Archive for the ‘Summer Classes’ Category:

Teens Ask “How Do I Get Published?”

And no, it’s not a silly question!

In the Teenage Novelist: Publishing class, I always start by saying, “Read and read and read; write and write and write.” It’s pretty hard to write publishable material if you’re not reading. That sounds like a no-brainer, but I know plenty of people who want to write books, but get all their stories from movies and television. I love movies and television (and we watch a lot of them in Geek Fiction Writing for Teens), but you have to read good writing to write well. Really. If you can’t find time to read, think about swapping out some of your gaming or social media time, or even (gasp!) some of your writing time. I am a big fan of audiobooks, too–for some reason things I hear stay in my head longer. And if I listen and ALSO read the book? YOWZA! (Here’s where to get some free audiobooks.) How many books will you read/listen to this summer? I’m aiming for ten, beginning today.

Don’t forget that we have new classes each week at Bellevue College North Campus, starting Monday! Come take a bunch of ’em. So much fun with such great people. (We’re all a little weird, but definitely great!)

If you’ve got the reading thing down, here are ten steps that will move you along the path to publication.

  1. Get critique

I’ve told before about the first short story I submitted in college–how it came back with a big, fat “C” accompanied by comments like, “Cliche” and “One wonders why the protagonist’s  girlfriend would have any interest in him at all.” I was arrogant enough that my first thought was, “This professor does not know talent!” (By the end of the quarter, though, I realized he kind of had a point.) Critique is hard to hear at first, but good critique is essential to your growth as a writer. In my writing classes I strive to provide feedback that is specific, honest, encouraging and usable.

2. Form a writing group

You need a tribe to keep you going in this crazy endeavor called writing. Find some like-minded friends and get together every Saturday at a coffee shop, bookstore or library to read and critique each others’ writing. If you’re part of Epicwrite, you can also post stories on the Epicwrite Forum for others to read.

3. Take writing classes or workshops from a published author

I would be delighted to see you in my classes, or at Epicwrite, but there are plenty of other opportunities as well. Lois Brandt’s short story class, and Dana Sullivan’s graphic novel class, for starters, but also the teen program at Hugo House in Seattle, and The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas. Additionally, Go Teen Writers is a website for teens run by Stephanie Morrill, who was herself published as a teen. Local libraries also sponsor free writing classes with local authors.

4. Enter contests

Many contests that require an entry fee for adults have a free teen category. Winning Writers has a good list of Resources and Contests for Students and Educators. And don’t forget the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Contests are a good way to learn to write to specific guidelines, meet deadlines, and stay within a word count–all essential skills for the pro writer.

5. Go to writer gatherings

When you hang out with writers, you end up with writers for friends, and you learn what writers do. When what your friends do is publish books, it doesn’t seem like such a strange and difficult thing. There’s no reason to let age stand in the way of your getting involved in the writing community. Check out the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Write on the Sound writing conference, for a start.

6. Meet authors

As well as taking classes from local authors, don’t forget book signings. Check with your local bookstore , with your favorite authors’ websites, and with your library. Your presence at an event is appreciated by authors more than you know. Even very famous authors can find themselves in front of tiny audiences. Buy the book and introduce yourself to the author. Sometimes amazing friendships get started that way.

7. Start a book review blog

Did you know that you can get free books before they are released if you run a book blog? You have to work at gathering lots of followers, and you have to follow through on the commitments you make to read and review the books, but I know of many bloggers who learned their way around the publishing industry this way and went on to publish their own books. Here are a few successful book blogs started by teens: Peace Love Books, The Tale Temptress, IB Book Blogging. (What? You say they are all reviews for the same book? Don’t know what happened there…)

8. Pay attention to who publishes writing you love

Start a list, noting the title, author, date published, publisher, imprint, editor and agent. These last two may take some treasure hunting: Sometimes authors name their editors and agents in the acknowledgments. Other times, you have to do a lot of online searching to track these names down. Over time you will become familiar with who publishes what kinds of books, so that when it’s your turn to submit a manuscript you can do so more intelligently. Start separate editor and agent files as well, because editors and agents often move around as their careers advance and change. You’ll want to keep track of your favorite ones. Agentquery is a good resource for learning more about specific agents.

9. Submit to magazines, journals and anthologies

Make sure you’re writing more than just the Great American Novel. Write poems, stories, articles, and essays. There are many publications that seek work from teens. And there’s no rule against teens submitting work to publications not specifically for teens.

10. Self-publish

But don’t be hasty about it. One advantage of traditional publishing is that so many eyes have looked at your book before it is released to an audience. By the time a publisher has released your book, you have revised it many, many times, it has been through a difficult and competitive selection process, and you have revised it even more. If you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional route, you’ll want to get a lot of competent critique, revise the living daylights out of the manuscript, and then take it by people in-the-know like a bookstore owner, a librarian, or a professional editor. Have a different set of eyes than yours do the final copy-editing, as well. Also, have an idea of how you will market your book. If you’re good with social media and have a large following on your social networks, this will help a lot. Smashwords, and Createspace are inexpensive options for self-publishing. (Cheapest Createspace printing option is here.) Teens I know who have self-published beautiful books are Maya Ganesan and Logan Fenner.

I’d love to see you in one of my classes!

The Violin Diet

Katherine violinWith the Full-Bodied Novelist Retreat coming up this weekend, I’ve been playing the violin again. There is a connection, so stay with me here.

I usually let months go by without my music. I play only to prepare for performance, thinking I need an “excuse” to play. But lately I have played for the sheer joy of playing with no audience but the Universe. I work on a piece that is hard for me, but attainable, or I just make something up. I let the music come up from my feet; I close my eyes and listen to the strings, letting my fingers find their way. It makes my neck hurt, using these muscles I haven’t used in a long time—but the muscles remember how to cradle the instrument, how to make it sing.

After I play, I sit down to write, and I’m open enough for the wind of word and emotion to blow through me. I’ve needed that. I’ve also found that I don’t eat as much on days when I play. I’ve satisfied some deeper hunger.

What do you do that is physical? That takes your entire concentration? It might be running or gardening or painting. Do it. A little every day. Even if you’ve let it go for a long time, find that thing you used to do that you are longing for and give yourself to it until you are back in your body. Then write.

It’s not too late to register for the retreat! Use the discount code FBNRETREAT75 to save $75. The retreat cost includes lodging, meals, classes, a massage, and a one-on-one consultation on your manuscript.

Meet our massage therapist, Rene Pinkham on the retreat page, just below the event description.

Summer Writing Classes for Teens!

Writers Collaborate

“Katherine brings life and excitement to what she teaches and interacts with me and the other students in a truly honest, personable way.”

–Samantha Meuller, BCCE blog.

Another reason I love my life: Every summer, I spend a month with several dozen glorious teens who write for the joy of it. Different classes every week. Many take several; some take every one. We laugh, create a lot, and I am privileged to know them. If you are a teen, or have a teen in your life, we’d love to have you join us!

 

Bellevue College Summer Teen Program

Week of June 29, M-Th
Teenage Novelist: The Novel in a Nutshell   NEW!
Geek Fiction Writing for Teens  
Week of July 6, M-W
Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams   
Teenage Novelist: Live-Action Writing  
Week of July 13, M-F
Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming 
Teenage Novelist: Re-visioning the Novel  
Week of July 20, M-Th
Teenage Novelist: Novel Intensive  
Teenage Novelist: Publishing 

 

 

Mists of Enigma

And of course, don’t forget EPICWRITE, our four-day live-action writing summer camp for teens, taking place at Camp Ramblewood in Sequim, July 9-12. (Epicwrite is not affiliated with Bellevue College)

Three Keys to Scene-Weaving

Cool, isn't he? I found him at Faux Marble Classics

Cool, isn’t he? I found him at               Faux Marble Classics

Make sure your scene answers these questions before your reader asks them, unless you are deliberately withholding that information to build tension. (For more keys, join us in the Scene-Weaving class! Or, if you’re a teen, try Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams!)

 1. Where am I?

  • Orient your reader throughout the scene so that your characters are not just “talking heads”
    • Sensory detail
    • References to small, specific objects or parts of objects
    • References to larger objects or elements of nature

It was a small key, no bigger than a shelled peanut, and when Jenny placed it in his hand Karl had to sit down on the temple steps. Clouds drifted frustratingly across the moon, blocking the light so that he couldn’t make out whatever was etched on it. He ran his thumb over it. Jenny dashed off to look at the marble dragons while Karl breathed in the jasmine air, trying to figure out what to do next. His sandal brushed a poppy someone had planted along the walkway. It was too perky a flower and it irritated him to see it tonight when there were no answers, when Karl was so close to accepting defeat.

2. Who is talking?

  • Orient the reader by mentioning the character by name or having him or her pick up an object or do some small gesture.

Karl fingered the key. “Where did this come from?”

Jenny shrugged. “It was under the elephant.”

“Under the elephant? By this you mean under its foot? Under its bottom?”

“Just under.” Jenny traced the bamboo leaves distractedly. “You sure ask a lot of questions.”

“For all the good it does me.” Karl forced the key grimly onto his key ring. “Look, Jenny, if we want any chance of you catching that spaceship we’ve got to leave now.”

Jenny drifted across the stone steps looking up at the moon.

“Are you even listening?” He jingled the keys impatiently.

“What?” she said. “Oh. I was thinking about my mother.”

3. What is the forward movement of the scene?

  • Give the reader a reason to keep reading. Every scene has a purpose to move the action forward. It can do so by explaining crucial information or by showing direct action, but even an “explaining” scene should involve some change.

“You were thinking what about your mother?” The moon was back. Karl stood and held the key up to the light.

“It’s her birthday.” Jenny climbed one of the marble dragons. “I’m sleepy. Do we have to stay?”

Karl didn’t answer. In the far distance, maybe over the next village, he could see lights in the sky. They seemed to open and close like eyes. They were moving towards the temple.

 

 

An Interview with Author Lois Brandt + teen writing with Lois at Bellevue College

Lois Brandt, Writer, Seattle

Photo by Meryl Schenker

One of the cool things about taking teen writing at Bellevue College, is working with a published author. Lois Brandt (who is certifiably awesome) teaches Writing Short Stories in the Teenage Novelist program. Students rave about her classes, which have included the “Write a Novel in 30 Days” class she usually teaches in November (to go along with NaNoWriMo) and “Editing Your Manuscript.” Lois is a prolific author of short fiction, and her new book, Maddie’s Fridge is coming out in September!

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories

7/21/2014 – 7/25/2014 OR 8/4/2014 – 8/8/2014

Every story has a beginning middle and end, but how do you write stories that make your readers lean forward to find out what happens next? In this short story class students learn characterization and plotting. We will create memorable characters and chase them through a 2000 – 7000 word story. Once our stories are drafted we learn to edit and polish. Each student will leave the class with at least one completed short story. All genres are welcome.

Interview with Lois Brandt

1.       What were you writing when you were a teenager?

When I was a teenager I was writing a novel set in the Civil War. I was particularly interested because my Mom and Dad’s families fought on separate sides, so I wrote about a family that split down the middle. Two brothers wanted to fight for the South and two brothers for the North. The viewpoint character just wanted the family back together.

2.       You have a book, Maddie’s Fridge, coming out in September. What did you say or do when you found out it was being published?

To be honest, I broke into tears. Maddi’s Fridge is a story that has been in my heart since I was about ten. Stories and events stick inside my head until I give them voice on paper. In this case, I couldn’t forget the day I found out my best friend had no food in her home. This wasn’t a temporary “Mom and Dad were too busy to shop.”  They had absolutely no food and were days away from their mom’s payday. A discovery like that changes your world. It did not make the news (“American family has no food”), but it changed forever the way I looked at people with less money or resources. These are our friends and neighbors who are struggling for food, housing, and jobs. What do you do when your best friend is in trouble? Maddi’s Fridge tells that story.

3.       What are some of your favorite things about working with teen writers?

Teen writers are brilliant. I say that in all humility. I am awed by the ideas that teens come up with and where they take the writing prompts and exercises I give them. They are also quick to learn and willing to try new things. Some write with brilliant voices, others have unique ideas and/or characters. All bring something interesting to the class.

4.       What advice do you have for teens who hope to be published?

The first is a caveat: Writers are about writing. Yes, we want to publish and yes, all of us are at this very moment trying to get paid for our work.  There is this whole business side that we really have to pay attention to.  But for now, write.  I have a game I play with myself. If someone asks what I do, and I’ve met my daily writing goal, then I allow myself to say I write. If I have not writtin, I say my other profession — teaching. If I’m extremely frustrated (missed a writing day), I list my profession as cat sitter. If you want to be published: write. The more you write, the better you’ll be. The better you are, the greater your chance of publication.

 

What Happens Next?

 Week 1, July 14-18

Teenage Novelist: The Novel in a Nutshell

Teen Poets: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Teenage Novelist: Talking To Your Characters

 Week 2, July 21-25

Creating Graphic Novels (Dana Sullivan. Waitlisted)

Young Writers’ Workshop (Waitlisted)

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams

Geek Fiction Writing

Week 3, July 28-August 1

Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming

Teenage Novelist: Revisioning the Novel

Teenage Novelist: Publishing

 Week 4, August 4-8

Teenage Novelist: Novel Intensive

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Live-Action Writing

 

And don’t forget August 10-13

Summer EpicWrite Camp!!!  (not affiliated with BC)

REGISTER FOR EPICWRITE

Character Mashup–“Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem, Too”

This poem, by Jim Hall, is one of my favorite mashups, and I often read it in Talking to Your Characters and in Teen Poets at Bellevue College.

 

To see Jim Hall’s take on his poem, as well as the entire poem printed out, go here.

Another game to try! Do one OR MORE of the following:

1. Create a mashup poem of your own, mixing a fairy tale character with a celebrity, or a superhero with a politician, or anything else you can think of. Post the poem in the comments.

2. Write a poem from the perspective of a particular celebrity, fairy tale character, superhero, politician, historical figure, etc. Post it in the comments.

3. Record yourself or a friend performing the poem and post the link in the comments!

Don’t miss our upcoming Teen Writing classes at Bellevue College, beginning July 14. There’s enough to keep you laughing, creating, hanging out with other writing teens and sitting in the sun (yes, I like to go outside) for a whole month! (And if that sounds like bliss to you, the way it does to me, we want to meet you!)

Some writers like to sign up for back-to-back classes, so they can immerse themselves in their creative process all day. This isn’t supposed to be like school and it won’t be. (Ask one of the writers who comes back year after year after year.)

 Week 1, July 14-18

Teenage Novelist: The Novel in a Nutshell

Teen Poets: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Teenage Novelist: Talking To Your Characters

 Week 2, July 21-25

Creating Graphic Novels (Dana Sullivan. Waitlisted)

Young Writers’ Workshop (Waitlisted)

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams

Geek Fiction Writing

Week 3, July 28-August 1

Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming

Teenage Novelist: Revisioning the Novel

Teenage Novelist: Publishing

 Week 4, August 4-8

Teenage Novelist: Novel Intensive

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Live-Action Writing

 

And don’t forget August 10-13

Summer EpicWrite Camp!!!     (not affiliated with BC)

Talking to Your Characters–Give Them a “Dear Character” Column

Dear Character (300x169)

Dear Character,
Twelve and a half weeks ago I loaned my best friend a set of “Cooking with Salt” DVDs, which were a gift from my former best friend. I have asked her every week if she is done with them. Seven weeks ago, my boyfriend began cooking everything with salt.  He said he was experimenting. Five weeks ago, while searching my best friend’s apartment for my DVD set, I discovered, IN HER FILING CABINET, a pamphlet on breath care, which I had given to my boyfriend. I confronted her, but she was evasive. It has now been four weeks and six days since I have spoken to either of them. What am I to think? What kind of “experimenting” is my boyfriend doing? And how can I get my DVDs back?

Sincerely,

Inconvenienced and Heartbroken

——————————

Let’s try this:

Choose a character from one of your works-in-progress and ask them to answer the letter above. With your character’s permission, post the response in the comments below. If you feel like it, have one of your characters write a “Dear Character” letter of their own and see if someone else’s character will answer it.

How do you develop multi-dimensional characters? What do you DO with them once they’ve sprung to life in your imagination?

Teenage Novelist: Talking to Your Characters

Marvin Whickpucket refuses to behave. When you want him to defeat the evil Onchnu, he won’t. Instead, he sits on the couch, surfs cable and eats potato skins. “This is boring!” you tell him. “Why are you acting this way?” “I miss Ilandra,” he says. “We had a fight. She said we were through.” “Why didn’t you TELL me?” you say, incredulous. Marvin shrugs. “You never asked.” Learn how to deepen your story by listening to your characters. Each class allows for hands-on exercises based on your work-in-progress and time for group critique.

Here are ALL the Writing classes at Bellevue College’s Summer Teen Program

I teach all but two of these classes. “Creating Graphic Novels” is taught by talented illustrator Dana Sullivan, and “Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories” is taught by amazing author Lois Brandt. Classes are held daily for one week, beginning July 14. Note that some classes are full or nearly full.

Select a course to view:

Creating Graphic Novels

Geek Fiction Writing

Teen Poets: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams

Teenage Novelist: Live-Action Writing

Teenage Novelist: Novel Intensive

Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming

Teenage Novelist: Publishing

Teenage Novelist: Revisioning the Novel

Teenage Novelist: Talking To Your Characters

Teenage Novelist: The Novel in a Nutshell

Teenage Novelist: What’s the Big Idea?

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories

Young Writers’ Workshop