Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Author Interview with Carol Larese Millward

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Carol Larese Millward is the author of the YA novel Star in the Middle published by WestSide Books.Carol talks about her book and the impact it has had on her readers.

Just after the birth of her son, Star tries to cope with her new reality as a teenage single parent.  Told in alternating points of view between Star and the father, Wil, each try and reconcile choices made and build a road for the future.

Carol Larese Millward

What lead you to write this story?

I worked with teen parents through two of Maryland Family Support Centers. I loved working with young families, but I was also struck by the impact an unplanned pregnancy can have on young lives. I wrote Star in the Middle to raise awareness about the difficulties teen parents face and the importance of teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Did alternating points of view make it more or less difficult to write?

Actually, it made it easier to write. Dual voices helped me focus on both parents and how each was dealing with the birth of their baby, how it changed their feelings for each other, and about themselves—and, of course, how they related to the baby in such different ways.

How has the novel been received?

I am so pleased when I visit teen book clubs and classrooms and hear the dialogue the book inspires! It was important to me to start a conversation about the issues my fictional characters face with young adults. I have heard good things from teen readers, educators and people working with teens, and adult readers. For reviews and comments from readers, please visit my website at http://www.carollaresemillward.com

What are the most important things you learned about marketing your book?

It’s important to get the word out early, long before the book is published. It’s an on-going process and it all takes time and energy. I love getting out there and talking about my book. It’s very important to me on so many levels!

Is there anything you wished you had known before you started writing this novel?

What an interesting question. I think Star in the Middle was the novel I was supposed to write. It felt right from the very beginning. I cared so deeply about the young families I worked with, and I continue to be committed to talking to teens about taking care of themselves and their dreams. That said, I wish I had known earlier that my character sketch of Star had the potential to be a novel!

Do you have an agent?  How did you find your publisher?

I don’t have an agent. I attended a SCBWI conference and had a manuscript critiqued by author, Beckie Weinheimer (Converting Kate). When information about WestSide Books crossed her computer screen, she encouraged me to send my manuscript. Star in the Middle was actually the second manuscript I submitted to WestSide Books. I am still revising the first!

What are you working on now?

I have several projects going. I’m still revising The Winged Moon, my first YA novel manuscript, and I’m writing another YA manuscript entitled Changing Colors. I have a Halloween picture book manuscript, Mrs. Shimmhog’s Broom, that I’m revising and hope to get in the mail in the next week or two.

Carol, thanks for taking the time to give us a peek behind the scenes.

This novel is a great way to create avenues for discussion about healthy lifestyle choices with the teens in your life. You can find out more about Carol and her debut novel, Star in the Middle at www.carollaresemillward.com.  Contact Carol about author visits and book club discussions. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com which, of course, you should do right now.

Are you a children’s or YA author?  Let’s tell the world about your hard work!  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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SCBWI Writers’ Conference Wisdom

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I recently attended the SCBWI regional writers’ conference near Fredricksburg, Maryland.  There was a packed house of eager writers scribbling notes, hoping to absorb great wisdom from a few goddesses of the publishing world.  In case you didn’t make it, I scribbled a few notes myself.

SCBWI

Marilyn Brigham, editor from Marshall Cavendish, started the event.  Hardly a warm up act, her talk kept my pencil moving from the first utterance. I’ll highlight her tips, at least the ones I can read.

  • Use powerful words and sentence structure.
  • Repetition is bad. (You could feel the picture book authors gasping.  She later explained that she wasn’t talking about purposeful repetition.) Watch for words that keep creeping up in your language. (ie, though, just, so, really, etc.)
  • Along the same lines, watch for echoes like unfair and unfairness or phrases like “of course”, “I was like,” and “I couldn’t help but wonder.”
  • When fleshing out ideas for ideas for a story, mix it up and keep it fresh. Lots of stories or themes have been told over and over, but in a unique way.
  • Don’t overstate the message in the story.
  • Don’t use adult language in a children’s story.  Seems obvious, but she’s seen everything.
  • Don’t use out of date language.
  • Cliches – editors hate them – repeat – editors hate them.
  • Cut out the clutter – adverbs are mostly unnecessary.  Watch for too many adjectives, too.
  • Cut out unnecessary prepositions. “face up to the problem.”
  • Cut out words that are implied. “tall skyscraper.”
  • Use parallel sentence structure. “I came. I saw. I conquered.”
  • Use active voice. “The letter was mailed by Dad.” vs. “Dad mailed the letter.”
  • Look to the writers you admire.  Read. Read. Read.
  • Writing is HARD WORK!

Thanks, Marilyn, for all of those great tips.

As tough as it is to give up the money and the time to go to a conference, it is part of how you become a writer – a better writer, that is.  One who can write a book, package it, sell it, and get it into the hands of readers, many of whom are writers. Thanks to Edie Hemingway and the rest of the SCBWI MD/DE/WV organizing team for putting on a such great conference.

10 Great Blogs for Children’s Writers

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Here is a list of a few of my go-to blogs when I’m looking for fresh and interesting information, news, and tips for writing and blogging. If your looking for even more, check out the blogger’s blog roll and see who they like to follow.  Leave a comment and make some friends.  Who knows the path it may take?

In no particular order….

Writers First Aid Blog – From the Institute of Children’s Literature

Write4Kids! – Home of Children’s Book Insider

Jennifer Represents – Jennifer Laughran, Literary Agent.  Code name literaticat

SCBWI MD/DE/WV Regional Blog -Edie Hemingway and Laura Bowers, tag team bloggers

Writers and Illustrators – Kathy Temean’s Blog with NJ SCBWI info and more

Nathan Bransford – Literary agent turned author

Anita Nolan’s Blog – packed with good stuff

Guide to Literary Agents – Chuck Sambuchino, editor of the book by the same name

The Urban Muse – Susan Johnston, named Top 10 blogs for writers

Think Traffic – Increase traffic to your blog

Do you have some favorites?  Let me know.  I would love to check them out.

I’m not dead yet! My world without regret.

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I’m lying in bed beating back a cold I’ve had for days.  Being somewhat of an optimist, I think of the luxury that affords me.  Who is going to ask me to cook dinner or come to work and share all the joy I’m experiencing?  That’s right, no one.

Then it’s just me, alone with my mountain of tissues and gallon of orange juice.  What to do, what to do?

This week, I watched the movies Good Will Hunting and Field of Dreams, both real classics.  Since I never get to the movies, they could have come out last month for all I know.  Combine that with a memory as keen as my grandmother’s and even a movie I’ve seen before premiers each time I click the play button.

Both movies touch on the idea of following your dreams, your passion and not having any regrets.   No regrets.  It’s a worthy ideal.

Along those lines, I read a blog by Tribal Writer, Justine Musk about pushing yourself through to the other side of finding out who you are. Doing stuff you dream about can try a man’s (or woman’s) soul . If you dream about running a marathon but need a rest after walking from the parking lot to the front door of iHop, you may need Oprah and her cadre of trainers to get you there. But, you can get there.  Nobody said having no regrets was going to be easy.  Otherwise you would have done it already, right?

If I die tomorrow, I’ll only have one regret. Fortunately, I just have a cold.  I think I’ll have a few more days to work on that dream.  I’ll forge ahead and when I get there, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy the journey.

Speaking of not being dead yet, I’ll leave you with this….maybe it’s the next movie on my list.  At least I won’t regret not having laughed enough.

The Power of Words

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This weekend, I watched the movie Gandhi. Although I could expound on the geopolitical implications of his non-violent resistance in both South Africa and India.  I’ll focus instead on the impact of his words on his country and the world community.

Words have the power to express love or hate, make us laugh or cry, drive us toward injustice or inspire us to be more than we ever thought possible.  Gandhi’s words were so powerful that it caused a whole nation of people to rise up when voices were needed and stand down when violence was not.

Be the change you want to see in the world is among his most famous quotes.  It’s a statement so simple, yet drives a person into action and self-discovery.

So, how are you, as writers of mystery and fantasy, children’s stories, and poetry, using your words?  You have the power to shed the light on the darkest part of us or make us laugh at our own stupidity.  You have the power to put a mirror up and force us to look at our own flawed selves or tilt it just a little and invite us to see our best side.

What do the words you put on paper say about you?

Milk Out My Nose Part II

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Well, there isn’t really Milk Out My Nose Part I, but I posted yesterday about that very subject called Writing From Childhood Memories.  There are just a few more things from my childhood that are socially horrifying enough to mention.

My mom loves me.  Why she chose to tortured me to show it, I’m not sure.  First thing in the morning, she would run around the kitchen with a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil.  The smell was putrid; the taste was even worse.  My brother and I would take turns diverting her and hiding.  She was tenacious.  No Quisp or Quake (our favorite cereals) until you take it, she’d say. Eventually, she would crawl under the kitchen table and shove a spoonful in our clam shell tight mouths.

At noon, my next door neighbor often called across the fence and asked me to go swimming.  They had the nicest pool in the neighborhood. OK.  It was the only pool in the neighborhood.

“Mom, can I go swimming?”

“After lunch”

I would hurry to eat lunch, throw on my bathing suit, and grab a towel.

“Wait.  I need to put vinegar in your ears.”

Oh no.  Not the vinegar.  She grabbed the Acme red wine vinegar and proceeded to put a teaspoonful in each ear.  None of the other kids had to do it. It wasn’t required to go to that pool.  She just loved me enough to not let me get swimmers ear.  Great, thanks. I put on my $.99 flip flops and ran out the door.

“Wait an hour before you go in the pool so your food can digest.”

Oh brother.  So by 1 o’clock, I sit by the side of the pool watching my friends swim smelling like a pickled herring.  All I needed was some nose plugs made with limburger cheese and I would be set.

By the end of a long day of playing outside, my mom would make me get a bath.  That doesn’t sound so horrifying.  She would grab a handful of Dash laundry detergent, throw it in the tub with 2 inches of water and usher me in.  Bubbles?  Just swish you hands around.  There.  Look.  3.

I crawled in bed smelling like freshly laundered sheets and thankful that I was wash and wear.  No ironing required.

Did your mother traumatize you in similar loving ways?  Share your thoughts.  I’m always up for a laugh.

Post a Week Challenge

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I’m taking the WordPress’s Post a Week Challege 2011!  I’m inspired to write more and produce interesting and useful information for writers.  Hopefully, you’ll think so, too! I hope you’ll keep me motivated by replying to my posts and giving me feedback.  In return, I hope I’ll keep you motivated to write more in 2011.