May 12th, 2010

Tips to get kids reading

The Guardian interviewed publishing expert Michael Norris about a new study showing that, despite the best intentions, it is well-meaning mothers and fathers who often stop their sons and daughters from picking up the reading habit. “First, he argues, reading should never be described with "work words" which make it seem like a chore. Too many families, Norris suggests, have fallen into the trap of stereotyping reading as a "good" activity and digital or online game playing as "bad". Instead, it is important to let reading become associated with pleasure and achievement, just as game playing is.”

Read more about what he had to say here.

Teen is kind of bored by reading - even Hunger Games failed to move her. She reads well and has a great vocabulary, but it doesn't draw her in. Any tips? Because I feel like I'm mandating it, kind of like we have some minimum standards around exercise and a healthy diet.

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Girl Stolen

I've been there

I was thinking this morning about my new book coming out this fall, Girl, Stolen.

I've got a really good feeling about this book. Sometimes, though, I worry about sharing good news, because I know a lot of people reading this blog are still waiting for their good news, wondering if it will ever come.

I have been there, in all its incarnations, including after I was published (a point which a lot of people thinks means you have made it and will keep on making it).
- I went through over a hundred rejections before I got an agent (with my second book).
- That agent submitted not one, but two books that never saw the light of day.
- I have been dropped by a publisher (while on book tour for a series, which resulted in my having the "deer in the headlights" look whenever anyone cheerfully asked me, "So, what's next?")
- I have written four books over the last 13 years that did not get picked up (even though I was already a published author) (writing for an already saturated market is one problem, and writing books that don't quite fit any category is another problem).
- I have been with a house that did little more than publish the book.
- I have had a book I loved, a book I thought was one of the best things I had written, rejected rather dismissively by one of my editors.

And I've had a lot of great things happen in the last 13 years as well. And I'm still being published, despite a couple of times (one lasted a couple of years) when I wondered if it was over. In fact, I now have contracts for seven more books.

I think the trick is:
- to take joy in the writing.
- to never give up.
- to do what you can to learn and grow. (I still check out writing books from the library, for example.)

And if you do those things, you will eventually get good news.

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A repost from Oct. 6 2006: Better enjoy your time on the ice

This is related to something I posted earlier today. I originally posted it in October, 2006.
Yesterday at lunch, I walked over to the Lloyd Center Mall, which has an ice rink in the middle of it. As usual, one of the ice skaters, a nicely dressed man of about 30, stood out. Not because he was particularly talented (although he's not half bad, and he's certainly waaaay better than I will ever be). It's because he skates with a huge smile on his face. And whenever he lands a jump or sometimes just for skating backward he'll raise his hands for imaginary applause and nod, grinning. Sometimes he pumps his fists. You can practically hear the waves of clapping.

If you haven't seen him before, it's kind of startling. How often do we see such naked joy and pride? You'll see shoppers stare at him with their heads tilted to one side, trying to figure him out. They might look around the edges of the rink for the audience he is surely playing to. But it's not there.

And then you get it. If he ever did compete, it would be in Special Olympics.

But yesterday when I saw him, I thought, that's what I need to be like. My writing has been going really well lately. And the writing is the only thing I can control (and sometimes I can't even control that, especially if my life is too full). How editors react to it and whether someone will buy it is out of my control. Even how my agent will react isn't a given, although I know she will work with me on a rewrite if she doesn't like it. I can't control reviews, sales, award nominations (or the lack of them), events, etc. etc. Etc.

But I need to give myself permission to take joy and pride in what I do. It starts by writing what I want to spend months and months with, not what I think the market will buy. It continues with telling myself a story that is going to involve all my emotions. One that when I get up from the keyboard will make me grin. And then I'll bow my head and hear the imaginary applause.

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