Career Expo

Once again, this past Wednesday, I was a “storyteller” at Mankato’s Career Expo at the Civic Center for area high school freshmen and sophomores.

The event includes rooms of “Storytellers” who sit at tables. The students “speed date” around the tables, finding out about the various storytellers’ journeys to their current careers.

I talked about becoming a writer. Of course, I had spent over three hours preparing a 9-minute spiel about what it takes to be a writer. That went out the window with the first two groups, NONE of whom had the slightest interest in becoming a writer. So I just told my story about learning to follow my own passion instead of doing everything I was told to do to be “good” and to succeed.

As far as I could tell, out of the dozens of students I saw, perhaps three were interested in writing. When I expanded the concept to music and visual art, I’m sure there were at least a dozen.

An amazing number of sophomores want to do construction or childcare as careers. I had a couple determined to be surgeons or family physicians, and quite a few future computer programmers or engineers. One future video game developer. (I was surprised that it was only one, but more power to that one girl who said it). I wonder how many studies have been done about how much perception of career changes between age fourteen and twenty-one.

In the long run, it was lots of fun, and I had some good laughs with most of the groups. The poor first group of two didn’t get much out of it, I’m sure, because they were self-conscious and not willing to pretend to be interested. After I warmed up, however, it was a good experience, and I think–at least I hope–that everybody got at least some tiny spark of info from our ten minutes together.

Lies about being a writer:

Being an author makes you famous.

Being an author makes you rich.

Truth:

You have to do it because you love it so much, you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Therefore:

Follow your passion, even if it’s only for your own satisfaction in life.

 

Slider’s Son! And is anyone else sick of paranormal…?

Slider’s Son will be published September 2017.is

I wish my agent George Nicholson were alive to see this happen. He “loved” this manuscript when he read it, and that meant the world to me since he never used that term with my other novels, although he certainly championed them.

I’m getting my ducks in a row–wait, no, I’m not getting them in a row yet, but I’m herding them toward rows–for publication in ten months. That means setting up some book events and making myself available for young writers’ conferences and book fairs, libraries, schools, and, and, and…and it means lots of work, which is exciting work and fun work. I love doing book events.

However, it also means lots of social media time and online promotion. THAT I’m not such a big fan of. But I’ll do it. I’m delighted that North Star Press promotes its own authors’ events. That gives me great hope. I’m excited to publish this book with them.

The BEST news right now is that I found out last week that I will be receiving a Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Grant (PLRAG) Mid-Career Artist Grant to help promote this book!  I’m excited. And GRATEFUL!

Okay, besides the excitement,  I sat down to write here because I just followed a thread of a YA book promotional publicity group, thinking ahead to that social media aspect of publication. EVERY, and I mean EVERY book in the top thread was paranormal romance, time travel, or dystopian. A few dozen books down, I found one realistic-fiction romance book. Is anybody else sick of paranormal romance and dystopia? I really do love historical fiction. That’s what I love to read, and that’s why I wanted to write Slider’s Son, based on true stories, but set in the 1930s. I’m following my own passion, and it’s not the trend right now, but that’s okay!

Okay, that’s my vent for the night. In spite of the vent, I really am EXCITED to have Slider’s Son out in the world!

Slider’s Son to be published in 2017!

Slider’s Son to be published in 2017!  North Star Press!

A murder! Grant O’Grady and his buddies smell something while playing baseball…It’s Big Joe’s body hidden in Grant’s best friend’s basement… Who? How? Why? The story unfolds…

Set in the late 1930s in North Dakota, Slider’s Son is the story of a boy named Grant who wants nothing more than to be a major league pitcher. Grant and his sheriff father discover Big Joe’s murder, and the story that unravels, leading up to the murder, causes all sorts of problems.

Grant and his buddies like to take a few risks. They sneak coal from the coal train passing through town to help heat their families’ homes during the Great Depression. Will they get caught? Or hurt?  One night, they climb the water tower for a thrill. Frank slips…and dangles. Another risky escapade could lead to crushing Grant’s dream of being a pitcher, forever. And who killed Big Joe, after all? Along the way, Grant has to help fight the prejudice of the 1930s toward his best friend (and catcher) who is half Mandan Indian.

This book has been done for a a couple years. It’s the first book I’ve written that my former agent, George Nicholson (RIP, my friend), said he loved.  At the time, George asked me to get some Native people’s endorsement that the book isn’t offensive in the world of Native Literature for young readers. I don’t think we’ll have a problem. I’m not trying to usurp anybody’s voice. I’m not pretending that I know how to write from a Native perspective. I just have a character whose best friend happens to be Native.

In the process of responding to my agent’s request, the Mandan Historic Village in Mitchell, SD, asked if they could keep a manuscript in their archives! YayI guess that’s a stamp of approval.

Grant’s idol is the late great “Rapid Robert” the “Heater from Van Meter” Bob Feller. The Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter Iowa asked me to come do a book event there. I look forward to that day!

FINALLY, this book will be out in the world in 2017, thanks to North Star Press! WhooHOO!! I’ll keep posting as I have more information.

Deep Valley Book Festival

Deep Valley Book Festival–Betsy-Tacy Society Calendar of Events.

The Deep Valley Homecoming is coming up at the end of June. Author Melissa Wiley (whom I met at ALA in San Diego a couple years ago) will be a featured speaker. This will be fun. Check the above calendar. Book Festival/Book Fair is Sunday at Sibley Park. I’ll be selling Chasing AllieCat, Beauty Missing, Hair Hissing: Medusa Tells All, and Girl Meets Boy Because There are Two Sides to Every Story.

BTS_DeepValleyBookFestivalPRESS

 

The Midwife’s Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife’s Apprentice

I read this Newbery winner, too, though it wasn’t on my Sabbatical reading list. My bucket list for life includes reading every Newbery winner since 1922 when the award was founded, so this year has moved me well along that goal.
I liked this book a lot. A LOT, actually. I’d give it four out of five stars. If it hadn’t been a Newbery, I probably would have given it five stars.  I guess I have such HIGH expectations for a Newbery winner that anything less than beyond spectacular, it doesn’t thrill me as much. This one was spectacular, but comparable, I guess, to the also spectacular but not beyond spectacular Cross of Lead. GREAT details about the Middle ages here. WONDERFUL character–the young girl whom we love and root for without a speck of hesitation–and good conflict. What the character wants is obvious immediately and that need and desire only gets more fervent as time goes on. She grows immensely both in confidence and in abilities, and she earns the satisfaction at the end of the book.  So yes, I loved this book.
Still, it’s not my favorite, and probably not one I’ll read over and over, but definitely recommendable.
Here’s something I DO NOT UNDERSTAND: The number of Newbery winners that are historical fiction is quite high. The proportion, is actually astonishing since agents are afraid to take on historical fiction. I find it very weird indeed.  (10 of the last 15 winners are historical, if you count the 1960s as historical, which I believe we have to since The Viet Nam War is now history).
Can anyone help me with that issue?

Beware the Ides of March and unrelated–Marguerite Henry

Can’t pass this day without thinking about Rome and Julius Caesar. Greek Mythology  and Roman lore are two of the staples of my Intro to Humanities Class at South Central College.

On a different note, Nikki and I took Alec to the Greenville Library yesterday. There is a terrific children’s wing. We perused books, picked a bagful for Alec, and I came across this nostalgic section:

When I was in grade school, I read every book I could find that Marguerite Henry wrote.  My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, made us tell the class what we wanted to be when we grew up (Smile), and who would to teach us how to do it. I said I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to learn from Marguerite Henry.

I got to hear Marguerite Henry read once at the University of Minnesota–she was the very first published writer I ever saw do a public reading–but I was too shy (believe it or not) to go  up and tell her she was my idol. I wish I could still tell her. Instead, I’ll try to do her legacy justice.

Thank you, Marguerite Henry, for all your wonderful stories.

Another snow day….or rather another snowy day

Photo: My big black dog.
Freya carries in a blanket of snow. I try to grab her with a big towel before she shakes.

Writing this morning before school. Going to try to hop on the trainer for a bit, too.

Rafi and Maddie, the characters in the novel I’m working on, have me hooked and all I want to do is write, but then comes a little thing like school.
 
Rafi is a Muslim and Maddie has grown up in a conservative Christian home. They are both fighting the frac-sand minds, and they fall in love. They’re smart, so of course they talk about their religions. I’m worried about too much “talkiness” sometimes, but I guess I will have to read the whole thing aloud and see. It’s sort of pouring onto the page.
All I want to do is write. I already said that.

Yes, this is the novel where both kids go to St. Peter High School. 

South Central Service Cooperative Young Writers’ Conference

Yesterday (March 13), I presented at the SCSC Young Writers’ Conference for 7-9th graders. I did the keynote opening program about “From Here to There by Way of the Zoo,” subtitled, “Prairie-Dogging Your Way to a Story,” using animal metaphors to talk about patterns of writing to completion, and how we can use odd things we find in everyday life to weave together a coherent whole story. I think it went well–at least the auditorium full of junior high students was attentive the whole time.

Somebody threw up, but otherwise it went smoothly. 🙂  At leas I had fun. That should count for something, right?

Then I did three sessions on creating a character out of thin air, using an exercise I do in Creative Writing class. Each student makes up a story element (character, setting, problem, twist), puts it in the appropriate bucket, and then draws an element from each bucket. Weaving these different elements together is always the challenge, but can make for some delightful storylines.  It was fun, and nearly every single student in each session had a great start on a story by the time they left the class.

I did meet a lot of wonderful young teens, many of whom are excellent writers!

Good week

Gearing up for some book events in July. New Ulm Public Library has a cool website. I’m there on July 15.

This is my birthday week, so on my birthday yesterday, I rode 55 miles — Eeek. That’s a mile for every year. Muddy, wet, rainy, windy, puddles, grit, but I did it.

Wrote all morning, then rode, then met my writing group for a birthday party/goodbye party for dear friend Jann who is moving to Fargo-Moorhead this weekend. Then Tom took me out. What a great birthday.
Now: back to writing.