Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Art & Insanity of Creativity issue is now LIVE at Hunger Mountain

The long wait is over everyone! The annual print edition has been put to bed and before the year is up will be turning up in subscriber mailboxes as well as brick and mortar stores and the fall YA & Children's issue is rolling out new content.

From my editorial letter:

Dear reader,

Welcome to the Art & Insanity of Creativity issue. While this issue’s theme may sound tongue in cheek, it is anything but. To quote Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (1885-1957) “A person needs a little madness, or else they dare never cut the rope and be free.” Kazantzakis’ quote points to artist as rebel. Artist as free thinker. Artist going against the societal ties that bind us all. An artist is all these things—and therefore an artist needs the courage to examine the world we live in and our own human nature.

And then we have psychiatrist, scholar, and bipolar patient Dr. Kay Redfield Jameson whose book Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament intends:

…to make a literary, biographical, and scientific argument for a compelling association, not to say an actual overlap, between two temperaments—the artistic and the manic depressive—and their relationships to the rhythms and cycles, or temperament of the natural world. The emphasis will be on understanding the relationship between moods and imagination, the nature of moods—their variety, their contrary and oppositional qualities, their flux, their extremes (causing in some individuals occasional bouts of ‘madness’)—and the importance of moods in igniting thought, changing perceptions, creating chaos, forcing order upon that chaos, and  enabling transformation. (5)

In reading Jameson’s book for research for an upcoming novel of mine, and to understand an illness that has touched my family’s life in many ways, I began to see and make connections I hadn’t before. Any illness—cancer, diabetes, bipolar disorder—is scary and can be life-threatening but it also can be life-affirming. That is where art and artistry comes in: exploring the dark, wandering there, with the sole purpose of finding the light.

In this issue, we will have pieces on the artistry of teaching (with Debby Dahl Edwardson, current NBA finalist both last week and this week), the market’s “obsession” with dystopia, how to overcome fear in our work, an In Response essay by Andew Karre, Editorial Director at Carolrhoda Books on our In Defense of YA piece and my YA is NOT a Genre essay, which appears over  at Hunger Mountain blog Another Loose Sally,  a word play exercise with Children’s Poetry Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, as well as fiction and poetry which play with extremes and bring order to the chaos of the character’s lives.

This week, we welcome Kirsten Cappy of Curious City in our Industry Insider with her ode to REM, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It…” which delves into the multifaceted work that Kirsten does with her Curious City clients. We offer new fiction by novelist Jennifer Hubbard with The Stage Manager and A Cut-Out Face by Mima Tipper—both of which are psychological studies as well as damn fine short stories. And, we debut the first of our features for this issue with Bobbie Pyron’s brave essay The Perks of Being Bipolar

And lest this issue sound too serious—do not fear— there is plenty to chuckle at and laugh with in the pieces above and the pieces to come. So, please stop back often. Read, respond and let this issue aid the art and insanity in your creativity.

Bethany Hegedus, YA and Children’s Lit Editor

We are now accepting pieces for consideration for our Winter 2012 issue The Magic & Mystery of Identity and our Spring 2012 issue The Landscape of Literature. Please see here for submission guidelines. *Note: there is now a $3.00 submissions fee which is not a reader fee, but a charge that helps fund the cost of the online submissions manager. Since our readers and editors are scattered around the globe, snail mail submissions, which would also cost submitters roughly $3, are not viable. Thank you for your continued support of Hunger Mountain.*

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fabulous Fall Friday

The temp here in Austin is now reaching a high of 87 with evenings in the cool 60s. This is fall for us--so I am going to take it. I do miss the fall foliage of upstate NY, the crisp apples, donning sweaters and walking to my beloved Brooklyn bagel shop and having coffee with friends on park benches. But, Austin has brought other Indian Summer pleasures--taking a walk with AK down at Town Lake, writing outside at The Place with the ladies and as K.A. Holt said bogarting a picnic table for 5 hours, and finally opening The Writing Barn to friends.

This last Sunday, a rainy Sunday which the drought ridden soil so desperately needed we held the opening of The Writing Barn. (Also, a birthday celebration for my 39th.) The day before Dave Wilson, a wonderful photographer, who just happens to be married to Austin author Nikki Loftin came to take professional shots of The Barn. It may have been gloomy outside but Dave, with his wide angle lense, and his talent made The Barn look bright and welcoming.

A fancy shot merging three solo shots.

Guest bedroom, queen sized bed

Cozy loft space to read or write

A place to rock and read

Screened in porch

Lovely courtyard in front of The Barn

The rain continued to fall for the Barn Warming on Sunday afternoon but friends came--ready to eat, drink, and be merry! Abou Sylla and band were incredible!
Jeff Crosby, Shelley Ann Jackson, and E. Kirstin Anderson chat.

Gather ye round for cake. From R to L, Vanessa Lee, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Jenny Moss, and Don Tate and his lovely wife.

Abou Sylla breaks it down. Pic by Jen Bigheart.

The birthday carrot cake ala Central Market
It was a wonderful to see so many friends, old and new, and to break in the barn the right way--mud and all--before The Barn's first event this weekend, a book launch party for HARNESS HORSES, BUCKING BRONCOS & PIT PONIES: A HISTORY OF HORSE BREEDS at the Writing Barn on Sunday, Oct. 16th from 2-4 pm. Written and illustrated by Jeff Crosby and Shelley Ann Jackson.  (For an excellent interview with Jeff and Shelley see Donna Bowman Bratton's blog.

Lots of other goings on this week, In Austin

Don't miss Cynsations interview with Tu Books (Lee and Low) Editor Stacy Whitman and Author Karen Sandler. Comment and you will be eligible for a 10 page critique by Editor, Stacy Whitman. 

Publisher's Weekly featured BookPeople in this week's Children's Bookshelf. Meghan Goel, book buyer for BookPeople was asked 3 Questions. To find out what they are--go here. 

Outside Awesome Austin

The National Book Award nominees were announced. A big congrats to all nominees but a special congrats to friend Debby Dahl Edwardson for My Name is Not Easy, and the two other VCFA names in the mix--the wonderful Lauren Myracle  for Shine and current VCFA faulty member Franny Billingsley for Chime!

Over at Hunger Mountain

The annual print edition is DONE, which means new content to the YA & Children's section for the fall issue, The Art & Insanity of Creativity will be launching soon. Look for content by Bobbie Pyron, Ron Koertge, Lindsey Lane, Debby Dahl Edwardson, Uma Krishnaswami, Jennifer Hubbard, Sarah Aronson, J. Patrick Lewis, and more.

I was invited by Claire Guyton to write an essay for the Hunger Mountain Voices series going on at the blog, Another Loose Sally. The first essay was written but nabbed up for a future Writer's Life, Inc piece. So I began drafting a new one--that effort YA Is Not a Genre--I hope clears up some of the misinformation about YA. Thank you to my Hunger Mountain colleagues--the woman at the head of the ship, Miciah Bay Gault, and our extraordinary social media intern, Kris Underwood for their participation in the conversation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Inside the Writer's Studio with Tess Hilmo

Today at Inside the Writer’s Studio we welcome debut author Tess Hilmo. Tess is a member of The Class of 2k11 and writes in the genre I most love: Southern Middle Grade!

About the book:
From the Publisher--FSG

When Ollie’s daddy, the Reverend Everlasting Love, pulls their travel trailer into Binder to lead a three-day revival, Ollie knows that this town will be like all the others they visit— it is exactly the kind of nothing Ollie has come to expect. But on their first day in town, Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, whose mother is in jail for murdering his father. Jimmy insists that his mother is innocent, and Ollie believes him. Still, even if Ollie convinces her daddy to stay in town, how can two kids free a grown woman who has signed a confession?  Ollie’s longing for a friend and her daddy’s penchant for searching out lost souls prove to be a formidable force in this tiny town where everyone seems bent on judging and jailing without a trial.

Welcome, Tess! Thanks for being with us today!

Is there a story behind the story that you wish to share? (Ie: the ah-ha or lightning moment where the story inspiration struck.)

I grew up loving southern gospel music and have memories of singing songs like Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Let My People Go and This Little Light of Mine as a little girl.  I'd sing them while I was walking home from school or doing my chores.  I'd sing them in the shower or after an argument with a friend.  Now you should know that I am a terrible singer but that didn't matter. Those songs made me believe in myself.  Fast forward many, many years and you would find me, now a busy mom, trying to write novels for kids.  I decided that I wanted to write a novel that would embrace these songs I love so much.  With A Name Like Love is that story.

How do you stay inspired to face the dreaded blank page? Is it something you dread? Look forward to? Share a bit about your writing process.

I'd love to tell you that I have a strict writing schedule...that I follow the good advice to sit down and write some every day, but I don't.  My creative process takes a lot of musing.  I need to go on long drives and sit in parks.  I need to gaze out windows and let my mind wander.  Sometimes I even need to eat whole tubs of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  It's a hard life, but someone's got to live it :)

How does “place” come through in your writing? How important is place in this current novel/picture book? Is it tied to a place you once lived or are familiar with or is it a new world entirely?

I knew this story would need to be set in the south, but really had little experience of the south myself.  Generations ago, I did have distant relatives in Arkansas and a great uncle who was an itinerant preacher.  I honestly believe those angels looked down from heaven and guided my writing.  I read some of their journals and lots of books on Arkansas.  I combed the internet.  I wrote key facts on paper and taped them all around my workspace.  I did my best to imagine the world they lived in and make it come to life for Ollie and her family.

Writers love books; we love reading. What book do you turn to over and over again and why do you love it?

Anything by Gary Schmidt is a favorite.  His writing style is very different from mine, but it inspires me.  I can imagine myself dancing on the rocky cliffs with Lizzy Bright from Lizzy Bright and the Buckminster Boy or tossing a baseball with Doug Swieteck in is most recent (and amazing) novel, Okay For Now.  Everything he writes encourages me to strive for real characters living in a real world.  No one does characterization better.

If your protagonist and antagonist were competing on American Idol what songs would each sing? And who would have the better voice?
I couldn't pass this question up! Ollie sings old gospel songs that her daddy teaches her and her sisters ... at one point in the novel she sings Let My People Go, her daddy's rich voice guiding her in her head.  If she were to be on the American Idol stage, she'd sing that song and rock the house!  There are a few antagonists in the story...I'll chose Esther Roberts for this question (a pinch faced shop keeper who is mean as they come) and say she'd stand on the stage and start singing I'm A Little Teapot --- but about two sentences in, she'd stop singing and tell everyone how dumb the whole competition is before stomping off stage.  That woman is a pain in the hind end!

In ode to Maebelle, the main character in my new book Truth with a Capital T, who keeps a book of little known facts about just about everything, please share a wacky piece of trivia that has stuck with you or please share a little known fact about YOU.

 I used to be terribly superstitious as a child...always careful never to step on cracks in the sidewalk or pick up "tail side up" pennies.  I even recall separating all of the silverware in the dishwasher because I was afraid the knives would hurt the forks and the forks would hurt the spoons.  It may have been extreme, but it was for their own good.

Tess, thanks for being with us and thanks for keeping those forks and spoons safe!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy: A Round Up Between Bursts of Busy

It's Friday--which means it is round up time and there is much going on in the kid lit scene one must read about.

In Awesome Austin

The Austin SCBWI hosts Storytelling in the Digital Age tomorrow at St. Edwards. The event itself, and author/speaker Lindsey Lane, got some wonderful coverage in the Austin Statesman, in their article, "Storybook apps for kids a major topic among children's book writer's and artists."  

"It astounds me the possibilities of what you could do with a story and touching the screen, opening up different worlds for kids," Lane said.

If wanting to register, see here. 

The Austin Teen Book Festival
I was one of the 25,000 attendees at The Austin Teen Book Festival at the Palmer Center last weekend. I snapped many a picture, chatted with many a fellow author, and was overwhelmed at the excitement in the air. The teens came out in full force to see a line up of stellar YA writing rock stars. Check out today's coverage from Publisher's Weekly, including a fabulous quote from Varian Johnson, Austin author of Saving Maddie.

A young fan of author Jennifer Ziegler

An attendee in full steampunk regalia.   
Authors Jennifer Ziegler, Christina Mandelski, Stephanie Perkins and Simone Elkeles      

For more photos of the outstanding event, see Cynsations Event Report by Austin Teen Book Festival featured author Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose Tantalize series drew in plenty of fans. And, see also Greg Leitich Smith, whose new novel Chronal Engine is coming soon!

The Writers' League of Texas

As usual, much is going on at the Writers' League of Texas, including a fundraiser for the WLT this Sunday evening. Check out information for the Raise the Roof Party Here.

The Texas Book Festival

I am up to my ears in books for this year's TBF. Please join me on Saturday at 2pm, Oct. 22nd for:

Zombies, Odd Girls, and My Other Middle School Classmates

with Mac Barnett, K.A. Holt, René Saldaña Jr., and Jo Whittemore

Date: Saturday, October 22, 2011
Time: 2:00 - 3:00
Location: Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)

In middle school, most kids are afraid to be themselves. So we want to celebrate those daring middle schoolers who are proudly unique - the sullen odd girl in Jo Whittmore's Odd Girl In, the brain-eating zombies in K. A. Holt's Brains for Lunch, and the crime-solving detectives in Mac Barnett's It Happened On a Train and René Saldaña Jr.’s The Lemon Tree Caper. Because if you can't be yourself, you might as well be (un)dead.

Moderator Bethany Hegedus is the author of Between Us Baxters and Truth with a Capital T, both of which were named to the Best Books list by the Bank Street Awards Committee. Forthcoming is the picture book Grandfather Gandhi, co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson to the Mahatma. Bethany serves as the Young Adult & Children's editor for the literary journal Hunger Mountain.

Authors: Jo Whittemore
René Saldaña, Jr.
K.A. Holt
Mac Barnett

At the Writing Barn

Please join us for The Writing Barn's first event, October 16th, 2-4 pm. 

Please join Jeff Crosby & Shelley Jackson to celebrate the release of their newest children's picture book, HARNESS HORSES, BUCKING BRONCOS & PIT PONIES: A HISTORY OF HORSE BREEDS!

Minis and Friends, a charitable organization that benefits disabled children, will be at the event with live miniature horses to pet. Original art from the book will be on display, prints will be for sale, and copies of HARNESS HORSES will be available for purchase and to get autographed. We'll also have snacks, horsey games and more!
This event is open to the public. The Writing Barn is located at 10202 Wommack Road in Austin. Parking will be available inside the property and overflow parking is available on Riddle Road and Wommack Road.
It's sure to be a fun event for horse lovers, book lovers, and art lovers of all ages!

Happy Friday!