Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recommended Spectrum-Related Artists

Here are some very talented artists/writers/musicians that you should check out:

Matt Friedman
Dude, I'm An Aspie.
Matt is a cartoonist and writer with a couple of books to his credit, as well as an animated short in Flummox and Friends.
Colin Brennan

Colin is a professional singer with a wonderful voice and a super long list of accomplishments. And he's only 10 years old!

McNall Mason and Max
McNall and her son Max write and illustrate children's books that help raise money for charity. The Planet of Cool is very cool!
Jonathan Murphy
Jonathan is a professional voiceover artist and actor. He, his mother and his family are also the creators of Geek Club Books.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Special Announcement!

If you're an author or a musician, one of the best things you can do to promote your book or CD is to hold a launch/release party. I've done a bunch of these over the years and they're always a lot of fun.

Why am I talking about this? Well, as some of you may have heard, Secret of the Songshell is getting a facelift - a new cover. To celebrate that and some of Songshell's other recent accomplishments, I'm organizing a re-launch party! It's going to be in April, in recognition of Autism Awareness Month. Here are the details:

Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013
Time: 6pm-9pm
Place: The Picnic House, 723 SW Salmon St, Portland OR

The Picnic House
It'll be kid-friendly, and there will be bands, other writers, artists, and all kinds of good times going on. We're even going to have lifepod-based drinks! So mark your calendars and watch this space for more updates.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Books About How To Write Books

Prior to Secret of the Songshell, most of my creative writing experience had come in the form of song lyrics. Lots and lots of song lyrics. Aside from that, I had taken a creative writing class in college and had dabbled in long-form prose a few times over the years; one attempt in my early 20s yielded about thirty pages about a boy being forced, in a coming-of-age ritual, to chase some kind of mythical creature through a jungle or forest or something. Basically, I got tired of writing it and went back to songs.

A few (okay, many) years later, my first attempt at Secret of the Songshell (when it was called "Minstrel") resulted in forty pages that, frankly, were not very good. In fact, they were pretty terrible. I decided that I needed to brush up on my skills (i.e., figure out what the heck I was doing), so I did what I always do when I want to learn something: I read books. In this case, books about how to write books. There was one in particular that I really liked and referred to a lot, and I'd like to recommend it to you now: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

Armed with this tome, I trashed the original forty pages and started fresh, eventually arriving at the, ahem, award-winning result you have on your bookshelf today (For those of you who - gasp - don't own Secret of the Songshell, I suggest you buy it now...the cover will be changing soon, and then you'll have a collector's item on your hands).

Since I believe that one should never stop trying to learn and improve, another book-about-writing-books that I added to my toolkit recently was Second Sight by Cheryl Klein (mahalo to my fellow SCBWI member Deb Cushman for the tip).

What I especially love about this one is that there is an entire chapter called "A Few Things Writers Can Learn From Harry Potter." You may know by now that I'm a huge HP fan and that J.K. Rowling's boy wizard series was a big influence on me when I was writing SotS. So even though the book as a whole is terrific and packed with great info, to me, that chapter alone is worth the purchase price.
Bottom line: if you're an aspiring writer wandering through the dark and murky forest of plots and characters and other scary things, you may want to consider taking these two little guys along as your lantern-wielding guides.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rockin' With Ian

Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Ian Engelsman and his family. If you haven't read his story yet, I suggest you check it out here.

Ian is a very nice, well-spoken young man who plays a mean set of drums. We jammed on "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters and he nailed it!

Mahalo to Ian's parents, David and Claudia, and his brother Kevin, for allowing me the opportunity to have a very cool experience. I'm looking forward to seeing Ian perform and hopefully we can jam again sometime soon!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Secret of the Songshell: Celeb Comps

One of the joys of reading is using your imagination to "see" the various characters and settings in your head. Once I finally got into reading the Harry Potter books, I deliberately avoided watching the movies until I was done because I wanted to picture everything for myself before I saw the filmmakers' interpretations (granted, I was aware of what the main stars - Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint - looked like, because it was pretty hard to avoid them during the series' heyday).

So if you haven't read Secret of the Songshell yet, or if you have read it and you don't want your mental images of the main characters to be compromised, stop reading this blog entry now! Because after the jump, I'll reveal some pictures of what I think Joel, Felicity and Marshall could look like...