Tuesday, 27 January 2009

More Young Minds to Mould --

--- into brilliant writers!

I've started a new series of creative writing classes for youngsters at New City Library. Normally I keep it 4th-6th grades, but my most regular attendee, Susan is now in the 7th, and has a couple of friends of the same age. The youngest is member is actually in the third grade, so she's very young - but clearly extremely bright and talented. Ten budding writers, boys and girls.

They all say they'll do the homework, even though there are no grades. We'll see!

I really enjoy teaching these kids. They are so talented.

Well, some of them are, anyway (!)

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Things is a poppin'!

For a couple of months it seemed that nothing much was happening with my writing.

I finished what I think is a very funny YA novel in collaboration with a young woman from my church youth group, meeting once a week over her mom's kitchen table to just make up storyline and typing it up later. We began a follow up, but she's been very busy, and we haven't returned to our weekly sit-downs.

I've begun a middle grade (probably 9-11 ages) story called, tentatively, "Zombie Hunters of the Fifth Grade". But I haven't got very far yet.

But this week I A) received a contract, at last, for "Bogbrush the Barbarian" (another very silly book) and was asked by KCP for a proposal for a non-fiction book about Robin Hood. Indeed, that would be part of a possible series about historical (or, in this case, semi-historical) figures.

And on Monday I start teaching creative writing for kids once again.

Good stuff!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Teaching comedy!

I'm three weeks into teaching a five session course at a local library. We decided to call it 'Comedy for Kids', although I suppose that one writes 'humour' rather than 'comedy'. But who cares?

I have four middle graders. One girl is a regular at my courses, and is very talented. Her story involves a giant inflatable shark called Melvin, and his search for stolen fish sticks. It's pretty darn good for a twelve year old!

The others aren't quite as advanced. One boy is a sports nut, and seems a bit lost when it comes to actually adding real humour to his writing. But, hey, he's nine. When I was nine I wasn't a great talent either.

OK, I know what you were about to say -----

Anyway, it's huge fun, and I'm glad to be teaching the next generation. And giving them homeweork as well.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Island of Mad Scientists --

-- continues to get really good reviews.

Here's one: http://medinger.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/the-mad-misadventures-of-emmaline-and-rubberbones/

another here:http://melissasbookreviews.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-11-10T06%3A24%3A00-06%3A00&max-results=5

This is great, since I think it's my best book yet.

Of course, even if I thought it was a pedestrian effort, barely adequate at best, I'd still want the great reviews :)

What I really want is for lots of actual kids to enjoy it. I'd like them to buy it, of course, since I have to buy groceries like everyone else, but I didn't start writing for kids so I could buy a Rools Royce.

Dam' lucky really for me, thenm since I am stilll driving the dented Mazda ---

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Standing up in front of a stone wall

I've grown used to giving presentations for groups of kids, and generally they go well. I ham it up, ask questions, read bits of my books, answer questions.

Usually the organisers have to drag me off the stage. At the very least, they hold up a hand telling me that I have two (or three, or five) more minutes.

I love it. It's like stirring up anarchy.

This week, though, I did a presentation for a mixed, largely unconnected group of educators. It was a tough audience. They didn't respond to the obvious 'funny bits'. They had no questions. I had to poke at them to answer mine. After a while they warmed up a little, and a couple even admitted using hmour in a classroom setting. It was -- okay. But for a good while I felt like a stand up comic working a room on a wet Tuesday at a Holiday Inn in Vidalia, Ga.

I did sell a few books, though. Onward and upward!

Another children's author had been first to address the crowd (I hadn't arrived yet, so I missed her presentation). She came up and congratulated me on looking so relaxed in front of this very tough audience. That was very nice of her, and maybe I am able to appear confident and at ease. But, really, I'd like to connect with the audience. And this group were tough to connect with!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Something new!

So far I've written only about the Emmaline and Rubberbones stuff. But It's worth mentioning that, since I am a Renaissance Man (which means I don't bathe and get into knife fights with bad poets) that my next creation from KCP will, in fact, be "Bogbrush the Barbarian", a fantasy romp about a barbarian hero so utterly stupid that, er, all the other barbarian heroes notice. It's as if Conan the Barbarian was bigger, dimmer, and his creator made fun of him constantly.

I think the target audience is ten year old boys, juvenile delinquents and my own friends.

I've had to make it a little more kid-friendly, or rather, delete anything too risque. Which is a shame, as the ladies find Bogbrush strangely appealing, in the "I like 'em big and stupid" range of taste. of course, Bogbrush fails to comprehend any of this. British readers will remember the classic (that means 'old and bad') Carry On films for the 50s - 70s. Bogbrush is a fantasy version of that style.

Bill Slavin will illustrate it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Out among the fifth graders --

"The Island of Mad Scientists" is out in the US as of Oct 1st, and I've been to scenic Rockport, Massachusetts to read bits of my books, sign copies and generally ham it up to audiences of middle graders, their families and some unsuspecting adults.

It was enormous fun.

There's something about getting a roomful of eleven year olds to laugh uproariously. It's just fantastic. You can't buy it.