I’m thrilled to announce that I will now be available to coach high school seniors on their college application essays. As the mom of two sons who were accepted at their top choice schools, I have experience shepherding kids through the challenging process.
An excellent college essay can distinguish your child from the pack, but many students feel panicked by the prospect. With ten years experience teaching writing and twenty years of freelancing, I have the expertise to guide both reluctant and enthusiastic writers through the process from brainstorming to an excellent final draft.
My method includes a pre-questionnaire, a one-on-one coaching session, and several online coaching workshops. My style emphasizes the importance of story, structure, and sensory details to assure your son or daughter successfully communicates his or her uniqueness. The final products will be personal and polished.
So watch this space for more information. I’m signing up students now!
I’m very excited to once again be teaching fiction writing workshops to tweens and teens at WritopiaLab DC at their new Falls Church location. It’s a fabulous program, because I get to work with small groups of students and see their talents develop. It also helps me to reflect on my own writing and articulate what makes good fiction. And I usually get some great ideas of my own while I’m teaching.
So if you know of any young, aspiring writers, encourage them to check out WritopiaLab in DC, NYC, Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Chicago. The program’s been expanding like crazy! They hire only published writers, so it’s a great gig for any writers looking for a fun part-time job, too.
Juggling the three jobs — writing teacher, novelist, and journalist — has been nuts this year, but I finished one job for now. Yep, the novel, The Celestial Matchmaker, is done. (At least until I have to revise it again.) So wish me luck, and send good karma.
With that blast of heat, the forsythia and daffodils came and went. It’s very unusual to have my dogwoods (which mean love despite adversity) and red camellias (unpretending excellence) blooming at the same time, but it would make a meaningful tussie-mussie. Everything is such a lovely shade of green now!
Back to my article for the wonderful Arlington Magazine. This piece explores the question: are we better parents than our parents were? I get to interview teens next!
Hey all! Just a quick update. Holly Cupala, who has been incredibly busy with personal projects lately, updates us all on her latest work-in-progress.
I LOVE Holly’s books so far, Don’t Breathe a Word, and Tell Me a Secret. I can’t wait to read her new one: I’ll Never Tell. Yup, that’s the title. Read all about it here.
My friend, Madelyn Rosenberg, has a book coming out next month called Canary in the Coal Mine, which I can’t wait to read! Madelyn tagged me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which is a very cool way to track some new writers and their upcoming books and current projects. Thanks, Madelyn!! So here are my answers:
1: What is the working title of your book? The Celestial Matchmaker.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book? A former professor of mine came to one of my book signings for Forget-Her-Nots. He suggested that I write a book about Caroline Herschel, an important woman in astronomical history, and the sister to William Herschel, who discovered Uranus and built telescopes. The book isn’t about her at all, but I started to think about a girl on the roof looking for comets.
3: What genre does your book come under? Contemporary YA fiction.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Hmm. I’d love a younger Jennifer Lawrence to play Caroline. And I’d love Suraj Sharma to play Ben.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? While looking for comets from her rooftop telescope, 17-year-old Caroline Browne, a.k.a. the Celestial Matchmaker of her high school, sees something she wishes she didn’t.
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? Represented by Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It always takes me years to write a novel, and I need a firm deadline of about two months to finish it. (I just finished a draft I’m happy with last week!)
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I love The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which my daughter just read, too. I loved The Fault in Our Stars. I love any books with strong female leads and deep emotional resonance.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? The story takes place in a small, fictional college town. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in such a place, because I live outside D.C. I’m also fascinated by what holds families together in times of incredible stress.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Star-shaped romantic notes, a rooftop tent, and a sexy next door neighbor.
And the next person I’m tagging is the wonderful YA novelist Holly Cupala, who is definitely worth waiting for! You can find out all about Holly’s latest project here.
If you live within striking distance of Philly and love art, you shouldn’t miss the “Van Gogh Up Close” exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s splendid! The show focuses on Van Gogh’s intense images of the natural world. As usual, his observations are unique for all time, and this show has paintings from all over the world, including many private collections. I haven’t missed many Van Gogh shows in the U.S., but there were tons of paintings I’d never laid eyes on before.
Best of all, I got to go to this show, because my daughter and her friends are huge Dr. Who fans, and Dr. Who (with Matt Smith) had a travel-through-time to meet Van Gogh show, which featured a sunflower painting. I happened to mention that there was a large exhibit in Philly, and they were up for it. Of course, they had to nearly drag me out of the galleries. Here are a few of my very favorites:
They are amazingly more alive and vibrant than these images, but you get the gist. And, oh, the brushstrokes. It’s so very difficult not to touch them, and – alas! – the exhibit closes 5/6.
Does anyone else think this is just weird? I love long, slow springs and watching different flowers and trees gradually unfolding their petals, so I’m a little disturbed that we seem to be fast-forwarding into summer. El Nino? Global warming? It’s never happened this early, this fast in my garden, and it freaks me out. How about you?
On another note, I’m thrilled to present the cover of a novel I can’t wait to read again: Transcendence. Cynthia is a fellow Tenner, and one of my crit partners, so I read an earlier version of this and was totally sucked in. She’s an amazing writer and working on the sequel now. Congrats on an awesome cover! You can read more about her and her novels here.
It’s been an odd winter so far. My hellebores are out, and a few fruit trees were blooming around the D.C. area before the holidays. However, today is cold and feels like winter is finally here. I’ve been busy writing about cyberbullying, yoga, and lots of fun things for the new Arlington magazine, but I’m also getting serious about my new novel.
Winter — especially January — seems like the perfect time to hunker down with some hot Earl Grey and let your imagination spin. My novel ideas have been simmering on the back burner for while, but the characters keep jumping into my central vision and waving at me, like they don’t want to be forgotten. This time around, I’m trying Scrivener, and so far it’s a huge help with organization. Writing a novel is like putting together a giant puzzle, and it’s so helpful to have the pieces where you can find them!
I have a few fun floral events coming up. The U.S. Botanic Garden has invited me back to do a special Valentine’s Day presentation on speaking the language of flowers on February 14th at 1 pm. It’s free, open to the public, and will, of course, focus on expressing love in the language. I’ll also be the guest speaker at the Silver Spring Garden Club’s April 23rd meeting held at Brookside Gardens in Maryland. It’s been far too long since I visited Brookside, so I can’t wait to visit in April.
Also, Melody of Dave’s Garden just let me know she’ll be reviewing Forget-Her-Nots tomorrow and that she loved it! I’m very excited about that. Happy reading and happy gardening!
Whew! I had to step away from blogging for a while to keep up with some other commitments, but I’m hoping to share my thoughts and experiences more in the coming days. I’ve just finished the most grueling two months of my life workwise, at least so far. I seem to be collecting part-time jobs these days. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Arlington Magazine finally became a reality, so I’ve been very busy writing great articles and profiles for them. I learned sooo much researching my upcoming article on raising girls and bullying issues. Next up: yoga!!
- I started teaching College Writing part time to sophomores at an amazing school, Don Bosco Cristo Rey, in Takoma Park, Md.
- I finished a major novel revision.
- I’ve had five floral appearances, including the mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Fall for the Book festival, and several garden clubs.
- I procured donations for the Arlington Academy of Hope auction. This is an amazingly successful school in a remote village in Uganda, which we support with all our hearts. The auction was a great success!
So I’ve been out and about in the world, and I’m thrilled about my new students. It’s very fun to be freelancing again, and I love my editor, Jenny. I’m not quite up for NANOWRIMO, but I do plan to start writing my new novel soon. Very excited!!
And I finally bought a copy of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s novel The Language of Flowers, which I’m looking forward to reading. Hers sold about six months before Forget-Her-Nots came out, but it is an interesting coincidence that two writers should be writing novels about a topic that’s never been the focus of a novel before. Has anyone read it? Let me know what you think.
Sweet basil, Amy