Poetry Challenge #52-Hurricane Florence

As I type Hurricane Florence* rages. Although I am far from the storm, it’s the only thing on my mind. With each update on the storm’s path and efforts those in the storms projected path are making to prepare, worry mounts. If you are like me, your thoughts and energy are with those in the Southeast—watching, waiting, worrying. As we send our energy and light to all in the storm’s path, let’s focus our creative effort there with today’s prompt.

hurricane-florence.png

Poetry Challenge #52

Hurricane Florence

Write a hurricane poem from the point of the view of a hurricane. Muster all the hurricane language you can—sounds and actions, too. Ask yourself, if Hurricane Florence were an animal or a machine which would she be?

*This is the 5th time a Hurricane has been named Florence. Why? There are plenty of other names that begin with the letter F. Feel free to change your hurricane’s name to something else. And if you do, consider: Does your hurricane want to hurt…or hug?

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Think “Hurricane” and get to it!

Excellent Book!

Excellent Book!

Hurricane Florence Playlist:

Red Cross and other relief organizations are hard at work supporting evacuees and preparing for the storm. DONATIONS are needed:

HURRICANE FLORENCE RELIEF

Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 870 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

A Pregnant Pause

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the millworkers sing in CarouselJune is bustin’ out all over…”  Flowers are budding, birds are chirping, bees buzzing and as a recent grandmother to Ben,

Bennett experienced the wonders of Indepencence day: Parades, fireworks & watermelon!

Bennett experienced the wonders of Indepencence day: Parades, fireworks & watermelon!

Great aunt for the second time: 

                        Welcome to the World Felicity Allain Smith, born June 9th, 2014.

                        Welcome to the World Felicity Allain Smith, born June 9th, 2014.

And recently revealed gran-to-be:

    Lexi & Ryan are expecting, their baby’s due the end of the year.

    Lexi & Ryan are expecting, their baby’s due the end of the year.

I have babies on the brain, literally and literate-ly.

They—Farmers in the know— say trees always produce best after a “hard” year (“hard” being either an especially cold winter or hot, dry summer). Which might be the reason for the largess . . . although I’m not questioning or complaining. Rather, I’m simply, joyfully, reveling…and pondering gestation:

Elephant gestation takes 547.9 – 669.6730 days (the longest period for mammals).

Salamanders—tiny as they are—about the same. And, considering it, size-for-size, mother discomfort, bulkiness, effort-wise, probably the same elephantian experience too.

Velvet worm—actually NOT a worm and NOT velvet—takes up to 456.553 days,

Velvet worm—actually NOT a worm and NOT velvet—takes up to 456.553 days,

From conception to birth cat's gestation takes 58-65 days. (No wonder they're such hussies!)

 

Manatees 396 days on average.

Manatees 396 days on average.

Donkeys, "Jennys"  330-440 (with lots of variables), camels take 410ish.

Giraffes between 400-460, rhinos about the same, seals and sea lions: 330-350 days.

Giraffes between 400-460, rhinos about the same, seals and sea lions: 330-350 days.

Whales and dolphins: 517.426 (on average with some sperm whales taking 578), humans: 268 days give or take . . . 

Whales and dolphins: 517.426 (on average with some sperm whales taking 578), humans: 268 days give or take . . . 

 As for novels??????

Cause for my literary revelry stems from a cluster of new books by writer friends. With one exception, all by classmates of mine from VCFA. As I have been there through all of these books since inception, in some cases offering a shoulder, always watching admiringly, I’ve declared myself “auntie” to them and as such entitled to muse:

Here are some of the Unreliable Narrators at VCFA last summer.  B.R: Trinity, Cindy, Sarah, Barb, Cynthia; F.R:  Tam, Kelly, Erin.  I fully expect all to be published authors!

Here are some of the Unreliable Narrators at VCFA last summer.  B.R: Trinity, Cindy, Sarah, Barb, Cynthia; F.R:  Tam, Kelly, Erin.  I fully expect all to be published authors!

I’ll begin with the exceptional Russell J. Sanders, who I first met back in/around 2000 when he was a newly retired High School English/Theater teacher and wanna be author at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. Russell recently celebrated the birth of his second novel, which is garnering excellent reviews, Special Effects (Dreamspinner Press, 2014): More about Russell:

How long did Special Effects take from idea to sale?

About 2191.45 days . . . 

Gestation:  about   2191.45 days (with, as Russell noted “ some stops and starts”

Gestation: about 2191.45 days (with, as Russell noted “ some stops and starts”

Erin Moulton’s third novel came out this June. This being her third, one might think the whole “birthing a novel” thing would have lost its novelty for her. Maybe that’s why Erin “made things interesting” this year, but combining the birth of her newest novel, Chasing the Milky Way, with the birth of her first human baby, Tucker! Oh, yeah, and if that wasn’t excitement enough, timing it all to coincide with the date her new manuscript for her work in progress was due. More about Erin: 

Gestation: It's a bit of a blurrrrrr

Gestation: It's a bit of a blurrrrrr

Jennifer Wolf Kam's path has been by award-hopping to publication! A 3-time finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, Jen first won publication of her ghost story, White House, in Hunger Mountain. Spectacularly, publication of her debut novel came as a result of writing 2 of 5 finalist in the NAESP 2013 Children’s Book ContestMore about Jen! 

Gestation:    5 years: 1826.21 days

Gestation:  5 years: 1826.21 days

Sarah Tomp, author of my often lauded, put-it-back-in-print fav, The Red, White and Blue Goodbye, had a relatively easy time of it with her debut moonshine novel, My Best Everything, which “walks the line between toxic and intoxicating” The gestation time was only 1 1/2 years=547.9632996 days!  More about Sarah:

Gestation: about 1 ½ years:  547.863298611 days

Gestation: about 1 ½ years:  547.863298611 days

Tamera Ellis Smith, who’s writing credits include a first-person essay in  BREAK THESE RULES: 35 YA Writers on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself,  welcomes her debut novel Another Kind of Hurricane, August 2015.  (Publication is scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.) Here's More about Tam!

So, Tam, how long did it take to write Another Kind of Hurricane?:  Almost 9 years . . . 3287.18 days, with “A lot of starts and stops along the way.  Sometimes big stops.”

Last but not least for this crop: Teresa Harris, author of the spunky picture book, Summer Jackson: Grown-Up,  won two prizes (one for humor) for this novel-in-progress while we were still at VCFA.

Teresa's WIP, acquired by Clarion, is forthcoming (I could not find a pub date on the web.) So by my calculations, gestation time: 5.6 years=2045.36 days. However, if you count post-sale as gestation,* the interview announcing the sale was Feb of 2012 and Teresa’s book hasn’t been published yet, gestation's is ongoing. So make that 2921.94 and counting . . . More about Teresa 

 

Why the disparity?

I like to think of it in shark terms. Sharks are K-selected reproducers, (as are, cats aside, the other animals noted above.) Rather than producing a large number of poorly developed offspring, “they produce a small number of well-developed young.” In this way offering their offspring the best possible chances of surviving. Additionally, in these animals, birth can be delayed depending on a variety of external pressures.

That’s why I’m thinking shark. Maybe it isn’t’ about how badly we want to publish . . . what brilliant writers we are . . . the fantastic story premise we’ve dreamed up . . . Or about everyone, anyone, our expectations. Maybe there are other forces beyond our control determining how long it takes.

“You can feel it in your heart/
You can see it in the ground/
You can see it in the trees/
You can smell it in the breeze/
Look around! Look around! Look around!”
— June's Bustin' Out All Over by Rogers & Hammerstein

* The question of whether a book is “gestating” in that time between being sold and publication is up for debate. Might this time be the equivalent of Novel neo-natal?--It certainly adds to the w-a-i-t-i-n-g t-i-m-e. . . tick-tock

Care to give a little listen?? JUNE IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER on Utube

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The Writing Process Blog Tour

There’s a Pyramid Scheme in Progress! No one seems to know who kick started this movement to get authors sharing the how and whys of “Writing Process,” but it’s spreading like kudzu as week after week, writer by writer, we’re asking and answering 4 seemingly-simple-but-surprisingly-complex questions about how we Do This Thing We Do, then tagging others to answer next.  I’m having an inspired time learning from everyone else, most recently fellow VCFA alum and picture book author chum, Sarah Sullivan, who tagged me.

STARRED REVIEW from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; VOYA called it "AN OUTSTANDING DEBUT NOVEL

STARRED REVIEW from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; VOYA called it "AN OUTSTANDING DEBUT NOVEL

Sarah proved her talents stretched beyond picture books with her acclaimed debut novel, All That's Missing so be sure to READ SARAH’s POST.

 WAIT! STOP!  Before you go there, here’s mine:

 

 What am I currently working on?

4 picture books/3 blog posts/2 chapter books/and . . . A novel started in the 90’s! (The sale from which—if it’s ever finished—might buy me that partridge and the pear tree!) That’s no fib. I always work several projects concurrently—after I have a completed draft. Each is in a different stage of the writing process. Of the 4 picture books: 2 are ugly drafts. I mean Ugly! So bluck it hurts to read them; 1 is in the Idea Stage, snippets of possibilities, lists of words, thoughts about characters (almost ready to draft); the last is a completed manuscript that’s in the scariest phase of all, I’m in LOVE! (And no, I’m not going to tell you what it’s about…) So I’m ignoring it. Giving it the cold shoulder for a few weeks. After the new wears off, I’ll reread the manuscript—without the rose tinted glasses.

Additionally, I like to work on both fiction and non-fiction at the same time,--usually children's fiction in the morning, while my nightime insights are still fresh; adult non-fiction when I'm stuck or tired (hence my blog and former column in NOW! Jakarta).  

About that novel . . . It's WHOLE different story! I have a completed draft but. . . Truth Time: I’m scared to touch it! Afraid I don’t have what it takes to revise it, I ignore it (which is not the same as “letting it chill”).  But that novel haunts me. . .  I’m toying with taking a Whole Novel Revision Class by way of forcing me to confront my demons.

        Non-fiction is my sorbet!              It freshens my pallet.

        Non-fiction is my sorbet!

          It freshens my pallet.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Many picture books face-out on bookstore shelves are Concept Books featuring what I call the Back of the Classroom characters: loud, bold,  in-your-face types, who holler what they want.

My picture book are Storybooks featuring Middle of the Classroom Smart with Huge Heart, characters, the kids who keep their heads down and try hard--super hard--while occasionally make snide comments out the corner of their mouths. In short, regular kids with problems to solve:

A boy’s sister grows fangs and he has to figure out how to cope with her

A boy’s sister grows fangs and he has to figure out how to cope with her

Why do I write what I write?

Because I am obsessed with Picture Books—capital P; capital B—and I’m not an illustrator.

An imaginative kids turns “finds” into play toys and friend’s make fun of him, what’s he to do?

An imaginative kids turns “finds” into play toys and friend’s make fun of him, what’s he to do?

Let’s face it, people—especially kids—pluck a picture book off a shelf because they’re attracted to its cover.  They thumb through looking at the pictures, first. Then, if the art peaks their interest, they’ll get around to my part—the words. And in picture books, they’re not many of them.  

In a college Communications class we studied how, at one time, movie industry marketers tried splicing images of hot butter popcorn into the movies to subliminally influence movie goers to buy more popcorn. That’s exactly what I do. 

A kid who wants a pet more than anything in the world gets stuck with a goldfish . . .

A kid who wants a pet more than anything in the world gets stuck with a goldfish . . .

Instead of images of popcorn, I use words to put ideas in the illustrator's head. I guess that makes me sort of an Illustrator Whisper. Besides, nobody loves a book the way a pre-reading child loves a book. I want the book that kid hugs and asks for again and again to be mine.

 

How does my individual writing process work?

I write the way I drive. (Danger, Will Robinson!) Seriously,I have to whose driving, where the story is going to start & where it's going to end before I can begin. So I fiddle around, making lists, thinking, reading, noodling until I know. Once I know that, I set my sights for a specific ending, the way a tourist in Paris might aim for the Eiffel Tower, and let it rip. I'll write a complete draft straight through. It may take some time--If I'm working on a picture book, I'll finish the draft in one sitting; if it's a longer piece, it may take weeks or months.  I’ll just keep winding my way along, sometimes doubling back, U-turning, occasionally crashing, until I reach that end. That's all from me...

Up Next on the Blog Tour:

A couple of smart, fresh & sassy VCFA Classmates & Unreliable Narrators:  

           Sarah Wones Tomp

           Sarah Wones Tomp

Sarah Wones Tomp, whose debut YA novel, My Best Everything--about moonshine and falling in love and breaking rules (and hearts)—is coming March 2015 (Little Brown). What’s more: her picture book, Red, White and Blue Good-bye, face-out on my shelf of favorites is a must for every child of a soldier. Sarah lives, moms, writes, teaches and blogs in San Diego, CA. Please visit her at www.sarahtomp.com

                         Tamara Ellis Smith

                         Tamara Ellis Smith

 

Tamara Ellis Smith, whose debut middle grade novel, Marble Boys—the story of two boys who have experienced death and Hurricane Katrina, and how the world pushes them together to find healing—is coming August 2015 (Schwartz and Wade). Tam lives in a small Vermont town with an amazing bakery where she sits and writes, edits, reviews, blogs, mothers, runs and when called upon, doulas. Here is Tam’s website: www.tamaraellissmith.com

Thanks for reading!                                                 Popcorn anyone?

Thanks for reading!                                                 Popcorn anyone?

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