The Quotable Nerdy Character

A few weeks ago, I did a workshop on creating believable contemporary characters, and in the research process, I found a lot of inspirational quotes for writers — and readers. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Picture2

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Your source material is the people you know, not those you don’t know, but every character is an extension of the author’s own personality.”

― Edward Albee

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

― Mark Twain

“Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue.”

― Jack Woodford

Picture1“When you’re with your wife, you don’t say I love you to your wife every day but the ways you look at her and your actions are another way to communicate. Don’t focus on dialogue, only focus on what you’re expressing.”

― Michel Hazanavicius

“I tend to relate to a character in terms of the arc: what’s interesting is where he starts versus where he ends up .”

― Edward Norton

“If you’re writing about a character, if he’s a powerful character, unless you give him vulnerability I don’t think he’ll be as interesting to the reader.”

—Stan Lee

What do you think? Are you ready to pick up your pencil (or open up your laptop) and get creating?

 

REMINDER

If you haven’t already, please remember to check out The Busy Librarian’s podcast featuring ME and enter the newest Nerdy Chicks GIVEAWAY!

 

Last Chance to WIN!

Well, folks, we are almost at the finish line, and I am so touched by all the entries for the Virtual Classroom Visit giveaway! You still have time to enter, so if you haven’t yet, why wait?WRAD 3

AND TO SWEETEN THE DEAL…I’m gotten tons of entries. Many more than I was expecting. It’s almost not fair to only hand out ONE Virtual Visit. SO…here’s my idea:

if I get 300 or more total entries, I will give away not ONE Virtual Classroom Visit, but THREE.

That’s right, folks. Get your entries in. Go tell your friends and get them to enter. We don’t have too much further to go to get to 300, so spread the word and harass your colleagues and get them entering, commenting, tweeting, and following.

JUST TO REMIND YOU, HERE ARE THE RULES AGAIN:

I will be giving away a free 45-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how my upcoming book DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! came together, from the initial inspiration to the totally terrific art. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose!)DDM Cover

I will accept entries until MIDNIGHT, TONIGHT May 27, 2013, and I will draw the winner’s name and announce it on May 29.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

Required. Fill out the entry form below with your name, the school you would like to give the visit to, and your email address (so I can reach you!).

BUT WAIT! You can be entered to win the Virtual Visit multiple times. You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the cover.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below.

(3) tweet this post to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq in the tweet.

(4) like my author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(5) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment below.

or (6) like fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

That’s SEVEN ways to enter and win, folks! Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya…

GOOD LUCK!

Raising Nerdy Chicklets (and GIVEAWAY Reminder!)

Most of the time, we devote this blog to Nerdy Chicks. But just for today, I wanted to focus not only on girls, but on kids (or Chicklets, as we like to call them!) in general.

P1030458

At Afton Elementary in Pennsylvania

Raising a Nerdy Chicklet is a challenge in many ways. We have to foster his or her intellectual curiosity and be ready with facts, figures, and other resources to help her learn. As parents or educators, we strive to be ready with the answers. But having the answers isn’t the most important part of supporting a Nerdy Chicklet — allowing her to ask questions is the vital thing. Even when we don’t have the answers, the questioning process teaches the Nerdy Chicklet to think. Remember, giving facts is often a linear thinking process. We take the facts down a logical path with very few side stops in order to keep the explanations simple. Asking questions, however, lets a child explore in a non-linear way. Some of the smartest people in the history of the world were non-linear thinkers. If you want to help the Nerdy Chicklets in your life reach their full intellectual potential, let them ask questions — and be honest if you don’t know the answers. When that happens, it’s just an opportunity for the Nerdy Chicklet to learn independently and teach you, or for you two to learn together. Instant bonding!

SAMSUNG CSC

At Central Elementary in Maryland

One of the truly awesome things I get to do as a children’s book author is to go around the country to talk to kids about writing and books. Recently, this has taken me to schools in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival in Tennessee. I always get lots of questions from the kids and I’m often so impressed by the kinds of things they are curious about. Here are some of the questions I’ve gotten.

“How can you tell the difference between a good idea and a bad idea?”

I get this question a lot. I wish I knew the answer!

SAMSUNG CSC“Do chickens make every story better?”

Not every story, but certainly most.

“Does it ever feel better to write about something that hurts you?”

A lovely boy asked me that question privately after one of my school workshops. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him: yes, it does eventually feel better. Writing is wonderful therapy, especially because in fiction, we have power. In life, we get what we get and it is often unfair. In fiction, we get to give our characters the endings they deserve — which means the good characters get happy endings, and the ones we don’t like get humiliation and defeat.

“Did you really set a mouse on fire?”SAMSUNG CSC

I get that question everywhere, but it was especially funny at the Rumson Country Day School, where one of my presentations was invaded by an actual MOUSE!

(Oh, and, yes, I really did.)

P1030380“How do you relate to kids when you’re so old?”

This was a question to the panel at the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival, where I shared the stage with the wonderful Julie Danielson, Bob Shea, Jarrett Krosoczka, Marc Tyler Nobleman, and Debbie Diesen. Needless to say, the little girl who asked it stole all of our thunder.

REMINDER!

There is still time to enter the GIVEAWAY for a free VIRTUAL CLASSROOM VISIT! Check out the cover reveal for DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! and enter to win!

DDM Cover

Cover Reveal! (And Giveaway!)

At long last, I am proud to present the cover for my upcoming picture book,

DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE!

DDM Cover

How adorable is that????? Of course, I had very little to do with the cover. The thanks for that goes to the very fabulous Noah Z. Jones, the illustrator of such wonderful books as The Monster in the Backpack, Stuff, Dance with Me, and Not Norman: A Goldfish Story,

and also the creator of the tremendously entertaining television series Fish Hooks and Almost Naked Animals.

IN CELEBRATION OF THIS FABULOUS COVER, I will be giving away a free 45-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how this book came together, from the initial inspiration to the totally terrific art. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose!)

I will accept entries until May 27, 2013 and I will draw the winner’s name and announce it on May 29.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

Required. Fill out the entry form below with your name, the school you would like to give the visit to, and your email address (so I can reach you!).

BUT WAIT! You can be entered to win the Virtual Visit multiple times. You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the cover.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below.

(3) tweet this post to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq in the tweet.

(4) like my author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(5) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment below.

or (6) like fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

That’s SEVEN ways to enter and win, folks! Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya…

GOOD LUCK!

Baseball and Bullies

800px-Baseball

Photo credit: Tage Olsin

I don’t like baseball.

I could give you a lot of explanations for that. The games are boring, with significant amounts of time passing with nothing happening at all. One hundred and sixty-two games is just too many for me to care about. The players are often un-athletic looking or even personally unappealing. But those explanations don’t really do justice to my disdain for baseball. That’s because, if I’m honest, none of those things are the reason I don’t like baseball.

The real reason has to do with a teacher and a bully.

Bullies have been on my mind lately. My oldest daughter has recently had to suffer at the hands of a bully. And, like me, her bully was a teacher. But her story is hers to tell — just as I haven’t wanted to talk about this for 20 years, she doesn’t want to talk about it, at least not now. So I will just tell you my story.

I can trace my dislike of baseball back to a single day. I don’t remember the exact date, but I know it was in the spring of 1993. I was a junior in high school, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. After all, high school wasn’t awful for me, but it wasn’t great either. But there was one truly awful part of high school: gym class.

Oh, goodness, how I hated gym class. But never more than on that spring day.

I remember we were doing the baseball unit in gym. I remember walking out of the gym, through the parking lot, to the closest baseball diamond with my class. I remember being split into two uneven teams with the defense manning their positions on the field and everyone else being up at bat. And I remember the teacher, everything about her — though I won’t name her here.

Now, when I was in high school, we were tracked, meaning the academic classes were leveled into advanced, college prep, etc. So, I spent most of the day with basically the same set of kids who were also in the advanced classes. Except for things like gym. There, you could see a clear divide between the “smart” (and likely not athletic) kids and the “normal” kids. That was good, actually — even though I was not particularly skilled at sports, there were enough kids like me that I didn’t stand out as a failure.

On this day, on the diamond, that divide was there, as usual. As I waited for my turn at bat, I knew I wouldn’t hit anything. But neither would a bunch of other people. So, while I remember still hoping class would end before I got to the plate, I wasn’t all that worried about it. It would be no more embarrassing than any other gym class deficiency.

The bell didn’t ring before my turn. So, I stood there and waited for the pitch. I swung — and missed. I swung again, and missed again. And then one more time. Three strikes, and I was out.

Except, not that day.

I remember trying to hand the bat off when my gym teacher said no. She said I needed to stay there until I hit the baseball. I remember smirks and snickers from my classmates.

High School Me!

High School Me!

I swung again. Strike four. Then five. Then six.

Now, that divide I told you about was apparent, but in a very different way. One one side were the kids who were openly grinning and joking at my expense, and on the other were the kids who were painfully looking away, sympathetic to my embarrassment but unwilling to draw attention to themselves. After all, better me than them, right?

Strike seven. Eight. Nine.

Then the bell rang, the one that signaled it was time to go back to the locker room to get changed. I remember how sweet that bell sounded.

Until the teacher said no one was going in — until I hit the ball. Now, the class wasn’t smirking. Now, they were mad. They were going to be late — because of me.

Strike ten. Strike eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.

Around the fifteenth pitch, I made a little contact with the ball. It bounced forward pathetically. I took a deep breath. Was the ordeal over?

But the teacher said it didn’t count. Strike fifteen. Then sixteen.

Finally, I hit the seventeenth pitch. Well, not really hit it — just a bit more contact than the last time, so the ball bounced a bit more forward. But the teacher nodded, and it was done. I don’t remember, though, the expressions on my classmates’ faces or their reaction. By that point, I was staring at the ground. I didn’t think I’d ever want to make eye contact with anyone ever again.

It took years for me to label that incident as what it was: bullying. At the time, it didn’t occur to me — nor to any of the people who witnessed it. If a math teacher had done something like that — made a kid stand in front of the class for several minutes and figure out how to do a problem beyond his ability — I think there would have been reports and complaints and disciplinary action. Even then, it wasn’t OK to pick on kids who weren’t as smart. But not a single person — including me — thought there was a problem with the gym teacher picking on a nerdy kid. After all, that’s all in good fun, right?

But it’s not. And it’s not OK. And people need to talk about it.

The vast majority of teachers are incredible people who sacrifice and work ridiculously hard to raise other people’s children. That’s a generosity that most of us will never match. Even though it is rare — or maybe because it is rare — it is a severe breach of trust for a teacher to act like my gym teacher did. In the workplace, it would harassment and jobs would be terminated. Between two students, it would be a clear case of bullying and there would be suspensions. But when it is a teacher and a student — where the power difference is so much greater than between peers — it is often overlooked. Especially when the victim is “nerdy.” Because we still live in a world where being smart is a put down for a kid, something to be slightly embarrassed about. High school athletes get pep rallies and star status; the kids who are academically at the tops of their classes get ignored (which might be better than getting teased).

As a society, we have been talking a lot about bullying. I’m glad we are. It’s hard enough to get through school that there’s no reason for anyone to have an additional layer of difficulty artificially created by a bully. We need to learn to stand up and say it’s not OK — no matter who the victim is. Or who the perpetrator is. And we need to talk about how bullying is born of inferiority — not of the victim but of the offender. Looking back, I realize that my gym teacher probably felt that a smart kid like me needed to learn that getting good grades wasn’t everything and to be taken down a notch. But why would she need to take me down if she didn’t feel inferior in the first place?

Me on my pro-nerdyness crusade

Me on my pro-nerdyness crusade

Like I said, it’s taken years for me to come to terms with what happened that spring day. And even coming to terms with it doesn’t make it feel better. The only good to come out of it is that I’m more vigilant about situations like this. Just as I would never let people around me say negative things about another person’s race, religion, or disabilities, I’m sensitive about what they say about another person’s abilities. I’m sure to tell kids whenever I am doing an author visit that of all the things that shouldn’t embarrass them about themselves, being smart is the least of it. And anyone who makes fun of their brains is…well, stupid. And not worth a second thought. This is one of the main crusades in my life.

And, in the meantime, I’m working on liking baseball.

The Next Big Thing: Sudipta Version

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop celebrates what writers are working on or what they have coming up next. Welcome to my stop!

I was tagged by my co-blogger, Kami Kinard, author of The Boy Project. See what her next big thing is HERE.

It wasn’t easy to pick one thing to talk about today – I typically have about six projects going at any time. But then the first question below helped me narrow things down. See, of the six things I’m working on, quite a few of them have NO WORKING TITLES AT ALL. Makes it a little harder to summarize them, huh? So I’m going to take the easy route and talk about something WITH A TITLE!

1: What is the working title of your book?  DUCK DUCK MOOSE

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? I’ve been carrying this idea around with me for years. It’s about a family unit of two ducks and a moose that is very close – but as close families sometimes do, they also irritate each other. A lot.

3: What genre does your book come under? Picture Book.

Hampire_jackethalf pint petePiratePrincess c

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Hmmm. My book is about two ducks and a moose. So…how about any two of the One directions guys as Duck and Duck and Seth Rogan as Moose?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?   What’s a Duck to do when the Moose in your life is forever ruining things?

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? This book is going to be published by Disney-Hyperion and it will be illustrated by the incomparable Noah Z. Jones.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’ve been carrying this idea around for YEARS, but once I started writing, I’d say about three months to fine tune it. That is ridiculously fast for a picture book – but this one is very, very sparse on words…

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Hmmmm…that’s pretty hard. Everything I think of to compare DUCK DUCK MOOSE to comes off sounding pretty self-important, so…I’m going to take a pass on this one…

My ducks and moose

My ducks and moose

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? I’ve always tried to work word play into my picture books, and the thought of replacing the goose in a game of duck, duck, goose with a moose just seemed so funny to me. Add to that the real-life ducks and mooses in my life…I’m the mother of three, two girls aged 11 and 10 and a 6-year old moose-boy. I’ve watched the girls’ carefully laid plots be demolished by their brother so many times over the last few years that when I finally started to write the book, it came together pretty quickly.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I think the illustrations are adorable, and the story itself it both extremely easy to read (under 50 words) and requires a pretty high level of engagement to enjoy (you have to look at the picture book as a whole to enjoy this experience, not just read the words).

Thanks for checking out what I’m working on! Be sure to stop by the blog of a fabulous author named Marcie Colleen who allowed me to tag her for next week (Wednesday, March 6) and check out my co-bloggers for the day, Anne Marie Pace, Kathy Erskine, and Amy Carol Reeves!

New Giveaway! A Skype Classroom Visit!

In case you missed it, yesterday, we had a lovely chat with John Schumacher, aka MrSchuReads. (You did miss it? Quick! Click the link!) Here’s a bonus to that chat — if you pop on over to his blog, you can win a Skype Classroom Visit with Sudipta! All you have to do is fill out the entry form at Watch. Connect. Read and keep your fingers crossed!

 

mr schu pic

(By the way, if you want to see us do giveways like this on Nerdy Chicks Rule, leave us a comment and let us know!)