Monday, November 15, 2010

Potter Party Pics! :-)

Last Friday my mom hosted a Harry Potter party at her library.

Here's what we saw in the lobby.
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My sister and I decided to go as brothers:
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One kid said to us, "Nice hair! Who are you?"

We put our heads together and said, "Ummmm, what do you think?"

He said,' OH! Right! Which one's Fred and which one's George?"

We kind of had to fight over it, given what happens in book seven.

Here's one of the other moms as Professor Sprout.
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Isn't she great??

We each got sorted into houses with a real sorting hat!
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I was Ravenclaw. Very relieved I didn't get put in this house:
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(My sister and son weren't so lucky.)

Here's my mom as Madam Hooch.
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We played Quiddich inside with a balloon and feather dusters. Believe it or not, it got kinda ugly! Professor Sprout pulled my hair off! My my house still tied for first!

We also had to take OWL's. I think my house tied for second place. And then, we had a scavenger hunt for the Sorcerer's Stone, which involved visiting Moaning Murtle's bathroom.

After the house cup winners were announced (my house tied for first! yay!) and the prizes were given out (Burtie Botts Every Flavor Beans), we had some refreshments.

Owl droppings:
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Olivander's wands:
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And Aragog's babies:
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It was such a fun night. I was so impressed with all the kids' costumes and the way my mom put it all together. Hopefully she'll have another party this summer to kick off the final movie. I'm sure there will be tears. Do any of us really want to let go of the magic?


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write to the prompt, "I knew it was finally over when..."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

She's here!

It seems so early, since the book doesn't come out until July.

And yet...

PEARL is here!

And the best part? This is my first book my son is old enough to read! (Along with his very patient cat.)

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On the back:
"Meet Pearl and Henry: misfits, best friends,
and—possibly—one another's first love."
Henry Holt, July 19 (ages 12 and up)

I'm hoping there will be ARCs available at NCTE/ALAN, which (holy cow!) is in just a few weeks! Will you be there? I'm not scheduled to do any signings but I'll be around to meet up. My workshop is on Monday at 12:30. I am determined NOT to let my nerves ruin the weekend. Ahem. *plans escape to the Wizarding World*  :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hoping it will get better

Since I am home all day and no one can see me, this is me today,
thinking of Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg,
Raymond Chase, Billy Lucas and all the other children we've lost.
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I wish we could have made it better for these kids before it was too late.

I hope we can all work to make it get better for the young people out there who feel the pain of bullying every day.

It has to get better now, not someday.

LGBT youth in need of immediate help should contact The Trevor Project's 24/7 Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To read some thought provoking comments on The Contemps blog yesterday, visit HERE and read the comment section. Lets keep this conversation going. Thanks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Parties books and more parties :-)

1. Congratulations to Barry Golblatt on his TEN YEAR AGENCY ANNIVERSARY!
Wednesday afternoon, Cindy Faughnan and Robin Wasserman were my trusty co-pilots on a mad-cap drive to Brooklyn for the party. We were pretty late, but we were thrilled to make it in time for the toast. Here are a bunch of people listening to Barry give a fantastic speech about his journey:
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Thank you, Barry for all you do. It's amazing to think about all the dreams you've helped come true. Here's to many many more!

It was really fun to see Barry's clients outside of "retreat" mode. I made the dopey comment that it was fun to see everyone dressed, by which I meant in fancy clothes, but some people took it the wrong way. Oh well! ;-P

Here are two of my favorites, Sara Ryan and Dan Poblocki.
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And here are Sara, Cindy and Me. Cindy just signed with Joe Monti! YAY!!!!!
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2. PEARL is coming in July!!
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It does seem like SOOOOOO far away, but it's nice to know an actual pub month! :-)

3. While in NY, I also signed the contract for SEE YOU AT HARRY'S!
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I was thrilled to see the book classified as "ages 10 and up." Middle school! Woohoo!!! I love middle schoolers! And finally my sister can stop saying, "When are you going to publish a book I can actually have in my library?" (She's a school librarian in a k-8 school) :-)

4. It's not too late to do the Banned Books Meme!
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I was really excited to see this one yesterday. Thanks ! xo

5. Join the JoNoWriMo party!
This afternoon we'll be checking in at the community page and on Twitter with the hashtag #JoNoWritingParty All are welcome!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Meme-Time!

It's Banned Books Week!!!

A couple of weeks ago, The Hate Mongering Tart asked readers to send her photos of themselves reading their favorite banned book. Her posts were really fun and informative, which led me to think, HEY! More people should do this!

So, a little meme:

1. Go find your favorite banned book.
2. Take a picture of yourself with said book.
3. Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
4. Post it to your blog.
5. Spread the word!

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My favorite banned book is The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier.

The first time I read this book, I was in high school.

It changed my life.

This was the first book I read that I felt got it right. Understood. Saw. Knew why people did bad things. This book made me look at the "bad" people around me and see beyond what I was afraid of and look for the story that made them who they were. Human.

And then I began to look for that second story in everyone.

I began to stop making snap judgments about people. I began to wonder, "What's your story?" Why do you behave the way you do?

Instead of saying, "She's just a bully."  I started to say, "I wonder what happened to her."

I didn't know it then, but this book made me a writer.

It also made me more compassionate.

And while critics insist the book has none, it gave me hope.

I didn't care about or notice the swears, Mr. Scroggins.

I didn't care about the masturbation scene, Mr. Freeman.

What I cared about was how all those characters became who they became. I cared about how one character's actions could profoundly affect another. And even though in this book those actions were mostly for the worse, it somehow showed me that the opposite could be true as well. Jerry dared to disturb the universe. And I wanted to, too.

I didn't become a trash-mouth masturbating scoundrel after reading the book. (I know, I know, *laugh laugh laugh* that is a funny sentence).


I became a more caring, compassionate person.

Books don't harm, people do.

So please. Go share a book and help make the world a better place.



Monday Morning Warm-up:

Your turn!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is the Opposite of Clean? Part II

You've probably heard that Laurie Halse Anderson's groundbreaking, life-saving book SPEAK is under attack again by a man who claims the content is pornographic because apparently all sex, even if its rape, is.

And you've probably read lots of blog entries defending Laurie's book and all books that deal with rape and other realities Mr. Wesley Scroggins would like us to pretend don't exist.

These entries have all been incredibly moving. But the one that is pressing most against my heart is Sandra Mitchel's post in which she heartbreakenly explains:

"And as I walked home, I cried- not because this man had just raped me. I cried because I was embarrassed, because I knew better than to talk to strangers, because it was my fault he did this dirty thing to me. I wasn’t going to tell my mother."

Can you imagine how a seven-year old girl came to the conclusion that what happened to her was dirty?

Ask Mr. Wesley Scroggins.

Ask the book banners.

Instead of thinking what happened to her was an act of horrific violence, her thought was that it was dirty. And she wasn't going to tell her parents it happened.

Three years ago, I wrote a post here called, What is the Opposite of Clean?" There was a great discussion in the comments.

I wonder if it's time to have it again.

I know the people who make "CLEAN BOOKS" lists are well intentioned. This is not an attack or accusation. It's a plea for all of us to think about the potential power of our words.

Couldn't we think of a better, more accurate term to describe books that don't contain sex or swears? Because I am very worried that the message, whether intended or not, is that any book that does not fall in this category contains something dirty. So it must be bad. It must be wrong.

And I wonder how that makes the 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 who have been sexually assaulted* and see these classifications in her school or public library feel about the secret she's keeping right now.

The opposite of clean is dirty.

When we hold books up because they are "clean" we're implying that there must be something wrong with or bad about the other books. And what does that tell these girls? There must be something wrong with or bad about you.

Words are powerful. Mr. Scroggins shows us that. Laurie Halse Anderson shows us that. And Sandra Mitchell shows us that.

Why can't we just call these books "sex-free" or "swear-free"?

Why can't we just be honest?

Thanks for listening.


Monday Morning Warm-Up: Speak

*Statistics gathered from

Monday, September 13, 2010

Channeling my inner Rocky and cheering for brave librarians

Do you ever feel, sitting in the quiet, facing a mountain of work, the need for some theme music to get you pumped up?

That is me this morning. I need the Rocky song.

Some of you know I have been feeling kind of odd and uncomfortable about having my book, Lessons From A Dead Girl on the official American Library Association's "banned books list".

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Well, recently, I have been feeling better about it. Because suddenly I am getting all of these Google alerts for the book. And they are not of the "this book is evil/perverted/sick/harmful/inappropriate" ilk.


They are of the "Hey, this book is on the 'Read a Banned Book Challenge' and you should put it on your list so we can talk about it!" variety.


And why this change? Because Banned Books Week is coming up and because there are these amazing librarians out there putting lists together to give these books some love and positive exposure by encouraging readers to put them on their to-read lists.

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THANK YOU librarians, for taking on the book banners with humor, thoughtfulness and intelligence. Thank you for caring and understanding that talking about books that challenge our way of thinking about the world, about society, about secrets that shouldn't be makes us stronger, not weaker or more vulnerable. Thank you.

And thank you to all the bloggers who have joined the Lit Bites challenge to read and discuss these books!

While I'm not a fan of making books fight each other, I love that it can open discussion about both books. If you'd like to give Lessons From A Dead Girl some love (or the other book!), you can go to the Lit Bites "Book War" page where Living Dead Girl and Lessons are doing the Rocky thing. Go here and vote/comment. :-) Thanks!


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write a cheer to get yourself motivated and post it in the comments so it can get me motivated too. :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

can't read my, can't read my...can't read my poker face

The other day my son called to me from his bedroom saying I needed to run upstairs quickly and bring the camera.

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know this could turn out... um... interesting.

Here's what I discovered:

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I'm not sure if it's my son who sometimes forgets that Fred is not human, or Fred himself. Either way, apparently they invented some new form of poker and had quite a good time.

In other news...

About 50 people have signed up for so far. Looks like we're going to have a great group! I'll post the list I have over there so if you don't see your name and want to join, please just leave me a comment and I'll add you. Thanks!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010



For me, that means...

Reaching the big 4-0, celebrating my wedding anniversary, meeting my next class, and...


If I have at least 10 people interested in doing this again, I'll be happy to host! Tentative start date is September 16 and we'll finish on December 1.

I think I screwed up last year and THIS is our fifth year. But I have no idea. Anyone?? If you'd like to join, I'll start making a list. I'll post here and there from time to time before our start date and continue to add to the list. Then, on September 16, we'll get started!

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you can learn more at HERE. Click on the "user info" button.

Hope we get a nice group! I am REALLY ready to get to work. How about you?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Friday 5!

1. I am SOOOO happy to have my laptop back with me, even if the guy made fun of my background pic.
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Guy. Who doesn't love Appa?

2. And to not have lost 6 years worth of pics of the boy. Especially during the sweet "I am Harry" phase at age 8:
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3. Now I just have to figure out how on earth to set up Time Capsule to get everything backed up.
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I have this irrational fear that when I unplug our current router I will never get Internet back. My husband shares this fear so it's just not just me. :) Has anyone out there used this? Is it easy to set up?

4. In other news, being away from my computer gave me more time to read, which meant I finished MINDBLIND, by Jennifer Roy
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I loved this book. Nathaniel is searching for the formula that will make him a genius and instead finds the formula that shows him the complicated and often ridiculous rules of how to be human, just like everyone else. Another book that is good for your heart. I think it would be particularly popular with middle school students. :-) Has anyone else read this beautiful book yet??
Buy from your local Indie

5. Today we're hoping to find our way to a beautiful swimming spot (with rope swing!) and then maybe head to the Farmer's Market. Next week... back to work.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Kara LaReau posted this on her Facebook page a few days ago and I've been thinking about the benefits of lint ever since. So, I thought I'd leave those of you who haven't seen it yet, with something to make you smile on a Friday afternoon. Besides the obvious reasons to smile on a Friday afternoon, that is.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finding "The Beautiful Page"

A lot of times, when I'm reading a new book, I anticipate what I guess I'd call the beautiful page. It's the page that sort of defines the book. It's the page that sings it all together.

Lately, I find myself turning down the corner of that page. Some of these books end up having lots of dog-eared pages. Some, not so much. But there's always one. And when I finish the book, I go back and read it again, because that's what I want to remember most.

My latest example is from Whales On Stilts, by M.T. Anderson. Now, this is a silly book. A wacky book. I admit, the first time I tried to read it, I didn't get very far. Sorry Mr. Anderson! It's nothing personal. I just knew it wasn't my type.

"I just knew."

What a stupid phrase. You NEVER know! This should be a new mantra, even. You never know!

Anyway, recently, my son insisted that we read the book together. Note: He tried to read this book on his own a while back and also failed. But for whatever reason, he did not want to give up on it. Maybe because the book is signed to him. Who knows (you never do!). But it was calling. And so we picked it up, and I started reading out loud.

We laughed. We rolled our eyes. We giggled. We said, "Huh?" and "WHAT?!" And then laughed again.

And then we found the beautiful page.

Here it is:

When Lily was done with her story, she said, "What am I going to do?"

"Why don't you fight them with your magic sword?"

"I don't have a magic sword."

"In the world of make-pretend, you can have anything you want, darling."

Lily felt tears gather in her throat. "Grandma, this isn't pretend."

Her grandmother didn't argue. "I wish games could go on forever," she said soothingly. "I remember, Lily..." she laughed.

Lily loved the sound of her grandmother's chuckle. She held the phone closer to her ear.

Her grandmother said, "The games we played when I was little lasted for days. We would be running around in the fields down by Tinker's Point like crazy people. We would hide in the grass. We always pretended we were food. Myrtle D. was ketchup. I was a side of bacon. We jumped off the rocks, being food, and I'm afraid we bumped up our knees sometimes."

Lily smiled.

"I remember the fireflies always being out," said her grandmother, "but probably that was only once or twice." Sadly, she added, "You know, how when you're remembering, you put beautiful things everywhere? You spread them out, and they fill the whole memory. Even if there weren't fireflies every night we played there, those were firefly times, Lily."

Firefly times.

Isn't that beautiful?

The phrase says it all, doesn't it? And for this book, it's about revisiting those wonderful days swallowed whole by imagination when you could believe in the impossible, like whales taking over the world. Whales on stilts, even. With laser eyes. Nothing was too over the top in your imagination. I think this book is a celebration of that. Well, it's doing lots of other stuff, too. But for me, that's what's at it's heart. And this is confirmed later, by the longest (and one of the most poignant) footnotes, I've ever seen. But I won't spoil it for you.

Whales on Stilts! Surprisingly poignant.

You never know.

Keep looking for the beautiful page.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great opportunity to win a TON of books!

You could win 21 new, hot of the press books!* To celebrate the love of YA contemporary fiction, the Contemps have each agreed to donate a copy of their brand new book to... maybe you! Are you up for the challenge? (Click the icon below to learn more.)


Here's more about the group:

*NOTE: We're not just about promoting our own work. We want to celebrate ALL contemporary YA fiction. We love our vampires (mostly), but we also love to keep it real. I hope you'll join the conversations and share your own favorite titles.

Go YA! :-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Great News for Contemporary YA Lit Lovers!

Celebrate realistic YA with The Contemps!

Click on the graphic and check us out! :-)

I hate the C word

Pete Hautman talks about the recent censorship battle in Humble, Texas:

My favorite line:

"The political and philosophical problem of censorship, in all its forms, harms all of us, and each of us has a responsibility to fight it."


Having gone through the battle myself, I feel the rage of injustice. It's not so much the removal of the book for me (or in this case, the AUTHOR!), so much as it is HOW the book/author is removed. Through lies. Intimidation. Threats. Ignoring procedures. And the dismissive attitude the person in power uses to prevent others from being heard.

It's wrong. It's infuriating. And I'm really proud of the authors who dare to take a stand and try to fight it at all costs.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Glad that's done

For the past several days, I've been carefully reading the final pages of PEARL.

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It is very hard to concentrate when you have an eleven year old constantly checking on your progress with, "Can we do something yet? When can we? Are you almost done? How much longer? Now? How many minutes? I want to BEEEEE with you."

So, I gave him a new book and we all worked together.

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I just hit "send" and the changes are waiting in my editor's in-box. Looking at the manuscript for the, oh, what feels like MILLIONTH time, it's hard to imagine finding any big problems. But when you look at something really close up it's amazing what you notice.

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(My son wasn't the only one constantly interrupting me.)

After a few mini panic attacks (woah, it's also amazing how one tiny change can have such a snowball effect), I think/pray/hope I got everything.

This time, it really feels like letting go. And I'll be honest. It's terrifying. And yet, it also feels really really great. :-)


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write to the prompt, "Everything's going to be just fine..."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Show and Tell and Some Practical Advice (not really)

Last night, final pages for PEARL arrived. It's so cool to see what the pages are going to look like after seeing them in manuscript form for so many years long.

It's like looking at your baby for the first time. What will she look like? Will she look like me? In other words, will the book still feel like it's mine? Will it reflect my heart? I was so nervous as I opened the envelop. But when I pulled out the pages and flipped ahead to the title page, the one word that came to mind was, YES.

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Last night on Twitter, there was a group discussion in which we were asked to give advice to aspiring authors and illustrators. Mine was:

Everyone's road is different. The only way to reach your destination is to keep on truckin'.

In other words, it's best not to compare your journey to anyone else's. You just have to keep on your own path and do the work. Just remember to stop at the diner and have some pie with the other truckers every so often.

At the retreat I was at last weekend, one person's advice to the group was this: "Truckers don't get truckers' block." And that is probably true. I don't know about you, but I often find myself NOT treating my writing as a job. I often find myself putting everything else first, whether because I am procrastinating or because I simply feel like I haven't earned the right to prioritize that way yet. But on the days when I do, on the days when I say, "First, the writing." I feel better. I write all morning, reach my goal, and then have the rest of the day to do everything else. And I do those things without the normal weight I feel when my writing is still waiting. But I don't do that every day. I admit it. If this was a regular job, I would be fired.

So how do we change?

I'm not sure. Boy. This turned out to be lacking in practical advice after all.

Maybe, it's a question for you.

Maybe it's a goal for all of us.

Maybe it's a plea for permission.

Maybe, we should just think on it and hopefully realize it's time to get truckin'. No more excuses.

Since I turned out not to have much advice after all, I leave you with some I found recently under my bottle cap:

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See you at the truck stop.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How Writing Friends Are Like The AAA-Guy

This past weekend, I spent my time in Florida at a Club Med resort with several other writers and three agents. This was my seventh year attending this retreat, hosted and organized by my agent, Barry Goldblatt.

Every year, I meet new people. New writers and experienced writers. People from all over. And every year, I am amazed at the kindness and warmth these writers provide.

We talk about our families and our work. We share ups and downs. Triumphs and challenges. New ideas. Tricks. Advice for writing and for life. A little gossip. Fears and hopes. Ourselves.

After I left the airport (after a delayed flight), I decided I still wanted to stop at my favorite Thai place so I could bring take-out home to the boys (and selfishly because I have been craving it for months). But when I came out of the restaurant, my car wouldn't start.

Do you know that feeling? When you are beyond exhausted and you just want to get home so, so badly and suddenly you think you never will? I was on North Main Street in Concord, NH, right in front of the Capitol building. Traffic was whizzing past. Couples walked by holding hands, heading to dinner—while I sat trapped in my car, the heat starting to cook me. The smell of Thai food was making my stomach twist in knots because I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and now it was 7:00pm.

But I took a deep breath and called AAA. The woman who answered told me there was only one mechanic in the area and he was out on a job so it would be at least an hour before he could get to me. We hung up. I sat in my stifling car and tried not to cry. Or rip into the bag of Thai food.

A nice man and his daughter came over to see if they could help. He said "Bless you" when they walked away. A homeless man paced back and forth in front of the car. He stopped to look at the engine because I'd put the hood up. He shook his head. This was not comforting.

Then, Jim arrived. Confident Jim who said not to worry. And in five minutes, he had my car running. As he stood under the hood, the homeless man joined him and gave him advice and Jim kindly told him he was wrong. But he calmly explained why. And it was really thoughtful. And then he gave me advice for getting home and told me not to worry about running out of gas and lots of other stuff that just made me feel better and confident that I'd make it.

And I thought Jim was an awful lot like the writers I'd just spent the weekend with. Writers who knew how afraid I was of some things, but reassured me that I would make it just fine. These are the writers I can call when I feel stranded. Broken. And they send help. Always.

I am so, so grateful that I have that AAA card in my pocket. But I'm even more grateful for the other writers' AAA card I have in my heart. This weekend was a reminder of how important it is to have that insurance. It is priceless.

Writer friends, thank you for being my Jim. I love you.


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write a note to a friend to tell them how much you appreciate them. :-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm leaving, on a jet plane (la la la)

But, barring flight delays (please no), I know when I'll be back again (Sunday). :-)

Trying to pack in the sweltering heat knowing you are traveling toward even more sweltering heat COULD be a downer. But since I know I'll be hanging out with wonderful, inspiring people all weekend, I don't mind a bit. Plus: There are pools!

I'm taking my manuscript with me and hoping to really dive into my revisions. I've read through my editor's notes and have done a lot of brainstorming. But no actual writing. In fact, I admit, I'm afraid of the thing. I'm talking with my editor this afternoon about her notes, and hopefully that'll be the kick I need to actually really get to work. Don't know what I'm so afraid of, but wow. Yesterday I even cleaned out the refrigerator rather than get started, and THAT was scary.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! It's sad that we're looking at our final weekends of the summer. It's going by too fast. Savor it!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Construction vs. Revision

My son finished camps for the summer just when my edits arrived. Luckily, he just had a birthday and received things that require assembly. So, we've been working together constructing (him) and reconstructing (me). Here's what my dining room table looks like:

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Yesterday, my parents came over with a new basketball hoop (the kind with its own stand). The catch is that it was still in the box. It took all five of us three bleeping hours to get the thing put together because the instructions were so complicated and badly written.

There was a lot of sweating.

Taking things apart and putting them together again.

Head scratching.

Bleeding (poor Peter).


A few maniacal laughs.

And an enormous cheer when we finally finished.

You know what?

It was a lot like revision. ;-)

We let my son take the first shot and he sunk it. I'm really hoping my revision ends the same way!


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write to the prompt, "We never thought it would end like this..."

Friday, July 30, 2010


1. All of my edits for SEE YOU AT HARRY'S have arrived.

I know I'm a dork, but I am really excited to get to work. There's just one change I don't want to make, but I know in the end I'll realize it's essential. For now though, I have the "But but but but..." feeling. Sometimes it's hard to let go.

2. The boy really is eleven.

Last night we went to my in-laws for dinner to celebrate and my mother-in-law had taken out E's baby album for us to ooh and aah over. E kept commenting on how YOUNG Peter and I looked in the pictures. At one point he said something like, "Wow, you two aged FAST."

We blame him.

3. I wish I was at SCBWI LA

That conference just looks like so much FUN! Have you ever been? Is it worth all that $$$$$? Maybe someday... But mostly I wish I was there this year to wish Julia Durango a HUGE congratulations for her Golden Kite Award for her wonderful book, SEA OF THE DEAD!!

4. Speaking of conferences, though...

Next week I'll be heading to West Palm Beach for my agent's annual retreat. I cannot WAIT to visit with old and new friends, talk about craft, work on my revision, and maybe maybe maybe fly on a TRAPEZE!

5. Today E and I have our 2nd guitar lesson!

We've been practicing our song nearly every day and we're pretty ok, though we sound a bit squawky. I think my guitar is too big for me because when I try E's, it seems much easier to handle. Would it be very wrong to play a child-size guitar??? Yeah. Probably.

5.5 Have a great weekend!
Really. Have a great one! :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I can't believe he is eleven today.

Wasn't this just yesterday?

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And yet, he still has those moments of quiet looking.

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But today, it's all about the mini golf. ;-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A gift from Mette

If you are an aspiring author, please go read this. Hope!

Thank you, Mette!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I haven't turned Google Alerts off yet :-)

Yesterday I had a Google alert for Jumping Off Swings. It took me to YouTube and this video:

This is why I haven't turned those dang alerts off yet. Because every so often, there is such surprising sweetness.

I love love love when teens care enough about a book to go to the trouble of writing a review. And videotaping one? That is over the top amazing. :-)

Monday, July 26, 2010

How I Talk Myself Off the Ledge (Or Tips on Facing Revision Notes)

Revising for an editor is always surprising. The manuscript you thought was perfect enough to submit to him or her is suddenly so full of holes and unanswered questions it looks like a crumpled map to nowhere fit only for making a paper mache pinata for your kid's birthday party. And yes, you will enjoy watching small children beat the tiny remains of life out of it.

How does this happen? And when did I become such an optimist?

I haven't even received my editorial letter but I've already conceived of my manuscript's sad demise. I even spent part of the weekend putting the text into Scrivener so I'd be ready to tackle what I am sure to be GARGANTUAN revisions as soon as my editorial letter arrives. It was set to come last week so of course now I believe that every day it doesn't come means my editor decided to write an additional page of changes. Maybe an additional two pages.

The funny thing is though, I say GOOD. No really. Revising with an editor? It is such a gift. It may be hard to see at first, but it is. A big one. Working with someone who honestly wants to help you produce your best work yet? That is priceless. It's a privilege. Yes, it can be truly agonizing and downright painful. But when you let go, I mean really let go, it is also a beautiful thing.

But how do you quiet the voice of doubt you hear as soon as you finish reading the letter telling you just how not perfect your manuscript is?

Here are some of my tips. :-)

First, let go of:

• "But I loved that line."

• "But that scene took me three weeks to write."

• "You must have missed something."

• "But I was trying to say..."

Second, take a deep breath. Then:

• Write a line you love more.

• Write a scene that takes you one moment to write because you are finally brave enough to write through it instead of around it like you've been doing for twofive years.

• Write with clarity not innuendos.

• Don't try to say something. Say it. Honestly.

I'm sure when I get my letter and tell myself these things, I'll laugh at myself for being so naive. And cry a little, because I won't think I can do it. Again. But then I'll take a deep breath. I'll remember my mantra for the year: Be brave! And I'll roll up my sleeves and get to work. :-)


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write to the prompt, "What I really wanted to tell you..."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can We Talk? Friday 5 in Questions

Here are some things I've been wondering lately. :-)

1. What do you think about INCEPTION?

Have you seen it? If so, what did you think? I watched the preview and I'm afraid I'm going to have these weird dreams I used to have about the road suddenly going straight up as I was driving and I had to hang on to the steering wheel or fall out of the car. I know. I have weird dreams. Or maybe not!

2. What do you think of Blogger?
Look away, Blogger, this question is just for my friends over on LiveJournal. :-)

3. Did you hear about the new Avatar the Last Airbender series?

It's called The Legend of Korra and my son and I are SOOOOOO excited. I thought the first series was truly brilliant (smart, funny, thought-provoking).

4. Do you use Scrivener?

My revisions for SEE YOU AT HARRY'S haven't arrived yet, but I'm fairly certain this is going to be a big revision. The document is currently in Word, but I'm wondering if it would make sense to put this in a Scrivener document to make revision more manageable. Have any of you Scrivener users done this before? Is transferring a file difficult? Do you just cut and paste from chapter to chapter? Thanks for your help.

5. What are you doing this weekend?
I hope whatever it is, you find some time to stop and take a long, slow breath and look around you. Look at the people and things you love, even if they are in a picture frame. Remember what's really important. :-) And have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Skype visits are pretty dang cool

My big thankful Thursday today is that I survived my very first SKYPE visit! Not only that, I actually enjoyed it!

I had no idea this was happening during my visit, but Diana Tixier Herald, aka "genrelibrarian" on Twitter, was Tweeting my visit! I saw these updates after my talk, while I was sitting in my office wondering if it went OK:

@joknowles is doing Skype program at Mesa Co Library. She is fabulous taking to teens and looks gorgeous, too.

@jo knowles likes to read YA fiction, fantasy and Holly Black.

@jo knowles is awesome. She is talking about the books that made her a reader and subsequently a writer. Robert Cormier-CHOCOLATE WAR

So, after my head swelled up so hugely I couldn't get out of my office door, I relaxed. Thank you SO MUCH Diana, for saying such sweet things. You really made my night.

A long time ago, I bragged on Twitter that I'd made a delicious flourless chocolate cake. Diana messaged me and asked for the recipe. Last night, Shanna, the librarian who ran the Skype visit, had borrowed the recipe from Diana and served the cake to the teens who came to the event! She even held it up to the camera so I could see. She added a brilliant-looking caramel drizzle over the top which I must try next time. Anyway, when Shanna signed me up I had no idea she knew Diana, or that Diana would be in the room! Small, sweet world. :-)

If you have questions about how Skype worked, please feel free to ask in the comments. This was my first visit and I definitely feel like I learned a few important things about being prepared and what to expect. And thanks so much to Kate Messner for her wonderful Skype workshop at NESCBWI and also her wonderful posts about it on her blog. They really helped!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Skype, Beavers and Revision

Today I am participating in my very first Skype event.
This thrills me (yay! love Q & A and talking to teens) and terrifies me (eek! technology always fails me and so do cameras). But mostly, I think it's so incredibly cool that today I am going to talk to a bunch of teens in Colorado without even leaving my house. :-)

The dam beavers are at it again.

Unfortunately, they are not this friendly. Instead, they've decided that the dam that broke should be rebuilt in a new fashion. Their new construction has cut the water supply to our pond so now it's drying up. I saw a mama duck and her new ducklings trying to swim around on it and that made me very sad. We talked to the town manager and pointed out how much damage had been done to the road the last time the dam broke, and he said they would put in a siphon for free! He also said trapping was an option. But trapping=death, so no. Last night, we had a meeting with our neighbors (who own the land on which the dam is built) on our front lawn. They agreed the siphon was the best option and are all for saving the beavers for now. So, beavers and ducks are saved!

Possibly today, I will be getting edits for SEE YOU AT HARRY'S.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
This is a picture of me (sitting on the counter) and my sister (with the awesome peppermint stick ice-cream cone) and a bunch of my brother's friends at my brother's birthday party. We're at my parent's restaurant/ice-cream factory, which is the inspiration for the book. I know this is going to be a big revision so I've stocked up on tea and put on my armor. My husband is also working on a big revision for his agent so I have a feeling this house is going to be buzzing with stress. But it's exciting to be revising together and to be able to commiserate celebrate this exciting time! We are both so glad to have gone to Holly Black's amazing talk just as these revision notes came in.

Life has finally settled down here and it's so nice to spend quiet days with my son, reading, practicing guitar, and just chilling. He will be eleven in eight days and I know these moments together will soon be replaced by cooler opportunities, so I'm trying to enjoy these days of just "doing nothing" while they last.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This blog is under construction. Hope to see you soon!