Monday, March 31, 2008

Go Poetry!

In honor of poetry month, we're going to be discussing poetry all this week on 2k8, including our favorite poets, poems and inspirations. We may even get a little original poetry from some of our members! Poetry, like all writing, begins with words; words that inspire, create an image or evoke an emotion. Join the class of 2k8 as we celebrate words, poetry and poets!

Today we begin with
Zu Vincent, author of The Lucky Place, who penned an article about one of her inspirations, Susan Wooldridge. Says Zu: "Her writing is so evocative and she's very passionate about it. She is always keeping a journal, she carries one wherever she goes and fills it with bits of found objects, stray words and thoughts until the journals become like personal poems in themselves."

poemcrazy by Zu Vincent

“I can’t stand to lose anything,” writes author Susan Wooldridge in her collection of essays on the poet’s tools, poemcrazy, freeing your life with words. “That’s part of what writing is all about for me….if I put words in poems, I can begin to see my value.”

And helping others see their value through words is what poemcrazy is all about. The book evolved as she gave poetry workshops in schools, juvenile halls and libraries around the country, and found “poetry was being damaged by the way it was taught.”

Instead, she wanted to bring joy back into words. To give people permission to express their deepest feelings. By “tricking people into using imagery and metaphor to discover their voice without even knowing they were writing,” she says, she was able to get amazing results.

Poemcrazy has proved so popular it’s now in its 20th printing. And Wooldridge’s second book Fool’s Gold: Making Something From Nothing also cuts close to the creative bone.

“…Not only do I discover I exist when I write poems,” Wooldridge writes in poemcrazy’s chapter, ‘Catching Myself.’ “I learn I’m larger than I thought. I extend up to where the air gets thin and down into the earth’s core near the red hot spots.”

That chapter was, for Wooldridge, a lot like poetry itself. “It’s one simple page I whittled down from twelve,” she says. “I was trying to tap why I wrote, what is really going on here.”

She finds that distillation is often the process of writing, especially poetry. But you have to let yourself expand, first. “Let things build up,” she says. “I notice that when I have a dripping faucet, by accident, this brief little drip will eventually fill the sink.”

Susan Wooldridge

Tomorrow we feature some original poetry from the Class of 2k8. Until then, what are you waiting for? Go write a poem!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The End of Spring Break

To wind up our spring break week of vacation stories, we have Ellen Booraem, author of The Unnameables, telling a tale of her summer in England.

Ellen: Many (many, many) years ago, my college roommate and I spent the summer in England. When we were in Cambridge, we heard of a tearoom in nearby Grantchester that served fantastic cream teas. Being young, skinny, and greedy, we would go anywhere for food, so we decided to make this tearoom a destination for a river voyage. We didn’t think we could handle a punt, so we opted for an intensely unBritish canoe.

We did not do research. And so we found, first off, that the rental place we’d chosen was on the lower level of a river system that inexplicably had two stories. We had to haul this gimongo wooden canoe up a bunch of rollers and across a sidewalk—where of course it got stuck, blocking the path of a lady in a Hat who made it clear that she was not accustomed to beached watercraft.

We scraped the canoe out of her way, defrosted our bone marrow, and paddled off, ignoring undergraduate catcalls (“bloody Indians!”) from the sidewalk. Then we ignored a fat gent who stepped out of the trees stark naked and stood at full attention in all possible ways. We tried to ignore a gaggle of kids at a swimming club, but this became harder to do when they grabbed onto the canoe and started rocking it.

As water poured over the gunwales, I remembered that I had intelligently brought my purse with me and that it contained a) my wallet, b) all my traveler’s checks, c) my research notebook (my excuse for being in England), and d) my passport. I held it out plaintively to a lady in a passing rowboat, begging her to rescue it, but she lifted her chin, said, “You’ll be all right, dear,” and churned away. The kids’ parents, meanwhile, smiled and waved from the swimming club patio. Is this the spirit of Dunkirk? I asked myself.

My roommate befriended one of the kids, who climbed aboard and helped us drive off the others. A little bailing and we were, in fact, all right. Then we rounded a curve and found that a band of hefty blond Anglo-Saxons was sinking every vessel that went by. They had just done in a punt full of other Anglo-Saxons, who were sitting on the river bank wringing their trouser legs. “It’s a pair of birds!” one of the marauders cried. “Oh, you’re really going in.”

We remembered our Girl Scout canoeing lessons on Lake Whatchamacallit and back-paddled fast enough to get away. Confidence shattered, we headed for home. The swimming club kids were gone. So was the military gentleman. We got stuck on the sidewalk again, in front of a whole new hatted lady. For reasons I never figured out, somebody yelled an obscenity at us from the upper sidewalk as we parked the canoe at the rental dock.

The next day, we walked to Grantchester. The tea was very good.

We hope you had a great spring break and join us next week as we celebrate poetry month!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Fish Story

A couple of TIPS! (Totally Important Posts) today. First off, Stacy Nyikos, author of Dragon Wishes, has had news that her picture book, Dizzy, was chosen silver recipient of the Moms Choice Awards 2008! You can read the press release here! Jennifer Bradbury, author of Shift, received a wonderful book review from teen reviewer extraordinaire, Little Willow. Check it out here! Way to go!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog. Brook Taylor, author of, Undone, is as good at telling fish stories as she is writing about fate and friendship. Check out her story of girl meets fish!

Brooke: I love scuba diving, but am scared of fish--especially big and ugly fish. This is usually not a big problem for me as most fish stay out of the way. Then I went diving in Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific where there is an amazing wreck dive of the S.S. President Coolidge. The Hottie Diver Boys teased me the entire time about “Boris” a Goliath grouper that was known to hang out at the site. They talked a big game about this fish. He’s 200kg they said. A 500lb fish? Yeah, right! That was a good one. I kept my eye out though, and the entire dive I didn’t see any fish that was bigger than my hand. Those crazy dive boys! At the end of the dive we stopped at an underwater sandy ledge to decompress, and because of the current there was this nice little metal bar installed where you could hold on and not be pulled off the ledge. I’m the last one there, so I’m right at the drop off and am hanging onto the bar and trying to get situated and comfortable when out of the corner of my eye I see something. A 500lb fish you ask? No. The dive boy pulling something big and bloody out of his dive sack. He waved it around, turning the water red. I got a little sick to my stomach. And then the water around me changed, turned darker, shadowed. I swallowed and turned as best I could. There it was—as big as a Volkswagen Bug. The largest, ugliest fish I’d ever seen coming right at me. His slimy grey lips parted, his jaw hinged open. I could easily just get sucked inside and be swallowed whole. I squeezed my eyes shut and gripped down on the bar. He was not going to take me! As he got closer, I could feel him brush against me. He was more like two Volkswagen Bugs and then finally his tail. It was almost over. He was going to pass right by me. I was going to live. And then Wham! His tail slapped me hard, ripping my grip from the bar and send me flailing off the ledge. The Hottie Dive Boys had a good laugh about that.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

For the Love of Rocks!

Today, we have Nancy Viau, author of, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head. Trust Nancy to talk about a vacation that is focused on, well, rocks!

Nancy: “I am not cooking this year!” I told my family. I was talking about Thanksgiving dinner, and three pair of eyes gazed at me as if I had gone completely insane. I explained that after so many years of being the “good mom” who prepared all the traditional favorites, I was ready for a change. (Besides, the big eaters—the grown “boys”—would not make it home, and I felt that the pigeon eaters—the girls—wouldn’t do my Turkey Day meal justice.) My family agreed, and one hour later, I had the four of us booked on a flight to Vegas. The Grand Canyon would be our destination.

We flew out to Vegas Thanksgiving day, ate a hot turkey buffet on the strip, and bunked in a cheap hotel outside of town. The next morning, we traveled to the Hoover Dam, got lost and ended up in a teeny bit of California (don’t ask), and then finally made it to the canyon. For two days, we hiked in freezing temperatures while listening to the complaints of our girls who would have preferred visiting their brothers in sunny, warm Florida. But we soaked up the awesome wonder of the park, and were forever changed by its beauty. Following that, we headed for Sedona. We drooled over guided backcountry tours and realized that none were in our budget. When we came to our senses, we realized we had been riding in a four-wheel drive vehicle for the last few days, and could easily take on the back roads ourselves. Duh.

What I didn’t know until months later was that this trip, with all its drama, would inspire a novel. Sure, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head is just a story, but there’s a lot of truth in there, as well. Guess, it’ll be up to you to decide which is fact and which is fiction.

Now that's a Thanksgiving vacation!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Vacations Stink

We are continuing this week’s vacation stories with a camping story by Teri Brown, author of, Read My Lips. This story isn’t fishy, but it does smell…

My family went camping quite a bit when I was a kid. When we lived in Arizona, our favorite place was White Horse Lake where my parents could fish and I could play in the woods near the lake. One evening we were standing around our campfire roasting marshmallows when a foul scent permeated our campsite. We began sniffing in puzzlement when my Mom screamed from the doorway of our trailer, “Skunk!”

Turns out skunks can’t resist the scent of marshmallows either and had come to investigate. I’d never had a run in with our aroma challenged friends before and froze with my mallow still in the fire. My dad leapt onto the picnic table and told me to run to the camper. I did run, roasting stick and all. By the time I got inside, my marshmallow was flaming and Mom and I tried to blow on it while I waved it around in my excitement. It wasn’t just one skunk, however, but a whole family of them and we watched helplessly why they polished off our bag of marshmallows.

The skunk family visited the campground every evening in search of marshmallows, but that’s okay. I learned to eat them on the run.

Now Jody Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games, gives us a little glimpse into what vacations were like in her family!

Imagine three kids sharing a backseat on a cross-country trip. We’re talking 8-hour driving days, my two younger brothers and me. And we’re back there getting tired and needing to stretch out. But with only 18 inches or so per bottom – because, did I mention there were three of us, sharing that backseat? – stretching out was impossible. So what’s a big sister to do? It’s up to the big sister to suggest that the little brother would be oh-so-comfortable, stretched out, all by himself on the floor, transmission hump and all. I suppose I must have been pretty convincing back then.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Before we get to today's post, we have some TIPS (Totally Important Posts!) to record. First, Marissa Doyle's, Bewitching Season is Pick of the Week at GenreFluent. Next, our very own Debbie Reed Fischer, author of Braless in Wonderland was interviewed by Portrait Magazine. (scroll down and look to the left) Great job!

Today, we have Elizabeth Bunce, author of, A Curse Dark as Gold, sharing her vacation story. It just figures that Elizabeth, who’s book was inspired by the story of Rumpelstiltskin, would make it about textiles!

Elizabeth: I'm a little sorry this isn't racier, but what I remember most about spring breaks in college? That was when you studied for midterms. All the fun I must have missed! Growing up, though, my father was a college professor, so we always got the week off as a family, and we usually tried to go somewhere. When I was about fourteen, we drove down to Kansas City (from Ames, Iowa), where I live now, incidentally. KC has an interesting shopping center here called Crown Center, which is flanked on one side by a connected hotel (you can walk straight from the pool to shopping!), and the other by the Hallmark headquarters. My dad had a conference at the hotel, which allowed my brother and me to dash about the mall almost unsupervised (mom was a pretty good mall dasher, too). And what mischief did we two young miscreants find? Cy Rudnik's fabric shop.Alas, this Kansas City landmark closed in 2006, when the Rudnicks decided to retire... but, oh, the bliss that store inspired among seamstresses citywide! And for creative kids who had just Walmart's fabric section to compare it to, we were in a wonderland. The changing color silks! The glorious brocades! The $200/yard tapestries! And the giant remnant table in the back. When my mom finally tracked us down, Scott and I had assembled quite a lovely collection: royal blue silk damask, pale peach wool jersey (which is still one of my favorite fabric finds ever), handmade buttons, yards and yards and yards of silk cording... In all my days of fabric bargain hunting since, I still think the discovery of Cy Rudnick's ranks among my most glorious conquests.

Tomorrow, Teri Brown, author of Read My Lips and Jody Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games, will share their vacation stories. In the meantime, enjoy Spring Break!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break!

In honor of spring break, we have compiled a week worth of vacation stories. We have the odd, the sinister and the embarrassing from many of our 2k8ers who all agree on one thing… vacations don’t always turn out like you think they will!

First off, we have Marissa Doyle, author of the Bewitching Season.

Marissa: When I was in my twenties, my mom and I did a self-guided tour of southern Spain and Portugal. We landed in Madrid, rented a car, and drove ourselves all over the place, stopping wherever we wanted. Some of it was sublime: driving from Lisbon back to Madrid in the middle of the night across a vast empty plain, where the stars were visible down to the horizon...wandering through the Alhambra...climbing to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. And some of it was downright silly.

One of my favorite silly bits happened on our first day away from Madrid, en route to Valencia. We had stopped for a late lunch at this restaurant on the outskirts of Madrid. There were a fair number of cars, which we took for a good sign...but when we went inside, we saw that all the cars belonged to a group of rather sinister-looking middle-aged men all seated at one large table. The rest of the restaurant was empty. I was kind of in favor of moving on at that point (I mean, some of them were wearing pin-stripe suits, for heaven's sake), but mom was hungry and wanted to stay. Things got worse when the waiter seated us a scant two tables away from the group. They all eyed us from time to time, but seemed intent on their own affairs. The extent of my Spanish was asking where the bathroom was and how much things cost, so I had no clue what their business might be.

So we ate our lunch, but the room felt increasingly tense and expectant. To make matters worse, our waiter had vanished, so I couldn't ask for our bill so we could get the heck out of there. Just when I was about to go try to track him down, the door to the kitchen flew open, and two waiters marched out carrying an enormous birthday cake covered with candles, and all the men started smiling and singing "Happy Birthday to You" Spanish, of course! They even had the waiter bring us pieces of cake, which we dutifully ate, bowed and waved our thanks for, paid, and hit the road. After about forty-five minutes we agreed that it had all been quite funny.

That trip was full of funny moments.

Check back tomorrow when Elizabeth Bunce, author of A Curse Dark as Gold, will share her vacation story.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day Five: The Question Nobody Asks

As writers, we get asked a lot of strange off the wall questions. Questions you couldn’t possibly be prepared for. But sometimes you have an answer to a question you think someone is going to ask… but no one does. Here is Elizabeth’s:

The thing no one has asked me yet (but it’s still early days) is what my favorite line in the book is. I’ve been asked what my favorite scene to write was, but that’s not quite the same thing.

And I can’t exactly answer without spoilers, but I will say that it’s in the very last chapter, and it’s the last thing Charlotte says about Uncle Wheeler.

In a rare-for-me feat of conciseness, it sums up the theme of the entire novel in three words. It reverses everything we’ve been led to think about one character. It puts the final “finished and ready to send” seal on Charlotte’s character growth for the story. And it makes me tear up, every time I read it (sniff).

I knew that Charlotte had to say it, but it wasn’t easy finessing the sentence into the scene. It went through a lot of permutations, most of them pretty awkward. I had to scale it back considerably, tweak Rosie’s lead-in line repeatedly, and finally trust that in that instance, less really was more. And now, when I stand back and look at it objectively, I do really think I nailed it. And I’m pretty darn proud of that!

Of course, maybe nobody else noticed it, but it’s still my favorite line. And since I’m the one who had to slave over them all, I think I deserve one!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day Four: Spooky Spooky Superstitions

(superstitions: not as CORNY as you might think!)

Writers can be a superstitious bunch. Like sports fans who don’t think their team will win if they don’t do certain things, many writers think their writing will go better if they just adhere to their superstitions. Though Elizabeth doesn’t have any writing superstitions, she does have a touch of magic in her life…

It’s funny you should ask about that. Although I’m a devoted wood-knocker and left-shoulder-salt-tosser, I don’t have any superstitious writing rituals (I like to change my socks. Call me crazy.). I do, however, have habits… but I don’t think that’s the same thing. Of course not. Not at all.

However, superstition and folk ritual are a big part of CURSE, so I started collecting some of the folk charms that appear in the book. I bought a witch ball (a blown glass ornament with swirling patterns of color and ribbons of glass dripping through it) at a local fair, and found a corn dolly in—of all places—a truck stop near Wichita! I like having tangible elements from my characters’ worlds around me as I work, and these things are neat mementos of being immersed in Charlotte’s world for so long.

The funny thing, though, is that at times during the editorial process, it seemed like a little of the Stirwaters magic was coming true and rubbing off! Whole chapters would go mysteriously missing from my editor’s office, scenes I’d deleted would pop back into the manuscript, and they had to shoot the cover three times because things kept going wrong! It got to the point where I actually sent a corn dolly to Cheryl (Klein, my editor) for her office at Scholastic! We certainly don’t need the Stirwaters Curse rubbing off on any of her other titles! When she sent me back all of the manuscripts, I promised to find a nice wall somewhere to board them up inside.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day Three Two Calls, No Waiting!

Most writers have two call stories. First, where they were at and what they were doing when they got the call from their agent offering representation and second, where they were at and what they were doing when they got the call that their first book received an offer.

Elizabeth’s call stories are stranger than most…

Oh, it was so glamorous, let me tell you! When I got The Call from my agent, it was a complete shock. I had just gotten out of the shower, so I was bundled head to foot in towels and bathrobes (well, just the one robe) and slippers, and I was in the middle of brushing my teeth. I typically don’t answer my phone, but that morning I had A Feeling, so I dashed across the house, losing one of my slippers and the towel on my head, and grabbed the phone.

“Hi, Elizabeth, it’s Erin Murphy,” said this melodious voice on the other end. “Is this a good time to talk?”

And since the answer to that question is ALWAYS, no matter what, a resounding YES!, I gasped out, “Absolutely, what can I do for you?”

The earth could be falling to pieces around you—your children could be eating one another, your dryer could be on fire, and you could be wondering why you couldn’t at least have your underwear on yet—but when The Call comes, you are a calm, composed professional.

The Call about selling CURSE came on Valentine’s Day 2006, just as I was getting ready to go pick up dinner. My husband and I then spent a romantic evening cuddled together next to the computer, scarfing conversation hearts and cold bread pudding and reading everything we could find about royalty rates and subrights splits. We got approximately 18 minutes of sleep that night, as I had to be up bright and early for my annual visit to the OBGYN.

During the exam, the doctor asked, “Are you feeling all right? You’re even paler than usual today.” When I explained that I hadn’t gotten a great deal of sleep the previous night—and why—her face lit up. “What’s the book called?” she asked, grabbing my medical chart. “Who’s the publisher?” And there, in my chart, between “unnatural pallor” and “should lose weight,” my gynecologist scrawled Charlotte Miller, Spring 2008, and Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 2: Getting to know Elizabeth Bunce!!!

Today we get to know this week’s debut author Elizabeth Bunce. Elizabeth is the author of the delightful book A Curse Dark As Gold.

Check out her fabulous teaser video HERE. Then come on back to learn more about Elizabeth!

2k8: So, where do you do most of your writing? What's it look like?

Elizabeth: I work on a laptop, so I am an all-terrain writer, which means I can work in bed, in my office, next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room... What's that? Take the laptop somewhere, like a coffee shop? Well, that would require me prying myself from my home and braving the snow and sleet and yuck that is a Kansas winter, or the suffocating heat and humidity of summer. No, no, I'm much better off here at home where I can enjoy the bucolic sounds of my dogs defending the homestead from roofers and postal carriers.I actually, um, work in my pajamas, so I try not to have photographs taken then, but I do have a couple of images that represent where I was mentally while writing CURSE.

I kept these up as my desktop wallpaper, and they really brought me into to Charlotte's world of Stirwaters and the Gold Valley. Unfortunately, I don't have any information about them (titles, dates--besides what I can tell from the costumes--etc). I especially love the interior shot--I'm completely fascinated by the small child under the spinning frame.

2k8: Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

Elizabeth: I'd been curious about "Rumpelstiltskin" for a long time--wondering why the heroine, unlike so many fairy tale protagonists, is nameless, and why the story is named for its villain; wondering why a story that seemed so unfair had such resonance for me, etc. Late in the summer of 2002, all those thoughts started to bubble to the surface for me, and I started playing with ideas of what I could make of the character and her story. As a needlewoman, the idea of spinning straw into gold thread was a natural one, and it sparked the idea of turning the grist--grain--mill of the fairy tale into a textile mill. Charlotte and her family developed out of the research I did into period milling, and the events of the fairy tale, which I had to reconcile into scenes that seemed possible in a "real" world. I'd been writing most of my life, and this wasn't my first retelling--but fairly quickly I had a pretty good idea that I was writing my first publishable novel.

2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Give us the real dirt!

Elizabeth: I actually found my editor through a critique at an SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Arizona. My parents had recently moved to Tucson, so it seemed like an opportunity that would be silly to pass up--I could visit them and invest in my career at the same time. I was researching the faculty online, and I found an interview with Cheryl Klein, where she talked about editing THE SINGER OF ALL SONGS, a book I had recently read and loved. When Cheryl compared SINGER to one of her favorite childhood books--my favorite childhood book, Robin McKinley's THE HERO AND THE CROWN, I knew I had to meet her! She actually did something they tell you editors never do: she asked for the manuscript on the spot.

2k8: Did anything surprise you or caught you off guard when you were writing your book?

Elizabeth: Wow. Actually, one of my favorite moments came when I was doing some very early research for the story--still working out who the characters were going to be, what everyone's names were, etc. Now, remember: this is a story about a mysterious man with magical spinning abilities. I was touring a 19th Century woolen mill museum near where I live (Watkins Woolen Mill State Park in Lawson, Missouri), and the tour guide led us through a room of machinery very similar to the ones in the painting. She paused and said, "These machines are called spinning jacks, and the men who operate them were called jackspinners." I remember stopping in my tracks. Jackspinners--Jack Spinner! Of course! The perfect name for my Rumpelstiltskin character! I just looked up at the ceiling, and said, "Thank you!"

2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

Oh, gosh--there are so many! I have ideas for my next nine books, and since I write incredibly slowly, I expect that will take me well into old age (I'm 33 now. I did say slowly!). Some of them are dark, like CURSE; some of them are retellings; some are original fantasies. But the one I'm not completely sure I can pull off--but would love to try--is a graphic novel version of "Cinderella" with a big twist to the plot.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Elizabeth Bunce Spins Words Into Gold!

This week we are celebrating the release of Elizabeth Bunce’s debut young adult novel, A Curse Dark as Gold. Check out this cover! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Check out the story:

Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte Miller struggles to keep the family's woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming debt and what the villagers believe is a curse. But when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene, she must decide if his help is worth the price.

Meet Elizabeth: Elizabeth C. Bunce has been a writer and needleworker since childhood. A Curse Dark as Gold reflects her passion for traditional tales, of which she says, "I’ve always been interested in what the original tales left out—the stories beneath the stories. What kind of person would sell her own child, and how could we possibly sympathize with her? What does Rumpelstiltskin want the baby for? I wanted to write a story where we came to know these people, and how their lives made such a devastating intersection.”In her spare time, Elizabeth is an accomplished needlewoman with an interest in embroidery and historical costuming. Elizabeth lives near Kansas City with her husband and dogs. Visit her website at
Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Friday, March 14, 2008

On our last day of our If My Book Were a Movie posts, we’re talking to Debbie Reed Fischer, author of, Braless in Wonderland.

Debbie: Here is my dream cast for Braless In Wonderland, the movie. And keep in mind, I used to work in casting.

Allee, the main character, would be played by Emma Roberts. She has those full lips modeling agents love, and she's a terrific actress. Or possibly Miley Cyrus because Allee has to be funny too, and Miley can pull off comedy. Amanda Bynes I love, but she's too old for the part.

Emma Roberts

Summer, the stunning, blondy-licious model from Georgia would be played by new Australian superrmodel Gemma Ward (she'd just need a dialogue coach - no biggie). If the accent is too big a prob, Dakota Fanning always delivers.

Gemma Ward

Monique, the aging, faded glam agency owner, would be played by Cher, natch. Also, Brigitte Nielsen would have the right combo of scary and chic. Yep, she would if you put her in the right suit. Trust me on this.

Claudette, the sexy, wise and maverick model, would be played by Rihanna.

Allee's parents would be played by Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

Zach Ephron would be Allee's gay friend Miguel. Oh, come on, people. This is not a stretch.

Sabrina, Allee's little sister, would be played by Ellen Page. Momma, Allee's tough-yet-maternal booker would be played by Camryn Manheim.

Now that's one movie we want to see! We hope you enjoyed movie week here on the 2k8 blog. Next week, we celebrate the launch of one of our 2k8 classmates Elizabeth Bunce!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Before we start on this week's topic, we have a TIP (Totally Important Post) to announce. Our very own Lisa Schroeder, author of, I Heart You, You Haunt Me, has some breaking news: SOLD!

Young Adult I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME author Lisa Schroeder's FAR FROM YOU, about a sixteen-year-old's reluctant road trip with herstepmother and new baby sister, and the terror that ensues after theyend up lost in the snow-covered woods, again to Michael del Rosario atSimon Pulse, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger.(From Publishers Marketplace)

Fabulous News, Lisa!

Today, we feature Courtney Sheinmel author of, My So-Called Family. Courtney has dreams of meeting one of the stars she would cast in her movie, the fantabulous, George Clooney. (But don’t we all?)

Like most authors, I have fantasized about my book being picked up by a production company and made into a movie. I hope I’d get to visit the set, and eat at the Craft Services table, and get to wear those cool headphones.

It’s hard for me to decide who to cast in MY SO-CALLED FAMILY, the movie (not that I’d have any say in the matter, but as long as I’m fantasizing, I’ll pretend that I do). I picture my narrator, Leah, kind of like me at 13, except taller, which presents a couple of problems: (1) I’m not 13 anymore, and (2) I really can’t act at all. But I’d love Abigail Breslin to play Leah – she is absolutely adorable and incredibly talented, and we have sort of the same hair color, so it would go with my vision of Leah being like me, even though Abigail Breslin is probably already taller than I am.

I’m still working on who to cast as Leah’s mother and half-brother, but one thing I know for sure is who should play Leah’s stepfather, Simon: George Clooney. I love George Clooney. I’ve loved him since he was Falconer on “Sisters,” and I watched every episode of ER that he was in. If he played Simon, then maybe I’d get to meet him and even have my picture taken with him!

But with or without George Clooney, if MY SO-CALLED FAMILY were really made into a movie, I would be thrilled no matter what. Maybe I’d even score a walk-on role, and I’d definitely check out Craft Services.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If My Book Were a Movie...

We have some Totally Important Posts to go over before we get back to this week's topic.

Jennifer Bradbury got a wonderful review from Greg Leitich Smith (author and reviewer) for her book, Shift. Yay, JEN! And Daphne Grab got a steller review over at Ticket To Anywhere, for her book, Alive and Well in Prague, New York. Go Daphne!

Now back to our regularly scheduled topic: If My Book Were a Movie!

First off, check out Ellen Booraem’s, author of, The Unnameables, cast of characters.

Ellen: When I started writing The Unnameables, I envisioned the Goatman (the chaotic, smelly fellow who gets my lead character, Medford, into trouble) as Peter O’Toole of “Lawrence of Arabia” vintage. I guess the modern Peter O’Toole would be pretty good, too. The Goatman is young by his people’s standards, but he’s bald and graying and would benefit from any actor capable of conveying that he’s just barely in control. Al Pacino? David Tennant? It would have to be someone with strong vocal chords, since the Goatman says “bweh-eh-eh” a lot. Fun to read aloud but hard on the larynx.

(We can see Peter O’Toole as the Goatman too!)

I could see Kevin Spacey as Boyce, Medford’s mild-mannered foster father.

For the villain, Deemer Learned, I’d envision Pete Postlethwaite or Patrick Malahide

As for the kids—Medford, his friend, Prudy, and her brother, Earnest—I have to say I’m nearly stumped. Johnny Depp would have made a great Medford in his early days. Rupert Grint would make a good Earnest, I guess. And Abigail Breslin could do Prudy in a few years—but I think that girl could play anything. She would have to bleach her eyelashes.

Daphne Grab, author of, Alive and Well in Prague, New York, gets excited just thinking of her book being made into a movie.

Daphne: I can’t imagine anything more fun than my book getting made into a movie! I think it would be so incredible to see my characters, the ones living in my head for so long, alive on the screen. Little things like seeing the name of the high school out front of an actual high school would just be surreal. And most fun is to imagine the actors who would play the parts! When I picture Matisse I imagine someone like Rachel McAdams, someone who I think is spunky and smart and has real depth, plus the ability to speak up for herself, which Matisse has no problem doing.

For her dad I picture Harrison Ford or maybe Phillip Seymour Hoffman with some aging make up. Though truth be told, that may be because I’d love to get to meet Harrison Ford or Phillip Seymour Hoffman— talk about fun!

We think it would be fun, too!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today we have more 2k8 authors dreaming about that glamorous red carpet Hollywood premier. First, Teri Brown, author of, Read My Lips, dreams about the stars for her book.

Teri: I think the movie’s already playing in my mind and I have very definite ideas about who’s playing which character. For Serena, the main character, who is also deaf, I can see Keisha Castle-Hughes bringing a great deal of strength and sensitivity to the role.

Hayden Panettiere is perfect for Patrice, the self-involved leader of the sorority. She has the right combination of sassiness and self assertiveness.

For Miller, my dark intelligent hero, I would have to choose, Milo Ventimiglia from his Gilmore Girls days, because… yum.

Barrie Summy, author of, I So Don’t Do Mysteries, has kept her movie dreams a family affair.

Barrie: My kids are lined up at the kitchen counter, munching on their afternoon snack. I mention the Class of 2k8’s upcoming blog on movie roles for our books.

Child #4 (Daughter, aged 7 years) has the most suggestions. Even more than me, so we’re letting her run the show. (pun intended)

First off, she’d like a starring role. As in the starring role. She does have the shoes for it.

So, Child #4 will play Sherry Baldwin, 13 year-old reluctant detective.

Our diva is willing to work with Mylie Cyris of Hannah Montana fame. If Mylie agrees to a more minor role and puts on a little weight. Presumably, makeup can manufacture a face full of freckles. So, Mylie Cyrus for Junie the Best Friend.

Next up is Drake Bell of Drake & Josh who will play Josh Morton, Sherry’s boyfriend.

Child #4 vaguely remembers Lindsey Lohan from Freaky Friday and awards her the part of Amber, older bossy cousin with a driver’s license. And while we’re doing the Freaky Friday thing, let’s snag Jamie Lee Curtis for the stepmother aka The Ruler.

Now, (drum roll and bright lights, please), we’re thrilled to intro to the silver screen the extremely talented, extremely fun, extremely persuasive Mr. Cameron Williams. This guy is so good he can easily handle all the adult male roles: a mean ostrich farmer, a heavily-accented French chef, a cute zoo security guard, and a dorky dad. Go Mr. Williams! (You know you want to see who this guy is. Go ahead and click.) CLICK HERE.

P.S. No matter how much Child #4 wheedles and whines and stamps her cute little high-heeled feet, there is no room for Sponge Bob in the movie I So Don’t Do Mysteries!

Monday, March 10, 2008

If My Book Were a Movie...

Most writers dream of that big movie deal, even given the warnings from other writers that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unless you are Stephen King, you don’t get to write the script yourself, you don’t get a say in who plays your characters and you don’t get to watch it being filmed.

But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming! All this week, 2k8 authors are going to be telling you who they would want to play their characters if their book were a movie. First up, is Nancy Viau, author of Samantha Hanson Has Rocks In Her Head.

Nancy: Oooh, this if fun, but I don’t watch enough movies to be good at this! (Well, I do, actually; I just don’t remember the actors’ names…*runs off to do online research because it’s a fun time-waster*)

For my main character, Samantha, I like Miranda Cosgrove from Drake and Josh, but she’s a bit older than my main character. Can I ask for a great make-up artist that will make her look much younger? And Abigail Breslin, the star of Little Miss Sunshine, would also “rock” as my little scientist. She’d have to dye her lovely hair brown, though. Or, how about Marlene Lawston? She was on Flight Plan. She has a mischievous smile that I love!

Abigail! Miranda!
For Sam’s sister, Jen, I like Kay Panabaker. I just remember her from Summerland and think she could pull off the bossy big sister act. When she auditions, she’d have to give me major attitude. Not quite Paris Hilton attitude, but close. And speaking of attitude… let Ellen Page (star of Juno) audition while we’re at it. She’s such a rising star!

And for the mom, give me Eva Mendes, or Debra Messing, maybe. I want an actor who looks like she would work for a greeting card company writing birthday verse. And she needs to be quirky and obsessive enough to bake and serve birthday cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just to keep her in the birthday mood. Ha!

OK, director (don’t even ask me who this would be), let’s get this show on the road! ACTION!

Next, Terri Clark, author of Sleepless, dishes on who could play her characters if her book was a movie.
Terri: I always do a character sheet for my books and one of my favorite things to do is troll magazines and the web for pics that best represent my characters. Therefore this is an easy and totally fun question for me to answer.

My heroine, Trinity Michaels, is a teen version of Evanesence's Amy Lee. I love her dark beauty.

My hero, Dan Devlin, is none other than Kyle XY's Matt Dallas. (I adore that show and Matt! Look at those eyes.)

And my uber-creepy villain, Rafe Stevens, is portrayed by Peter Firth's serial killer character in White Angel. (Doesn't he look scary?)

(We agree!)

Tomorrow, more 2k8 authors will dish on who they dream of doing their movie!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Where Jody's Ideas Erupt

Before we start on Jody today, we have some awesome newsy items to announce. Darcy Patterson, teacher, writer and reader extraordinaire, has begun a year-long series on us, the Class of 2k8! (We heart us some Darcy!) She begins, appropriately enough, with Jody Feldman! Also featured last Friday in Book Muncher, was a great review of Bewitching Season by our own Marissa Doyle.
Remember, yesterday Jody told you about:
1. Her habit of studying, reading and writing with background noise;
2. Her first experience at sleep-away camp; and,
3.The reason she strives for strong endings.

Which two were true and which was the lie?

Truth is, Jody turned down her chance to go to sleep-away camp because, at that time, she was more afraid of walking in without a friend than the thought of finding a snake in her cabin.

Today is the last day of Jody Feldman’s debut party. It’s been a wonderful week and 2k8 wishes her book, The Gollywhopper Games enormous success. We leave you with a clear image of where Jody does her writing.

Jody: I don’t work at Starbuck’s ... strong coffee smells give me a headache. I have been known, on rare occasions to pick myself up and write while I eat at St. Louis Bread Co. (which most of you know as Panera). Most of my writing, however, happens at home.

It would be easiest to say that all my writing gets done here, at my desk (my brand new computer!). Then this blog would be over and you could go about your business. And I could live a neat, orderly life. But I just can’t turn off the idea machine. And I need to pay immediate attention to those voices which often appear out of nowhere.

So backs of envelopes and old Post-Its are popular in my car. (Yes, I wait until the light turns red.)

On many occasions, I’ve written on the bottom of Kleenex or Puffs boxes when I’m in bed.

This is my editing spot. The old, green, comfy couch in the den.

And here, at the side of my house, I wrote huge chunks of The Gollywhopper Games on a pad of paper much like this. Or maybe it was earlier sheets of this pad. I don’t remember, and I’m sad to say I didn’t save them.

Where do work? Where do you write? Where do ideas erupt for you?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Two Truths and One Lie...

Trust Jody Feldman, (2k8’s queen of puzzles,) to give us a game for today’s blog! Can anyone figure out which is the truth and which is the lie?

1. From my first homework assignment through my last college project, I could not study if it was quiet. I would read with the radio on or answer social studies questions in front of the TV. If you had asked me what song had just played or what show had just aired, I couldn’t have told you unless I had happened to take a break at that time. If a band had marched through with cymbals crashing near my ears, I may have looked up, but I would have continued with the science text or with my math problems. However, if two people were in the room carrying on even the quietest of conversations, I couldn’t concentrate. Today, I don’t need noise when I write or revise, but I often listen to music or have the TV playing in the next room. Some things never change, though. If another person is in my house, not even talking to anyone, it’s hard for me to put two words together.

2. When I was 10 years old, I went to the same sleep-away summer camp that my 11-year-old cousin was attending. It might have been great except for the fact that she was signed up for the two-week session and I was only allowed to go for one week. When I got there, my worst fears were confirmed. Not only was I in a different cabin, she’d made all sorts of friends without me. Don’t get me wrong, she did her 11-year-old best to include me, but while I was trying to keep up, the other girls in my own cabin were forming friendships. Now, one week isn’t a lot of time unless you’re a shy, homesick kid who doesn’t know how to jump right in. Thank goodness there are snakes in wooded areas. (Snakes, she said? Yeah, snakes.) The second morning there, I bounded out of bed at the sound of an ear-piercing shriek before I even knew I was awake. One of my cabin mates had gone to the bathroom, and when she came back inside, she’d let a little green snake slither in. It was just a garter snake, and I’d seen many in our yard at home. With all the other girls huddled in the top bunks, I picked the snake up right behind its head, carried it down the path (the other girls were now following me), and I let it loose near the boys’ village. As the newfound hero and resident snake police, well, let’s just call this a happily ever after.

3. All writers know that endings are hard. I discovered that early in 7th grade. We were to turn in a piece of writing that told something about ourselves and our lives. As a girl who’d been blessed with a white-picket-fence existence, who was little traveled and who had no extraordinary experiences that would lend ink to two full pages (wide-lined paper, hand written), I turned to the most exciting thing in my life right then – our pumpkin vines. My brothers and I had saved seeds from the last year’s jack-o-lantern. Late in the winter we’d planted the seeds indoors and when the threat of frost was gone, we’d transplanted the seedlings to a small plot of garden in our backyard. Pumpkin plants don’t understand the confines of a garden. They proceeded to conquer the yard with their spiraling vines and occasional orange flowers. For my assignment, I wrote that story in great detail and ended by explaining that the vines produced two large pumpkins and four small ones. I was just glad to turn in the paper and be done with it, as lame as it felt. The teacher, however, was quite enthralled by my description, but she minced no words in describing her disappointment by the abrupt and weak ending. That’s how the story ended, though. What else did she want? I’ll never know. I didn’t ask. It was that innocent paper, however, that made me keenly aware of endings in books and movies and stories of all kinds. And it’s what drives me, this day, to strive for strong endings, ones that won’t disappoint that teacher.

Can you guess which one is the lie? And while you're waiting for the truth to be revealed in tomorrow's blog you can read more about Jody here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Interview With a Game Master

Today we get to know Jody Feldman, our resident puzzle expert, better.

2k8: Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

After that day when I was inspired by the 5th grader, reality struck. How do you go about writing a book that might, if you’re lucky and talented, stand the slightest chance of satisfying a reader firmly attached to the crown jewel of Dahl-dom? First step, start thinking about what made that book so special. Knowing I didn’t want to waste a million words listing those qualities when I could have been using other words to write my own book, I turned to a more relevant question. What passions did I have in me to write the best book I could possibly write? Cookies popped into mind. Pizza. Doughnuts. It was past lunch time.

I have been a subscriber to Games Magazine (games, as in crossword puzzles, brainteasers, etc.) since its inaugural issue. I’d love to say that at the moment when I was trying to figure out what to write about, the mailman delivered the latest edition, but it probably didn’t happen that way. At some point though, I remembered my love for word games and puzzles and brainteasers. I remembered looking through seasonal toy catalogues and getting all giddy at the possibilities within those pages. There was my passion. That was the next step in my inspiration.
(Wow! Can you imagine how fun the travel games with this woman would be?)

2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Give us the real dirt!

The honest and true dirt will date me. Make me face up to the fact that I am not 25 years old (even though there are still days when I *know* I must still be younger than the athletes in the NFL). Stalling. Stalling. Okay. I wrote the first words of The Gollywhopper Games (words that don’t exist in the story anymore) in 1989, longhand. I’d scribble a few chapters then type them up on my IBM Selectric with no memory chip. It did have one of those interchangeable erase cartridges, though.

I first submitted the manuscript on December 29, 1989. If you do the math, factoring in all those days it took to type a couple more tweaked versions, you’ll realize I didn’t let enough time go by between the moment I finished the first draft and the day I sent it out into the world. I was young. Very young. And there were no Internet communities to teach me how to become a real writer; that is, how to be patient, throw the story into a drawer, pull it back out after several months then start tearing it apart and rebuilding it again. And because I didn’t have that, I had no one to put me in my place. I fully expected a publisher to love the book, buy it and send me to easy street for the rest of my life. Hah! Naive or what?

What happened between 1989 and 2006 when I got The Call involved many hard lessons, a lot more writing, and at least two dozen Gollywhopper rejections. But I’d say it was at the SCBWI-LA Conference in 2002 where my real road to publication began. Several months before, in a moment of what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-submit-for-critique, I did an eeny, meeny, miny, moe and pulled The Gollywhopper Games from the depths of the drawer, that manuscript having been shoved deeper and deeper by about 15 subsequent novels. (Yes, I have drawer-loads of novels, many of which will forever be titled Homework.) I spruced up the first several chapters and sent it in. I was assigned the very wonderful critiquer and editor-in-chief Bonnie Bader who loved it and might have bought it except for the fact that it didn’t fit into the Grosset & Dunlap series personality.

It was at that same conference I met the woman who, four month later, was to become my agent. But even with an agent, it took three rewrites over three years to find the right house for the book. Would I have wanted it to happen sooner? Of course. But working it and waiting also brought me to my editorial, art and marketing team at Greenwillow and HarperCollins. And I can’t say enough about them.

2k8: Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing your book?

With a degree and a background in advertising, I was well trained to be succinct, to use a minimum of words to create a maximum impact. Guess what? I was trained to write picture books. And I did. I wrote dozens of picture books (languishing in a drawer) because how could someone like me string together 50,000 words for a novel? In reality, it wasn’t the number of words that scared me. How did anyone find the ideas to generate that many words?

So when I got the idea for The Gollywhopper Games, I had no clue whether I could write a work of any length. I started, though. I wrote a first chapter and second. I jotted down ideas as they began flowing. I wrote a third chapter then a fourth. Before I could be scared again, I had a stack of manuscript pages more than an inch thick.

Even now, especially when I’m about 7,000 words into a new book, I have doubts whether I can find the ideas and the words to create something compelling enough to finish. And each time I write the last sentence, I’m surprised that I did.

2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

I don’t think my idea is insane. I don’t think it’s unmarketable. I do believe it’s too expensive. I would love to write a truly interactive book – a sit-down or lie-in-bed book with paper pages – that has mini computer screens embedded throughout so readers can actually play along with any type of games or puzzles I may choose to incorporate into future stories. Just imagine what else you could do with that combination of comfort and technology.

2k8: What question won't most people know to ask you? What is your answer?

Writers understand this question, but most others wouldn’t know to ask it. In fact, when you tell friends and family you’re writing a book or you’ve had a book accepted for publication, they see the glitz and the glamour. They have you booked on Oprah. They call you the next JK Rowling. They want to bask in the shadow of your stardom.

Here’s the question they don’t know they should be asking. It’s also a question all writers should ask of themselves. If you understand that it may take years to write a marketable book; and if you understand this is a lonely profession with a limited amount of support for your individual project; and if you understand there’s only a remote possibility that you’ll sell it; and if do sell it, you’ll probably sign for a modest advance, one that may take you years to earn out if you earn out at all; and if you understand that your chosen profession will put you up for severe criticism from national publications; then why in the world are you doing this?

My answer: I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t.

Thanks Jody!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Inspiration for The Gollywhopper Games

Many writers can pinpoint the exact moment they had the idea for their book. Today, Jody tells us her inspiration for the Gollywhopper Games.

I may not have written The Gollywhopper Games if it hadn’t been for a bit of serendipity and especially if it hadn’t been for an unsatisfied 5th grade boy.

I was volunteering in the elementary school library, checking in books and minding my own business ...

Okay, not really minding my own business. As a budding author, I was keenly aware of which books interested the students. I often watched the same books move around classrooms like a hot rumor.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had been very popular with the 5S classroom that year. Some kids had yet to discover the old version of the movie and the new one was year from being in production. So the first experience they had with the story was directly from the Roald Dahl book.

The young man who returned it that day approached the librarian. The conversation went something like this:

5th Grader: I loved that book. Can you help me find another one like it?
Librarian (moves to the shelves and looks): There’s a sequel called Charlie and the Glass Elevator but it must be checked out. How about one of these. (Librarian pulls out The BFG, Hatchet, and Half Magic.)
5th Grader: They’re not the same.
Teacher (moves forward and speaks in his patented non-library voice): What’s the problem?
5th Grader: I want another book like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Teacher: There are no other books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but there are other books I guarantee you’ll like. (Teacher leads 5th grader to other shelves and shows him titles I can’t see.)
5th Grader: (keeps shaking his head)
Teacher: But the guy in here ...
5th Grader: (shakes head)

And the scene continued until the end of the period. I wish I could report which book the 5th grader eventually checked out. The fact is, I was too energized by this scene to pay attention. It had led to a decision on my part. I’d played around with picture books and with early readers, afraid to tackle longer works. But someone had to write a story for that 5th grader, and that someone was going to be me.

Now check out the book trailer!

We can't wait to read it and I'm sure fifth grade kids everywhere feel the same way!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jody Feldman Plays Games!

The Class of 2k8 is delighted to introduce this week’s debut author, Jody Feldman. Jody’s book, The Gollywhopper Games is now available and we simply cannot be prouder.

First, meet Jody:

Jody always found writing to be a chore. Hard. Boring. But at some point between the day she entered the University of Missouri as a psychology major and the day she graduated from their Journalism School, she’d turned into a writer.

During her advertising career she’s written about shoes, movies, fluid fertilizer, books, sewing machines, beer, leather cleaner, street banners, rodeos ... even words for a giant fortune cookie. She’s worked in a department store, a factory, a pre-school and spent one day training to sell products door to door but decided she’d rather eat a door.

Jody might have liked to become a treasure hunter, a codebreaker, a movie director, an artist and an inventor. But the most exciting part about writing is, she can explore all those occupations and adventures with the characters in her books.

Jody Feldman lives and plays with her family in St. Louis, Missouri.

Next, check out Jodi’s fabulous book, The Gollywhopper Games:

Gil Goodson's future happiness depends on winning Golly Toy and Game Company's ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised the family can move out of Orchard Heights -- away from all the gossip, the false friends, and bad press that has plagued the Goodsons ever since The Incident.

Gil has been studying for months. He thinks he knows everything about Golly's history and merchandise. But does he know enough to answer the trivia? Solve the puzzles? Complete the stunts? Will it be more than all the other kids know? Gil's formidable opponents have their own special talents. He must be quicker and smarter than all of them.

The ride of Gil's life is about to begin.

Thanks for celebrating the release of Jody’s book with us. Don’t forget we are celebrating The Gollywhopper Games all week, so stop back by to give our latest debut author some love.

Let the Games Begin!