Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Plotting, one approach

 Yesterday while driving, I heard a great interview with one of my favorite writers, Laura Lippman.
I'm still waiting for AFTER I'M GONE from my library reserve. I may have to break down and buy my own copy. 
As soon as I finish The Goldfinch. (more to come on that book!)

You still might be able to catch the Lippman interview on the Bob Edwards show. 
There's this, from his website:

Monday, February 24, 2014:  Laura Lippman wrote her first seven books while working fulltime as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. She left journalism in 2001, but kept a deadline driven writing style, publishing a book nearly every year. The latest, After I’m Gone, revolves around a cold case investigation into the disappearance of Felix Brewer.

Although I've long been a fan, I actually met her at my one and only  
Writers in Paradise conference.
As we sat in a big circle, she talked plotting.

She calls her method the "distant shore school of plot." She always knows what's happening across the water, at the end. She knows the one big secret, but we (her readers) don't and even the protagonist doesn't. Although she knows the ending, she's also a fan of what she calls "Landmine Fiction" (don't you love that?). The zingers that go off along the way to that distant shore.

Here's an earlier NPR interview:
(You can actually listen from that link.)

More on her plotting:
If you think about a book as a journey you're going to take across water, and you're standing on one shore, and you can see the other side, and so you set out and you think you know where you're going, you can see it, but the water itself may surprise you. The currents may run more swiftly than you expect, or it may be shallow, you may run aground, and then as you get closer to the other side, it turns out that some of the things you thought you saw and you thought you knew are different.
You thought you saw a horse, and it turns out it was a dog, something like that, and so while you have a sense of where you're going, you are prepared to be surprised and to have the journey be quite different from what you thought it might be when you set out.

That process can be true of drafts 1-3, with discoveries still occurring. I believe very strongly in what I call the organic solution, revelations based on what the story has revealed so far. 

Much of the above is from this interview. 
(But oh how I wish bloggers/ websites/ whatever would not make their background black... )

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hello, Como!

What a great week I had visiting north Mississippi.
Yes, it was cold (though, thankfully, I missed most of the ice and snow). But I saw old friends, ate well --too well-- and had some amazing experiences.

Here we are in pictures and links!

GLORY BE was picked as an ALL COMO READS book,
which meant I got to be a part of the remarkable programming to commemorate  
Freedom Summer, 1964, in Panola County, Mississippi.

Luckily, I got to town the day before my talk and was able to attend the panel of former civil rights workers from the county. They'd registered voters in 1964 and were back to talk about their experiences. Quite an evening that left me and their audience thinking hard.

Two of the civil rights workers chatting with my host and brother-in-law. Note the photography exhibit that lined the walls of the Como Library.

The program ended with this fabulous professional musician leading us in Freedom Songs.

To share the week properly, I first should go back to this summer, when librarian Alice Pierotti helped me and NPR's Back Seat Book Club out, big time. When I was invited to be inteviewed for that amazing show, the producer asked if I knew any kid readers she could include in the broadcast. Yikes!
It was summer, all my school connections were unavailable. But I remembered one super librarian who'd loved GLORY BE. Alice didn't hesitate. She organized a group of Como Braniac kids, planned a listening party, and has continued to support my book.

Thanks, Alice!

Fast forward to February, 2014.

And here I am with two of the original Como Braniacs!

A local school librarian and several teachers came. Some brought their students. I loved it when one budding author told me they had a club at school and read lots of books and did all sorts of other fun things. "Some of the kids think we're nerds," she said. "We are and we don't care what they think."
She plans to be a writer. Probably soon!

I loved these kids and their questions.

It was all overseen by this talented young man and his cameras. He was everywhere! Doing everything!

Another favorite moment of the evening was chatting with this young teacher. Anda Weaver's entire class had read GLORY BE. My only disappointment was that there wasn't time for me to visit her school. I am going to try very hard to get back and thank those kids for reading.

Another enthusiastic teacher with lots of questions about writing. 
I predict we'll hear more from Precious Pirage!

My talk was about how authors' choose their characters, how they develop and refine them, often starting with real people.

It was really an excuse to use some pictures I love.
And share a few stories about writing GLORY BE.

Football Letterman, 1964.

Majorettes! Jesslyn's summer goal= Twirl a Fire Baton!

One of my favorite librarians, 1960s. Part of the "Delta Mafia" of librarians who stood up for their librarians and their library patrons. Miss Bloom followed in their footsteps.

If you're still reading, thanks. Since you're probably on blog overload, I'll save some of my pictures from the rest of the week. But truly, there's nothing like going home.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

My quote for the day:

"Always take your heart to work."
                                                           (Meryl Streep)


Thursday, February 13, 2014

OPHELIA and the MARVELOUS BOY- Giveaway!

To cheer up my frozen, snowed-in, chilly friends, I'm sending a little ray of Valentine sunshine your way and giving away my copy (Thanks, Knopf) of this brand new middle-grade novel.

Here's my review in the Christian Science Monitor.

 Here's a little piece they published about the book and the story.

And also, a great interview with author Karen Foxlee.

All you have to do is comment (by 2/20/14), here or on my Facebook posting of this link.
You can also share via Twitter and tag me: @ARScattergood.
Sorry, I can only mail to U.S. addresses.

Let's give this a week. Surely by then Spring will have sprung?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thank you, Grady Elementary!

One of the joys of having your book on the state reading list for your own state is that you get to visit nearby schools and hear what they think. And of course, we all know that kids LOVE to tell the truth.

Tampa's GRADY ELEMENTARY was my most recent stop. Despite the rainy weather, I was welcomed in a BIG way! Check out the sign as I drove into the school.

All the teachers and the librarian were so enthusiastic and their students were delightful.
A huge image of my cover art adorned the library.

4th grade teachers Melinda Dickens and Charlene Ritter truly made my day. The projects were fabulous!

Here are a few FLOATS, based on the Sunshine Reader list books. They'd had their own book parade! (It's all about Gasparilla in Tampa.)

4th grade kids made Lap Books, fully illustrated.

Tons of great stuff in these projects, including a letter to the EDITOR standing up for something they believed in.
Check this one!

"Naps help our health and give us energy to do our work."
Smart thinking.

And the fun continued today when I opened a folder full of letters, thanking me for sharing my book's journey with them.

Must share a few of these detailed, thoughtful notes. I'm still smiling.
(Some great advice, too...)

"Keep revising and work hard."

"I think it's really cool that you and your editor revised together. 
I think my hand would fall off."
Yep, mine almost did.

"Now I know what Mrs. Ritter means by 'Our writing is never done!'"
Listen to your teachers, kids!

"As soon as your new book comes out I will surely be reading your newest master piece."

"Someday when I grow up I might write an autobiography and it might have your presentation in it."

"I loved your book. I'm pretty sure it was the BEST book I ever read."
Hey- I'll take Pretty Sure any day!

"I understood you like to read. I am a reading maniac as well. Now if you will excuse me, I have to do some reading myself."

On that note, I'm off to follow Jake's example and do a little reading myself.

Have a great week, teachers and librarians, and thanks for the amazing work you do to make kids so enthusiastic about books.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Creating Characters

 Advice on making a character more likeable:

They are kind when it counts.  Not always, and maybe not mostly, but when it is important, the hero will do something kind.  If nothing else he will adopt a dog, a common fictional device to salvage otherwise irredeemable heroes, which is called the Adopt A Dog Technique.

(Maybe that's what I need for my new manuscript-to-be. The ole' Adopt a Dog Technique...)

From a template to Write Your Novel:

If you're contemplating characters, try this post I wrote a while back:

Can you tell I've been thinking about CHARACTERS a lot? 
Can't wait to share my inspiration for Glory, Jesslyn, Robbie, Miss Bloom, et al, at the COMO LIBRARY tomorrow!