Monday, April 28, 2014

I've been tagged!

Apparently someone noticed this space visiting the land of unused, misfit blogs because I've been tagged to talk about my writing process by the always gracious and extremely talented Sheryl Scarborough. This game of writing process tag reached Sheryl from our friend and VCFA classmate and super-writer Ellar Cooper. Ellar was tagged by someone else, who was tagged by someone else, who was tagged by someone else, who was (deep breath), you get the picture. I could probably ransack the internet to find the origins of this exercise, but I wont for various reasons, some of which will come up later in this post.


(Yes, I'm trying to make my process sound important by all-capsing, bolding, and italicizing this section)

1) What am I working on?

I'm working on a YA dystopian political thriller. I'm also working on about thirty-seven other projects in the back of my head at various times throughout the day.

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

My current project has two main characters living in two different places. One is wrapped up in a dystopian struggle, the other a contemporary political mess. By having two characters confront their own individual problems, my hope is that a reader won't think each character is involved in too many things at once.

In other projects, many of which involve sports, I like to focus on minorities. I don't mean racial, political, or religious minorities, either. I mean the kid who often lives on the fringe of his team because he thinks too much: about who he is, about violence, about how he supposed to act or who he's supposed to like... stuff like that. That was me. I think it's a lot of kids and teens.

3) Why do you write what you do?

My gut reaction is to say that I have no idea.

My next reaction is to say that I write it because I have to, which means that it's what I'm thinking about and forces itself out of me and onto the page. I rarely write something that is a brand new idea, meaning that what I write is usually something that has been in my head for a while and won't let up. It may start as a tiny glimpse of something that gets jotted down as just a couple of bullet-points in my notebook before slowly snowballing into something that screams at me until I start really writing it down (typing).

I also write things that I want to read. I use the I to mean me at every possible age. I might write something that I'm currently thinking about, but I usually write something that I think a younger version of me would have craved. I don't think I'm being conceited when I say that I know if I like it, then others will like it. I don't believe in writing for others (real or imagined) to try to create some sort of "product." I believe in writing for others through me. I always have to start with me. Which is one of the reasons I haven't written here in a while. I didn't feel I needed to. I've been writing for a hockey website, and I've done some guest blogging for others (some conversation creating stuff), and it just didn't feel like I had anything to say to myself. I didn't really need this space. I've been so engrossed in trying to finish my current project that I haven't needed to reflect. Not right now. I haven't really been online much, either, unless it's for work or news or hockey scores (it's playoff time!).

4) How does your writing process work?

I just write.

When I can (usually late at night). Where I can (so many places). I rarely outline until way later in the process. I just let that screaming snowball of an idea pour out of me for a little while. Sometimes it works.

~I've failed at passing on this game of tag just like I failed at chain letters in fifth grade. But please check out the links on the other blogs I mentioned above. They have better tag skills than I.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Postscript to last entry

I know Tim Wynne-Jones should be cited Wynnne-Jones, Tim. I copied and pasted that list of books from an email. Sorry, but I felt the urge to clear that up... with myself, at least.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Green Mountain Book Award

I have been chosen to serve on the Green Mountain Book Award Committee. Our task is to choose the nominees for Vermont's annual teen-choice reading award. Each committee member reads a portion of the nominated books in the first round. Liked books are then moved on to a next round where all committee members will read them. My initial reading list consists of books nominated by me and others:

  1. Armistead, Cal.  Being Henry David.
  2. Cline, Ernest.  Ready Player One.  
  3. Cochrane, Mick.  Fitz.  
  4. Dawkins, Richard.  The Magic of Reality.
  5. Forman, Gayle.  Just One Day.
  6. Griffin, N.  The Whole Stupid Way We Are.  
  7. Hubbard, Jenny.  Paper Covers Rock.
  8. Jones, Tim Wynne.  Blink and Caution.  
  9. Kraus, Daniel.  Rotters.  
  10. Leavitt, Martine.  My Book of Life by Angel.
  11. McCormick, Patricia.  Never Fall Down.  
  12. McMann, Lisa.  Dead to You.  
  13. Mignola, Mike.  Joe Golem and the Drowning City.  
  14. Myracle, Lauren.  Shine.  
  15. Newman, Leslea.  October Mourning.
  16. Ottaviani, Jim.  Feynman.  

    There are many more terrific books on this years' nomination list, and I can't wait until we get into the next rounds and start deliberations.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Just. Keep. Writing.

This is nothing new. I've said this many times before. A good book is the single biggest motivator to keep writing. It might be the tone of the story or the narrator's original voice or maybe just a couple of passages that fill me up with that feeling only written words can give you. That feeling that makes me think, wow, that's exactly how I would be feeling if I were in that situation. The ability to make a reader feel that way is probably a writer's greatest gift. 

It makes me want to try to make someone feel that way, too.

Thank you, Michael Northrop.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hidden Gems

I love finding new books. The more I read, and the more I immerse myself in the world of writing and books, the more I realize how many books and authors I've never heard of. But it's an amazing problem to have.

Just today in the the library I work at, I came across two books that completely mesmerized me. First, I was in our 20th Century history section, looking for books to pull in order to help a social studies class with a WWII assignment, when I came across photographer Joe O'Donnell's collection of post-atomic bomb photos from his time in Japan in 1945. I'd seen some of these photos before, but never in a collection quite like his, and I couldn't help but study them over and over and over. It was the type of moment that makes working in a library and trying to find sources that will help students absolutely worthwhile.

Later in the day, an unrelated conversation took a couple of sharp turns and landed on Tobias Wolff. One of my colleagues mentioned a book of Wolff's called Old School, which I'd never heard of. My colleague was surprised. I was, too, since it concerns a boys' boarding school and a writing contest and a visit by Robert Frost. Right up my alley! What surprised me even more was that we had it in our collection, right under my nose. Now, obviously, I'm aware that I don't know every title we have, but I just felt weird to have missed out on this one until now.

Such a happy accident to add to my reading list.

Just Finished: A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Currently Reading: The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles
Up Next: Old School by Tobias Wolff

More links!

I've adapted my VCFA graduate lecture into a mini-lesson over at Ingrid's Notes, my classmate's fantastic blog. See my post here.

And, view my latest hockey article here. (Be warned: this one is pretty hockey-nerdish).