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..."