W & P Q #6, and no, I didn’t know my voice could go that high

Random fact: I sing alto. If I have a cold, my voice goes even deeper, pitching down into Lauren Bacall range. But apparently, under the right circumstances, my voice climbs the octaves until I sound like a very small mouse or someone who has spent too much time around helium balloons.

The “right circumstances” being a phone call from those loverly, sweet, blessed people who sat on The Margaret A. Edwards Award committee for the American Library Association,. That’s right; I sounded like Mickey Mouse when I received “The Call.”

Want proof? Watch this adorable video filled with clips of lots of us who received The Call, including Jackie Woodson, Neil Gaiman, Kathi Appelt, Melina Marchetta, and Beth Krommes. I squeak briefly at the 1-minute point, then give a rambling extenda-squeak (showing no vocabulary depth whatsoever) at about the 3-minute mark. I had no idea my voice went up that high. I must say, it’s very fun to be able to relive the moment with this video. Thank you, AGAIN, ALA!

Speaking of Margaret A. Edwards, you might want to read this wonderful story about the legacy left to the readers of Baltimore by one of Ms. Edwards’ protรฉgรฉs. Inspiring!

You wrote: Lately I’ve been going crazy with literature directed at authors (Like guides to the markets, writers’ monthly publications, etc.) and I find them very helpful, but I’m never sure if the advice I’m getting is any good. Were there any guides or books that specifically helped you become a better author? Or perhaps a particular strain of advice?

When I started writing I was a faithful reader of Writer’s Digest magazine. I still have a number of article about craft that I cut out of it filed away. Note to self: must consult these again! I read every book I could about the process of writing and publishing. I also read many biographies of writers, hoping to glean hints about their process.

I mentioned Harold Underdown’s book earlier this week. It wasn’t published when I was starting out, but I sure wish it had been. The other two books about writing I recommend are Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott and On Writing, by Stephen King. I also found the creativity exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way useful.

Best advice? It’s OK to revise over and over again to make your book as good as possible.
Second best advice? Don’t worry about trends.

The frozen waterfall off the back porch finally came down, but it slid off so slowly I didn’t notice. Sort of like a wave kissing the shore.


19 Replies to “W & P Q #6, and no, I didn’t know my voice could go that high”

  1. On Writing‘s pretty good, but King admits to how lazy he is compared to that French guy who wrote about 500 novels in his entire lifetime. And King writes a book every three months. Now that’s saying something.

  2. Thanks for sharing the video! It made me cry a little bit. And hope that I’ll be one of the librarians doing the calling sometime in the future! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wow, even Terry Pratchett squeaked! That was neat. I answered the phone one morning and a deep voice said “Is Robert Mason there (my husband)?” I said, “Yes, who’s calling?” “Harrison Ford.” “The Real Harrison Ford?” I squeaked and shoved the phone at Bob. He’d called to say he liked Chickenhawk, my husband’s memoir of being a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. One of my more swave and deboner (suave and debonair as mispronounced by Bob’s unit) moments.
    You sounded very happy!
    I love your answers to the questions too. I have been writing about PTSD for years (Recovering from the War, The Post-Traumatic Gazette) and want to write sf/fantasy for kids instead or in addition. Something fun.

  4. Thanks again!
    And I am also an alto.
    We’re sort of the coolest singers in the choir.
    My last year of high school I sung Tenor in the concert choir.
    That’s what I always tell people when singing is brought up because it makes me happy!

  5. I love your reaction to the call ๐Ÿ™‚ *Squeak!* “No you’re not!” Awesome.

    Any advice for a youngish writer who has a burning desire, passion, need to write…. and yet is completely at a loss for plot? I don’t even know if I want it to be fantasy or more realistic… I just have this ache to write something that I would want to read. I am also compelled to write a positive female role model for young girls (like Melinda) for girls — I’m a high school English teacher, and while I love the escapism of some of the popular fantasy books out there, I worry about the message they send to our young girls (i.e. that you have to change who you are – literally – to be with the man you love…)

    But beyond that, I have no real plot ideas. Do your story lines come first? Or can you start writing and have the plot … sort of … come to you, like mana from heaven? Suggestions on how I can rustle up one of those dang plots? ๐Ÿ˜€

    I just finished reading an ARC of _Wintergirls_ and LOVED IT! It was so powerful!! I loved your allusions to Persephone. So awesome. I read it in one day. Thank you for that!

    Steph <----- An English teacher who'd love to write

  6. OH MY GOODNESS, what an honor. congrats. YOU deserve it as always.

    A friend of mine just read SPEAK and told me she thought of me the whole way through it, because Melinda sounded like me in the way she described things and people. I was flattered since I want to write YA novels. If I can write the way I talk then maybe I can write half as well as you do.

  7. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. *grins*

    Congrats, and thank you so much for sharing your extenda-squeak with us. (I, myself, peep like a small bird when overexcited, and I’m a first alto or mezzo soprano normally. Wordless squeak at pitches edging on calling neighborhood dogs. So you are not alone in this phenomenon.)
    Oh, and *applause*

  8. Great video – thanks for sharing the moment.

    Bird by Bird and On Writing are in my top five writing books as well, and another one that your readers would benefit from, whether they write picture books or YA, is The Writerโ€™s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children, by Nancy Lamb.

    Iโ€™d read twenty books on writing fiction before it, and it not only made snooze subjects like point of view new, but was the most clear and helpful text on that subject and many more, complete with plenty of examples and tips.

    There’s also great sections on story structure, word counts for each type of fiction, and tips on creativity. Harold Underdown himself says it’s “highly recommended for all writers of fiction.”

  9. Hey ๐Ÿ˜€

    Hi I’m Emily. I’m using this forum to contact you, to add to the writing/writer questions you have been answering. No idea if it’s the right way to go about it- just hoping you can answer ๐Ÿ˜€
    Do you ever get major panic attacks about whether the story you are writing is good enough? How do you deal with the uncertainty?

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