Books by Lorie Ann Grover

Books by Lorie Ann Grover
Kirkus Starred Review, Firstborn: "A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."

Questions from Readers

How to Jump Start Creative Writing, 2015

I just had a kind reader ask for inspiration to jump start her writing after being away from the creative outlet for a bit. This is definitely a recurring circumstance for me as I step away from novel writing for marketing or board book noodling. So, here's my short response in case it might help another:

I suggest immersing yourself in someone else's writing. That will prime the pump first. Then imitating their work can get the words flowing. Riff off someone else's poem or song or painting and title it "After Van Gogh's Starry Night," etc.
A book like Poemcrazy can give you exercises to work through. And you might find strong poetry emerging in the midst of the read.
For longer works, say a novel, I listen for what makes me angry. Addressing that injustice or falsity is enough to fuel a 2+ year project for me. i.e. gendercide: Firstborn; or losses happen, so how do we dream again (versus Sesame Street/Barney saying we CAN be whatever we want if we try hard enough):On Pointe. There has to be a life truth I'm standing on to drive the work.
Reading, imitating, exercises, pondering what you care about at an emotional level will jump start you for sure. Write what you have lived.

How to Get Published, 2014

I'm often asked for tips in how to publish. Here's a quick reference:

1. Keep notes as you read books of who is publishing what. Over time, you'll start to see a personality of the different houses and where your work might best fit. 
2. Get the current Writer's Market Book, or this one if you write for children: Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market Book. Study who is accepting unsolicited manuscripts or queries. 
3. Find a national and local organization for writers, such as the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association or the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They'll have conferences and meetings. Joining and attending, you may gain the opportunity to interview with an agent or editor. 
4. Submit your queries, or manuscript, as the Market Book advises, simultaneously if the house accepts such. 
5. Find a local critique group you can trust for feedback. The Writer's Association will often be able to help you connect with one.
6. Then once your piece is out, get to writing the next.
7. It's great to get experience and a few credits to list in your queries by publishing in newspapers, blogs, or magazines. So don't overlook that opportunity. 
Here's to your first sales!
The Verse Novel, Fall 2010

I just received a provocative email from a teen in the Netherlands who is writing an essay on my verse novel, On Pointe. She noticed how the literary structure itself reflects dance. I thought to share a few of her questions and my answers. How fun when readers make writers think!

Q. Did you mean for the style and structure to influence the movement of the novel?
A. Yes. If you compare On Pointe to my other works, Loose Threads and Hold Me Tight, you'll see that the entries are not titled as they are in the other two novels. By crafting the work without titled verses, my aim was to mimic the flow of one long dance.

Q. Why use this way of portraying the movements the way you did, rather than using more imagery?
A. The structure of the verses imitates ballet steps (pages 126-127) so that a reader unfamiliar with ballet can still gain an impression/feeling of various movements. I definitely didn't want to descend into particulars of steps and lose the non-ballet reader.

Q. Are there any particular sections in the novel that you wanted to convey the movement more than other parts of the novel, and if that were so, which parts would those be?
A. Here are a few examples, at least. I believe I have used repetition of words on page 99 to convey the endless repetition of the preparation needed in order to master the ballet art form. I think of the short lines beginning on page 51 that run onto 52 talking about doing a split. The terseness mimics how Clare is split, cut thin by her situation. Generally, descriptive passages, like those on page 17, have the freedom to meander and run longer, like Clare's life outside of dance. Ballet passages tend to be tighter, more controlled like the art demands. And finally, on pages 4-6, I meant to reflect the long leg of a dancer on pointe.

Q. Is there a particular reason you chose to write this novel in free-verse rather than prose?
A. Yes, I believe the story works well in free verse as the format carries heavy emotion easily. It is difficult to write a work wherein the protagonist does not achieve her goals/dreams. I knew verse would allow the reader to dip in and out of the pain more easily. The white space allows the reader room to breath. And as you've discovered, verse can mimic dance. 

Here's to critical thinking!

Time Management, November 11, 2010

I was recently asked about my personal time management for an article. Here are my answers for the curious.

I do not write during the same hours every day. I write according to project deadlines or creative interest. Whatever is shouting the loudest receives my attention for the amount of time available. Still having one child at home, when I write fluctuates around her ever changing schedule. I used to homeschool two daughters, and then writing was tucked into all the spare bits of time.

My schedule is always too fluid to maintain specific, consistent writing hours. The needs of readergirlz fluctuates, and the nonprofit can take much of my time. Also, I need time to play and refill the well. Having strict writing time feels too constrained. That said, almost all my free time is given over to writing and reading. That can be anywhere from 7 am to 11 pm.

I start the day with a mental list of what I'll probably achieve. I keep an open hand with my expectations, however.

I personally might have a 40 hour work week for project managing readergirlz. That is the case in transitions or during special literacy projects. Writing then falls into the other available hours. If readergirlz is sustaining from the other 30 volunteers, I might devote 2 hours to it, readertotz, social media sites, and my own blog. I might write or draw for 6 hours, and then maybe read for 2 hours.

I do take writing retreats several times a year where I work on my novels exclusively, for 8-10 hours a day, for 4-6 days. I do not have internet access at those times.  

Regarding tracking, if they are online projects, I leave the email exchanges in my inbox until the project is complete. I use my journal for tracking creative projects I need to develop or refine. These are generated from chatting with my agent. When projects are completed and sent to my agent, I record them in an Excel file. Longer term online projects and future novel ideas I keep in Window's One Note documents.