Friday, May 29, 2009

Write & Play Shop -- Assignment # 1

Some of you may remember this series of workshops from last summer, and I know many of you were diligently writing and recapturing lost memories. Maybe you stopped after awhile. That's okay. Find those notebooks and read them over and pick up where you left off! I know you'll find some happy surprises in the pages you wrote and good material for books and stories. For many of you this workshop will be a new. Welcome!

The Write & Play Shop will be a series of assignments to help you find your own personal stories and which of those stories are important for you to develop into a memoir, a short story, novel, or poetry. For some of you it may be enough just to do the writing assignments in a journal form. You'll have choices of how much or how little you want to write--I'll give you a long, short, and a very short option to follow. What we'll be doing is tapping into our emotional memories and I'll give you specific instructions about that first thing Monday morning.

But first, our very first assignment--and I'm going to be doing this along with you--will be to keep what Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way calls an Artist's Date, which for our purposes means to get happy and cozy with your writing space. For this writing journey, buy or make a journal (decorate it if you want) and choose your favorite writing instrument. I like a marbled black & white composition book and a mechanical pencil for my brainstorming and draft outlines. But if you're really wedded to your computer for everything, well, that's fine too.

Look around for some special things for your writing space--a favorite quote, a favorite "thinking" tool, photos. I have a flat black rock, a mini koosh ball, author/artist quotes... Here's one of the quotes and a good one for our creative adventure: "I have tried to write the best I can; sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can." ~Ernest Hemingway

If you don't have a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, you'll want to purchase or borrow a copy and/or visit Anne Tyler Lord's blog. You can find her by clicking on my profile and checking out the blogs I follow. Just look for her name!  So along with jotting down memories, write morning pages as per Julia and find your own spiritual path to higher creativity. What we're doing is filling the well. Mine feels a little dry right now, so I'll be scribbling furiously in my notebook along with you. 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to ask questions, share experiences in a comment to the blog or in an e-mail: claragillowclark (@)  My hope is that you will each find your own special and unique writing voice by plumbing the depths of your emotional experience!

For many of you who have been following me for awhile, you know that I teach writing and do freelance editing. For a limited time (June and July) I'm offering a Summer fee reduction of 30%. That means for a picture book ms up to 10 pages my flat fee of $50 is now $35.  For longer works--middle grade and young adult only, please--my fee of $3 per page is now $2 per page. If you're interested, shoot me an e-mail. I'll send you my address and other particualrs.

I'll be back on Wednesday when we'll set out on our journey. Have fun setting up a writing space of your own and be ready to write!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just couldn't resist sharing this fabulous review!

Secrets of Greymoor
Posted by Editor at 20 May, 2009, 4:55 pm
By Clara Gillow Clark
Candlewick Press, $15.99, 166 pages

Secrets of Greymoor is more than a tale of hidden treasures, deciphering codes, and secrecy. It’s an honest story of a young girl sent to live with her once-rich grandmother with the intent to go to the finest schools and make a better life than the one her father could provide for her. Hattie soon discovers, after her grandfather’s death in an insane asylum, that her grandmother needs her far more than she needs her grandmother. Hattie’s grandfather loved mysteries so much and that fact becomes apparent when she finds a thin leather book filled with gibberish; codes she must translate to find her riches. She is determined to find his hidden treasure and save her grandmother from financial ruin. Hattie never loses hope in the fortune she’s sure to find, but in the end is surprised at how precious it is. This is a charming tale filled with intrigue, excitement, and often, painfully disappointing lessons of family status, envy, loyalty, and betrayal. While the ending leaves the reader wanting more, it delivers the moral gauge that budding young adults need to find their place in family and societal life.

Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
Sacramento Book Review

CONGRATULATIONS to Writing Coach, Beth Troop and her talented young authors of the WAMS Writing Club who read and performed last night!

Stay tuned! I'll be posting the first assignment for the FREE creativity classes tomorrow.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coming soon. . .

Sunday, May 24, 2009 Thoughts & Updates

Since it's Memorial Day weekend I know that most of you are busy with family, parades, and parties. Please take a moment to remember our Vets.

I enjoyed a book signing in Scranton yesterday at Anthology Books and met a picture book author new to me whose first picture book, Sneezy Louise was published this spring. Welcome, Irene Breznak! I'll tell you more about her in a follow-up post.

Coming Soon. . . For all of you writers, journal keepers, book lovers out there (did I miss anyone?) I've started putting together a short creative writing course that is free to all of you and any of your friends who want to write. I'll be posting it here. Stay tuned for details coming later this week!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Library--the place to meet the best people!

Monday, May 18, 2009
I was talking to my librarians Jen and Holly at the WSPL Delaware Free Library in Callicoon, NY about my blog last week and because of my big mouth I got to meet a really special person, a librarian who was on an upstate vacation and library road trip with her husband. He took the photo of us. Thanks, Lou! Here we are: Me, with two of my Hattie books, and Elma Lugo, the
librarian, with my newest book, Secrets of Greymoor and my first book, Annie's Choice. Elma works at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library in the town of Shirley out on Long Island. What a serendipitous moment! I love making new friends. Also a big CONGRATULATIONS to Elma Lugo, who just got her Masters Degree! Librarians--where would we be without them?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interview with Claudia Mills

Monday, May 11, 2009

I asked Claudia Mills, the author of the wonderful book, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, if she would answer a couple of questions about the writing of Oliver Olson for my blog readers, and she said, "Yes!" She's like that, you know. She shines with fun and good heart. Below is a short exchange between Claudia and me about her characters and a little insight into the writing process.

ME: I love the way you write, Claudia, and your characters are so lovable. I wondered if you could tell us how you create your characters? What is the inspiration for them? How do you make them so appealing and believable? Is there anything else you'd like to say about character development?

Claudia: Thanks for all your kind words, Clara! I don't really sit down to write with a pre-conceived notion of what my characters are going to be like. Well, maybe I do. I knew Oliver would be the child of overprotective parents, a kid who doesn't have much confidence in himself, and that Crystal would be the spunky girl who drags him out of their orbit somehow. But that was all I knew when I started. The rest emerges on the page, as I write. For me, character development is all about putting your characters into an interesting situation and then watching what happens. The key is to come up with the interesting situation. I do that part. But then the characters themselves do the rest.

When I wrote OLIVER, I knew that the kids would be making dioramas for their study of the solar system, and that Oliver's parents would be completely controlling about his. Believe me, I have interacted with SO many helicopter parents here in Boulder and I have made my own share of dioramas for my kids when they should have been making their own. (And decorated Valentine boxes, too!). But I had no idea that Oliver and Crystal would end up making a protest diorama on behalf of Pluto. That idea was theirs alone! And now it seems to be most readers' favorite part of the book.

ME: Thanks for joining us, Claudia! I hope all of you will look for Claudia's other books as well. I'm sure most of you are familiar with her Gus & Grandpa books: Claudia is a graduate of Princeton University. She worked in publishing for many years at Scholastic and now lives in Boulder, CO. As well as writing charming books for kids, she teaches Philosophy at the University of Colorado.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Review

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Finally, here's the book review I promised. I love this book!

How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills.
Oliver Olson’s third grade class has embarked on a five week study of outer space. When the teacher asks how many of the kids would like to walk on the moon, all the boys and girls raise their hands, all except for Oliver. Oliver knew that ". . .his parents would never let him walk on the moon. The moon was too far away. It was too cold. It didn’t have enough gravity. The rocket might explode. Rockets exploded all the time." Oliver Olson’s parents aren’t just extremely overprotective, they also have grand ideas for him about his diorama of the solar system. Worse, Oliver’s sure that he’s doomed to be like the ex-planet Pluto, always an outsider. He knows his parents will never give him permission to go to the space sleepover either, but Oliver’s chatty classmate, Crystal has ideas of her own. Soon the two are working together on the project and a protest with little Pluto holding a sign saying "Let me in!" on the outside of their diorama. Written with gentle humor and charm, Mills captivates the reader with the wonderfully winsome Oliver and his new sidekick Crystal. Readers will cheer as Oliver comes into his own, proving in unexpected ways that he has ideas that can change more than just the world. Not only does Mills write with irresitible charm, she has wonderful not-to-be missed insights into kid nature. I hope you'll share her books with all the young readers in your life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This Week's Events

Monday, May 5, 2009 What's Happening!

Early this morning I'm headed out to meet with other writers.

Tuesday, tomorrow, I'll post the review of the book for younger readers that I promised last week! mea culpa.

Wednesday and Thursday I'll be at Bloomsburg Reading Conference at Bloomsburg University, PA, where I'm one of the featured authors/speakers--wish me luck--thank you!

Saturday I have a book signing at the Borders Galleria bookstore in Middletown, NY

In between are the usual laundry, cleaning, cooking and giving my husband a hand at the office and WRITING. Busy week, but never to busy to stay in touch! Stay tuned!