Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Preparing for Vermont College of Fine Arts

My first residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts is drawing closer and I'm getting more excited and nervous!  Last Friday, in addition to my bill (which is scary in and of itself), I received information about...dun dun dun...the writing workshop.  Commence nail biting.

I'm to submit fifteen to twenty pages of my work in progress by 3 PM on Friday, June 1st.  I have most of it done already, but it needs major overhaul before it's ready for people's eyes.  That's the scariest part of the MFA program for me, the idea that people actually have to, you know, look at my work.  It makes me feel naked.

An editor friend offered to look at some of my work, but I demurred, mainly because we work together.  It's even more uncomfortable if you work with someone and they read you work and hate it.  Then they have to be nice about their hatred since you see them often.  And then I become the idiot who doesn't know how bad she writes.  

Well, nosiree.

It's too awkward.  I wouldn't want to put that kind of pressure on anyone.  I know about the pity reads they provide, as I've done a few myself (I won't even mention the ones I did for agents who promised to read their friends of friends' work--Yep, that detailed yet nice rejection came from me!).

So if any of my editor friends are reading this--You are too cool to abuse, so I vow to never to come up to you and ask you to read my work.  You have plenty of bad reading as it is, so why would I do that to you?

Agents are another story. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Children's Book Nostalgia

I've worked on the adult side of publishing and as much as I enjoyed it, it doesn't compare to the love I have for children's books.  I now work with books ranging from picture books to young adult, and I couldn't be happier.

I read adult books (though not as much as I used to, living in kiddie land), but I have a soft spot for children's books that I don't have for their older counterparts.  There are wonderful and affecting adult books (like Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, which is one of my favorite books of all time), but it's my contention that children's books touch us in a way adult ones don't.  As children, we read children's books and they become part of our identity in a special way.  We grow up with them and even if we look back at some of them now and shake our heads, we can't help but acknowledge the indelible impression they've left on us.

As a kid, I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley High series.  I even subscribed to their book mailing and looked forward to getting a new book each month.  Let's not get started with the TV series it spawned, which I watched each Saturday (When I was 15, as a matter of fact, in Manhattan I ran into one of the actors who played Todd Wilkins!).  I cried when I missed an episode once, a fact that my sister refuses to let me live down.  Flipping through this series now, I realize how terribly soap opera-esque they were, but I still love 'em, flaws and all.

I was also hooked on teen horror and paranormals--Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Annette Curtis-Klause, Richie Tankersley-Cusick, Lael Littke--I could go on and on, so I'll stop there.  I'd amassed so many books that I had to give most of them away at some point.  Now, thanks to my love-hate relationship with Amazon, I've been able to locate and purchase some the out-of-print books  once owned and loved.

Whenever I buy the used books, I make sure they have the original covers, since that's what makes them extra special to me.  Repackaged covers are great for drawing in new generations of readers. Those old school covers spark memories that new shiny ones just don't.  I see a cover I recognize from childhood and I just get goosebumps.

Speaking of which, I was a Goosebumps fan.  (See?  Most things just remind me of books!  And, yes, I also watched the TV series.)

Hmmm...since it appears I've written a love letter to Francine Pascal and R.L. Stine, let's throw in some Judy Blume love.

What about you?  Do you have any children's books that bring back memories?