Coming out of Hibernation

18 03 2016

polar bear

What did you do on the long winter weekends? Besides hibernating to meet deadlines, I’ve also been spending time on writers’ retreats.

The first one occurred during the worst week of winter. I was anticipating a lovely warm cruise to Mexico when the car got stuck in the ice in the driveway, and airports all over the east coast shut down. I worried I might not make it to Florida before the cruise ship left. My own cancelled and delayed flights left me wondering if I’d make it. I arrived about six hours later than I’d planned, but in time to spend a night in a lovely FL hotel.

FL hotel

But delays weren’t the only thing I needed to worry about. Nothing like trying to board a ship with an expired passport. My new passport was safely locked up at home hundreds of miles away. After hours of frustration, we managed to get a copy of my birth certificate faxed a short while before the ship left port.
ship

So we were off to the Caymans and Cozumel with a group of authors, editors and agents aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Some great pics of the fun and “work” we did can be found at the Seymour Agency website (scroll to bottom of page). Oh, wait, are most of those pictures of us eating? Believe me, we really did work, attend sessions, and pitch books. I returned with several editor requests for manuscripts and two more agents at the Seymour agency who will rep my work, so it was time well spent.

We did find time for fun and touring. I spent a day swimming with sea turtles and seeing babies to adults, touring small towns, and visiting Chichen Itza. My lovely editor gave me an additional week to finish my manuscript so I could enjoy the sightseeing and socializing.

IMG_1200

I returned home to warmer weather than when I left, but holed up in the house to finish that manuscript. Thanks to some wonderful critique partners, who edited while I wrote, I made the deadline.

After all that writing, I needed another break. So it was off to the North Carolina beach with a different group of authors. The weather was nice enough on Topsail Island for walks along the shore, picking up shells and sea glass, and sitting on my bedroom balcony to write and enjoy the view. Lots of craft sessions and fellowship filled the time between writing and meals. Hmm…are we eating again?

Topsail

The following weekend I headed to the lovely Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. Again, lots of great food and company, but time to work too. We created journals with pictures and notes about our book’s setting and details. As I researched, I stumbled across a valuable resource for my historical novel. I’m looking forward to delving into it further. I left the retreat refreshed and eager to get back to writing.
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I have some more hibernating to do before I attend one more retreat in April — this time an illustrators’ retreat. And then in May and June, I come out of my cave completely to attend a whirlwind of events for my book launch. So the next few weeks will be a mix of writing and planning.

As writers we often need to hibernate to get work done, but we should also plan to come out of our caves from time to time. And even if you’re not a writer, do you hunker down in winter and spend a lot time indoors? What do you do after an extended period of hibernation? Do you socialize or prefer quieter activities? And if you’re a writer, what are you favorite writers’ retreats?

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Prepare for an Epidemic…

22 05 2014
Yvonne Ventresca Author

Yvonne Ventresca

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Yvonne Ventresca and discovering that we both wrote nonfiction books on singers for Lucent Books. Mine was about Rihanna; hers was on Avril Lavigne. But that wasn’t the only similarity. We both had YA fiction titles debuting in May.  So what better way to celebrate our joint book birthdays than hosting her on my blog.

Yvonne’s latest release, Pandemic, has been called “riveting and terrifyingly real” on Goodreads.

Welcome, Yvonne! It’s great to have you here today. I’m so glad you were willing to answer some questions for our readers.

When did you start writing?

I have old poems from around sixth and seventh grade. I was always an avid reader, and wanting to work with words seemed like a natural extension of that. I took my first formal creative writing classes in college.

Are there any fond memories you’d like to share that relate to your writing?

Yvonne at her Hofstra graduation

Yvonne at her Hofstra graduation

My dad worked during the day and received his MBA by attending Hofstra University (Long Island, NY) at night. One Saturday when he needed to research an assignment, he took me to the university library. I couldn’t believe how many books there were compared to our small local library! I managed to amuse myself for hours while he finished his work. I later attended Hofstra as an undergraduate and received a Bachelor of Arts in both English and computer science.

In school, what was one of your worst moments?

Not exactly a moment, but my lowest grade of all my college courses was in a basic freshman English. Luckily, the professor wasn’t successful in discouraging me from studying literature and writing.

What hobbies and interests do you have?

I love genealogy and tracing my family’s history. The research is fascinating and I’ve learned some great family stories.

Yvonne's officeI see from this picture of your office that you have old family photos on the wall. How awesome. I love family history and genealogy too.

What made you write Pandemic?

I’ve always been fascinated with disaster and survival stories. For example, I loved Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I wanted to create a story where the main character is in a difficult place at the onset, even before the disease strikes, so that she must find a way to heal and become stronger during the crisis.

Can you share a brief blurb about Pandemic?

In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder’s sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. After her parents are called away on business, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With her worst fears realized, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.Pandemic cover

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? If you’d like to buy a copy of Pandemic, it’s available here:

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Powells
Book Depository
Chapters

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a psychological thrill about a teen girl who fears she is either being haunted or losing her mind.

And just for fun…

What super power do you wish you had?

I wish I needed less sleep and less caffeine – a super-energy super power!

That sounds useful. 🙂

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Throughout my life, I’ve had five dogs, one cat, three parakeets, two hamsters, numerous guppies, and a dwarf rabbit who lived in my college dorm room for a year.

Yvonne at age eight with her pet parakeet

Yvonne at age eight with her pet parakeet

Where can readers find out more about you?

Visit Yvonne at her:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Pinterest

Even better, you can meet Yvonne in person at the following venues:

June 1, 2014, Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Somerville Street Festival
Book signing and sale
Somerville, NJ

June 3, 2014, Tuesday
NJ Library Association Annual Conference
Atlantic City, NJ

June 3, 2014, Tuesday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Otto Bruyns Public Library
Author talk and book signing
Northfield, NJ

June 26, 2014, Thursday from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Scotch Plains Public Library
Author talk and book signing
Scotch Plains, NJ

June 28 and June 29, 2014, Saturday and Sunday
New Jersey SCBWI 2014 Conference, Faculty
Workshop: What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Novel
Princeton, NJ

September 20, 2014, Saturday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Chapter by Chapter BookRave
Book Signing and YA Bowling Party
Larchmont, NY

October 11, 2014, Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Collingswood Book Festival
Collingswood, NJ

And here’s a brief bio about Yvonne:

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code. Yvonne is the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, available in May from Sky Pony Press. Yvonne’s other writing credits include two nonfiction books for kids: Avril Lavigne (a biography of the singer) and Publishing (about careers in the field).





Keep Going in the Face of Rejection

23 05 2013

NOI’ve watched so many writer friends struggling with rejections lately, and I feel their discouragement and pain. It’s hard to pick yourself up and keep going when you’re continually hearing No, No, No, or worse yet, no feedback at all.

When I came across this comment on Margie Lawson’s site, I thought it was worth sharing:

“I made a commitment to myself that no matter what happened with my writing life, I would be okay. I think we need to remind ourselves that it’s the trying that matters most. That shows courage and faith. We are at our very best when we try, so I would have been darned proud of myself whether or not I got published.”  ~Kieran Kramer

If we can adopt an attitude like this, we’ll keep pursuing our craft, keep putting words down on paper, keep remembering our dream. Not our dream of being published, but our dream of being writers, of expressing ourselves, of crafting new worlds, of making sense out of life.





Angel in the Mist

26 01 2012
Angel in the Mist

Photo Credit: Zsolt Zatrok

Just got word that my short story “Angel in the Mist” will be published in the charity anthology A Community of Writers (Sunbury Press, 2012). Even cooler: All my CPs will also have stories in the book. Joint booksignings, here we come.

Royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, PA.

 

What if you sacrificed your life so others could live? A different kind of ghost story.





Inspiration

20 07 2011

Somehow my vacations always seem to end up as working vacations. My husband could never understand why I didn’t consider camping a vacation. For some reason, cooking for all seven of us over an open fire or on a small cookstove while keeping an eye on smallfry who each ran in different directions, washing dishes under a pump, and spending the night on a slowly deflating air mattresses while being kicked in the ribs, head, and stomach by various sleeping offspring, never topped my list of summer fun. I usually went home more tired than rested, not to mention bug-bitten, sunburned, and sore.

So this summer I planned a different type of working vacation. I agreed to help teach writing sessions at an out-of-state university. I was expecting to come home exhausted and drained. Instead, I came back excited, energized, and eager to dive into my own creative work.

It probably helped that my destination was the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Findlay University holds a fabulous weeklong conference featuring picture book authors and illustrators. The University is home to the famous Mazza Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of original picture book art.  From the early works of Randolph Caldecott to many of the latest award-winning picture book artists, Mazza has it all. Watercolors, oils, prints, collage, pen and ink, pastels, and every medium in between. Each piece of art hangs above a shelf with the picture book it’s printed in. For anyone who loves picture books the way I do, it’s an inspiration. So much so, that someday I hope to see my own work hanging on their walls.

So I spent a week co-teaching breakout sessions in between listening to famous illustrators give visual presentations on their artistic processes and tell about their lives. Even more fun was being around an audience of teachers, librarians, writers, and art lovers who enjoy reading picture books even when there isn’t a toddler within hearing distance. I felt right at home.





Ship Ahoy!

21 06 2011

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but a five-book contract with deadlines a month apart has been grueling.

But I just received word that Pirates 
Through the Ages  is on the way. Yay!! Can’t wait to see how it looks. The editor said it turned out terrific, so I’m excited about holding it in my own two hands. Here’s a mock up of the cover.

Looking back, I wondered while I was immersed in it if I’d manage to get it done by the deadline, but I did. Now I’m wondering the same about my latest assignment. What is it about writers that they’ll put themselves under this much pressure and agree to practically impossible deadlines, then slog through long hours day after day to produce a book? What is it about this profession that’s so compelling? It’s obviously not the money. As most writers discover, this isn’t a lucrative profession. So what do we get besides the pleasure and excitement of holding a book in our hands?





Making Time for Writing

18 05 2011

I stumbled on a new blog today that has some great tips for writers. Called Literary Crush, it’s by a fellow Vermont College (can’t help plugging my alma mater) grad, Bethany Dellinger.

I particularly enjoyed her Guiding Principles. If you’re struggling to find time to write each day, you’ll want to check these out.