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Archive for June, 2010

I’ve been writing a little piece about my writing journey. It’s not quite ready but here’s a teaser.

It was inspired by this reptile:

The Desert Tortoise spends 75 % of its time underground. And when it does come out it has an average cruising speed of .2 mph. I saw one blazing across the desert a few years ago.

I’ve been moved by reptiles a few times in my life. The most harrowing was having two big fat rattlesnakes buzzing at me while I was on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. They were about five feet away and luckily did not decide to use my lower leg as a pin cushion.

Getting close and cuddly with those rattlers was way more scary than being bitten by an alligator lizard. Yeah, that happened to me once, too. Sunk its sharp tiny teeth into my pinky. That was all twenty years ago, but it’s still fresh in my mind.

You can tell a vicious dog to go home. You can scream at a black bear and it’ll most likely leave you alone. But you just can’t reason with a reptile.

I’ve been plugging away at a new WIP and am about 50K into a first draft. I’m guessing I’ll wrap this puppy up in another 10 to 15K but it’s behaving more like a reptile than a mammal so we’ll see.

How about you? What are working on this week? And, has a reptile ever inspired you to do something? Sing? Dance? Run?

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A thank you to everyone who entered my Paul Volponi book giveaway and everyone else who stopped by to check it out.

The winners were chosen by Randomizer (pictured below):

And his side kick, who goes by the clever name, Side-kicker:

Dawn Simon won Black and White.

Ali Cross won Rooftop.

Robyn Campbell won Rucker Park Setup.

Please email me at paulgreci(at)yahoo(dot)com with your mailing information.

Thanks again to all who participated. Have a great weekend!

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If you haven’t do so already, head on over to Terry Lynn Johnson’s Blog and give her a high-five.

She is now represented by Caryn Wisman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency!!!

My YA Giveaway ends at midnight tonight. Just leave a comment on the Giveaway Post to participate.  I’ll announce the winners in a couple days.

Have a great weekend!!

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I first heard Paul Volponi speak at the 2006 ALAN Conference as one of the New Voices in Young Adult Literature.

I remember him being passionate about writing realistic books that would connect with reluctant readers. At the time, I was teaching English in a school for kids who had exhausted all their other public school options. Consistently throughout my fifteen year tenure in that school, over ninety per cent of my students were male struggling and reluctant readers. Many of them had been in detention. Most had intense home lives either living with their families, in foster care, or group homes. I was always on the lookout for books that would speak to them.

Paul Volponi’s books did not disappoint me. For six years Paul taught incarcerated teens on Rikers Island to read and write. He’s the real deal and has won a slew of awards for his YA novels.

Here’s a quote from his 2006 presentation: “Books for reluctant readers have to grab you around the throat in the first couple of pages and not let go.”

Paul has authored eight Young Adult novels. I’m giving away three of them. And yeah, they all grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go!

Black and White

Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other’s backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one decision—one mistake—will change their lives forever.

Rooftop

Cousins Clay and Addison were like brothers, growing up together in the projects, until they were ripped apart by a family argument. When they are reunited in a drug-treatment program, they try to work out their issues like a family. But one night, one wrong decision, leaves Clay shaken and Addison dead. And in the rash of events that follow, the truth of what actually happened on the rooftop of the apartment building is caught up in a clash of politics and racial issues. Will Clay be able to rise above the lies and face the truth?

Rucker Park Setup

Rucker Park—a place where some of basketball’s greatest pro players go up against street legends. Best friends Mackey and J.R. have waited their whole lives to win the basketball tournament here. But when the day of an important game arrives, J.R. is fatally stabbed. And while Mackey didn’t wield the knife, he feels responsible. Now he has a score to settle, but the killer is watching his every move. Caught between two opposing forces, Mackey is determined to finish the final game of the Rucker Park Tournament on his own terms. The question is, can he do it?

Three winners will be chosen randomly.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment by midnight EST June 25th, telling me which book you’d like to win (if you have a preference), and I’ll try to accommodate your choice. 

2. If you can think of one, please leave a title to a book you’ve read that you think would engage a reluctant or struggling reader. You can still enter the contest either way:-)

Thanks for stopping by!

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We’ve got a long travel day ahead of us so I thought I’d leave you with a couple of photos and catch up on news in a few days.

Yeah, that’s my wife, Dana, wrestling a gorilla. She’s always getting into some kind of mischief.

Here we are in New York before starting our journey home to Alaska.

We hope to still be smiling 5,000 miles later.

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I’m in the middle of a new WIP. I’ve got a rough outline that keeps me on track but leaves lots of room for growth and spontaneity. I have the back story written for my major characters. I have a potential scene list in a potential order.

I knew that some of the obstacles my MC would run into would be people, but as I approached each new scene I’d get new ideas about who those people were.

I’d been reading  The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell and decided to do a Voice Journal for each new character entering the story. I didn’t ask the characters questions. I just let them talk about their lives and what brought each of them to where they are now. I’ve written three of them, each about 1200 words.

Here’s what they are helping me do in my first draft:

  1. The dialogue is sharper.
  2. I’m more tuned in to the distinct voice of each character.
  3. I’m discovering more hidden motives for how my characters are responding.
  4. I seem to be writing more words in a shorter time.

Have you used a Voice Journal or a variation of one? How did you like it? I’d love to hear your response.

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