Sunday, January 4, 2009

Peter Brown signing

Peter Brown will be on our conference faculty, and here's a chance to see him in action beforehand on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ballard Library.

Here's what the folks at Secret Garden Books have to say about his latest:

When a mind-reading monkey asks his audience to imagine the most spectacular thing in history, the outcome is bound to be zany. Sure enough, this simple request evolves into the story of a roller-skating purple kangaroo who is searching for a dear friend.

We’re huge fans of the books Peter Brown has written and illustrated, including: The Flight of the Dodo, the Chowder series, and The Curious Garden. The Brooklynite is back in town to show us how he illustrated celebrity/comedian Michael Ian Black’s second book for kids (his first was Chicken Cheeks).

Mr. Brown will sign books for sale at the event.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gail Carson Levine on unpredictability

Gail Carson Levine reimagines classic stories and still manages to surprise readers. How does she do it? Her thoughts:

What's next?

Erin Edwards asked me to expand on this from my post about revising: "Am I leading the reader along properly so that what happens is neither predictable nor too far fetched to believe?" Erin added, "I think this takes real skill and is ultimately what makes a book satisfying."

Predictability happens to be timely for me right now. I just (ten minutes ago) emailed my mystery novel to my editor, who hasn’t seen a word of it. So I’m wondering if my villain is going to be instantly obvious.

Of course I want his or her identity to be a surprise, but I’m willing to put up with other writers’ predictability in some cases. I’m a great fan of the Adrian Monk TV series, for example, although sometimes I can spot the villain as soon as I lay eyes on him, before the plot has even been laid out. I’m okay with that because I’m there for the laughs and the poignancy of Monk’s sad life.

Readers of my fiction come to it expecting an ending that won’t leave them feeling hopeless. I may write a really sad book one day, and if I do, some people will be disappointed and even angry at me. We go to some books, especially series books, craving predictability. We want to enjoy again what pleased us before. There’s some of that pleasure in rereading books we love.

For tellers of old tales, like me, the story’s ending is known; what’s unknown is how the ending is achieved.

There's more; read the whole thing

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sales and rights roundup from PW

A lot of interesting stuff on Publishers Weekly:

Japan's Studio Ghibli is adapting the 1952 classic The Borrowers by Mary Norton as an animated feature film, Variety reports. It will be directed by animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi under the supervision of Hayao Miyazaki, and will be titled Karigurashi no Arrietty (Arrietty Borrows Everything). The movie is set for a summer 2010 release; Studio Ghibli has also produced Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.

Virginia Duncan at Greenwillow Books pre-empted North American rights to The Ivy, the first of a four-book YA series by two 2008 Harvard graduates, Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur. Each novel offers an insider's look at life behind these ivy-covered walls through the story of fictionalized Callie Andrews, who arrives at Harvard expecting the greatest time of her life but finds herself ill-prepared for extracurricular social and romantic hurdles. The Ivy is scheduled for fall 2010 with subsequent hardcovers every nine months. Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio did the six-figure deal.

Actor, musician, and producer Nick Cannon has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for a multimedia book series to coincide with School Gyrls, the Cannon-directed movie that will premiere on Nickelodeon next February. Simon Spotlight will publish a movie novelization and a movie tie-in scrapbook. Aladdin Books will publish six original novels based on the three members of the real-life teen pop group School Gyrls. Fiona Simpson from Aladdin acquired world rights through Fletcher & Company in association with UTA on behalf of Nick Cannon.

Also at S&S, Lisa McMann (Wake and Fade) has signed a four-book deal with the Pulse and Aladdin imprints. The deal is for two YA titles (Pulse) and two middle-grade novels(Aladdin). The first title from Pulse, Dead to You, slated for spring 2012, follows a teenage boy who returns to his family nine years after being abducted. Aladdin will pub The Unwanteds, a dystopian fantasy, in fall 2011; the book follows a group of kids who, after showing sparks of creativity, are banished to a secret world where they're trained to hone their abilities. Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich with Jennifer Klonsky did the deal for world rights.

Brianne Mulligan at Razorbill has acquired world English rights to United States of Tara and former Saturday Night Live writer David Iserson's debut Firecracker in a two-book deal, The novel stars Astrid Krieger, a sharp-witted and ill-behaved daughter of privilege, who assembles a team of public school misfits to help her take revenge on her former private school. Richard Abate at 3 Arts Entertainment was the agent.

Check out the whole thing here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I really loved this blog post by Natalie Whipple, which is why I'm posting the whole durned thing here. Be sure to check out her blog, Between Fact and Fiction, for more inspiration and entertainment.

New Year's seems like a good time to take personal inventory of writing, who we are, and what it all means--and her perspective is great.

You Are Always You

And none of us are perfect. Through every writing process, I've come to see both my strengths and my weaknesses clearer.

As for flaws, I've never been good at facing rejection (I tend to weep). I've never had a very high self-esteem. I constantly fight self-doubt/self-loathing. I'm a raging perfectionist. Thus, a raging over-acheiver who is never good enough even for herself, let alone other people. Through writing, I have faced all my personal demons and then some. I have felt all my worst nightmares repeatedly and have wondered why I ever got into this gig in the first place.

I wish I could say I've grown tougher skin, but I don't know if that's true. Rejection still makes me ache, still makes me get wildly defensive. I've learned that I will never be the kind of person who can just shrug it off. But that's okay. I do get over it—and at times it even motivates me to improve once I get over the initial shock.

As for strengths, I'm creative, and I know how to work. I may not be perfect by a long shot, but I can work and improve myself constantly. I even like to. I may never be the best writer or person out there, but I will always give it my all. I think my strengths balance out my weaknesses some.

I've come to accept myself, problems and all. Perfect people aren't interesting, right? I know how I'll react to things, and I can prepare and overcome the setbacks quicker than I used to. Then I can get back to work.

People Are Gray
Spending hours and hours writing about fake people has helped me understand that there is so much more gray out there than black and white. Everyone has flaws—everyone has good points. In designing my "heroes," I've had to explore what makes someone do good things. In imagining my "villains," I've spent hours trying to understand why people do horrible things. Conflict comes from those who are in opposition to you—but that doesn't necessarily make those people evil. It just makes them different from you. Villainy is often based more on perspective than actual evil-doing.

This was a huge lesson for me as a person. I used to think people who thought differently from me were wrong, wrong, wrong. I used to think that everyone should do things my way, because, naturally, that was the best way out there.

But then I started writing. As I tried to put myself in other people's heads, I realized that there are so many different ways to handle life situations. And more than that, most of the paths weren't wrong at all—just different. I could accept more easily when people didn't see things like I did. Instead of trying to make people into what I thought they should be, I realized I could accept them just the way they were with no threat to my own way of life.

You Can't Help What Other People Think
I'm a people pleaser. Always have been, always will be. I like seeing people happy. I like when other people are happy with me. I love seeing people gathered together enjoying each other's company. I love doing things that make other people smile. You can probably guess I'm a huge fan of Happily Ever After, too.

Little parts of me die inside when other people are unhappy with me. When I was little, I would cry and cry over the bullies who picked on me. I tried everything I could to prevent the mean girls from laughing at my clothes or religion or hobbies. I tried to stay away from the mean boys who called me ugly and stupid and dorky.

But they always find me. Heck, they still find me. Yes, I'm 26 and I still get bullied. I'm like a Bully Magnet, I swear. It's almost comical how many people have vociferously hated me over my lifetime. One kid, when I asked him why he hated me so much, said, "I hate you because you were born." Another called me a "Horned Mormon Demon who would burn in hell forever." And then there was the "I Hate Natalie" campaign.

I spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I tried to fix myself to meet these people's approval—that never worked. How could I help being born, you know?

It wasn't until I started querying that I understood. As the rejections came in, I began to feel like that bullied little girl I was (and still am). But then I started getting used to it some. I learned that there was just nothing I could do to make people like me.

They either liked me, or they didn't.

Querying, though hard, was an invaluable lesson for this people pleaser. It gave me freedom from my desire to have everyone like me. It's okay if someone doesn't get me. That doesn't devalue me as a person. I don't have to feel bad feelings for them or myself because of their opinion. I can now better cope with the bullies in my life, because I know that I can never make them happy no matter how hard I try. And most importantly:

That's not my problem.

Do-overs ROCK
Could you imagine if we only got the First Draft to make our manuscripts perfect? Yeah, uh, I would fail. Like, fail epically, even.

Editing, though not my favorite, is a miraculous thing! I've made a lot of mistakes in both writing and life, and I feel lucky that I can fix those things, try again, and learn from all those mistakes.

Don't get me wrong—I feel like a complete fool when I have to rewrite the whole back half of my book. I also feel like a total idiot when I unintentionally (or even intentionally) hurt others. But knowing that I can do better next time is what gets me through. At least I CAN change the whole back half of my manuscript. At least I CAN apologize and try to be better next time.

Do-overs. Thank goodness for do-overs.

For none of us are perfect—people or writers. But that's okay. Improvement is always on the horizon if you want it, and if you don't you can find happiness right where you're at.

I think all this learning is the real reason I will never stop writing. I love to learn. I love to learn about myself and other people and the world around me. Writing gives me that, and I will gladly take each lesson, no matter how hard they are to learn.