Sunday, November 7, 2010

Basketball for the Stout-Hearted

Just a quick posting today to let everyone know that chapter 7 of Wheel of Katarnum is now online. In "A Dangerous Game" Rob and Sam go head to head against the hateful Cradder brothers, and the basketball quickly gets ugly. Check it out here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trouble in Katarnum

As those of you who've been paying attention know, up to now I've posted chapters 1 - 5 of Wheel of Katarnum on my website. Unfortunately, if you've read chapter 4 you may have gotten a little confused, as I discovered that the version I posted suffered from the over-editing syndrome. I apologize and have cured the patient, I think.
To make up for it I'm putting the next chapter, "Granny's Intuition," on the web as of this writing. I hope you'll let me know how you like it.

"Tall Story" is Big Stuff

With a working vacation in the US out of the way, I'm finally back on the blog again. For weeks I've been wanting to put up something about Candy Gourlay's great little book, "Tall Story." I got to know Candy at the Bologna Children's Book Fair a couple of years ago and was sure then it was only a matter of time (very little time) before she would get her first book published.

"Tall Story" is a poignant, funny tale about the love that develops between a sister and brother who couldn't be more different -- on the outside. Andi is 12 years old, short, and lives in London. Bernard is 16, eight feet tall, and lives in the Philipines. What they have in common is their mother and a love of basketball. Amazingly, Andi is the one who can really play the game, not Bernard! When Bernard finally gets to move to London to join his family, he brings a whole load of Philipino superstition (or is it magic) with him. Candy deftly mixes real life drama, culture clash and something approaching magical realism, keeping the reader right there with her the whole time.

With "Tall Story" Candy has hit a game-winning three-pointer (for you non-basketballers, that's real good). The biggest thing about "Tall Story" is not eight-foot Bernard, but the magical way Candy Gourlay brings two very different people and cultures together, and makes us believe it was meant to be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chapter 5 - A Strange Invitation

Chapter 5 of Wheel of Katarnum just hit cyperspace. In this chapter, Rob and Sam get a mysterious letter delivered personally by teeth. Read it and see what I mean. Just click here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ramblings, Rewrites and "Sacred Scars"

It's already September. Anybody know what happened to August? In Bavaria (Germany) August is vacation time for anybody with school-aged kids or spouses who are teachers, and that's me on both counts. So that's what happened to August, I guess -- vacation -- that and home-improvement projects. It's amazing how much work it is to build a relatively small garden house (or pavillion as we prefer to call it).
But now all that's behind me, and I only have the usually fifteen excuses for not blogging, not writing, not critiquing, etc.

But hey, I did manage to reach a milestone in my tween fantasy novel, Wheel of Katarnum: I finished the latest (last?) rewrite - all the way to the end! After a read-through I'll be bombarding some unsuspecting agents and editors with irresistible queries.
In honor of this momentous occasion, I've put chapter 4 up on my website. You can read all about the "Haunted Hawkins" here.

And to all you fantasy lovers (and even to normal folks) I would like to recommend the book I'm currently reading, "Sacred Scars" by Kathleen Duey. This is the second book in Kathleen's dark fantasy trilogy, and it has really grabbed me. The author has a way of getting you into the head of the magician's apprentice Hahp, who is trapped in the draconian Limòri Academy of Magic along with a few other unfortunate boys. This story would almost be too heavy, however, if it weren't balanced by a second story-line with the protagonist Sadima, who was involved with the founding of the academy hundreds of years earlier. She, like the founders, however, has used magic to extend her life almost indefinitely, and it's only a matter of time before she and Hahp cross paths (but not in this book, I don't think). It's an ingenius and fascinating way of interweaving two story-lines into one.
So read it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chapter Three -- The Saga Continues

Chapter 3 of the Wheel of Katarnum has just gone online at Writings & Things.

- Will Rob and Sam find their little sisters?
- Will Rob and Sam even find the cemetery?
- Will Mr. Fleetag find a pot big enough to stew both girls in?

To answer these and many more burning questions, click here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chapter 2 of "Wheel of Katarnum"

Just a quick note: for all of you fans who are hungry for chapter two, it's now online on my website.

Hope you enjoy it!

Hint: If more of you tell me you want to see them, I'll put the chapters up faster.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Wheel of Katarnum" goes online!

I'm baa-aack. Unfortunately, not necessary by popular demand.
Yep. This time I've really gone and done it. I've actually made a little website and put the first chapter of my book, Wheel of Katarnum, on it. So somebody inform the New York Times critics, will ya?
The plan is to e-publish (so to speak) one chapter every week or so until I've got millions of readers drooling for more. That shouldn't be hard. Right?
Keep in mind this is a work-in-progress, so it will be changing as we go along, even though most of it is finished (for the fifth time) at this writing.
Even though I've labeled this a "tweens contemporary fantasy," which means I'm primarily targeting 10 to 14-year-olds, I hope old folks over 15 (or 50) will take a look at it. (You took a chance on Harry Potter, didn't you?)
Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated. I'll read them all, I promise.
So drop by my website, and check it out. And let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's about the people, stupid.

The SCBWI Symposium in Bologna (and the Children's Book Fair) are already fading into the past. I've been swamped with work and/or traveling since then, but I had to post something about the symposium before moving on because it was a great success for me personally.
Why was it a success? (I'm glad you asked.) Did everyone drool over the pieces I submitted for critique? No. Did anyone proclaim me to be the next J. K. Rowling? Hardly. Did I find an agent who thought I was a genius? I don't think so.
The symposium was so great for me because this time I dared to just be myself and to connect with people on an honest, open level. My approach was like, this is who I am and this is what I wrote. The result: I got to know a bunch of extremely interesting and gracious people -- who turned out to be just nice folks, after all.
For example:
- Richard Peck, Newberry Medal winner and speaker extraordinaire, but also a friendly, down-home boy from the Midwest, like me (Ok, I'm from the South, but close enough).
- Ellen Hopkins, multiple New York Times bestselling author. She's brilliant, but anyone would mistake her for the mom next door (she's that too).
- Leonard Marcus, famous critic, historian, and author of children's literature -- who also happens to be one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
- A gang of talented writers and illustrators from SCBWI Germany and other SCBWI regions

Oh, and by the way, I'm convinced that one or more of the people I met at the symposium will also eventually play a part in my writing career -- but that's just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A lot of Bologna

On the weekend I'll be heading out to the Bologna Children's Book Fair and the 2010 SCBWI Bologna Symposium and Showcase, both in beautiful (you guessed it). So I decided it was a good opportunity to revive my nearly deceased blog.
I attended the Fair and Symposium in 2008, also, so in some ways I'm an old hand. In other ways, however, I'm still an unpublished and very struggling writer, so it's all pretty scary and exciting.

For someone in my position, the main attraction in Bologna is the SCBWI Symposium, not the Fair. The Book Fair is mainly for agents, publishers and people who've already published (otherwise know as authors). "Unpubs" like me can't normally even get into the booths of the major publishers (by appointment only). The Symposium, on the other hand, offers interesting presentations, workshops and panel discussions with real live publishers, agents and authors. Unpubs can have the first ten pages of their most brilliant work of art critiqued by a professional. And some, like me, even get to do a "pitch session," a five minute practice run at selling your book. (Just thinking about it makes my toes cramp.)

So Bologna is really not a lot of baloney (sorry, I couldn't resist).
More info on the Symposium here.