Friday, October 31, 2008

LitQuake and NaNoWriMo

Why is San Francisco such a great place to live? Do we need any more reasons? Well, there's LitQuake, San Francisco's Literary Festival.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Lit Quake's Lit Crawl & enjoyed a lively gathering at The Lone Palm led by NaNoWriMo's Chris Baty. Chris wrote the book, No Plot? No Problem.

Great title and here's one of my favorite parts of his book about a few of the benefits of being a novelist:

“Novelists, we knew, had it made...They had license to dress horribly, wear decades-out-of-date hairstyles, and have their shortcomings interpreted as charming quirks and idiosyncrasies rather than social dysfunctions.”

That's from page 9 in the introduction of No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

That's right, NaNoWriMo is all about writing a novel in just 30 days...

Well, November is upon us--National Novel Writing Month--the 10th year of NaNoWriMo in fact. Have I ever written a novel in a month? Nope. It takes me much longer than that. But I like the silly creativeness of the idea, where aspiring novelists attempt to hack out a novel in a mere 30 days. It doesn't have to be a good novel. In fact they encourage quantity (50,000 words) over quality.
But look at this. If you poke around their website you'll not only find the Procrastination Station but you'll also see some quality resources in NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program--wonderful free downloads of Young Novelist Workbooks for students in Elementary, Middle School or High School. You'll find extensive useful writing tips here for writers of any age all created by the Office of Letters and Light Young Writers Program. Are these folks enlightened or what? I think so! By the way, young writers get to choose their own word count goal.

So Happy 10th Anniversary to NaNoWriMo. It'll be my 10th anniversary of NOT writing a novel in a month, but also my tenth year enjoying watching everyone else do it.

And me? Maybe I'll try to complete my unfinished novel this month!

How about you, imaginary readers?

Got a plot or not?

Either way, take a look at NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program or A whole lot of good creative fun happening there.

Forecast: Letters, light & "shortcomings interpreted as charming quirks and idiosyncrasies..." What could be better than that?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts on Anita Silvey's "Has The Newbery Lost Its Way?"

In a recent School Library Journal article, Anita Silvey poses the question, "Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?"

The whole piece was interesting on many levels but one line resonated with me as an author:
titles that combine quality writing with exciting pacing and heart-tugging characters—remain perennial best sellers even though they never captured Newbery gold."

So that's my goal for the week, the month and my entire writing life-- to aspire to create stories that combine:

1. Quality writing
2. Exciting pacing
3. Heart-tugging characters

Will my books ever win a Newbery or Newbery honor? I wish. Will they become best sellers? I have little control over that. What I can control is immersing myself in reading great books with quality writing, exciting pacing & heart-tugging characters--then keep working at perfecting the craft of my own writing.

We've finally had a hint of rain here in San Francisco and it makes me want to reserve a stack of good books from the S. F. Public Library.

So please tell me Imaginary Readers, which (old and new) middle grade and YA novels do
YOU think fulfill Anita Silvey's 3 criteria above? Which books would you recommend reading or rereading on a rainy fall day?

Forecast: Fall rain and lots of good books