Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Christmas In May

The Guys Lit Wire Book Fair has generated hundreds (YES, I said HUNDREDS) of brand new donated books that will go directly to the new library we are creating in the Los Angeles Central Juvenile Jail, through Inside Out Writers...the agency for which I work as a creative writing teacher.  When Lee and Colleen first approached me about this project, they told me that these things start slowly and build over the years.  I expected to fetch about 20-30 books at the most.  But, within the first HOUR of the announcement of the book drive, we already had 50 books pledged.  

Now, as I sit here opening box after glorious box from Powell's Bookstore, I cannot contain my joy...and, yes, I'm shedding a few tears as I read the notes people have sent along with their books.  I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers who want to help these locked up kids, who desperately want to read, but have no access to books.  And now they do!

Some messages people have sent with their donated books:

"I'm so sorry I can only afford to send one book right now.  I hope the kids enjoy it!"
"Thank you for giving the gift of reading to those who need it most."
"Bless you and Guys Lit Wire for all your generosity."
"These are our favorite books. We are in elementary school and we love to read. We hope the boys in jail like them as much as we do."
"Thank you IOW and Guys Lit Wire for helping us to help others who need it."
"I hope this book inspires and helps the boys in jail like it helped me so many years ago."

THANK YOU to all who donated books.  I'm hoping to have the boys reviewing books soon...so that you all can see what a major huge difference you really are making in these kids' lives.  The fact that total strangers all over the world are using their own precious money so that kids in jail can have the luxury of good books to read may just be the key to reducing the crime rate in Los Angeles.  Don't laugh, it could happen!

Marley and Brandy, my beloved Springer Spaniels, have been helping me hour after hour to tear open cardboard packages bearing shiny new books.  Above, you can see the ones they chose as their favorites.

Thank you for reading!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kids In Jail Read Too!

Oh, my goodness...apparently I've been so crazy busy writing/revising my current book project, I've completely neglected my blogging duties!

But I have to announce that the Guys Lit Wire online book fair for boys is underway!

The bloggers/writers/reviewers over at Guys Lit Wire approached me a while back about donating books to incarcerated boys in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system.  And because I teach Creative Writing classes in the L.A. juvenile jails, through the amazing Inside Out Writers program, we were a perfect match to get this project rolling.  Special thanks to the wonderful Lee Wind and the equally wonderful Colleen at GLW for setting this up!

The Guys Lit Wire folks have a blog site dedicated to providing a wealth of information and reviews on books for boys, and now they've pledged to "put their money where their mouths are" by placing some of their favorite books into hands of boys who need them most...those who are locked up with no access to books, but have a hunger for reading.  So often these "invisible" kids are locked away and forgotten by society.  So, I cannot thank GLW enough for remembering that, despite their histories, these are just normal kids who love reading, writing and creating! 

I've been teaching for Inside Out Writers for the last 9 months, and can safely say that these boys crave books more than anything.  More than cookies or doughnuts or spicy cheetos!  So, if you get a chance, head on over to Guys Lit Wire, click on the link to the Powells wishlist and send a book (or two or three) to my fantastically talented and dedicated writing students.

THANK YOU in advance to all those who have donated books or plan to.  This is very much appreciated!  The boys will be ecstatic.  Rock on Guys Lit Wire!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Know You're A Writer If...

You cannot read a book without your red pen in hand.

You troll the bookstores looking for your friends' books so you can rearrange them with the covers facing out.

You troll the bookstores looking for your friends' books so you can stick them, facing out, in front of Valerie Bertinelli's, Paris Hilton's, or Pamela Anderson's books. 

You cannot watch a movie without identifying, out loud (very loud), inciting incident, plot points one and two, climax and dark moment.

You laugh out loud while reading "Twilight".

Every time you step out of the house, people on the street become your potential novel characters.

You travel everywhere with a little notepad and pen.

You excuse yourself in the middle of dinner dates to run to the bathroom and jot down brilliant bits of dialogue that pop into your head. (And bring a napkin with you because you can't fit your notepad into your adorable little bitty purse)

Sometimes when people talk to you, you pretend to listen while you are actually working out a difficult scene from your novel in a thought bubble over his/her head.  (See "dinner date" above)

"Aha!" moments hit you in the middle of the night and wake you up out of dead sleep.

You read out loud to your dog to get confirmation that your prose is working.

You cringe when people use "me" instead of "I" or "I" instead of "me".  Me hate that!

You proofread all text messages before pressing "send".

You proofread all incoming text messages and send them back to recipients after editing.

You cannot read ANYTHING (magazines, letters, thank you notes, dog groomer bills) without becoming appalled at the lack of knowledge people have about spelling and grammar.  Did nobody pay attention in elementary school??

When it's a pretty day outside, your internal voice describes it in beautiful literary prose over and over until it gets the description just right.

You have an internal voice.

Potential book titles run through your head all day long.  And when you get home you "google" those titles to see if they exist yet.

You are obsessed with stalking your mail carrier or hitting "refresh" on your email screen.

You kiss your manuscripts "goodbye" before sending.  (Oh! Oops...am I the only freak who does this??)

Above list written and copyrighted by Eve A. Porinchak.  (You "copyright" everything you write, even though you don't know what exactly "copyright" means.)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Once Upon A Time...

"It was a dark and stormy night."

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

"If you really want to hear about it, you'll probably want to know where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like."

"Call me Ishmael."

What is it about famous opening lines that makes them, well, famous?  I heard somewhere that authors have about 8 seconds to grab a reader.  I read slowly, so that only gives authors a sentence or two to hook me.  That's it! 

So, here's my thing.  I am having the hardest time creating an opening for my new novel.  My first novel, Ring of Fire, poured out of me so easily and the first lines came to me the second the premise popped into my head.  That story is about 14-year-old "Bear", a tough inner city kid whose loving family and perfect life are shattered after a string of tragedies.  After his anger gets him arrested, he is sent to a mountain summer camp for disadvantaged youth, where he is challenged to stay out of trouble.  According to his probation terms, if he violates camp's Three Strikes policy, he will be removed from camp and sent to jail.  The opening lines read:

"A wad of slime slaps me in the neck as I step off the bus.  My heart pounds and my hands sweat as I prepare to stomp the fool who spit on me, but it's impossible to tell who did it in this mess of sweaty kids, so I let it go."

I felt like opening this YA book with action was appropriate since it is in part an adventure story.  But, more importantly, I wanted to immediately show that Bear is a kid who has been "spat upon" repeatedly by bad luck that was beyond his control.  Internally, he reacts to being spit on, but he has never been the type of kid who fights back.  Eventually, though, that misdirected anger will come out and ultimately become a major theme in the book. 

So, back to my problem.  My new novel, Fall, is a contemporary YA romance that could be described as "Love Story" meets "Yes Man" meets "A Beautiful Mind."  Can you picture it?  Okay, good.  I've started and restarted this novel 100 different ways, and I'm still not satisfied.  Do I start with action?  A quote?  Dialogue?  A metaphorical description?  The story is somewhat moody and philosophical, yet also funny at times.  But deep down, it's a simple love story about two people who cannot live without one another.  Should the opening lines suggest that it's a love story?  Or focus on the character and her problem?

Oh, and I am submitting the beginning chapters to the Big Sur March workshop.  And they are due this WEDNESDAY.  Gulp.  Help!

Thanks for reading.  And thank you in advance for any advice you can offer me!  


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TAG...I'm it! "5 Things..."

Thanks to Robin, I am officially "tagged" with a meme...a little self-centered thingy we writers post about ourselves, and then "tag" other writers with so they can also provide little known factoids about themselves.

Besides the word "factoid" which always makes me happy when I hear, read or speak it, there are too many things on the planet that make me happy; I cannot possibly narrow it down to 5. So, I've decided to change this Meme a bit and add my own twist:

5 Bloggers That Make Me Happy:

1.  Robin Mellom:  Funny, loyal, beautiful in every way, I've cherished her friendship for 6 whole years and can always count on her for all my "BFF" needs.
2.  Suzanne Young:  Positive, upbeat, driven and committed, Suz defines the word "perseverance" and can make me laugh until I cry.  I cannot wait to read her forthcoming books! (And hang out with her again in person some day soon!)
3.  Christy Raedeke:  Super-smart, comedian-funny, and dedicated to family, friends and her writing, I love spending time with this always fascinating girl.  And her writing is so insanely good, I want to be her in my next writing life!
4.  Graeme Stone:  One of the funniest people I've ever met, GS is dedicated beyond belief to honing his craft, and he writes gay-mystery-thrillers for boys!  Does it get any cooler than that?
5.  Lee Wind:  Possibly one of the sweetest humans on the planet, I've known Lee for several years.  And even though I only see him a few times a year at conferences, we always pick up where we left off.  Somehow, he remembers everything about my writing and is uniquely encouraging, even when I want to give up.  Bonus is that he is a tireless gay-rights activist and writes amazing "YA Fantasies with gay teen characters" You must check out his incredibly insightful blog.  I insist! 

Oh, and I've decided not to tag anyone with this Meme because people always get mad when I tag them and they are put on the spot.  And, anybody who knows me well knows that my goal in life is to NOT have people mad at me.  (How's that for a little-known factoid?  Factoid...HA! I'm cracking myself up over here!)

Thanks for reading!


Friday, January 16, 2009


And a very huge THANK YOU to Suzanne Young for creating my new kick-ass blog banner above! You are the sweetest thing ever!

A New Day

WOW!  A whole blog, all to myself. Where to start? It's been exactly 6.5 years since I quit teaching first grade to write kid's books "full-time."  And what a ride this road to publication has been!  I immediately jumped in with both feet, attended every single class, conference, workshop, and critique session on the planet, studied the craft of writing intensely, and expected to have a published novel within a year or two.  HA!  My naivete led me to believe in these equations:

I was wrong.

The most important thing I've learned on this journey is to ENJOY THE PROCESS.  Art is not a product-based profession.  Who knew??  For me success is measured in happiness levels.  Not in money or sales or number of readers.  If I do not enjoy this process, I will not be successful. I've learned to enjoy the moment and have a rough plan for the future, but not obsess over it. Because everything can change in the blink of an eye.

After completing my first Young Adult novel, Ring of Fire (which took 4.5 years!), I landed a wonderful agent, rode the submission and revision roller coaster, have been writing and revising my second novel, Fall, and have completely fallen in love with everything children's and YA lit.  I am lucky to have found the perfect career for me!  Though I still remain pre-published, I am happy.  And I don't regret a single moment I've had during the ride.

I've made hundreds of lifelong friends, read hundreds of books, seen hundreds of speakers, and logged hundreds (okay, thousands) of miles on my car in the name of research and education. I've traveled through Mexico, all over the state of California, to NYC and Europe and Florida and Hawaii, gathering bits and pieces of seemingly random information that will somehow be woven into multilayered tapestries of stories.

I believe that things are not always what they seem.  Under the surface, a story, like a person, is full of paradoxes and surprises and hidden layers and deep emotions.  A story, also like a person, is never one single thing to everybody.  Each of us will take something completely different away from the same exact story.  My primary goal in writing is to entertain.  But I also hope that my writing encourages people to think and wonder and hope in ways they never thought possible. 

I'm all about hope.  And perseverance.  And getting the absolute most out of a life.  And opening minds.  And helping the less fortunate.  And finding the good in people.  And cafe mochas, and gummy bears, and cupcakes.  And Brad Pitt movies, and Dave Eggers books, and Warren Miller flicks.  But I suppose those are all separate blog posts!

So, there you have it.  New blog.  New Year.  New President (woo-hoo!).  New hope for the future.  New energy and enthusiasm for writing.  Life is good.

Thanks for reading!