Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blog-o-Sphere Featuring: Nina Kidd

Paul Beier and Celia with F7, May 1989

“The Next Big Thing” or Blog-o-sphere Project, is a fun way for writers all over the world to connect and share information about their current writing project or upcoming book. One of the writers I tagged to participate in Blog-o-sphere is a dear friend of mine from Southern California, Nina Kidd. I'm most familiar with Nina's fiction writing (which is fabulous) so am excited to learn more about her current project, a work of nonfiction, and to post it here.  Thanks, Nina!

Nina Kidd

In the Blog-o-sphere Project, one writer tags another writer who answers a set of interview questions and then tags five more writers. I was tagged by a Renaissance woman: poet and actor, teacher and visual artist as well as generous friend, Julie Williams. I used a bit from Julie’s wonderful YA novel in verse Escaping Tornado Season, to illustrate Vividly Visual writing for my writing MFA lecture at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Julie has been kind enough to allow me to guest blog my answers on her blog site.  Thank you so much, Julie!

Here it is. . .

What is the working title of your book?

Paul Beier: A Scientist Speaks Up

Where did the idea come from for the book?

As I began nosing around about what was wrong with the  group of mountain lions that live in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, repeatedly people sent me to one mountain lion expert. I soon found out that Dr. Paul Beier is more than a mountain lion man. By the time I met him Dr. Beier had became a world expert on wild lands conservation. Even better, he is a master at partnering with and persuading stake holders across the board to take positive action to save threatened wild species by conserving their travel routes, mile by mile.  His strategies for building and conserving wildlife corridors have given a hopeful face to 21st century wildlife conservation worldwide.

I had to tell Beier’s story to kids for its adventure and grit, but also in hopes they will eagerly join in the adventure of exploring the wild and helping it survive wherever they are.

What genre does your book fall under?

Narrative nonfiction for readers 9 to 12.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

Hmmm… Bearded, sinewy, with shifting colors of:  the wide eyed idealist, cornball charmer, the Sherlock Holmes logician, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird in the courtroom, but with a spitball streak of devilment: Ewan MacGregor, or Aussie Simon Baker (plays Patrick Jane, in TV’s The Mentalist)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

 Again and again the important people shoved biologist Paul Beier aside when he explained how to save the mountain lions and other animals slowly dying in the shrinking wild lands among California’s suburbs; but Paul’s idea was more powerful than any of the big guys and now it is saving struggling species around the world.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll represent myself to trade publishers, starting with the editor who suggested it.
How long will it take you to write the first draft?

I should have a first draft done by the end of this year.

What titles would you name for a comparison to yours?

Pamela Turner’s A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts;  Charles and Emma by ­­­­­­­­­­­­­Deborah Heiligman; The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell, Donna M. Jackson and Timothy Rodwell

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

An idea: Instead of the old Conservationists Fighting Builders and Developers scenario, wildlife corridors for animals, birds, insects (and even plants) is a proactive specific plan that local communities can put into action with the assistance of scientists. Paul Beier’s plans are showing us that humans and the wild can be good and respectful neighbors. We can slow, even stop many of the animal extinctions that we are causing. Once young readers catch on they can look at their own hometowns in a new way. Kids can see animals, and even plants, on the move beyond their own back fences or even in their own garden. As Paul Beier says of finding and preserving wildlife corridors, “It’s exciting because it connects people to the land.” 

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Mountain lions! How can a mountain lion, the size of a St. Bernard dog, kill a moose -- an animal five times its size? How does a scientist find one and put on a radio collar to follow it?  What do you think of a person who crawls on his belly in thick underbrush, alone and unarmed, to reach a female mountain lion and examine her newborn kittens?

I’m tagging ---

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I'm taking an eight-week online workshop with artists, Jane Davenport and Teesha Moore. I can't say that mermaids or circuses are big images (or inspiration) in my own artwork or writing. But when I saw the announcement I knew I had to do it. And I've learned to trust that kind of "knowing." You know, where your head feels like it's going to fly off and be its own balloon. 

It's the first week and I don't want to do anything else. Never mind that it's snowing in mid-April. Never mind that today is tax preparation day. Never mind that I'm in another "stage of waiting" in the book publication process. I'm surrounded by art supplies. And I'm watching and listening to two of my favorite creative people share their process with us.

Not only that, but the "us" happens to be several hundred wildly creative artists (and that means a whole bunch of interesting new blogs to explore). There's so much inspiration going on here, my fingers are tingling!

And THEN, wouldn't you know -- as soon as I began to work with the shapes and journal-making process I knew where my own inspiration was coming from. So now I'm digging through old (really old) manuscript piles to find a collection of poems I started about 25 years ago. I called them my Fat Lady At the Circus poems. It was one of those projects that started with a bang and then I let it slip away. Of course it's about all those things that ring my artistic chimes. Family, body image, theatre, gypsies, carnival trailers, gender identity . . . ahhhhh, my own take on Mermaid Circus. Yipppeeeee!

Best antidote to a late spring EVER!!!

Happy creating! Whether it's collage or painting or writing or cooking or (gulp) gardening or . . . you name it, throw yourself into the process, and enjoy!

Side note: My intention was to add this image as a blog button, but I am a little technically challenged at the moment, so that will have to wait until I receive further instructions.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

BIRD HOME (digitally altered image of 24X24" mixed media collage)
An Almost Spring Celebration . . .

It's almost spring here in Minnesota. I know the birds are acting as if it is. The chipmunks just came out of their winter hibernation and are going at our bird feeders like they're starving (my guess is they probably are). I am so impatient to get into the gardens and start mucking about. More than that even, I want to be able to throw the doors and windows wide open, to turn our thermostats down a few degrees, and wear anything other than the sweats I live in all winter long.

When you live in a cold climate like this, even the HINT of spring is a cause for celebration!

I'm happy to say that my upcoming novel has finally found a title: ALL THE WORLD'S A JUMBLE. And, after going through a number of rewrites with back and forth communications between me and my editor at Roaring Brook/Macmillan, it's gone on to the copy editor. (Hallelujah!) There will be more tweaking in a few weeks. And by this time next year, it should be out! More cause for celebration.

And here's some more! This week I was invited by my fabulous poet friend, Diane Kendig, to participate in "The Next Big Thing," a fun blog-o-sphere project that links writers all over the world. Diane posted my interview on her blog today. I hope you'll take a minute to read about ALL THE WORLD'S A JUMBLE on Diane Kendig's blog. I've tagged writer friends, Linda Townsdin, Nina Kidd, and Sandra Martin and will be posting their interviews and links next week.