A garden parable
My hydrangeas are coming into bloom--neither blue nor pink, but a paler shade of each, and the leaves are getting crispy at the edges. That's what comes of being planted in hard-packed soil, of seeking shade but being subjected, instead, to harsh sunlight.
There's a lesson in this for me. Barbara Kingsolver says it well: "“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.”
I’m heading down to New York in a few weeks to meet up with my editors, and I’d love to see some of the NYC area bloggers and other bookish folks while I’m there. It’s too short notice to arrange an official event, but I thought maybe we could all get together at a casual eating/drinking spot and just hang out? I will still bring swag, and will be happy to sign books of mine if you bring them along.
I’m free in the evening of Thursday June 13th. NYC book folks, let me know if you want to join me (and if you have any suggestions for good locations)!
Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.
Courtesy of the creek walk near the library...on a beautiful spring day. :) Happy Memorial Day weekend all! (Any relaxing and/or fun plans?)
Forms, colors, densities, odors — what is it in me that corresponds with them?
- Walt Whitman
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
- Current Mood: hopeful
- Current Music:Without a Trace score music
Author Interview: Tim Tingle on How I Became a Ghost from The Edmond Sun. Peek: "My great-great-grandfather...was 10...when his family began the long walk (The Trail of Tears) to what is now Oklahoma. I wanted to write a book based on these family memories that a young reader would enjoy, with humor and discovery, with snow monsters and shape-shifting panthers."
Author Insight: The Write Mood from Wastepaper Prose. Peek: "Sometimes the simple act of writing becomes challenging. How do you make yourself write when you aren’t in the mood? Do you ever reward yourself at milestones?"
African Youth Literature: What Visibility in the International Market? by Mariette Robbes from PaperTigers. Peek: "While catering for their local readership, publishers in Africa also wish to be known internationally and to have business with publishers from others countries."
Seven Questions for Literary Agent Gemma Cooper from Middle Grade Ninja. Peek: "If you expect publishing to be in its own weird timezone, then you won’t be as surprised when it goes through stages of being crazy-manic and then deathly quiet. Be patient and go with it."
The Cabinet of Curiosities: short fictions for the young and mischievous. Highly recommended.
New Voices Award from Lee & Low. Peek: "...award-winning publisher of children's books, is pleased to announce the fourteenth annual New Voices Award. The Award will be given for a children's picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500."
The Core of the Verse Novel from Marion Dane Bauer. Peek: "Because experimenting with new methods and styles is the best way to stay fresh in the midst of a long career?"
Tips for Tackling BEA from Wastepaper Prose. Peek: "...we know a lot of you are headed to NYC to attend. We've thought back on past experience and each of us has come up with some last minute tips that could help if you prepare and have an enjoyable show."
Diversity on the Page, Behind the Pencil and in the Office by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "In doing research for books, he (illustrator London Ladd) recommended that creators develop a relationship with others so that they can understand them better. 'It would enhance your work,' he said."
Kidlit Cares for Oklahoma from Kate Messner. Peek: "...because Oklahoma needs help right now, given the magnitude of damage from this week’s EF5 tornado. Please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Effort now. If you donate at least $10, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a signed book."
Parragon Publishing India Unpacks High School Horror Fantasies from All About Book Publishing. Peek: "Parragon is one of the largest visual book publishers operating out of 35 countries worldwide. The company has tied up with the best printing facilities in the world and its books are printed in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Europe, USA and other locations."
Pack(ag)ing It Up from Gwenda Bond. Peek: "No one I know who's done this kind of work has any illusions about the downsides going into it. Though I have heard horror stories about people it has worked out pretty awfully for or who were made to expect things that didn't materialize. But I will also say that not everything I've heard is a horror story."
Interview with Award-winning Author Don Tate by Brittney Breakey from Author Turf. Peek: "Speaking earns decent income and allows for promoting my books. But it also steals valuable time away from book making."
Is Our Culture Becoming Too Critical and Open? from Jody Hedlund. Peek: "...we're seeing an increase in readers sharing their thoughts about books more publicly (instead of privately or in the confines of book groups). And hence with the increased openness, we're also seeing more negativity (as well as positivity)." See also an Open Love Note to Debut Authors about Hurtful Online Reviews.
Turning Story Opening Don'ts Into Dos by Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: "If you want to start with action, you’re probably a plot type person. Go ahead! You do need to show your main character in an interesting situation (notice I didn’t say dangerous, just interesting) where their own personality shines through."
Deepening Character: a Conversation with Cliff McNish from Notes from the Slushpile. Peek: "We’re prepared to forgive even villains a great deal if they make us laugh. It works doubly so for our heroes. Keep them seeing the amusing side no matter what happens."
Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards
By Lena Coakley
The 2013 winners for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced on Thursday at North Kipling Junior Middle School in Etobicoke, Ontario, where students gathered for a celebratory presentation.
Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category: A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Marie Lafrance (Kids Can Press).
Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen (Tundra Books).
Aubrey Davis, Marie Lafrance and Susin Nielsen are all first-time winners of this award.
The winner of Ball by Mary Sullivan was Joy in Manitoba, and the winner of Nothing But Blue, Me, Penelope and Country Girl, City Girl, all by Lisa Jahn-Clough was Deena in New York.
This Week at Cynsations
- Eric A. Kimmel on Marketing Manuscripts to Publishers
- New Voice Polly Holyoke on The Neptune Project
- Event Report: Lindsey Scheibe & Riptide
- Event Report: Joy Preble & The Sweet Dead Life
- New Voice Laurie Boyle Crompton on Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
This has been one of my favorite work weeks ever!
I had an opportunity to review copy-edits on Feral Curse (Book 2 in the Feral series) from Candlewick Press and Walker Books (writer in action). And I had the opportunity to celebrate Austin debut YA author Lindsey Schiebe (reader in action) and connect in person with two amazing groups of teens and the librarians who lead them to reading success (author in action)!
|Members of the Wolves Cedar Park High School Reading Group arrive in style at the Barnes & Noble Arboretum in Austin.|
|Reviewing the set-up with librarian Chris Kay (see her photo report on the event!)|
|Chatting with Cedar Park readers about reading and writing|
|Answering questions about the writing life|
|Wow! I was presented with a gorgeous plaque! What a thrill!|
|Posing with the top readers at Cedar Park High.|
|Dinner with blogger JennRenee, Greg Leitich Smith and public librarian Jane Dance at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe (we had fried and grilled alligator as an appetizer) in historic downtown Round Rock.|
|Chatting with the Round Rock Public Library Teen Book Club|
|Posing with the Round Rock Public Library Teen Book Club.|
|Bethany Hegedus, me, Jo Whittemore, Nikki Loftin & Cory Putnam Oakes at Lindsey Scheibe's launch for Riptide!|
Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing for the Long Haul from Janni Lee Simner from Desert Dispatches. Peek: "I have a respectful patience for the inner artist but always hold her accountable." Learn more about Janni's Writing for the Long Haul blog series.
Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith on the upcoming re-release of the Peshtigo School books (Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo & Tofu and T. Rex (originally published by Little, Brown) from IntoPrint Publishing, LLC! See more information.
Congratulations to Lindsey Lane on the sale of "Particles" to FSG! From Publishers Marketplace: "exploring themes of loneliness and interconnectedness from multiple viewpoints, set in or around a remote pull-out on a rural Texas highway where a particle-physics-obsessed teenage science genius disappeared..."
- The Ultimate Spaceship Face-off
- Tracing the Career of Judy Blume
- Time Management: Seeking Discipline
- David Lubar: First Public Stand-up Comedy Performance (PG)
- First Native American Actress to Walk Cannes Red Carpet
- What Parenting Books Can Teach Us About Critiquing
Join Cynthia Leitich Smith, Tracy Wolff, Mari Mancusi, and Emily McKay at 1 p.m. May 25 at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas.
- Thu, 22:34: I love and am cool with people who love and are cool with people. Bullies reform! Everyone be nice! Come: http://t.co/5wDRjuD3qe
- Thu, 23:03: Never underestimate the power of a cute dog, or her tongue. Um. Yeah... Or the need for paper towels. http://t.co/OGTUqDeNDi
- Fri, 04:06: Sparty expresses doggy embarrassment. https://t.co/lqViPdP43T
Hello Friday! What took you so long to get here??? Even though this week seemed endless, with very little sleep, it also simultaneously sped by at the speed of light. Yup. That’s exactly how it happened. Trust me. I’m feeling the need to recap, mash things up and write in bullets today. It may be the lack of sleep thing. Just go with it.
*Don’t forget you still have time to support a great film…PROMISE LAND…and earn yourself one of five signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE or a 10 page ms critique from me. GO HERE!!!!
*The winner of the caption contest is….
At 11:02 am A.N.Remtulla said:
Your mouse? I eated it.
I’m still chuckling about that one. <3 Beans loves a good mousey. Reeces on the other hand loves a good hair elastic. Cat diversity.
*I’ll be at BEA on Friday May 31st!!!! I’ll be having lunch with my spectacular agent and hunting down ARCs with my roomie from last year, Lisa Lueddecke. <3 It’s our friendship’s one year anniversary!!! I’m also hoping to finally see Rachel Simmons in person. We just miss each other every where we go. LOL! I’m also going to miss my girl, Grace Smith who made me smile every time I saw her last year. Hoping to see a bunch of people who I connected with last year and of course make some new face to face friends. If you see me, don’t let me pass you by–I’m a little bit of a spaz when it comes to remembering names of cyber friends and then attaching them to real live people. HELP ME OUT!!!!
*On June 2nd I’ll be participating in the Chronogram Kids & Family Fun Day. When I have more information on the author panel, I’ll let you know.
*Interesting observation: I’ve been cleaning and prepping the house for sale and I’ve been writing and revising. One of those things burns a lot more calories than the other. Damn.
*On June 12th I’ll be a guest speaker at the Orange County Librarians Dinner. I’m super stoked about that!!!! Watch out Orange County Librarians, I’m giddy with excitement about hanging with you.
*And I’ll leave you with my very entertaining Goodreads review of…
“I’ll be honest. My boys and I LOVE Roald Dahl books. All of them. Rather than review this book in my predictably gushy manner, I thought I would tell you a funny story that happened during our nightly reading sessions…
For those unfamiliar with the story, a grandmother is instructing her grandson on the multiple ways one might recognize a witch in disguise. While giving this info to my eight year old, he checked me over to confirm that I was indeed, not a witch. When he heard they wore itchy wigs, he checked my hair line. He investigated my toes and fingers for cat like claws and block like feet without toes.I thought I’d passed inspection, but a few days later, I caught him staring deeply into my eyes. (There had been a mention of a witches pupils being multicolored.) After a good hard look, he pronounced that I was definitely not a witch–I didn’t have multicolored NIPPLES. I corrected him and indicated that he meant PUPILS. His response was…whatever…it’s the same thing.
And there you have folks.”
I figure I’ve given you enough information for the comments without having to light your way. ROTFL! Have a fabulous holiday weekend. I WILL NOT BE BLOGGING ON MONDAY (Memorial Day) I’ll be picnicking and celebrating my 12yo’s graduation and move up to middle school. I’ll also be very busy being proud to be an American. May the force be with you!
I've talked about this before, my terribleness. I have even posted some of my terribleness on the internet. By the time I went to college, I had over thirty manuscripts in various stages of finishedness laying around my house and ancient computers and word processors.
I wrote novels about talking dogs, missing unicorns, IRA men with hearts of gold, enchanters with hearts of gold, missing dogs, missing IRA men, kids in suburbia who were secretly kings and queens, fairies who were secretly kids in suburbia, missing kids and fairies in suburbia . . .
Terrible. They were all terrible.
But like I said. I've talked about all of this before. I wrote a lot of terrible books. Today, however, in honor of Entertainment Weekly sharing the prologue of The Dream Thieves, I am going to share with you a very particular terrible book from my teens.
The Dream Thieves.
Well, it wasn't called that, back then. It was called The Llewellyn Society. And Gansey was an old man. And Ronan was named Sean. And Noah was named Adam. But it was the same. Mostly. Sort of. Except that I wrote this version longhand. Oh, and it was terrible.
Here are some more terrible bits that sort of stayed the same in the real version, only I made them less terrible.
And a typed version from a few months later:
And like I said. Here is the prologue of the real version, and an interview, over at Entertainment Weekly.
I hope you find it not terrible.
(And as a reminder, you can pre-order a signed and painted in version of it over at Fountain Bookstore)
(and here is what I am painting in each of them:
- Current Music:"Better Off Dead" - ZZ Ward
During the week, I try to follow a similar schedule to the kiddos'. Since I'm having them spend time in reading/writing/math and music, I'll do the same. Maybe I'll actually learn something about the guitar this summer (or maybe I'll just play around on the piano, like I did last summer). I'll definitely use the reading/math/writing time to both read and write (well, let's hope). We'll also be outside for part of each day, playing tennis or basketball or going on a hike. Just like a school day, we stop around 3-ish, and they get 'free' time. ;) It worked pretty well last year, so I'm excited to spend time with them again.
We don't have any weekend plans (yet), though we are heading to Glenwood Springs to visit some caves (E is very excited -- her 'passion' project was on caves) and take a cool hike near there.
So, for any of you who also have charge of kiddos during the summer break, what types of things do you do to keep everyone busy and relatively happy? :)
Laurie Boyle Crompton is the first-time author of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) (Sourcebooks, 2013) and looks forward to the release of Adrenaline (FSG/Macmillian, 2014) and The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High (Sourcebooks, 2014).
From the promotional copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains):
When comic-obsessed Blaze stands up to her evil ex, he posts a racy picture of her online and a battle of epic proportions ensues.
Before she knows it, Zap! Thwack! Pow! Blaze becomes the target of intense bullying.
She must learn to channel her inner-superhero if she hopes to gain the ultimate victory; rescuing herself.
Read an excerpt of Blaze.
How do you psyche yourself up to write, to keep writing, and to do the revision necessary to bring your manuscript to a competitive level? What, for you, are the special challenges in achieving this goal? What techniques have worked best and why?
As a debut author I’m in a unique (and extremely blessed!) position of having three books under contract with two different publishers so I have pressing deadlines all over the place.
It works well that I’ve always been able to convince myself that my own deadlines are ‘real’ which is probably helped by the fact that I’m a little bit gullible.
When I find motivation lagging I try to tune in to the inspiration that drove me to write the story in the first place. That initial spark is something that should continue to burn throughout the process.
I also try not to think about the book going public. When you write edgy YA, imagining your mother or grandmother reading your work can tend to stifle creativity. Of course, this game of pretending nobody will ever read the book grows harder as the process draws closer to publication day.
The writer’s worst enemy in the late stages is a little thing called perfectionism. The final read-through can be brutal since it’s the last time for making changes. It’s difficult to let go and release your book into the world, but there comes a point where you just need to decide on the word you have changed back and forth with each draft and accept the fact that you won’t be able to tinker with this story anymore. Then the best thing is to turn focus to the next project.
How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?
I love talking about my wonderful agent! The day I signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency was the day things turned around for my writing career.
Mind you, I still had a long path before getting that first publisher yes (and six months later the second one!). But I’m constantly telling writers they need the right agent, not necessarily the right now agent.
I learned this lesson the hard way. After working on my craft for a number of years I got my first offer from a reputable children’s agent and I was thrilled. Finally, here was someone who would get my book in front of editors! I was on my way! But on my way to where? It turns out I was in for three years of heartbreak and insecurity.
That agent happens to be great for some people and we split on the best of terms, but looking back it should’ve happened much sooner. I do not in any way blame that first wrong agent for those early manuscripts not selling, no agent sells every manuscript they take out on submission. But there were many signs along the way that we were not a good fit.
We parted ways. Within two months I had an offer from a new agent at an established agency on Blaze (then titled "Fangirl"). She seemed very nice and said all the right things, but I didn’t quite feel that love that I’d heard other authors talk about. I let the offering agent know that I had a few other partials out and here is the other piece of advice I try to tell any writer who will listen: in addition to contacting those agents with partials, I also wrote to all those with queries who I hadn’t heard back from, letting them know of the offer.
This actually turned into a few full requests, including one from my absolute top choice; Ammi-Joan Paquette. It turned out, she hadn’t received my original query but she was intrigued by my book and asked to see more. As things progressed towards her offer of representation, I came to understand that agent love that other writers talk about. And I certainly feel it still.
So authors, when you get an offer take the time to contact those agents you’ve queried! At the worst it will save busy agents time reading a query for a book that’s already spoken for. And at best, well, you just never know.
Visit Laurie's LiveJournal.
Enter to win a signed copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sourcebooks, 2013) from Cynsations at Blogger. Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America, U.K. and Australia. Enter here.
TARNISH by Viking Juvenile, is available on June 18th (Pre-order HERE) and it’s even better!
GOOD READS SUMMARY
Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court–and to convince the whole court they’re lovers–she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice–but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.
I LOVED Katherine Longshore’s debut novel, GILT, and you should get excited because TARNISH is even better! The one thing that kept running through my mind as I read TARNISH, was how hard it must have been to be a woman in a man’s world. To have very little, or no control of your own destiny. The thought is frightening. And yet, against the odds, Longshore gives us Anne Boleyn. She wants more. Anne has a spark and it makes me think of her as one part of a long, bright, string of lights. Anne is part of a chain of women through out history, that have helped to shape our role in the world today. But it’s not just Anne. Reading TARNISH made me realize that Longshore is another light–one that continues to guide our way.
Katherine Longshore takes history and mystery and weaves it into magic. Irresistible.
ABOUT KATHERINE LONGSHORE
I’ve always been a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to hold a pencil, asking my dad how to spell words while I worked under the bar stools at our kitchen counter.
In my teens, I fell in love with theater. I wanted to act. On the stage. I loved the hush of the crowd, the sticky odor of pancake makeup and the dusty resin of wax on the stage floor. I loved to be able to look out over the audience, the flash of glasses reflecting the stage lights. I loved to hear their laughter. But mostly, I loved losing myself in a character made of words. To make that character live and breathe. Now, that is magic.
I played bit parts (including that of a catatonic in a mental institution—my only line was a scream) and grew into bigger roles on the high school stage. I spent five summers spouting Shakespeare beneath stars and redwoods, hoping one day to play Rosalind in As You Like It.
I got an acting scholarship to a good university and went on to study acting and costume design for two years. But then I traveled on the Semester at Sea—a program on which students study on board a ship and travel around the world, visiting ten countries in one hundred days. It changed my life. I realized I didn’t want to spend my entire life in a windowless black box (a theater) but in the greater world.
So I created my own major, planning to use it to be a travel writer. I spent two months traveling Europe by train. I worked for nine months for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association on a research boat as a steward (making beds and washing dishes) in order to earn the money to backpack around the world. The ship went to Chile and the Antarctic, and even stopped at Easter Island—one of the most remote locations in the Pacific Ocean. After so long at sea, I needed time on land, so I packed up my sister and her puppy in a beaten-down station wagon and drove across North America.
And then I packed a single bag and flew to Africa. Alone. I spent five months in southern Africa—South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, but primarily Zimbabwe. I saw elephants and rhinos and kudu, was woken up from a dead sleep in a tent by the roar of lions and sat for hours on the banks of the Zambezi watching Victoria Falls. I spent the rest of that year in Southeast Asia—mostly eating coconut curry. After a few restless months at home, I traveled to Australia and New Zealand and completely depleted my travel fund.
And then I went to England, invited by an Englishman I’d met in Zimbabwe. I went for two weeks and stayed for six months—I left the day before my visa expired—and the next year I married him.
I lived in England for five years, in a little town in the county of Kent. I lived within spitting distance of Hever Castle—Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. Penshurst Place, once owned by the Duke of Buckingham and Knole House, once owned by King Henry VIII himself were also nearby. I grew to love the English countryside—so different from the forests and volcanic mountains of California. And I came to love English history—so much more violent and colorful and ancient than my own.
In the course of my life, I’ve worked as a dishwasher, lingerie seller, coffee barista, cake decorator, ship’s steward, video rental clerk, freelance journalist, travel agent, waitress, contracts manager, bookseller and Montessori preschool teacher.
But in writing for teens, I’ve finally found my calling.
And through writing, I am able to encompass all my loves. Becoming a character made of words. Exploring new worlds. And living history.
YOU CAN CHECK OUT MORE GREAT BOOKANISTAS REVIEWS HERE
Elana Johson is enthralled by CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson
Stasia Ward Kehoe is mesmerized by GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers
Christine Fonseca adores DEAD SILENCE by Kimberly Derting
Corrine Jackson revels in ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sara Dessen
Katy Upperman is charmed by QUINTANA OF CHARYN by Melina Marchetta
Kimberly Sabatini is touched by TARNISH by Katherine Longshore
Lenore Appelhans loves The Originals by Cat Patrick
What amazing women do you think has/had the spark that’s helped to change the role of women in the world today?
And yesterday I told you that I had a BIG Anniversary coming up today. I’d like to wish my wonderful, amazing husband, John a Happy 20th Anniversary today.
I love you more today than yesterday. <3
Hayden was the only freshman on the varsity team. It had been his goal since beginning the sport and he worked hard to make it happen, so I am really proud of how much of himself he dedicated to making his dream a reality.
He went undefeated through the entire season and came in third in the region. His third place was a bit of a disappointment because he came in behind two boys he'd beaten handily in the regular season, but he was terribly sick the day of competition and I know that didn't work in his favor. Hayden had to play his consolation match to determine 3rd and 4th place immediately after his first loss which had come after several long, hard matches. This next round proved to be even more challenging. Hayden and his opponent went back and forth for at least 8 rounds during the second set tie-breaker. Had Hayden won it, he would have been finished, but he ended up losing the tie-breaker which meant he had to start a third set to determine the winner.
I've never felt worse for him than I did at that moment. Sick and exhausted I could see on his face that he was devastated by the thought of having to play at minimum, another 6 games. I called him over to pep-talk him and he was on the verge of tears. For Hayden, who is a master of the even-temper, this was a sign that he was at a really at a low point. I gave him my best words of advice, but I know he wasn't really listening because he was upset and could tell that I was too. I let him go and then reached out to him the best way I knew how - via text!
It sounds silly, but with that 18 feet of space between us, I knew that Hayden would be able the "hear" my words much better. I told him that I knew what he had to do was hard but that he had no choice but to go in there and do it. I told him I knew he could and I knew he would. And he did. He came back with a vengeance and soundly beat his opponent for the 3rd place win. He worked so hard and pushed through his feelings and his discomfort and I couldn't have been prouder of him than if he'd won the whole thing. I told him so.
Tonight his tough spirit was recognized and rewarded. His coach and his teammates all made it clear that they respected Hayden's attitude and effort. For a 14-year old kid competing among 17 & 18-year old "men", that's pretty impressive. Hayden has big goals set for himself for the next three years and I'm excited to see him go after them. I know he'll work as hard as he can.
On a side note....I was so buoyed by the fact that Hayden actually allowed me to take a photo of him that I got greedy.
I had a few cute shots of the younger three....
so of course I thought it would be no big deal to get all five.
Thank goodness for Eliza. That kid can hold a pose.
- Current Mood: accomplished
A while ago I got this email from a teacher:
I teach 10th grade English to students with learning disabilities, mild cognitive disabilities, and emotional disabilities. It is close to impossible to find a novel that all are interested in and will actually participate in discussion about. I begged and begged my director and she was able to purchase me a class set of your novel, The Compound. It's such a pleasure to teach this novel! ALL my kids listen while I read and have much to discuss, which never happens. They even groan and complain when we have to stop reading or class is over. I've even had two of my copies come up missing and two students who checked it out of the library for their parents to read. I wish I could convey to you how unusual this is! I teach the core curriculum, the same standards, as a general education class and it is very difficult for my students. They are now working on these standards and don't even realize it because they are so excited about his story. THANK YOU!
A few weeks later, I had a library event in her city and she came to see me. She was so sweet and I hugged her and offered to Skype with her students. Here’s the thing: I reserve the right to charge or not charge for my Skypes. This gets me into trouble with other authors, but would you be able to get a letter like that and then not do the Skype simply because they don’t have a budget? I’m not that person and I never will be. So today was the Skype. And those kids were great. They had a million questions and made me laugh, and I made them laugh too. I was so glad I took the time. And then I got this email:
Thank you so much! Of course, after we hung up they started talking a mile a minute. They're such good kids and this is the first time many of them have finished a book or even liked reading. Our system's superintendent and assistant superintendent were here also. The assistant superintendent said she'd have to get us The Fallout so that we can read both next year. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone!!
I can't thank you enough for the excitement you have brought to English class. This will be a lasting, good memory for my kids who have so few things to be excited about.
So yeah. That was pretty much a really good use of my time. And it reminded me of why I do what I do.
And a bit of dueling titles, dueling type, dueling genres.
The town of Belmar started construction on its new boardwalk in January. Today, I was invited by the library to attend the grand opening of the new boardwalk - all 1.3 miles of it have been rebuilt, stronger and better than ever - and to read At the Boardwalk to some of the schoolkids on the beach after the ceremony was complete. (All of the school children from the public and Catholic school in town had been bused to the beach, wearing their "Tougher Than The Storm: Belmar/Belmarvelous" T-shirts.) There on the right you can see Mayor Matt Doherty, Governor Chris Christie, and Senator Bob Menendez cutting the ribbon to make it official.
I was extremely fortunate that my friend John Rowen decided to make the trek from Pennsylvania to take pictures of me during the reading. He did a really great job, and I'm just going to share a few of the photos with you below.
Here I am getting ready to read to the kindergartners on the beach. With an airhorn.
Here's me, reading to the kindergartners. You can see the ocean in the background.
Here I am again, from another angle. That's Liz Cole from Belmar Elementary holding the book.
It was a privilege and an honor to be asked to attend the grand opening of the boardwalk and to share my book with the kids from Belmar Elementary School. My thanks to the good people of Belmar, and to John Rowen, for a really wonderful day.
- Current Mood: good
- Current Music:Somewhere Over the Rainbow (brainradio)
Still, the writing was good. Maybe a little too good, if that makes any sense.
I was struck by how the sentences grew longer and longer. And the author uses such muscular verbs: clot, spit, screech, growl, branch, dip, slide.... In this book,aA coffee pot never "sits" on the counter. Instead, it's much more likely to "squat."
She lands on all fours, rolling and thudding forward, sliding across the short expanse of lawn, smearing away the snow in a ragged teardrop to reveal the green grass beneath. A tree at the edge of the lawn offers a hammer blow to her chest. Her breath is gone. Her wrist blazes as if stabbed through with a hot poker. Glass bites at her. The night seems to close upon her for a moment—and then she draws in a sucking gasp.
The only problem with using verbs in new strong ways is that they stand out. Like "glass bites." In the paragraph before, "The glass shatters, and shards of it bite at her."
Even though I didn't get into the book, I want to make my own verbs stronger.
(Taken during a lovely May 4 years ago...)
(Taken during a very hot May 2 years ago...)
Librarian Laini Bostian blogs at The Made Up Librarian. Today she talks to Eric A. Kimmel about authors marketing their manuscripts to publishers.
Learn more about Eric from Scholastic.
Eric: About writing and marketing, it’s never one or the other. Professional writers do look to the market. They have to. There are always compromises and adjustments to be made during the composition process and during the revision and editing processes.
The key is how does the author feel about making the changes. If you go too far and say "yes" too often, you may come to a point where it’s no longer your book.
Also, some editors will tell you upfront that they may not be the one to handle a particular manuscript. It isn’t doing anything for them, or the changes they’d suggest would turn it into an entirely different story. Sometimes the writer can go along with that. Sometimes we can’t.
I’ll give you a recent example that just happened with the manuscript I’m sending out. I originally conceived it as YA. Several of the editors who've responded so far made the point that it didn’t feel like a YA. It felt more like middle grade.
Jennifer Laughran called to talk to me about it. The editors may be right, she said. YA is edgier. The characters are older. There’s more sex and drama. My main character is finishing middle school. You might call the story YA, but it’s definitely on the younger edge of the spectrum.
It’s borderline between age markets, and as Jenn pointed out, “The border is where you don’t want to be.”
Editors can’t fit it into a specific genre. They can’t predict its audience or what it will do.
That can be the kiss of death these days.
What Jenn suggested is marketing, not literary advice: Take it down a couple of years. Forget YA and go for middle grade. It would be easy. The changes would be mostly cosmetic.
She also pointed out that the YA genre is glutted right now. It’s been so successful that everyone’s writing YA. Meanwhile, there’s a definite shortage of middle grade fiction.
So guess what I’ve been doing this past week? It’s a change I can live with. I see the point. It actually suits the characters, the story, and me more.
Are these revisions marketing decisions? You bet! Are they artistic ones? Definitely yes, because I feel comfortable with them and actually think the manuscript is better for my having made them.
Laini: So, if this work does not sell, will you be upset? What should young writers do? What would you say to them?
However, that doesn’t mean you give up. Set the manuscript aside. Maybe you can do something with it later. Times change, so a manuscript no one wants today may become a hot item in a couple of years.
The advantage I have over young writers is I know the drill. A similar rejection could be devastating for a beginner. But again, so what? Will you quit and never write anything again?
Guess what? Nobody cares. Real writers suck it up and start something else. The ones that are only in it for a payoff will find something else to do.
What should young writers do? Write! They think they’re going to get rich? That editors owe them something because they scribbled out a manuscript? That they don’t have to revise?
Well, they’ll learn, and they’ll be better writers for it. And if they decide to spend their time doing something else, what of it? I guarantee there will be no shortage of writers or good books.
Yesterday (5/21/13) was my 3rd Runniversary!!! Every year, whether you want to hear it or not, you’re subjected to my annual running stats. And if you’re really a glutton for punishment, the other posts are here…Runniversary and 2nd Runniversary.
But here are the stats:
In the last three years I have gone on 181 runs with and average of 4.5 miles.
I’ve covered 832.27 miles and I’ve spent 137.31 hours of the last three years running.
I’ve burnt 83,171 calories, which doesn’t even put a dent in my chocolate consumption LOL!
My average pace was 9.55 minutes a mile.
And this year (May 21st to May 21st) I ran 261.07 miles.
And this is my favorite place to run. It makes me feel like a bird.
Do you have any anniversaries coming up? I also have another one. A really big one. Check it out on a special post on Thursday.
Unlike some of the more hardcore mud runs, this was a "girls only" race and the obstacles were fun rather than super-challenging. Example: some of our counterparts were doing the Warrior Dash across town that day and while they were slogging through chest-deep water filled with ice cubes and running the gauntlet through dozens of live wires (!), we were sliding down giant inflatable slides and climbing over 12' walls that had footholds. Clearly we picked the better race.
We were truly a motley crew. For one of the girls, this was her first ever race of any kind. When she started CrossFit she was overweight and her fitness level was pretty low. Now, several months later, she is lighter, stronger, and a total go-getter. Another friend is one that I've run a couple of regular 5k's with. She's a regular runner so it's nice to race with her because I have to try and keep up (which I never do). Another friend is my regular weightlifting partner and the perfect sarcastic yin to my equally sarcastic yang. The last friend truly cracks me up. She is stronger than she ever lets on and has arms that look like steel cables, but she likes to low-ball it whenever she can. I was pretty surprised when she said "yes" to doing this race, but in true form, when we got together that morning she declared that she would run alongside us but would NOT be getting dirty. This worked out pretty well because then we had a designated carrier for the bag that held all of the stuff we were too scared to check - like our phones and ID's.
Two seconds into the race there was a huge mud pit. We all agreed that was too much too soon, so while the other ladies gleefully slogged through the muck, we minced our way around it. A few yards later was an obstacle that required you to go under a tarp, climb through a dark, muddy tunnel and emerge on the other side. "No way," we all concurred. A quarter of the race down and we were all still squeaky clean.
The race itself was staged on a racecourse that typically runs horses, so a few of the running legs of the race involved threading through the back alleys of horse stalls and equipment storage; so while hoards of women streaked past us in all their sodden glory, we took time out for pictures like this:
At one point a friend and I decided to go along with the spirit of the race and climb up the gigantic inflatable slide. It looked just like one of those that you rent for a kids' party so we figured it would be no big deal. It wasn't until we were at the very top - the point of no return - that we realized there was a gigantic muddy puddle at the bottom. Oops. With nowhere to go but down, we sucked it up and slid. Thankfully it was more wet than muddy, but we were soggy just the same.
The one thing I did realize during this race is that I'm really good at climbing stuff and getting through obstacles. I have no idea how, when or where this skill will ever come in handy, but I can get to the top of a rope web, through a bungee maze, across a rickety balance beam and over a wooden wall like nobody's business. I'm pretty sure that I could even dominate that wobbly ladder game at Six Flags. Giant stuffed animal, here I come!
Towards the end, when I started realizing how squeaky clean we all looked in comparison to our race mates, I did feel kind of like a spoilsport, so my water slide friend and I sucked it up and mucked it up. The last obstacle before the finish line was a gigantic mud swamp. The idea was that you were supposed to army crawl through the whole thing, but my friend and I decided that walkingthrough was good enough for us.
As we approached the mud a group of girls who had already finished stood there and tried to goad us into getting dirty. "You're too clean!" they yelled. "Get in there and get dirty," they encouraged. "Don't wimp out!" they screamed. "They" were a group of girls no more than 15 years old. Pffft. Let's see if they're all that enthusiastic about mud when they are in charge of doing the laundry, Even though we thought that walking through the mud would be better than crawling, we didn't anticipate the fact that the pit was dug with deceptively deep holes intermittently throughout. One minute you were ankle deep on firm ground and the next, you were up to your crotch in muck and desperately trying to keep hold of your shoe while you extracted your foot from what felt like the hose of a muddy Hoover vacuum.
Here's me discovering one of those four-foot holes and praying that a plastic bunting would be enough to hold me up!
We made it out...just muddy enough.
- Current Mood: dirty
Yesterday, while I was talking about books and writing with an amazing group of 4th and 5th graders in Western New York, another group of elementary school students took shelter in their school, clinging to walls, huddling in the protective arms of their teachers as a tornado swept through their city. Later on, I saw the rescue crews on the news, and my heart ached for all of those families.
I spent time in the Oklahoma City area when I was researching my weather thriller, Eye of the Storm, and the people were so welcoming and wonderful. Those of us who weren’t in the storm’s path may be in a position to help now. So here’s a chance to do that.
Instead of pulling together an auction like we did to benefit the SuperStorm Sandy KidLitCares relief effort, I thought we’d try something faster, because Oklahoma needs help right now, given the magnitude of damage from this week’s EF5 tornado. Please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Effort now. If you donate at least $10, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a signed book.
I’m donating some of my books, and some other authors are doing the same – not because a book giveaway is the real reason to make this donation but because it’s a way for the children’s literature community to promote the effort and say thanks to those who decide to donate. I’m hoping that we can also donate signed books to the library system that serves families affected by the tornado, either to add to their collections or to distribute to displaced families. More on that when things settle down some…but here’s the KidLitCares Donation Drive information.
To be entered in the KidLitCares for Oklahoma Book Giveaway:
Click here and make a donation of at least $10 for American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Ideally, you’ll do this now. Like, right now. But if you want to be entered for the book drawing, be sure to do it before 12pm EST on June 7th. I’ll enter your name in the drawing once for each $10 you donate. So a $50 donation equals five chances to win.
You’ll receive an email receipt from the Red Cross. Forward that receipt to email@example.com, and you’ll automatically be entered in the drawing for one of our donated signed books! You can see an ever-updating list of donated signed books below!
On June 7th, I’ll draw names for as many books as we have donated. I’ll contact you via email if you win so that you can provide a mailing address for the author to mail your signed book. Because our authors are donating postage, books can be mailed to US addresses only. (Sorry!) Again – the deadline is 12pm EST on June 7th.
***NEWSFLASH 5/22 2pm : We’ve just had a MEGA-DONATION FOR A GRAND-PRIZE GIVEAWAY!!
One of my amazing publishers, Chronicle Books, has just donated TWO great big prize packages for KidLitCares for Oklahoma Red Cross donors. One is a collection of great Chronicle YA titles, and the other is a spectacular picture book package. So here’s what we’re going to do…
Whoever makes the LARGEST Red Cross donation via KidLitCares before noon EST on June 7th will get to choose one of these two packages as a thank you gift. The other package will be given to one of our $10 or more donors, chosen in a random drawing. That way, there’s incentive to give BIG if you can – as well as incentive to give whatever you can, even if your heart is bigger than your wallet. Check out these great titles…
Chronicle Books YA Books KidLitCares Thank You PackagePRISONERS IN THE PALACE by Michaela MacCollGIRL MEETS BOY by Kelly Milner HallsTHE SPACE BETWEEN TREES by Katie WilliamsTHE ORPHAN OF AWKWARD FALLS by Keith Graves
Chronicle Books PICTURE BOOKS KidLit Cares Thank You PackageHIS SHOES WERE FAR TOO TIGHT by Daniel Pinkwater and Calef BrownWUMBERS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom LichtenheldBEARS! BEARS! BEARS! by Bob BarnerIT’S A TIGER by David LaRochelle and Jeremy TankardAN EGG IS QUIET by Dianna Aston and Sylvia LongDUCK! RABBIT! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom LichtenheldFLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly IdleCHLOE INSTEAD by Micah Player Update: 5/24 – Another Mega-Donation from Boyds Mills Press – this will be given away as another grand prize in our drawing! WORDSONG Book Basket from Boyds Mills Press Cowboys by David L. HarrisonBug Off by Jane YolenRunning with Trains by Michael J. RosenIf You Were a Chocolate Mustache by J. Patrick LewisGrumbles from the Forest by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Jane YolenFace Bug by J. Patrick Lewis
Please donate – and help us spread the word about KidLitCares for Oklahoma by sharing this link on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else you have friends!
Here’s the list of books that have already been donated and will be given away on June 7th…
(It will grow…and I will try my best to keep up with it…please be patient! New books will be added daily.)
HIDE AND SEEK by Kate Messner
WAKE UP MISSING by Kate Messner
THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS by Jacqueline Houtman
SIRENS by Janet Fox
BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX by Laurel Snyder
PASSING THE MUSIC DOWN by Sarah Sullivan
SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE by Joanne Levy
1 ZANY ZOO by Lori Degman
THE GENTLEMAN BUG by Julian Hector
TRADING FACES by Julie DeVillers and Jennifer Roy
BEDEVILED: DADDY’S LITTLE ANGEL by Shani Petroff
HOUNDS: LOYAL HUNTING COMPANIONS by Becky Levine
THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY by Nikki Loftin
SPLISH SPLASH! by Naomi Davis
COUNTING ON GRACE by Elizabeth Winthrop
THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES by Jody Feldman
PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS by Diane Zahler
FLUTTER by Gina Linko
WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT by Brianna Caplan Sayres
THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kittscher
I DARE YOU NOT TO YAWN! by Helene Boudreau
THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING by Linda Urban
SEE YOU AT HARRY’S by Jo Knowles
CANARY IN THE COAL MINE by Madelyn Rosenberg
NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS by Dayna Lorentz
HOPE IN PATIENCE by Beth Fehlbaum
COWBOY CAMP by Tammi Sauer
THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN OKLAHOMA by Tammi Sauer
NUGGET AND FANG by Tammi Sauer
THE WATER CASTLE by Megan Frazer Blakemore
ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Linda Mullaly Hunt
WANT TO GO PRIVATE by Sarah Darer Littman
LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE POWER OF POSITIVE by Sarah Darer Littman
THE UNQUIET by Jeannine Garsee
SAY THE WORD by Jeannine Garsee
BEYOND LUCKY by Sarah Aronson
I’M BORED by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown
MADHATTAN MYSTERY by John J. Bonk
THE FLINT HEART by Katherine Paterson (signed by Katherine Paterson & John Rocco, donated by Anne Moore)
TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS by Audrey Vernick
THE UNIVERSE OF FAIR by Leslie Bulion
BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM by Audrey Vernick
SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield
STAINED (ARC) by Cheryl Rainfield
PHANTOM STALLION: THE WILD ONE by Terri Farley
THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Barb Rosenstock
FEARLESS by Barb Rosenstock
THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski
BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman
THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST by Sarvenaz Tash
NEVER EIGHTEEN by Megan Bostic
MELONHEAD AND THE BIG STINK by Katy Kelly
FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
COMPLETE set of CHARLIE JOE JACKSON book!! by Tommy Greenwald
THE SMALL ADVENTURES OF POPEYE AND ELVIS by Barbara O’Connor
ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith
CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith
THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA by Ellis Weiner
IF IT’S NO TROUBLE…A BIG POLAR BEAR by Lisa Dalrymple
GLORY BE by Augusta Scattergood
WHY KIMBA SAVED THE WORLD by Meg Dendler
MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD by Tameka Fryer Brown
HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS by David LaRochelle
ME AND MEOW by Adam Gudeon
NOBODY’S SECRET by Michaela MacColl
DOUBLE VISION by F.T. Bradley
BOOKS 1-3 in the JAGUAR STONES series by J and P Voelkel
THESE SEAS COUNT by Alison Formento
MERELY DEE by Marian Cheatham
AUDITION AND SUBTRACTION by Amy Fellner Dominy
BIG SLICK by Eric Luper
WILD THINGS by Clay Carmichael
BROTHER, BROTHER (ARC) by Clay Carmichael
GONE FISHING: A NOVEL IN VERSE by Tamera Will Wissinger
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN by Jodi Moore
GOOD NEWS NELSON by Jodi Moore
ABSENT by Katie Williams
THE REVENANT by Sonia Gensler
OUT OF NOWHERE by Maria Padian
ISABELLA, STAR OF THE STORY by Jennifer Fosberry
WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP by JoAnn Early Macken
WAITING OUT THE STORM by JoAnn Early Macken
KEEPER by Kathi Appelt
TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP by Kathi Appelt
MISS LADY BIRD’S WILDFLOWERS by Kathi Appelt
PICKLE by Kim Baker
THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
SELLING HOPE by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER DOES THINGS DIFFERENT by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
FREEDOM’S FIRE by Elizabeth Falk
THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
A THUNDEROUS WHISPER by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
THE BARFTASTIC LIFE OF LOUIE BURGER by Jenny Meyerhoff
SAMI’S SLEEPAWAY SUMMER by Jenny Meyerhoff
GIVE UP THE GHOST by Megan Crewe
THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe
AFTER ELI by Rebecca Rupp
THE DRAGON OF LONELY ISLAND by Rebecca Rupp
POOP HAPPENED by Sarah Albee
SECRETS AND SHADOWS by Shannon Delany
WEATHER WITCH (ARC w/ author notations & hand-crafted bookmark!) by Shannon Delany
OPEN THIS LITTLE BOOK by Jesse Klausmeier
FAIRY BELL SISTERS 1 & 2 by Julia Denos
CALL ME OKLAHOMA by Miriam Glassman
DO PRINCESSES WEAR HIKING BOOTS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
DO PRINCESSES REALLY KISS FROGS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
DO PRINCESSES SCRAPE THEIR KNEES by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
DO PRINCESSES HAVE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
THANK YOU, AUNT TALLULAH! by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
DO SUPER HEROES HAVE TEDDY BEARS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE by Lisa Graff
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUNNY! by Liz Garton Scanlon
THE HUMMING ROOM by Ellen Potter
THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter
MUSTACHE BABY by Bridget Heos
BEASTLY FEASTS by Robert L. Forbes
LET’S HAVE A BITE! by Robert L. Forbes
BEAST FRIENDS FOREVER by Robert L. Forbes
HEAVENLY by Jennifer Laurens
OVERPROTECTED by Jennifer Laurens
MAGIC HANDS by Jennifer Laurens
ONCE UPON A TOAD by Heather Vogel Frederick.
There will be (iced) tea and cupcakes! Bring your little ones and your odd ones!
Skylight Books /1818 N Vermont
I can’t begin to formulate a post on how awful the tragedy is in Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado yesterday. If you’re like me and you wish you could do something, anything, to help those who lost everything, here are a couple reputable charities.
American Red Cross via the Oklahoma Red Cross. 3 Star rating on Charity Navigator. Website is here. Twitter is @RedCrossOKC. Donations are also accepted via text: “REDCROSS” to 90999 for $10 donation (US).
Samaritan’s Purse. 4 Star rating on Charity Navigator. Website is here. Twitter is @SamaritansPurse . Donations also accepted via text: “SP” to 80888 for a $10 donation (US). Msg and data rates may apply.
If you prefer to donate to another charity, here is a link to Charity Navigator, which screens charities to weed out the scam ones.
And in the midst of all the heartbreaking stories coming out of Oklahoma, here was one that made me cry happy tears:
Woman finds dog in rubble on live TV.
Mirrored from Frost Light.
We took a flight from Lima to Cusco, then a taxi to Huaran, a tiny hamlet in the Sacred Valley. Our accommodations were at the Green House, the best B&B I have ever stayed in. http://www.thegreenhouseperu.com Hosts Bryan (from Liverpool) and Gabriel (Buenos Aires) are funny, friendly, and gracious. Just one of many examples of their helpfulness: For our day trip to Machu Picchu, we had to catch a very early train. No time for breakfast. Bryan was up to see us off--with a bag containing a picnic breakfast of sandwiches, fruit, and cookies for us to eat on the train!
Julia and I are both dog lovers, so we were delighted by the three house dogs Paco (aka Puppy), Yana, and Laika. Laika takes special responsibility for the guests, cuddling whenever invited to, and taking them for a lovely walk to a nearby waterfall.
You can opt to have dinner at the Green House, cooked by Gabriel, and we did this three out of the four nights. Our menus:
--sweet potato soup
--Green House beef stew over mashed potatoes
--apple crumble with ice cream
--individual broccoli quiches
--Green House spinach cannelloni
--chilled lemon mousse
--guacamole with tequenos (crisp rolled pastries stuffed with cheese)
--trout over a potato mille-feuille topped with salad
--chocolate brownie and ice cream
Nothing too fancy--home food instead of restaurant food--and every dish was delicious.
The stunning view from our room at the Green House. Only four rooms total. The village of Huaran consists of a school and three tiny shops. (If you want shopping and night life, this is *definitely* not the place for you.)
Regular visitors to this blog know that I don't usually spend this much time describing my accommodations. But the Green House is special. I don't expect I'll ever stay in a more peaceful and pleasant place anywhere in the world.
Laika leads the way...
...past the rainbow...
...to the waterfall...
Julia gets into the Green House groove.
Friday, May 17: Machu Picchu
Okay, so everyone takes millions of photos at Machu Picchu--you can't help it. But even the best photos cannot convey the essence of the place. Those below are just to prove that We Were There.
Except for a few brief breaks in the cloud cover, it rained almost the entire time we were in Machu Picchu. Didn't matter. In the morning there were a couple thousand other people there. Didn't matter. The high altitude and hundreds of stairs had me puffing so hard I almost saw stars. None of it mattered: Machu Picchu is truly wondrous in a way that's impossible to put into words, even for someone like me who likes to put almost everything into words. We stayed until late in the afternoon, when the place emptied out almost completely, and it was even more magical then.
There's still more to our trip (including a really fun horseback ride and a perfect final meal in Lima), but enough for now. I've been home for twenty-four hours and am still smiling.
There are several sorts of lists/plans that need to be made. Here's a list. (Yeah, a list of lists. Go me!)
1. You need to get or create a floor plan for the house/apartment/space you are moving into.
This assumes that you know what/where it is, or what sort of thing you'd like it to be, and really, if you don't know precisely, you have some idea. Maybe you're going to cut a bedroom, or get a place without a separate study/office. Usually you have some idea. And since I have read this tip in something like 100% of every article on moving/downsizing that I've read, I figure there must be something to it.
And it makes sense. I am moving from a 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bathroom house to a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right? Not until you figure that I have both a family room and a living room and a half-finished basement (all of which contain furniture, computer, and entertainment equipment) and there's only one living room at the new place. And I have a full dining room and eat-in kitchen (read two tables with chairs, plus several pieces of additional furniture including a bookcase, two dining room storage pieces and an antique tea cart), but the new house has a rather tight dining area that can't fit my dining room table, let alone any other pieces.
Oh. And the house I'm moving into is already fully furnished. Which brings me to the next list.
2. Once you've figured out exactly how big your target space is, you need to come up with a "must have" list.
This is a list of the things that you need in order for the space to function. (I got this suggestion from the e-book by Lisa Patriquin that I recommended in the last post.) This is limited to the items necessary for each space to function as you intend it to.
For instance, my sweetheart and I agree that the master bedroom needs the following items: 1) a bed; 2) side tables/nightstands; 3) lamps; 4) an alarm clock; 5) 2 sets of sheets (min.); 6) a blanket/bedspread; 7) pillows. It doesn't, strictly speaking, need dressers, since there's a massive closet, but it has one anyhow. It also doesn't need the TV that's in there, although we're likely keeping it there.
For bathrooms, you should list things like towels, trash cans, shower curtain, etc. For the kitchen, it gets really crazy (and I haven't yet tried it), but you need to create a list containing only the things you actually need to have a functional kitchen. Not your ideal kitchen. Not a fully-outfitted, wants-for-nothing kitchen. Just a functional one. How many place settings of dishes. How many sauce and frying pans (and what sizes), baking dishes, wooden spoons, dish towels, etc. I am positive that the answer is that I need a lot less than what I have, although a bit more than what my sweetheart has. I'm sure you can see why I haven't undertaken this one yet.
3. You need to come up with a list of what is going into your new space.
Once you know what's on your "must have" list (or, if you prefer, "need to have" list, but I don't prefer that terminology, because it's too easy to say "But I need three sets of every day dishes so they can match my every mood", for instance), you have to "shop" for the items that will fill that list. Shopping can involve actual shopping, of course - maybe you want to start new, or you are getting rid of one sized bed and replacing it with another (moving up or down, either for yourself or another bedroom), for instance. But shopping can also involve "shopping" from the available items that you already own (in our case, that's stuff in two houses).
In the case of the aforementioned master bedroom, not all that much is going to change. We will likely swap alarm clocks, since I really like my iHome and my sweetheart doesn't really care what sort of clock we have as long as it works (and he can read it without his glasses on). I may swap one of my pillows for one of his, too, but that's pretty much it from the "must have" list.
4. You need to come up with a list of projects that need to be done.
In my case, this includes things at both houses, and I suspect that's the case for many people. A friend of mine is moving soon, and needs new floors and some interior painting done at her new place, as well as clearing out and fixing up at her current one.
This includes a list of things to be cleaned, painted, repaired, replaced, or disposed of, as well as things to be given away, sold, or purchased.
5. When it comes to purging/clearing activities, it pays to have a plan.
Figure out what areas you plan on starting with first. Calculate how many rooms/areas you have to deal with, and how much time you have in which to work, and map out a specific plan to allow you to move through those spaces in an orderly (and, if possible, not too rushed of a) fashion.
In the case of my house, we've decided to tackle my basement first.* It's a mess, yo. And because it holds a daybed and trundle, it is sometimes called into use as a guest room, which seems likely in June when Maggie graduates and the house fills up with family.
What I've done is to think of it in four sections: 1) the walk-in storage closet; 2) the main room (where the daybed is); 3) the craft area (which never really got set up properly, exactly, and is full of stored items); and 4) the laundry area. For each area, there's a list of tasks of the items and areas to be addressed. (Each of the sections ends with "sweep and mop the floor".) The plan was to complete the closet last week, then move to the main room this week, the craft area next week, and the laundry area the week after that. It involves clearing out a lot of unused stuff, figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of (and then how to get rid of it), some organization, some packing, and a lot of cleaning.
So far, we're on target - in fact, we moved to the main room a good two days ahead of schedule. The goal is to spend 20-30 minutes each day on the project, which is a good goal. Practically speaking, it usually turns out to be more like 30-60 minutes, but the commitment is only for 20, so it's doable on a daily basis. Because, as I stated last time, momentum is your friend, so getting a bit done every day is a Very Good Thing. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. And on some of the things I'm figuring out/learning along the way.
*I have to consult with my sweetheart and figure out what the rest of the plan is - whether we go to the attic or garage next, or start tackling rooms and closets and cupboards inside the house. But for now, getting the basement all the way done before Maggie's high school graduation next month will be enough. The rest will still be there afterwards.
See you next Tuesday with another downsizing post. Meanwhile, the blog will still be here, doing its usual thing.
- Current Mood: geeky
- Current Music:Perfect Love Gone Wrong by Sting (CD)
May 11-14, in Lima:
At Huanca Pucllana archeological site. (JD)
In the Pueblo Libre neighborhood at the Museo Larco: saying hello to the resident Peruvian hairless dog amid lush display of bougainvillea. (JD)
Whenever I'm traveling abroad and staying in hotels, I always have at least one impassioned "wish I had a kitchen!" moment. This was it for me in Peru: The local supermarket sold beautiful small scallops on the half shell with the roe attached. (JD)
At Colegio Roosevelt:
With John Kurtenbach and Julia. (I think Tina took this photo?--Thanks, Tina!)
With library assistant Tina Raventos and elementary librarian Michelle Roberts. And Knuffle Bunny.
With the Simpsons. (Papier mache heads display in the elementary library. Thanks again to Tina for taking the photo.)
With the students from the Korean club, who helped organize my evening presentation to the school's Korean community. Two of the students did simultaneous translation of my remarks--not an easy job! (JD)
Delicious stir-fry of flounder and veg at Chez Wong, a quirky little restaurant in Lima. No menu: First course is flounder ceviche, with or without octopus (we had it with), followed by the flounder stir-fry, and then another flounder stir-fry with homemade black-bean sauce. Very simple food and very delicious.
At Amaz restaurant, specializing in dishes made with ingredients from the Amazon region, several entrees were wrapped and steamed in bijao leaves. This is my hearts of palm and chicken, which was interesting and tasty; Julia's fish dish was even better.
The Dunkin Donuts in Lima airport: a donut called Delirium.
Our wonderful stay in Lima was due to the efforts of John Kurtenbach, Lisa Gore, Michelle Roberts, Tina Raventos, and all the library staff at Colegio Roosevelt. Thanks also to the teachers who used our books with their students, and most of all, to the TERRIFIC STUDENTS who read our books and were such enthusiastic audiences!
Next entry: Part II, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
- Current Mood: disappointed
- Current Music:Desert Rose by Sting (CD)
|Cyn sounds off!|
Surf over to author Janni Lee Simner's Desert Dispatches for my thoughts on Writing for the Long Haul, the first in a series of posts by "writing survivors." Peek:
"I have a respectful patience for the inner artist but always hold her accountable."
Read the whole post.
Oklahoma in my heart, on my mind
Holding Oklahoma in my thoughts and prayers...
I'm back in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina for a series of school visits this week. In downtown Greenville, they have adorable little mouse statues around the downtown. When I was in Greenville in March, I bought a replica to bring home with me, and now he sits on my living room windowsill.
Here he is with the South Carolina Picture Book Award medal for Hot Rod Hamster.
- Current Mood: grateful
Because seriously? Sometimes asking yourself this very question makes your life a billion times easier.
- Current Mood: determined
Only problem was, Open House ended at 8:30 which meant that I was feeding five kids ice cream at 9:00 at night.
This is what Riss wore to Open House - glasses (or "nerd glasses" as she calls them) included. Of course, everyone got a big kick out of her...not that she needs the encouragement!
Weston photo bombed us, but I didn't care since it's pretty much the only way I'll ever get a photo of him. Too bad for him when nut ball images like these are the only ones I have to use for his graduation party...or wedding.
Same goes for Hayden. I had to pretend I was taking a picture of myself to fake him out.
Here's where the sugar kicked in.
That's Eliza in the background. Most likely she was fleeing the scene because these days everything irritates her...especially her family.
- Current Mood: amused
All the other poems are written in formal poetry, but I think I'm going to embrace Miranda's sentiment about it being a "brave new world" and break ranks for this one.
Quoth Miranda in The Tempest, Act V, scene 1:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in 't!
(And yes, that is where Aldous Huxley ganked the title for one of his most famous works.)
Here's hoping this will be the ending that lets this collection spread its wings and fly. (There's a bit more detail about it in my "next big thing" blog post from a couple months back, if you're interested.)
- Current Mood: creative
- Current Music:breeze outside, fan inside
If you'd like to see my recent four-plus- and five-star YA recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.
* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.
[The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau ***** I loved this! I read it feverishly (one day), and I loved every single detail. I can't wait for the next one, which is tough, considering this one hasn't even come out yet (beginning of June). I thought the world building was solid, I enjoyed the characters, I liked the mystery surrounding their government -- everything piqued my interest, to be honest. I have my suspicions about how certain aspects of the story arc will develop and ultimately turn out (ie, the romantic portions), and I'm certainly interested in finding out if I'm right. :) I tend to like different kinds of details than many readers, so I'm also curious to find out (once the book comes out) how many people like the testing aspects. I actually wouldn't have minded even more details -- but I really enjoyed the pacing overall, as well. It was simply good, good, good -- just what I look for in a book: exciting, tense, romantic, intriguing. The story: Cia has been chosen for the Testing, the government's way of deciding who gets to attend University to further the country's growth. Cia's tiny town has had no candidates for years, even though Cia knows for a fact that her older brother should have been chosen based on his gifts. But then, right before she leaves, Cia's father (who was a Testing candidate himself) reveals some horrifying secrets about the Testing process...and Cia realizes that maybe being chosen isn't the positive thing she always thought. She has no choice but to comply, however, and when she arrives at the Testing site, she learns right away that her dad may have been correct -- and that her Testing is less about passing at the top of the class and more about actually surviving. As she goes through the various trials, Cia's goals change, and soon she's simply hoping she can get through it all with her mind and body (and life) intact. (YA dystopic suspense, releases 6/13, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)]
[Spirit, by Brigid Kemmerer ***** I loved this too. I've loved all of the Elemental books, though each one is sooooo angsty! Kemmerer has a real gift in her ability to tap into the teenage angst and those feelings of unworthiness and drama. Each book makes me ache for the main characters. This book is about Hunter, the Fifth who'd originally hoped to get Becca on his side (her story meshes with Chris's in Storm). I like Hunter; I like his compassion and his struggle. I definitely feel for him, as he watches his own family seem to turn their backs on him. The disconnect between his own outward behavior and his inner struggle is very realistic, as well, I think. This book is sadder than the first two, as Hunter experiences some true tragedy in his quest to figure out his own abilities as a Fifth and how that meshes with the Elementals and the Guides in this world. However, I like the ending, and I think it's true for Hunter's story (and perhaps opens the door for another secondary character to find some peace too). At the end of the version I read (an e-galley), there's a peek into Nick's story (which I hope is next) -- and wow, that looks amazing! The story: Hunter believes his father, a Guide, wanted him to find and destroy the Elementals. But now that his father is dead and his mother's grief seems to have pulled her from Hunter's side, Hunter has to rely on his own insight...and his gut is telling him to befriend the Merricks, not to destroy them. Plus, the first girl who ever showed friendship to him -- Becca -- clearly trusts the Merricks, as well. Then Hunter discovers another Fifth, a girl named Kate, who appears to also be after the Merricks, and Hunter has to decide between his gut and his memory of his father's dedication -- not to mention his own supposed purpose as a Fifth. It doesn't help that he's attracted to Kate, and despite her apparent passion in wanting to destroy the Elementals, she also seems attracted to Hunter. But Hunter's own inability to trust anyone quickly gets in the way of his instinct, and soon, he feels abandoned by everyone and must find his way all on his own, with nothing but his own unreliable memories of his dad to guide him. (YA paranormal, releases 5/13, publisher: K-Teen)]
The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr *** This was interesting. I'm not as much of a Zarr fan as some people (she has a pretty strong following, and I know that anyone who's liked her previous books will enjoy this one), but I do appreciate most of her books. This one intrigued me because of its topic -- concert pianists. I (obviously) was never on the concert pianist path, but as someone who did major in piano in college, I have a slight awareness of what that life entails. I think Zarr's book hit many things spot on, and it was an interesting look into that world. The main reason I didn't read it thoroughly is because I realized early one what was happening, and I kind of lost interest. That's no fault of the writing, I don't think -- it's just that I've heard enough about these types of things (from people who truly had been on the concert pianist path) that I didn't need to read it. The story: Lucy watches as her younger brother Gus takes on a new piano teacher. Lucy no longer plays, but she finds herself tempted a bit as she see Gus's enthusiasm increase under Will's tutelage. And Will seems interested in Lucy too, and that interest sparks something in Lucy. She begins playing again, and before she knows it, she finds herself back in that place where she's torn between the demands of the music world, the demands of her talent, and her desires and hopes for her own life. (YA contemporary, released 5/13, publisher: Little, Brown)
Currently Reading: The Originals, by Cat Patrick
On Deck: Still a huge pile...exciting and daunting all at once ;)
Last week, Peepy and I flew to NYC to host the Children's Choice Book Awards -- 1,138,675 children and teens voted for their favorite books!
We consulted our fashion stylist(s) and both decided to wear gowns. My daughter created Peepy's gown out of an old skirt and gum wrappers . . .
Mine was vintage thrift store ($15!!!) . . .
(I brought two pairs of shoes.)
I also brought Colin Firth(s) as Mr. Darcy with me . . .
Why? Well, because he was in the short video that kicked off the show. (Son, who is only 15-years old, was the director/editor of the video!!! I'll be blogging a "making of" the video in a week-ish.)
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO including this soon-to-be-classic scene of me eating worms . . .
Colin, plus a backup Colin, was packed in my suitcase. JetBlue was doing random luggage checks. I was so afraid they'd go through my suitcase and find this . . .
The original venue for the Gala was shut down 48 hours before the show!!! Luckily, there are geniuses who cannot be discombobulated running the Children's Book Council, and a new place was found just in time!
We got there early and signed Children's Book Week posters . . .
Soon it was time for rehearsals . . .
Look! It's multiple-multiple-award-winning Tomie dePaola . . .
It was fun hanging out with uber bestsellng novelist Meg Cabot and Caldecott medalist Brian Selznick, who designed the posters . . .
Harlequin Romance Author/Newbery winner Katherine Applegate's daughter selected this lovely yellow purse for Peepy! (That's Katherine's husband, YA author Michael Grant, letting Peepy borrow his phone for an important call from her sylist) . . .
Brian Selznick as Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and I rehearsed going onto the stage after the opening video . . .
Whoa! It's Meg Cabot and Jon Sciezka, who hosted the first Children's Choice Book Awards Gala AND was our first National Ambassador of Young People's Literature . . .
And there's Henry Winkler with Jon . . .
This is what backstage looked like. See that cloth on the table? The crystal awards were hidden under it!
I was cold before the show, so Henry shared his jacket with me . . .
National Ambassador of Young People's Literature, Printz Award winner, four-time Caretta Scott King Honor Awards, two-time National Book Award Finalist -- well, you get the picture -- Walter Dean Myers, had met Peepy before, but Peepy insisted on another photo with him. Plus, she wanted to give him writing tips . . .
Here's everyone on stage, including Lois Lowry, getting directions and then rehearsing . . .
We did some interviews before the show began . . .
Can you guess whose shoes are whose?
(They include Meg Cabot, Lisa Yee, Henry Winkler and Jon Sciezka's.)
What about these shoes? Could they belong to my daughter and Brian Selznick???
After rehearsals, and before the show, the audience feasted and mingled. It was a who's who of children's literature at the event. Every major publishing house was represented. Yep! Lots of authors and agents and editors and publishers and paleontologists and illustrators (one of those things isn't true - maybe) . . .
Then the show began!
Because I am so short, I stood on a box. However, I am also a klutz, so that's why I gripped the podium throughout the evening.
When the presenters were speaking, and the winners were giving their speeches, I sat on a chair on the stage and had the best view!
Tomie dePaola kicked off the first award of the ending by presenting Kindergarter to Second Grade Book of the Year to Nighttime Ninja. Here's illustrator Ed Young accepting on his and author Barbara DaCosta's behalf. . .
Henry Winkler announced Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty For President as winner for Grades Three to Four . . .
Lois Lowry presented the award for Fifth and Sixth Grade Book of the Year to Rachel Renee Russell for Dork Diaries 4 . . .
Meg Cabot was up next, and in honor of her Princess Diaries books, I had hidden a crown under the podium to wear when I introduced her . . .
Then Meg announced Fault in Our Stars as Teen Book of the Year. Author John Green could not make the event since he and his wife are expecting a baby soon. So he said I could have the award. (Or maybe not.)
Katherine Applegate presented Author of the Year to Wimpy Kid's Jeff Kinney . . .
Brian Selznick presented Illustrator of the Year to Robin Preiss Glasser . . .
Walter Dean Myers presented Michele Norris with The Impact Award for championing children's literature and for creating NPR's Backseat Book Club . . .
What a wonderful evening!
YOU CAN WATCH THE ENTIRE AWARDS SHOW HERE!!!!
And all of this could not have happened without the marvelous Robin Adelson and her team at the Children's Book Council -- and Peepy and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy . . .
But wait . . . there was more. A lavish dessert party after. But that will be on my next blog, plus exploring New York, New York!
(Above: Newbery winner Lois Lowry parties with Peepy and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.)
Disclaimer: No proofreaders were harmed (or even used) in the creation of this blog.
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Werecat Yoshi, Werepossum Clyde, and human Aimee set out to find Yoshi's sister after Clyde's best friend is killed, and in the process they learn of a greater plot to kidnap the were-species and must work together to all come out alive. This spin-off of the TANTALIZE series is witty and full of great characters. The plot and world make the reader believe that other species walk among us and that it would be fun to get to know them. An adventurous YA. (Candlewick, 2013)
Here is a link to learn more: http://www.simmons.edu/institutes/child
I've attended many times and it is an inspiring weekend, with presenters all giving lectures on a similar theme. This year's theme is "Love Letters." Here's the institute description:
“Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write”
-Thích Nhãt Hanh
In many ways, “Love Letters” demands that we contemplate romance in literature for children and young adults.
Although love and heartbreak might be the territories of the young adult novel, we find passion in picturebooks, revel in the devotions of early readers, and explore emotional depths in middle grade books. Nonfiction marries both knowledge and narrative.
Institute speakers will consider how books themselves act as letters. How do they declare love for a subject or to an audience? How does a lifetime inform every book written? Every book read?
Doesn't that sound wonderful? I know my journey has included many, many love letters from books that have surprised me, moved me, informed me, and helped me become the person I am. I am thrilled and grateful to be part of this conversation.
Monday Morning Warm-Up:
Describe how a book of your heart has served as a love letter that felt like it was just for you.
Recovery... sounds like I've had some major health issue. No. It's not that.
I've simply changed my lifestyle.
When I ended my teaching career last June, I had high hopes for accomplishing wonders with my new limitless time. To be truthful, I haven't even cleaned out one closet. What have I done with all of my time?
I have no clue.
*smh* That's a lie. I know. It's just that it's an embarrassingly short list.
I know that I have been cooking more and eating healthier (most days). I lost about 5 pounds (I'm shooting for 25). I've been exercising a bit more, going to yoga class, and taking vitamins everyday. DH and I took two trips... driving south in the fall and north in the spring.
I'm making better jewelry and selling a bit more of it. In fact, by the end of the week I'll have several pieces for sale in NJ Balance Wellness Center in Medford, NJ. I have a website and two online shops: Etsy and Handmade Artists Forum. I tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook.
Now... if I could only get my spring cleaning done and my studio/office painted. I'll put that on tomorrow's list.
Right now it's time to rev up my life.
You know what the number one question I get from you guys is? “Will Troy High ever be a movie?” At the moment, I’m sad to say there are no plans for a movie version. I know that’s disappointing! It would be really awesome to see it come to life, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day it will. But for now, I love seeing who you guys picture as the characters! I’ve seen a few Troy High dream cast videos on YouTube, so I wanted to share them with all of you because they’re really fun.
From ThisShiz Rox:
From Samantha Rose, Caroline Elizabeth Barr:
So Troy High readers, what do you think? Do you agree with these choices or do you have your own dream cast in mind? If you have a Troy High dream cast video or a dream cast for video for any of my other books, let me know!
Polly Holyoke is the first-time author of The Neptune Project (Hyperion, 2013). From the promotional copy:
With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates.
Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.
But there some big challenges ahead of her: noone ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.
Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.
When and where do you write? Why does that time and space work for you?
I've been writing professionally for over twenty years now, and I do like to write in my little office (usually supervised by two lazy cats), but I can make myself write anywhere.
|Ellie and Luna|
I knew a successful romance writer whose most productive time was literally from midnight to four or five in the morning. She lived a completely nocturnal lifestyle when she was on deadline, but luckily she was single and could cater to the whims of her personal bio-rhythms!
Most of us have jobs and family obligations which keep us from writing at our most productive time. But if you want to be a professional writer, you have to protect that time as best you can.
Sometimes you get stuck having to produce at a time of day when those creative juices don't flow as easily, but if you're a pro, you still put yourself in front of your computer at home, in the car, at the office cafeteria, or at your kid's school gym between games and make the words come or, at the very least, get some useful revising done.
As a science fiction writer, how did you go about building your world?
The Neptune Project takes place almost entirely in the sea, and one of my favorite compliments from a teen reader was, "I had no idea all that cool stuff was down there."
There is lots of "cool stuff" in the ocean, and I went to great lengths to build an undersea world so vivid that my readers could see it, hear it, feel it, and taste it.
Even though the entire premise of humans breathing water may seem preposterous to some, I wanted to make it seem as believable as possible. I had to do a ton of research and found out that what we can already do in terms of genetic engineering is both amazing and frightening.
We truly are on the brink of being able to create custom-designed children and genetically-enhanced super soldiers. Creating humans who can breathe in the sea isn't preposterous at all.
Finally, I tried to tap into my own teen years and imagine what it would be like if I were fourteen and suddenly was forced to live in the ocean. What would I notice, what would astound me, and what would I miss from my life on land?
Effective world-building often comes back to the simplest details.
In one of my favorite scenes, my characters float in a circle eating their lunch of raw fish and kelp while they talk about the food from home that they miss, like ice cream and freshly-baked bread. I hope in that moment, my teen readers do realize how hard it is for my characters to have to live in this strange new undersea world for the rest of their lives.
|Lindsey signs Riptide|
Debut YA author Lindsey Scheibe launched Riptide (Flux, 2013) yesterday at BookPeople in Austin. From the promotional copy:
For Grace Parker, surfing is all about the ride and the moment. Everything else disappears. She can forget that her best friend, Ford Watson, has a crush on her that she can’t reciprocate. She can forget how badly she wants to get a surf scholarship to UC San Diego. She can forget the pressure of her parents’ impossibly high expectations.
When Ford enters Grace into a surf competition— the only way she can impress the UCSD surfing scouts—she has one summer to train and prepare. Will she gain everything she’s ever wanted or lose the only things that ever mattered?
Read a Cynsations New Voice interview with Lindsey.
|Lindsey with Austin SCBWI founder Meredith Davis & Bee Cave librarian Michelle Benavides|
|Austin authors Jo Whittemore, Nikki Loftin, Jennifer Ziegler, Greg Leitich Smith, Bethany Hegedus, Salima Alikhan & Cory Putnam Oakes catch a wave.|
|Cory and writer-photographer Sam Bond|
|Debut YA author Lindsey Scheibe|
|Here I am, getting into the surfer spirit!|
|Author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell & author Julie Lake|
|Lindsey tells stories of her own surfing adventures.|
|Lindsey Scheibe signs for fellow Austin author (& fellow Lindsey), Lindsey Lane.|
|Here I am, sandwiched between Austin SCBWI ARA Samantha Clark & Salima|
|Erin Edwards & Jo mug for the camera; Austin SCBWI RA Shelley Ann Jackson waits behind them.|
|Samantha, Shelli Cornelison & Meredith at Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar in Austin|
|Salima, Bethany & Samantha at Lucy's|
|Greg, Salima, Erin, Nikki, Lindsey, her husband, Meredith, Bethany, Samantha & Shelli at Lucy's|
Not too long ago, my husband mentioned that a friend and colleague, Kevin Dalvi, had written and directed a movie and we were invited to the red carpet premier in NYC. Of course, there is nothing about this that doesn’t sound interesting to me. I love movies, red carpets and supporting underdog artists trying to put their vision out in to the world. I am so glad I went to see PROMISE LAND, a NEQUA Studios Production, because I really, really connected with the movie and it’s artists. Here’s a little bit about PROMISE LAND…
PROMISE LAND is relevant, heart wrenching, funny and hopeful. I know my sphere of influence is very limited, but I would really like to do something to help this film get the attention it deserves. So, there will be a contest!!!!!!
And here are some pics from the PROMISE LAND Premier…
If you get the chance to see PROMISED LAND on it’s Summer Tour, I highly encourage it. It was a wonderful movie!!!! A list of summer screening dates and information on how to buy tickets is available HERE. Information on how to turn your blog post comment into contest entries is available above with rafflecopter. Thanks so much for spreading the word. It really means a lot to me. Kevin Dalvi may not realize it, but he has all the makings of one of John Green’s Nerdfighters! *fist pump*
After millions of humans are killed in the first through fourth waves of the alien attacks, Cassie is torn away from her brother but once she learns the truth of who the aliens are, she sets out to rescue him and runs into Evan and Ben, two guys who may help -- or hinder -- her cause. This alien invasion story has the feel of THE HOST meets THE WALKING DEAD. It is dark, gritty, and has characters struggling to survive and understand what is happening to their planet. The multiple povs work well, and this YA has guy and girl appeal. (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2013)
|With Joy, modeling her bling & book!|
Joy Preble spoke to Austin SCBWI about The Sweet Dead Life (SoHo Teen, 2013) at BookPeople on Saturday. From the promotional copy:
"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. "And two, my brother is a perv."
So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her sixteen-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what's left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he's stoned all the time.
To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.
Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn't survive the accident at all. He's an "A-word." (She can't bring herself to utter the truth.)
Soon they discover that Jenna isn't just dying; she's being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother's mysterious depression and father's disappearance.
|Greg Leitich Smith, E. Kristin Anderson, Nikki Loftin
|Joy, P.J. Hoover, Cory Putnam Oakes, me & Jessica Lee Anderson
|K.A. Holt, Lindsey Scheibe, Shelli Cornelison
|Don Tate, Varian Johnson & Greg
|Mari Mancusi wins Joy's angel trivia quiz
|Joy signs for Cory
|After party at Shoal Creek Saloon|
Kit Grindstaff is the first-time author of The Flame in the Mist (Delacorte, 2013). From the promotional copy:
The sun never shines in the land of Anglavia. Its people live within a sinister mist created by their rulers, the cruel Agromond family.
The Agromonds' control is absolute; no one dares defy them. But things are about to change, for the youngest of them is not like the others...
Fiery-headed Jemma has always felt like the family misfit, and is increasingly disturbed by the dark goings-on at Agromond Castle. The night before her thirteenth birthday, Jemma discovers the terrifying reason why: She is not who she thinks she is, and the Agromonds have a dreadful ritual planned for her birthday—a ritual that could kill her.
But saving her skin is just the first of Jemma's ordeals. Ghosts and outcasts, a pair of crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient Prophecy—all these gradually reveal the truth about her past, and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than any she could imagine.
With her trusted friend, Digby, and her two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma faces enemies both human and supernatural. But in the end, she and her untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril.
How did you discover and get to know your protagonist? How about your secondary characters? Your antagonist?
I first came across the seed of my main character, Jemma, at a workshop where we were each asked to summarize the essence of our childhood as a fairy tale—quickly, without too much thinking—in one paragraph.
What leapt to my mind was the isolation I’d felt as a small child living in a large house outside a village and having very little daily contact with non-family kids until I went to school.
So the Once Upon a Time that splurged onto my page was about this castle on a hill miles from anywhere and the girl who dreamed of escaping…
Fast forward several years, and that castle morphed into Agromond Castle, the opening setting of The Flame in the Mist, where Jemma is effectively held prisoner—isolated, and longing to see the world beyond its walls. To flesh her out, I used an exercise learned in my first ever writing class (with Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City): scribbling down a list of characteristics as quickly as possible, with no forethought or editing. A lot of that list became part of who Jemma is, including: headstrong, stubborn, loves anagrams, loves food, has prophetic dreams, can communicate with animals, has pet rats. A mix of myself (I adore playing word games, and food…), and some not. (Rats? I hated them—that is, until I created Noodle and Pie.)
Later, it amazed me how much that list also fed the book’s themes. Jemma’s prophetic dreams, for example, became central. A more obscure one was her love of anagrams. At first, it was a quirk that offered some fun opportunities for foreshadowing (at one point, seeing her family’s motto, Agromondus Supremus, her head spins out the words grand, groan, mouse, demons . . . ), but I had no idea how important it would become until toward the very end, when an idea emerged about solving anagrams being vital to her mission—and survival.
Who’d have thought….anagrams, as integral to the plot? Not me.
To begin with, though, they were too one-dimensionally evil, so my editor suggested I write back stories for them. Each was like a mini-novella of about 10 pages long, written much like those first lists of traits, with no forethought, no editing. I did, however, start with the question “What ghosts haunt this character?”—literally, and/or psychologically. (Not my idea, but I’m afraid I don’t remember where I got it from, so can’t credit its origin.)
That gave the stories a sharp and delicious focus, and the details that surged up from my subconscious surprised and thrilled me. I’d literally gasp and say things like, “So that’s why Nox has such a soft spot for Jemma!” and “That’s why Shade is afraid of rats!” Until then, I’d had no idea—though evidently the dark corners of my mind did.
How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?
Around January of last year, my book deal was signed and I knew it was time to get my online chops together. I had a personal profile on Facebook, but that was about it. I didn’t get Twitter at all. So, where to begin?
Fortunately for me, last year’s New York SCBWI conference offered a one-day marketing workshop. Thank you, SCBWI! That workshop truly kick-started my efforts.
I turned up knowing practically nothing. By the end of the day, my head was bulging with new concepts. It would take time and patience to absorb what I’d learned, but I’d made a start.
The workshop covered a number of aspects: social media—mainly Twitter (@kitgrindstaff) and Facebook—as well as blogging, branding, making book trailers (I’d never heard of them, but now have one on YouTube (see below)), and the importance of a killer website—for middle grade authors, the most important hub of online presence.
The latter was easiest to wrap my head around. One of the workshop presenters was a website designer whose work I loved: Maddee James of Xuni.com. I already knew I wanted to work with her, so I introduced myself. Step one, taken. Not so bad.
About social media and blogging, every presenter stressed only to take it on if you enjoy it—a duff online presence being worse than none at all. That was comforting. I immediately let myself off the blogging hook for the moment; but I loved Facebook, so could easily conceive of creating a page for my author presence in addition to my personal profile—a distinction I hadn’t yet made.
Twitter was still mind-boggling to me: more narcissistic garbage and tiresome self-promotion polluting the cyber-waves, I thought. But the Twitter presenter reframed it completely. Self-promotion should be the least of it, she said. We should follow people who genuinely interested us, and engage in conversations. Be authentic. Promote others, who would in turn promote us.
Et voila! The crux of Twitter’s potential: a community of like-minded individuals reaching out to connect with each other, rather than a cacophonous, competitive squabble. I loved that idea.
I love supporting others, and receiving it back. Book bloggers, fellow writers, readers…we’re a community. And for me, community is key.
Once I was out there, things began to happen.
For example, about a month into tweeting, I received a tweet from an author belonging to a group called The Lucky 13s—kidlit authors debuting in 2013. She’d come across my profile, and saw that I was also debuting in ’13.
“Hop on over to the blog and join us!” she said.
So I did.
That one tweet changed my life. The sense of companionship and support in the Luckies is terrific. We share concerns and excitement, and our (private) proboards are a fabulous resource for ideas—swag, cover reveals, attending conferences and fairs, you name it. There’s a Luckies blog, with group blogs—perfect for a not-quite-blogging-yet person like me. I can’t imagine what navigating the road to publication would have been like without them. More scary, for sure, and not nearly as much fun, with a fraction of the opportunities.
So to new and upcoming authors, I’d say, Connect, connect, connect. If you need to learn the ropes, go to workshops, or research online. With social media, there’s many to choose from: Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads are other options.
Go with what feels right; if you don’t enjoy it, it’s hard to put the time in. But if something feels a little awkward or difficult at first, at least try it, stay with it for a while and see what happens. Take it slowly, find a way to approach it playfully. “The web” is a great image to keep in mind, with its mass of interconnections. You never know where following one thread can lead.