Title: Lily and Dunkin Author: Donna Gephart Publisher: Delacorte Press, May 2016 Ages: 10-14 Themes: Transgender children, manic depression, bipolarity, mental illness, bullying 352 pages Opening: Girl Lily Jo is not my name. Yet. But I am working on that. That’s why I am in the closet. Literally in my mom’s walk-in closet … Continue readingAdd a Comment
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Blog: Miss Marple's Musings (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book recommendation, Diversity Day 2016, bipolarity, bullying, Diverse Children's Books, Donna Gephart, LILY AND DUNKIN, manic depression, mental illness, transgender children, Add a tag
Blog: cynsations (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, LGBTQIA, mental health, middle grade fiction, Add a tag
Cynthia Leitich Smith
From the promotional copy of Lily and Duncan by Donna Gephart (Delacorte, 2016):
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.
Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.
One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
How would you describe your body of work for young readers? Are there themes you frequently revisit, and if so, what about them fascinates you?
I write for the lonely child I was when I visited the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia, looking for a friend inside the pages of a book. I often write on the themes of loneliness and feeling like you don't quite fit in. My books broach difficult topics, like bullying and grief, but always, always conclude on a hope-filled note.
Congratulations on the release of Lily and Duncan! What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?
Thanks! I write about the genesis of both Lily's and Dunkin's story in the author's note at the back of the novel. Lily's story stemmed from an unforgettable documentary I saw about a trans girl, and Dunkin's story emerged from a promise I made to our older son, who deals with bipolar disorder.
What was the time between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?
Would you elaborate on your research process?
I spent years researching this novel — talking to experts, watching documentaries, reading books, articles, memoirs and novels, etc.
How did you approach balancing the characters as joint heroes of the story?
This novel is told in alternating perspectives from each of the two characters. I had such familiarity with the mental health piece of this novel that I needed to remind myself to make Dunkin's story as strong as Lily's. When a reviewer recently said Dunkin's story almost eclipses Lily's, I know I have succeeded.
In this dual narrative, each character has a unique voice and tells their story from that very personal perspective. I felt this was the best way to get readers inside the heads and hearts of each character as they navigate very difficult terrain in their eighth grade lives.
What were the other challenges (literary, logistical, emotional, etc.) in bringing the story to life?
This was a difficult story to write because of the emotional intensity of each character's journey, but it was a story I felt strongly needed to be told to help encourage empathy and understanding and end stigma.
What advice do you have for authors in approaching stories with similar elements?
Your co-protagonists are in eighth grade, and the book is marketed to ages 10+. This developmental/literary category sometimes gets lost between middle grade and YA.
Why should we pay more attention to tween-agers and books that reflect them?
Tween-agers deal with some difficult issues before the adults in their lives are ready for them to do so. I've already had teachers and counselors from elementary and middle schools tell me that students from their schools were transitioning. I know when I was teaching writing to young people, these tween-agers were dealing with some very difficult things that most adults would never have imagined.
It's important that these books be available for those young readers who need them — which is all young readers, to increase empathy, understanding and kindness.
The more we know, the better we do.
What do you do when you're not reading or writing?
Taking long walks, jogs or bike rides in nature always renews me. I love coming across wild turkeys or peacocks strutting around. And I enjoy cooking (and eating!) creative vegan meals. One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cheap, Lazy Vegan.
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Blog: James Preller's Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Around the Web, Bystander, 2012 Charlotte Awards, Adam Gidwitz, Andrea Pinkney, Andy Mulligan, Ann E. Burg, Annie Patterson, april Pulley Sayre, Audrey Couloumbis, Barry Moser, Brian Pinkney, Candace Fleming, Carol Lynch Williams, Charlotte Award Ballot, Charlotte Awards, Dana Reinhardt, Debbie Levy, Devin Scillian, Diane Muldrow, Donna Gephart, Eleanor Davis, Ellen Potter, G. Brian Karas, Geoffrey Norman, Steven Sheinkin, Thad Krasnesky, Tim Bowers, Tricia Tusa, Vicky Alvear Shecter, James Dashner, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jill S. Alexander, Jim Murphy, Jon Muth, Josee Massee, Julie Danneberg, Justina Chen Headley, Kami Garcia, Kate Messner, Laura E. Williams, Loren Long, Margaret Mahy, Margaret Stohl, Margie Palatine, Marilyn Singer, Michael Tunnell, Mo Willems, New York State Reading Association, Nic Bishop, Patricia Polacco, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Polly Dunbar, Preller Bystander, Roseann Thong, Add a tag
This is amazing good news. Great news, in fact. I’m happy and proud to say that my book, Bystander, is included on the ballot for the 2012 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award.
To learn more about the award, and to download a ballot or bookmark, please click here.
The voting is broken down into four categories and includes forty books. Bystander is in the “Grades 6-8/Middle School” category. Really, it’s staggering. There are ten books in this category out of literally an infinity of titles published each year. You do the math, people.
For more background stories on Bystander — that cool inside info you can only find on the interwebs! — please click here (bully memory) and here (my brother John) and here (Nixon’s dog, Checkers) and here (the tyranny of silence).
Below please find all the books on the ballot — congratulations, authors & illustrators! I’m honored to be in your company.
GRADES pre K-2/PRIMARY
Bubble Trouble . . . Margaret Mahy/Polly Dunbar
City Dog, Country Frog . . . Mo Willems/Jon J Muth
Clever Jack Takes the Cake . . . Candace Fleming/G. Brian Karas
Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes . . . Margie Palatini/Barry Moser
Memoirs of a Goldfish . . . Devin Scillian/Tim Bower
Otis . . . Loren LongStars Above Us . . . Geoffrey Norman/E.B. Lewis
That Cat Can’t Stay . . . Thad Krasnesky/David Parkins
Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! . . . April Pulley Sayre/Annie Patterson
We Planted a Tree . . . Diane Muldrow/Bob Staake
The Can Man . . . Laura E. Williams/Craig Orback L
Emily’s Fortune . . . Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Family Reminders . . .
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Blog: The Excelsior File (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 10, hamsters, daily show, donna gephart, jon stewart, middle school, random house, peachtree, bullies, middle grade, Add a tag
(without getting your head flushed) and Deal with an Ex-Best Friend, ... um, Girls, and a Heartbreaking Hamster by Donna Gephart Peachtree Press / Random House 2010 I think the only thing the title doesn't include is the main character's love of Jon Stewart, and perhaps the fact that he isn't legally old enough to have a YouTube account... David Greenberg is a bit of a nebbish who wants soAdd a Comment
Blog: Alice's CWIM blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, Sherman Alexie, Delacorte, Family Circle, Highlights for Children, Markus Zusak, Hilary Clinton, Tina Wexler, ICM, Stephanie Lane, Donna Gephart, Sherman Alexie, Delacorte, Family Circle, Highlights for Children, Markus Zusak, Hilary Clinton, Tina Wexler, ICM, Stephanie Lane, Add a tag
Debut Author of the Month: Donna Gephart...
Donna Gephart's first book As If Being 12¾ Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! was released just days ago by Delacorte Press. Here she tells us a little about her first book, how she found her agent and shares her 10 Very Important Pieces of Advice for Unpublished Writers.
Just in case someone out there can’t get the gist of your book from its great title, please tell my readers about it.
Six-word alliterative version: Angst. Athletic (As if!). Assassination attempt.
Slightly longer version: Preparing for spelling bees, having a secret admirer, and waiting for her chest size to catch up with her enormous feet are pressure enough, but twelve-year-old Vanessa must also deal with loneliness and very real fears as her mother, Florida’s Governor, runs for President of the United States.
Tell me a little about your path to publication. How did you find your agent, Tina Wexler of I.C.M?
Several years ago, Tina put out a call for writers on the SCBWI Discussion Boards. I sent her the book I’d been working on and a cover letter, in which I wrote one sentence about a gawky, awkward spelling bee champ thrust into the spotlight because her mother is running for president. Although Tina didn’t think she could sell the book I’d sent, she did like my writing and expressed interest in my story about the girl whose mother is running for president.
Unfortunately, it was little more than a short story at the time. With Tina’s encouragement and that of my critique group, I turned that short story into a novel.
Tina had many revision suggestions, such as writing less about Vanessa’s romantic interest and more about the inside scoop on the political process. I did months more research, kept only the first two chapters of the original novel and rewrote the rest. Tina loved this version and sent it to seven publishing houses. She warned, “It might take several months till we hear anything.”
Three weeks later, I got The Call.
How did you feel when you got The Call?
I was in the middle of folding laundry (very glamorous, I know) when I saw the New York exchange on our phone’s caller I.D. I screamed, “It’s my agent. Everyone be quiet!” My son was the only one home at the time, and he was being quiet.
None-the-less, I locked myself in my closet and listened as my agent told me not one, but two editors were interested in my novel--one from Random House, the other from Scholastic. At the end of the day, Stephanie Lane from Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, sent me an e-mail telling me she was delighted to have acquired my novel.
Once your book was under contract with Delacorte, what was the editorial process like? Were there any surprises?
My experience working with my editor, Stephanie Lane, and the talented staff at Random House has been a dream come true. I learned that publishing and promoting a novel is truly a team effort.
Stephanie, of course, made excellent revision requests. This is the stage where larger issues are addressed. I added a minor character and made several changes.
Next, I was asked to go over the manuscript after a proofreader had made corrections. During this pass, I realized how many minor mistakes I hadn’t noticed. Oops!
Finally, I proofread the manuscript after it had been set for printing. I was surprised by how many new minor mistakes cropped up.
Also, it was great fun to have some say in choosing the cover model. (I don’t think this is typical.) I thought designer Kenny Holcolm did a fantastic job with my cover.
Why did you decide to use the world of election politics as a backdrop for your novel? Did anything in particular spark your book idea?
Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” I believe more in the adage: “Write what interests you, what sparks your passion.” Politics interested me and still does.
At the time, there weren’t many books for children about politics. I hoped my novel would be a fun introduction to the political process for young readers. In fact, if readers want to learn more about the president and the political process, I’ve included Web sites at the back of my book and on my Web site, www.donnagephart.com.
Do you have anything in common with your main character Vanessa other than your shoe size?
Besides having large feet, Vanessa and I both love the color purple, reading, playing Scrabble and hanging out with cute boys who have big hearts. (I married mine.)
On a deeper level, this novel is about Vanessa’s warm, caring relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, Mom’s obligations as a governor who is running for president keep their time together to a minimum. In the novel, Vanessa’s mother misses a very important spelling bee and is temporarily unavailable when Vanessa gets injured. My mother, on the other hand, attended all my school functions and was available for every important childhood event, but because she was a single parent who worked full-time, she was often too busy or tired for us to spend much time together. Vanessa’s feelings of loneliness came directly from my early childhood.
Does the fact that Hillary Clinton is in the Presidential race make you happy (in terms of your book sales of course)?
Wasn’t that thoughtful of Hillary Clinton to run for president the same year my book about a mother running for president was released?
You’ve done all sorts of writing including greeting cards, articles and essays. What led you to write for young readers?
I enjoy all kinds of humorous writing, but when I’m creating funny novels for tweens, I feel like my writing voice has found a home. Seeing my words on greeting cards and in magazines like Family Circle and Highlights for Children was thrilling, but being part of the amazing collection of literature for children is a true honor.
You read a lot of books in 2007. How do you decide which titles to pick up? Any favorites?
I pay attention to what people are talking/blogging about. I read reviews. I check the “new books” section of my local library obsessively.
Unfortunately, even though I spend most evenings reading, I never seem to make a dent in my growing pile of books I hope to read.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak made a big impression on me. It’s a sad, but wonderful novel narrated by Death.
But if I had to recommend one book that I read this past year, it would be The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie [which one the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2007]. This novel contains so many elements of excellent fiction. I learned about a different culture, and was moved to laughter and tears often. It’s a sparse, honest and moving read.
Lately you’ve attended an SCBWI conference in your home state of Florida and attended the ALA meeting at which the Newbery, Caldecott and other ALA awards were announced. Does it feel any different attending these events as a published author?
I was delighted when Random House sent me to my home city of Philadelphia to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference. It was exciting to talk with librarians, who were passionate about getting good books into the hands of young readers. And sitting in the audience while the Newbery, Caldecott, etc. awards were announced was surreal.
As far as the FL SCBWI conference . . . I’ve attended this wonderful conference, run by Linda Bernfeld, since it’s inception six years ago. It was an entirely different experience being behind the podium, speaking about being a first-time author, though, than sitting in the audience, listening. I was also able to give a workshop during the conference – a great experience for my first time presenting at a conference.
Both events were possible only because of the publication of my book, so I’m grateful for the new experiences I’m having.
Your book release date was just a few days ago (February 12). What have you done in the way of promotion?
I’m very lucky because Random House has an excellent publicity department, and the person in charge of promoting my book has been very busy. They’ve sent out review copies of my novel, written press releases and created “Mom for President” buttons to promote my novel. There is also a big promotion at www.itsafirst.net, where the novels of first-time authors are showcased.
On my own, I hired a Web site designer, Lisa Firke at www.hitthosekeys.com, to create my Web site, www.donnagephart.com. Seven months before my book’s release, I began a blog at www.donnagephart.blogspot.com. I’ve had business cards, postcards, T-shirts, etc. printed.
I’ve done some interviews and speaking at local schools as well.
You’ve spoken to groups about not giving up on their writing. Please offer some advice to unpublished writers.
10 Very Important Pieces of Advice for Unpublished Writers:
- Turn off the TV. Open a book.
- Write even on days when you don’t feel like it, especially on days when you don’t feel like it.
- Find or start a critique group. (Try to give more than you take.)
- First drafts are never as perfect as you think they are, nor are they as horrible. But they are all you need to begin revisions.
- Don’t compare yourself with other writers. Write the best book, story, poem, etc. that YOU can write.
- Revision is important. Um. Revision is vital to creating good writing. Er. Being willing to make significant revisions time and again will be the difference between being unpublished and being published. (That was certainly the case for me.)
- Act professionally, whether you’ve been published or not, in all correspondence, submissions, etc.
- Don’t write about what you think you should or what topic is hot at the moment. Write about what matters most to you.
- Read my article, “Six Reasons You Should Quit Writing and One Very Important Reason You Shouldn’t!” in the 2009 CWIM.
- Don’t listen to writing advice.
Blog: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, book promotion, Donna Gephart, book promotion, Add a tag
One of the things Mary and I have wanted to do with the Shrinking Violet Blog was use it to highlight new, emerging violet authors and their books, and we're very excited to introduce one to you this week.
Ms. Donna Gephart's first book will be published this month with Delacorte Press. And check out how timely her title is: As if Being 12¾ Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President!
(I also think she's giving Mary a run for her money in the category of Longest Titles Ever!)
In her blog today, she has some very helpful thoughts on Book Promotion 101, straight from the trenches. Check it out!
And congratulations, Donna! And thanks for sharing your thoughts with our SVP readers.
Blog: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, promoting, National Independent Bookseller Month, Donna Gephart, promoting, National Independent Bookseller Month, Add a tag
This falls under the heading of self-care for introverts. As in, I am needing some bad! I've had a blast these last few weeks with school visits, book signing, speaking at conferences, traveling, working, and writing. I am hugely grateful for each opportunity and all the great people I've met. This is what pro-motion looks like. Selling your next book one relationship at a time.
Each event generates a flurry of emails from kids or students, which I love, but it is depleting. I have one more school visit next week, and then I am signing off for a bit. Going to say no (Introversion 101) to a couple of new event requests. Time to refuel. I don't have a single, solitary toot left in me right now. Maybe one pathetic raspberry, but that's about it.
This week is going to be about napping, journaling, restorative yoga, an artist date or two, and I want to catch a few of the great movies that were awarded last night at the Oscars.
And then there is one of my favorite renewing activities-- tooting my horn about someone else!
Which brings us to National Independent Bookseller's Appreciation Month which is coming in May. Robin and I have begun making plans! For those of you that have been visiting us for a while, you will remember that last May, we dedicated the month to honoring our Indies. (For our new friends, check out some of the fun we had at this link.) We are going to do the same this year, only we'd like to expand the scope and reach. We are hoping to get into the Chase Book of Days so that May will be officially designated for Indie appreciation nation-wide and forevermore. They truly deserve that. Indies are to the book world what introverts are to the human race-- don't you think?
And, we absolutely can't make this happen without you. Yep, you. Will you help? It can be something as simple as visiting your Indie in May and thanking them for their great work. Or, you may want to do something a bit grander. Maybe sponsor a weekly book drawing of local authors? Or, run an add in a local paper thanking them for their work. Perhaps you will be inspired to bake the staff some cupcakes or muffins. Right now, we really could use some of your brainpower. What ideas might you have for actively supporting and expressing your appreciation?
Robin and I sent an email out to about eight of our favorite booksellers and asked them to give us some feedback about some of our ideas. If you have a connection with your local Indie, would you gather some intelligence for us from them as well?
Thanks, everyone. This is our opportunity to give something back to them. Let's put a strong think tank together on this, shall we?
And speaking of horn tooting, it's Monday and that's the day we love to celebrate milestones around here. Anyone have anything they'd like to share? Could be a milestone of any size from finishing a challenging scene to winning the National Book Award. We're open. :-) All entries will be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Donna Gephart's As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President, which we blogged about last Thursday.
Hope you all have a renewing kind of week--
Blog: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, book promotion, Guest bloggers, contest, Add a tag
Thanks Mary and Robin for inviting me to be a guest blogger.
Here’s an (almost) baker’s dozen of practically painless ways to promote your novel . . .
1. Create a signature line that will appear at the bottom of your e-mails with your book’s title, publisher and publication date.
2. Have business cards made with your book’s title, brief description and contact information. (I used Vista Print.)
3. Give your business cards to everyone you can think of. When I gave cards to the receptionists at my doctor’s office, I ended up signing three copies of my novel for their children and grandchildren at my next visit.
4. Introduce yourself to local booksellers. This can often lead to school visits, signings and them hand-selling your book. Give them your business card so they can contact you.
5. Write articles about writing or about something related to your novel. For example, my article about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman who ran for president fifty years before women were even allowed to vote, will appear in New Moon Magazine this coming January.
6. Contact specialty groups that have a connection to your novel. For example, the main character in my novel is a Scrabble buff. I also list Scrabble resources at the back of the book. So I contacted educators who run Scrabble clubs at schools to let them know about my book, and received some very enthusiastic responses.
7. Contact your alumni magazine or have your publicity person contact them. They will usually be happy to print something about you and your book in their magazine.
8. Get to know your local librarians.
9. Ditto with school media specialists, educators and administrators. These are the people who will get your book into the hands of young readers.
10. Give. Think about what you can offer schools, bookstores, editors, etc. Can you write a how-to article? Can you offer a presentation that will excite and inspire young people? Can you do a short program that will bring business into a bookstore? What can you give?
11. See if you can put your book and a few business cards in places you frequent – the pediatrician’s office, the orthodontist’s office, the music studio where your child takes lessons, etc.
12. Find out if your hometown newspaper would be interested in interviewing you. Print media has far-reaching impact. After the Palm Beach Post did a feature about me and my novel, I was invited to do a local TV interview, was told that my local bookstore sold tons of my book and the waiting list for my book at the local library grew to 30 patrons.
12 ¾. Write the next book.
Remember, you’re not selling one book, you’re building a career. And the best way to do that is to find a balance between promotion and writing (and life).
Donna Gephart’s novel, As If Being 12 ¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! is available from Delacorte Press. She’s also written an article for the 2009 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market titled: “Six Reasons to Quit Writing (& One Reason You Shouldn’t).” Learn more at Donna's website.
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Blog: Summer Friend (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, Marjetta Geerling, Lisa Yee, Alex Flinn, Debbie Reed Fischer, Danette Haworth, SCBWI Miami, Mindy Weiss, Lynne Hansen, Linda Bernfeld, Add a tag
Ignore the fact that SCBWI Miami took place in January--I've finally downloaded/uploaded my pictures, and I want to post them. (Click to make them larger.) I was not only an attendee, but I also appeared as a speaker on the First Books Panel, along with Marjetta Geerling and Debbie Reed Fischer.
Linda Bernfeld, SCBWI Regional Advisor of Florida, (on the right) is ready to party down after months and months of planning! It paid off, Linda! From left to right, the other conference attendees are Lynne Hansen, Shannon Hitchcock, me, and Angelina Dunbar. Lynne writes YA horror and gave me great tips on how to drum up book signings. Shannon and I had some great conversations, and Angelina was my conference buddy.
I'm standing next to Marjetta Geerling, Alex Flinn and Mindy Weiss. Marjetta wrote Fancy White Trash and signed my copy with a fancy pink pen. She told me YA doesn't have to be depressing and she was right! I read her book, loved it, and saw positive themes throughout the novel even in the midst of serious subject matter. Alex Flinn is the author of many books and the recipient of many awards. Go Alex! Mindy is a Blueboard friend and it was nice to meet her in person.
The great Lisa Yee! What can I say? I loved Millicent Min! Don't let Lisa's small stature and cuteness fool you--she's sharp as a razor and really funny (very quick texter, too).
Gaby Triana worked behind the scenes for months to get the conference going. Not only is she the author of several award winning novels and a nice person to boot, she's hot, too!
Donna Gephart wrote As If Being 12 and 3/4 Wasn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! My daughter snagged this book from me when I got home and she loved it! Donna and I had exchanged a few emails before the conference, and I was eager to meet her. She is a warm and caring person, and I love her for that.
I had a blast hanging out with Debbie Reed Fischer. She introduced herself as a military brat like myself, and said we had much to talk about. The author of Braless in Wonderland and Swimming with Sharks, Debbie is quick, funny, and just as pretty as the models she writes about.
This is what it looks like when children's writers party! Kimberly Lynn constructed all the decorations, and she did a fantastic job!
Blog: The Official SCBWI 10th Annual New York Conference Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Sid Fleischman, Donna Gephart, Paula Yoo, SCBWI LA Conference, humor award, YA novel, Add a tag
Blog: The Official SCBWI 10th Annual New York Conference Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Sid Fleischman, Donna Gephart, Paula Yoo, humor writing, SCBWI LA Conference, humor award, YA novel, Add a tag
DONNA GEPHART: "12 3/4 Ways to Tickle Young Readers' Funny Bones"
Some hilarious higlights from 2009 Sid Fleischman Humor Award winner Donna Gephart's panel:
-- She provided handouts for everyone with a list of techniques and details to hone one's humor skills.
-- She advises taking risks. "Mine your embarrassment," she said, discussing how writers should not be afraid to talk about real life embarrassing moments.
-- "Embarrassment is funny but humiliation is not," she said. "You want to empathize with your character. Readers want to laugh, not cringe."
-- She gave a writing exercise in which conference goers had to do: List embarrassing things that happened to you or list things that embarrassed you as a kid.
-- She suggested paying attention to the "sound of language" as another tool to write humor. For example, the "K" sound is funny, such as "Chicken is funny. Roast beef is not. Pickle is funny. Cucubmer is not. Twinkie is funny. Pie is not."
-- She also advised using exaggeration and understatement as tools for writing humor. Examples included "Exaggeration: referring to a tropical breeze as a hurricane" and "Understatement: referring to a hurricane as a tropical breeze."
-- Ultimately, she says writers should not TRY to be funny. "Forced humor is no fun for anyone."
-- She also gave a handout listing funny picture books, early readers, chapter books, and MG/YA novels.
It was a packed room where people participated with a lot of enthusiasm to Donna's writing exercises. And yes, there was much laughter!
Yet another shining example of great lectures provided by award-winning writers at the SCBWI national conference.
Posted by Paula Yoo
Blog: Summer Friend (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna Gephart, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, Violet Raines, Adam Lambert, Add a tag
ADAM LAMBERT appears on American Idol tonight and tomorrow night! Yeah!You know where I'll be!
Whew, got that out of the way.
My friend Donna Gephart has great news: Her novel How to Survive Middle School (middle-grade fiction) is now in bookstores. HSMS received a starred review from Kirkus and a very nice review from Booklist. Way to go, Donna!
Last night, I dreamt of The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness. (I told you this was important chit chat!) My family and I had snuck onto the grounds, explored the hotel, and found a beautiful suite unlocked. We spent the night. I still remember what it looked like, and here's the odd thing: the setting of the dream was the same as when I dreamt of the hotel here. I wish I could really go there.
Here's what else is going on: The Summer of Moonlight Secrets comes out end of May. I'm speaking at Sawgrass Bay Elementary tomorrow, and I have two Barnes & Noble appearances coming up in May. And I'm sponsoring a writing contest for some local schools. The grand prize winner receives a signed hardcover of SOMS before it's even released! Other winners receive the new Violet Raines paperback, which features a sneak peek of SOMS. Also, I'm in revision rounds for Me and Jack, eating rice cakes, and chugging energy drinks.
Hope all is well with you! Have a great day!
Blog: Kid*Lit(erary) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: commager, bodecker, beaux, Add a tag
I thought I'd take a second today to talk about a book I LOVE, but that you're unlikely to ever have the chance to read. Since no bookstore near you stocks it.
Because the book, BEAUX, is long out of print, and too historically placed, too offensive on its surface (however well written), for anyone to ever bring back from the dead. Though you might find a first edition on ebay if you hunt.
Written by Evan Commmager (friend to Robert Frost and wife to Henry Steele Commager)) and illustrated by the amazing N.M. Bodecker, Beaux (essentially a smart southern belle's YA novel) was published in 1958. But it came out at just the wrong time for longevity.
Because (obviously) in 1958 the world was about to change in important and dramatic ways that would make topics like escaped black chain-gang members (wrongly accused) with thick caricature-ish dialects into innapropriate fodder for light and humorous storytelling.
But the book is also funny and clever and weird and smart as hell, and so if you're someone (like me) who stumbled on it before you were old enough to understand how little you knew about the complexities of race relations, feminism, etc... then you probably liked this book a LOT, since you didn't yet know better.
It's basically the story of a precocious young narrator (Chris), who wants to grow up to be a writer and "pen trenchant novels" in a garret in New York City. But this narrator is certain that such a life won't lead her to produce children, and so she sets out to keep a "book for posterity" for her sister's offspring. (Her sister is a docile and gentle young woman studying at Sweetbriar) So the narrator not only takes it upon herself to write a book for her sister's posterity, but to help her sister produce that posterity. She sets out to find a series of beaux for her sister, so that she can document their stories.
Along the way, she (along with her best friend Junie) tangles with gender and race, and fat old dogs and fleas. She also gets into trouble, throws up, and becomes a "popular girl" at the book's end.
But what makes the book special is voice. There's a strange quality to Chris' narration. A blend of the old south, and a sideways view of that old south. A recognition of the gender divide, and a subtle resistance of that divide. Chris is willful and snarky and iconoclastic, but she isn't addressing the icons directly, and she isn't aware of her own politics. Yet. Rather, she's a tomboy, a contrarian. And so she walks a fine line between the world she lives in, and the world that we (her readers) imagine she must surely be heading for, a world far removed from big layer cakes and blancmange and chautauqua. New York City. Civil Rights. Intellectual friends.
So in the end, I don't think this book *is* politically incorrect. I think its a rare thing, a book thoroughly of its time, but written by someone with a critical eye and a task beyond indictment.
And I think that we often find this in children's books, because they are not required, as many adult books are, to be self-aware. Children can stumble. Children are allowed. To stumble toward the truth, slowly.
Though readers are expected to be a little more savvy.
(I only wish I could find you an illustration online!)