Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kristen: My Next Project

My Next Project

Yesterday, my new middle-grade novel, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter, was released. In it, eleven-year-old Bessica Lefter tries to reinvent herself as she begins the most brutal and psycho-bully-infested period of her life: middle school. Some people do something special to celebrate their book release day. I was busy packing up my belongings that were scattered throughout my room at the Radisson Inn in Orange County where I’d been living for the past two weeks due to circumstances far beyond my control. And I spent today driving nine hours back to San Francisco in a rental car that resembles a spaceship. In other words, I didn’t really properly celebrate the book release. But that’s how I roll. You see, I’m already hard at work on my next project.

You might be thinking that my next project is a book. You’re right. And you’re wrong. My teen novel Sharks & Boys will be out this summer. And edits for my next middle-grade novel (also starring Bessica Lefter) were due last week. But that’s not my next project. My next project is bigger than a book. So big that it has a street address in Berkeley. (I know. That’s pretty big.) My next project: I’m launching a series of writing classes with my amazingly talented friend Nina LaCour.

Here’s the scoop. I used to teach. I have an M.A. in American Literature, an M.F.A. in poetry, and a Ph.D. in English. And while I do accept invitations to teach at workshops and conferences, I was starting to miss the trajectory of growth that you get to see when you teach an entire semester. One night I was talking about this with Nina (also a teacher) while we ate plantain chips. And we both started describing dream classes--classes filled with information we wished we had while we were writing our first novels. From this plantain moment, our classes were born.

Nina and I have developed a series of ten classes that range from Plotting and Pacing to Approaching the Industry. We’ll teach our courses at my friend Tom Franco’s artist collective, Firehouse North, at 1790 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. (It is an amazing and creative space. We’re very lucky.) I never thought I’d do anything like this. Am I really an entrepreneur? I guess so. It feels really exciting. As a writer, you spend a lot of time alone with your ideas. And while this is necessary, it’s also good to seek out a supportive community. I love the art of storytelling. And I am looking forward to these classes as much as I look forward to gift-giving holidays and disco-themed dance parties.

As writers, Nina and I meet a lot of people who have stories that they want to tell. Now we’ve developed a way to help them shape their stories and get them out into the world.

We are up and running and live!

(If you live in the Bay Area and try to sign up for the first class on February 12th, Investigating Point of View, and you’re told that there aren’t any spaces available, it’s because we limit the classes to 25 people. If you get this message, please make sure to write either me or Nina.)

(If you live in the Bay Area and frequent the wonderful independent bookstore Books, Inc, Nina and I will be teaching a workshop for their WordPlay series called Starting Your Novel on Sunday January 30th.


  1. That's pretty cool! Best of luck with your books and the new class!

  2. Congratulations on the new book, Kristen! And I'm totally jealous of the people who get to take classes from you and Nina. How great you guys are doing that. Good luck with it!

  3. I visited the Firehouse Art Collective Blog and Tom Franco looks a lot like the actor James Franco. Are they related?

  4. How exciting! If I lived in the bay area, I'd sign up in a second!

    Good luck you guys!

  5. Thanks Laura, Marianna, and Lisa. When we first started building the classes I thought: Nina will ground us and I'll bring the funny. But it turns out that Nina knows how to bring the funny. I'm really looking forward to teaching again. In my other life (in an alternate universe) I am still teaching college.

  6. Oooh, how I wish I could take that class. Is there any prospect of a book on writing in the future?

  7. A book? A book? Oh, Elizabeth. You think big. If Nina and I decide to assemble our lectures into a book I'll let you know right away. Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. Congrats, Kristen on both fronts, book and teaching. That's huge news and a really big deal and what a great step for you... to step back into teaching. Great cover too. Best of luck.

  9. Thanks, Alexa! Good luck with GIRL WONDER. Fun, fun, fun cover.