Writers Getting Together AND the Michigan-Indian Writers & Illustrators Retreat

Silvia Acevedo and Valerie Biel

There is so much good to be said about getting together with other creative people. Other creative types “get” you. They support your efforts, share your work in the world, and are all around great fun.

Window View

Today I have the privilege of hanging out and writing with my good friend and fellow critique partner Valerie Biel at her home in the countryside. We may move our writing at some point from the porch extension to the cornfield. Or lakeside. Either way, we can thoroughly enjoy each others’ company even while taking breaks to type away. It’s awesome.

SCBWI-Michigan-Indiana Pokagon Writers & Illustrators Retreat

Another retreat I’m looking forward to is the SCBWI-Michigan-Indiana Writers & Illustrators Retreat in October. I’m presenting on world building, but I’m also excited about it because the format allows hours for afternoon writing. The mornings are for learning/sharing, while the afternoons are for more creating. How great is that? Registration just opened up today, August 1st, so get on it if you love the idea of creative comaraderie.

Thanks for letting me crash your place, Val! Happy writing, everyone! 🙂

Point of View with Asst. Editor Catherine Laudone of Simon & Schuster

Silvia Acevedo at SCBWI-WI Spring Luncheon 2018

 

 

Clarity and Joy come with every SCBWI Spring Luncheon. This year, though, the organizers pitched those benefits in the event title.  That’s a big promise, and I think the organizers did a great job delivering both.

 

 

 

 

 

The Spring Luncheon of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin is an annual half-day conference that always seems to come at the right time, when I’m starting to get a bit of the winter blahs and am happy to connect with other writers and illustrators. This year’s was held in Sturgeon Bay, which is still wintery, but features a beautiful bay.

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Catherine Laudone, Asst. Editor, Simon & Schuster

 

Assistant Editor Catherine Laudone of Simon & Schuster spoke about the pros and cons of the various forms of points of view in writing. You remember POV from middle school, right? First person uses “I.” Second person uses “you.” And then there’s third person with its options (limited, omniscient, etc.). Laudone spoke about how different POVs offer varying levels of emotional connection and descriptive opportunities. POV is important, and it was helpful to dive into the intricacies of the many types of narrative voice.

 

Miranda Paul, Author and SCBWI-WI Regional Advisor

 

 

The event also marked a transition for SCBWI-Wisconsin. Fearless leader Miranda Paul is stepping down after three years as co-Regional Advisor. She and Andrea Skyberg have done wonders highlighting our work to literary and educational leaders around the world. Southeast WI Area Rep Rochelle Groskruetz, who’s organized great events for years, steps in.

 

 

 

As usual, some of my favorite moments were catching up with fellow writers and illustrators, seasoned and newbies. If you’re aspiring to write or illustrate a book someday, come to this inspiring event! It’s great to hang around with creative people.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin 2018 Spring Luncheon

 

 

 

 

Cleansing the Palate – What I’m Reading

Just a fraction of the Uffizi Library in Florence, Italy

Just a fraction of the Uffizi Library in Florence, Italy

Every once in a while, I like to cleanse my palate from my normal reading tastes. As a writer of young adult fiction, I tend to read a lot of YA Fic. But the past month, maybe because of the weather and wanting a change, I’ve plunged into other styles. So here’s what I’m reading and my thoughts on them.

the joy of leaving your sh*t all over the place - the art of being messy by jennifer mccartney

the joy of leaving your sh*t all over the place – the art of being messy

by jennifer mccartney

(Even typing that without the capitalization required by civilized society hurts.) Look. I like orderly spaces. I’m more organized than not and generally don’t appreciate people leaving messes, especially in shared spaces. So a comical book about being messy challenged my sense of duty. Onward then!

This book genuinely had me laughing out loud. I can’t get to the point of living the lifestyle (which isn’t really the point, of course), but I sure had fun by the author trying to convince me to embrace consumerism and messiness with a light heart. Hey, life happens. Author Jennifer McCartney makes a solid point lamenting how grownups lose the ability to enjoy an environment without feeling the need to change it (i.e., tidying). The neat freak in me, though, just pictures the neighbors desperately wishing a force of nature would whisk the backyard flotsam far away. Funny read. There’s swearing (Duh, read the title), so lighten up.

Sleep No More - Six Murderous Tales by P.D. James

Sleep No More – Six Murderous Tales

by P.D. James

I cannot read real crime stories as entertainment. Fictional stories are another matter, though, especially short stories that are low on gore, high on motive, and follow in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe. I blazed through these six wonderfully written stories (I’m a sucker for an unreliable narrator.) and found myself thinking about motives long after I’d put down the book. Written by the incomparably thrilling and recently deceased P.D. James, whose talent the world misses. Recommended.

Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World by W. W. Norton & Company

Flash Fiction International Very Short Stories from Around the World

editing by James Thomas, Robert Shapard, and Christopher Merrill

Flash fiction is just like it sounds: very, verrrry short works. They range from just a few paragraphs to just a few pages. Think of it as a story you could read during a cigarette break, if you smoke, or a quick chocolate break, if you’re… well, human. I’m half-way through this book and find it interesting to read if just for the descriptive writing. Some of the stories aren’t stories in the traditional sense of having a beginning, middle, and end; they’re just glimpses of life without a story-driving conflict, much less a solution. Some of the other works are traditional short stories. Recommended if you’re looking for quick reads or to explore a condensed writing style.

Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

by Lita Judge

This book retells the personal history of Mary Shelley, author of the literary masterpiece Frankenstein. I sat next to the author/illustrator at the author signing table of the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference last month. Lita told me it took her six years to complete this book, and no wonder. It’s 312 pages, each pair of pages a spread containing a free verse poem and her accompanying black-and-white watercolor illustration. The art is chilling – in a good way – again reminding me of the way Poe’s work is often illustrated. I start this book tonight and will report back later.

UPDATE: I read Mary’s Monster in one evening. The poetry is story-driven and accessible; the art haunting and a wonderful match to the narrative. If you’re a fan of Mary Shelley, you’ll love this book.

So that’s how I’m mixing it up. Do you also find the need to change your reading habits now and then?

Ten Years Blogging

http://www.silviaacevedo.com

Milestones trigger emotions, and this one is no exception. Today marks ten years blogging. My website and blog is mostly about the creative life (writing, publishing, media in general) and occasionally sports. I’ve experienced growth in all those areas, and I hope something I wrote added to your insight on a subject.

My very first post was about inspiration, specifically about shooing the Muse. You can read it here:  http://www.silviaacevedo.com/a-writer-writes/muse-schmuse/ I feel pretty much the same way today. If I waited until I felt inspired, who knows when I’d ever get around to it? The funny thing is, once I start, it’s the writing itself that inspires me to write more. What inspires you?  And what topics should I hit in the next ten years? 🙂

Writing Prompt – Dancing

Dancing FeetI recently bought a prompt journal (300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc.) to force really quick writing.  Here’s my latest prompt:

Do you prefer to dance with no one watching, with a group of friends, or with one special partner?

All of the above. I just like to dance. I’m not particularly good or bad at it. I suspect I’m like most people, just shuffling or bouncing along to the beat of the music, but I like the freedom of dancing.

Why do so few people dance in public? Why is it so hard for me to coax (or pull) a friend onto the dance floor at a music festival or county fair? Do people seriously care that others watch? I don’t, but I know I’m in the minority there. :/

Writing Prompt – Admired Personality Trait

Angel Halo

Bought myself a journal (300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc.) to force really quick writing.  Here’s my latest prompt:

What is a personality trait do you admire in other people?

Patience, which often manifests itself in kindness.

Look, the world is a trying place. People and circumstances can frustrate us and lead us away from our daily (or lifelong) goals. It is so, so easy to take out a slew of perceived injustices on others because they’re not as “whatever” as we’d like them to be.

But we’re all unique individuals on highly personal journeys. We’re all of us more than we are at any given moment, and so exhibiting patience often provides the buffer that all sides in a situation need to save themselves from themselves.

I’m still working on this trait and suspect I always will be.

What personality trait do you admire? Tell me in the comments. 🙂

Writing Prompt – Bathroom Paraphernalia

300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc.I recently decided to start writing in smaller chunks.  I bought this journal: 300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc. The idea is to give quick answers without editing. Here’s the latest prompt.

Name three things you have in your bathroom right now.

I have a framed Monet print which brings a smile to my face. I’m not a huge Monet fan, but I like this piece. It’s of a woman and child in a field, which brings back memories of playing with the kids when they were little.

I also have a shower curtain which makes me laugh because of one of my kids’ surprised comment that we got a new shower curtain! – as if we needed her approval before purchase.

The last is a note dictating which closet shelf belongs to which kid. Because territoriality. Ha!

Writing Prompt – The Week’s Theme

300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc.My fiction is usually long form, so I recently decided to change things up and start writing in smaller chunks.  I bought this journal: 300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc. The idea is to give quick answers without a lot of humming and hawing. I’ll post my answers here occasionally.

If this week had a theme to it, what would yours be?

Motivation against all odds. I have a half dozen people around me lately who are suffering from malaise. I’ve been the opposite. I’m on a writing groove and have been tearing through all my work.  It feels great, and it’s interesting that I can so easily fight the temptation to join them. I’m the model of independence right now. Yay, me! 🙂

Writing Prompt – Snob Much?

300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc.My fiction is usually long form, so last week I decided to change things up and start a habit of writing in much smaller chunks.  I bought this journal: 300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc. The idea is to give quick answers without a lot of humming and hawing. I’ll post my answers here occasionally.

Is there anything you are ever a snob about?

Oh, sure.  Aren’t we all snobs?  I mean, not about everything, but we’re all snobs about some things. I’m a snob about:

*Chocolate (Dark, not milk, please.),

*Coffee (Decaf with cream, please),

*Grammar (It has value and purpose; if you respect others, learn it and use it.),

*Equality (Your gender doesn’t make you superior, nor does your ethnicity, race, or religion.), and finally,

*Fairness (To treat people differently based on social standing, fame, wealth, etc., is just wrong and soul-crushing. Be kind to one another.)

So what are you a snob about? Tell me in the comments. 🙂

Presenting at the NEW Sheboygan TEEN Book Festival

The Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival has enjoyed a great reputation as one of the premier book fests in the state. It’s free to the public, organized to the finest detail, and wildly entertaining for the kids who’ve gone since its 2010 start. New this year, the fest launched its TEEN book festival, and what a great event it was!

Turnout was great – and no wonder. The middle schoolers and high schoolers got to investigate books and meet authors who focus on them. Presenting authors talked about everything from depicting teenage life on paper to what inspires their particular bent. Author Valerie Biel and I talked about our love of mythology and how the genre is experiencing a popular renaissance. The teens were engaged and asked such insightful questions! All we authors were deeply impressed – and we made it onto trading cards. We felt like superheroes. 🙂

Here are some photos of this fantastic event. If you read Young Adult books or have a teenager in your life who does, seriously consider setting your calendar for next year’s festival. Both the Children’s and Teen’s Book Festivals run annually on the second weekend in October.

Author Silvia Acevedo at The Sheboygan Teen Book Festival

Author Silvia Acevedo at The Sheboygan Teen Book Festival

Author Silvia Acevedo at The Sheboygan Teen Book Festival

Author Silvia Acevedo at The Sheboygan Teen Book Festival

Author Silvia Acevedo at The Sheboygan Teen Book Festival

Authors and Illustrators of the Sheboygan Teen Book Festival 2016

Authors and Illustrators of the Sheboygan Children’s & Teen Book Festivals 2016