#GivingTuesday and #WeNeedDiverseBooks

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign has been a rousing success. Far surpassing their original Indiegogo campaign of $100,000, the goals have been expanded. The money to this organization will support diverse authors in classrooms, internships in publishing, diverse books and programming, diversify classrooms, and develop educational kits for libraries and schools. The organization’s main goal is to promote non-majority narratives and the winners here are hopefully young readers and their families.

As an early #WeNeedDiverseBooks supporter, I sponsored a classroom visit from a diverse author to a Title I school. Why? There are always one or two kids for whom a school visit is magical. Those few kids who love to daydream, and doodle, and write poetry get a tingle in their spine as they meet an author or illustrator and the epiphany hits them… “Regular people like me write and illustrate books. I could do that!” Regular people–like me. School visits from diverse authors are crucial in planting the seeds for future authors who will write the next diverse books.

Some of you may know that I ran a booking agency. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked in that short year if the authors I represented could visit for free. Unfortunately, someone has to foot the bill. Authors and illustrators must be properly compensated for their expertise, their travel, and their lodging as much as they might want to give it away for free. (And trust me, many would love to not have to deal with that money stuff.) I’m hoping that more sponsors will use #GivingTuesday to step forward and sponsor a classroom. Join me in supporting #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

Wee Bits of Happiness

I was going to write a list poem about all the things that make me sad, but I got about four topics deep and it was too much to take. There has been a lot of sad recently– both personal, and global. I’m finding out that grieving my divorce is a longer process than I expected. It makes me silent. It makes me cry. It makes me angry. It makes me doubt myself. And then something small will snap me out of my grief, and I think that maybe it’s gone.

Wee Bits of Happiness

The light through autumn leaves.
The smell of baking banana/nut bread.
A newly mopped floor.
Cut flowers on the dining room table.
A call from an old friend.
A rockin’ sweat-filled Zumba class.
The disgust in my sons’ eyes when I show them moves from said Zumba class.
Looking forward to a camping trip with my youngest.
Knowing all the names of my students without looking at the roll.
Reclaiming my name.

Creative Chaos can now be found at http://www.annaejordan.com. Join me while I find and write about wee bits of happiness.

Dahlia

What’s in a name? Adjusting one’s eplatform.

For the last ten or twelve years, I’ve worked on building an e-platform that will hold me in good stead when I begin marketing my books in earnest. You know my books right? Well maybe not yet, but you will. Currently they are “works in progress,” or “making the rounds,” or “on submission.” Nevertheless, I have great faith that they will be published and when they are, they will need to be marketed and publicized.

I have spent much of my time (probably too much) keeping up with the newest social media marketing trends all under the name Anna J. Boll. However, recent unexpected life events have brought me to a new path, and I have decided to take back my birth name for my professional and personal life.

Cyberspace, meet Anna Eleanor Jordan.

I am not unique in this. People get divorced and married and divorced (1 divorce every 36 seconds according to this). What is newish and more difficult is changing the e-platform that is so much a part of modern daily existence.

Luckily my Twitter handle was @annawritedraw (no need to change)…

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…but my email, and Facebook had to change. My name-based gmail has been relatively simple (although it ends up being crazy long because shorter versions were taken), and I can easily have the old gmail forward to the new. Facebook gives you a spot for a parenthetical name which is nice.

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Pinterest even allows you to choose your own URL suffix. (I went with annawritedraw to make it the same as Twitter.)

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I’ve yet to deal with LinkedIn (which I use only for people I can recommend or for those who can recommend me) and this very webpage has to change.

Creative Chaos will eventually be found at annaejordan.com as soon as I figure out how to forward it properly.

But then there are other less public things. All the sites that I subscribe to, usernames, and passwords need to be changed and updated and on and on. In fact, it is a veritable web – intricate and extensive – of minutiae alterations. Just when I think I’m done, there are another thousand bits to change.

What’s not going to change is my commitment to the kidlit community, or my writing, or my passion for championing diversity in children’s literature, or my love of books, poetry, art and illustration, education, family, and matching children with wonderful new literature. Thanks to all for the support that I’ve received thus far and thanks for your patience with my spotty posting.

See! I still have to change my bio below, ugh, and Goodreads, and…

 

 

March Round-Up: Part Three, VCFA Novel Retreat

This past weekend was wonderfully relaxing. I played catch with my kids, went to see Divergent, enjoyed the spring ritual of going to Fat Boys drive in and binge watched How I Met Your Mother. But March was full of travel for me. Check out the March Round-Ups Part One:The Brunswick Inn  and Part Two:Brooklyn & NYC or just read on to hear about Part Three: VCFA Novel Retreat.

This was the second year that I’ve driven up to Montpelier in March to meet with writers, my people, in the safe and supportive writing community that is Vermont College of Fine Arts (FMI: Writing Novels for Young People Retreat-VCFA). Last year I signed up for the critique track which allowed me to get feedback from other authors, and industry professionals about my work in progress. This year, I chose the writing track which gave me time to write and revise.

Vermont Alum at the Novel Writing Retreat

No matter what track one chooses, all participants enjoy lectures from the guests. This year, those guests were author Jennifer Richard Jacobson, author Rachel Wilson, and editor Martha Mahalick from Greenwillow Books. Rachel kicked off the weekend with a wonderful theater-based workshop on allowing yourself to play. I’ve already gotten her permission to borrow some of the great theater games for my “Active Mind, Active Body,” presentation at NESCBWI in May. Jennifer took a wide look at emotion on the page and I ended up with pages of notes. Martha discussed revision, the problems that she sees most often, and ideas about how to fix them. She let us have an inside view to the relationship between an editor and her authors. All the presentations were inspiring!

The change of place, the helpful presentations, the wonderful company all allowed me to write again after an stress-induced hiatus. I completed a the first draft of my WIP, printed it out, and started my read through. The other wonderful thing about the weekend is the public reading. One night, we are all welcomed to take the floor and read 2 pages from our manuscripts. I love reading my work (probably because reading was a part of the VCFA curriculum when I was there). However, I hadn’t read from the work before and found myself nervous and a little breathless. Still, it was well received and it’s always good to take advantage of a chance to read aloud. Especially in such a supportive environment.

VCFA Novel Retreat Reading Night 2014

This week, my goal is to complete my first read through and to write myself an editorial letter. This is one of my favorite revision techniques. I get to pull back from being an author and just attack the manuscript. Sure, I’m still personally involved, but I try to give the story some tough love. When I read the editorial letter in a week or so, I’ll have the hard job of hating my editor (me) and trying to figure out how to resolve the problems in the manuscript. (A little schizophrenic I know, but it works for me.)

 

MWPA Workshop A Success!

Since my last post there have been a lot of changes in my personal life. Changes that I’m not going to go into here. Suffice it to say they have taken up a lot of my brain and heart space and so blogging has been low on the priority list.

What came in high on the priority list this week was my workshop preparation for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. That presentation, “Desire in the Middle Grade and Young Adult Novel,” went very well (if I do say so myself). I was honored to spend the day with seven aspiring writers who braved five hours with me at the Patten Free Library in Bath, ME. Together we explored model texts including Julie Berry’s; All The Truth That’s In Me, Linda Urban’s, A Crooked Kind of Perfect; Ingrid Law’s, Savvy; and Alan Cumyn’s, Tilt.

We asked questions, challenged ideas, reviewed manuscripts, wrote, revised, and even meditated. The day was a success!

Now I’m looking forward to my next presentation. May 2nd, I’ll be at the NESCBWI Annual Spring Conference presenting a workshop called, “Active Mind, Active Body.” We’ll be exploring the connection between physical activity and creativity, developing physical and creative goals, and crafting plans to achieve our goals. Finally, we’ll be doing some gentle physical activity (stretching, dance, yoga) to jump start fun writing activities. Register today!

If you were in my workshop today, share your learning, a new epiphany, or something that went well in the comments below.

If you are coming to NESCBWI New England introduce yourself in the comments and get your own badge here.

MWPA Desire Workshop Gets New Date & Time

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Dear Friends,

My Maine Writer’s and Publishers Workshop, Desire in Middle Grade and young Adult Novels, has a new date and time. Instead of two three hour sessions we are compacting it into a single five hour session on March first at the Patten Free Library in Bath, Maine. Click the picture or text link above for more information and registration. I can promise you a kick-ass lecture with examples from wonderful books, and one on one attention. If you know a someone in or around Maine who might be interested, please send them the link to this blogpost. Retweets and Facebook postings are encouraged!

Happy Writing,

Anna

What does your character want?

You’ve heard it from critique partners, agents, and editors: “What does your character want?” The adult world is full of desire but what about the world of children and young adults? 

Children and Teens often want passionately. Some are passionate because they are untouched by failure and disappointment; others are passionate because people who are supposed to love and protect them from failure and disappointment– have let them down. 

I’m going to be leading a two part workshop for Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance where we will discuss the importance of a clear desire line in fiction for young readers. This workshop takes place over two Saturdays: February 1 and March 1. We’ll use ancillary writing activities to discover our character’s deepest desires, and explore the differences between positive and negative desires. We’ll have a guided critique of each other’s first chapters and look for ways to make desire more opaque. Before the second session, you’ll get to revise your first chapter then we’ll process what we’ve learned and I’ll share my own revision process and techniques. Take a look at the full workshop description

By the end of our 6 hours together I hope to persuade you that one of the most important things you can do for your story is to clearly define your character’s desire in the first few chapters of your MG or YA novel. Depending on the audience, it is even better if that desire is clearly stated or hinted at in the very first chapter.

When the reader can clearly access the character’s desire:

  • The reader roots for that character from the onset.
  • The reader sympathizes with the character. (Even in the case of an unsympathetic character, the reader will connect with the act of longing.)
  • It is this longing that keeps the reader reading.

If this kind of inquiry into the craft of writing for children and young adults interests you, sign up!

More about me:

Anna J. Boll, author/illustrator and educator, earned an MFA and Picture Book Certificate at Vermont College of Fine Arts and a MSEd at the University of Southern Maine. A winner of the 2013 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, she is represented by Alexandra Penfold. Her poetry is published in Highlights High Five, Babybug, and Ladybug magazines.

2013 in review

Thanks to The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys who prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. The graphics are fun and the info is great. Thanks even more to all of those who followed Creative Chaos this year. A special appreciation to readers who comment. It’s always great to know that people are on the receiving end of my pitches into cyber space. (Even if it is most often my parents.)

2013 included my PEN New England win (your application awaits) and signing with my agent, the amazing Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow. I also took on a new business, Creative Bookings, where I help  authors and illustrators by handling their school and library booking contract and liaison work. Because I am ever hopeful, I predict good things in 2014 and ask you to continue with me on the journey. Happy New Year!

Anna

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Into the Woods- And Back Again

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I wonder what it would be like to live in Seattle. After eight days of grey skies and rain we experienced sunshine yesterday. It actually started on Sunday with a glimmer. A quick parting and rejoining of cloud cover that triggered a gulp of breath on my part. “Oh my, God,” I said, ” I think that was sunshine.” This while my husband and I made way to LL Bean after a walk in the woods where we saw these lovely lady slipper flowers. (If I’ve got that wrong and they are something else, please correct me in the comments.) I’ve seen one or two together many times but I’ve never seven as in the picture on the right. They seemed to be popping up everywhere (along with mushrooms) in the saturated woodland floor. The tree leaves had just exploded as well and were that wonderful springtime yellow-green against wet, black bark. So amazing. Just five days ago there were twigs, and branches, and buds, and rain, and rain, and rain. Today there is hope.