Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
My sister, brother, dad and I sat around the old oak table as our hands traced words in the wood, chronicling love affairs and hatreds, young and old, feeling forgotten in the past and some still carried, carved into the surface by fork prongs and ball point pens: Sara + Alex P Keaton = True Love Forever, Go Red Sox, Broccoli is the devil, My brother eats poop, Mom + Dad = Lovey Dovey, the last message covered and hidden by my sister’s hand. A trace line, angle of the letter "M" peeking out, the end of what followed covered.
We can see the rocky shore of the lake, full of families, through the hazy double windows behind us, it's panes stained by fall and winter, the months when we always left the house alone, and this year spring, the first time we didn't come to the cabin for the long stretch of spring break. Kids running backwards out of the water as it tickles their toes, mothers, endless mothers, waving bottles in their arms, trying to tell their children to come back to the bright colored beach towels for one more dose of sunscreen. And teenage girls shimmering in oil lying out on the dock suspended in the lake so you had to swim to it; a fortress to keep away unwanted visitors like parents and younger brothers. These are places the places we once ran to when we arrived at the cabin, dropping our bags in the living room, bathing suits under our clothes so all we need to do is run down the short path to dive into our lake.
Today, our suitcases sit on beds just visible in rooms past the kitchen, swimsuits, tank tops, flip flops still folded in neat piles. Our feet scrape against the cold smooth floor, usually rough and coarse from the grit of sand carried in from the beach.
The smell of the bleach from last year, its sterile twang similar to another we were too used to this year. Mom had splashed it all over the floors, shelves and counters declaring that we would not leave our cabin a pigsty, it's always nice to come back to a clean place after a full year away. We hadn't helped, we were busy holding onto one last day of the summer.
We sit gathered around this table, in this cabin, in this woods that we had all known so well. We sit gathered around a table where we now fit comfortably, four chairs instead of the five we had crammed together for over fourteen years when we called ourselves a family
Dad makes the move first, shifting his chair closer to my brother and then we are all moving our chairs together, close enough so that we were sitting shoulder to shoulder, bumping up against each other like the canoes tied up outside, empty and unstable on the unsettled waves of the lake.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Instead, I'm going to "borrow and steal" from Christina's blog post about book club last Thursday. I met up with a great group of people, and Christina wrote about the club along with her thoughts about the book Liar. Check out her posting and the rest of her blog...she writes about some great stuff (writing, books, clothes, life musings).
I'll be back in Cleveland later today and promise to give you a better blog post tomorrow!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Boston is awesome...a bit soggy and rainy, but yesterday we were in Salem so it was perfect weather to investigate some witches! Tomorrow the sun is supposed to be out, which will be perfect for our second day venturing into Boston!
The question I'm looking at today is from BClement412...
Have you heard from any pubs that you're on submission with?
We have heard back from a few, and obviously since I haven't announced a publishing deal, it's not the news that I want. However, I still look at it as good news because none of the editors found faults with the book (one editor even wanted to buy it, but he couldn't get his entire acquisition team on board...blah!). They aren't telling me there are problems with plot, characters or something else in the book (which could have resulted in a summer of revising before the next round). The feedback that we're getting back is that the editors just don't feel like it's the right book for them.
I call what I have heard from the editors the "It's not you, it's me syndrome." Have you ever had that happen with an ex main squeeze? It's a line that stinks, stinks, stinks, but if they aren't finding faults in you, that means maybe someone else will love you for who you are! I look at the editors' responses to my book in the same way. It's not the book; it's something that they don't feel, which hopefully someone else will.
My main squeeze and I are shopping for a house right now, and I also think being on submission is a bit like house shopping. We've seen some great books (which I liken the editors' responses to mine...they like my book), but it's just not the right book for them.
My agent and I are still waiting to hear from editors from the first round and my agent sent out another round of submissions right before BEA. Cross your fingers; we may be hearing stuff soon! And if the universe remembers my deal...it should be good news! Ha!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Woo-hoo! And...I had the pleasure of meeting Christina (along with Lisa and Laura Roecker, Chelsea Swiggett, two YA Rebels and some other great writers) at our Cleveland Teen Book Club! It was a great night, and I can't wait for next month's meeting!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Anyway, they published an article about a week ago that I've been thinking about.
The article mentions a world where a writer typed their manuscript, sent it off and received typed responses. When I was hanging out with Jay Asher (uhm...yeah, that sentence was pretty cool to write!), this idea also came up. We talked about publishing now verses publishing then. He brought up the point that if you wanted to publish fifteen years ago, you had to type everything out on a type writer. If you made a mistake, you couldn't go back and hit the delete button. You had to TYPE THE WHOLE PAGE OVER! If you wanted to edit, it may cause you to have to type the entire book over again. Writing fifteen years ago was a lot more work physically (please notice that I did say physically, not mentally). If you were going to write a book, you had to be in it for the long haul and create your book through a typewriter. I remember using my grandpa's old typewriter to create my third grade stories and pulling page after page out when I couldn't get it right. Often, these stories didn't get finished because I became too frustrated.
Although my early attempts at writing may have been on a type writer, I'm now a writer in the digital age. I didn't live in a world where the process to publish was through a typewriter. It has always been a word processor or a computer for me. I have always searched for agents and contacted most through the Internet. My agent and I usually talk through e-mails. The world that Garrison Keillor comments on (and somewhat against) in his article is my world. And in my world, I still believe that I can (and will!) be published. I don't see the end of publishing in site, and I don't plan to give up. I have been inspired by teachers too, I have been rejected by publishers and while I may not have struggled to type my manuscript, I'm still a part of this crazy ride to publication and I have faith in the process, even if it's different from that of the past.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
But my students are gone, so I say it's the official start of the summer!
I'm really looking forward to days of writing, writing and more writing. I have two notebooks full of my new book that I plan to type up. I'm excited to see how the story evolves once I start piecing it together.
I'm getting a three month pass for the yoga/pilates studio near me and plan to go in the mornings (to relax my mind) and spend the afternoons writing. Heaven!
I'm also doing a bit of traveling in between my writing.
This Friday (yes, Friday!) I'm heading to Boston with my mom. I'm not sure how much I've talked about Boston (or perhaps gushed), but I went to grad school at Boston University and I'm absolutely in love with the city. I have a lot of family there, so we'll be staying with them and taking trips to the city, Nantucket and Salem. I teach The Crucible, but I've never been to Salem, so I'm looking forward to that. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to share.
Here's the 23 year old version of me as a student in Boston...
I'll be home for three days from Boston and then head to The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. I will be talking more about the workshop next week.
I'm not sure how often I'll have access to Internet on these trips, so I want to set up some posts ahead of time. I thought I'd open this blog up to questions. What do you want to ask me? What do you want to know? It can be anything from writing, to finding an agent, to teaching, to the submission process, to MFA programs or even personal questions about my life, likes and dislikes (although I may lie about my weight if you ask!).
Also...summer is a great time to start reading new blogs (well, at least for me becuase I have more time). If you refer a friend to start following my blog, I'll give you three (wow, three!) more entries into the book contest. Just let me know who your friend is when they start following me so I can give you the three entries!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Have you read her blog?
If you haven't, you must head over there because she's talented, hilarious and even more peppy than me!
A few weeks ago she ran a super awesome contest that I won! Woo-hoo!
I got a copy of Some Girls Are (which I preceded to share with all my students....Courtney Summers is taking over my school!) and...
A drawing of my main character!
How great is that!?
I sent her a description of Kate from CANARY:
She's average height, thin with brown hair that no matter how much she tries to flat iron it, it doesn't stay straight (she mentions how she envies girls with perfect hair). I don't have a ton of description about her, but she does catch the attention of a popular boy on the basketball team. She goes to a private school (Beacon) and wear a plaid uniform skirt with a blouse during the day and often wears jeans and her boyfriend's practice jersey (also Beacon) to his games. I mentioned she wears jeans, ballet flat, tank tops, sweaters...nothing too crazy. Beacon's colors are maroon and yellow if you do something with their jerseys. Oh, and on game day she'll wear a ribbon in her hair that is Beacon's colors.
And this is my first ever picture of Kate!
Uhm...I love love LOVE it!!!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Nice to see you finally up and awake this Monday.
Was it just me, or was blogger sleeping in? I tried for hours (hours, I tell ya!) to get onto blogger and it kept telling me it was "having technical issues." Personally, I think blogger just had a rough weekend and needed to "sleep it off."
Now that blogger is finally up at 5:30 p.m., I kind of don't want to post what I had for today. It's kind of cool. Okay, it's really cool...so I'll wait for the unveiling tomorrow. You best be coming to visit (and let's hope blogger sets the alarm tomorrow!).
In the meantime...how about trying to win some cool prizes (and I do mean cool prizes...these books rock!). While I'd really like to win them, we can make a deal to share if you win them!
YA Highway BEA Giveaway!
Friday, June 4, 2010
I'll write more about the actual conference next week, but for now, I'm posting an exercise we did on dialogue that helped influence a scene in my book CANARY (Remember CANARY? That book I have on submission? The waiting to hear back from editors is madness...madness, I tell ya!).
In this scene, my main character's brother is leaving for Iraq the next day. Kate hasn't been able to really talk to him about his decision, so this is the point where they open up (kind of)...
I had swum twenty-three laps when the lights flashed under the surface. They were built into the walls and lined the pool like round full moons, illuminating the dark water. The pool lit up four times, my brother’s signal to get my attention.
Brett was used to me swimming late at night before I went to bed. It was my version of a bubble bath or cup of warm milk. It calmed me. Jack, on the other hand, thought I was crazy to swim at night, and he always made me promise to call him when I got out so he knew I hadn’t drowned; an awful thing to joke about, I would tell him.
When I surfaced, Brett was sitting at the side of the pool, untying his shoes and socks.
“You could take a night off, you know,” he said.
“I do. October through May." I held onto the side of the pool as I talked, keeping my body under the water so I wouldn’t get cold from the night air. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with Catherine?”
“I just dropped her off; she’s picking me up early in the morning.” He trailed off and I wondered about Catherine. How could she leave him alone tonight when she knew that in the morning, he would be gone. What in the world could be more important during these last hours, minutes, seconds that she had left to be with the person she loved?
“Are you ready to go?” I asked. “I mean, are you packed?”
“Yeah, everything is ready.”
Brett put his bare feet into the pool and pulled them out immediately. “God damn it, that’s freezing. How the hell do you stand swimming in here when it’s all dark and cold?”
“I can think of worst things than a cold pool at nighttime,” I said slowly, daring myself to look him straight in the eyes.
He turned away, avoiding, and then said, “Me, too, like the time you practiced cooking the breakfast casserole for class and dad I had to try it.”
“My casserole wasn’t bad. It was delicious.”
“Sure, if you like runny undercooked eggs.’
I splashed water up at him. “If you want scary, let me tell you about the time Mrs. Simmons babysat us and asked me for a back rub. Now that’s scary.”
“Oh, shit, that would suck. She was gross with all that cat fur stuck to her and white spit hanging out of the corners of her mouth.”
“Exactly,” I said. “My eggs were nothing compared to Mrs. Simmons.”
The two of us laughed softly, the sound of our voices fading until all you could hear was the lap of the water against the sides of the pool and crickets.
“But now," I said slowly. "Those things don't seem scary at all.”
“Why are you doing this, Brett?”
He sighed and looked up into the trees that bordered the edge of our yard.
“I have to do this, Kate.”
“You don’t have to do anything.”
“Okay, then, I need to do this. There’s no way I can stay here.”
“Here isn’t so bad,” I told him, but we both knew I was lying.
“This isn’t my place.”
I wanted to tell him I knew what he meant. I knew what it was like to want to be somewhere where you felt important. I wanted to tell him I could understand.
But I didn’t, because I didn’t want what he was doing to be his important thing.
So instead, I pushed off the wall and swam to the deep end and back, playing a game with myself, holding my breath to see how far I could go without air. I pushed myself further and futher until I couldn’t take it anymore.
“I’m scared too,” Brett said when I surfaced, grabbing back onto the wall near him.
“I’ll be back, Kate.”
I ducked my head back under the water before he could see my tears.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
It's called Jacket Whys and follows the trends in YA and Children's book covers. If you follow the publishing industry, you're going to love this site.
Go check it out, but don't say that I didn't warn you. Be prepared to spend a lot of time looking at all the covers for books from around the world!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Part of the allure of Liar is the main character Micah. She states on the first pages that she’s a liar, but we can trust her. I soon learn that we can’t. Her stories keep coming and each time she gives us a truth, she reveals a lie (often one of omission) to the point where I don’t know if I can believe anything she says. But I want to, and I keep believing the new lies she spins.
Justine Larbalestier is a genius when it comes to story construction. I couldn’t do what she has done in a million years (although I’ll strive to!). She continues to fool the reader over and over, and I keep telling myself that I should have seen it coming. I’m not done with the book yet (about fifty more pages), and I have a feeling the ending is going to be nothing like I first thought from the beginning.
The book got me thinking about what I call The Sixth Sense syndrome. Have you seen the movie? If not, you’re about eight years behind and I’m going to spoil the ending (so cover your ears!). You watch the movie and unless you’re really smart and pick up on clues (which I wasn’t), you find out at the end the Bruce Willis' character was dead the entire movie. It’s one of those moments where you could totally see that, but you didn’t. The movie has fooled you.
What do you think about this syndrome? It’s what I’m seeing in Liar. Although Micah starts the story by stating she’s a liar, she continues to make me fall for her story. Do you like writing like this? How do you feel about a narrator who isn’t reliable? What if you don’t find out that things are being held back from you until the end? What if the story you have read is really a completely different story?
I’d loved to hear your thoughts on this. I know I’ve talked a few times about the story that is pushing to get out of my head, and part of this story is one of omission. As a reader, do you feel fooled? Does it make you mad? Or do you like not always knowing the story’s fact from fiction?