Sunday, June 24, 2012

Inspiration Sunday

Source: via Mieke on Pinterest

This photograph is by Joshua Lambus.

This prompt is yours to draw inspiration from. If you use it, and decide to post the resulting piece on your blog, or other online forum that hosts your writing, let me know in the comments section. I'll make sure to drop by and share my thoughts.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Inspiration Sunday

This prompt is yours to draw inspiration from. If you use it, and decide to post the resulting piece on your blog, or other online forum that hosts your writing, let me know in the comments section. I'll make sure to drop by and share my thoughts.

Friday, June 15, 2012

11 Questions with Alissa Grosso

I am happy to introduce to you Alissa Grosso, author of Popular (2011) and the newly released Ferocity Summer (May 2012) for this month's 11 Questions. Alissa's was one of the first author's blogs I stalked followed when I began my own writing journey in earnest. She was just about to launch Popular, and it was fun watching her get ready for her debut. Alissa and I have never met in person, but I did go see and listen to her at a local book festival last fall. I was a little too chicken to come up and introduce myself. I tend to get a little starstruck when I meet people I admire.
How early in life did you realize that you were a writer?  At what point did you decide to pursue publication? What brought you to that decision?
Pretty much as soon as I figured out how to string groups of words together to tell a story, I wanted to be a writer. In second grade, I was already writing and illustrating my own stories. Of course, it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to pursue publication spurred on by the realization that the rest of my life was fast approaching and I didn’t like the idea of being trapped in some office somewhere. This plan didn’t work so well, and I did get trapped in an office or two along the way, but mostly I’ve been fortunate to have some pretty fun “real” jobs.

Your published work is in the contemporary YA genre.  Have you ever written in other genres?  What is it about this genre that calls you?
I always assumed that I would be a science fiction author, this may be surprising since neither of my two published books have a shred of science fiction to them. I have had some science fiction short stories published in smaller SF publications. Before Popular was published, I also had a few successes with some contemporary adult short stories. I’ve stuck to YA with my book length fiction, though. I’m not sure what it is about this genre, perhaps the passion of the characters as they navigate their way through some of the toughest years of their lives.

Is there a specific topic, whether within your genre or outside of it, that you feel you cannot write about?  Would you explain to us why?
I really hate a dead animal story. (Word to the wise, do not read Where the Red Fern Grows without a box of tissues at your side.) Also, I’m not a big fan of talking mice. I don’t see myself writing a dead animal story. I’ll stick to live ones, unless they are talking mice. I’ll avoid those like the plague.

Could you describe for us the birth process of your stories?  Are all your stories born or developed the same way?
Some stories come to me fully formed. Others are just an idea or a hint of an idea, and get revised so many times along the way, they look nothing at all like the original concept. So, no, they definitely aren’t all born the same way.

Where do you typically find inspiration for your stories and the characters you create?  Is there a particular source that you return to regularly?
For me, there are three main staples for inspiration. In no particular order they are experience, imagination and stuff I’ve read about. Usually its some combination of all three.

Can you describe for us a typical writing day?  Do you write every day? Do you dedicate regular hours to writing?  What would be the optimum conditions for a “perfect” writing session?
In my life there is no such thing as a typical writing day. I don’t write every day. I simply don’t have that luxury. So, I write when I can find time to write, and dream about writing when I can’t. Maybe because of this, I don’t worry about optimum conditions or believe there’s any such thing as a “perfect” writing session. To me worrying about such things sounds like a good way to procrastinate your way out of writing.

After a writing session, how quickly can you step out of your story to tend to real life?
Hey, I’m a woman, we’re built for multitasking. So, changing gears has never been an issue for me. That said, I do tend to do a lot of writing late at night, which means I have a full 8 hours of sleep (well, more like 6 if the dog gets his way) before I have to tend to real life again.

How does real life affect your writing life?  Is it a hindrance? A refuge? A refueling point?
I think at any given time, real life can be all of these things. I have a day job, and that can sometimes be a hindrance when it comes to finding time to write. Then there are things like floors and dishes, which don’t wash themselves. Then again, when I’m stuck in a story, there is no greater relief than a dog that needs to go on a walk. As for refueling, there is inspiration to be drawn from life. The ideas aren’t going to come to you if you do nothing but sit in front of a computer all the time.

Have you ever found the inkwell dry?  How do you refill it?
So far, I am happy to say I haven’t run into this problem. In fact, I have the opposite problem. I have a surplus of ink. It spills all over the place and keeps me running all over the place as I try to figure out what I should work on next.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? Like the least?  Why?
The beginning of a new story is magical. I also enjoy going back through a first or second draft and polishing things up a bit. The worst, though is the middle. Middles are tough. Middles are where I lose my way, and more than once I’ve found myself walking away from a book at the middle unable to soldier on.

One of my favorite authors posed this question on her blog once, and answering it helped me identify my priorities in terms of what I want to focus on as a writer.   So, I’ll ask you:  “If you had just one story left in you, and it was guaranteed to be published, what would that story be?”
Well, for me, it’s always got to be the book that I really want to read. For me that’s a story that’s powerful and different with a dash of the unexpected. That’s pretty vague, I guess, but I assure you that the book I am working on is always the book that I really, really can’t wait to read.

Alissa Grosso writes and lives in New Jersey. Popular and Ferocity Summer are published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, and can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at a local independent bookstore through Follow her travels and adventures on her blog and as @alissagrosso on Twitter.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Inspiration Sunday

This prompt is yours to draw inspiration from. If you use it, and decide to post the resulting piece on your blog, or other online forum that hosts your writing, let me know in the comments section. I'll make sure to drop by and share my thoughts.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday's Word - Nadir


Pronounced as: nay-deer

Definition: (n) 1: the point on the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer; 2: the lowest point

Synonyms: bedrock, bottom, depth, zero

Antonyms: apex, crown, culmination, height, summit

I found this in the humorous account of author John Connelly of his experience on Atria's Great Mystery Bus Tour  in The Writer's Life section of the Shelf Awareness For Readers Newsletter on April 27, 2012.  If you aren't already following the Shelf Awareness newsletter, you should for news on the book trade and new books being released.  Plus they have a great section called Book Candy that features some pretty interesting products involving books.

Sample Use:
The newly implanted optical piece showed her the nadir of the crevice. However, it didn't show her the hand that pushed her in.

Your turn:  Show me in the comments how you might use this word in your own writing.  As an added challenge, try your hand at a piece of hint fiction (a piece of fiction in 25 words our less that hints to something bigger).

Monday, June 4, 2012

8 x 40 - A Visit To William Blake's Inn, by Nancy Willard

A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers was published by Voyager Books, an imprint of Harcourt Children's Books in 1981.  Awarded the Newbery Medal for Excellence in Children's Literature and named a Caldecott Honor Book, both in 1982,  it is currently the only book to be recognized for both awards in the same year.  I read this on May 5, 2012 with my ten year old daughter.

This is a collection of poems by Nancy Willard, who tells us in her introduction that she was first introduced to the poetry of William Blake by a caregiver when she was sick at seven years old.  Mr. Blake is a noted English poet, painter and printmaker, who lived in the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

My Thoughts:
The collection of poems shows a whimsical look into what you might find if you ever traveled to William Blake's Inn.  I would have certainly enjoyed reading this to my children if they were much younger.

Typically, I choose the next book by picking from pieces of rolled up paper with all the remaining titles printed on them.  In this instance,  I chose to read this book after Olive Kitterdidge because I needed a palate cleanser of sorts to clear my mind of the seriousness.  It's short, light and fanciful.  Just what I needed.

First Line:
This inn belongs to William Blake
and many are the beasts he's tamed
and many are the stars he's named
and many those who stop and take
their joyful rest with William Blake.

Last Line:
You whose journeys now begin,
if you reach a lovely inn,
if a rabbit makes your bed,
if two dragons bake your bread,
rest a little for my sake,
and give my love to William Blake.

The Author:
Nancy Willard was born in 1936 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She is a noted and prolific children's author and poet for both children and adults.  She continues to lecture on English at Vassar College.  She lives in Poughkeepsie, New York.

The Illustrators:
Alice and Martin Provensen are a husband and wife illustrating team.  They received the Caldecott Honor medal for this book.  They have received their own Caldecott medal for The Glorious Flight.  Martin, who created Kellogg cereal mascot, Tony The Tiger, passed away in 1987.  Alice continues to write and illustrate, and lives in Dutchess County, New York.

Book Source: Bought used via Amazon.

Information Sources:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Inspiration Sunday

This prompt is yours to draw inspiration from. If you use it, and decide to post the resulting piece on your blog, or other online forum that hosts your writing, let me know in the comments section. I'll make sure to drop by and share my thoughts.