Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wanna Go to Jemma's Camp?

Campfire looking out over South Twin Lake (Star Lake in the book)

Camp Star Lake, the fictional camp Jemma goes to in Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, is based on a real camp: Camp Birch Knoll in Phelps, Wisconsin. It is a fantastic place for girls ages 8-16 to make friends, learn new things, and have the time of their lives. Sessions are flexible, anywhere from 1-8 weeks.

The director of the camp, Gary Baier, is available to come to your house to give you the scoop, or you can come to one of his open house presentations that he's holding at The Courtyard by Marriott in Deerfield, lllinois on Thursday, October 22, 7 pm; Wednesday, October 28, 7 pm; Sunday, November 8, 1 pm; Tuesday, November 17, 7 pm; or Sunday, November 22, 1 pm. Gary is very low key, and you will not feel any pressure to make a commitment. You will simply be getting information.

Sheetsliding just like Jemma does in the book!

Please know that I do not get any kickbacks from Camp Birch Knoll. I simply love that place and wish as many girls as possible can have the experience I had growing up there. If you have any questions about CBK, feel free to shoot me an email. You can also call Gary directly at 1-800-843-2904.

I'm trying to include a file here that tells more about the open houses. Hopefully you're able to see it: OPEN%20HOUSE%202009-pdf.pdf

Names of Characters and Authors

I love naming characters because it's challenging and fun, and when you find the right name, you just know it. Unlike naming babies, where the child is just a bundle of sweetness who you hope will grow into his or her name, naming characters is all about making the name fit the person (or not, if that's the effect you're going for).

Sometimes I name my characters for the meaning behind their names...
I gave Cara Segal (main character in Julia's Kitchen) her name because I thought of her as a caring person who would learn to soar over her problems.

Sometimes I name my characters after someone I know...
I gave Jemma Hartman her name because the name Jemma is unique and sweet, and my adorable dry cleaning lady is named Jemma. (No, I do not get free dry cleaning now, but the real Jemma has bought many copies of my books!) Jemma got her last name from my cousins, the Hartmans, and it's Jemma's heart that's at stake in this story, so that made sense.

Sometimes I name a character for the sound of the name...
In my forthcoming picture book, the love interest is named Zoey Maloney. Isn't that just fun to say aloud? Zoey Maloney. Zoey Maloney. It makes me smile.

Sometimes I name a character for a real person who bids on getting their name in my book in a silent auction fundraiser...
Darby Coleman, the counselor from Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, is one such person. I'm offering that opportunity again next month at a silent auction to benefit Lungevity, a wonderful organization dedicated to finding a cure for lung cancer. I wonder what the name will be. I like having to figure out which character will fit the winning name.

And speaking of names, have you been to Teaching Books Author Name Pronunciation Guide? This is such a fun website. Authors tell how to pronounce their names, and they also tell a little bit about their name. Ever wonder how to pronounce Jon Scieszka? Or Wanda Gag? Or Esme Raji Codell? Want to find out what D.J. MacHale's initials stand for? Or M.T. Anderson's? Want to know what the A stands for in my name or what my particular challenge was with my name when I was growing up? All this and more can be discovered with a simple click of the mouse!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thank You, Muscatine, Iowa.

I'm writing to you from Muscatine, Iowa, the pearl button and watermelon capital of the world! I spent the last two days meeting with all the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, talking with them about the writing process and about being an author. It's been a blast. The kids were great, and the teachers, librarians, and school administrators here in Muscatine have impressed me with their dedication to the students and their hospitality to little ol' me. Tomorrow, I head to Wilton, Iowa, for a few more presentations, and then I'm homeward bound. All these Iowa school visits happened because Julia's Kitchen is on the Iowa Children's Choice Awards reading list this year. I am so honored to be included with such fantastic books!

A few of my favorite moments:
Donating the books I collected for Mati Hepker, Little Miss Iowa, whose platform is literacy and who lost all her books in a house fire last week. Thank you so much to everyone who helped with this very fast book drive! If you want to donate books to Mati, shoot me an email, and I will give you the address where you can send them.

Dining with teachers, librarians, and a few of their children at terrific local restaurants. On the first night, I met with some children's book author friends at The Button Factory Restaurant. This restaurant used to be an actual working button factory. It's right on the Mississippi River, and they used to take mussels from the river and punch buttons out of the shells. Pictured below are Jill Esbaum, Connie Heckert, me, Beth Elshoff (the teacher/librarian extraordinaire who coordinated my whole visit), and Linda Carwath.

Answering funny questions from kids, such as, "Do you like pudding?" and "Who is your favorite Disney character?" They also asked wonderful, pertinent questions, too. :-)

The only problem with this whole visit? I'm a Michigan Wolverine fan in Iowa Hawkeye country!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Very Fast Book Drive

So you know that my first novel, JULIA'S KITCHEN, is about a young girl dealing with the tragic aftermath of a house fire. I'm heading to Iowa next week for a few days of school visits, and in a sad twist of irony, I found out that one of the teachers in the district I'm visiting just had a house fire last weekend and lost everything (but thankfully everyone survived!). This teacher has three kids in the district as well. Her daughter, Mati, is Little Miss Iowa, and Mati's platform is literacy. They had purchased numerous books for Mati to use as she presents to groups, and now all those books have been lost. There is a book drive to help replace the books. Since I am driving there on Monday, I thought I would bring as many books as I could to help with this book drive. If any of you have unused books you'd like to donate, please contact me at brenda at brendaferber.com.
Thanks so much!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

This, for sure, is the number one question people ask me, and I'm guessing that's true for most authors. I have my standard answer... I get my ideas from real life plus imagination. But I just realized I could answer that question totally differently.

I get all my ideas in the shower.

It's true. My best thinking happens in that fifteen minute span of hot water, soap and shampoo. I don't know what it is about that time and space, but ideas and plans become crystal clear while I shave my legs or rinse out the conditioner. Just this morning I had the biggest, best epiphany about my work-in-progress. I am so excited to get to work.

What about you? Where do you think best?