This weekend wore me out more than classes. Halloween Party (I know it’s July. Don’t ask.) I was kind of disappointed in the costumes. I’d heard it was a big deal, and was expecting cool, kid’s lit themed costumes– and it was a let down. There were only 3-4 cool costumes, including my own last minute Harry Potter costume. Oh well.
Then a 4th of July potluck… where there wasn’t any hotdogs or hamburgers. Just salads and dessert. Kind of lame. And then I’d heard you could see the fireworks really well from a hill on campus… not so much. Fireworks also lame.
But both were late nights and both wore me out. And today I had to drag myself out of bed to class. Luckily I love this class.
In the early 1960s, two daughters deal with being abandoned by their mother who feels she must pursue her dream of a music career in Nashville before it’s too late.
Thoughts on the Book
This book was written by the woman who was supposed to teach the class. And we didn’t hold back when we were discussing it… because she wasn’t there. The biggest strength of the book, in my opinion, is the conflict with the mother. There are several other subplots, but the core of the book is the protagonist, Garnet, learning to deal with the fact that her mother is not a good mother. This is pretty tough subject matter that I haven’t seen handled frequently in Children’s Lit.
Our criticism was multifaceted. My biggest criticism was that the climax came too early in the novel. Garnet goes to Nashville to confront her mother and learns just how much her mother has been lying and cheating. But after this last big moment with the mother, there is still another 100 pages in the book! Other criticisms were that there was way too much description and unnecessary detail as well as too many subplots without strong meaning. The book didn’t feel as well knit together as some of the others that we’ve read.
However, if for some reason, I had someone looking for a book with a strong mother/daughter conflict, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. That part of the book was done very well.
We had a discussion in class today where we began by going around the table sharing our dreams about writing. Here’s what I said:
“I read a lot of author’s blogs online, and see that they spend a lot of time traveling and talking about their books, whether at schools, conferences, or book events. I would love to be successful enough at writing that I could quit teaching, but travel the country talking to kids about my books and just reading in general.”
No one else mentioned the traveling aspect or talking to kids about books. But that is the kind of interaction I want to have, and that will be my test that I’ve made it in the publishing industry. If I can draw a crowd–I’ve made it!
Our teacher then went on and shared her own experiences in the publishing industry, which are dream-like and not realistic at all. A friend sent in her manuscript to a publishing house, who forwarded it to an editor who handled that kind of material, who called from New York City, asked my teacher to come up in the next few days to chat, and when she got to NYC they told her they were going to publish her book. A fairy tale, correct? It doesn’t normally work that way.
She went on to explain about query letters, agents, self-publishing, etc. Most of which I knew because I’ve already done a lot of reading up/research on the industry. It surprises me that so many of my peers haven’t done that.
Two big resources where I’ve learned about the publishing industry are:
#2 = the blogs of authors I enjoy.
Pretty much every author has some sort of website, and many of them keep daily blogs. My two favorites are Lois Lowry and Maggie Stiefvater. (Maggie has lots of good writer tips/advice and she’s adorable.) But I have over 20 authors bookmarked in their own folder, and when I’m having a lazy-stay-in-bed-until-noon-with-my-laptop kind of morning, I’ll often go through author websites/blogs for a few hours like I’m reading the newspaper. I highly recommend any aspiring author do the same.
In Class Writing Exercise
Inspired by today’s book discussion, we had to write a scene where our main character is disappointed or betrayed by someone. This was perfect for the story I’m working on! I had no trouble with this prompt and easily scribbled out three pages in half an hour.
Next class, we are going to have to write a scene where the setting has a prominent role in the conflict. That one I’ll have to think about, but I already have some ideas.
Ahhhh! Such a long post! Gotta go do work!