Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mimi Lost and Found

The Day Came. I realized that I write cause I love to write. Becca's daughter Ellie asked when she could get a copy of MLF after having read a draft in progress. She'd been having some trouble at school: a teacher she perceived didn't like her=devastating. That was enough to publish a few copies for her for Christmas. I have a gifted student, Summer Meredith who drew some illustrations. Voila. A book. Content. Merry Christmas self.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The ambiguity of meanings possessed by words are an obstacle to the scientist but a resource to the poet (Structure Sound and Sense).

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Creation

A student writes of not caring or connecting to school.  His studies, his motivation, even his friendships and relationships lack meaning. Until, he hears a song. The connection is so strong that he is motivated to change his life. What could one song do to one young boy? Obviously, a miracle. And what is that song? Heart of Courage, Two Steps From Hell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So Kafka

"I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the
book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow on the skull,
why bother reading it in the first place? What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we love more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence... A book must be
the axe for the frozen sea within us." Kafka's letter to a friend in 1904

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Plans

I've taken on three new English classes for which I have to create all the curriculum.

The first class I created, designed and proposed to my school board. They accepted! It is called Multi-genre Writing and is an exploration of different writing genres.

The second class was offered to me on a silver platter and I couldn't resist: AP Literature with as little as ten students. What an incredible opportunity.

Then, there were some politics, more students who needed a different class and the need for someone to step up to the plate and volunteer to teach a class of 25 seniors-12th grade English. It's mine.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The News

Acquisition editor who loves the story Becca and I wrote was not a powerful enough source to make it happen. The book was tied up for over a year with monthly, sometimes weekly promises of it almost making it to publication.
In the end, the decision not to publish the book was based on a sales force that wouldn't know how to market the book.
Am I sad? Yes.
Disappointed? Yes.
Surprised? No.
There is a tenacity required of those seeking publication. Tenacity can be a good thing and someday I'll be thankful for the situation that helped me to develop tenacity.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"A poet, to practice his art and success, must have an ear for language so finely tuned and persnickety as to seem to the ordinary novelist almost diseased. The short story writer, since the emotional charge of his fiction must reveal itself quickly, has a similar need for lyrical compression, though a need less desperate than the poet's. In the novelist, a hypersensitive ear may occasionally prove a handicap." John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

Friday, April 6, 2012

Editor who loves our book update:
Still in acquisition. He loves and wants the book but it is in the "bottleneck" of acquisitions.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Current WIP at 44,777

My students always ask or they used to always ask, "How long does it have to be."
I responded. "It has to be long enough to meaningfully say what you need to say."

I don't know if I will ever on my own be a 60,000 word novelist. With editorial direction, however, I could be.
On my own, I think I will be lucky to get up to 50,000 words. I like succinct writing and hate when the protagonist thinks or feels too much. I also think that I can edit my babies. Action!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WRitten on the Wall at Sundance

"This place in the mountain and nature's casualness toward death and birth is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life threatening in its winters of destruction but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in teh spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws to the same end: life." Robert Redford

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Wait

Two weeks and two day ago, an editor let co-author and me know that our book had made the first rounds of acquisitions and was going through the second and final round and he'd let us know in 2-4 weeks. He felt confident, has always loved the book and felt that publication was imminent.

So....I wait.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

PJ Day

Why are my best writing days spent almost entirely in my pajamas?
Current WIP at 42,000 words. The one I took to the New York roundtable. Can I take it to 60,000 words? Do I want to?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cassandra Clare on Love

CC was a keynote speaker. It's always fun to see and hear the author of books I have on my bookshelf. I never got through the series because I'd long tired of anything-vampire-but my students ate the series up. And the woman demands respect for concocting a best selling series.
She spoke of four different kind of love
1. forbidden love by family
2. forbidden love by society
3. love forbidden by taboo
4. dangerous love

Cassandra's advice was to not be afraid to create really big obstacles for characters. Tension and high stakes.
Her best advice concerning love: A love story that's fun to live is not fun to read about.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Lovers

This morning I went down to wake up Max and Annika because their mother was at an exercise class and their father on business (their house closes next Tuesday). I've done this once before and previously, their light was off and they were as reluctant to wake up as a bear in the middle of winter hibernation. Imagine my surprise when the light was on, Max was dressing and Annika was making her bed.

"What's happening, you're both up!" I exclaimed.
"I couldn't sleep any longer," Max answered, "I'm so excited for the book fair."
My heart melts--and I remember being moved to tears when I saw the Scholastic book truck parked in front of the school. All the possibility, creativity and adventure in that one truck!

I was so thrilled with their actions that I did the Hookilau dance for them. What a moment.

I headed up stairs for breakfast and Max followed minutes later fully dressed, backpack on, and requisite gun slung over his back.

He came up to continue our book discussion. I learned of a series on the Titanic and his other book loves.

"You love books because your mom loves books and I love books and even my mom loves books. She always has a book she's reading."

"Grandma Zobrist loves books too?"

"OH yes."

I said good bye and pulled out of the garage. I was out in the street when little boy Max startled me by running out into the street with a smile on his face.

I rolled down the window, "What is it?"
He stood silent.
I stuck my cheek out, "Here, give me a kiss."
He exhuberantly complied.
"That's why I came out."
Heart melts a second time.

That morning I told the story to my class ending with the advice, "If you want to be kissed, talk about books."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thumbnail Resource for PB's

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New York SCBWI

Brought my latest work for the roundtable intensives.
Two full days of learning, learning learning.
I love it here and made two important contacts.

One of the highlights was a surprise visit from Henry Winkler, actor and author. Sometimes it is just the best to laugh. Winkler is hysterical and loves to write. He was probably the most inspiring speaker. The son of German immigrants who once called him dumahound. My father would know how to spell it but not me. In essence, the translation is "dumbdog." Winkler, I believe, was serious. So here is a man filled with doubt who came to infuse with hope.

Chris Cutcher spoke. Inspiring. He shared several writing stories and his reasons for not censoring the nitty gritty rough episodes of life. He shared several personal anecdotes that were truly funny and truly heartbreaking.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Fierce Green Fire

The documentary we saw last night was ten years in the making. It was a thorough, selective look at the last 50 years and the environmental changes, catastrophes, successes of the earth. Love Canal, Greenpeace, Chico Mendez...It was an excellent piece of work--yet, it wasn't as enjoyable because it was nothing new.

I'm taking this idea and applying it to the groundbreaking books that happen to have an original premise.

I have no interest in vampire, paranormal and now dystopian novels. Too many. Overdone. No matter how good they are, they will not have the same possibilities because they're nothing new.

Here's to originality. And the idea that my work in progress is a NEW idea.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Second Night at Sundance Festival

We love the creative, artsy, atmosphere of the Sundance film festival. Sometimes at the beginning of the film, or more often at the end, the director will answer questions. It's always a great moment to hear the creative talent, trials, patience and perseverence that goes into making a film.
Jillian and I had a phenomenal experience at our second film.
We saw WEst Memphis Three, a story about three convicted men, serving time for the murder of three eight year old boys.
The movie was crafted so well, that the beginning of the film, we see the prosecution's side and all the evidence that put the young men in jail. As an audience observer, it's clear that they are guilty of the murders, but as the film progresses, we're given piece by piece of information that puts their guilt in doubt. By the end of the film, it's more than likely that they are innocent and recent DNA evidence points to another suspect.
The film ends. I still wonder who's guilty. The director comes to the front, then invites Damien Echols up to the stage--the teenager convicted 18 years ago who has spent half his life in jail. For over two hours, you spend time in judgment in this man and there he stands before us.
Profound moment.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Writing group partner has had at least 2 full requests for her novel. It is so exciting to see the process of success. In at least one case, the agent adores the manuscript and this is just how it's supposed to be--like falling in love. I hope I can post her novel release date real soon. L'chaim!