Please join us in welcoming our first Author-in-Residence at rgz: Beth Kephart! Beth was in house for 4 months, from September 2009 through the end of the year. Throughout her visit, she popped into the readergirlz blog and chats. We are honored to have her among us.
Please take the time to grow familiar with Beth's esteemed body of work. Check out her book covers and summaries below.
Beth posted monthly blogs, three with videos, in which she discussed the art (and the joys, and the frustrations) of writing. Each blog entry also served as a prompt for writing contests.
December 2009: Writing from Life
Here is Beth's fourth and final writing prompt and contest:
"What I'd love you to do is go out into your worlds and take a photograph - or find a photograph you've already taken - of a place and study it for its mood, its lights, its ambience, its possibilities, its weather, and turn it into something that is new and unexpected...I'd love for you to write ten lines or so - or a poem - about this place and send the photo along with it so we can see how your mind has transformed reality into something imaginative."
Entries for this contest were due December 30th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to our winner Charlotte and runner-up Carly! Read their entries.Charlotte will receive an advanced reading copy of The Heart is Not a Size, Beth's YA novel which will be released in March 2010 by HarperTeen.
"In this readergirlz challenge, the premise is simple: Find a photograph of yourself as a young child on the verge of some new knowledge or turning point. Write a paragraph about that photograph/that moment in present tense, as if you are experiencing that moment for the first time. Then write about that photograph/that moment in past tense, with the gift of retrospection. Ask yourself what you gain from working in the present tense, and what is gained by reflection; include your thoughts on this with your submission."
Entries to this contest were due November 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Kiera! Read her winning entry. Kiera received a signed copy of Nothing but Ghosts, a novel about a young girl who, in learning to live past her mother’s unexpected passing, involves herself in decoding the mystery that envelops the recluse down the road. The past and the present collide in Ghosts.
October 2009: The Story Song
Here is the second of Beth's vlog entries, with her written introduction:
"For the second readergirlz contest, I've chosen a topic close to my heart - choreography - and called it The Story Song.
I read books to meet new characters, to go new places, and to find out what happens. I also read to learn how the author has chosen to choreograph the narrative. Is it a straightforward telling, or a book that turns round on itself? Does the story speed up and slow down, are there embedded refrains, which themes recur, which details, and why? Watch the video below, then share with me one of your own poems or short (up to ten lines) pieces of writing. Tell me, with your submission, just how you thought about the piece as lyric. What, in other words, was your choreographic strategy?"
Entries to this contest were due October 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Q! Read her winning entry. Q received a signed copy of House of Dance, a novel about a young girl who, in taking care of her dying grandfather and learning about the life he once lived, decides to offer him one final gift.
Here is the first of Beth's vlog entries, with her written introduction:
"I believe that the stories that touch us are written by authors who remain vulnerable to the world - who leave themselves open to the raw wounds and the glorious possibilities of yearning, outreach, and hope. Watch the video, then write no more than ten lines of poetry or prose expressing a fully lived emotion."
Entries for this contest were due September 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Jennifer Petro-Roy, Erin McIntosh and Lauren Miller! Read the winning entries. Each winner received a signed copy of Undercover, a novel about a young, aspiring poet who discovers the beauty that lives within her.
Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery.
There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts: symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story - the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.
Rosie and her mother coexist in the same house as near strangers. Since Rosie's father abandoned them years ago, her mother has accomplished her own disappearing act, spending more time with her boss than with Rosie.
Now faced with losing her grandfather too, Rosie begins to visit him every day, traveling across town to his house, where she helps him place the things that matter most to him "In Trust." As Rosie learns her grandfather's story, she discovers the role music and motion have played in it. But like colors, memories fade. When Rosie stumbles into the House of Dance, she finally finds a way to restore the source of her grandfather's greatest joy.
Published May 2008
Like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila - a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.
Published September 2007
Other works include:
* The forthcoming novels The Heart is Not a Size, slated to be published in March 2010, and Dangerous Neighbors, coming in fall 2010;
* The Longest Distance, a short story published in the anthology No Such Thing as the Real World;
* The memoir A Slant of Sun;
* Ghosts in the Garden; and
* Flow, the autobiography of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River
Listen up! Beth selected the following tracks to represent music which has touched her life and her books.
The Same Mistake by James Blunt
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Cucurrucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso
Les Avions en Papier by Bruno Coulais
The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel
Amazing Grace by The Soweto Gospel Choir
My Beautiful Reward by Bruce Springsteen