People pointing, fingerpainting the world, leaving me the silhouette of my life. And I'm filling in the negative space with positively everything.
~ Edie Brickell

About Me

My Photo
I write fiction for young adults and am represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. My debut novel, STONE FIELD, is a re-imaging of Wuthering Heights set during the Civil War. STONE FIELD is slated for publication in Winter 2016 by Roaring Brook Press-Macmillan Publishers.

Art à Propos

 I created a simple website where I can showcase my usable art for those who would like to purchase a piece. If you're interested, please take a look! Art à Propos

New Baby

 
So happy! Last weekend I found this sweet little thing and wondered where she had been all my life. I brought her home with me, named her Roxanne, and take her everywhere I go. Varooom!


Crushing on Ferrell

J. Duddy Gill's debut middle-grade novel cracks me up. Not only does Ferrell Savage's easy-going, unassuming manner make him completely crush-worthy in the eyes of  my middle school self, his sense of humor makes me laugh out loud at regular intervals. I may think he's all that, but Mary Vittles is a lot harder to impress. Even the Thesaurus doesn't always help Ferrell when it comes to Mary's big words and her confusing behavior lately. But he's determined to impress her and that's where all the fun begins. You think the Sochi Winter Olympics were exciting? You've never experienced the Big Sled Race on Golden Hill, especially when Ferrell is involved.

Ferrell Savage is finally twelve, and finally eligible to compete in The Big Sled Race on Golden Hill—the perfect chance to impress Mary Vittles. Mary is Ferrell’s best friend…and maybe, someday, something more.

Except the “more” Ferrell first finds is more information about his family. It turns out that his great, great, great uncle had an encounter with Mary’s great, great grandfather. And the encounter was, well, let’s just say…edible. Sure, the circumstances were extreme, but some facts might just be romantically indigestible. At least now Ferrell understands why his family is vegan.

But even as Ferrell and Mary encounter blackmail, a second sled race, and a particularly enticing bag of beef jerky, Ferrell realizes that he might still have a chance with Mary. If, that is, his family secret doesn’t eat them alive.


If you have a kid in middle school or are still a twelve-year-old at heart, go forth and be awesome--pick up the scrumptious The Secret of Ferrell Savage and dig in!

The Art of 'Becoming'

I'm taking a course called Storytelling for Change, and our first assignment was to create a Life Map based on our chosen theme for the course. I chose a theme which I could use in future presentations about creative endeavors like writing. My theme was a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: "You should practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience BECOMING, to find out what’s inside you, to MAKE YOUR SOUL GROW." Our second assignment was to find an "a-ha!" moment in our life map that we could refine as a brief turning-point story. Here's mine:


"The Art of Becoming"


The writer Kurt Vonnegut encouraged people to practice all kinds of art in order to experience "becoming," to make their "soul grow." I remember the day I first learned to appreciate the value of art. It wasn't a pleasant lesson. When I was thirteen, my family moved from the Midwest to New York, and rented a big farmhouse on the grounds of an art colony belonging to a famous feminist writer and artist. I was scared of the woman. She had long, wild grey hair and heavy dark eyebrows that always made it look like she was scowling at me. But I was fascinated by her big house, full of strange books and colorful pictures.

In my room hung a huge framed abstract painting of a woman. I didn't want that thing on my wall. I had my own picture that would fit in that frame. So I took the original painting out, stuffed it in the closet, and put a poster inside the frame. It was a picture of a kitten hanging onto a tree limb with the words, Hang in there!" written across the bottom. I soon forgot about the painting.

One day, the woman visited the house to check on things and saw my kitty poster in her beautiful frame. Her wild hair grew even wilder. Her face came alive. Her thick dark eyebrows drew together. Her eyes flamed. I thought she might cook me for dinner like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. But after she yelled at me for treating her artwork in such a careless manner and scolded my parents for letting me, she gingerly restored the painting to its frame and stormed from the house without stuffing me in the oven.

At first, I was mortified. But after crying for a while, I lay on my bed and gazed at the painting. She  made that. She cared deeply about it. It meant something to her. I wanted to feel so fierce, so passionate about something, too. I began to pay more attention to the original artwork around the house. I began to make my own. When I was a senior in high school, I took art classes at night at the community college and then entered an Art program.

I continue to find deep satisfaction in creating art. I discovered how it makes one's soul grow. I am thankful for that day the artist yelled at me. It didn't discourage me so much as teach me to "hang in there!" Because that was the moment I started appreciating the value of practicing art. That's the day I began my experience of Becoming.

My daughter, Alex, 4, after completing a painting at the art center, Boston. I developed the film and made a print of this photo at the darkroom of the same art center.

Another One of Those Posts Where the Agent is Wonderful and Lovely


Guess who came to California? Erin Murphy was in the Bay Area! And invited local EMLA authors to join her! For dinner at Lily Kai in Tiburon! As you can guess, I jumped at the chance because she is...well, wonderful and lovely. It was so nice to see her and Mike Jung again and to meet some new writer friends. Can't wait to see some of them again at the Vermont EMLA retreat in May!

Zu Vincent, Mike Jung, Nancy Tupper Ling, Parker Peevyhouse, Me, Joanne Rocklin, Elizabeth Shreeve, and Erin Murphy


Pigs: FLY! Hell: FROZEN! Book: SOLD!


Everyone has certain memorable events that stick with them forever as milestones—some of the best things in life that have ever happened to them. This past week, I got to add one of those moments to my list. I’m still smiling. My remarkable agent, Erin Murphy, sold my novel.

MY NOVEL. SOLD. IT’S GOING TO BE PUBLISHED! A REAL BOOK.  REAL PEOPLE WILL SEE IT. AND HOLD IT. AND READ IT.

I wrote that in caps so I could look at it and feel the realness of it, because it still seems like one of my little daydreams. But apparently, it’s true. Lovely Kate Jacobs from Macmillan’s Roaring Brook Press says so. Remarkable Erin Murphy says so. Even Publisher’s Marketplace says so. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.
Annie Dillard says in The Writing Life that it takes ten years to write a book. When I first read that, years ago, I had already written a couple novel manuscripts, but reading Dillard’s words, I recognized that those attempts were just part of the process of writing a book—I hadn’t actually got it quite right yet. Ten years?? The thought it might take me that long to truly write a book horrified me. My mantra became, “Please don’t let that be me, please don’t let that be me.” But as time went on and the ten year mark loomed closer, it flipped over in my mind and the words became a sort of encouragement. My mantra changed to, “that might be me! That might be me!”
I was working on my first novel in 2003. I believe it took every novel I’ve ever written since then to help me write this book, ten years later.  I would not recommend being a writer. It’s damned crazy. But sometimes, like right now, it can make you insanely happy.

From Publisher’s Marketplace:
Christy Lenzi's debut, STONE FIELD, a lyrical Wuthering Heights retelling set during the Civil War, to Katherine Jacobs at Roaring Brook Press, by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (world English).

Art Night

I love getting together monthly with artist friends and making art. It's rejuvenating. I especially love the focus required to create something. It forces me to be in the present, which is the best place to be, in my opinion! This month, I decided to do some painting on canvas with acrylic, creating point circle designs inspired by Australian Aboriginal art. Fun!

With L.A. artist, Christine Clausen





Acrylic on canvas, Christy Lenzi, 2013

Reading at the Writer's Brush opening

Three of my wire portraits on display in the Writer's Brush show in the Sacramento Poetry Center's art gallery.

Reading an excerpt of my novel-in-progress during the Writer's Brush opening at the Sacramento Poetry Center's art gallery

February Art Show!

I'm happy to announce that three of my wire art portraits will be on display at the Sacramento Poetry Center in the "Writer's Brush" show, in February!

A group of artists who are also writers will be showing their artwork at the Poets' Gallery. Poet, activist, and artist Jennifer Pickering curates this annual show. You are welcome to join us at the Second Saturday opening, from 5-9pm, on February 9, 2013. Artists will be reading excerpts of our writing and there will be music and refreshments.

Wire Art Sacramento Exhibit Update

My wire art will be on display at SacPoetry Center's art gallery from Dec. 8th to Jan. 21st as part of the show featuring Milton Bowens' social justice paintings. If you are in the Sacramento area, consider attending the Second Saturday Art Walk event in Sacramento on Dec. 8th and stop by to see me! The Facebook page has more info.

My Wire Art on Display in Sacramento this Winter

I was pleasantly surprised, recently, by an invitation to display some of my wire art at the SacPoetry Center's art gallery. My work will hang from December 1st through January 22nd during a featured showing of paintings by social justice artist, Milton Bowens.

My small wire portraits are inspired by strong, quiet women in literature and in silent films, while my mobiles capture humans in the act of flying. I'm not sure at this time how many pieces will be on display, but I will post an update closer to the opening date.


"People Caught Flying" wire art

In September, I began my second wire art project (my first is here) which was to form wire figures inspired by my family members caught in "flying" poses from my photographs and use them to create a wire mobile. I finally finished my "People Caught Flying" mobile today and hung it. It was so much fun to make, especially the evening I worked on it at a friend's house when a group of artist friends got together and worked on art, which we hope to continue monthly. Here's a photo history of my process:
















GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES

I just returned from the book launch party for my friend and fellow EMLAer Mike Jung's debut middle grade novel, GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley and it was FUN, FUN, AND FUN!



Listen to Mike performing his original, "I Wrote This Book and Now I Would Like You to Buy It":

The Secret Zoo

My new Middle Grade short story, "The Secret Zoo," is in the latest issue of Hunger Mountain, the VCFA Journal of the Arts! "The Secret Zoo" is set in occupied Warsaw and inspired by true events in young Rys Zabiniski’s life. Check it out here!

Wired

While in the Mowen Solinsky Gallery in Nevada City, CA last weekend, I was inspired by Diane Komater's wire art to try my hand at making my own wire art. I bought a variety of pliers and wire cutters and I'm using dark annealed steel wire, 1mm (19 gauge). I'm finding it a little difficult to bind the wire neatly to the frame and would like to find a more flexible wire for the image, but have enjoyed my first three attempts.

The first piece was inspired by my recent reading of The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan, and the second was inspired by watching Greta Garbo in her debut, a silent movie, "Saga of Gosta Berling," a surprisingly complex and moving film with a beautiful score, and a later film, Queen Christina, in which Garbo portrays a cross-dressing Swedish Queen. The third piece was inspired by an early silent film actress, young Maude Fealy, whose intense looks sometimes remind me of a main character in one of my stories.

I find that creating something that requires my complete focus and uses my whole body and mind in concentrated energy is very satisfying. But god, how my fingers ache.



Thankful

We spent part of our Thanksgiving break in San Francisco, where I took the kids bike riding from Fisherman's Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge. Directly under the bridge is a Civil War era building called Fort Point, which is open to the public. We rambled all over it and watched the surfers under the bridge. The views along the bike trail were breathtaking. I'm thankful to live in such a beautiful place and be able to share it with my loved ones. And when we got home, I was thankful to get these beauties, which have a story by... me!

My friends, I hope you are having a happy Thanksgiving and savoring every minute. Enjoy!








She's out there!

Want to read an adventure tale about a clever, kick-ass girl? The excerpt of my MG story, Forty Thieves and a Green-Eyed Girl, is in the latest issue of Hunger Mountain journal of the arts! While you're there, check out fellow category winners of the Katherine Paterson Prize as well as the interesting and thought-provoking piece, "Writing from Both Sides of the Brain" by my friend Kelly Barson.

Stone Field in print!

Once a year in the fall, Hunger Mountain Journal of the Arts publishes a print edition which is sent to subscribers and sold in bookstores around the country. This annual issue is also sent for consideration to prestigious awards committees, such as the Pushcart Prize, for literary magazines and short stories.

So you can imagine how happy I was to learn that Stone Field, the excerpt of my YA novel, was selected as one of five Children/YA pieces to be included in the big beautiful print edition! Not only that, two of the other four pieces, both non-fiction, were written by my EMLA sisters, Jennifer Ziegler and Clare Dunkle! I'm so excited and look forward to having this year's edition, Hunger Mountain Managerie, in my hands soon!

Katherine Paterson Prize

Yesterday I was told that my middle grade novel excerpt was selected as a runner-up in the 2011 Katherine Paterson Prize and placed first in the Middle Grade category! The prize, named after Newbery Award-winning author Katherine Paterson, was judged this year by National Book Award winner, Kimberly Willis Holt. Holt says this about my excerpt:

The opening of the story manages to show a lot without the reader feeling overburdened. I quickly cared about the main character because of the way she interacted with her brother on page one. And because I cared about her, my heart pounded for her when she was in peril. That's important when trouble comes so early in a story. Some writers expect readers to care just because the main character is in trouble, but you have to care about them first. This writer accomplishes that.

My novel is a re-imagining of the Arabian Nights tale, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," from the slave girl's point of view. I was excited to hear that the excerpt will also appear in Hunger Mountain's online journal of the arts!

Environmental Art

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy's nature art, we recently joined friends at an environmental art event in Berkeley's Thousand Oaks Park organized by Zach Pine, a talented local environmental artist. It was pure fun. Using stones, shells, flowers, bark, and other natural objects, we created spontaneous artistic expressions around the park. Footage of people and creations from the event were included in a short film (below) that was shown at the Berkeley Community Media’s Summer Shorts Movie Jam.






Around 0:59, Josh's friend, Max, talks abut artistic expression and later you can hear Alan speak as well. Look for glimpses of Josh, Noah, Alan and me and the final shot of my piece, "Free Speech"!

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