I ran into Clare Pernice at Goldenberry, a shop in Wilton, not too far from here, that stocks British products. No surprise there, because we’re both British-born, and we were looking for a few seasonal treats. But I noticed her … Continue reading
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are all set to begin writing again. I always think NaNoWriMo was invented by some guys who didn’t have to cook for their family in November. And how come they never noticed it’s a short month? Oh, well.
Undeterred by these minor setbacks, a hardy group of us gathered at the Pequot Library (our hosts this month and next) in spite of the fact that they were getting ready for their famous Black Friday/Saturday book sale. It’s on tomorrow, Saturday, November 24, from 9-5, and includes DVDs, CDs and Vinyl, as well as books.
|I’ve long been an admirer of Leslie Connor, an award-winning middle-grade author whose characters have always stayed with me after reading the last page of the book. Her latest, The Truth According to Mason Buttle, is no exception. It’s a finalist in the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and I think deserves to win. (I’m prejudiced because I loved it.) The results will be announced on Wednesday, November 14, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The character of Mason is unique in juvenile fiction, as far as I know, and yet he’s someone recognizable to all of us. Read on to find out more.
GC: You’ve written many middle-grade novels. For this one, which came first – the character, Mason Buttle, or the plot idea?
LC: My stories generally start with a situation—an element of nonfiction, such as a news report, or an event I have observed or read about. My imagination does a lot of work on that seed idea, bending it this way and that. If it’s a story-worthy idea, a character shows up—usually in my ear—and I go from there. In truth, that character has often already been kicking around the attic of my brain for quite a while. I’ve heard it said that character is plot. I have to agree; I never know either plot or character completely until I bring them together.
GC: You’ve captured Mason’s voice in an extraordinary and highly readable way. Do you know someone with these kind of learning difficulties, and characteristics (honesty, emotional synesthesia) or did Mason appear fully-formed from your imagination?
LC: Thank you! Mason is definitely a composite. I’ve always been able to pick out the kid in a classroom who is having a different experience from their peers. I know about some learning disabilities firsthand, but synesthesia was new to me. When I saw Mason Buttle in my mind’s eye, I knew what he was experiencing but I had to do some research to diagnose him.
GC: How would you characterize the main themes of the book? What would you like young people to take away from it?
LC: This question is difficult for me to answer. I’m not thinking about themes when I’m writing. For me, the most prevalent character traits (always tied to theme, right?) that emerged here are: self-reliance and honesty. Takeaways from this read might include empathy, compassion, and an increased sense of self-worth.
GC: For writers interested in writing for middle-grade – what makes an MG book different from a chapter book, YA novel, or an adult novel, for that matter?
LC: Writers are creative beings and lines are blurred, when it comes to formats. For instance, we see novels in verse and graphic novels for both the YA and MG audiences. So what separates them? For me, the single most important determinant of genre lies in the level of self and social awareness of the main character—no matter the age, no matter the topic.
GC: Your last two books have had a boy as the main protagonist. Are you planning anything with a girl as the featured character?
LC: Yes! I was surprised to be writing from a young male point of view, but the characters came to me an authentic way, and so far, I haven’t heard that they don’t work! (I chalk that up to having grown up between two brothers and having raised two sons.) My latest book (under contract) features a female protagonist, and in fact, there are very few males in this new story.
Lynne Constantine and her sister Valerie together form a writing partnership, Liv Constantine, whose nail-biting psychological thriller, The Last Mrs Parrish, has become a breakout international best-seller. It’s now available in 22 countries/territories, including places like Brazil, Croatia and China. … Continue reading
We had another great meeting at Barnes & Noble yesterday, with seventeen of us gathered to exchange ideas and recommendations. Alison McBain, Elizabeth Chatsworth, Ed Ahern and I bragged — just a bit — about our time travel anthology, When to Now, for which we did a reading and signing over the weekend at the Inaugural Saugatuck StoryFest in Westport.
If you like meeting authors face to face, plan to attend the latest Connecticut Authors Reading Series on Sunday, October 21, at 2pm at the Cyrenius H. Booth Library in Newtown. Among the featured authors are: Georgia Hunter, (We Were the Lucky Ones), Betsy Lerner, (The Bridge Ladies and The Forest for the Trees), Marilyn Simon Rothstein, (Husbands and Other Sharp Objects, and Lift and Separate), and Tom Seigel, (The Astronaut’s Son)
The Westport Writers’ Workshop has expanded its activities to include some popular Saturday workshops, for those who can’t attend during the week. On offer are A Writer’s Most Important Tool: The Power of ” What If “ with Jessica Speart this Saturday, October 20, Fall In Love With The Lyric Essay on Saturday, October 27, and Building a Multi-Dimensional Scene with Julie Sarkissian on Saturday, November 10. $75 each.
November 1 – NaNoWriMo begins! Click the link to find out more, and to find places where you can join your fellows to write your 50,000-word novel together.
The Fairfield Library will be offering a Writers’ conference on November 3, which will include Continue reading
I was surprised to find myself at a reading given by award-winning children’s book author Susan Hood, because she’s written more than 200 books for small children, and I don’t read many of those. But I heard about her debut … Continue reading
Oh the excitement! When to Now, the time travel anthology, is out tomorrow, October 1, and I have a story in it. But I’m not the only one, and the variety and quality of the other seventeen stories prompted me … Continue reading
Not sure why September always has that “let’s get back to work” feeling about it, but as if to encourage people to do just that, the events and opportunities for writers keep multiplying. We had eighteen people at Wednesday’s meeting, which provided lots to talk about. IN the interests of space – I’ll start with the upcoming events:
On Monday, September 24, from 6-7:30pm, the SoNo Branch Library will kick-off its Local Children’s’ author series with a book signing with member Kristen Ball, author of A Calf Named Brian Higgins. The event will honor the importance of access to fresh water globally with Millennium Promise.
I’ve just signed up for Wine and Write-in, a series of Tuesday evening writing opportunities at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, starting September 25. Led by the inimitable Stephanie Lehman, I’m hoping to work on my next project, a romantic comedy. I understand prompts will be available and all genres welcome. This is just one of many fall classes being offered.
If you need an inspiring place to write, but can’t get away on a writer’s retreat, how about three hours of writing in Mark Twain’s Library, for $75? You can do just that this Thursday, September 27, 2018 from 6-9 pm at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. Space is limited to fourteen writers, and you can reserve your spot here.
And it seems the Mark Twain House is on a roll. They’re running their two-day Writers Weekend on September 29 -30. Events include writing workshops, panel discussions, author talks, book signings, and if you don’t have time to attend the whole weekend, one-day tickets are available. Click here for a full list of presenters and session topics. Keynote speakers include Gary Shteyngart and Jodi Picoult.
Flash fiction is all the crack, and it’s a gateway to getting published. The Masters Review is running a contest dedicated solely to flash twice a year. The winning writer will be awarded $3000 and publication on The Masters Review site. Deadline September 30.
And if you’re not sure how to write very short, Authors Publish Magazine is offering a free book to help you. The Quick-Start Guide to Flash Fiction. is a guide to writing and publishing flash fiction –– Stories 1,000 words or less. The book gives you 60 writing prompts, plus 60 publishers accepting submissions. Download it here:
The book you’ve all been waiting for, When to Now, launches October 1.You want it because it features stories by several members, including Alison McBain, who edited it, Ed Ahern, Elizabeth Chatsworth, and yours truly. The pre-order page is live on Amazon for the eBook. And right now, it’s only $2.99 for the Kindle version, so you can afford to buy it!
The Westport Library’s creative non-fiction writing workshops begin on October 2 (introductory) and October 4 (advanced). They’re taught by Mary Lou Weisman, author of Playing House in Provence. Register here.
The Saugatuck StoryFest is the first annual literary festival organized in Westport, CT, this October 12-14. There’s something for everyone here. More than thirty writers of note have signed up to come, in many genres, including graphic novels and children’s literature, as well as memoir and all kinds of genre fiction. This is a great way to meet them face-to-face. There’s a list of authors and events on this website , and new info is added daily. Almost everything is free. And A Bradbury Evening, a celebration of Ray Bradbury with his biographer, Sam Weller and a live performance of one of his radio plays, is only $10. Don’t miss any of it!
SAVE THESE DATES
Plan to attend the latest Connecticut Authors Reading Series on Sunday, October 21, at 2pm at the Cyrenius H. Booth Library in Newtown. Among the featured authors are Georgia Hunter, Betsy Lerner, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, and Tom Seigel.
The Fairfield Library will be offering a Writers’ conference on November 3. Details to follow.
And on November 8, member Alex McNab will be interviewing author Eric Burns about his first novel after decades of non-fiction books. Details here.
Once you’ve published a short story or a poem, most literary journals aren’t interested in publishing it again. Still, the more a poem or short story is published, the more exposure it gets.and there are publications who accept reprints. Courtesy of Authors Publish.
See you next month. Keep writing!
I love the fact that members old and new show up each month to get or offer encouragement to other writers. It’s how I finally got my manuscript edited, so I can now look for a publisher. Thanks, everyone! As … Continue reading
I wasn’t able to be at Wednesday’s get-together, but I understand members had lots of positive happenings to report, which is fantastic. Alex McNab hosted in my place, and did a great job, I’m told. Thanks, Alex. A local storytelling … Continue reading