Keeping It Real at the Annapolis Book Festival

This year, the Annapolis Book Festival included a panel, “Young Adult Books: Keeping It Real.” The title alone fascinated me, and I was thrilled to be part of it. The Key School in Annapolis created the Annapolis Book Festival 10 years ago when a group of dedicated parents decided to bring a world class event promoting reading and writing to Annapolis, Md. Once involved with the event, I quickly recognized why the Annapolis Book Festival holds the reputation as one of the finest book festivals in the region. With over 40 authors and 25 panels, The Key School saw to every detail and ensured both authors and audiences enjoyed the event.

[Read more…]

Critiquing Guidelines via Edie Hemingway

I blogged recently about the value of receiving critiques as a writer. I then fortunately received the following guidelines from co-Regional Advisor of the Maryland-Delaware-West Virginia Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Edie Hemingway, on giving critiques. Edie graciously agreed to let me share these tips in my blog as a follow-up to my last post.

In Edie’s words, “I put these together when I started teaching my own workshops, based on my experiences ‘workshopping’ during my MFA program at Spalding University. I’ll also be using them for the online course I’m teaching this summer for McDaniel College’s graduate certificate program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.”

Edie Hemingway is the author of Road to Tater Hill
(Delacorte Press and Yearling paperback), winner of a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and besides writing, teaches several writing workshops. If you’d like to find out more about her and her programs, she can be reached at
http://www.ediehemingway.com

This is a great list for those who belong to a critique group or plan on joining one. As Edie suggests, these are also useful during the revision process.

[Read more…]

Critiques

Writing critiquesIt’s fascinating how our perspectives can change over time. Last year I attended the regional Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Spring Conference and saw people receiving critiques from an agent, an editor, and two published authors. I thought, “What kind of people would want to put theirselves through that?” This year, I completed the first ten pages of my current manuscript and anxiously awaited for a chance to compete for one of the thirty available critique slots. I secured one of those sessions, and now completely understand the value critiques play in the writing process.

Admittedly, I’m having much more trouble with my current book, Believing In Horses, Too, than I did with my first book. When I wrote my first book, Believing In Horses, I sat down and wrote. I hadn’t studied books, followed blogs, attended conferences, or listened to webinars all telling me how to write better. I wrote, and revised, edited, and then fortunately had good editors and an excellent publisher. Somehow I thought all I’ve been learning over the past two years would make this next book easier. But it hasn’t. Knowing all that I’m doing wrong has made it that much harder.

[Read more…]

Kings of Colorado – Book Review

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

Not long ago, I received an e-mail that went something like this:

“Dear Valerie,
David E. Hilton’s debut novel KINGS OF COLORADO—now available in paperback (Simon & Schuster; January 3, 2012; $14.00)—is a powerful coming-of-age story set on a juvenile delinquent ranch in the Rockies….I would love to send you a copy of KINGS OF COLORADO to review, giveaway, or feature on Believing in Horses….” 

Since Simon & Schuster cared about my thoughts, I thought I would share them here as well.

In Kings of Colorado (Simon and Schuster, 2011) by David E. Hilton, Will Sheppard stabs, but does not kill, his father, and pays the price for the rest of his life. Sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in Colorado across the country from his Chicago home, thirteen-year-old Will learns lessons one would hope a child protecting his mother from his abusive father would never have to learn. Two years at the brutal boys’ ranch toughens Will, but does not leave him devoid of emotions. His saving graces include friendships, a special horse he trains, and a kind nurse. Will endures one violent and tragic hardship after another, leaving the reader wondering if he can possibly survive.

[Read more…]

The New Short Story – Guest Post by Edward H. Carpenter

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Edward H. Carpenter, on the re-emergence of the short story in literature. Ed and I became friends via Goodreads due to our military connection. I rarely see a military uniform in an author’s profile photo, so when I saw the Marine green, the Navy blue in me had to say “hi.” Here is a little about Ed and what influences his writing, in his own words:

“Well, I’m one of 12 children, a career military officer, a small business owner, and an athlete. I’ve flown planes and jumped out of them, served in war zones and looked into the empty sockets of skulls in a mass grave. I’ve lived in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, and traveled to more countries than I can list, but not nearly enough.

[Read more…]

On Book Reviews

On Book Reviews

As an author, why should I review other writers’ work?  Because it makes me a better writer.

About a year ago, I read an article on Writing.com that suggested the same conclusion, so I thought I’d check it out.  After all, reviewing includes reading and analysis, something I’d spent a lifetime doing as an intelligence officer.  So how hard could it be?  Turns out, not so easy.  And how to synthesize several hundred pages into a paragraph, and cram those days of personal reactions into just a few statements?  I’ll offer some suggestions that work for me. [Read more…]