I hope that everyone has a wonderful long weekend honoring the men and women that gave their lives for our freedom.
A few weeks ago I finished Brian Farrey’s awesome middle grade novel The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse. I found Brian’s world fascinating, and I found myself trying to figure out the mystery even when I wasn’t reading the book.
It was a lot of fun interviewing Brian for today’s post. Enjoy!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE ?
I wrote THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE for anyone who was ever told not to ask questions and I hope that they walk away understanding how important it is to be curious.
2. What is best part about being a writer?
The best part about being a writer is playing with words. It’s not just throwing a bunch of letters down on the page and hoping they make sense. It’s playing. It’s writing and re-writing and playing and playing to find just the right way to say what absolutely needs to be said.
3. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
The hardest part of being a writer is dealing with the voices in your head that tell you your writing is horrible. All writers have these voices. I silence mine with a very liberal consumption of chocolate.
4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?
If I could live in any book’s world, I’d spend the day fighting corruption in the magician government and brokering peace between the humans and djinn in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books. I probably wouldn’t get much accomplished in a single day but I’d give it my all.
5. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?
Here is my advice for young creators: don’t give up. Ignore the voices in your head that try to trick you into stopping. Ignore anyone who tells you you’re not good enough to do what you’re trying to do. There’s a quote attributed to Thomas Edison that goes: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” When you create and fail, start again with Way #10,001.
A new episode of The Yarn! Sitting down with Kelly Barnhill at Anne Ursu’s house during NCTE was a whole lot of fun. We talked about her book The Witch’s Boy. Enjoy!
Did you miss an episode of The Unraveller? Never fear! We created a playlist on Soundcloud.
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Did you miss Season 1? It is never too late to catch up!
It has been a while since I’ve ran a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 interview here on the blog, and I’ve missed them. Thankfully, I had the chance to interview Randall about her beautiful new book A Fire Truck Name Red.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED?
In A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED, a little boy named Rowan (Gaelic for “red”) wants a shiny new fire truck toy for his birthday. Instead, his grandfather gives him his crusty, old truck, and the promise to fix it up “better than new.” But what could be better than new for a child? That’s the central question of this story. And as Rowan helps to restore Red while listening to Papa’s exciting boyhood adventures with his beloved toy, he answers it: older things and people with stories can be the best of all. (5)
2. What is the best part of your job?
More than anything, I love reading my stories to children. I love seeing their squirmy bodies settle into the imaginary worlds I’ve created for them. (2)
3. What is the hardest part of your job?
It can be so hard to start a new story! Sometimes I have an idea, and I walk around with it for weeks (or longer), waiting for that first fragile line to come. I know that if I rush it, if I make a false start, I might ruin it. I might break the spell and end up with an overworked mess. (4)
4. Tell us your first reaction to when you saw Bob Staake’s art for A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED.
Yes– it’s absolutely perfect! (1)
5. What advice do you have for young readers and writers?
Readers, keep reading; only good can come of it. Writers, ideas can spring from anywhere, anyone, anything. Keep your eyes and ears open, and when you find inspiration, grab it (in a notebook) before it flees. (3)
Last year the Nerd Camp art raffle was a huge success. We were able to take the more than $1500 raised, and turn it around to purchase additional books to give away to our Nerd Camp Junior campers.
We are excited about this year’s raffle. A huge thank you to the book creators that have donated pieces. If you’d like to donate a piece, just shoot me an email and I can give you the details (email@example.com).
I will be updating this post as art comes in.
I want to frame Deborah Marcero‘s donation and hang it in my house. It is beautiful!
This beautiful piece of original art was donated by Cupcake Cousins illustrator Brooke Boynton Hughes. The author of Cupcake Cousins, Kate Hannigan, will be joining us for Nerd Camp this summer.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi created an amazing piece of art for this year’s raffle. Our Nerd Camp attendees are giant fans of Debbie’s work.
Larry Day‘s art is breathtaking. I can’t wait to see the smile on the face of the camper that wins the paintings that Larry created for camp.
I’m honored to be able to introduce Jess Keating‘s new video writing series: Writing With Jess. These VIDEOS are AMAZING resources for educators.
Take it away, Jess!
When I was 9 years old, I was lucky enough to attend my first real-life writer’s conference. I say “real-life” because before that point, I’m pretty sure I thought books magically appeared on shelves. I didn’t realize they were written by real, living people!
But meeting an author in real life changed all of that.
I’ve always had the writing bug and loved telling stories. I’ve also always been obsessed with books. I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. But before that day, I never really thought I could write them. Seeing an author speak about writing changed my life. Hearing that they worked hard at it—that it wasn’t just some incredible talent they had from birth—made me start to wonder: could I write books myself?
I was reminded of that first writers conference when I saw Colby Sharp’s session at the New England Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators last weekend. Colby is an amazing presenter, and he showcased all the amazing ways he celebrates reading in the classroom. How can authors help teachers spread book love in the classroom?
One of the ways he suggested was videos. Those of you who know me also know that I’m a huge fan of videos! I knew then that I wanted to make something special for all the young would-be writers out there. I hear from a lot of readers who want to write, but they’re intimidated by the process. I wanted to inspire them to tell their own stories, like I was once inspired to tell mine.
So today, I’m happy to reveal a new series of videos called “Write with Jess Keating”. I designed these to be quick and snappy, easy for teachers to use in the classroom to get young readers and writers inspired to write. Each answers a common writing question I’ve heard from kids, and includes a writing call to action, along with fun insights into being a ‘real’ writer. Right now, there are ten videos in the series, but I’ll add more in the future. Teachers, if your kids have pressing writing questions, send them my way!
Until then, I hope you enjoy this series! And a massive nerdy thank you to Colby Sharp for reminding me of my 9 year old self. I wish every kid had a teacher as awesome as you!
About Jess Keating
As a zoologist turned middle grade and picture book author, Jess Keating has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. Her debut novel, How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied was followed by two sequels, earning a Kirkus star, a Red Maple nomination, a Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination, and a spot on the LA Times Summer Book Pick List.
Her nonfiction picture book series kicks off with PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH, with a sequel to follow in 2017. Her first picture book biography, SHARK LADY, will also be published in 2017. She has a Masters degree in Animal Science and a growing collection of books that are threatening to take over her house. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves hiking, nerdy documentaries, and writing books for adventurous and funny kids.
Happy Children’s Book Week! I’m excited to be a part of this John Patrick Green interview series.
CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK CELEBRATES KIDS COMICS!
It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week with a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love. Follow along throughout the week to see some of your favorite comics creators – and meet new ones, too!
Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier