Monthly Archives: September 2013

October Classes

I am teaching 2 new classes this October! I’ve made them easy to sign up for through a new meetup.com group called Stories and Stuff. If you live in Austin, you should join the group. It is going to be awesome. The classes I am teaching are:

Introduction to Writing Picture Books:

Fascinated by the children’s section of the library? Still find yourself agreeing with Alice’s thought that “what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations”? In this 4 week class we will jump down the rabbit hole of writing stories for the very young. Artists and illustrators are welcome, but no artistic skills are required, we’re just here for the words.

Week 1: List books

Never tried to write a picture book before? No problem! Week one is alphabet and list books, proving that everyone who knows 1-10 and their ABCs has a story inside them. We will work together on the difficult quandary of “X” and talk about themes and story cohesion– what makes a “good” alphabet book? There’s a lot more here than xylophones!

Week 2: Luck

In this class we will work to dissect the “luck” book and follow it with our own examples. In doing so, we will cover all the most important elements of story writing– for picture books as well as longer pieces. We will also cover pacing and the narrative importance of turning the page. Watch out, there’s a monster at the end of this class!

Week 3: Bedtimes

When do we read to children? During story hour– and bedtime. Week three is a discussion of the bedtime book, how to tell a story that gets us ready for bed– without putting the storyteller to sleep too!

Week 4: Surrealism

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a good picture book is worth reading a thousand times. For our final week, we’ll explore some of the bizarre worlds of classic picture books and answer the question “what if my strangest ideas were suddenly made real?”

Duration: 4 Weeks
Cost: $100
Dates: Saturdays 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26
Time: 3-5pm
Location: Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin TX 78751
Sign up through Meetup

Nothing but Prompts

Need to refill your creative juicebox? Always “wanted to write something” but don’t know what it is? Looking for that spark of an idea to get you going for this year’s NaNoWriMo? This four week class is designed to get you out of a creative rut and get you writing again. Tons of in-class writing activities all hand-selected from over two decades of creative writing classes– good for both beginner writers and battle-weary wordsmiths alike.

Week 1: What Would You Do?

What does your character want? How badly do they want it? And what won’t they do to get it? The student that brings in klondike bars for the rest of the class gets an extra gold star.

Week 2: Strange Juxtapositions and Arresting Images

Confusion can be a great motivator. We need the world to make sense. When it doesn’t, we’ll invent a reason that it does.

Week 3: Location

Setting isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind.

Week 4: That’s What She Said

When characters talk to each other, they sometimes say things that even the author didn’t know. Prepare to be surprised.

Duration: 4 Weeks
Cost: $100
Dates: Thursdays 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin TX 78751
Sign up through Meetup

Cat Is Out of the Bag

I am the new assistant for Bree Ogden over at D4EO Literary Agency. I’ve spent the weekend responding to queries, and now feel like a PROFESSIONAL dream crusher. So thankful to have Maria Vicente available for handholding and extra guidance!

Because of all of this work from Bree, I have been thinking a lot about the intersection between horror and paranormal. The recent spike in sparkling vampires and cuddly werewolves has moved a lot of the traditional supernatural horror characters into a category that contains basically no horror elements at all. So I wonder– can vampires even BE scary anymore? Or are we left with only zombies as the last remaining supernatural horror not tainted by a desire to love and understand their dark and mysterious ways? I guess there’s still nuclear monsters– Godzilla and friends– and their decedents, GMO monsters made from a gene-splicing Frankenstein. Even still, I am left feeling that the list of things that go bump in the night is quickly dwindling.

Meanwhile… I applied to work with Bree because of her involvement with Underneath the Juniper Tree magazine. If y’all are not reading this thing, you are very seriously missing out. And for the writerly types, the next round of submissions is due September 13th. (That’s a Friday. Friday the 13th. Don’t forget.) I don’t have anything to do with assisting on magazine duties, but I strongly (STRONGLY) suggest that you submit (and read) the next issue. Because it will be awesome.

Other cool haunted halloween news for writers:

Everyone get their name in for Pen & Muse’s Dark Carnival Writer and Illustrator Showcase. Do it. Do it. It is going to be awesome. There are so many good names on this thing, and so many fabulous topics, I can’t wait. Soon, maybe, I will start posting hints about my knife throwing story. If y’all are good. If not…