Popular Posts

Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important'

A Writer's Moment: 'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important': “Let's put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you...

'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important'

“Let's put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle


Writing as a journalist would be good training for the writer of children’s books, but if I were an editor I’d be asking someone like Carle the best way to write them, because he was an expert at it with the award-winning books he produced.  Of course his wonderful artwork didn’t hurt either.


Carle, who was born on June 25, 1929 and died last month, was the author of the mega-selling best sellers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?   He said he always attempted to make his books both entertaining and educational – offering readers opportunities to learn something about the world around them.  He also advised writers wanting to work in the childrens’ literature genre’ to “recognize children’s feelings, inquisitiveness and creativity.”

 
 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has very few words but speaks volumes, has been translated into 58 languages and sold over 40 million copies.  Overall, Carle illustrated or wrote 70 books with 125 million copies in print.  In 2003 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his career contribution to American children’s literature. 

“We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long,” Carle said. “I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
 
 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Every Page A Gem'

A Writer's Moment: 'Every Page A Gem': “I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing - ...

'Every Page A Gem'

“I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing - that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around.”  Markus Zusak

The Book Thief, Zusak's heart-wrenching novel about the awful years in Germany during the late 1930s and through World War II, was written when he was still in 20s.  Published in 2005, the novel followed on the heels of two other award-winning novels I Am the Messenger and When Dogs Cry.   Born in Australia on this date in 1975, Zusak has written half-a-dozen best sellers.  The Book Thief alone was on the New York Times bestseller list for a remarkable 375 weeks.  
 
 His writing career is a testament to perserverance and “knowing that a story is    
worth fighting to get published.”  He wrote When Dogs Cry as a teenager and it took him 7 years to get it accepted.  Since then it’s not only sold continuously but also won many awards around the globe, as has Zusak, who was named for the annual Margaret Edwards Award in 2014 for his contribution to young-adult literature.    “I try hard and aim big,” Zusak said.   “People can hate or love my books but they can never accuse me of not trying.”

“Failure has been my best friend as a writer,” he said after finally getting When Dogs Cry published.  “It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.” 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Writer's Moment: Flipping On The Writing Switch

A Writer's Moment: Flipping On The Writing Switch:   “Writing's funny, it's like walking down a hall in the dark looking for the light switch, and suddenly you find it, flip it on, an...

Flipping On The Writing Switch

 “Writing's funny, it's like walking down a hall in the dark looking for the light switch, and suddenly you find it, flip it on, and then you discover the hallway you passed through is papered with the novel you've written.– Jonathan Safran Foer


Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us, Foer says.  Currently a professor in the Writing Program at NYU, Foer was just breaking onto the market when he wrote his critically acclaimed novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about a young boy dealing with the death of his father on 9/11.

The book was subsequently made into a movie, nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor categories. While it starred Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow ( the Best Supporting Actor nominee), it was Tom Horn as the 9-year-old protagonist who received most of the acclaim for his heart-wrenching interpretation of the words that Foer had written.
 

Foer, born in 1977, also is acclaimed for his non-fiction works, especially 2019’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.


He says he likes to approach writing like a sculptor.  “There are two kinds of sculptures,” he said. “There's the kind that subtracts: Michelangelo starts with a block of marble and chips away. And then there is the kind that adds, building with clay, piling it on. The way I write novels is to keep piling on and piling on and piling on."
 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/


Monday, June 21, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'The Hero of Your Own Story'

A Writer's Moment: 'The Hero of Your Own Story': “We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words, you are the hero of your own story.” –   Mary McCarthy ...

'The Hero of Your Own Story'

“We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words, you are the hero of your own story.”  Mary McCarthy


Author, critic and political activist, McCarthy was born in Seattle on this date in 1912  and built her reputation as a satirist, primarily with her novel The Group, which remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years.

Noted for her precise prose and its complex mixture of autobiography and fiction, she also was considered “scandalous” in her younger years, especially with her first novel The Company She Keeps, which “told it like it was” in 1930s New York Society.

Winner of two Guggenheim Fellowships and a number of other major “funding” awards, she was named for the National Medal for Literature and
 the Edward MacDowell Medal, both in 1984   
 on the cusp of learning that she had lung cancer.  During her later years, in recognition of her groundbreaking work, she was presented with 8 honorary degrees from some of America’s leading universities.


Despite being a respected critic, she often feuded with other writers over her frank and often not-so-flattering reactions to their works.  As for her own writing, she said she surprised herself with their outcomes. “The suspense of a novel,” I think, “is not only for the reader, but in the novelist, who is usually intensely curious about what will happen to her hero.”

 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 19, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Poetry and Music . . . Good Friends'

A Writer's Moment: 'Poetry and Music . . . Good Friends': “Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream - they ...

'Poetry and Music . . . Good Friends'

“Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream - they go together.”  Nikki Giovanni


Born in June of 1943, Giovanni is a renowned poet and essayist who has taught at Queens College, Rutgers, and Ohio State and is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.   Her poetry has ranged from the somber, such as the chant-poem she delivered at the memorial for the Virginia Tech shooting victims, to thoughtful and whimsical, such as today’s short poem. 
 
 For Saturday’s Poem, here is Giovanni’s: 
 
                        

I wrote a good omelet

 

                                          I wrote a good omelet...and ate

a hot poem... after loving you
Buttoned my car...and drove my
coat home...in the rain...
after loving you
I goed on red...and stopped on
green...floating somewhere in between...
being here and being there...
after loving you
I rolled my bed...turned down
my hair...slightly
confused but...I don't care...
Laid out my teeth...and gargled my
gown...then I stood
...and laid me down...
To sleep...
after loving you.

 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Ultimately . . . You Get to Decide'

A Writer's Moment: 'Ultimately . . . You Get to Decide':   “Because characters are your creations, you are the one who ultimately gets to decide their fate.” – Alexandra Adornetto   A child prodi...

'Ultimately . . . You Get to Decide'

 “Because characters are your creations, you are the one who ultimately gets to decide their fate.” – Alexandra Adornetto
 

A child prodigy, Adornetto was born in Melbourne, Australia on this date in 1994 and began writing for children and young adults at age 13.  Her best-known works are The Strangest Adventures series, the Halo trilogy and The Ghost House Saga.

 

The daughter of an English teacher and a drama teacher she grew up in Melbourne's inner east district, won the State Legacy Public Speaking Competition at age 12 and was 13 when she decided to become a recluse and write her first book.  The result, The Shadow Thief, was inspired by Peter Pan with the two main characters based on herself and her cousin and their own adventures together as children.  An instant hit, it put her on track to successful writing and acting careers (She has acted in half-a-dozen movies so far).


On the writing side, Adornetto has had six more successful novels and commented in print on politics and other matters while working on degrees at the U. of Mississippi.

 

“Imagination makes us aware of limitless possibilities,” she said.  “How many of us haven't pondered the concept of infinity or imagined the possibility of time travel? In one of her poems, Emily Bronte likens imagination to a constant companion, but I prefer to think of it as a built-in entertainment system.”

 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Writer's Moment: Portrayer of the Time

A Writer's Moment: Portrayer of the Time: “Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.” –   John Herse...

Portrayer of the Time

“Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.”  John Hersey

 

Born on this date in 1914, Hersey is best known for two amazing pieces of writing.  In 1944, he published the bio-novel A Bell for Adano, and in 1946, he wrote an account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.  In the span of two years he won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel, and then wrote the journalistic piece later judged  “the finest piece of American journalism of the 20th century” by a 36-member panel associated with New York University’s journalism department.

Adano (just one of 25 books Hersey authored) won the 1945 Pulitzer.  It’s the story of an Italian-American officer who wins the respect and admiration of the people of Adano, Sicily, by helping them find a replacement for the town bell that the Fascists had melted down for rifle barrels.   The tale grew directly out of his experiences as a war correspondent traveling, living with and writing about the troops in the field.

That book alone would have made his career, but in August, 1946, commemorating the anniversary of the Aug. 6, 1945, dropping of the first atomic bomb, The New Yorker published his most notable work, a 31,000-word article "Hiroshima.”  The story occupied almost the entire issue – something The New Yorker had never done before, nor has since.  Told from the viewpoint of 6 survivors it is, perhaps, the first example of what was to become called “New Journalism,” in which fiction storytelling techniques are adapted to non-fiction reportage. 

                                               
                                                              Hersey in the late 1940s and in the early 1990s

Shortly before his 1993 death, Yale (his alma mater) honored Hersey by creating an annual lecture series in his name.  In dedicating the series, fellow Yale alum, the author David McCullough, had this to say about Hersey.   Hersey "portrayed our time,” McCullough observed, "with a breadth and artistry matched by very few. He has given us the century in a great shelf of brilliant work, and we are all his beneficiaries."
 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'To Embark on a (Writing) Quest'

A Writer's Moment: 'To Embark on a (Writing) Quest': “To write a novel is to embark on a quest that is very romantic. People have visions, and the next step is to execute th...

'To Embark on a (Writing) Quest'

“To write a novel is to embark on a quest that is very romantic. People have visions, and the next step is to execute them. That's a very romantic project. Like Edvard Munch's strange dreamlike canvases where people are stylized, like 'The Scream.' Munch must have had that vision in a dream; he never saw it.”  Joyce Carol Oates


Born on this day in 1938, Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over 40 novels, a number of plays and novellas, many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and been a frequent reviewer of others’ works.  A long-time professor of writing, she still serves as a Visiting Professor.

She is the winner of many writing awards, including the National Book Award for her novel Them, two O. Henry Awards, and the National Humanities Medal.    Five of her books have been nominated for Pulitzer Prizes and she’s considered a “short lister” for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Despite her remarkable and prolific output, she says she never rushes the completion process for each of her works.   “My reputation for writing quickly and effortlessly notwithstanding, I am strongly in favor of intelligent, even fastidious revision, which is, or certainly should be, an art in itself."                                        

 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Writing What You Know, Live and Dream'

A Writer's Moment: 'Writing What You Know, Live and Dream': “I wrote about a bird that cleaned a crocodile's teeth. The story was so good that my teacher could not believe that...

'Writing What You Know, Live and Dream'

“I wrote about a bird that cleaned a crocodile's teeth. The story was so good that my teacher could not believe that a ten-year-old could write that well. I was even punished because my teacher thought I'd lied about writing it! I had always loved to write, but it was then that I realized that I had a talent for it.”  Brian Jacques


Best known for his Redwall series of novels, Jacques was born in Liverpool, England on this date in 1939 and started reading early, devouring everything from novels like Kidnapped to the Wind in the Willows books.  By age 10 his vivid imagination combined with his talent for poring over books about animals led to that writing experience (noted above) which defined his writing life.

The Redwall series, centered on the triumph of good over evil, features an intricate animal-based world, ranging from peaceful mice, badgers, voles, hares, moles and squirrels to “bad guy” rats, weasels, ferrets, snakes and stoats. He does not shy away from the reality of battle, and many of the "good" creatures die. The first book, just called Redwall, alludes to the surrounding human civilization with a scene featuring a horse-drawn cart. But the subsequent books ignore humans completely.  Redwall’s world portrays a society from the misty past with castles, bridges and ships built to the scale of forest creatures.  His animal “heroes” write their own literature, draw their own maps, and have a world most humans envy.                                                           

 

Jacques’ books were among the earliest converted into audio versions, and he was deeply involved as the lead characters while enlisting his sons and others to voice his Redwall inhabitants, many based on people he encountered.  He died in 2011.

 

For new writers, Jacques said start by writing what you know, live and dream.  “Sometimes, I get ideas from dreams,” he once said.  “Often, my stories are based on adventures that I, or my friends, have actually lived.  Write yours, too.”

 

 

Share A Writer’s Moment with friends

www.writersmoment.blogspot.com

Monday, June 14, 2021