Thursday, April 11, 2019

Introducing, our brand new blog: Pen & Story!


The Chinook Update has been good to us for a long time, but 
'tis the season for "out with the old, in with the new." 

So, just in time for spring, 
we're thrilled to unveil our brand new blog: 

New blog! New Look! New Features! 

We think this new blog home will help us serve you better
as we all look toward the future. 

So, go check it out, and be sure to subscribe by email
so you don't miss any upcoming posts! 

There will be no new posts on this blog. 
From now on, it's all happening at Pen & Story
Please make sure to update your bookmarks accordingly.  

A huge THANK YOU to Kimberly Baker for envisioning and leading this effort, and for putting together the amazing new Primer, an awesome one-stop-shop for anything you might need at every stage of your career!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

April Meeting: Alma Alexander and World Buiding

For our April Monthly Meeting, we present Alma Alexander, novelist, anthologist, and short story writer. Alma will speak to us on the evergreen topic of worldbuilding and creating solid story worlds. Come add trusty tools to your crafty toolkit!

Worldbuilding for Solid Story Worlds

Saturday, April 13, 10 am - noon

Bellevue College Paccar Auditorium N-201 
(Coal Creek Rd, Bellevue, WA 98007

Free parking! Closest lots are 13 and 14.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Faculty Spotlight on Local Talent Nisi Shawl

Julie Artz: Welcome, Nisi! We're so excited to have you join us as keynote speaker and honored faculty at SCBWI Western Washington's Spring Conference, Imagine That! 

I first learned about your work when I read the book you co-authored with Cynthia Ward, Writing the Other. What led you to write that book and to tackle the topic of representation in literature?

Nisi Shawl: The full origin story is posted on the website of the publisher, Aqueduct Press. Basically, I heard one too many times from one too many intelligent writers that they wanted to skip out on doing the work of believable representation--for fear of getting it wrong.  Though the instigating comment was made more than 25 years ago, that same sentiment is something I continue to hear to this very day.  Writing is not for the faint of heart, I say.  Learning is risky.  However, in the book and in the courses I co-teach, I offer tools and techniques for getting better at believable representation with practice and good will. It’s work, but it’s doable.

Julie: I hear you have a children's book coming up. What can you tell us about it? What led you to try your hand at children's literature?

Nisi: That’s my middle grade historical fantasy, Speculation, coming out from Lee and Low sometime next year.  I’m in the midst of revisions now.  Speculation is the story of two African American girls who go to stay with their grandparents in the country while their mother’s hospitalized.  The younger girl sits on the older girl’s glasses and breaks them, so the older one has to wear her great-aunt’s glasses and she sees ghosts through them and is given a magical quest…it’s inspired by my encounters as a kid with the works of Edward Eager and E. Nesbit, but blackified.  I was quite the young nerd, and I wrote Speculation and some other as-yet-unpublished books as gifts to the girl I was.  And of course for all those girls and boys like me.

Julie: In addition to keynoting Saturday's conference, you're also teaching a masterclass Sunday on Representing the Other: Dialect and Narrative Voice. Can you tell us a little bit more about your teaching experience and what you think participants will walk away with after they attend your class?

Nisi: Experience!  I am big on practical results, and I include several exercises in my classes so that students get to use the tools and techniques I recommend for this work.  I want people also to have fun, so that they realize that while Representing the Other takes effort, it is a joyful and rewarding effort.

My teaching experience is quite varied.  I’ve led weeklong retreats for 5th- and 6th-graders, workshops and classes for MFA programs, and online webinars lasting anywhere from one hour to six weeks.  And more. I always learn something from my students.  It’s performance art, and every audience draws out new skills, new perspectives, new insights.

Julie: What's one piece of advice that really helped you early in your career? 

Nisi: John Crowley told me that the emotional burden of any situation is what I need to have gone through. I don’t need to BE the long-lost heir to the throne, but I better know how said long-lost heir feels.  Invaluable and always appropriate advice.

Julie: What's the best part of your job? The most challenging part?

Nisi: By far the best part of my job is hearing that a writer has sent a book out into the world that they credit me for helping with.  Writing the Other is like a midwife, and these authors bear their literary offspring and I am part of it!

The most challenging aspect of my job these days is travel. Packing, buying tickets, making transfers, passing through security, adjusting to new time zones--“Aaugghhh!” as Charlie Brown would say.  Thank goodness SCBWI WWA is in my current hometown of Seattle.  Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Julie: We can't wait! Many thanks. 

Nisi Shawl wrote the 2016 Nebula Award finalist Everfair and the 2008 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award winner Filter House. In 2005 she co-wrote Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, a standard text on diversity and inclusivity in the imaginative genres. She has spoken at institutions ranging from University of Hawai’i Manoa to Smith College. Shawl is a founder of the Carl Brandon Society, a nonprofit dedicated to the fair representation of minorities in fantastic literature. For the last twenty years she has served on the board of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. She lives in southern Seattle and takes frequent walks with her cat.