Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing Tips #1: Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers to Writers

The on-line writing community is rich with resources; I have found many writers are willing to share their knowledge with each other. In the upcoming blogs I'm plan to pass along tips from my fellow writers. Do you have something you have learned as a writer which you would like others to know? Please leave me a comment and I'll consider adding it.

General Advice

I'm going to begin with this post and picture by my Facebook friend, Melodye Shore:

"You can't see the hummingbird hatchlings from this angle; it's not likely you saw her nest, either--at first glance, anyway. And so it is with writing. You have to explore an idea from all angles, examine it from multiple points of view before gaining a full understanding of what it is, exactly, that your story's really about."

If you look closely, you'll see a hummingbird nest in this fuchsia.

Jody Staton, an author and copy editor, posted a great tool on Kathy Temean's blog. Three Editor's Tools for Writers encourages you to compile chapter summaries, a character list, and a style sheet while you're writing your book. This will save you time and energy and help you create a publishable book. 

Joyce Hostetter, author of BLUE, COMFORT and HEALING WATER says, "Write no unnecessary words.  Actually, go ahead ahead and write them.  But when you recognize them, delete fearlessly!  And stack each word and sentence for the most powerful impact possible."

Emily Smith Pierce, author of Isabel and the Miracle Baby and SLOWPOKE, says, "Writing usually starts out as a solitary process, but to get better, you need to collaborate. Seek out readers and other writers who will give you honest (yet encouraging) feedback." 

Halli Gomez remembers this tidbit she heard from young adult science fiction writer Beth Revis at an SCBWI-Carolinas conference: "If you think you will only have one great idea for a book, don't worry. More will come and they will be even better."

Martina Boone, author of compulsion contributes, "My biggest tip for writers is to read widely, certainly within their chosen age group and genre but also in general. That’s so obvious, but it’s astonishing how many YA (young adult) writers don’t actually read YA, or enough YA, and that’s necessarily not just for marketing, but for knowing your audience and the competition."

At the end of this mini-series of blogs I'm going to giveaway Nancy Kress's book,  Beginnings, Middles & Ends. If you leave a comment on my blog with a tip and I use it, I'll enter your name in this giveaway. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Write 2 Ignite! 2015

Congratulations to Susan Moger, one of my newest blog readers, for winning an autographed copy of Rose Under Fire. Thanks to all who entered and left comments.

This week I'm posting an additional blog on an upcoming Christian writing conference. If you are interested in attending you can take advantage of the early bird discount.

Without further ado, please welcome my dear friend Jean Hall, founder and organizer of Write2Ignite!.

Jean and I, October 2014

Thanks, Carol, for this opportunity to talk about Write2Ignite!

The Write2Ignite! Conference for Christian Writers of Literature for Children and Young Adults is designed specifically for writers who seek to write from a Christian perspective. Whether your desire is to be published in the general market or Christian market; by major publishing houses or small publishers; or an array of other publishing options, Write2Ignite! is here to  help you.

Are you working on a YA novel? A MG book? Devotionals?  A PB? Nonfiction magazine articles? We’re here to point you in the right direction.

This year our speakers include authors Tim Shoemaker, Karen Whiting, Jenny L.Cote, Vonda SkeltonTorry Martin; artist Tony Snipes, and writing teacher Kim Peterson. An array of editors will meet individually with attendees.

OUR PURPOSE is to educate, encourage and inspire Christian writers while helping them network with publishing professionals. We aim to provide Christians who write for children, youth and adults with practical workshops and help them connect with the publishing industry.

OUR VISION for Write2Ignite! Is to eventually provide conferences, workshops, support groups, webinars and other services to Christians who create, publish, represent or sell literature for children and youth. 

We want you to leave Write2Ignite! 2015 with three things:

·       The knowledge that you heard from God about something specific in your writing and/or personal life

·       New or improved skills to use in writing, illustrating, marketing and/or publishing

·       New or strengthened connections with other writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, agents, editors, reviewers, and/or book sellers – anyone associated with children’s publishing

Registration is now open. Early Bird Fees are good through February 28, 2015. We offer workshops for adult writers AND a special track with seven workshops for teens to choose from. BTW - we LOVE homeschoolers at Write2Ignite!

You can sign up for our blog updates, register for the conference, and find lots more information at Professional critiques are available for an additional fee.

We hope you’ll check us out and register for our March 27-28, 2015, conference at North Greenville University in Greenville, SC.

Please like us and tweet us @WriteTOignite and friend us on FB at Write2Ignite Conference.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rose Under Fire: A Review and a Giveaway!

I wish this book didn't exist.

What I mean is that I wish Rose Under Fire, a brutally honest book about a young American pilot imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, didn't demand to be written.

But unfortunately, it did.

Rose Moyer Justice is an 18-year-old American Air Transport Auxiliary pilot ferrying planes for the British government. Although World War II is drawing to a close, during a semi-secret flight she is captured by the Germans. For six long and painful months, Rose is incarcerated with thousands of other female political prisoners and seventy-four Polish victims of Nazi human experimentation who are nicknamed "The Rabbits."
Women working in Ravensbruck.
Photo courtesy YadVashem
Wein holds nothing back from showing Rose's physical, emotional, and mental struggles in the concentration camp. Her descriptions are full of such convincing detail that I felt guilty eating a granola bar while listening to it; the characters' starvation and deprivation had become so real to me. Similarly, when I listened to Rose's beautiful poetry sprinkled throughout the story I had to remind myself that Elizabeth Wein had penned these words. In the same way in which her fellow prisoners clung to her poetry, desperate for beauty in the midst of a world of despair, I felt as if the poems were gifts from Rose herself.

Six million Jews dying in concentration camps is a number difficult to comprehend  But like seeing thousands of shoes at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., I'll remember individual stories because Wein used amazing characterization and deep point of view to show each one.  

In the concentration camp Rose becomes a part of a "family;" a small group of prisoners bonded together by their desperate hope to survive. Lisette Romilly is nicknamed the "lagermutter" and acts as the mother to the group. A French musician, professor, and novelist, her character is based on Irène Némirovsky who was killed in Auschwitz. Lisette is arrested after her Jewish Polish husband is killed and she attempts to return to France. Rose realizes that Lisette deals with the loss of her sons and husband by mothering her small prison flock. Lisette moderates sibling-like squabbles in her family and fiercely protects and provides for them--by getting small scraps of bread, obtaining contraband medicine, and finding places for the rabbits to hide. 

Róża Czajkowska is fourteen when Lisette meets her. A fierce Polish member of the Gray Banks, an underground paramilitary association. she was arrested delivering explosives to the underground. Lisette begins mothering her when they are imprisoned together in the Lublin castle. When they reach RavensbrückRóża is one of the first to be operated on. This is from the mock interview with Lisette: 

"The theory was that the camp doctors would simulate battle wounds on their legs to find cures for German soldiers injured on the Eastern front. My companions had muscle, nerve and bone cut from their legs, or had gangrene cultured in purpose-made wounds in their healthy flesh. Several of our transport died after the first round of experiments in the autumn of 1942." 

Lisette's mission is to get Róża out of Germany so the world will see the atrocities performed there. Rose and Róża are joined by their shared name, Rose's poetry, and the challenge to "tell the world."


Scars on a woman's leg after medical experimentation.
Photo courtesy of Yad Vashem

Anna Engel, is one of the harsh women's S.S. guards assigned to Rose's unit. (Spoiler alert: She plays an important secondary role in Code Name Verity, a companion volume to this book). When she discovers that Rose is American, a unique relationship develops between the two women. Anna attended college in the United States and misses American food. In exchange for recipes and cigarettes, Rose procures calcium supplements for Róża. While listening to the book I kept wondering about Anna's (and the other guards) motivations to treat their prisoners with such unfeeling brutality. Wein does a good job of answering that question through glimpses into Anna's backstory.  Wein's portrayal of this sympathetic antagonist is very believable. In fact, Wein told me that she thought Anna was the best character she has ever created. 

I was worried that Rose Under Fire would end too soon; that I wouldn't know what happened to Rose or Róża. But their bravery against overwhelming odds built on a friendship in which they challenge each other to overcome their fears, provides a perfect ending to a powerful book. 
The audiobook was narrated by Sasha Pick who does an outstanding job of portraying a variety of foreign accents. Without question, her excellent narration drew me further into the story. 

I rarely give a five star rating to any book on Goodreads. But this winner of the 2014 Schenider Family Book Award is at least a six in my book. Wein's commitment to historical accuracy combined with a well-plotted story using beautiful language makes this a book I will remember for a long time. In my first email to Elizabeth I confessed I had a hard time saying I enjoyed her book because it was painfully wonderful. She wrote back, "Funny you should say 'enjoying' might not be the best word - when it first came out I'd say to people, "I hope you enjoy it - well, you won't enjoy it, but I hope you appreciate it!" THANK YOU for appreciating it. When I was writing Rose, my Jewish aunt and uncle (my father was Jewish) pointed out to me that if our grandparents hadn't left Europe in the early 20th century, we'd all be dead including my children. It's unbelievable how far-reaching that shadow is. We are the lucky ones."

Roza and her fellow prisoners urge Rose to "Tell the world!" In Rose Under Fire Wein has accomplished exactly that. 

Scroll through Elizabeth Wein's website and you'll find many materials which will facilitate classroom discussion. If you want to picture what life was like for Rose, view this You Tube video by chronoshistory:

To win an autographed hard copy of the Canadian edition of this book, please leave me your name (and email address if you are new to this blog) by Thursday, February 20th. Share this on your favorite social media or follow my blog, and I'll put your name in twice; just let me know what you did. 

This is a book you don't want to miss. 


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