Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh, If Only I Could Come Up with Ideas Like These...

In my last few posts I've been speaking of the unspoiled creativity of children. I know, I know, I'm going on about kids a bit much, especially my kids. But I'm going to do it just a little bit more.

Emily had to write a fairy tale retelling for English class. In her version, Rapunzel is a spoiled girl who eats only rapunzel leaves. One day she screamed at her kind caretaker, calling her a witch for refusing to buy her a gold-plated dog, then refused to come out of the tower until the "witch" gave her a golden pet. The "witch" began tying baskets of rapunzel salad and rapunzel sandwiches to her hair so the girls would pull them up to the tower and not starve.

This is part of the letter Emily had Rapunzel write after she ran off with the prince:

"Last night I felt a tug on my hair. It was very heavy, and thinking it was a gold-plated dog, I pulled it up. To my dismay, it wasn't a dog, it was a prince. Well he wasn't exactly a prince, he is a hairstylist...."

So is it just me, or is she a creative thinker? I'm already planning to enlist her to help me with the plot problem I'm presently having. Right now I'm typing her 8th grade English papers. But someday I may be hoping for a dedication in one of her books.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More WIFYR Tidbits and Snowflake Fish

It's official: all the information for the 2012 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference will be up on the website January 15th. I still can't tell you the rest of the faculty, but I don't see a problem with announcing what the workshop categories will be. Yes, as Kevin said, there will be a fantasy class. There will also be illustration, picture book, TWO advanced classes, a boot camp, paranormal, middle grade, intro to writing for children and intro for writing a novel, and writing an LDS middle-grade/YA novel. Stay tuned!

I had so much fun teaching my daughter's 4th grade class about writing. They actually paid attention. The teacher asked me to talk about similes and metaphors, and I gave them a trick to remember: Think "sim" for similar with "L" for "[object] is like [object]," and "Me" for becoming the thing as a way to remember metaphors. Not sure they all got the difference, but some of them did.

We also talked about the five senses, and I brought paper bags with objects to feel, smell, and touch. They liked that part, especially the smell (and taste) of peppermint-flavored candy kisses.

I had them do a writing prompt before leaving, and some of their writing was terrific. Their teacher asked me to get them ready to write about a favorite place. I told them it didn't have to be a big destination. I described my aunt's huge lilac bush with the child-sized cave beneath it, describing the smell, touch, and color of of the blooms. (I still love lilacs!)

One little girl raised her hand to share her favorite description. She not only used a correct simile, but I loved her image. So right now, although we don't have any real snow, here's our snowflake fish: She wrote of snorkeling in Hawaii, and how "the fish were like a blizzard of coral." Isn't that great? And no, it wasn't my daughter this time.

To follow up on my previous post, however, both of my girls are going to district with the Reflections Contest!

What is your favorite place, or what would your book character's favorite place be if s/he could describe it to you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another WIFYR Announcement, and the ANWAR Conference

So Carol L. Williams put it on her blog, so that means it's safe to tell you the first workshop: Mette Ivie Harrison will be teaching the Science Fiction class!

And for anyone who'd like to visit Mesa in February (sounds nice, doesn't it?) Here is the link for details about the ANWA 2012 Writer's Conference Details, with Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book as keynote: http://valerieipson.blogspot.com/

I met some of the American Night Writer's Association members a couple of years ago when they came up to a conference in Provo, Utah. They call themselves that because they're mainly people with daytime lives (like moms) that do most of their writing when the sun's long gone (or hasn't come up yet.) Good for them, and if you're in the mood for a fun conference and some winter sunshine, take a look.

Monday, December 5, 2011

First WIFYR Conference Announcement!

Registration for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers begins in January! Yay! Carol Lynch Williams has picked an outstanding cast of editors, agents, and faculty, but I'm not allowed to tell you all their names yet.

I can say that the amazing, one-of-a-kind workshops will include: Boot Camp, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Writing the LDS Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel plus an Illustrator class, a couple of Advanced Classes, a Picture book Writing class, and more.

According to Carol, "It's going to be a bigger conference than normal." Make sure you mark the dates–June 18-22, 2012. There will be a block of rooms held at the Best Western Cotton Tree hotel in Sandy, UT, close to the Waterford School, also in Sandy, Utah.

Watch for further posts and get ready to sign up for your chosen workshop with one of the terrific faculty members to be announced soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Writing Advice Would You Give 4th Graders?

I volunteered to do a writing workshop for Megan's 4th grade class. Yes, partly to assuage my guilt at not being a regular classroom parent. I have my reasons--I'm already so overbooked that my husband giggles when I say things like, "I really need to take a break, but I've got to get this synopsis and thirty pages submitted before . . ." in the same breath.

What to teach a class of fourth graders, though?

Today is not only Dec. 1, it's the entry deadline for the Utah Reflections contest. So last night I spent much of the evening making sure all the i's were dotted and t's crossed, such as "application must be put in a plastic sleeve, but masking taped, not stapled, to the outside of the other plastic sleeve the picture goes in, and not inside with the artwork," making a CD of photos of my daughter's sculpture, etc. Another night of, "I'm exhausted, I have a cold and need to go to bed early, but if I put Emily's artwork on a piece of card stock . . ."

I'm way off track. I mention this because the writing in my daughter's "artist statements" impressed me and made me think. I gave them some prompts on the theme of diversity: "They don't just want to hear, 'be different, be yourself,' but how we work together despite our differences."

Yet despite feeding them my pre-conceived ideas of what the judges would want, they came up with amazing things on their own. Megan used a rainbow in her piece. She said to me, then wrote, something like this, "But Mom, it's a rainbow path. We all walk it, but everyone is their own color. Then the colors come together. I think I'm indigo."

Wow. Emily's explanation about her work, being a zebra among horses, was just as profound and well-written. I know, I'm biased when I say they're amazing, but it got me thinking. Children's creativity tends to just flow out, pure and simple as spring water.

One of my critique partners, Alison, said that her daughter completed NaNoWriMo without any trouble. "She just writes," Alison said. As writers with the advice of many conferences and workshops floating in our brains, we are much more prone to self-edit our work. We need this editing process, but how do we keep it from slowing us down or stopping us?

How do we write, or guide writing, without squelching that natural inner spring of creativity?

Please share your ideas, both on freeing creativity, and what to say to that 4th grade class.

And PS, my total word count was 34,491, using a conservative count. It's not 50,000, but I also had editing to do (and still do.) Plus, my main goal was to finish my book. It's done. I may end up changing a lot, but I have a draft. That feels good.

Maybe I'll rest now. Or maybe after I get the shopping and the cards and the 30 pages . . .