Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nancy Werlin - Guest Blogger

Today, I'd like to welcome Nancy Werlin as guest blogger.  Werlin's latest YA novel was just released in September.  Extraordinary is a tale of friendship, romance, and the faerie realm.  Here's a summary of the book from Werlin's publicist. 

"What does it mean to be extraordinary? Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school. Soon the two girls are as close as sisters . . . until Mallory’s magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe—but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

"Soon she’ll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay. Will she be strong enough to resist? Will she be special enough to save herself?"

I have a copy of Extraordinary, and I hope to get to it soon.  In the meantime, I'd like to welcome it's author, Nancy Werlin.

Guest Blog Post by Nancy Werlin: Essays and Blog Posts

My thanks to Lesa for hosting this little visit. Lesa has asked me to write something that's fun for me to write. That made me think of essays. I like writing English persuasive essays! Yes, I know how that sounds. I know.

But I really do love it. I remember when my sophomore English teacher Mrs. Dubois taught our class the classic five-paragraph essay. One paragraph of introduction leading to the thesis statement. Three paragraphs of supporting evidence. Then for the final paragraph, restate the thesis in different terms, and then end gracefully.

The budding writer in me took to the essay form like a duck to water. I branched out from five paragraphs to other, more flexible structures. I loved the brain workout of finding the right words to explain what I was thinking and why, and then figuring out the right way to order the information so that it would make the best case possible. Learning when to use sarcasm, when to use humor, when to appeal to emotion, when to appeal to logic, when to use examples and analogies. Understanding when to write in a flowery way versus when it would be most effective to write plainly and simply. (Most of the time, in fact.) The building blocks of a good persuasive nonfiction essay are many and varied and colorful. And fun, they are fun! And it's fun to use them deliberately and with intention.

When I'm writing an essay, writing feels to me like playing with Legos, whereas writing a novel -- especially a complex, serious fantasy novel like my most recent, EXTRAORDINARY -- is more like building a real house that people will live in.

Still today I sometimes write English essays for fun. Often the content is about books and/or writing. You can read a recent one on Libba Bray's blog, about THE HUNGER GAMES. (Link: I've been feeling another essay coming on -- it's going to be called "What Makes a YA Heroine?" and will be about the question of how tough a girl needs to be nowadays, to qualify as a heroine.

Thinking about essays also makes me think about blogging. We tend to classify blogs as being like public journals. But really, many bloggers are actually essayists, at least some of the time. For example, what is this recent post of Maureen Johnson's (about whether we need more books for boys in YA), if it is not a persuasive essay?

All of which means that if you blog, or read blogs, then whether you know it or not, you love essays right along with me. And that those techniques from English class, the techniques of persuasive nonfiction writing, are incredibly relevant in the day to day lives of tens of thousands of bloggers.

Which does my own little essay-loving heart so much good. Writing is alive and well in the world.

Thank you, so much, Nancy, for taking time to remind us what we're really writing and reading when we blog.
Nancy Werlin's website is
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin.  Penguin Group (USA), ©2010. ISBN 9780803733725 (hardcover), 400p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

What an interesting post!

I think essay writing would be a wonderful writing exercise to warm up each day. I feel that way about sort of gets the juices flowing.

Lesa said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Elizabeth. It's fun to stir things up, and have some variety on the blog. I'm glad Nancy was able to take time to do a guest blog.

Lover of Books said...

I honestly have to say I hated writing essays cause I felt so restricted. I love to write and want to go outside the box. This book sounds fantastic. I'll have to check it out.


Bill Crider said...

Great stuff, Nancy. I wish all my former students could read your comments about the five-paragraph essay.

Lesa said...


Every writing style isn't for everyone. You've evidently found your own way. Hope you enjoy Nancy's book.

Lesa said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bill. I'm always pleased to see you. Well, I guess it's too late for former students, but you could send future ones to Nancy's essay.

Inside A Book said...

My first thought when I saw "guest blogger" was that the storm had gotten you or had done major damage to the library and that you were "swamped" and couldn't blog!!! Phew!

I saw photos of the west-side damage and photos taken from the Glendale Library. WOW!

I wished that I had been home with my nose stuck in a book but then I would have been right in the middle of "tornado alley" which seemed to come right down our street! I guess I was in the right place at the right time. I gathered my little third graders around me and we did what storytellers have done for centuries when the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes....I told ghost stories! What a great memory :)

Thanks for hosting Nancy Werlin. My daughter's reading her other book, Impossible, and now I know another book I can pass along to her!

Stay dry!

Lesa said...

Thank you! No, I was lucky enough to have left work in time to have the car in the garage & be home, and we didn't get that really bad hail here. However, my staff left the building just in time to be hit by the hail - and I mean Hit by the Hail! One staff member was hit by a golf-ball size one that cut her arm. Most of them sat out the storm in a nearby restaurant.

Ghost stories! Oh, that's a wonderful memory!