Write Despite

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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Welcome Author Gigi Amateau–And Win a Copy of Her New Book!

gigi-amateauGigi Amateau’s first book for young adults, Claiming Georgia Tate, was published by Candlewick Press in 2005. That title was selected as a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and hailed by author Judy Blume: “It’s rare and exciting to discover a talented new writer like Gigi Amateau.” The Wall Street Journal called the book “an ambitious push into the young adult market.”

She is also the author of A Certain Strain of Peculiar, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, and Chancey of the Maury River, A William Allen White Masters list title for grades 3-5. Come August, Come Freedom, her first work of historical fiction, was selected by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Fall 2012 Okra Pick, chosen by Bank Street College as a Best Children’s Book of the Year, and by the Virginia Library Association as a Jefferson Cup Honor book. In 2012, Gigi received a Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts from Richmond magazine.

Her fifth novel, Macadoo of the Maury River, macadoo-coverwas released by Candlewick Press in August 2013. A copy of it can be yours by posting a comment here on Write Despite.

Gigi was raised in Mechanicsville, Virginia, and lives with her husband and daughter in Richmond. Here is a brief Q&A.

1. Best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Judy Blume gave me two great pieces of advice:

1. Read your work aloud when revising.

2. Banish the thought that you will run out of ideas.

2. Favorite three authors?

Issa. And, right now, I’m catching up on all of my Edward P. Jones and am also fairly obsessed with Susann Cokal’s new YA novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds. I’ve loved everything ever written by Silas House. And, Jacqueline Woodson, Edwidge Danticat, Belle Boggs, Meg Medina. And, see above, I’ve loved Judy Blume for about forty years. Oh, and Eudora Welty. Can’t forget her.

3. Journey to publication? (How were you first published and how has that led to where you are now?)

When I “finished” (or so I thought!) my YA novel, Claiming Georgia Tate, (it was actually called something different) I was pretty content that I had a beginning, middle, and an end and characters that I enjoyed writing. I didn’t really have the constitution to send the manuscript out, but I did share with a close friend. I had ZERO publishing contacts but it turns out my friend did. So, folks started sharing the manuscript, which eventually led to representation by Leigh Feldman and publication by Candlewick Press. Since then, I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot. Best of all, I’ve met many kind and generous people along the way and made some great, lifelong friends!

4. How and why did you decide to write YA books–what do you love about it?

I didn’t know a lot about YA when I started writing Claiming Georgia Tate in 1996. I just wrote the story that was swirling around in there, which is still how I write. I have a bunch of stories that may or may not be for children. I don’t really worry about an age group or market until revision is well underway, and until after I’ve gotten a handle on what I’m trying to say. Of my published books, I’d say two are YA and three are middle grade. What I enjoy about writing for young readers is placing a kid at the center of the story and giving those characters power and voice in their own lives.

5. What’s up with the horses, and how did they make their way into your writing?

I just love horses, that’s all. Everything about them. Their big eyes that reflect a better you. How fuzzy they get in the winter time. The way the smell. How brave they are. How aware they are of every motion and emotion. I don’t know. How does the sky or my grammy or a kiss make it into my writing? How do birds and trees and mountains? Just. Well, there they all are making me feel alive and not alone.

6. Advice for those on the road to publication (i.e., tips on snagging an agent)? 

The advice that I try to follow for myself regarding craft is to give myself intentional periods of pause and reflection to look around inside my mind and my body (yes!) because there are LOTS of stories that remain hidden when I’m so distracted with running around doing things.

My advice for becoming published is to identify one or two writing communities or professional associations that feel welcoming toward you and resonant with your work. Join up. Learn. Meet people. Take advantage of opportunities to connect with publishing professionals. For example, I belong to the Authors Guild, AWP, James River Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and WriterHouse.

7.  Do you write every day?

I do. I don’t always work on the same manuscript every day. I hop around to different projects.

8. What are you working on now?

Lots of fun stuff! I just released an app for iPad based on my book, Chancey of the Maury River – a totally a fun project with a brand new horse story and a barn dress-up game. I’m finishing up the third installment of the Horses of the Maury River middle grade series (the second, Macadoo of the Maury River is just out). I’m about seventy pages in to a historical novel. I’m researching two other books and writing little pieces of those. Revising a retelling of a colonial folk tale. And, working on an essay about Atlantic Sturgeons and Milwaukee Bucks’ star Larry Sanders.  I know, right? I don’t quite get that one yet myself. Just going with it for now.

YOU COULD WIN A FREE COPY OF GIGI’S BOOK, MACADOO OF THE MAURY RIVER. JUST TELL  HER WHY YOU’D LIKE TO OWN IT BY POSTING YOUR COMMENT HERE. GIGI WILL PICK A WINNER BY OCTOBER 1!

Thematic Elements

Karen and I have both been working on submitting some things for publication lately. ‘Cause what’s the point of writing if no one sees it but your Aunt Audrey who, let’s face it, just doesn’t get your humor?

I’ve been checking out some places to submit a short story I’ve been working on for, uh, about a decade now. What I’ve discovered, or rediscovered since it’s been so long since I’ve done this, is that the right theme can get you everywhere. Case in point, my last published story had been shopped around for about, uh, a decade, when I finally ran across a themed issue that fit it to a sweet little “T.” I sent it there and, what do you know? Print at last!

So I thought I’d share some of the calls for submissions I’ve seen that ask for specific themes from writers. These run the gamut of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—some are journals, some are contests. And most have deadlines right around the corner. Pick and choose as you like. And please, let us know if your work finds a home in one of them.

Write well, everyone! And give Audrey my love.

—Cathy

COOL THEMED SUBMISSIONS

Sexy story? Macho story?

http://www.hungermtn.org/submit/

Family Matters:

http://www.glimmertrain.com/familymatters.html

shark

Sharks, printers, and other fun stuff:

http://themaliterarysociety.com/submissions.html

The Journey:

http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com/Submissions.html

Women and Nature:

http://fourthriver.chatham.edu/index.php/submit

Memory:

http://www.halfwaydownthestairs.net/index.php?action=submissions

For you radical deviants:

http://zymbolmag.com/submission-guidelines/

For you mermaid poets (no, I’m not kidding–click on “submit”):mermaid

http://www.sundresspublications.com/

Adirondacks:

bluelinemagadk.com

Southern:

steeltoereview.com/submissions/

Tales from the cubicle:

http://www.workerswritejournal.com/

Spiritual lit:

http://www.lalitamba.com/

Phobia/Philia:

http://fictioninternational.sdsu.edu/submit.html

Race:

http://ravenchronicles.org/raven/rvsubm.html

Progress:

http://www.umt.edu/camas/

Dark & Dirty:

http://www.dirtychaimag.com/2013/08/call-for-submissions.html

Procession, Tandem Bicycle, Ache:tandem bike

http://www.3elementsreview.com/

Welcome Author Patricia Henley

The diverse and accomplished Patricia Henley joins us today to share her thoughts on lucky breaks, practice-practice-practice, and how starting a novel feels like falling in love.

Patricia is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, four short story collections, two novels, a stage play, and numerous essays. Her first book of stories, Friday Night at Silver Star (Graywolf, 1986) was the winner of the Montana First Book Award. Her first novel, Hummingbird House (MacMurray & Beck, 1999) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the New Yorker Fiction Prize. Pantheon published her second novel, In the River Sweet, and it was widely praised in newspapers and magazines. In the River Sweet was a Border’s Original Voices selection and was translated into Polish and published in Poland in 2004. Engine Books published Patricia’s fourth collection of stories – Other Heartbreaks – in 2011.

Here’s what Oprah magazine had to say about Other Heartbreaks:

O Magazine Review

Learn more about Patricia and her work at www.patriciahenley.org or at www.enginebooks.org

Please welcome Patricia to Write Despite.

1. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Here are two bits of advice. Pay yourself first — that is, write first thing in the morning. After that, everything feels easy. Pursue wordless recreation. This is even more important now than it was when I first read it thirty years ago because we are bombarded with so many more words now than ever.

2. Please tell us your favorite three authors

Hilary Mantel
Alice Munro
William Trevor

3. Briefly describe your journey to publication. (How were you first published and how has that led to where you are now?)

I first published poetry in journals around Baltimore in the 1970’s. I started writing fiction in 1979 when I was living in the Pacific Northwest. I submitted a short story manuscript to a contest – the Montana First Book Award. I won, and, as a result, Graywolf Press published my first book of stories in 1986. They made sure it was reviewed nationally and that was my lucky break.

4. Advice for those now on the road to publication?

Don’t stop writing. There are plenty of gifted or talented writers who can’t stick with it. They allow themselves to get distracted when it’s not easy. Getting published is about practice, practice, practice.

5. Do you write every day?

When I’m working on a project, yes, I write every day. Once in a while I take some time off. But a week or two without writing and I begin to feel as if I’m living in a black and white movie. I have to write.

6. What are you writing now? (If nothing, what are you reading now?)

I recently finished a memoir – You Will Be Taught To Fly — I do not have a publisher for it yet. I’m writing a YA novel with Elizabeth Stuckey-French. It’s titled Where Wicked Starts. Engine Books will publish it in 2014. I recently started what I hope will be a novel set in Cincinnati. I haven’t made a firm commitment to it yet, but it’s fun. The first 100 pages of a novel feel like falling in love.

Oxford, 2012

A Hundred Visions and Revisions

Prufrock tea

“…time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

Ah, T.S. You always say it perfectly.

Well, I have a mere 71 pages left in my own revision, and I thought I’d share a few items of interest.

First, I cannot believe I sent this novel out to agents in its previous form. No wonder I haven’t gotten anywhere. Some of these cringe-worthy mistakes were mere fumbles, some were over- or under-written scenes that needed more attention, and some were just plain bad writing that needed to disappear.

And yet—and yet. I did find myself reading through some long segments this time without changing a thing.

Hmm. That was different. And the scenes themselves seem more grounded in reality. These people are interacting in real rooms with their own smells and shadows and noise. They’re tasting real food, driving down streets and pointing out detailed sights along the way. And they are deeper for it. At least I hope. Their backgrounds have been more thoroughly explored and the motives for their actions are more believable.

At least I hope.

The story coming to life on the page has been a long, hard haul. But not long enough, I fear. I once wrote a short story I revised literally hundreds of times and finally published it 10 years later. Ten years! For a short story! I don’t know why I thought getting a 300+ page novel into publishable shape would be any easier.

Here’s a new article on revision from Writers Digest I think is good:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-edit-and-polish-your-writing

I hope I’m not still, as this article says, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” I hope you’re not either.

How goes it out there? Any similar—or wildly dissimilar—experiences to share? Do you find major mistakes or surprising beauty when you revise?

Wishing all of you luck and inspiration. And a lovely toast and tea.

Or coffee, if that’s more your thing.

prufrock coffee

Write well, everyone.

–Cathy

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