In celebration of the release of Yoga Frog, Nora Carpenter has stopped by to tell us everything that has been on her mind, desk, radio show, and, of course, yoga mat.
Nora is a passionate yogini, who is equally passionate about curiosity, children, and story telling. In fact, Nora is not only a certified yoga teacher, she has a masters in creative writing for children and young adults from the highly respected Vermont College of Fine Arts. For the past several weeks, Nora has been touring her home state of North Carolina and melding her passions by reading Yoga Frog, leading kids and adults through yoga poses, and sparking curiosity in those very kids and adults.
I’m delighted that Nora has taken time from her busy schedule to be here and tell us What Was on Nora Carpenter’s…
Calendar: As Sandra mentioned, I just finished a number of bookstore and festival visits, and I’ve got a school visit for Yoga Frog coming up in the next few weeks. But the biggest deadline on my calendar right now is mid-December when the manuscript of the YA novel I recently sold is due to my editor. I’m also working on another YA project which I can’t talk about yet (sorry!), but I’m super excited about it!
Radio Show: I am kind of obsessed with the podcast First Draft with Sarah Enni. And by kind of obsessed, I mean, I’m listening to it every time I have to drive somewhere. The podcast has introduced me to so many amazing books and authors. It’s also taught me so much about the business world of writing, which is complex and ever-changing. Sarah also asks each author for advice at the end of the podcast, which is completely inspiring.
Yoga Mat: Since I’m a yoga teacher, you’d think I was on the mat all the time, right? Confession: most of my yoga is done off-the-mat, squeezed in between writing and chasing my kiddos around. Luckily, they love to do yoga, so I do it with them. And a lot of people don’t realize it, but doing a few minutes of yoga daily is more beneficial than a once a week class for an hour. But of course do both if you can! On days when I can only manage one pose, it’s Standing Forward Fold. It’s such a great hamstring stretch, and folds are wonderful for destressing and relaxation.
Laundry Room Floor: It’s still hard to believe one of my books has a real life toy!! A lot of people don’t know about it, I think, because it is sold separately from the kids book, packaged with a mini adult book that I also wrote. Yoga Frog usually resides on my desk, but he was kidnapped by my sons and I recently discovered him on the laundry room floor! Another time, my baby girl needed a teether while we were driving and Yoga Frog was the only thing we had with us. Turns out, he worked great! See the photo for proof. LOL. Poor Yoga Frog. There are probably many stories he could tell! My kids now each have their own Yoga Frog, and I carry one with me in my computer bag just because he’s fun and makes me smile.
Desk: [laughs and looking around] Oh my gosh. My working space is usually a mess, though it’s better now than usual. I always love those articles that say creative people are messy because…yes. Okay, let’s see. Right now my desk holds my computer, novel notes, a CD of the soundtrack for The Last Unicorn (which was only available in Germany, btw, and it’s called Das Letzte Einhorn), and a schedule for the upcoming SCBWI Carolinas conference.
Book Shelf: I just finished Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Next up is Tradition by Brendan Kiely, Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, American Street by Ibi Zoboi. I’m working my way through The Artist’s Way, too, because I love and need inspirational and motivational materials.
Office Wall: A huge whiteboard with notes to myself about book ideas, possible titles, and character motivations; pictures of my family; a framed print of a Sherlock Holmes painting brought back from London by my sister; (I read every Sherlock Holmes story and novel the summer I was 10, so that character was pivotal to my love of reading); preschool reminders; and this quote from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
I also just put this quote in my office: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai
And Brendan Kiely is going to get tired of my quoting him, but he gave such excellent writing advice during a First Draft interview: “Nothing replaces the work…You can work with a mess. You can’t work with a wish.” In other words, get your butt in the chair and give yourself permission to write a bad first draft. Magic happens in revision!
Wish List: Hm. Does this have to be realistic, because I would totally wish for the power to fly, if possible. Otherwise, I’d love to hang out with Leigh Bardugo because I admire her writing and storytelling so much. Oh! And free air travel for my whole life, so I could travel all over the world, and especially to my sister in LA.
Mind: I’m constantly thinking about how I can be a better, more present parent to my three children, while also staying true to myself as a writer and working as much as I can on projects. It is a difficult juggling act, and to be honest, I don’t know that I will ever find “balance” between family and writing. But I do my best to find some kind of balance each day.
I’m also thinking about the volatile and frightening political clime and the role art can play in social justice issues. Art speaks to the heart, and at the end of the day, the heart is the only thing that will change a mind. Not reason. Not screaming at someone about why they’re wrong and you’re right. If someone’s mind is made up about something, the only way to open that mind a bit is to show them a new perspective through emotion and story. It’s on my mind that we need stories—we need discussions—now more than ever.
You can keep up to date with Nora Carpenter by visiting her online at noracarpenterwrites.com and by following her on Instagram at @noracarpenterwrites and Twitter at @norawrites. If you would like to order Yoga Frog, simply click on the book below:
Nora Carpenter Sandra Nickel Nora Carpenter Sandra Nickel Nora Carpenter Sandra Nickel