Friday, May 31, 2013

Fess Up Friday: I'm Wishing and Hoping...

I'm involved in the local media. I enjoy interviewing children a lot because they can be very honest about sharing what they think. Recently, I spoke with a team of really sweet junior high boys who competed in a technology gadget competition. During the announcement of the winners at the event, the runner-ups were announced first. The boys were disappointed they didn't hear their team announced for any of the runner-up prizes. 

When the announcer was about to reveal the big grand prize winner, also the final award, the boys were reassuring one another that it was okay they didn't win and they knew they all tried their best. 

Then the boys heard their team name announced as the grand prize winner. They totally didn't see it coming. How cool is that. 

Before the boys knew the final results, I imagine them graciously applauding the runner-ups, but perhaps feeling just a teeny tiny bit uneasy that their names haven't been called.

As an aspiring author, I feel like that once in awhile.  

Knowing how hard many writers struggle, work, and persevere toward their publishing dreams, I am genuinely happy for writers I know, even writers I don't know, when they hit milestones in making their dreams into a reality. The pursuit to get published can come with so many challenges and so much heartache and headache that I strongly feel we need to support one another. In fact, a major pet peeve of mine is when I observe a bitter person raining on someone else's parade, someone else's success.  When I hear an author sharing good news, I often think, YAY for them, and that could be me.

But sometimes, I also wonder, when will that be me? 

There is no answer to that. All I can do is work hard, learn as much as I can, support others, and just wish and hope that I would get to hear my name get called someday. 

How do you process your moments of uncertainty, in and out of your writing life?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Author Interview with Director/Producer/Screenwriter Chris Columbus

Chris Columbus has done a bunch of really awesome stuff, including writing the screenplay for The Goonies (I devoted an entire post to The Goonies last month), and directing the movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Having written HOUSE OF SECRETS (Balzer + Bray) with co-author Ned Vizzini, he is now officially a children's book author as well.  

I got to interview Chris Columbus face to face when I attended his author talk last month at the San Jose Public Library. The event was hosted by Hicklebees, a fabulous kidlit bookstore. 

HOUSE OF SECRETS, a MG fantasy novel, is about three siblings who discover that their new house in San Francisco can drift straight into the stories written by the home’s former owner, an author of books with occult themes. While combating live skeletons, creepy pirates, and the evil Wind Witch, the kids are also on a quest to find the The Book of Doom and Desire, a wish-granting object. HOUSE OF SECRETS captivated me with its twisty magic, non-stop action, and occasional warm and fuzzy moments between siblings who need to fend for themselves without the protection of their parents.  

From my interview with Chris Columbus: 

How did you write your story?
It’s a matter of figuring out the characters, the storyline, and doing a summary for the book. This started out as a screenplay in 1999. I did 90 pages. It felt too big for a movie- it would be too expensive- so I put it in a drawer, and I went off to direct the first two Harry Potter movies. When I came back to America four years later, every couple of years, I’d take the manuscript out of a drawer and try to figure out what to do with it because I loved the story. Two years ago, I decided it’d make a great novel. So I hired a co-writer so I could still make films while I was writing. It took us two years to finish writing this. It all worked out, and we’re happy with the book and proud of it. We hope this book will help get kids into reading.

What is your philosophy on writing about magic?                                            
The rules of magic are the rules you set up. I don’t look at books about the occult or anything.

How do you develop your characters?
I’ve had 23 years of experience raising children so I base a lot of these characters on my own kids. You want the characters to feel real, to be three-dimensional. Character growth and development is essential.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
We’re hoping the book is successful enough so that kids would read it and tell their friends about it. My goal is to have kids walking around on the beach reading this book during the summer.   

From Chris Columbus' author talk:

On how he gets his dialogue-  He listens to his four children talk during dinner time.

On having J.K. Rowling critique his writing- After reading one of his drafts, J.K. Rowling gave him the advice to slow down with the writing and reveal more character, and that’s what he worked on during his revision.

On films he is most proud of working on- He's happy he got to direct the Harry Potter movies and Rent, and produce The Help.

On getting to direct the HARRY POTTER movies- He sat down with J.K. Rowling for two hours at a cafĂ© where he told her his vision for the movie. After she heard what he had to say, she said that was her vision too.

On dealing with writer’s block- He runs every day.

On his favorite books from childhood- He loved comic books. He read a collection of Ray Bradbury short stories, and it changed his life. He also liked THE AVENGER series by Kenneth Robeson, stuff by Charles Dickens, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.

On attending New York University’s film school at Tisch School of the Arts- His parents were both factory workers and he knew when he went to film school, he didn’t have any choice but to make it and carve out a career for himself in film making.

On why he hasn’t written a sequel for The Goonies- Chris said, "If they’re 35 years old, and they’re still riding around in bicycles looking for treasures, that’s pathetic. If [people] want more Goonies, then they should read HOUSE OF SECRETS.”

...As for me, I'd still consider aging Goonies as the cool kids, even when they’re playing Mah Jong in pajamas with their dentures put on wrong.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG: Reflections on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

It's Insecure Writers Support Group Day, a blogging event that occurs on the first Wednesday of each month. Thanks to the wonderful Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this! 

First, congratulations to everyone who completed the Blogging from A to Z Challenge last month. As some of you know, my blogging theme for April was World Building from A to Z. 


To complete my 26 posts, I reached into the back of my head to recall details from stories I've read or seen. Sometimes when I read, random story details would glue themselves to my memory, whether or not I want them to be there. These little Post-It notes came in handy  when I brainstormed for my posts. But still, I couldn't realistically remember every nitty-gritty detail of every story I've ever been exposed to. So when I wasn't sure about the information scribbled on one of those mental Post-It notes, I would fact-check it. So once in awhile, I'd re-read excerpts of certain books or I would do quick Internet searches to confirm minor details of a story. My insecurity revolved around my fear that if I accidentally presented a detail of a story inaccurately, some snarky commenter would call me out on it and accuse me of not knowing what I was doing. But that never happened. And to be fair to myself, I'm pretty confident about the accuracy of the details in the stories I shared.

I came across a lot of neat blogs this past month. I am grateful for the visitors who faithfully returned to my blog day after day to leave comments- you people know who you are! I also want to thank fellow blogger Nicole Rivera, who took the time to recognize my blog and my A to Z challenge theme in her post, Writing a Novel- World Building. She put up links for all of my posts throughout the month! Nicole's blog is called Rivera Runs Through It. You should check it out if you haven't already.

I really hope you A to Z Challenge folk aren't going to shun the blogosphere now that April is over. The reason for this is because I have some cool news....Remember on Day X, I mentioned I was attending an event featuring writer/director/producer Chris Columbus, and remember I was hoping to interview him for my blog? I GOT THE INTERVIEW!!!! I would like to finish reading his book before I post the interview, which should be sometime in the next week or so, if all goes according to schedule. So I hope you could stick around for that.

Did you participate in the Blogging from A to Z challenge? If so, how did it go?