Tag Archives: Laurie Halse Anderson

Three Things Thursday

Hmmm. Today I’m feeling sorta happy. (That’s a change!) I got up earlier than normal and the weather was cool with a promise of maybe a little rain. Not winter rain. Summer rain!

I’ve been writing.

And reading.

And spending time with my girls.

My ex is getting remarried in a few days.

I was approached to do a fun writing job.

And I’m tutoring two terrific kids in writing.

I’m not teaching in the fall.

Plus I have serious writing goals planned for myself.

Which brings me to the novel I am working on. I think I’m about 40 pages from being done. This has been such a fun book to write.

So there.

We have a new month before us. What are YOUR plans?


Cheryl Van Eck

I gave up half a night’s sleep to read Laurie Halse Anderson’s new book, The Impossible Knife of Memory.
And it was totally worth it. The thing is, every time I pick up a new Laurie Halse Anderson book I think, “This is it. Nothing can ever top this book.” Then she goes and writes another one and proves me wrong.
She somehow manages to weave together voice, plot, and description effortlessly. Most writers have either great writing or great plots, but she manages both without even batting an eye.
Above all is her talent for voice. I don’t relate to her characters because they sound, think, or act like me. The opposite, actually. Too many characters fall into the trap of trying to be like horoscopes, vague enough to sound like they could belong to just about anyone. This works, to an extent. We all love to find a character that thinks like we do.
But her characters are different. They are true to themselves and no one else. They are alive. And while you read, you are them. You transform from your comfortable surroundings into someone broken, and you find the strength to save yourself.
Bottom line: Read it! Now!
Brenda Bensch
Pantser or Plotter ? ? ?
I’ve always considered myself a Pantser.  In fact, I’ve been fairly devoted to it.  But right now, with a book of 211 pages that isn’t quite finished, I’m reconsidering.  Having been lost in the Muddled Middles, as I am wont to be, I’m taking a look at the 211 pages and analyzing what on them.  And, more importantly, what’s not.  It’s actually pretty fascinating: I’ve found too much inaction, thinking, considering, dreaming, and not enough gripping moments.  I’ve found too much in one or another character’s head, and not enough interaction with other characters.  I’ve found some characters who came in too late, others who were too “present” at the wrong moments.
So, Pantsers, just because we don’t write an outline, draw a map, use 5,000 Post-Its to show all our carefully chosen stepping stones, doesn’t mean we can’t go back and analyze what we do have at (or toward) the end.  We know some of the elements needed for a rip-snortin’ story.  Take a careful, a thorough look at what we have.  Mine for gold.  Find the buried treasure, and be sure it’s there, even though it may need a little polishing up!


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No post last week.  I was traveling to Chicago to attend the annual NCTE Convention and the ALAN Workshop.  I just got back last night, and here’s what’s on my mind:

1.  Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner.

2.  The leaves that have buried my backyard.

3.  The ALAN Workshop:

a.  We heard from scores of BIG SHOT YA authors, including Utahns Jennifer Nielson, Kristen Chandler, James Dashner, Sara Zarr, Matt Kirby.  The headliners were MT Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, John Green, Sarah Dessen, Jay Asher, Chris Crutcher, Kenneth Oppel, Neal Schusterman, Jennifer Donnelly, and David Levithan.

b.  Great quotation:  “You can’t revise a blank page.”  Nora Roberts

c.  Great moment:  During her speech, Laurie Anderson said she wasn’t feeling well.  She sat down for a few moments–still speaking—to clear her head.  Then she had to stop and put her head between her knees.  Then she said she felt really dizzy and nauseous.  Then she laid down on the podium behind the lectern and people rushed up to help her.  She had a glass of water, propped her feet up on a chair, had a cool cloth for her head, and then RESUMED HER SPEECH while lying flat on the floor.  It was a classic Anderson speech filled with humor, pathos,and insight, and she delivered it FLAT ON HER BACK!  After the speech, EMTs came in, Laurie puked into a book box, and then they hauled her off to the hospital.  Yesterday morning they told us she’d had a bout of food poisoning.

d.  Great moment 2:  At the Candlewick dinner, I sat opposite Katherine Paterson!  There’s not a classier, smarter, kinder writer in the business.  After dinner, she asked ME to sign a copy of my new picture book for HER!  Then she sat there and read the book!

e.  Great moment 3:  HarperCollins hosted a dinner at Lou Malnati’s pizza joint uptown, and I scarfed down 4 gargantuan slices of deep-dish Chicago pizza, the best pizza I’ve ever had.

f.  Great moment 4:  Candlewick hosted a signing for me and my new book, and I signed and sold all the copies they had.

g.  Great moment 5:  MT Anderson’s erudite and funny speech on the future of publishing.

h.  Great moment 6:  Hearing that John Green has 1.1 million followers on Twitter.

i.  Great moment 7:   Watching the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award ceremony and seeing Utah author Kristen Chandler honored as a finalist for the award.

j.  Great moment 8:  Matt de la Pena’s story of how his gift of a novel to his father led his father to go back for a GED and then on to a college degree.

k.  Great moment 9:  Hearing Kenneth Oppel talk about how difficult it is to write action scenes.

l.  Great moment 10:  Receiving 40 or 50 brand-new YA books.

Western Throwing-Uppers, next year’s ALAN Workshop will be in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand on November 19-20.  If you want to hobnob with and hear from an army of great YA authors, plan to attend.  http://www.alan-ya.org/


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