A great RTE production about rivers in Ireland.
My river: The Slaney.
Watch it here. http://www.rte.ie/player/us/show/10286116/
Denis.Add a Comment
A great RTE production about rivers in Ireland.
My river: The Slaney.
Watch it here. http://www.rte.ie/player/us/show/10286116/
Denis.Add a Comment
In a letter I wrote last year for The Rumpus’ Letters in the Mail I mentioned that for a long time my approach to writing fiction was a little bit like strangling myself while trying to sing.
I finished writing the letter just as I was beginning the essay that’s just out in Harper’s, and a lot of what I said in it about spontaneity, truth, and excitement in writing stayed on my mind during the many, many months I was holed up in my apartment working on the piece.
As I really begin to delve into my book, I thought I’d post it here, both for myself and for anyone else who might like to see it.
(If you’re curious about all the letters I mention, here’s the threesome about the affair: from the other woman, from my grandfather, and from my grandmother to the other woman’s husband. And the letter concerning my grandmother’s sister, who died in the mental institution, is here.)Add a Comment
Nothing can kill pacing faster than an info-dump of backstory, especially in the first half of a novel. So when and how best to include it?
Here are 5 tips on how to artfully weave backstory into a middle grade or YA novel:
Visit: http://justwritechildrensbooks.com for details.Add a Comment
Here’s a sneak peek at what we are currently working on. Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before.
Look for this colorful rhyming picture book to be released in June from 4EYESBOOKS.
“How fiction really works”—that’s pretty much the focus of my blog.
Last week I risked wandering off topic with a post about my mother’s 100th birthday. And this week I’m buying into a game of “blog tag.” My mission—should I wish to accept it—is to answer four questions about…
I’ll do my best to make this relevant not only to writers but anyone who wants to see how I arrive at a final statement that goes like this:
Utter failure is the portal through which everyone (fictional or real) finds freedom.
Something called THE WRITER IN LOVE. It was meant to bolster ideas I introduced in Story Structure to Die For, namely that a writer must “love her protagonist to death.” The book begins as an imagined journey up the Congo River to the heart of darkness. There, deep in the jungle, unable to advance any further, and having abandoned all hope, I would jump ashore and plant my flag in the little understood “story heart.” Here, then, is an expedition into THE HEART OF A STORY.
Poets and mystics would support my claim that this heart lies beyond the story’s plot. The protagonist runs out of geography! Imagine that. The heart has nothing to do with time and space. It is a transcendental experience. To prove my point, I find it necessary orchestrate my own failure. I begin to question why a writer needs more story theory. I have to escape my own project. I abandon ship! And so what started out as a “how-to” book is looking more like a novel, and one with no boundary between past and present. I have no idea how to finish it.
Metafiction—is that a genre? Is there a genre where the protagonist discovers that his writer is also on board? And he becomes concerned that perhaps this writer doesn’t love him sufficiently or appropriately, and by that we mean she isn’t prepared to love him to death. But what kind of protagonist is it who wants to die? It makes no sense. It will make sense by the time it’s over. I wish it was over.
I wish it was over.
Up at 6-ish o’clock. Two hours of writing before connecting to the wired world. Minutes removed from sleep and I’m back on that steamer heading up a jungle river. I love it. This discipline of jumping immediately into my work-in-progress is the best part of my writing life.
I often make the mistake of going over yesterday’s work to put a finer point on things. I probably shouldn’t. But I find it difficult to proceed if things don’t add up. Of course, I love rewriting. Endless drafts, that’s the name of my writing game. Without them what chance do I have of my writing becoming art? Rewriting, the weave becomes tighter. Subplots and motifs resound more deeply. Magic happens—I find out what it is I’m actually writing about.
As for my story-making process—yes I do practice what I preach. But what I preach is so simple—The protagonist will come undone. That’s it! That’s what readers anticipate. Beliefs systems will crash and burn. That’s what readers demand.
Utter failure is the portal through which every character finds freedom.
There, you see? I’ve just discovered why I write. #3 — Why do I write what I do? To spend my life vicariously escaping to freedom.
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Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to S.K. CARNES, a writer living in Friday Harbour on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington State. Sue is the author and illustrator of an award-winning children’s book, My Champion, and of a masterfully written novel, The Way Back, newly available on Kindle. If you want to know what a natural wordsmith sounds like, read Sue Carnes. Soon, perhaps next week, Sue will offer her own unique insights into her writing process. Sue’s blog can be found at http://susancarnes.wordpress.com/.
I enter the mouth of the beast.
Dripping, cold and soot covered.
Far away I see the small circle of light.
The rails run on before me.
Water drips and gurgles overhead.
The stones let in the light.
And soon reflect a terrible screaming presence.
I walk and sometimes run.
Will I make it? How long will it take?
I pass the point when circles are the same.
My feet move faster.
A whistle blows.
The Dublin train!
It’s coming fast with pistons pounding.
Iron wheels grinding down the track.
Fire box red with speed.
My legs want to run. To get away.
I look toward the exit.
I look to the smaller light and see the smoke.
The whistle sounds.
My heart screams inside me.
I can’t get out!
I see a space. A hole cut in the rock.
The fisherman was right.
I force my body into the deep crevice.
And wait, heart pounding.
The black monster is in my world.
Blinding noise and hissing steam
Are now my life forever, it seems.
Roaring darkness is everywhere.
I clutch the stones with all my might.
The black monster is passing now.
I feel its heat. Its coal filled breath.
It screams past with eternal pounding.
It throws its wetness on my face.
I pray it will go away and give me another day.
Wheels screaming past.
Rattling, with bogies bouncing.
Why does it take so long?
My mind shuts out the sound and the terror.
A blast of hot, sooty steam filed air,
The beast has gone.
I crumble on the steel rails.
Still warm from the monster’s breath.
I slowly move to the brighter light.
A day twice lived, I have before me.
I walk outside and smell the gorsey air.
I made it. I survived the blackened hell.
Fisher voices shout to me.
“All right,” I say, voice trembling.
A story to my parents, never to tell.
I am reborn. I have slipped out
Of the stoney, wet passage.
And re-entered day.
Like a newborn life.
Slipping out of womb-like darkness.
Into the light of life and courage deep.
I have passed another test.
The lonely whistle calls my name.
Denis Hearn. 1996Add a Comment
To all the mothers out there of every species, have a wonderful day!
The post Happy Mother’s Day! appeared first on .Add a Comment
Jay and I just returned from our East Coast book tour, which was a lot of fun. We spoke to thousands of 5th-8th graders all throughout RI, MA, CT.Add a Comment
This adds huge depth and inspiration for my writing.
https://petergabriel.com/videos/Add a Comment
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It’s that time of year, when an author’s thoughts turn to…
ANd while I’ve tried to keep my travel down the last few years, this fall I don’t have a new book out, that I have to do promotional events for, which frees me up to visit more schools.
If you’ve never seen an author visit in action, I’m here to say that (whether or not the author is me) it’s something kids never forget.
My author visits fall into three basic types:
1. TRADITIONAL AUTHOR TALK(which to be honest, remains my favorite): DUring which I tell kids about how I started writing when I was 8 years old. I focus on how THOSE books were my true first books, even if they were made of wallpaper scraps. I show them artifacts from my writing life, and explain how I made my own childhood dreams come true. I stress things like THE IMPORTANCE OF BOREDOM AND FAILURE. I give them explicit instructions on HOW TO GET BORED. Seriously! And I promise, they love it!
2. WRITING WORKSHOP: usually for older kids, and smaller groups, I offer a workshop in how character and plot are interwoven. We create our own character, set them loose in a story, and see what paths they choose. We talk about precision of language, narrative structure, “going deep,” and all sorts of other awesome things. This is a ton of fun, and I always suggest that the class pick up where we leave off, and turn the story into a longer illustrated class project.
3. HISTORY ISN’T BORING: my most recent book, Seven Stories Up, is set in 1937 Baltimore, and it’s a lot of fun to walk the kids through the process of learning how to do historical research. I show them slides of images (from gross old fashioned candy to vintage underpants), and snippets of songs and films. I explain how we need to submerge ourselves not just in the facts, but in the feelings. We discuss the things THEY might like to research (ninjas, princesses, video games) if they were writing a book.
I’m also always willing to put together special events to meet the needs of any given school, and have developed programs about everything from Jewish picture books to poetry, both in-class and via skype. Let me know what you need!
SCHOOL VISITS ARE GREAT! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are a few of the teachers I’ve worked with!
“Ask your kids about Laurel Snyder!! This children’s book author visited SSA this week to speak to our grades 2-6 students about growing up with an imagination and a strong love for writing. Her unexpected tales and exceptional story telling skills captivated her audience and captured their hearts. The grade 6 students even broke out into a spontaneous standing ovation!” (Solomon Schechter Academy, Montreal)
“Today was an incredible day, and the energy that the kids had about Laurel’s books and writing was electric. They had so many ideas stirring in their minds. I can’t wait to see the stories that students create after this inspiring day. Thank you, Laurel!” (David C Barrow Elementary, Athens, GA)
If you’re interested in booking a school visit, drop me a line, and we can discuss the arrangements!
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My new site, The Begats, obsesses over ancestry miscellany of all kinds: genealogical, historical, cultural, scientific, religious, superstitious, personal. If you’re into this kind of nerdery, submit stuff!Add a Comment
I’ll be teaching this workshop on story structure on Saturday 24 May, and if you want to write a novel, or you have a work-in-progress and need a bit of a nudge on structure, then you should definitely consider coming along.
100 Story Building is a centre for young writers based in Melbourne’s inner-west, that also runs writing programs for adults. It’s totally awesome and you should check it out.Add a Comment
The Catholic Church makes this man a saint? He ignored years of child abuse in the church. He condoned the behavior of his bishops as the pedophiles walked away leaving the abused no justice or compensation.
The system is corrupt. Let’s hope Pope Francis, who seems like he is interested in some form of social justice will make a difference.
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/new-saints/pope-francis-declares-john-paul-ii-john-xxiii-saints-n90651Add a Comment
Are we the dreamers or the dreamed?
A ledge stretches out before us. We place one shaky foot in front of the other and hope that someone will turn off this elevated ledge to nowhere. We look down and see the ravages of the past and surreal visions of the future. We turn around the edge of an ancient building and the ledge becomes narrower. To our left nothing but time measured in memorized images. To our right a plastered wall beginning to decay.
The journey continues. The imagery is vivid and ever changing. Raging fires boil below us as hot steam belches out clouds of pungent gases. These strings of iridescent particles form circular contours, bending and twisting in a surreal dance. Their morphing arms caress the intertwining matter generated by their own motion. High above us, worlds of orbiting matter hurtle toward a black and deepening vortex.
The crumbling wall continues its demise on our right side. Huge sheets of decayed plaster slide melancholy into eternity. Which will end first, the ledge which is continuing to support us, or the crumbling wall beside us?
We turn another corner and the ledge comes to a rusty end. We stop and turn around. There is nothing. No ledge. No wall. It is all gone. There is no return. We turn back to see the crumbling wall cascading below us with the thin metal of the ledge, continuing its rusty demise beneath our feet, now bending eerily toward the endless, perspective of infinity.
Do we dare take another step, or wait and see if the dreamers have become the dreamed?
© Denis Hearn. 2001Add a Comment
Had a great time at the LATBF. Here I am in the middle after a fun panel on picture books. With (from Left to Right) Kelly Sonnack, Jennifer Fosberry, Doreen Cronin and Mac Barnett. I also participated in another panel on Middle Grade Fiction with Lisa Greenwald, Joyce Sidman and Holly Goldberg Sloan.
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Walking slowly, touching sometimes
With warm fingers in the early morning breeze.
We look for the magic beneath our feet
And wonder at the colors and shapes
Strewn around us by a greater sculptor.
Glass formed by the strength of pounding and passion
Of the mighty power of western water,
Grinding up onto the French flavored shore.
We come together for warmth
And drift apart again to search for more treasure,
As the slowly rising sun tries to warm the salty air.
To walk here is magic
To be here with you is morning personified
In the great spreading light of green glowing sea glass.
Denis Hearn 2008Add a Comment
A friend and I were beginning that strange dance of making plans to make plans, when I mentioned that I’d be traveling to Jerusalem soon. “We should get together right away,” he joked, “before you come down with Messiah syndrome.” It was the kind of precision-targeted crack only an old friend can manage. I can’t remember whether I laughed or winced first.
When I was young, my mother had a feverish conversion and started a church in our living room. I’d always been a tiny bit anxious that I might one day follow suit, hear the calling myself, start roaming the streets, preaching salvation. A committed but fearful agnostic, I’d never intended to tempt fate by visiting the Holy Land. But I was going to the Jerusalem Book Fair, and my husband, Max, who grew up in the comparatively staid Eastern Orthodox tradition, was joining me.
My Lives piece about visiting Jerusalem is in the New York Times Magazine this weekend.Add a Comment
Here is the new trailer for the book!
<iframe src=http://roccoart.com/feed/”//player.vimeo.com/video/91371186?byline=0&portrait=0&color=409476″ width=”640″ height=”426″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91371186″>Swim That Rock – a book trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user15736873″>John Rocco</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>Add a Comment
Title: Carlo the Mouse Book 1: Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse | Author: Mrs. D | Illustrator: Chanoa | Publication Date: October 21, 2013 | Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing | Number of pages: 33 | Recommended age: 4+
Summary: Grab your boots and hold on to your hat, because you are in for an exciting trip! The new series of Carlo the Mouse has been born. Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse is the first in a series of books on Carlo’s adventures. Each book will give readers an entertaining look into the life of a little mouse born inside a hospital’s walls. Clever, curious, and very impatient, Carlo the mouse dreams of the world outside the hospital. His parents teach him how to follow the rules and how to survive on his own, but Carlo’s insatiable desire for adventure constantly gets him in trouble. Will the little adventurer manage to survive when he leaves home? You’ll find out in Mrs. D.’s next books on Carlo the mouse. Let your imagination soar in this full series of Carlo’s adventures!
Summary: Glide gently into the beautiful morning with Baby Thomas and his grandpa. The sun is shining brightly through the wide window and the flowers, trees, birds, and other creatures have already started their day. Brilliant colors of the dawning day wake up the park, and Baby Thomas is ready for a walk. While walking in the park Thomas and his grandpa see the same things but from a different perspective. Baby Thomas wants to hug the wonderful world around him, but his grandpa has a different opinion. Young readers will easily connect to the wonders of nature and unforgettable characters, playfully interacting with each other. Join happy Baby Thomas and his grandpa for a walk and have a delightful, uplifting morning!
* Winner of a Mom’s Choice Award, Honoring Excellence *
Carlo the Mouse: “My son chose this book to read and really liked it. He rated it 5* and said it was “awesome”. He’s almost five. So that’s a good fit. If I could make one recommendation, it would be to watch out for repeating the same sentence structure over and over. It’s a minor thing but could improve overall flow. The pictures were adorable. Well done Mrs. D.” ~ 5 Star Review, Simone B., Amazon
Carlo the Mouse: “Another gem from Mrs. D.! This is the first in a series of several books, and the titles of those are just as intriguing as this one. The interchange between the characters goes beyond just rules and regulations. Even small children will see just how caring and loving this family is with each other. There are definitely different personalities, and conflicts, as in every family. Carlo’s is one that answers those challenges with love and firmness. The pictures are adorable! Every facial expression, every nuance of action, is so well-thought-out. The colors are appealing, and the story’s lesson is simple enough for even the youngest of readers. There is a challenge here in some of the vocabulary used in the book. I welcome that. The youngsters who get this story read to them are privileged in this regard, for they can learn new words and what they mean. A child whose vocabulary is extended beyond his or her comfort zone is a child who will learn and grow into an intelligent adult. I highly recommend this story, and hope that I will get the chance to read more of Carlo’s adventures.” ~ 5 Star Review, Kitty Muse Book Reviews, Amazon
Carlo the Mouse: “As a grown-up, I fell in love with this adorable character the moment I looked at the first illustration. I had as much pleasure reading this book as my son did. Sometimes, a sample book like this one, gives more to a child then books chosen by the school experts. Now we could hardly wait what the next book will hold. Thank you so much for making our children happy. Because of books like yours, our children will grow up happier, kinder, and smarter. Great story! Wonderful artwork! Astonishing children’s book! Because of books like yours, our children will grow up happier, kinder, and smarter.” ~ 5 Star Review, Olga G., Amazon
Good Morning, World!: “What a charming book of comparing generations and reminding us how children see the world! The illustrations are bright, colourful and sweet, and the story is so well written that it feels as though I am walking right beside the baby and grumpy Grandpa who clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning! Thank you for a lovely book, Mrs. D!” ~ 5 Star Review, Multi-Testing Mommy, Amazon
Good Morning, World!: “This darling story of Baby Thomas and Grandpa was like I was taking a stroll along with them. The author must have pulled some of this story from a family experience. With her very creative imagination she must have been very tuned into actions and reactions of Baby Thomas. Then there was Grandpa who was very vocal and animated so she undoubtedly knew exactly what to write about Grandpa. Too funny! This book is a must read! I highly recommend this book.” ~ 5 Star Review, It’s Time to Read Mamaw, Amazon
Good Morning, World!: “This was a charming book. Following the differing perspectives of the Grandpa and the child, this book is a wonderful reminder about the importance of a positive attitude. I LOVED the joyful wonder in the child’s perspective, and cringed as I recognized some of the grandfather’s. What I love about all of Mrs. D’s books is that they share a message. They teach the adults as much as the kids. This message in particular touched me. It is a reminder about seeing from the eyes of a child. Exploring the world with an open mind, an open heart, and enthusiasm. Life is full of blessings, and sometimes we forget to notice them. Thank you Mrs. D for another 5 star children’s book.” ~ 5 Star Review, Kirstin P., Sunshine, Bubbles and Books
Mrs. D. (Olga D’Agostino), an award-winning children’s author, was born in western Ukraine. She lived in the historical city of Lviv, where she studied business in Lviv Business College and worked in the food industry. In 1992, she immigrated to the USA with her two small daughters and for years worked in her own business. In 2011, she began her career as a writer, focusing on writing children’s books that have meaning and provide valuable lessons. Two of her children’s books, The Trees Have Hearts and Good Morning, World!, won Mom’s Choice Awards in 2013. She is a member of SCBWI and speaks a few languages fluently. She lives in the famous town of Smithville, NJ, with her husband Patrick and a meticulous old cat named Nyda.
Published books by Mrs. D. include Carlo the Mouse on Vacation, The Trees Have Hearts, The City Kittens and the Old House Cat, Good Morning, World!, and Carlo the Mouse, Book 1: Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse. Coming in 2014: Runaway Clothes,The Royal Palm, Carlo the Mouse, Book 2: Now We’re Talking!, and The Little Girl Praying on the Hill.
The full series of Carlo the Mouse and her new books, The Mysterious Life Inside a Closet, That Is How Things Are (two connected stories): The Autumn Wind, and The Kitten and the Sparrow, and three rhyming stories in Who Is Most Important in the Fridge? will be published in the near future. Her books are available in print on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as e-books for most popular electronic devices. For updates on Mrs. D.’s books, please visit her website: www.mrsdbooks.net.
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: May 9, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Mrs. D and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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Finally there is a new Pope who seems to want to take responsibility for the clerical abuses over the last few years. This is a huge step toward healing the horrific wounds inflicted by some members of the clergy on the innocents . He totally gets my vote.
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I will be at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival at the USC campus today. I am speaking on two panels and signing books.
The first panel is called Middle Grade Fiction: In BeTween Tales , with authors Lisa Greenwald, Joyce Sidman and Holly Goldberg Sloan. It is 10:3-11:30 at the Norris Theatre. Then I will be signing SWIM THAT ROCK from 11:30-12:30
The second panel is called Children’s Books: Inspiring Young Minds, with authors Mac Barnett, Doreen Cronin and Jennifer Fosberry. It is at the Salvatori Computer Science Center from 3-4pm. Then I will be signing Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom as well as Blackout from 4-5pm
Hope to see you there.
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Silent light moves above me
In the shape of mighty orbs,
Hanging, moving, ponderous in the blackened world.
I gaze transfixed within the ethereal sight.
Stunning shapes of circling matter float
Far above me, yet live so deep inside me.
Here within this celestial circus,
I watch the journey. I am the journey.
Craters glow. Rills fill with light
As seas expand above me into
The frozen tides of ancient time.
I look up and peer outside our planet’s watery ways.
Jupiter spends time next to our Moon.
Its banded majesty competes for sight.
Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto make little in the night.
Lunar light is king tonight.
Orbital choreography at its best,
Rolls slowly before my straining eyes.
Equinox personifies its presence,
And sets the stage for cosmic fall.
We are all part of this.
We are not voyeurs.
We are part of this orbital majesty.
We kneel in wonder at our planned rotation.
Motion is realized and performed.
We follow every second of the measured plan.
We take time to view the distance spinning above us,
And blend our mind’s matter with magnificence.
Denis Hearn 2010
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We are so proud of our children’s book, The Bee Bully. He is being featured currently on Bookbub.com through April 17th and he is being very well received. He is currently #4 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List for kindle and he is #1 in the Children’s Ebook category. He has been reduced to $.99 during this promotion period and has over 80 five-star reviews. Be sure to get a copy today and see what all the buzz is about!