Caution – cute alert

(If you are feeling like you have too much sugar in your system, do not read this post.)

Mer and I have been adopted. By cats. Two moms and six kittens, to be precise. They showed up on our back porch yesterday. The kittens are at the most adorable stage possible – still nursing, but playful. Three of them like to sleep in one of my flowerpots.

Image hosted by They like to watch us.

Image hosted by Paw-to-paw combat

Image hosted by This is the big guy, leader of the pack.

They are feral – we have a lot of them in our apartment complex. There is a swath of woods behind my building and a stream, so they don’t have any trouble finding food and water. And I am hugely allergic, so no matter how much they tug at my heartstrings, they have to stay outside.

I’ll be packing again this morning, then going out to lunch with a friend, and hanging out with Steph in the evening. Tomorrow is a writing day.

Humid thoughts

Spent yesterday stuck in paperwork hell. Rewarded myself this morning by getting a coffee at Starbucks. Got personal brownie points by making it to the post office before it opened. I was number four in line.

The interview at Recorded Books last week was lots of fun. The quality of the soundproof booth freaked me out. It felt like it should have been hard to breathe, but it wasn’t. The reader for PROM is Katherine Kellgren who, in addition to her audiobook work, is a stage actress in NYC. Thank you for the great questions, Katherine! I go back to NYC next Friday, this time to do some commentary for the DVD version of the SPEAK movie. I have more details about that, but I’m not supposed to talk about them yet. As soon as I can release the info, you’ll read it here.

One of the coolest things about writing for kids and teenagers is that readers sometimes show you their school projects that were based on your books. I’ve seen lots of trees (SPEAK), mosquitoes (FEVER 1793), and periodic tables (CATALYST). And now the fun is beginning with PROM!

Image hosted by Here are Brittany, Lauren, and Meghan from Penn Manor High School showing the PROM love with tee-shirts they made.

Image hosted by Many thanks to their English teacher, Holly, for sharing the photos with the grateful author.

Home again

Miss me?

The graduation was amazing. Background: my sister has three kids – Tiffany (9th grade), April (happy graduate), and Ryan, (age 20). Ryan is a private in the US Army and has been stationed in South Korea for a year. It was hoped that he could return home on his first leave for his sister’s graduation, but the timing didn’t work.

At least that’s what we told his sister.

April graduated from Hannibal High School, a small, rural school. She had 80 kids in her class. On Friday night we all packed ourselves into the auditorium and sat through the speeches and awards which proceeded the main event. Finally, it was time to hand out the diplomas. Each graduate walked across the stage when her or his name was called. Kids with large families or kids who had driven their family crazy drew especially enthusiastic round of applause. The principal gave out most of the diplomas, with two exceptions: kids whose parents were school board members. They received their diplomas from their parents, which was nice.

April’s last name begins with an ‘S’ so we had to wait until almost the end. Finally, they called her name. My heart swelled. And then the announcer said, “April will be receiving her diploma from Private First Class Ryan Stevens, a 2003 Hannibal High School graduate, currently serving with….” The rest of his words were lost in the roar from the crowd. Ryan stepped out from the wings wearing his dress uniform. The place went nuts.

April froze. She stared at her brother, not sure what she was seeing. The crowd was on its feet, whistling and clapping, shouting. Ryan stood at attention. Finally the person behind April told her to move. She walked slowly across the stage. Her brother opened his arms and gave her a hug (and her diploma) and then it got really loud. It was wonderful. Many, many tears.

There were graduation parties and family get-togethers, and we worked on the house, too. BH is working very hard on the office he is making for me. I move up there in 32 days, so the clock is ticking.

Did any of you guys got to ALA (annual American Library Association convention)? If so, do tell.

Dashing to the Big Apple

I leave in a minute to catch a train to New York City. I’ll be visiting the offices of Recorded Books, where they are finishing up the recording of the PROM audiobook. They want to add a brief interview with me at the end of the tape. Here’s hoping I don’t come off as a gibbering idiot. I loathe the sound of my voice on tape. In my head, I sound like a youngish Lauren Bacall. In reality, my voice is a cross between a chipmunk and an easily offended maiden aunt. Gah.

I love visiting NYC, but there’s no time for dawdling or gawking today. As soon as the interview is over, I’ll hop back on the train home. I leave tomorrow for a trip North, both to see my BH and for family gatherings and my niece’s graduation this weekend.

Feeling like the sand is running out of the hourglass….

It always happens

So I was hacking away at my WIP yesterday and I came across a mirage. My tiny writer’s brain thought it saw a better book in the distance, tempting me, calling to me.

“You don’t want to continue in your WIP,” it cooed. “Come to me. I am the perfect novel. Look – aren’t my characters more interesting? Doesn’t the plot turn delightfully? You know you want to write me.”

Oh, nasty mirage. Oh, dark temptation!

This happens during every novel. Every stinking one. I’m not sure where it comes from: desperation, fear, inadequacy. But I know this is a temptation that needs to be faced head on, or it doesn’t go away. I took a couple hours and wrote up a summary of the new idea, then I went back to the WIP.

Happy Summer Solstice. This is a great time of year to be in Scandinavia.