Award-winning Writer of Poetry and Fiction

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7 Sentences with Maggie Stiefvater and Courtney Stevens in Richmond, VA

Giant Jenga played on a stage with huge cardboard boxes is an apt metaphor for the writing process. Stiefvater and Stevens used this visual symbol to end their day-long seminar on using the first 7 sentences of your manuscript to set the stage for and encapsulate the entire novel. They called volunteers on stage to nudge giant cardboard boxes out of a huge Jenga tower and stack them on top. Soon, someone had to go searching for a ladder.

It didn’t seem like the tower could hold for very long. Everyone held their breath as a daring volunteer pulled at a box near the bottom. Then it happened–the whole thing started to tilt left where Court Stevens was standing. Then bam! The tower was down and the stage a mess of boxes. Stevens jumped out of the way just in time.

This is what all writers experience–the collapse–the failure. But you keep playing the game. You go back to it and try to balance perfectly again and again, getting better, going longer. It is play and risk. And you repeat the process.

Stiefavter and Stevens are funny, personable, high-energy teachers–a sort of Laurel and Hardy team, with Stiefvater the comically stern Hardy to Stevens goofy Laurel. They packed a lot into 8 hours, leading 200 aspiring writers through exercises and examples. They shared stories about how their own lives have informed their writing and insights into the characters they’ve built, which kept everyone engaged and fascinated.

Audience members came from as far away as Seattle to hear from these two. We walked away with new tools, great insights into the creative process, and phrases our fearless leaders kept repeating: ideas are disposable, keep creating, it’s not about that first book–put it away and keep writing new things. Take those risks because it is what creators do–they keep creating.  jenga

My Short Story “The Ocean at Night” Has Been Published in Beach Anthology!

beach readsMy second published short story is out now as part of the anthology Rehoboth Beach Reads: The Boardwalk.

Now Available!

A fortune-telling machine with a mind of its own, professional killers hanging out by the hotel pool, granny run amok in Funland…what’s happened to Rehoboth? Some very talented writers have created a book of great beach reads, that’s what. If you liked The Beach House, you’re going to loveThe Boardwalk. Short stories set in and around Rehoboth Beach, guaranteed to entertain.

Check out Cat and Mouse Press for more information. These are fun collections.

http://www.catandmousepress.com/

Poem Accepted for Anthology Three Minus One

I’ve had  a poem accepted for an anthology on miscarriage and still birth. It’s a difficult topic but this anthology should bring light and comfort to couples who have been through this loss. Check it out:

http://shewritespress.com/congratulations-three-minus-one-contributors/

 

My First Short Story to be Published!

beach bookThis summer, while on vacation at Rehoboth Beach, I noticed a flyer in Browse About Books, one of our favorite spots, for a short story contest. The winners would be published in an anthology called Rehoboth Beach Reads. This was clearly a way to lure us back to the beach for a book launch. I needed to be in this book!

The theme for the anthology was “The Beach House.” Since I’ve been in young adult fiction-writing mode, a story came to me in the voice of a teenaged boy at the beach who loves ghost hunting and also is in need of a friend. He’s saved his money to book a spot in a big late-night ghost hunt in Lewes, Delaware but that’s not where he finally meets his otherworldly match.

I worked on the story for a few weeks, getting to know this sweet and goofy kid, then sent it in. Lo and behold, the editors accepted “The Ghost of Henlopen Avenue” for the anthology.

The book will be out in late 2013 from Cat and Mouse Press.

Check the website here to order copies. Should be a fun collection!

 

Thanks to the Bethesda Lit Festival

Somehow, I won second place in both the poetry and the essay categories in the 2013 Bethesda Literary Festival contests. That was a nice surprise and I really enjoyed ready my pieces at the festival. The Bethesda Magazine will publish the winning entries on their website soon. My essay, Breeder’s Ball, explores secondary infertility and young egg envy. My poem, Wear This Song, is below:

Wear This Song

–for Con Burch

In a music video by Beth Orton, the song she sings
is a dress you put on and dance in down the dirty city street,
that you pass to neighbors and strangers, women and men,
that you wrap around children, and that you force
onto anyone foolish enough to refuse it.
The song is thin and red with white flowers. It swings
and shimmers. It flips. When Orton takes it off,
she’s clothed only in a slip but
she has to share the dress, to see
how it fits the large ladies bumping, and the old man
smoking, and the guy with the huge muscles and the tattoos
as he skateboards over pavement, the silky notes flapping
like wings behind his back.

Diversity in YA Best Sellers

Author Melinda Lo has done some great stat crunching to analyze the number of diverse main characters and supporting characters in recent best selling YA.

Not many bright spots here although there seems to be an increasing number of supporting characters that qualify as “diverse” in her definition, which includes characters of color, LGBT, and characters with disabilities.

http://www.malindalo.com/2013/04/diversity-in-2012-young-adult-bestsellers/

Can’t help thinking that if the industry stopped white washing covers and was willing to really promote more diverse YA lit, those books would surface and would sell.

Bethesda, MD Literary Festival 2013

Somehow I’m a finalist in the essay and poetry contests sponsored by the Bethesda Literary Festival. I’ll be attending on April 19 and 20 to read and find out if I’ve actually won anything. It’s nice to get this little bit of recognition in the midst of finishing up my young adult novel, which can be a pretty isolating process. It’s so much easier to figure out whether or not a poem is working and has merit for anyone other than the muse in your head. But with longer fiction, all bets are off. Sure, you can get feedback on pieces but does the whole big monster story work? Have you wasted two years worth of stolen moments used to scribble the thing out?

Hope not!

Check out the Bethesda Festival, if you are in the area: http://www.bethesda.org/specialevents/litfest/litfest.htm