Lindsey Lane—Blog - Lindsey Lane

More First Kisses

In my effort to make a dent in my To Be Read pile, I have dedicated myself in the beginning part of this year to reading the debuts in the stack first. Why? Because these are the manuscripts we toiled over for years. These are the books that turned us from writer to author. These books are the first kisses from writers and cause us to follow their book writing careers.

Two debuts by EMLA agent mates Erin E. Mouton‘s Flutter and Susan L. Meyer‘s Black Radishes are fabulous middle grade adventure stories.

blackradishesIn Black Radishes, Meyer takes on a big historical moment—the Nazi invasion of Europe–and creates a very human story through the eyes of Gustave, a French born Jewish boy who leaves Paris with his parents and lives in unoccupied France while waiting for the all important papers to get to America. Written in third person, Meyer keeps us close to the turmoil in Gustave’s heart (leaving family, feeling persecution) while opening the camera a little wider for us to take in the landscape which Gustave sees but can’t fully grasp but we do. Very skillfully done.

Flutter is an adventure story of a different kind. Set on the landscape of rural flutterVermont, Moulton creates the Rittle family with ten year old Maple as the heroine who wants to save the newest Rittle sister, born prematurely. She and her twelve year old sister set out across the wilderness to procure water from the Wise Woman. Moulton knows her landscape. I was in the churning river with Maple. I was holding my breath when the poachers were nearby. I was running into town desperate to get help. Well done, Erin.

Both these stories will have boys and girls on the edge of their seats for many years.

 

 

First Kisses

Once upon a time (not very long ago), I was walking on a beach and saw this guy with a book in his hand. It was a book I had loved. In fact, I loved that author’s second and third books so I said as much.

The guy said, “That’s good to know but I only read first books of authors. I figure I can’t read all the books in the world but I might have a shot at all the first books.”

“Wow, that’s like a thousand first dates.”

He smiled. “Or a thousand first kisses.”

No doubt about it, first books of authors are really special. We toil over them not knowing if it will ever catch the eye of an editor. Never mind a reader.

I began my year digging into my towering TBR (to be read) pile and pulled out two first books. The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu and Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. Both are gems.

emptyAndreu’s book tells the tale of M.T. who, in her senior year of high school, believes she can have no future because her parents are illegal and she has no papers that allow her to stay in the U.S. Andreu weaves a beautiful story. What I loved especially is the MT’s relationship with her mother whom she loves but must break from in order to exit the dead end of an illegal life. It is a heartbreaking, beautiful glimpse into the invisible lives around us.

Wesselhoeft’s Adios, Nirvana takes us into the mind and heart of Jonathannirvana who is still reeling from his twin brother’s tragic death, which Jonathan believes is his fault. This is a tale of redemption, of the bond between thicks (aka friends though that’s a pretty weak word for this brand of friends), of the muscular ability of music to lift you up (even as you fall out of a gorilla’s hand) and of connection in the most unlikely, death ridden places. Yeah, Wesselhoeft rocks this story seriously hard.

I think I’ll keep going with these first kisses. Sweet sixteen, the year of many first kisses.

So, You Want To Write Some Short Stories…

ll-sm-coverWhen I first became a published author with my picture book Snuggle Mountain, I discovered I loved going into class rooms and sharing my enthusiasm for writing with people of all ages. I love telling kids that there are no wrong answers when you are writing. (Grammar, spelling, thesis statements and punctuation are different from writing.) I love igniting their brains and setting their fingers on fire.

I also love the collaboration of writing. My debut YA novel Evidence of Things Not Seen would Evidence-of-things-not-seennot have been published without the support and expertise of my critique group. Sharing our work with other writers in a supportive environment help us create better more publishable manuscripts. All writers need that outside eye and support.

So guess what?

I am teaching a six-week class this fall: Writing Winning Short Stories, on Tuesday evenings, 7-9 pm, October 27 – December 1 at the Writing Barn in South Austin.

My idea for the class started because The Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest deadline is mid December. I thought it would be very cool to have a class where writers could share manuscripts and get them ready to submit together.

shel

Shelli Cornelison

Of course, the idea blossomed. Shelli Cornelison agreed to co-teach the class with me. Shelli is a fabulous writer who has had several short stories published and is an excellent critique partner. Together, we would like to teach a comprehensive and in-depth class on writing short stories.

Our main focus for the class is the manuscript. We want to spend the majority of time reading and critiquing manuscripts so that each participant can share their subsequent revisions or new work. Each class will include a mini lecture on craft, but a lot of craft discussion will come as a result of the manuscripts themselves. Our intention is that each participant will leave the class with better, more publishable manuscripts, a bibliography of craft books, handouts on specific craft elements, a list of outlets for short story submissions and a new community of writers who will cheer your successes.

To register for this class, please go to this link.  If you have questions, please contact me: lindsey@lindseylane.net

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Asking for Evidence: Tommy Smythe

Some QuestionsEOTNS_hires-600x900

Readers have called my young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen “edgy” and had a lot of questions about the characters profiled there.  Some of those questions have been, well, edgy themselves.  With only a chapter spent with each, readers fiercely want to hold the characters accountable and make sure they get the respect they deserve.

Look for pointed questions to each of the characters here. Maybe you can answer some of them yourself.  If you prefer to print all the questions, download a PDF here.

Go back and read just the pages of Tommy’s notebook.  What do you notice that you did not notice before?  Below are some questions you might explore when exploring those torn pages.

“We leave pieces of ourselves everywhere. Every time we meet someone, they take some of us and we take some of them. That’s how it is. Little particles stick us together. Bit by bit. I think it’s how we get whole.”  —Tommy Smythe (opening)

Do you agree that little particles stick us together every time we meet someone?  In your opinion, is this is how we become whole beings?

“All possibilities exist.” —Tommy Smythe (page 9)

Truth or theory? Back it up with some thought.

“Sometimes I think this world – the one we are living in right now – is the one where we have to get it right.” 

Tommy Smythe (page 33)

Why would this be that world? Why couldn’t this be the world we get to make mistakes in?

“McCloud says if we know what causes mass, then we might be able to figure out how much less mass is needed to move things through space.” Tommy Smythe (page 42)

Do you think it’s possible to transport matter from one place or realm to another?

What’s your theory on how it could happen or why it couldn’t?

“I lost my notebook again…I went into another dimension. I wouldn’t be able to find that notebook until I came back into this dimension.” —Tommy Smythe (page 53)

Why wouldn’t Tommy’s notebook exist in other dimensions?

“I wonder if I become more by joining up with the other wave that is me.” Tommy Smythe (page 59)

Is it possible to discover other versions of yourself, to create your own alternate realities, without traveling to other dimensions?

“McCloud said that a general rule among physicists is that if phenomena are not expressly forbidden, they are eventually found to occur…if the equation exists, so does the possibility.” Tommy Smythe (page 69)

What happens to that possibility once a phenomenon is expressly forbidden?

Can something be forbidden without being expressly forbidden?

“Before being observed, the system takes on all possibilities. So reality is created by the observer.” Tommy Smythe (page 85)

In what ways do most of us create our own reality?

“Observation of a rabbit…I think they smell and hear and react. That’s all. We name it fear. I’m not sure it’s fear. It’s how they survive.” Tommy Smythe (page 94)

How does this description also apply to Tommy Smythe?

Asking for Evidence: Chuy

EOTNS_hires-600x900Chuy is featured on pages 219-226 of Evidence of Things Not Seen.

Some Questions

Readers have called my young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen “edgy” and had a lot of questions about the characters profiled there.  Some of those questions have been, well, edgy themselves.  With only a chapter spent with each, readers fiercely want to hold the characters accountable and make sure they get the respect they deserve.

Look for pointed questions to each of the characters here. Maybe you can answer some of them yourself.  If you prefer to print all the questions, download a PDF here.

1. What did you think when you first found out that the man you were digging a fence post for was the father of the boy who went missing a year ago?

2. When you’re sleeping on the run, you say you listen in the dark to figure out what’s around you, but after a while you stop, just breathe, and feel like you become the air. You said, “I start to disappear into the night.” What did you mean by that?

3. What is your explanation for the guy who appeared in a flash of lightning during a storm one night, then disappeared just as fast?

4. Do you believe in aliens and portals to another universe, like you learned about in comic books? Or in spirits that walk the earth, as Consuelo talked about?

5. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to live in uncertainty, in not knowing, in the mystery of this life?

Some Answers

Readers have also seen themselves in characters or seen their friends in the pages.  Some of things they see about themselves and others make them curious, some scare them, and some offer hope.  Each set of questions is followed by some websites and organizations where you might get answers.  I call them “resources” for lack of a better name.  But they could also be called a lifeline, a revelation, or evidence of things not seen.  Don’t be afraid to look for answers.

Resources

Once again, the amazing folks at TeensHealth.org have tons of resources for helping you sort through the complexities of life. Things like mental health, dealing with problems, and being your best self. See what they have to say.