Saturday, August 3, 2013

news of the week, and a bit of free writing advice

1. I finished proofing the inside ARC pages for Grasshopper Jungle. Did I mention they look beautiful? For some reason, seeing the typeset pages of your soon-to-be book is always the most thrilling part of the journey for me; kind of like seeing an ultrasound of your fetus or something.

Random page glimpse:

Also, there were about a dozen or so mistakes I caught, but that's no big deal. Now I can actually say I am completely finished with that book and it's time to move on to something new, as always, which is kind of postpartum-ish. So I am writing again, but I have until March 25 to turn in my next novel, which is a very comfortable deadline.

2. I saw a really cool article on YALSA's The Hub about getting YA fiction into the hands of readers who say they only like graphic novels. The article recommended Winger... and in pretty much the same breath as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is one of my favorite books ever.

You can read YALSA's YA Fiction for Fans of Graphic Novels and Comics here.

3. I also received news that Winger has been nominated to YALSA's 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults award. The list of nominees is spectacular, by the way, and this is a huge honor.

Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominees

4.  Yesterday, I participated with a number of other authors in the Nationwide Teen Lock-In video conference. I think the idea was that a whole bunch of teens spent the night in their local libraries tuned in to the conference and asking the authors a bunch of tough questions.

And... um... unlike the last one of these things I did, the technology worked perfectly.

One of the last questions I received was about giving advice to teens who want to write. Since this has been dubbed the "conference season" for whatever reasons, I figured I'd share my tips about being a writer here. I answered the question something like this:

Nobody can teach you how to be a writer. You have to learn how to do it. Everything you do in your life is part of the lesson in becoming a writer. If you really want to learn--and some people are afraid of what that verb--to learn--entails--you have to disconnect. You can't possibly learn how to be a writer if the majority of your life experiences are scripted by someone else and delivered on a flickering screen. This is the killer--the anesthesia to creativity. You need to get out and bump into things. If you know more about the characters in Dr. Who than the characters in your neighborhood, this doesn't bode well for your future as a writer. You need to read an awful lot. I listed the authors of the books stacked all over my desk. Here they are: Sam Shepard, Gunter Grass, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Salman Rushdie, Ernest Hemingway--and I told the kids about the YA I've read this year, too--notably from John Corey Whaley, Carrie Mesrobian, and A.S. King. Yes, I have a very messy, book-stacked desk. You can't be afraid of grammar, spelling, and mechanics. You have to love those things as much as the story caged-in by them, or you will never be a writer.

I know. I'm such a downer. You want easy? Go learn how to ride a two-wheeler.