autumn one-day conference. I go to their events when I can, although most are a hundred miles or more away from my home. This one was really worth my while.
Ellen Klages came to talk to us about research in children’s fiction. Since I have recently written (and am still polishing) a historical novel, this was of particular interest to me. Her talk was both informative and affirming for me. If you don’t know who Ellen Klages is, get yourself to a bookstore and buy her books. I read her books years ago, but think it’s time to read them again. I would say get yourself to a library, but I think for most of you, you will want to read her books more than one time, and you will want to own them. Her writing is spectacular.If you ever have a chance to see her, do it. She not only has great information about writing to share, but is inspiring, funny, and entertaining.
Her award-winning debut novel, The Green Glass Sea, is one of my favorite books. It is listed as a middle-grade novel, but I can’t imagine anyone over the age of eight or nine who wouldn’t enjoy this book. It is historical fiction, set in Los Alamos, New Mexico (a town that didn’t exist, according to the government) at the time when J. Robert Oppenheimer led a group of the brightest minds in the country in their quest for the atomic bomb. Klages’s protagonist is eleven-year-old Dewey, the daughter of one of the mathematicians working on the Manhattan Project. Dewey, a mechanically-minded girl, is a bit of a misfit in that time, although it is probably the best place for her to be, truth be known. This is as fascinating a coming-of-age novel as I have ever read. If you have ever wanted to be transported to another time, read this book. You will be immediately transported to the 1940s. Dewey is a very real kid in a very real time – a time Klages makes so tangible, you will find yourself there for the entire time you read this wonderful book. The story is compelling, the characters endearing, and the writing flawless. The icing on the cake is there is a sequel – White Sands, Red Menace – to make your day a little brighter. (If you click on the title, it will link you to the book on Amazon.)
Ellen Klages is a great writer. There is not one superfluous word in her books. You can read her books as a reader for a great story or as a writer for a lesson in how to craft a great story. I recommend these. Oh – I guess you knew that!
I promised some good links for writers on my last post. Here they are.
Elizabeth Gibson often posts good stuff on The Speculative Salon and this one is no exception. Just what writers need after a holiday: http://speculativesalon.blogspot.com/2011/12/time-to-replenish-your-creative-juices.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheSpeculativeSalon+%28The+Speculative+Salon%29
Selene Castrovilla has some good reasons to join a critique group: http://selenecastrovilla.blogspot.com/2011/11/method-to-my-madness-monday-get-thee-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SeleneCastrovillasBlog+%28Selene+Castrovilla%27s+Blog%29
Margaret Duarte shares some great sites for building a better blog: http://enterthebetween.blogspot.com/2011/11/18-invaluable-sites-for-improving-your.html
Hope Clark always has terrific information to share. If you don’t receive her free newsletters, you should. Take a look at this issue and scroll down to the article by Margo Dill “How Else Can I Make Money as a Children's Writer?” That caught my attention!
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