Monday, January 31, 2011

What Was my Favourite Read in 2010?

You'd think I would've posted this earlier what with all the end of year wrap up lists. Well, it's not the end of January quite yet, so better late than never.

I'm normally not comfortable speaking in superlatives, but one title did stand out for me amongst a long list of good books I read in 2010.

Which one? Fire by Kristin Cashore.
Why? This book gave me the best reading experience of the year. It was the one I couldn't wait to get back to. The one that made me stay up waaaay too late while reading it. The one that took me away from the setting in which I was reading it: a round trip bus ride to Toronto. Nothing like the experience of trying to hide the fact that you're crying on public transit. It was the book's fault--honest!

Looking forward to crying over many more good titles in 2011.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alma Fullerton: Creating Through the Clamour

Feel like there's not enough time in your busy life to be creative? How do authors or illustrators continue to create while tackling everything else in their lives? About once a month as I'll ask a writer or illustrator how they do it. 'Cause I want to know. (I need all the help I can get in this department.)

The Creator
name: Alma Fullerton
resides: Ontario, Canada
genres: YA, MG, PB, and apparently now illustrator

The Creations
Walking On Glass, published by HarperTempest, 2007
In the Garage, published by Red Deer Press, 2006
Libertad, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008
Burn, published by Dancing Cat Books, 2010
The Clamour

part time retail worker

volunteer work: SCBWI Canada East

full time mom: Two children. One Husband (or would that be three children -hmmm), one dog, one cat, fish-- last time I checked the tank --two -- however one is really mean so I might/should check again.
taxi driver: (not paid) routes to work -- hubby's work, my work and oldest child's work, schools, guitar lessons, cheer practices, cheer competition, grocery store, malls (my children are girls - -enough said about the shopping),  school visits, book launches, book festivals, veterinarian (my dog is a hypochondriac but we love him anyway).
maid: - okay seriously not. My house is clean but not spic and span clean (do they even still make spic and span)? 

and: master Googler, blogger (rarely), Facebooker, youtube addict. Researcher. 
How did you get started in this field? 
I fell into it -- quite literally. I never read as a child. I couldn't read as a child until grade four when my teacher discovered I had a learning disability  and helped me. And then I still hated reading and still had people tell me I could never achieve things and didn't read for fun until I came across a book I really loved (I did actually trip over that particular book). I read the whole thing because the character drew me into the story -- that was huge for me. Then I found more books I loved and decided I wanted to write books kids would love, so even though reading and writing were the most difficult things for me I worked really hard at them and just did it. And now I'd really love to slap the teachers that told me I'd never be able to achieve anything with my novels -- especially the hard cover ones.
What's the hardest aspect for you in terms of being creative, finding the time? the space? the focus?
All of the above. I need a lot of time to actually draw myself into a character to be able focus on writing. And sometimes even then I might be interrupted and have to start the process all over again.
Do any of the distractions end up feeding your creativity?  
Googling ended up feeding my creativity. I was procrastinating on writing one novel by googling when I came across a story that gave me the idea of Libertad. I did try to push the idea aside but it wouldn't go. Libertad was finished and published before the other novel.
How do you manage to carve out time to do your creating?
Carving out time is difficult. But I can mind write while doing menial tasks (like my job) and then when I do get time to get to the computer a lot of times I'll have the plot issues worked out. I also listen to music as I write to drown out other distractions. Closing the office door only works if no one else is home and then it doesn't really matter.
Are there times when you just can't focus on your writing/illustrating?  
ALL THE TIME. I have an extremely hard time focusing. It's part of my learning disability, but sometimes I just have to sit my butt down and do it. 

How do you cope with that?
One poem at a time. Sometimes if that doesn't work I'll just paint. That tends to relax me and if I'm painting my characters or what I think they'd look like sometimes it gives me inspiration to find out their story.
Any tips on how to avoid doing some of those distracting thing? 
Avoiding is easy. Too easy. Think write when you're cleaning. Often the thing I'm avoiding is the novel. 
Why do you keep creating in the face of all this? 
Because I can't not create. I tried not writing. It didn't work. I was grumpy, snapping and just horrible to be around. 
What are you working on these days? 
I'm working on a novel call "Broken" which will be along the same lines as Libertad, and I just finished a chapter book called "Miss Understood" about a girl with a learning disability.
As a creative person, do you have any other outlets for your talents?
Yes, I paint, garden, sew, read, and cook very little but love to eat great food.

Are there any other creative genres you look to for inspiration? 
Music. I love music --as well as art, and photography. Books are food for the mind, music is food for the ears and art and photography are food for the eyes and as I said, I love to eat great food. 

Thanks, Alma!
Thanks so much for spending some of your valuable creating time with me and sharing your tips with us. Here's to lots of great food, minimizing your clamour and maximizing your creations!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Size Matters

What a surprise when I finally got my copy of Switching on the Moon, edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Not a surprise because I got the book but a surprise because I finally saw its size. This is a BIG book! See, it's almost as wide as my shoulders.

I'd only ever seen a photo of the book cover before. Not until I held it did I think of its dimensions. A child could really get lost in this book the illustrations are so large. It's perfect for a bedtime read. And my piece of real estate on page 28? I love it!

I had a very large edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses when I was little. I love the idea that some of today's children might build similar fond feelings about poetry with this book.

My thoughts on my first chance to read the book all the way through, not just my own poem? Wow. This poetry anthology is top notch. I'm going to gift this book whenever I can.

(And it's just been shortlisted for a Cybils award in the poetry category!)