Tag Archives: novel

being a giver…

26 Apr

Monday night I had the distinct pleasure of being a “Book Giver” for World Book Night.

The idea was simple and powerful. I was given a box of 20 copies of The Hunger Games (yes, I was squealing like a teenage girl!) to give away to random people…reluctant readers, readers who might not necessarily be able to get their hands on a book, or whomever I thought might just need a random act of bookness as part of their Monday night.

First, let me tell you I love this book…OK, I’ll say it…I’m obsessed with this book and all things related to it. So how cool that I found myself  holding copies in my hand that would allow me to share something so exciting with others?!

(my box of books just before distribution...and look at the fun cover!)

What might be even cooler is that there were something like 50 people chosen to do this (with a wide variety of titles…check them all out on the website) all over Cedar Rapids. Think about that…1,000 books were given out on Monday night right here in my hometown. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Cedar Rapids was, in fact, one of the top twenty-five cities in the world participating in this event!

My dear friend Sara (whom I’ve gone on literary adventures with before) was also a giver (handing out The Book Thief…another of my favs and a must read). We decided to make a stop at Foundation 2, a local emergency shelter for youth between the ages of 11 and 17, who are experiencing a personal or family crisis, which makes it necessary to temporarily live away from home. I’ve known about this organization for quite some time and value the work they do in our community. We thought those kids just might like a new book on a random Monday night.

As soon as we set foot inside the door and mentioned free books the teens swarmed us like tracker jackers (oh but not venomous and out to kill us…bad analogy!) Let’s just say they were eager to get a copy and it was such fun handing the books out. But the best part was they’d take the book from us–very graciously I might add–then plop down on the couch, flip it open and start reading. Right then and there. Magical! And exactly the point.

Next Sara and I stopped to visit our old high school English teacher and surprise her with some books that she could then share with others. She was delighted. As we chatted it struck me that it was a very neat moment to be sharing with someone who helped shape and inspire my love of literature, especially young adult novels (with strong female protagonists I might add.)

As expected the whole thing was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for the official World Book Night to roll around again.

Maybe next year you’ll join me!

And so the story begins…

8 Jul

I have been working on the outline and character sketches for my book for several weeks. It’s been such an insightful and exciting experience to watch a simple idea for a book turn into a complete and interesting (at least I like to think so) story. 

And so this last week, it came time for me to make the big leap and write the first sentence (and first chapter for that matter.) And in all honesty it was a tougher leap to make than I had originally planned on. 

But I have found doing the outlining exercises and revisions before starting the actual novel writing to be most helpful. As I write I am using what I’ve typed up for my outline to help guide me chapter by chapter and keep me on track. Granted, I know there will be times ahead when I’ll feel inspired or pulled to write another chapter or portion of the book. But that outline is helping me keep my pace as I get started putting the story down on paper. 

I also fully expect my writing process to continually evolve, especially as I start to get feedback and critiques of my writing. At some point I may not need to be as dependent on that outline to guide the story along. And in just a few weeks I’ll be participating in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and I couldn’t be more excited.  [Side note: This is my first time participating, ironically enough because the first year I signed up a portion of the Festival was cancelled due to the infamous flood (making a villainous appearance in “Evelyn’s Drawings Can’t Swim”!)] Participating in workshops such as the ISWF and taking advantage of other critiquing opportunities is a sure fire way of strengthening my writing. So bring it on, I say! 

I’m sure I’ll be talking more about the novel writing process in weeks ahead (that’s kind of the point here) but for now, I’d better get back to my book. At least my outline will remind me where I left off.

Time is sometimes on my side

19 May

So I have always been the kind of person that gets involved in lots of different things all at the same time.

In high school and college I was involved in a whole host of activities, on top of studying and keeping part time jobs. Now, not only do I work part time doing marketing, but I also try to do as much freelance writing as possible. Oh, and I manage to volunteer with a number of organizations and at my son’s school.

And apparently our house wasn’t busy enough with two little kids running around (and a husband to take care of)…we had to get a puppy too! (That’s a whole other story! And yes, I am officially crazier than you thought!)

To top it all off, I’ve now embarked on this journey of writing a young adult novel.

Just call me Super Author! My super secret skill: finding the time to do it all.

So where do I find the time, you ask?!

Well, honestly most days I’m not sure where I do find the time. But I am certainly of the mentality that if I’ve committed myself to doing something I have to see it through…not to mention give it my all. So I carve out time for all the things going on in my life. And I make lots of lists (because crossing things off gives me a great sense of accomplishment.)

People often ask me where the kids go when I write. I just chuckle and say they are running around in circles in the next room (or watching a movie in reality.) Thanks to them I do most of my writing at night right now—the quiet time at our house when I can actually hear myself think. Of course, as the project progresses my time management will evolve as well and I’ll have to shift things around to make more time for writing (while still squeezing in afternoons at the pool.)

One thing I have made note of thus far is that when I write my next novel, I’ll start the process right after the first year when it’s the dead of winter and the kids and I are trapped indoors, patiently—OK, not so patiently—waiting for warm weather to return!

Until next time…

So about this novel idea…

18 May

Of course there’s a long story behind the story I am starting to write (isn’t there always, really?!) So let’s start at the beginning…

In 2007 I was working as the Communications Coordinator for the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and was in charge of the promotions for an exhibition called “Hidden Treasure: Original Children’s Book Illustration from the Cedar Rapids Public Library.”  This exhibit featured works from famous children’s book illustrators—people like H.A. Rey, Bill Peet, Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak–and I of course fell in love with it. I love children’s books and was amazed to find out that here in Cedar Rapids we had this truly amazing collection of characters from beloved children’s stories. It was then I decided I would eventually write a book about the collection.

Then just a year later, in June of 2008, a devastating flood hit the city of Cedar Rapids. Being that the Cedar Rapids Public Library is just a block from the Cedar River, it was of course greatly impacted. In what is believed to be the worst single library disaster in U.S. history, some 160,000 library materials were destroyed…everything but the children’s collection (which was housed on the second floor of the library) and thankfully the illustrations!

Now, here I sit in 2010 still thinking about how those illustrations were spared from the nasty flood waters. They will live on for generations to enjoy. And in order to be part of sharing their story, I am writing a book for young readers—which for now we’ll call “Evelyn’s Drawings Can’t Swim”—that tells the story of the collection, the flood that tried to destroy them, and how they were saved. It will be fiction based on very important facts and this is one story I sure am proud to be telling.