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Breaking rules

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Karen L. Day and I had a great visit at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library in Monroe, Connecticut today. We received a warm welcome and had some interesting questions from the audience.

One of my favorites was from a mother: whenever her daughter writes an essay for her teacher, it comes back with lots of notes for corrections. Her daughter always corrects as directed, but when can or should she question those directions?

The answer Karen and I gave was twofold.

First, the teacher is teaching the rules of writing. A writer will break those rules, but on purpose, for a purpose — to create something deliberate with the piece. But before a writer can break those rules s/he has to know them. At school, the teacher’s job is to make sure a student learns the rules — which is what all those corrections are about.

A professional writer also gets corrections and directions from editors. Writers will correct as directed, but they will also build what Karen called “the internal editor.” The job of the internal editor is to have a clear sense of how the writer wants the writing to sound (the “voice” of the story). And sometimes that internal editor will trump the editor’s call.

So if you’re a kid, how do you build this internal editor?

Read, a whole lot, to see what kind of writing you like. Then write, a whole lot, and experiment with breaking those rules. But maybe not at school. ‘Cause you still have to learn the rules.…

Alumni news

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Fellow Class of 2k7 member Eric Luper emailed me the other day. He had read a blurb about No Castles Here in the recent on-line Rutgers Alumni newsletter in their “Off the Shelf” column. I liked the blurb, but what tickled me was finding out that we are both alumni of Rutgers College. And, as it turns out, so is 2k7er Sarah Aronson!

Go Rutgers!…

Class awards and honors

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

The season is upon us. The American Library Association has announced one award and honor after another. I am so proud of the Class of 2k7–we appear on so many lists!

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Sundee Frazier won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for Brendan Buckley’s Universe & Everything In It (Delacorte).

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G. Neri made the 2007 list for Notable Children’s Books with his Chess Rumble, illustrated by by Jesse Joshua Watson (Lee & Low).

Then three members of the Class (yes three!) were chosen as the 2007 Best Books for Young Adults:

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Jay Asher‘s Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin Group USA/Razorbill);

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Ann Dee Ellis‘s This Is What I Did (Little, Brown); and

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Sara Zarr‘s Story of a Girl (Little, Brown) which was also a finalist for the National Book Awards!

Congratulations all!

You go, Class of 2k7!!!…

 

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