Saturday, May 28, 2016

Writer's quotes - William Goldman

After reading Carry Elwes's memoir about his adventures filming the Princess Bride, I've been reading two books by the author of that book and screenplay - William Goldman.

Adventures in the Screen Trade
Which Lie did I Tell? - More Adventures in the Screen Trade

At the end of the second book he says:

A Good Story is something with an interesting premise that builds logically to a satisfying and surprising conclusion.

We get fed on stories in the cradle and forever on.
Want to read a good story?
Pick up The Little Engine That Could.  Soppy and primitive, sure, but today just by chance I read it again and let me tell you, you are rooting with all your heart for that crummy two-bit nothing of a train to get those toys over the mountain.

That's all it is, this business of writing.
Just get the fucking toys over the mountain.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Writer's Quotes

Ah here's the quote that Bruce Coville loves to quote. (because it's the spine in all of his tales.)

                        Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line.

Paul O'Neil, American writer

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Writer's Quotes

You can't wait for inspiration.
You have to go after it with a club
------- ----- Jack London (1876-1916)

Wow, he died a hundred years ago.  And we are still enjoying his books.
How about that?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In Praise of RAs

Now, you're probably wondering what a RA is.
Actually, if you belong to SCBWI, you know what a RA is.  And yours are probably just as great as mine are.

Hmmm. For those who don't know what I'm talking about (all others just skip the next part):
SCBWI = Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
RA = Regional Advisors

Actually, they should be called - Regional Organizers.

The first Regional Advisors I knew were the organizers of the Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia region of the national organization.  They ended up being the co-authors of my first picture books
Busy Toes
Busy Fingers
both written by C.W. Bowie.
(you can see the book covers over there to the right of this blog)

 Claudine Wirths, Wendie Old, and Mary Bowman-Krhum.
(we assumed that there wouldn't be enough room on the spine of our books for all three names, so we squashed our names together and came up with our pen name. (I'm the W part)
We had fun writing the books. And more fun going around speaking about them and doing signings at conventions of librarians and teachers.

After they retired from being RA, other wonderful volunteers took over as Regional Advisor(s) of that region.
Did I mention that this position is a Volunteer position?  All that work/ no pay.

When I moved to San Diego, I discovered the local SCBWI group here was extremely active one.
The two co-Regional Advisors are Janice Yuwiler and Patricia Buckley. and the Assistant Regional Advisor is Debra Schmidt.

Besides all their work running this large SCBWI group, planning great monthly meetings with editors, agents and published authors as speakers. the three of them have given me personal help.

Well. Way back last July 2015, I attended the International SCBWI Conference (held every year in Los Angeles).  Why not? It was just a couple of hours north of San Diego.

I drove up on Thursday so I could get a good night's sleep because the Conference started bright and early Friday morning.  As I unpacked, I discovered I had forgotten several things from my ditty bag. Not knowing that the hotel would have supplied me with new ones, I rushed out of the hotel, down the hill to the nearby shopping center and bought some.  Once back in the room with my goodies, I continued unpacking and discovered I had forgotten my nightgown!

So - back I went down the hill to the Macy's store to buy a replacement. Luckily I found one very similar to the one I had bought at Macy's at home and carried it back up the hill.
By this time I was very tired.
I was looking forward to getting into the hotel pool and swimming some laps.
When I had almost reached the hotel, I was looking up the hill at the hotel and not where my feet were going.
Unfortunately, at that point one of the sidewalk slabs had risen about an inch above the others and I tripped.
I crashed. Hitting the side of my head on the sidewalk.
I was unconscious for a while. Don't know how long. Then I heard people approaching. Saw my glasses in the middle of the sidewalk. Grabbed them and clutched them close to me.
Eventually people helped me up and helped me into the hotel. At which point they went to find my RAs.

 The RAs helped me to my room. The hotel people gave me ice packs for my head.
And for the rest of the evening, just as I was settled down on the bed, someone would call my room to see how I was. The hotel. Each one of the RAs.
I kept checking my eyes for any sign of concussion, but there was no sign. (one pupil larger than the other)
Finally everyone let me sleep.

The next morning, Janice walked me to the nearby optician (in the shopping center) who quickly fixed my glasses. (the earpiece was warped - that's all)

As you can tell, I think RAs are wonderful !

Monday, April 25, 2016

Writer quotes

Occasionally, I'll post various quotes from writers.  Today - William Faulkner

Read, read, read,
Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the mast. Read! You'll absorb it.
then write.
If it is good, you'll find out.
If it's not, throw it out the window.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tadpole Time

            There’s a river not far away that flows under the railway bridge.
            It’s cool under there.
            We walk down the hot railway tracks, past Old McDonalds’ fields, enjoying the scent of winter wheat rippling off the fields to offset the whiff of black tar seeping from the railroad ties. Step on the hard, rough ties, not on the gritty gravel between. It’s a stretch, but we can do it. When we reach the bridge, we’re always tempted to continue stepping from tie to tie (with open space between – open to the river far below). But then we tell each other tales of what would happen if the train came while we were still on the bridge. There’s no walkway. We’d be right between the tracks with no place to go. It’s too dangerous.  We don’t go. Instead, clutching our smooth quart glass canning jars in our hands, we slide down the steep dirt embankment to the river. 
            It’s tadpole time. 
            We step barefoot into the chilly, slow-moving water and dig indentations, little safe harbors into the gritty clay riverbank with our hands, about one-foot wide and a half-foot into the shore. I don’t know who first got the idea of digging these, but by now I’m the one who tells the others how to do it to attract the most tadpoles. Then we rest our bottoms on the damp shore in the cool shade of the railroad bridge, and eat the lunch we’ve brought. There’s no sound but the rush of the river, the crinkle of waxed paper unwrapping, and comments about whose mom’s homemade jam made the best PB&Js.
            It’s tadpole time. 
            Time to peer into those harbors we dug which now have tons of little wriggling black bodies in them, all lined up with their oversize heads to the shore, tails gently waving pointed toward the river.
            Attack!  Scoop. Success! With jars full of the little wrigglers, we climb back into the blast of heat from the overhead sun and tromp on home with our prey, yelling to each other about which side of the tracks we’d roll off of and hide if a train comes.
            I don’t know what the other kids do with theirs, but I dump our tadpoles into our fishpond to hide among the great green lily leaves until they are fully-growed frogs. This is my job every year. Daddy says their job is to catch mosquitoes all summer long so they don’t bother us.
(This expidition to catch tadpoles in the Springtime is the absolute favorite memory of mine, of a day when we lived in Monroeton, Pennsylvania and I was 6 or 7 or 8. It’s a time I looked forward to every year and always enjoyed its quiet contentment, and was always proud of my success as a tadpole catcher.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Everything you wanted to know about Writing -

But were afraid to ask?

Follow this link to discover the secrets of writing as a profession.
(It's a newspaper column so I don't know how long this link will be valid, but go ahead and try anyway.)