Sunday, November 20, 2005

In my last post, I visited Lara Zeises' blog. Now, I'm delighted to have her visit my blog on her own GCC tour. Lara is the author of three young adult novels--her latest, Anyone But You, was praised for its "pitch-perfect narration" by Kirkus Reviews (and that's high praise coming from the notoriously cranky Kirkus). Her recent book release party not only featured skate board demos, and custom-made Pop-Tart ice cream; it also raised money for some wonderful causes--10% of all book sales went to benefit the libraries destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and proceeds from the skateboard raffle went towards building skate parks in Delaware. Very cool!

Lara's two other novels for young adults are Bringing Up the Bones (2002), an honor book for the 2001 Delacorte Press Prize Competition, and Contents Under Pressure, which also served as her thesis project at Emerson College, where she earned her MFA in creative writing. She was awarded a 2005 Emerging Artist Fellowship in Literature-Fiction from the Delaware (state) Division of the Arts.

In addition to writing, Lara teaches part-time at the University of Delaware, where she received her BA in English-Journalism. She also facilitates creative writing workshops for both teens and adults.

That last line prompted my questions to Lara:

--Your bio mentions that you teach writing to both adults and teenagers. What have you learned from your teenage students? Do you have a favorite writing exercise? And what words of advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Teenage writers are less likely to be inhibited. When I first started teaching the adult creative writing course, I couldn't get my students to commit to more than a paragraph at a time for homework. When I do one- or two-day workshops with teens, they dive right into the meat of things. They love to partner up and share their group work. They'll less concerned - believe it or not - of making fools of themselves.

My favorite writing exercise to teach is the one where you have to write an entire paragraph in single syllable words. It's so hard, but it highlights how easy it is to use fifty-cent words, when sometimes a two-cent word will do. The one I use the most, though, is writing letters or diary entries in the voice of my characters. It really helps me to get to know them better.

As for aspiring writers: READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON. Even if it's outside of your comfort level. Read books, magazines, newspapers. Watch good movies. Watch bad movies. Soak it all up, because it will all shape how your perceive the world - and how you translate those perceptions onto paper.

Wonderful, Lara! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Today, GCC gives us two authors for the price of one--Lola Douglas is also popping into Fruitful to promote her first novel, True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. I couldn't resist asking these questions after reading about Lola's favorite word:

--I noticed on your website that your favorite word is "luscious." That's my favorite word, too! I love how it feels in my mouth, how it sounds, what it means. Since I am obsessed with fruit, I have to ask--what do you think is the most luscious fruit and why? Also, what do you think is the most luscious part about being a woman author, and why?

An ice cold plum with crisp skin - because of that poem about the plums in the ice box. Mmmm. Plums. Even the WORD looks luscious.

Women authors are less likely to backstab - at least, in my opinion. The sisterhood is definitely one of the best things about being part of this profession. Plus, despite what some people say about pink covers and the term "chick lit," I find neither demeaning in any way. I love it when people consider me a chick lit author. That's who I'm writing for - cool ass chicks who like to read.
Thanks, Lola! Enjoy the sisterhood of the GCC...

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