Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 30 at Noon, EST
- Bruce Black of Wordswimmer
- Kristy Dempsey of Reverie: Abstract Musings on a Hopeful Life
- Kelly Fineman of Writing and Ruminating
- Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect
- Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children
Judges (Round 2)
Monday, September 28, 2009
There aren’t that many books about military families. Author Rosanne Parry has written a beautiful one.
Heart of a Shepherd tells the story of Brother, who is left to run his family’s ranch when his dad gets shipped to Iraq. It’s funny and quietly moving in a Where the Red Fern Grows kind of way. My favorite scene is when Brother gets in a fight with his older brothers (he has four of them!) and then has to stitch up his older brother’s scalp.
Rosanne was brave enough to be the first to answer my new "five question" YES interview. I'm grateful to her for saying yes.
NOTE: I also posted a mini-version of this interview over at www.operationyesbook.com, where I hope to feature more interviews with creative people who come from military families. (Laini Taylor, I'm looking at you!)
1) How are you connected to the U.S. military?
My parents helped me get in touch with some theologians and the chancellor of the archdiocese. These people helped me look at the documents my teacher was looking at that supported his beliefs. They also showed me the primary source documents that I could use to refute my teacher’s misunderstandings. It was an important lesson for me in the use of primary and secondary sources, something my history teacher overlooked but I’ve been mindful of ever since. These mentors also helped me understand the history of anit-Catholic sentiment in Oregon. The first priests to come here in the mid 1800s spoke French and came to serve the French trappers and their Native American wives and children. So the bigotry is as much about racism as it is about religion. In the end, I doubt I changed my teachers mind, but I did learn a lot about addressing injustice with facts and persistence and good manners.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
- Books, books, books, no rain!
By the end of the day, it was "books, books, books and rain," but no matter. The crowds were larger than the year before, the tents were packed with wow-worthy authors, and I arrived early enough to get both a free bag and a free, gloriously image-jammed poster. And to my amusement, I looked semi-official, because the Festival's go-to color was purple, and I had (because of the threatened rain) worn my royal purple trench coat.
Here's a partial record of my day, in both pictures and tweets. (I'm saving my time in the Poetry Tent for Poetry Friday.) You can find more tweets from other bloggers by searching the hashtag, #nbf. And of course, visit the Library of Congress site for web videos of all the presentations as soon as they are posted.
A NOTE FROM YOUR SPONSOR: Would this be a good time to remind you about the TwitterChat Cheryl Klein and I are having this Wednesday, Sept. 30 at noon EST? All you have to do is sign up for an account at www.twitter.com, then go to www.tweetchat.com on Wednesday. Enter the hashtag you wish to follow: #YESchat, and you're good to go. You don't have to tweet a twit, if you don't want to. You can simply eavesdrop.
Thank you. We now return to the main event:
- Exquisite corpse authors: Katherine Paterson made us do it
- Jon Scieszka says to go to www.read.gov to read about roller skating babies
- Then i have to choose: lois lowry or jane hirshfield impossible
- Standing in the aisles for lois lowry
- Eating popcorn for lunch
- Listening to sharon creech's hypnotic voice
- Bring on Mo!
- Mo: knuffle bunny the musical! at kennedy ctr in may
- Patrick Carman: new vest, stretch armstrong & reading
- Next 39 Clues: Australia!
- Bringing in the easel for Jeff Kinney
- Jeff Kinney: I decided to draw as 7 Year old boy so no one would question my ability
- J Kinney: On set of wimpy kid movie watched apple fight
- J Kinney: failure influenced me
- Kid offering two ideas to J Kinney "if you need them"!
- Up next: judy freakin blume!
- judy blume: i was a shy kid afraid of dogs swimming everything!
- judy blume: i made up all my book reports
- judy blume: i knew i was 70 when i heard it on NPR
- judy blume: Next book set in 1950s
- i want to ask judy blume: how did a shy kid get so brave?
FINAL TWEET OF THE DAY:
- 7 hours of bookfesting I'm beat!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Take the direct address of the opening of "War Stories":
"I've got an uncle who punched a man's eye
Straight out of his skull. My uncle died
Young, but the one-eyed man turned eighty-five"
Or the titles which are as inviting as flashing FREE FOOD signs:
"Naked and Damp With a Towel Around My Head, I Noticed Movement on the Basement Carpet"
or the one below, "How to Create an Agnostic"
How to Create an Agnostic
Just as lightning struck.
I’d created the electricity.
For more about my reaction to hearing Sherman Alexie speak at the Fairfax Fall for the Book Festival, see my post from yesterday, Worked Over and Messed Up. For those not disturbed by profanity, see his website, Falls Apart, for more poetry.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by poet Susan Taylor Brown at SusanWrites
Thursday, September 24, 2009
During his talk, he acted out a scene in which his dad gets drunk and tells his seven-year-old self and all his gathered young friends about how women. . . NO, can't write that here on the blog.
Okay, he talked about giving President Clinton grief for his "my grandmother was Cherokee" attempt at empathy, and then, later, he describes Clinton embracing him with "Big-Mac breath," leaning in to whisper in his ear "Alexie, you're----" NO, can't write that either.
Maybe, maybe, I could tell you about his description of President Obama's inauguration on TV, in which he noted the huddle of emaciated, hippie vegan white women with ugly shoes swaying arm in arm with the Aretha-sized, fur-coat-wearing, Baptist-churched and well-heeled black women, one of whom had a fox head dangling off her wrap---which kept hitting a vegan woman in the head. Okay, I got through that one. But it was way funnier when he told it.
Alexie is as profane, achingly hilarious, and fearless in his public presentations as he is in his fiction. As a huge fan of his, I listened with alternate awe, discomfort, and glee. I bought a book of his poetry, FACE, which I hope to feature tomorrow for Poetry Friday. I had to drag myself away from his autograph line, which was at least a hundred people long, by doing the mental math (100 people x 1 minute each = 100 minutes/over an hour-and-a-half wait.)
But when I attempted to get back to my own work the next day----THUD. I realized how badly he'd worked me over. I'm not fearless. I'm not profane. (Sometimes, I'm funny. I give myself that.) But all I could write in my notebook was: nothing I write really matters. Why should people care? BLAH.
Has this ever happened to you? Not jealousy, but a realization of your limitations as a writer?
I got over it, first by realizing that writers have different roles. Some are here to blurt out the truth. To overwhelm you with a barrage of jabs to your prejudices and fears. Others tread on little cat feet. They are stealthy. The potions they administer flow through your veins slowly and when you wake up a little more beautiful than you were the day before, you never trace it to their subterfuge. Either is good. Change happens.
The other thing that helped is that I went back and re-read his poem, "Water," published in his collection, One Stick Song. It ends with the phrase "two parts heartbreak and one part hope." I realized that is exactly what fiction is. I dove back in to my revisions, looking for both the heartbreak and the hope, but more willing to allow the heartbreak in. Thank you, Mr. Alexie.
*Mr. Alexie was accepting the Mason Award at the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University.
Monday, September 21, 2009
1) You can twiddle. Twiddle your thumbs, twiddle your pencil, twiddle away your lunch hour reading 1,000 Dust Motes to Spy Before You Die
2) You can twitter along with Cheryl Klein and me as we chat about OPERATION YES, the writing and editorial process, and which one of us has a marked obsession with pudding.
You can find us in the top secret chat room located under the hashtag #YESchat.
For more about these choices, see Cheryl's post Would you rather . . .? in which she deviously tries to cloud the pudding discussion with pie and cake.
If you have no idea what Twitter is, please see InkyGirl's post "Writer's Guide to Twitter." Hop on the Twitter wagon at Twitter.com, practice a little, and be ready to join us on Sept. 30.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For the #YESchat, I'll be tweeting from my @saralewisholmes account and Cheryl from @chavelaque. Amusing, informative, and delicious posts will then be re-tweeted at a later time from my @operationyes account. Please feel free to twitter with me on either account beginning today or on any other day ending in Y.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.
It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.
Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.
Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.