Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category
April 16th, 2014 Posted 12:25 pm
I just came back from the Houston Writer’s Guild Annual Conference. It was wonderful. I shocked everyone in the morning with my hilariously inappropriate keynote (and can I say, thank goodness the audio recording was turned off? Now the rest of the world will have to imagine how inappropriate I got.), and then did a query workshop in the afternoon.
In between sessions, people came up to me asking for writing advice. I never know what to say – where you are on your writing journey really decides which bit of advice will be most helpful. But I read this article today, at The Storyteller’s Inkpot, by Jane Resh Thomas, and I think it might be the best, most helpful, succinct writing advice I’ve seen in a long while.
Do what she says, and you’ll rock it.
Oh, also! In Nightingale’s Nest news, the first line of that very book was one of those featured in the Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker blog here! Very cool.
And, as promised, here’s the text to the starred review for NEST from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books! And a link to it, if you’re curious.
At twelve-years old, “Little John” Fischer isn’t so little anymore. A recent growth spurt allows him to help his father earn money chopping and hauling trees—work that’s physically demanding and emotionally devastating, given his younger sister’s recent fatal fall from a dead branch. Drowning in the guilt of not having caught her, Little John plays along when his mother talks as if his sister’s still alive; he also ignores his father’s drinking and hides his family’s dwindling solvency from his best friend by avoiding him completely. Lonely and unbearably sad, he meets Gayle, an abused foster child with a magical voice that enchants the birds and heals the wounded. She trusts Little John immediately, leaping into his arms from her “nest,” the branch of a tree where she claims her parents will find her one day, and even following him into the home of Mr. King, the wealthy and unnerving landowner from whom she usually flees. When Little John sells her voice—and her trust—to Mr. King for the money to cover his family’s rent, he knows he must make it right, no matter the cost. Magical realism meets coming of age in this sensitive and haunting novel, with the relentless, eroding effects of family tragedy in full relief. Sympathetic but not saccharine, Loftin’s portrayal of Little John, with his tremendous sense of responsibility and his unflagging feeling of guilt, as well as his need for love and acceptance, will resonate with readers who carry life’s burdens. The otherworldly Gayle will captivate their imaginations as she flutters in and out of reach, singing the injured back to health and calling the birds to her with her voice, but it’s Little John who will capture their hearts. Read this aloud and have both boys and girls alike utterly enraptured.
UTTERLY ENRAPTURED, do you hear? Oh my gosh, I’m gonna go faint now.
Write well, friends!
November 16th, 2012 Posted 8:01 am
What an interesting week! Aside from personal ickiness (like getting my car broken into), it’s been pretty amazing.
I was invited to speak to two undergraduate classes in the College of Education at Texas State University by Professor Dianne Pape. Her classes were attentive, curious, and willing to believe almost anything I told them about fairy tales
and how best to brainwash kids with them. I mean, how best to keep the cultural tradition alive.
(On a side note, Dianne introduced me as an “expert in fairy tales.” Which made me laugh so hard! And then, about twenty questions into the Q&A, I realized – I may not be an expert yet… but I’m getting there.)
It was fun to have a soapbox so readily provided, in such an amazing forum, to share my (extremely fervently held) beliefs that fairy tales – especially the original, un-sanitized ones- are truly valuable for children.
And then, today, the illustrious Association for Library Service to Children handed me another soapbox, on an even larger stage, to say some of those same things. So, what do you think? Have you noticed kids are less and less exposed to fairy tales? Why do you think that might be?
I’d love to hear from you, in their comments section or mine.
And – while you’re at it – what is your favorite obscure fairy tale? I’m trying to become an expert, you see, and I’d love to see which classic tales resonated with my writer friends/blog readers. And if you can tell me WHY you love a fairy tale, I’ll send you a bookmark and stickers in the mail!
March 14th, 2012 Posted 2:56 pm
It’s happened. I’m finally cool enough to sit at the cheerleader table.
And, of course, the “table” is the Dear Teen Me anthology, a book of letters from 70 YA authors to their teenage selves, coming from Zest Books on October 31, 2012.
Oh my gosh, this is so cool! Do you recognize Jennifer Ziegler on the cover, looking coy and cute with her corded phone? And Mike Jung, looking like the Eternal Band Geek of Awesomeness?And Jessica Lee Anderson, showing her mom the exact spot she wanted to get her tongue pierced? (Kidding, Jessica! I think…)
Here’s the official description:
Edited by Dear Teen Me blog founders Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson, the letters in Dear Teen Me cover a range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. Your favorite YA authors dissect critical moments from their own young lives, and offer advice and guidance to their teenage selves.
I’m so excited to be included in this. And my letter – like all the others — will be a totally new one. But I promise mine will be as awkward and painfully funny (now, not then) as THIS ONE and THIS ONE.
Excuse me, I have to go hot-roller my hair now, and look through my old high school albums while listening to Duran Duran.
Posted in Essays
February 8th, 2012 Posted 3:25 am
So last week was hard, and my last post was sad. Let’s brighten the blog up!
Check this out, my favorite thing on the Internet last week – and an Academy Award-nominated short animated film!
Lovely, isn’t it?
Oh, and in Nikki News, I placed two pieces so far this month! I will have the great pleasure of seeing another one of my short stories in Pockets magazine this June, and (how’s this for a long lead time?) another short essay in the Bylines 2013 Calendar!
Now, back to the Revising Cave. Thank goodness I’ve put by enough chocolate to last the winter.
December 30th, 2011 Posted 10:05 pm
2012 is almost upon us! Have you bought your weekly writer’s calendar? If not, feel free to pick up this one:
Not just because I’m a calendar girl, although of course that would be a good reason. (I’m pretty sure I’m August, but I haven’t gotten mine in the mail yet. I’m thinking August will be a month to remember.) It’s a great calendar, chock full of inspirational stuff and handy references… check it out!
I should add, if you’re family, you’re required to get one because it has my kids’ pictures in it. Seriously.
If you’re a writer, go ahead and submit a short essay for next year’s calendar. Who knows, you might be Ms. /Mr. August 2013. (But you’ll never be as amazingly cute as those kids from August 2012, don’t even try.)
Happy New Year, Friends. I’ll see you next week with word on my broken resolutions!
November 27th, 2011 Posted 11:45 pm
News flash! You have two (count them: TWO!) opportunities to buy anthologies with my work in them this month.
If you’re a lover of personal essays, chock full of humor and (gasp!) recipes, check out the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love edition.
Or, if you’re more of a black turtleneck and beret type (and don’t we all have those days? Come on, admit it.), you might be interested in Improbable Worlds: an anthology of Texas and Louisiana Poets.
Actually, I had a fainting spell when I saw the names of the other poets in this anthology. I’m still a little overcome by the whole thing.
Now, I don’t have time to mess around. I have a whole lotta words to churn out to meet my next deadline. So, answer me this: if Santa were planning on bringing you a recently-published book (in addition to these lovely anthologies), what book would you ask for?
Did Santa ever bring you a book when you were small? Or was that considered socks-and-underwear-ish?
Write well, Friends!
September 24th, 2011 Posted 6:15 pm
Ever have one of those weeks where all the troubles of the world come crashing down on you? And your kids need you, and your house looks like a slob pit, and you haven’t updated your blog in a week, and you don’t even care, because you MUST FINISH WRITING YOUR NOVEL?
So, that’s where I’m at. I’m going to stay away from the blog until the end of the week to give myself time and permission to make a fairly major change in my Work-in-Progress, and to polish and send off some Secret Contracted Work.
And I have a bit of good news I can share. I have an essay coming out in a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology in November! *confetti*
I’ll be back next weekend, after the amazing Austin Teen Book Festival. Seriously, check out the line-up on this one. Scott Westerfeld, Maureen Johnson, Tera Lynn Childs, and all the local YA literati! Wowza — I’m taking my niece, her friend, my son, and however many other teens I can fit in the minivan.
And we’re all going to go paparazzi on these amazing authors. There will be pictures, promise.
Take care, and write well!
September 14th, 2011 Posted 4:12 pm
Hiya, Writer Friends!
I’m writing up a storm on my Work-in-Progress. It makes me so sad (this one’s a doozy), I have to stop and eat massive doses of chocolate just to get through the day. (More than usual, I mean. Which is saying something, folks.)
Of course, then I go teach Zumba classes to ward off Writer’s Butt. (Yesterday, one of my class members commented on how much we were sweating. I wiped off my forehead and said, “Sweat? This isn’t sweat. It’s the blood of a thousand vanquished M&Ms.” Real life dialogue for the WIN!)
The week started off with sadness, as two of our sweet pet chickens died horribly. Then I got a bit of lovely writer news — a poem accepted into a new anthology put out by Mutabilis Press for poets with ties/connections to Texas and Louisiana. The anthology comes out rather soon, and I’ll post a link here when it does.
And then there was some other Happy News I can’t share until later in the week! Intrigued? You must wait!
I hope you all had Happy News in your week. And no dead pets, because that part really sucked.
Now, I’m off to torture my characters yet again. Huh. Where’d I put those Snickers bars?
August 3rd, 2011 Posted 8:52 pm
Have you ever written a guest post and thought, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t have been quite that honest?”
Yeah, me too. Recently, actually.
And, for the record, I don’t just write for spite. I also write for my kids, the glory of the written word, the elusive possibility of attaining a literary sort of immortality… and money. Gotta love money.
Have a great week! (And thanks to Samantha for asking me to share!)
June 13th, 2011 Posted 2:11 pm
If you hop on over to this post on the excellent Dear Teen Me website, I think you’ll see that I will do anything for a laugh. Or for sympathy. Or for attention. Whichever.
Go ahead, laugh at me. I kinda like it.
(So, do you think I should have changed the name of my Eternal Crush in this piece? I mean, it’s on the Internet now, with his Real Name. Will he be embarrassed? Shocked? Will his wife and kids be all “ICK!” ?)
Happy Monday! Now go write something fabulous.