Nervous & Happy

Writer’s Group today. I am taking the opening chapters of my Work in Progress and am nervous about how it will be received. I’ve lost momentum with the story this past week because of traveling, etc. I need to shut the world out and dive back in if I have any hopes of making my deadline. I have to leave again tomorrow for the weekend. Nose will be reapplied to the grindstone on Monday.

Happy PROM news! PROM has been nominated for the 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Award! It is also a Booksense Top Ten Pick, and has popped up on the New York Times Bestseller list for five weeks. A wave of the tiara and many, many thanks to all the readers and booksellers who are making these wonderful things happen!

Jessica from Sheepshead Bay writes: my english 2 teacher {she teaches the honors class} is making us read speak again i read it for that same teacher in english 1 anyway having to reread some parts of it it made me miss melinda i hope that doesn’t sound crazy to you but being a major bookworm i tend to get attached to some of the characters anyway i was wondering if you ever miss Melinda? i mean she was so funny and i’m so glad she finally found the courage to speak but have you ever thought to bring Melinda back? besides her short appearence in catalyst which by the way i loved and cried over when mikey died. i realize i’ve written you a whole story i’m really sorry Honestly! bye! thanks for the shout out.

Great question! Yes, I do miss her. I think about several of my characters: Melinda, Kate, Teri, Mattie, Nathanial, Eliza, and Ashley – a lot. They feel like friends to me. I really don’t think I’ll be writing a sequel to Speak, though. (I know, I know – never say never.) The Most Incredible Plot Idea In The World would have to hit me upside the head before I’d even consider it.

Will from Rancho Cucamonga writes: I am a high school English teacher. I have been teaching speak to my freshman students, and I noticed something I would like to ask the author about regarding the book…. My question is, on the cover of the Puffin Books 1999 edition of speak, there is a quote from The Horn Book reviewer, stating “An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from its first word to its last.” I checked, and the very first word of the novel is “it,” as well as the very last word. Since the Andy Evans character is referred to as “IT” in the story, were those words intentionally the same?

See, this is what cracks me up about English teachers. They ask questions like this. You got to love ’em. I wish I could say “Oh, yeah, I totally planned that. I’m so smart.” But I can’t. It just happened. (It. Ha.) However, I am a firm believer in allowing readers to take away whatever meaning they can validate in a text . If that theory works for you, Will, then I say run with it. (It again. Ha.)

Many thanks to Alexia from Waverly – Shellrock Jr. High, and to Swati, for a very touching note. Good luck, Swati, on your trilogy!

27 Replies to “Nervous & Happy”

  1. Congratulations! Thats great news! Im sure everyone will enjoy your work in progress. I still havent read Catalyst or Prom, I need to.
    I tend to miss characters also and want to know what happens but sometimes its better to leave a book the way it is and not have a sequel, the same with movies. English teachers are crazy but I love them. They always notice stuff like that.

    Hope you have a good day! Keep us updated about the Bluegrass award :]

  2. Congratulations! Thats great news! Im sure everyone will enjoy your work in progress. I still havent read Catalyst or Prom, I need to.
    I tend to miss characters also and want to know what happens but sometimes its better to leave a book the way it is and not have a sequel, the same with movies. English teachers are crazy but I love them. They always notice stuff like that.

    Hope you have a good day! Keep us updated about the Bluegrass award :]

  3. Congratulations! Thats great news! Im sure everyone will enjoy your work in progress. I still havent read Catalyst or Prom, I need to.
    I tend to miss characters also and want to know what happens but sometimes its better to leave a book the way it is and not have a sequel, the same with movies. English teachers are crazy but I love them. They always notice stuff like that.

    Hope you have a good day! Keep us updated about the Bluegrass award :]

  4. PROM has been nominated for the 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Award! It is also a Booksense Top Ten Pick, and has popped up on the New York Times Bestseller list for five weeks.

    WOOHOO! Fantabulous news, Laurie! All well deserved! YAY you! 🙂

  5. PROM has been nominated for the 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Award! It is also a Booksense Top Ten Pick, and has popped up on the New York Times Bestseller list for five weeks.

    WOOHOO! Fantabulous news, Laurie! All well deserved! YAY you! 🙂

  6. PROM has been nominated for the 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Award! It is also a Booksense Top Ten Pick, and has popped up on the New York Times Bestseller list for five weeks.

    WOOHOO! Fantabulous news, Laurie! All well deserved! YAY you! 🙂

  7. Congratulations on your recent accolades!

    You mentioned that you’re taking your opening chaps to your writing group today. Will you save/internalize the feedback for when you go back to the opening chaps or do you revise those chaps right away before you go forward? I have a terrible habit of going back until it feels right; it sort of cryogenically paralyzes me into a socket of the book. Do you go forward regardless of work that needs to be done to the proceeding chapters? You had mentioned the BBQ scene several times. Do you allow yourself different renditions of the same scene until the right fit comes along?

    Sorry about the barrage of questions. I know you are busy and that you need to settle your nose on the right grindstone. I don’t expect a response. Just hoping.

    Thanks.

  8. Congratulations on your recent accolades!

    You mentioned that you’re taking your opening chaps to your writing group today. Will you save/internalize the feedback for when you go back to the opening chaps or do you revise those chaps right away before you go forward? I have a terrible habit of going back until it feels right; it sort of cryogenically paralyzes me into a socket of the book. Do you go forward regardless of work that needs to be done to the proceeding chapters? You had mentioned the BBQ scene several times. Do you allow yourself different renditions of the same scene until the right fit comes along?

    Sorry about the barrage of questions. I know you are busy and that you need to settle your nose on the right grindstone. I don’t expect a response. Just hoping.

    Thanks.

    1. In our group, we tend to be very clear about the kind of feedback we’re looking for. Since this is still an early draft, I wanted to see if the voice felt authentic. Since I only showed the first two chapters, I also wanted to see if the readers were hooked, and if they liked the main character. I am happy to report the answer was “yes” on all counts. The really careful readers pointed out a couple of rough spots. I’ll hold on to their comments until I revisit the chapters.

      I won’t rework these chapters until this entire draft is done. I’ve already plowed through the first draft, so I know where I’m going. This draft is fleshing out each scene and making sure the character motivations are in place, and balancing interior monologues with dialog. I don’t keep the different versions of every scene. (The BBQ scene alone would already have 15 versions already!) But I do hammer away at a scene that is not working until I’m happy with it. Sometimes I get really confused – then I’ll walk away from a scene and fix it later when I don’t feel like throwing lamps against walls and screaming.

      1. Thank you for such a gracious response. Knowing the dynamic of someone’s process affirms the idea that we all go about writing in our own way. Because this is my first time around with a novel, it’s especially valuable to read how a mentor writer wraps herself around her piece. I appreciate your mentor-ship, your insight and your time.

        1. Mentor? Yikes. Wow…. thank you.

          Something else to think about: just as every author must find her own way to unfold a story, each story unfolds in its own way. Be patient with the process and follow your gut.

          Good luck!

          1. The Neverending Thread

            Yes, mentor. “How to” books don’t work for me (I did love Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird, though). I consider writers like yourself, Harper Lee, Langston Hughes, Joan Bauer, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Berg, Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye the true “professors” of craft. Y’all manage to weave story, poignancy and poetry into your work which, to me, is role modeling the essence of writing. I don’t try to emulate style, it’s just that reading work that is authentic, humorous and human inspires me to write from a deeper place.

            Thanks for the words of wisdom. It is so incredibly helpful to know that each story, scene and word emerge from their own golden yolk. Your response(s) to my questions help me to understand that mutations are expected and that I need to push through scenes instead of allowing myself to get snagged. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’m listening and learning.

            Wow, you’re sort of like my Yoda.

            Grateful.

            (Regarding your most recent post about your BH going deaf one day…I’m sure you can find an ear horn on eBay.)

  9. Congratulations on your recent accolades!

    You mentioned that you’re taking your opening chaps to your writing group today. Will you save/internalize the feedback for when you go back to the opening chaps or do you revise those chaps right away before you go forward? I have a terrible habit of going back until it feels right; it sort of cryogenically paralyzes me into a socket of the book. Do you go forward regardless of work that needs to be done to the proceeding chapters? You had mentioned the BBQ scene several times. Do you allow yourself different renditions of the same scene until the right fit comes along?

    Sorry about the barrage of questions. I know you are busy and that you need to settle your nose on the right grindstone. I don’t expect a response. Just hoping.

    Thanks.

  10. In our group, we tend to be very clear about the kind of feedback we’re looking for. Since this is still an early draft, I wanted to see if the voice felt authentic. Since I only showed the first two chapters, I also wanted to see if the readers were hooked, and if they liked the main character. I am happy to report the answer was “yes” on all counts. The really careful readers pointed out a couple of rough spots. I’ll hold on to their comments until I revisit the chapters.

    I won’t rework these chapters until this entire draft is done. I’ve already plowed through the first draft, so I know where I’m going. This draft is fleshing out each scene and making sure the character motivations are in place, and balancing interior monologues with dialog. I don’t keep the different versions of every scene. (The BBQ scene alone would already have 15 versions already!) But I do hammer away at a scene that is not working until I’m happy with it. Sometimes I get really confused – then I’ll walk away from a scene and fix it later when I don’t feel like throwing lamps against walls and screaming.

  11. In our group, we tend to be very clear about the kind of feedback we’re looking for. Since this is still an early draft, I wanted to see if the voice felt authentic. Since I only showed the first two chapters, I also wanted to see if the readers were hooked, and if they liked the main character. I am happy to report the answer was “yes” on all counts. The really careful readers pointed out a couple of rough spots. I’ll hold on to their comments until I revisit the chapters.

    I won’t rework these chapters until this entire draft is done. I’ve already plowed through the first draft, so I know where I’m going. This draft is fleshing out each scene and making sure the character motivations are in place, and balancing interior monologues with dialog. I don’t keep the different versions of every scene. (The BBQ scene alone would already have 15 versions already!) But I do hammer away at a scene that is not working until I’m happy with it. Sometimes I get really confused – then I’ll walk away from a scene and fix it later when I don’t feel like throwing lamps against walls and screaming.

  12. Thank you for such a gracious response. Knowing the dynamic of someone’s process affirms the idea that we all go about writing in our own way. Because this is my first time around with a novel, it’s especially valuable to read how a mentor writer wraps herself around her piece. I appreciate your mentor-ship, your insight and your time.

  13. Thank you for such a gracious response. Knowing the dynamic of someone’s process affirms the idea that we all go about writing in our own way. Because this is my first time around with a novel, it’s especially valuable to read how a mentor writer wraps herself around her piece. I appreciate your mentor-ship, your insight and your time.

  14. hi

    hi its my first time reading one of your books and i actually enjoyed it that im doing a project on it for my honors english class

  15. hi

    hi its my first time reading one of your books and i actually enjoyed it that im doing a project on it for my honors english class

  16. hi

    hi its my first time reading one of your books and i actually enjoyed it that im doing a project on it for my honors english class

  17. Mentor? Yikes. Wow…. thank you.

    Something else to think about: just as every author must find her own way to unfold a story, each story unfolds in its own way. Be patient with the process and follow your gut.

    Good luck!

  18. Mentor? Yikes. Wow…. thank you.

    Something else to think about: just as every author must find her own way to unfold a story, each story unfolds in its own way. Be patient with the process and follow your gut.

    Good luck!

  19. The Neverending Thread

    Yes, mentor. “How to” books don’t work for me (I did love Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird, though). I consider writers like yourself, Harper Lee, Langston Hughes, Joan Bauer, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Berg, Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye the true “professors” of craft. Y’all manage to weave story, poignancy and poetry into your work which, to me, is role modeling the essence of writing. I don’t try to emulate style, it’s just that reading work that is authentic, humorous and human inspires me to write from a deeper place.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. It is so incredibly helpful to know that each story, scene and word emerge from their own golden yolk. Your response(s) to my questions help me to understand that mutations are expected and that I need to push through scenes instead of allowing myself to get snagged. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’m listening and learning.

    Wow, you’re sort of like my Yoda.

    Grateful.

    (Regarding your most recent post about your BH going deaf one day…I’m sure you can find an ear horn on eBay.)

  20. The Neverending Thread

    Yes, mentor. “How to” books don’t work for me (I did love Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird, though). I consider writers like yourself, Harper Lee, Langston Hughes, Joan Bauer, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Berg, Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye the true “professors” of craft. Y’all manage to weave story, poignancy and poetry into your work which, to me, is role modeling the essence of writing. I don’t try to emulate style, it’s just that reading work that is authentic, humorous and human inspires me to write from a deeper place.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. It is so incredibly helpful to know that each story, scene and word emerge from their own golden yolk. Your response(s) to my questions help me to understand that mutations are expected and that I need to push through scenes instead of allowing myself to get snagged. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’m listening and learning.

    Wow, you’re sort of like my Yoda.

    Grateful.

    (Regarding your most recent post about your BH going deaf one day…I’m sure you can find an ear horn on eBay.)

Comments are closed.