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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Southern writers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 4 of 4
1. Coming to Terms With Yourself

When Harper Lee was asked what advice she’d give a young writer, she wrote: “Well, the first advice I would give is this: hope for the best and expect nothing. Then you won’t be disappointed.” And she went on to say: “You must come to terms with yourself about writing. You must not write “for” something, you must not write with definite hopes of reward. People who write for reward by way of

0 Comments on Coming to Terms With Yourself as of 9/7/2014 10:16:00 AM
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2. Welcoming Carmen Agra Deedy to Moonlight Ridge

Welcome to the SCBWI
Springmingle '13 blog tour.

I'm so happy to introduce one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming 2013 Springmingle,
Carmen Agra Deedy 

Children's book author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy was born in Havana, Cuba, came to live in the United States as a child, and grew up in Decatur, Georgia. She has won more than a dozen awards for her work, including the 2001 Christopher Award and the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award .
1. Carmen, tell us a little about yourself. What made you decide to become a writer?

It wasn’t, in the strictest sense, a decision; I’d be more apt to call it a glorious moment of self-delusion. It lasted just long enough for me to cheerfully stamp, address, and post a manuscript to a regional publisher.

Watching the envelope irretrievably disappear through the Post Office slot, I instantly succumbed to the clammy hands, dry mouth, and heart palpitations that are the plague of presumptuous young writers. What had I done? And why did I do it?

Well, I did it because I had written a little story for my daughters and they thought it might make a fun picture book (pause for eye roll). Had I known how ridiculous the odds were, it’s unlikely I’d have ever submitted my story. To this day I bless Susan Thurman, then editor at Peachtree Publishers, for championing the sweet, but painfully unpolished, manuscript that would become Agatha’s Feather Bed. 

 2. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received as a writer?

During a recent visit to an elementary school in South Carolina, a parent told me she did not care for Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. You expect (and even welcome) this kind of candid remark from children. Adults, however, are generally subtler when registering disapproval.
“Do you, um, hate cockroaches in general?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said, “Just this one.”
Oh, boy.
Then she presented me with a tattered copy of the offending book and explained, “This is my kid’s favorite book. I’ve had to read it every night for the past five months. I can’t even cheat and skip a page because she’s memorized all the words. You know I hate you, right?”
“Ah,” I said, blushing, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she said.

3. Where, and when, do you write? What are your writing rituals?

Travel and family life make it difficult for me to adhere to a strict writing regimen. I write when I can and where I can. Sometimes it’s in my studio, but often it’s in an airport terminal (when my flight has been delayed, yet again).

When I can wrangle a substantial stretch of time to write, which usually means gong away for a few days––that’s when I get real work down.
My rituals during that time?
Well, I write. Then I sleep. Then I edit. Then I snack. Then I write some more. This is followed by another nap. Then I write. Then I eat. Then I do a little research. After which I might go for a walk. More snacking, followed by more writing. Then I sleep.
Thus ends Day One.
If I’m lucky, I’ll have four or five days of this.

I love this schedule, Carmen!

4. Do you like to read adult fiction? What have you read recently that you enjoyed?

I’m going back and rereading some favorite books. I recently reread Nicholas Basbanes’ wonderful book on libraries, Patience and Fortitude (part of trilogy, and a must-read for book and library lovers). I’m now rereading Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy. The man is a storytelling genius and master of the heart-shattering phrase.

 5. What is your favorite work of fiction, adult or children's, and why?

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, simply because it’s the best book of it’s kind in the world. It’s very nearly the perfect story.

6. Do you have a favorite among the books that you have written? Tell us about it.

I can’t say I do. In any event, having a favorite book is akin to having a favorite child, isn’t it? If you had one, you could never tell.

7. What can you tell us about your story-telling performances? Can we find any of your live performances on the Web? Can you tell us a little about your favorite story?

Only that I love hearing a good story more than almost any other enjoyment I can think of. If I ever tell a good story, it’s because I want others to feel the wonder I’ve experienced repeatedly throughout my life as I’ve met, and listened to, great storytellers.

The only story of mine that I really like on the web is the 2002 National Book Festival presentation at the Library of Congress.
It’s about my favorite book (see question #5).

Well, my NEW favorite story is part of a collection of stories I’ve been telling children for several years now, titled Dill and Corky.
They are loosely based on my own blissfully feral childhood, a childhood that was shared with my best friend, Dill. The latest story, still on the assembly line, is about Dill’s Uncle Stubby, a marginally literate WWII vet who solemnly officiated at a snake funeral. You asked.

This sounds like a delightful story! I look forward to reading this one!

8. Did your parents tell you stories when you were a child?

Both my parents told us stories, but my father is a prolific storyteller with a gift for timing and an uncanny understanding of human nature.

9. What about illustrations for your book? Have you chosen any of your illustrators, or does the publisher do this? Do you have any favorite illustrations that you'd like to tell us about?

I’ve certainly asked to work with certain illustrators, but it’s ultimately in the hands of the publisher to acquiesce or deny such a request. Chocolate helps.

 10. What is the most important thing you feel you can accomplish with your writing?

I would love to one day write a story that a child found so irresistible that he or she (despite the dangers of parental discovery and possible confiscation of said contraband) read this book under the covers with a flashlight.
That would pretty much be the End All for me.

11. We are all looking forward to your Keynote Speaker address at SCBWI Springmingle. Can you tell us about your experience with SCBWI?

Thank you! And I’m looking forward to being with so many talented writers and illustrators––––one of the greatest benefits to a SCBWI membership!

Thanks so much, Carmen.
February 22-24
Atlanta, Georgia


9 Comments on Welcoming Carmen Agra Deedy to Moonlight Ridge, last added: 1/31/2013
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3. Evolution AND Creationism: Birth of a Southern Novel

"We had been walking about half an hour, following an old logging road through the lower meadow, up the side of the hill, then across the high meadow and into the woods."

That's the first sentence I wrote when I began creating my novel, Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge.  Six years later, that sentence appears on page thirty-five of my published book. When I started writing, I knew the characters; I could see them in my mind, and I could hear their voices. I created a setting, a home for these two adventurous children. I could feel the summer heat, smell the grass and the pine trees and the honeysuckle, heavy and verdant. I watched the children toiling over rocky paths, under sheltering trees, and out into blazing sunlight, heard their laughter, felt the summer breeze on their sun-burned cheeks.

But I had no way of knowing what these two living, breathing creatures were about to do, how their story would evolve. That was still a mystery to me.

The creationism thrilled me; the evolution amazed me! When you turn a couple of wise and wonderful kids loose on the written page, you're in for some unexpected revelations!

And the book continues to evolve.. Here I am with the first edition, published in 2010.

And now Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge will soon be available as the first book in a four-volume Moonlight Ridge Series from Vanilla Heart Publishers.

And what is all this excitement about possums?
Where do those marsupials fit into the grand scheme of things on the evolutionary chart?
Read Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge and find out!

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4. Richard, the paperboy, from The Red Scarf, November 1944, #21

Yep, we had Thanksgiving at our house last week, but we didn't have no turkey. Shoot, down at Echol's Grocery, them turkeys cost nearly $5.00. Momma had me checking all week, when I gathered eggs, to see which one of them old hens wasn't laying. I finally picked out one and after me and daddy cleaned and dressed it, momma roasted that old hen up, and we played like it was one of the pilgrim turkeys. That chicken was kinda tough, but momma's cornbread dressing was, as usual, just plain outta sight. Course, momma had to get that book out and read all about them Indians and Pilgrims having the first Thanksgiving, and then she made everybody say how thankful we was, but you know, this year I really was thankful. Heck, me and John Clayton got into the worst mess way down in Flat Creek Swamp that you've ever heard of. I'll tell you about it sometime.
After dinner was over me and daddy listened to Walter Winchell, that famous broadcaster, give the war news, and then I hightailed it down to Flat Creek Swamp. That's my favorite place in the whole wide world to go. You never know what your gonna find down there. Well, I wasn't disapointed none, but I did learn me a real good lesson. Don't poke no stick in a hollow log unless you can see what your a-poking. Heck, we were just walking along when Sniffer let out a grow and started barking at the end of this big log. I figured it was a rabbit or some old possum, so I cut me a twisting stick to see if I could twist the end around in its fur and pull it out. I stuck that stick in the hollow log, started poking and twisting it, and I heard something, but it didn't sound like no rabbit, coon, or possum. Sounded kinda like a buzz-saw. Me and Sniffer got real close to the end of the log and Sniffer was just going dog crazy, when whossssh, out of that log came thousands and thousands of yellow jacket wasps. (Well, it seemed like thousands). I jumped back and fell over Sniffer, and before we could get up and run, them yellow jackets had us. I guess it was funny if it didn't happen to you, but I've got stings all over my head and that stupid Sniffer's nose is twice as big as it usually is. Shoot, Flat Creek Swamp...stuff always happens there...If I'm lyin' I'm dyin.'

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