Monday, July 30, 2012

A Penny with Thoughts

by The Management

In the life of every writer, there comes a time to separate the nouns from the verbs. Perhaps you've heard rumors or, rumors of rumors, of a writer who won't quit, of a writer who against obstacles fierce and fiscal, refuses to give up. Perhaps you've heard of a manuscript that every editor wants, yet no publisher will touch, of  a story so touching, so startling in its originality, in its voice, that jaded agents weep and janitors forget to sweep.

You heard from a friend, who knows a guy who went to school with a woman who was the ex-partner of a deceased proofreader who had read this manuscript that marketing consultants whisper about in dark corners of dank bars. 

Who is this paragon of verbal virtue? This noble kneader of nouns? This scribe who will literally crawl on all fours to get the job done. This writer's life is a great wheel of creative energy, of accelerating metabolism. A respiratory rate of 35 - 135 breaths/minute and heart beat 250 - 500 per minute.

Truly, truly, this writer burns the pellet at both ends.

Introducing J.J. Pennifur:

She's scampering to a conference near you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dr. Seuss for Writers


Dr. Seuss for Writers
By Kris Kahrs

I need to write!
I need to write!
I jump out of my bed at night.
I need a pen.
I need a light.
I cannot write this way at night.
I find a pen.
Does it have ink?
I find a light above the sink.
Oh no, Oh no, the ink is pink.
I cannot use this pen I think.
I need a drink.

I have to write!
I have to write!
I hold a light to help my sight.
Between my toes, under the sheet.
I hold a light.
No easy feat (feet)!

Does my hero have a car?
Does my hero travel far?
Oh!  What a lot of verbs there are!
Which way’s the bar?

I cannot write.
I cannot write.
I am too tired, this time of night.
The words do not come out quite right.
Can I put it here or there?
Can I put it anywhere?
I don’t care.
Good night.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Moon Musings

Monday July 16th.
 I went to our Blog and realized we had no new post.

I am in the throes of rewriting my adult time travel romance; Kris wrote the last post; Lupe is in the throes of moving (sob), and Hilde is studying for her exams and running three children. So I guess it's me...

Do you ever have trouble finding something to blog about?, When I do I go to my wacky holiday sources. Brownielocks and Holiday Insights

I was dismayed to realize I had missed National Ice Cream Day. I already knew National Chocolate Day was July 7th as I had done two previous posts on it. We have a critique group meeting tomorrow. Perhaps a belated celebration of these two holidays is in order for group snack? Hmmm...

I was also desolate to know Chick Fil A's cow appreciation day (dress like a cow and get a free sandwich) had passed me by.

Nothing on July 16th really appealed to me. Then I realized that July 20th is Moon Day.

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off a ladder saying, "One small step for a man, One giant leap for mankind."

 For all of you that are too young to remember, that was an awesome moment.  Science Fiction came true.  Only in a more bizarre fashion that any Sci Fi writer ever dreamed of.

Many Sci fi writers wrote about landing on the moon. No one wrote about landing on the moon as watched by the entire world on television as brought to you by Tang – The Drink of the Astronauts and Brillo- the better scouring pad. (You could write in for your free Brillo Moon Map). But that’s what really happened.

That was forty three years ago.

In the 1950's every comic book had an ad where you could sign up to take a trip to the moon. I don't think that anyone thought we would get all the way to 2012 without a luxury hotel on the moon and regular civilian transport there.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, proposals were being made for a nuclear pulse propulsion system that could carry huge spacecraft across the solar system in a matter of weeks  It involved technology that was completely feasible sixty years ago.  Nobody ever pursued it. So why? What happened? Why are we not settling planets in other galaxies?

  In my time travel book, Second Chances, one of the characters gives this answer.

“Maybe it was the mysterious “Guardians of Outer Space.” Maybe they hypnotized the entire human race to keep us out of the game. Maybe they didn’t want such warlike creatures as us on the loose in the universe.”

It's as good an answer as any.

 If you would like to read a story about the Moon Colonization, I recommend two by the Dean of Science Fiction, Robert Heinlein.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, written for adults and The Rolling Stones, written for a younger audience.  (The links are to the free PDF.)

Back to Holidays.  Today's post was supposed to be written by Hilde.  However today is National Get Out of the Doghouse Day, so Hilde, you are forgiven.

(I just spoke to Hilde and Victoria came down with strep yesterday so Hilde lost  four hours.  For all you mom writers, I promise you things DO get better and, with a little bit of luck, you may even get grandchildren.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Branch Office

by Kris Kahrs

As many of our dear Pen and Ink Blog readers have discovered, our co-blogger, friend, chief motivator and writer-of-divine-inspiration, Lupe Fernandez is moving to greener pastures, namely northern California. This does not mean he leaves we other three in the dust. No, dear reader, never fear. With the help of super secret technology, we will persevere on both as Critique Group and bloggers of the locally famous The Pen and Ink Blogspot.

However, we could not bring ourselves to conduct the farewell interview. We were too overcome with sorrow. It was necessary for us to find a professional that would be able to keep the dispassionate distance needed at such an emotional time as this. We needed an interviewer that is sharp, asks the hard questions with a journalistic eye towards a balanced perspective. We called Dan Rather’s number but remembered that he passed on to that big newsroom in the sky just as his agent answered and we muttered something about calling from Domino's pizza and hung up.

That’s when we remembered Sparky. We’ve worked with Sparky before and he has always been a consummate professional. Yes, his manner is a little rough around the edges, but hard-hitting journalism is a little rough. Most important, Sparky has the quality that we look for in an interviewer, he’s persistent, some may even say, ahem, dog-ged and he works cheap. So a few bones tossed in the right direction and we were off. Take it away Sparky.

Lupe: The Gamino Family History of Flight is a YA, suburban fantasy where a high school sophomore, Jose Gamino, has the ability to fly, but it has brought him and his family nothing but tragedy. All Jose wants to do is fall in love with a bright red-head girl. The manuscript includes several vignettes telling the history of flight itself.

I was minding my own business at Writer's Day when they announced my ten page submission placed as an Honorable Mention.

Lupe: The Gamino Family History of Flight placed as a semi-finalist in the 2009 William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition organized by the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society in New Orleans.

Lupe: I'm working on a contemporary comedy manuscript titled I Was a Teenage Lawyer. High school sophomore, Roger Herrera uploads a pornographic video onto his school website to see if anyone recognizes the girl in the video as someone who attends his school. He unknowingly gets Masha Rulin, a girl who resembles the porn actress, suspended from school. Roger decides to defend Masha in the school's student court. But will he tell her the truth?

Lupe: Due to the success of The Pen & Ink Blogspot, the Management has decided to open a foreign branch office in the far north. I will be reporting on SCBWI events in the hinterlands of the San Francisco Bay Area, and writing about any other phenomena that our faithful readers need to know about. Contrary to rumor, this move has nothing to do with the Mysterious Fate of JJ the Hamster, the Great Chocolate Cookie Heist or falling in love and moving in with my girlfriend.

Lupe: Well, Senor Sparky, I recommend less sniffing and more writing. And get thee to a writing critique group. Your experience of chasing your own tail will help you adjust to the Wild, Wild World of Children's Literature. Writing separates the pups from the attack hounds. Don't chew on your sentences. Bite, don't bark at convoluted plotlines. I've heard you're working on a memoir A Dog's Life - I Am Not Spot. You might consider adapting it to a middle grade story. 

I'd like to thank The Pen & Ink Blogspot for allowing me to be their Mexican-In-Residence. It's been a pleasure and a privilege. My new position will be that of Foreign Correspondent. Over and out. 10-4. Adios. 

Our Foreign Correspondent will be appearing this August at the 2012 Summer Conference. Feel free to badger, berate and/or befuddle him.
- The Management

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's All About Magic

by Susan Berger

I love books with magic in them. Right now I am working on a chapter book about a little girl who steps into a magic world.  I love magic so much I want to share my favorites with you.

The Authors' names link to their Amazon pages. I have linked some books to their free downloads. The rest link to Amazon, but you can find a good many of these books at your library or independent bookstore.  I believe this list represents the most links I ever put in one post.

Magic books where real children find magic:

E Nesbit wrote in the late 1800's. I love her books because she never talks down to children. Her first trilogy begins with Five Children and It. (I'm linking you to the free download from Guttenberg.) She has many others I adore including a time travel book, The House of Arden.

Edward Eager  was a huge fan of E. Nesbit. He followed in her footsteps and write a series of magic books beginning with Half Magic  The seven books in the series are on many people's classics list.

Bruce Coville's Magic Shop series.
I love Bruce Coville. He was just named 2012 recipient of the Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People. The award comes from the youth services division of the New York Library Association. He writes many things. I started reading Bruce with his Alien series. The Magic Shop Series fits in this category.

Lynne Reid Banks The Indian in the Cupboad series was one of my sons' Favorites. Mine too  I also love The Fairy Rebel.

Magic worlds visited by human children

The Oz Books  For those of you who only know The Wizard of Oz and Gregory Maguire's Wicked, you've missed a whole lot in between.

L Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books.Most of them are downloadable at project Gutenberg  (including The Royal Book of Oz,written by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumley Thompson. It's one of my favorites).

Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote 18 more Oz Books. John R Neill, the illustrator of the Oz Books took over and wrote three. And the list goes on and on.  I own 21 of the books. I hope to add to my collection.

 C.S. Lewis  The Narnia Books

The seven books of this series, written in between 1950 and 1956 are on many fantasy lovers' lists, including mine.

Worlds where Magic is the Norm

J.K. Rowling changed the style of Children's literature with the Harry Potter Books  Many children used to cry when asked to read 100 page chapter books.  The last few Harry Potter books averaged 750 pages each and kids devoured them like candy.

Tamora Pierce, creator of worlds I love to reread. She has several series set in the world of Tortall: The Song of The Lioness Series., The Immortals series, The Circle of Magic Series  and a few others. 
I own every Tamora Pierce book and cannot recommend them highly enough.

Diana Wynne Jones wrote numerous fantasy  books for children.  My favorites are The Dark Lord of Derkholm and  and its sequel, The Year of the Griffin

Kai Strand's debut book, The Weaver  I fell in love with this girl trying to find her story telling talent.

Dragons and Magic
Patricia Wrede The Enchanted Forest series
four books beginning with Dealing with Dragons. She also has adult magic books.

Jessica Day George  Dragon Slippers Series
I found this series when I blogged the first line of Dragon Slippers. I was delighted to find out it was part of a series.

Anne McCaffrey  In her Dragon Riders of Pern series  there exists a trilogy of books for young people called The Harper Hall Trilogy.  I have every book Anne McCaffrey wrote, but I've a special fondness for this trilogy and re-read it once a year.

Teenagers who discover Magic exists in our world.

Kathy McCullough Don't Expect Magic  Lupe interviewed Kathy for our blog and I borrowed the book from him. The voice of this 16 year old Goth from New Jersey, who discovers her dad is actually a Fairy Godfather, was so appealing that I went out and bought my own copy.

Margaret Stohl and Cami Garcia  The Beautiful Creatures series

I met Margaret Stohl at a wonderful Flintridge Bookstore authors event in 2011. Facinated by her story of how she and Cami wrote the books, I bought Beautiful Creatures. I finished it at 2:00AM, walked to my computer, powered up and ordered the second book and pre ordered the third.  I also blogged the first line. The fourth book, Beautiful Redemption, will be available in October.

That's my list. I realize it's only a sampling. Most are books I own.  I skipped all the fairytales retold from Robin McKinleyGail Carson Levine and Jane Yolen. I also skipped Mary Pope Osbornes deservedly popular Magic Treehouse series.    Please tell me about others you think I should discover.