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Janet Lee Carey Interviewed by the Mad Queen

rsz_1in_the_time_of_dragon_moon_high_res_coverI loved IN THE TIME OF DRAGON MOON! And not just because I was around as it was being born. Reading the finished book (which I stayed up all night to do), was a completely different experience from hearing tantalizing bits of the manuscript during the three years Janet was writing. I loved living in the pages of this book with the spirited Uma, and Jackrun, the boy who breathes fire and has dragon in his blood.

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to catch a few minutes with Queen Adela, as she interviewed the “bard,” Janet Lee Carey.

 

About the Book:
Beware the dark moon time when love and murder intertwine
          All Uma wants is to become a healer like her father and be accepted by her tribe. But when the mad queen abducts her and takes her north, Uma’s told she must use her healing skills to cure the infertile queen by Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake. Uma soon learns the queen isn’t the only danger she’s up against. A hidden killer out for royal blood slays the royal heir. The murder is made to look like an accident, but Uma, and the king’s nephew Jackrun, sense the darker truth. Together, they must use their combined powers to outwit a secret plot to overthrow the Pendragon throne. But are they strong enough to overcome a murderer aided by prophecy and cloaked in magic?

~In the Time of Dragon Moon is a story of courage and romance that readers will not soon forget.~ VOYA

WORLD-BUILDING WORKSHOP WITH JANET LEE CAREY “From Elves to Aliens”

Saturday, May 23, 1-3, University Bookstore, Bellevue

Do you write fantasy or sci-fi or create worlds for games? Create the natural setting from the ground up with believable ecosystems and interdependent life forms. Add societies with interesting political, religious, and economic systems. Make a world vivifies your unique story ideas. It’s a demanding process, but ask the right questions, and all the elements from natural setting to social structures combine to create the inevitable conflicts and tensions each story demands. Come ready to discuss ideas and do a fun interactive world-building activity.

Sign up at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1360728 Price includes workshop, refreshments, handouts and a signed copy of In the Time of the Dragon Moon or other works by Janet Lee Carey.

Book Trailer:

Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets in the wind. When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a mermaid (this never happened).She also dreamed of becoming a published writer (this did happen after many years of rejection). She is now an award-winning author of nine novels for children and teens. Her Wilde Island Chronicles are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She won the 2005 Mark Twain Award and was finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons. She writes daily with her imperious cat, Uke, seated on her lap. Uke is jealous of the keyboard. If Janet truly understood her place in the world, she would reserve her fingers for the sole purpose of scratching behind Uke’s ear, but humans are very hard to train.

Visit her website here

Thanks again to Janet Lee Carey for appearing. For other stops on the Dragon Moon blog tour please click here.

In a Writing Rut? Steal from Another Author (but not really.)

I don’t know about you, but after years of writing, I notice that I get into a stylistic rut. As I have mentioned before on this blog, the solution is theft. Today I’m going to steal from author Janet Lee Carey, creator of Dragon’s Keep, The Beast of Noor, Dragonswood and many other books. This particular bit of larceny is from The Beast of Noor.

I’ve broken part of a scene down into its elements: dialogue, setting detail, internal monologue, etc. In this scene, Hanna, who is a dreamwalker, confronts her brother Miles, who used his secret shapeshifting ability to save her from the supernatural beast known as the Shriker.

Hanna lunged forward and pushed him on the chest. (character action) “Don’t!” she cried. “Don’t lie about it anymore! I saw you leap from the high branch, so I thought you’d die, but you didn’t. You…flew.” (dialogue)

Miles sucked in a startled breath and held it. (character action)

“You changed. Your body changed. I saw it happen. And you saved me from the Shriker.” (dialogue) Hanna looked up at him not so much with anger now as wonder. (character action.) He’d seen that look before when she’d knelt before the altar in the kirk. (internal monologue) It gave him a strange, tingling feeling to be so admired. (sensory detail) But he saw fear in her eyes as well (character detail), and he didn’t like that so much. (internal monologue)

High above a golden blade of sunlight pierced the clouds. (setting detail) Hanna was still looking at him, waiting for a word. (character action) “It’s true,” she insisted. “All of what I saw in the deeps. Isn’t it?” (dialogue)

A drop of sweat slid down Mile’s forehead. (sensory detail) He wiped it away with his sleeve. (character action) He couldn’t go on fooling her. What now? (internal monologue)

 

Now, taking these elements in the same order, I have created an entirely new (and rather silly) scene for an entirely different book.

DSC_0076 (334x400)

Kweeg H-41 jumped from the mossy wall, landing on her side and rolling. “Bleezbat!” she huffed. “Lexar didn’t tell me this required vanquishing primitive ecosystems.”  She examined her torn tunic.

“You were expecting a space pod with a driver?” Ilik-J16 smirked and offered his hand.

She would eat quantum rats before she’d accept any help from Ilik. Her bum smarted where it had hit a root. Ilik’s silver tunic was spotless, as usual. Kweeg suspected he’d spent his bonus on nano-cleaners for it, just to irritate her.

The ground was freezing as well as rooty. Kweeg hauled herself to her feet, glaring. She ignored Ilik’s proffered hand. “Lexar wants us there tomorrow,” she snarled. “The least he could do is provide transport.” Her left foot was beginning to throb and some kind of murderous plant was poking her. She jerked her arm away from the foliage and gave it a rub. When she got home—if she ever got home—she would fill Lexar’s sleeping compartment with Plutonian Slugs.

Not only is this a lot of fun to do, it’s not a way you would normally write. You can break the scene down into even more detailed elements if you like. While it would drive me crazy to do long passages using this method, I find that short bits help me to analyze my usual style and see whether there is something in the rhythm and pacing of another author’s prose that I could use to change up my own.

If you know a teen writer interested in gathering with other teens who write, check out our TEENWrite summer classes at Uppercase Books in Snohomish.

 

Question For My Father, Who Lives Alone

table

 

Dad had a birthday today. “I never thought I’d live to 82,” he said.

“Dad,” I told him, “You’re 85.”

“Oh! So I am!” he said.

We took him for a hamburger. In a couple of weeks there’s some live music we’ll take him to. It’s a stretched-out birthday.

Visits are quiet. After two strokes, Dad doesn’t hold forth like he used to in conversation. He used to have a very long silence-filling “ahhhhhhh.” He used it if he was searching for a word, so that no one could interrupt until he found it. Now if I ask him the right questions, he’ll answer. Then I need to think of another question, and another. Some do not merit answers. Often, it just feels like me prattling. Sometimes I read or sing to him. I’m not sure whether he likes it or not. But when I take him back to the nursing home, kiss the top of his head and tell him I’ll be back next week, he always seems glad I’ve come.

I read this article on Dementia Friends, a movement started in England, and I’m still crying. The tears caught me by surprise.

“When we first started going to the BB we would have to stand and wait until a seat came open. That didn’t last for long. Over time, Dotty’s dementia friends started saving her a seat. As we approached the bar area they would start waving and smiling. Some would yell Dotty, and a few yelled Mom. Dotty’s list of direct dementia friends had grown to more than ten. They were waiting for her.”

I don’t know if Dad would even like having friends. I know he used to like it. Here’s a poem I wrote probably fifteen years ago. It came back to me as I was thinking about this. Despite the ending, it is not really about death, but about life.

Question For My Father, Who Lives Alone

 

What if you and I were walking one day

and you said,

“Can you smell the sap?”

And I did?

 

What if you said,

“The wind is brisk. It has a bite.”

And I said,

“Let’s go inside?”

 

What if you said,

“Sit at this table.

Here are my friends,

Here and here and here.”

And I touched each hand?

 

What if you said,

“I will die now.”

And I said,

“Yes.”

And you closed your eyes?

–from Considering Flight (2006, Brassweight Press)

 

5 Rights Teen Writers Deserve

…and teen non-writers deserve them, too.

hayden

Teens have taught me a bunch about writing over the last couple of decades–both the teens who have already written five novels and the ones who would rather scrub under the refrigerator than pick up a pen. For a lot of teens, writing was ruined for them by third grade. For others, dutifully writing their five-paragraph essays, their love affair with writing is made up of clandestine moments, stolen from their more “important” term papers and college applications.

The needs of these writers are simple, but those needs often can’t–or won’t–be accommodated in school. They come down to two basic principles: ownership and community. Here’s what I think most teens ask of their parents, mentors, friends and teachers when it comes to their writing.

1. I have a right to secret writing. I may keep a private journal. It may have poems or stories in it; it may have letters I never send; it may have just random thoughts. But it is not for public consumption; it is not for anyone who wants to check my spelling or penmanship; it is not even there so you can read my poetry, celebrate my talent and understand me better. When and if I want to share it with someone, I will. In the meantime, do not ask.

2. I have a right to choose what I write about. I know I’ll have assignments for school that I don’t choose; I get that. But I have a right to channel my creativity in a way that rocks my world–even if my song lyrics make no sense to you or my spokenword piece might shock Great Aunt Betty. I have a right to create my own body of work.

3. If I am part of a writing group or class, I have a right to either share my work or not share it. Sometimes sharing my work with a group is helpful and feels good. But sometimes the writing isn’t yet ready to share. And some writing will never be ready to share. I have a right to know I can write from a deep place inside of myself, or that I can experiment and the teacher will not demand to have the work read.

4. I have a right to accept or reject critique. If I choose to get feedback on my work (and I can choose not to), I am not obligated to change the work in the way the critiquer suggests. Even if the person giving the critique is my best friend. Even if it is my mom. Even if it is an award-winning author. I have a right to decide what is useful to the piece and what is not, and to base my revisions on the advice believe best serves the work.

5. I have a right to be listened to, encouraged, and respected. If I can find a group of people who feel like my “tribe,” because they are just as strange and quirky as I am, I may show them my secret writing–misspellings and all. I may share my spokenword piece with them and hear theirs. I may write weird, experimental collaborations with some of them. I may listen to their critique and weigh it carefully, because not only are we all becoming stronger writers, these people know me. And the real reason I write is to know and to be known.

 

If you know a teen still looking for a “tribe” of creatives, we’d love to have them at our TEENWrite EPIC overnight May 17-18 at Camp Huston. Our 10th anniversary Summer TEENWrite EPIC camp will be July 8-12 at Fort Casey.

 

Children of Suicide Club

Taken at Seattle “Out of the Darkness” Suicide Prevention Walk for AFSP

 

The secret blog entry in the link below was a tentative step toward the chasm. Writing publicly about it felt reckless, wrong and necessary:

 

http://gardenofmirth.blogspot.com/2006/01/children-of-suicide-club.html

Review of FLYAWAY by Helen Landalf

FlyawayFlyaway by Helen Landalf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things I loved about this book, besides the winsomeness of its protagonist, Stevie, was that it didn’t present easy answers. Stevie has grown up in an intolerable situation, but she loves her mother despite her mother’s flaws, and is determined to be loyal to her.

Even when I wanted to shake Stevie and say, “You’ve got to get out of there, girl!” I believed it entirely when she continued to cling to her mom’s empty promises.

It was exciting to see Stevie gradually begin to honor her own dreams and let go of blaming herself for her mom’s choices.

I also loved Alan–tough, cynical, wounded and full of possibility. I’d have liked to see Stevie challenge him even more than she did, but I have a feeling that as she gains confidence in herself she will be more and more honest.

This is a book whose characters continue to live and breathe, even after the last page.

View all my reviews

Call & Response: An All-Day Event for Writers & Dreamers

Call & Response Flyer

Saturday, March 27 9:30-4:00 in Monroe, $25!


I’m so excited about this!!!

Many of you have asked me about writing workshops for adults. Unfortunately I have less and less time to teach, due to current writing commitments. (Did I mention I have an agent? I have an agent! Just in case you missed that…) So what did I do? I enlisted five friends, who ALSO have pressing creative deadlines, to teach an all-day workshop! It’s rare that most of these gals get out to teach anymore, so you are witnessing a miracle. WHY am I doing this? Because One A-Chord Academy of Music has been such a blessing in the life of my son. This program gives music lessons to teens, regardless of their ability to pay. I want to say thank-you, and enable many more kids to be similarly blessed. Why are my friends doing this? Well… because they love me!

Who: Janet Lee Carey, Margaret D. Smith, Molly Blaisdell, Katherine Grace Bond, Heidi Pettit, Dawn Knight
What: Sessions in Fiction Writing, Journaling, Songwriting, Writing for Children, Writing Your Life, and Creative Process Groups
Where: Monroe Community Chapel, 23515 Old Owen Road, Monroe, WA 98272
When: Saturday, March 27 9:30-4:00
How Much: $25 (Additional donations welcome. Checks payable to Monroe Community Chapel)

To Register: robinh (at) monroechapel.org

Here’s an article about One A-Chord in the Monroe Monitor. Scroll down to “School of Shrock”