Librarians by day, writers by night, the OELMA Writers' League met with Jody Casella, YA author of THIN SPACE, and Michele Jakubowski, middle grade/early chapter book guru, who wrote several series for Capstone, including Sidney & Sydney, Perfectly Poppy, and a new mystery series targeted to 4-6th grade, THE SLEUTHS OF SOMERVILLE.
|Jody, Kathy and Michele. These authors say that we ARE writers.|
TIDBITS - FOOD FOR THOUGHT
1. The path is different for us all. Jody wrote for 15+ years before her breakout book. Michele's path to publication has taken 5 years. Jody has an agent and Michele has negotiated her own contracts.
2. No English degree? No MFA? No problem. Our writer/librarians had a myriad of backgrounds: science, math, special education, academia, and illustration.
3. Try something different for a new equation. One English teacher + one librarian + an after school walk up "Murder Hill" = YA/paranormal thriller with alternating POV. These partners create characters and scenes as they walk and observe others for character traits. They feel comfortable as co-authors because they are responsible for only half of it! (Bird by Bird, remember?)
4. There is no one perfect process that guarantees success. Our voices are all different. A sign above Jody's desk says, "TRUST THE PROCESS." It takes time to find the daily routine/your process. Try reading what you wrote the day before, take walks and have cell phone nearby in case genius strikes so you can tape yourself. Find a writing buddy to whom you are accountable.
5. First draft and revision reminder: Throw it all out there in the first draft. Like a jigsaw puzzle, you must see all the pieces. If a scene doesn't work, ditch it, but save EVERYTHING as compost for other stories.
6. Setting is often overlooked and it can be an important character. Louis Sachar thinks it's the most important element of story. His seminal middle grade, HOLES, would not be the book it is if not set in Camp Green Lake.
7. Keep a companion journal for the manuscript you are writing. Jody says it becomes a record of your thought process for the book and serves as a reminder of where in the process you get "stuck" for the next book.
8. A fun exercise: try this and see what transpires. Go to a coffee shop. Record dialogue word for word. Later, insert tags and action around the dialogue.
9. We are all drawn to tell certain stories. Examine the "why" for every manuscript. You will find theme, emotion, and the heart of the tale. This is what keeps readers with us.
Hope these tidbits refreshed you, feed your writing appetite, and nourished you for your journey! Gonna go nosh on some manuscripts now before the next OWL event, October 3, 2015. Check out the OELMA site for more information.