Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wendy Mass

     I met Wendy Mass tonight.  She was here as our guest author for Cedar Valley's Youth Read, which brings in one author a year and fifth grade students in the area read one book from the author.  Our students all read 11 Birthdays.   She's been here all week talking with groups of fifth graders about her books, her writing process and her dreams.  I went today with a school group to hear her talk and then again tonight when she did a public talk.  She seemed so natural and at ease.  I enjoyed listening to her and even though I didn't get to interview her I learned some interesting tidbits.

     She had a great slideshow that accompanied her talk.  Here is what I learned about Wendy Mass tonight:

1.  Her first dream was to be an astronaut= cool because Every Soul a Star used her original love of space.
2. She adored some of the same authors I did growing up;  Judy Blume and E.L. Konigsburg.
3.In the beginning she wrote a lot and was frustrated.  Luckily she kept going.  I write just a little and am also frustrated.
4. She recieved a ton of rejection letters for her very first book,  A Mango-Shaped Space and has them all laminated together!! 
4.  Her first book published is a nonfiction book about Stonehenge.
5.   She recently finished Scott Westerfield's trilogy-I think she said she listened to it on audio.
6. She has three retold fairy tales-I want to read these!
7.  She talked about how writers get paid-I've never heard anyone be so frank on this topic.

8.  The topic of covers came up with several of her books.  This makes me think how awful it is to lose control of your "baby" and have awful choices made.  This would make me want to pull my hair out. When  Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall  came out in paperback they put a gumball machine on the front even though their isn't a gumball machine in the book.  Common Sense would say remove the gumball machine picture and add something from the d#@* book but no, they asked her to re-edit and add a gumball machine into the story!!!  How maddening.

9.  She said ideas come from three things: experience, observation, and imagination. 
10.  She kept her ideas in a notebook-which she learned from Harriet the Spy and she still keeps a notebook to jot down ideas. 

11.  She works really hard on character development by filling out an idea form showing character traits, friends, thoughts, etc. 

Thank you Wendy for visiting and making such a huge impression on students throughout the Cedar Valley.  After the fifth grade students from my school heard her-they came to library the next day, pumped and looking for all the Mass' books we had and many could quote her, telling me bits of advise from her talk; like you have to have a pet-its like a rule that if you write you have to have a pet.  They took this to heart!!  I'm happy to have their thinking influenced by such an at-ease and talented author!!



Unknown said...

thanks! I loved all of the tidbits. Pet-check. We've never read Harriet the Spy - if it'll get my people taking notes - Hell if it'll get ME taking notes....Thank you and thanks Wendy!

Peaceful Reader said...

I agree. I want to read it to my girl, who by the way is reading chapter books by herself in bed(after we read together first). Baby's growing up.