Mentoring the young writer Tuesday, Jul 28 2009 

voya_kojaThough, thankfully, they’re not nearly as rare as the young unicorn, I still found this Edmund White quote to be very apropos:

“For some reason, I never sent off my manuscripts.  Maybe I didn’t know where to mail them; after all, I’d never met a published writer, nor did such a fabulous creature seem to inhabit our Midwestern world, any more than a unicorn might suddenly gallop past my dorm windows.”

[From Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel]

My essay on mentoring just came out in the August ’09 issue of VOYA.  (I’ll be adding a downloadable PDF of the same article shortly.)

The timing’s apropos too, as I’m planning to offer mentoring, or apprenticeships, or – we’ll figure out what to call it later.  Young writers, exceptional young writers, ambitious young writers, I’m looking at you.  See you in the fall.

Kiss these bees! Saturday, Jul 25 2009 

Honeybee…or just taste like nectar the absolute beauty of these creatures and their world.  Rick has redesigned his BeeDreams site and it is a stunner.

Life’s kind of a cabaret Wednesday, Jul 22 2009 

…but sometimes it’s more like a youth production of Rent that deserves your support, and will amply repay it with an entertaining evening, plus a score for the good guys of free speech and free expression.

Check out this performance, banned by the city of Taylor, Mich., but happily slated for venues in Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Trenton, Mich.  Sweet are the uses of adversity, said some playwright someplace, right?

Boing, boing, boing… Monday, Jul 20 2009 

Delighted to see the Full Cast Audio version of Buddha Boy on BoingBoing! That’s some kind of twofer for one week.

BuddhaBoyFC

Oakland U and me (plus special guest appearance!) Friday, Jul 17 2009 

I had high expectations for my presentation at Oakland University, but as it turns out, they weren’t nearly high enough.  The questions were so insightful and so poignant and so sharp, answering them was a real pleasure.  And being able to read “Ruby Tuesday,” a story of mine of which I’m very fond, and have it received so well and so whole-heartedly…Well.  Can I, like, live there, is what I’m asking you, Linda Pavonetti and Jim Cipielewski?  Because say the word and I’m packed.

Oh, and did I mention the special guest appearance by Miss Spitfire herself, Sarah Miller?  Uh-huh.  Here we are before the”Saints and Sinners” Fredericks sculpture, looking perhaps a little bit of both.S&k1

Boing, Bee, Boing Thursday, Jul 16 2009 

A fantastic review of Full Cast Audio’s edition of Kissing the Bee from the good folks at BoingBoing, by which I mean thanks for the shout-out, Cory!

Curvaceous! Wednesday, Jul 15 2009 

Band Fags, Shemekia Copeland, Scholastic Storybook Treasures, The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves … and Headlong.  Whee, what a list!

And I love me some Tegan and Sara.curve

Give them chocolate and black cherries, feed them the luscious and the tart Tuesday, Jul 14 2009 

I’m off today to present tomorrow at Oakland University, Linda Pavonetti and Jim Cipielewski’s “Author’s and Illustrator’s Art & Craft” course, and doesn’t this, from the syllabus, say it all:

“[The] focus [of this course] is on the aesthetic elements in children’s literature, not directly on ways we might use literature in our teaching.  We will also explore how we choose books for children, how we develop an eye and an ear for literature, how we act as ‘selectors’ of literature, not ‘censors’ of books.” [Emphasis original.]

Happy the classes taught by these students, in the years to come. Though that presupposes an administration behind each one that is honest enough – and courageous enough; curious that courage should be required, but it is – to stand behind teachers who choose to select the best, rather than pre-censor what might offend some screaming parent with a gored agenda, if I may mix my metaphors, which I’d better do today and not tomorrow.

And don’t let’s forget the joy of it, the sheer pleasure of introducing to someone who’s not read it a book that you love. Isn’t that the whole premise of word of mouth? “Oh, I adored this – try it, see if you do, too!”  (Isn’t that why grown-ups go to book clubs?)  And when the person to whom you’re handing the book has a good chance of being nourished for the rest of his/her life – really, the rest of that life! – how fast do you want to get the book into his hands, her hands, their hands? Charlotte’s Web!  Harriet! Lynda Barry!  (Why are Lynda Barry’s Marlys cartoons not required reading in middle school?!)

Working on Planchette has me reflecting that I read Dracula when I was 10 years old. Did I “get” everything that was there to be gotten, reading that book at that age?  Nope.  Did I know something was happening to me while I read it?  Oh yeah.  Did I read it again later?  Many times. Did it change my life? Yes, it did.

Listen to the bee…. Saturday, Jul 11 2009 

From Full Cast Audio, a ravishing audio edition of Kissing the Bee.  It’s out now and it is swoon-worthy, if I do say so myself, which I just did. And School Library Journal said “The excellent full-cast narration is perfectly paced. Sarah Gorman as Dana, especially, is able to convey wonder, the delicacy of first love, passion, hesitancy, anger, and alienation. There is elegantly haunting music that plays between chapters which enhances the mood of the whole experience.”  So it’s a wrap: Full Cast is five star.KissingtheBeeaudio

Fictional true colors? Tuesday, Jul 7 2009 

A review of Headlong by Patricia Ackerman notes that “[b]y contrasting conservative and liberal family expectations, this author skilfully navigates her characters through a process of self-discovery.”

Social class does indeed play a role in Headlong, but I hadn’t considered the red-vs.-blue politics flat-out that way.  This is an interesting slant.  Are the expectations of, say, Hazel Tobias’ brother necessarily liberal? becaue he’s gay, or because he’s a professional photographer (read: arty type)?  Or contrariwise, are they conservative, because he wants Hazel to stay in school and get a first-rate education and quit fooling around?

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