Archive for the ‘Teenage Novelist’ 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!

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.

 

 

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

 

 

Game of Poems

Young woman dancing

Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

You speak in riddles because

You ache to speak.

You ache for space

To expand and contract.

You cast your words into the chasm,

To be caught by one

Whose breathing holds your breath.

 

When your foot finds the brink

You ask the air

Questions.

© 2013 Katherine Grace Bond

Poetry is dangerous. The instructor urges extreme caution. Bring paper, pens and words (caged if necessary). Hear the work of young poets, published and unpublished and then let your own words out. Cut through the steel bars and let loose what you really want to say.

Teen Poets is part of the Bellevue College Summer Teen Program’s writing classes. I’d love to see you there!

Register for Teen Poets

Okay! Let’s play a game!

This is what poet Shane Guthrie calls an “infection set” of poems.

If you are the first commenter, write a poem that begins with the first line of the poem above: “You speak in riddles because”
If you are the second commenter, write a poem that begins with the second line: “You ache to speak”
…and so on.

Don’t worry if you finish your poem and someone has already commented ahead of you before you can post it. Life is made of such happy accidents. Ready, set, write!

Image by © Blue Jean Images/Corbis

“Geek Fiction” and Other Writing Classes this Spring at Bellevue College

Art by GriffintheUndertaker

Art by GriffintheUndertaker

You’ll have Doctor Who for homework!!!

Here’s what I’m offering at Bellevue College in the Spring  (Registration probably begins in March):

Geek Fiction Writing
This course analyzes popular sci-fi, fantasy, superhero and dystopian screen favorites to discover what makes them tick. Then we use these tools of excellent storytelling in our own original fiction. This is a step beyond fanfic, as you’ll create characters and worlds that are wholly your own. Fandoms might include Middle Earth, Doctor Who, Spider-Man and The Hunger Games. High School students welcome.
Capacity: 15
Times: 6:00PM – 8:00PM Room: North Campus, TBA
Dates: 04/15/2014 – 06/03/2014 Tuition: Fee 169.00
Days of Week: 8 Sessions T

Teenage Novelist: Creating Fiction Using Ingredients You Already Have in Your Own Brain
Is your cat really an alien collecting information to beam back to his ship? Are you actually famous, but you’re living in disguise so you can defeat the enemy before she destroys the planet? You may be a writer. Take heart, you are not alone! Some people even get paid to do this. In this workshop, we’ll use hands-on exercises to capture stories before they get away. You’ll learn basic storytelling techniques, finding ways to gather plot ideas, create unique and believable characters, and find hidden details that will bring your scenes to life. You’ll create scenes based on what you’ve learned and (if you like) share your work.
Capacity: 15
Times: 10:00AM – 2:00PM Room: North Campus, TBA
Dates: 04/19/2014 – 04/19/2014 Tuition: Fee 59.00
Days of Week: 1 Sessions S

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.
Capacity: 15
Times: 10:00AM – 2:00PM Room: North Campus, TBA
Dates: 05/17/2014 – 05/17/2014 Tuition: Fee 59.00
Days of Week: 1 Sessions S

Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming
Marvin Whickpucket and Ilandra have been eating waffles and jumping through space-time portals for 12 chapters, but nothing seems to be happening. The evil warlord Onchnu is breathing dire threats, but you don’t know whether the Kleeg attack should happen in chapter 13 or should have been back in chapter 4. This course focuses on the structuring of the novel – often the most challenging part of novel-writing. Discover the three words that drive your entire story. Find out how to avoid mid-novel sag and how to keep your reader turning pages all the way to the end. This class will focus on completing an outline of your novel, and a synopsis – “the story of the story.”
Capacity: 15
Times: 10:00AM – 2:00PM Room: North Campus, TBA
Dates: 06/07/2014 – 06/07/2014 Tuition: Fee 59.00
Days of Week: 1 Sessions S

Poetry In Character
Have you ever thought Spiderman might be bored with his job? Or that Gretel may have lost Hansel in the woods and still be searching? In this class, taught by poet and novelist Katherine Grace Bond, we’ll take characters from literature and pop culture and write poems from the characters’ perspective. We’ll discover a wealth of character poems from a variety of poets. And we’ll create our own characters for poems. These could even be the beginning of a novel-in-verse.
Capacity: 15
Times: 6:00PM – 8:00PM Room: North Campus, TBA
Dates: 04/17/2014 – 06/05/2014 Tuition: Fee 169.00
Days of Week: 8 Sessions Th

 

Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

This is a course description for a poetry class I hope to offer this summer at Bellevue College.

Teen Poet: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Poetry is dangerous. The instructor urges extreme caution. Bring paper, pens and words (caged if necessary). Hear the work of young poets, published and unpublished and then let your own words out. Cut through the steel bars and let loose what you really want to say.

You speak in riddles because

You ache to speak.

You ache for space

To expand and contract.

You cast your words into the chasm,

To be caught by one

Whose breathing holds your breath.

 

When your foot finds the brink

You ask the air

Questions.

 

©2013 Katherine Grace Bond

3 Ways to Coax Secrets out of 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.

Sad Marvin (147x200)

“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.”

~

For nine years of Teenage Novelist classes, Marvin Whickpucket has been a sort of poster boy. (If you’ve attended, you understand references to the evil Onchnu.) And if you’re a TEENWriter, you are accustomed to talking to your characters, even if your family doesn’t quite understand.

Here are a few ways to get Marvin to talk back:

1)  Text him. He may be snarky with his initial replies, but let the conversation roll and he’ll be more forthcoming.

Marvin, what was the fight about?

Never mind.

I’m asking because I care.

Sure, you do.

Cross my heart.

It’s stupid.

I won’t tell.

Isn’t that what you do? Tell people every blessed thing I say?

Come on. It’ll help to talk about it.

Fine. Ilandra hates my waffles. Waffles are what brought us together, but it turns out she hates the ones I make.

You got your feelings hurt?

Yes. Okay? After jumping through space-time portals for 150 years, we broke up over a waffle.

Wow. That’s…really sad, Marvin.

Pathetic. I don’t know what to do.

…and so on.

2) Ask him to write you a letter that begins, “I have never told you, but…”

Dear Katherine,

I have never told you, but Ilandra is not what you think. 152 years ago, when I first encountered the Kleeg battalions, I faced a young, beautiful general. Yes, it’s true. Ilandra is a Kleeg. Her father destroyed my planet. But once she offered me waffles, I couldn’t resist her charms…

3) Become Marvin. He must have a favorite shirt. A hat. A Tri-Millenium-412 blaster. Put these things on. Find fellow writers who are willing to bring to life characters from their own books. Gather in your backyard or in a park or at EpicWrite, and create a story together. Then, go out for waffles.

4) Join us in Snohomish July 29-August 2 for “Talking to Your Characters.” 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.

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.