Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NYWC Ten Under Ten

I'm really delighted to be sharing these poems with you all today as part of Write On's partnership with NYWC and their Ten Under Ten Series. I know you will enjoy these amazing poems written by kids under ten years old:

Ears Everywhere
by Amaraa F. Harris, Age 8

My dad’s ears are like eggs
that’s alive. My mommy’s ears are
as beautiful as a tree blowing in
the winter. My grandma’s ears are
as silky as grass.
But my ears are
weird. They feel like
elf ears. They hurt when the
wind blows. But when I move
my mouth
my ears move too.

When the wind blows
it’s like they try to tell me

But ears

My sister’s ears
Are an oval that will never stop.

That’s special.

This poem was contributed in 2005 by Amaraa F. Harris when she was eight years old and appears in Making the Trees Shiver: An Anthology of the First Six Years of the Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival. You’ll find this and other poems from the Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival in the NYWC Bookstore.

* * *

A Stringy Coconut
by Maya Kushnick, Age 7

This coconut looks like a hairball from a cat. (Even though I never saw one before.) It is an asteroid with rings on it. Is it heavy? Is it light? Don’t know! Bumpy, lumpy it hurts a lot. Mmmmm. Yummy, milky. Why did it fall on my head, off a tree? This someone has a big Mustache! What a nice hairdo. What a stringy coconut.

Maya Kushnick is a member of the NY Writers Coalition youth workshop Ridge Kids, which meets every Thursday at Brooklyn Public Library, Bay Ridge Branch. Click here for more information on NYWC youth programming.

* * *

Dead Rat Hamburgers 
by Tiffany Wong, Age 8

1. 18 dead rats
2. 2 hairy tomatoes
3. Bleu cheese
4. Moldy bread
5. Blood (optional: shoot a person with a bazooka gun to get the blood.)
6. Grater
 7. Bowl
8. Spoon
9. Hair

1. Grate bleu cheese and drop 3 gallons of blood into the bowl
2. Dice tomato
3. Wash dead mice or rat in blood*
4. Cook rats
5. Put everything together
Stink up and enjoy!
*Do not dry

“Dead Rat Hamburgers” was contributed in 2006 by Tiffany Wong when she was eight years old and appears in If These Streets Could Talk: Fiction & Poetry from the NY Writers Coalition. You’ll find this and other writing from our youth program in the NYWC Bookstore. 

* * *

by Cindy Lei, Age 7

I am from New York City
I am from brushes with daisies
I am from big white dumplings with things inside
I am from long pink dresses that I wear for dances.
I feel excited when I am wearing the pink dress.
I am from fudge
I am from congratulations and happy birthday.
I am from presents, medium-sized in a blue box with a pink
I am from fresh air.

I am from quickly-spoken Chinese.
I am from the stories I write, stories with problems.
I am from little and big sisters.
I am from Chinatown where there are interesting signs
and English-speaking people can’t understand.

“Pretty” was contributed in 2006 by Cindy Lei when she was seven years old and appears in If These Streets Could Talk: Fiction & Poetry from the NY Writers Coalition. You’ll find this and other writing from our youth program in the NYWC Bookstore.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview with Tracy Krauss to celebrate the launch of her new book WIND OVER MARSHDALE

Tracy Krauss is an author, artist, playwright, director, worship leader, and teacher. Originally from a small prairie town, she received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She has lived in many places in northern Canada with her husband, a pastor, and their children. They currently live in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Published works include four romantic suspense novels: And The Beat On, where archeological evidence for creation comes at a heavy cost; My Mother The Man-Eater, the story of a ‘cougar’ who takes on more than she bargained for; Play It Again, about an unlikely match during the 1980s rock n’ roll scene; and Wind Over Marshdale, where strong spiritual forces rock a seemingly peaceful prairie town. She also has several stage plays in print. Visit her website for more details. 

Who is Tracy Krauss? 

Besides an author, I am an artist, drama director, worship leader and teacher. I’m all about the creative process, so everything I do has that bent to it. When I’m ‘making’ something – be it a painting, directing my vision for a play on the stage, playing an instrument, or writing a book – I feel energized. Sometimes I tend to burn myself out because I don’t rest much, but I like to be busy and I love all my creative pursuits, so it’s hard to drop anything. I currently live in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, known for its many waterfalls. However, my husband and I have moved around a lot in our nearly thirty years of marriage, and many of the places we’ve lived have been in the far north. Places like Churchill, Manitoba - the ‘polar bear capital of the world’; the Yukon, which is next door to Alaska; and the North West Territories – all north of the 60th parallel. This has given me lots of fodder for my stories.

When did you start writing? 

I first started writing when my eldest was just a baby. I could hardly wait for her to go down for her nap so that I could pound away at my mother’s old typewriter. That was more than a quarter century ago. Four kids, plus homeschooling for nine years, plus going back to work as a public school teacher full time, and I finally signed my first contract in 2008. (This was after many, many rejections and a lot of hard work revising, querying, and revising some more.) My first book was released in 2009, followed by My Mother the Man-Eater in 2010, Play it Again in 2011, and now, Wind Over Marshdale in 2012. I’ve also had five plays published or contracted in that time with various play publishing houses.

What authors have inspired your own writing? 

Frank Peretti is still my favourite author. To me he is a groundbreaker. He’s tackled subjects that were previously considered taboo within Christian circles in such a compelling and thought provoking way that his writing is almost revered as truth. For instance, This Present Darkness has almost become a manual on spiritual warfare, even though it’s fiction. I try to include some of this ‘edge’ in my own writing. Francine Rivers is another that comes to mind. She has written about some pretty controversial topics as well, and her characters are always believable; they aren’t perfect in other words. Again, this is what I strive for with my characters.

Tell us about your new novel. 

Wind Over Marshdale takes place in a small prairie town where, on the surface, everything seems quaint and happy. Underneath there are some serious issues, especially with racism, sexual promiscuity, and the occult. Thomas Lone Wolf is a Cree man on a mission to build a heritage site near the town based on some ancient archaeological evidence. He and his children aren’t prepared for the level of prejudice they begin to face. Rachel Bosworth is the new Kindergarten teacher, fresh from the big city and running away from a hurtful past. Con McKinley is a local farmer, who also happens to be single and good looking. A love triangle of sorts develops, with the two men unwitting participants. As well, eccentric twin sisters bombard the town; one with her legalistic religious views and the other as a practicing witch. The local pastor has little effect trying to keep his parishioners in line since he is involved in some unsavoury business of his own. The lives of these and many other unusual characters weave together into a surprising climax. Beneath it all is a thread linking everyone’s problems to the spirit realm; an ancient curse from the past that must be dealt with once and for all.

What’s next? 

I have two more finished novels and several works in progress. I’m just in the process of polishing up Czech Out, about a hockey player who defects to North America during the cold war, and Three Strand Cord, a romantic mystery about three friends. Once they’re ready for submission I’ll be pitching them to my agent. I’m also always pitching plays as well, since I write most of my own material for my drama troupe. Finally, I’m publishing an illustrated children’s book. I just finished all the artwork and it should be ready fairly soon.

Blurb: Marshdale. Just a small farming community where nothing special happens. A perfect place to start over… or get lost. There is definitely more to this prairie town than meets the eye. Once the meeting place of aboriginal tribes for miles around, some say the land itself was cursed because of the people’s sin. But its history goes farther back than even indigenous oral history can trace and there is still a direct descendant who has been handed the truth, like it or not. Exactly what ties does the land have to the medicine of the ancients? Is it cursed, or is it all superstition?

Wind Over Marshdale is the story of the struggles within a small prairie town when hidden evil and ancient medicine resurface. Caught in the crossfire, new teacher Rachel Bosworth finds herself in love with two men at once. First, there is Thomas Lone Wolf, a Cree man whose blood lines run back to the days of ancient medicine but who has chosen to live as a Christian and faces prejudice from every side as he tries to expose the truth. Then there is Con McKinley, local farmer who has to face some demons of his own. Add to the mix a wayward minister seeking anonymity in the obscurity of the town; eccentric twin sisters – one heavily involved in the occult and the other a fundamentalist zealot; and a host of other ‘characters’ whose lives weave together unexpectedly for the final climax.

This suspenseful story is one of human frailty -- prejudice, cowardice, jealousy, and greed – magnified by powerful spiritual forces that have remained hidden for centuries, only to be broken in triumph by grace.

Congrats on the release of your new book, Tracy! Thanks for taking the time to stop by the blog today! 

Links to Purchase Wind Over Marshdale

Publisher: Astraea Press: 


Barnes and Noble:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Insights from warm, witty & wise best-selling author Jess Walter

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting best-selling author Jess Walter when he came to give a reading at Purdue through our Visiting Writers Series. I was part of a group of MFA students who got to have dinner with him before his reading, and he is one of the most friendly, funny, and genuinely nice people I've ever met!

An amazing read! You should buy it right now!
 I took notes during his question-and-answer session after his reading so I could share his incredibly insightful, comforting, funny and wise thoughts about the writing life with you:
  • I'm interested in collisions of emotion: the intersection between laughing and crying.
  • You turn the oven on for a "novel cake" and you have no idea how long it will take to bake.
  • As a writer, you are working against the grain of the culture. I love working against expectations -- working against what the reader expects in a really satisfying way.
  • There's an incredibly fast-moving river of culture, and as a novelist you have to step out of the river and observe what's around you.
  • We (as writers) can't focus on the number of people we reach. We can only focus on the depth of that relationship (with readers.)
  • I sometimes feel like an alien on the planet, and I think that's a really healthy way for a writer to feel -- at a remove from the rest of the world, watching.
  • Hollywood reflects us back at ourselves. 
  • So much of fiction writing is a kind of empathy.
  • On aging: Even as physically we start to fade, we become the best versions of ourselves.

It is so special when you greatly admire a writer's books, and then get the chance to meet the writer in person -- and like them even more! Jess Walter is a rare breed. If you're looking for fiction that will move you, make you laugh, crack open your world and fill it with light -- I could not recommend his books more highly!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Will you join our Indiegogo Campaign to help produce my play in NYC?

Hi everyone! A couple months back I shared the exciting news that my play "A Frog in Boiling Water" is going to be produced in New York City as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival! (Read my interview on the Samuel French website here:

I could not be more thrilled to be part of this prestigious festival and to be working with the amazing director Brian Gillespie and Pull Together Productions.

We're looking for a little bit of help to cover the costs of producing and rehearsing the show for its Off Off Broadway, New York premiere on October 27th. We've created an Indiegogo page with various "perks" for donors, including a thank-you shout-out on our Facebook page, the Pull Together Productions website, and right here on this blog!

  • Donation Amount: $10 or more
  • Name of Perk: "Simmering"
    Description: You are heating things up. With a donation of $10 or more you will receive a shout-out on our Facebook page!
  • Donation Amount: $25 or more
  • Name of Perk:"Percolating"
    Description: You're getting warmer. With a donation of $25 or more, you will be listed on Pull Together Productions website and Dallas Woodburn's Writing Life website as a sponsor, and receive a shout-out on our Facebook page!
  • Donation Amount: $50 or more
  • Name of Perk: "Bubbling Up"
    Descripton: You're cooking with gas. With a donation of $50 or more, you will receive a poster signed by the cast and crew, as well as a listing on our websites as a sponsor and a shout-out on our Facebook page!
  • Donation Amount: $100 or more
  • Name of Perk: "Boiling"
    Description: You're fired up. With a donation of $100.00 or more, you will receive a photo from the production signed by the cast, a poster signed by the cast and crew, as well as a listing as a sponsor on our websites and a shout-out on our Facebook page!

About the Play:

On the surface, an ordinary family lives a sheltered existence — but on a dry, still Friday night, something is sparked to life that reveals the tension and secrets behind their perfect facade and ultimately changes their lives forever.

About the Festival:

Now in its 37th year, The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival is Manhattan’s oldest, continuous short play festival. In the first 36 years of the Festival, over 500 theatre companies and schools from across the U.S. and around the world have participated. The Festival has served as a doorway to future success for many aspiring playwrights, and has helped launched the work of notables such as Theresa Rebeck. In many cases, Festival participation has sparked agent contracts for Festival finalists and all of the final forty plays selected to be perform in New York are guaranteed to be seen by an Artistic Director of a major theater, a professional playwright, and a theatrical agent. Many past Festival playwrights have gone on to win major Playwriting awards and honors, as well as to have major theatrical productions of their works staged.

Check out the festival's website for more info:

What your donation will go towards:
  • Rehearsal Space - Your donations will go directly towards paying for rehearsal space in New York City (average rate for rehearsal studios is about 25-30 dollars an hour)
  • Costumes, Props and Music - Even on a shoestring budget, it's important to have the props you need and to find costumes that help reveal the characters. Finding just the right music also helps to enhance the telling of the story. Your donations will help us make the show look and sound its best.
  • Promotional Materials – postcards and posters to help spread the word and get a great audience.
  • Actor Stipends - Our wonderful actors are basically donating their time for free to be part of this neat play in such a prestigious festival. But we will be reimbursing them for their travel expenses and you're donations will help pay for those.
We don't need much; about $1000 should come pretty close to covering our expenses. But that's just a little bit more than a struggling New York director and a grad. student playwright can pay for out of pocket. We're hoping friends and supporters like you can pitch-in and help us along. Every donation, no matter what amount, will help us make this play a success.

Thank you! 

Here's the link one more time: