It’s amazing how certain events in your life harbor so much meaning.
I remember as a child spending many, many, MANY enchanted hours reading on the bean bags at the kids’ corner of the South Milwaukee Public Library. I used to ride my bike the half hour to get there to happily satisfy my demanding reading habit, delighting in Peanuts and Moby Dick alike.
This Wednesday, December 2nd, I will cherish the immense honor of presenting there, my hometown library. Starting at 6:30, I’ll present an excerpt and talk with readers about my fantasy novel, God Awful Loser, a signed copy of which is on the library shelves.
I will admit that my childhood self never imagined presenting as an author in the building in which I traipsed so often. I loved reading; books were, to me, worldly educators, understanding friends, and foolhardy daredevils. As a child, I never imagined writing books. As an adult writing a part of my novel at the SM library, I had to smile at going full circle from reader to writer.
Thank you, South Milwaukee Public Library, for welcoming me — at any age.
I had a great time this week meeting the most dedicated book lovers and readers around. Thursday, I was honored to speak about writing and publishing at the Wisconsin Library Association’s Annual Conference. Here we are, left to right: Columbus (WI) Library Director and Panel Moderator Cindy Fesemyer and Authors Valerie Biel, me, and Zachary Howe.
Saturday, I was one of a host of authors at the Edgerton (WI) Sterling North Book & Film Festival celebrating its tenth year. And what a reunion — I got to see former TV anchor Patty Loew, with whom I worked as an intern in my college days at WKOW-TV in Madison! I helped on a documentary that later earned an Associated Press award. We hadn’t seen each other in 25 years! Now she’s an accomplished author, and I was so happy to see her. 🙂
Thanks to all the librarians out there, to readers, and the many other book lovers that make this journey so wonderful.
I am incredibly honored to be the very first author featured on the newly created WISCONSIN WRITES AUTHOR VIDEO SERIES. This interview chat was created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for students to hear directly from authors about how they do what they do, providing a glimpse into both their current works and their creative minds.
I have two segments, which you can see above or at the WI DPI website. The first segment is on my writing process, and the second covers many topics, including my approach to subject matter, the role of research, editing, feedback from other writers, and advice to students.
Many thanks go the educators behind this series! I hope you enjoy it, too, and please feel free to share it widely with the writers (young and old) in your life!
A few of the questions had to do with taboo topics and whether we censor our writing for the sake of our audience. The answer was a universal no to censorship but that, of course, a writer’s presentation is tweaked depending on age range and relevancy to the story. We all agreed that stories are a safe place to explore new worlds and perspectives. Besides, those readers who don’t enjoy a book will self-censor, that is, decide a particular book isn’t for them and put it down. It comes down to choices, which is an integral part of growing up.
Not every book covers deep, heavy topics, but most offer a window to emotional growth. My God Awful Loser is a light read and yet doesn’t gloss over the protagonist’s womanizing. He and other characters eventually learn, with the readers riding their wave, to value those around them.
Do kids need books to teach them such lessons? Perhaps another question is in order: Who remembers reading a book at just the right time and having it profoundly affected their worldview?
Soon Wisconsin students engaged in writing will have video proof that, yeah, sometimes you just have to scrap what doesn’t work. And who got to teach them that? Why, yes, you guessed right. It was me.
It was part of an interesting video project being put on by the Wisconsin Department of Public Schools, the state agency that runs public schools. The “Wisconsin Writes” project aims to catch Wisconsin authors wherever they happen to be in their work-in-progress to talk to students about how they’re advancing their work and to answer a few tough questions. My work-in-progress is the sequel to God Awful Loser.
It so happens that I was at a point in which I’d explored a certain path only to find it didn’t work, and so I was on the cusp of scrapping a full chapter. That turned into a talk about how sometimes you just have to try something out, see how it goes, get messy, be willing to change it or let it go if it’s not your vision, and embrace picking it up again where you left off. I hope hearing that is helpful to students.
Here I am signing God Awful Loser for the program’s host. Thanks, Marci, for inviting me. 🙂
Today’s post is a sample of my eclectic reading, which I’m sure is no different than that of most people. I mean, who reads in the same genre all the time without exception? Not me.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole was recommended to me by Interviewing Authors podcast host Tim Knox, who interviewed me for his show (you can give it a listen here: http://interviewingauthors.com/silvia-acevedo-tv-journalist-great-time-god-love/) shortly after the release of my young adult novel, God Awful Loser. Knox gave me a huge compliment (although I didn’t know how huge at the time) by saying that he hadn’t laughed as hard since reading A Confederacy, which garner a 1981 Pulitzer Prize. Of course, I rushed the book to the top of my To-Read pile, and Knox was as good as his word.
A Confederacy of Dunces is a comedic marvel. It has pretty mixed reviews, many of the negatives focusing on the “likability” of the protagonist, who is a snobby, idealistic, physically grotesque bum who still lives with his mother. She induces him to find work, and hilarity ensues. I tend to not dismiss books on the likability of the protagonist. I focus more on whether he or she experiences emotional growth and on the quality of the writing. Whether you love Ignatius Reilly as a character or not, no one could deny there’s a lot of great humor there. Thanks, Tim!
My next read was Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall in which an intersexed teen (having both male and female sexual organs) leaves his bullying high school across the country to start fresh as a girl in a Wisconsin high school. Her lifelong interest in basketball helps her make friends and eventually keeps her sane when her past inevitably roars into the present.
This is not normally the sort of thing I’d read, and maybe that’s exactly why it’s good to change habits once in a while. It’s good to expand your world. Double Exposure‘s story was engaging, the characters sympathetic, and the conflict real for our times. I’d recommend it to anyone who might benefit seeing the grey between the lines. In the interest of full disclosure, I acknowledge that I have met the author through events at SCBWI, but that doesn’t matter. It’s an enlightening read.
What about you? Read any good books lately?