NCTE early report

This is Day 2, no, Day 3, right? where is the coffee??

The trip down to New York started with a surprise: Amtrak was on time – AND – it stayed on schedule!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I set up a little office for myself in my seat and worked for six hours in utter peace. If I were rich, I might just ride the train all over the country and write.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Dinner Thursday was with a group of teachers from Florida, including Professor Joan Kaywell whose book Dear Author: Letters of Hope continues to get rave reviews. I got to meet this wonderful family at dinner: from the left, (grandma) Barbara, (daughter) Bree, and (mom) Tamara who is the Florida English Teacher of the Year.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It’s nice to see an actual teenager at these things.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicRobert Lipsyte and Neal Shusterman were also at dinner.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicYesterday started with a great walk down 9th Avenue to the Javits Center for the panel on YA fiction and Sexuality, chaired by She Who Knows Most Everything, Teri Lesesne, aka

Image and video hosting by TinyPic We spoke to a huge crowd.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It was standing room only. We could have talked all morning. Thank you everyone for the great questions and for sharing your stories about using our books in the classroom.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Highlight of the day for me was finally meeting Rita Williams-Garcia!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic When I wasn’t signing books, I was stalking other authors, like Scott Westerfeld.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And Avi.

I have more to tell, but it’s time to head back to the convention. More later!


Whew! NCTE has been insanely wonderful and busy. I’m taking pictures, I’m taking notes, and I will try to post tomorrow.

Right now I need to sleep.

For your reading pleasure

It’s time to close tabs, back up the hard drive, and get ready for the train. I don’t want to leave you stranded so here are some reading noshes.

Jen Robinson’s Book Page (excellent, excellent resource) is now sending out a Growing Bookworms email Newsletter. It is very easy to read – you should probably subscribe to it.

Two great announcements via Cynthia Leitich Smith:
1. The Brown Bookshelf showcases the “best and brightest in African-American Children’s Literature, with a special emphasis on new authors and books that are “flying under the radar.”” Be sure to check out their wonderful blog and their 28 Days Later project. I don’t do this very often, but I bookmarked the blog for my daily reading.

2. The Texas Library Associations YA Tayshas List is out.

It sure sounds like Christopher Hitchens made last night’s NBA readings more interesting than usual. And Sherman Alexie was the voice of reason. (scroll down a bit to find the conflict.)

Oh, duh. It’s Children’s Book Week. (I am glad they are moving it to May!)

And this in from our Plains reporter, Aunt Barb: Oklahoma celebrates its centennial on Friday. Happy Birthday!

My NCTE & ALAN schedule

I am packing again – this time for a trip to New York City for the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. These are the conferences organized and attended by the best of the best English/Language Arts/Literature/Reading teachers *** in the country. They are the smart ones – the passionate ones, the ones who get to school early and stay wicked late to help their students. I love them.

*** note: some of the best of the best can’t make it to this critically important professional development conference because their school districts won’t pay for it. Some folks pay out-of-pocket (on a teacher’s salary!) because that’s how important this conference is.

Will any of youse guys be there? Here is where you will find me:

Thursday, November 15th
Spending the day in comfort riding the train and writing instead of suffering the hassles of the airport.

Dinner with a group of teachers.

Friday, November 16th
9:30–10:45 a.m. Panel: “Adolescent Literacy at the Crossroads: Redefining Sex and Sexuality in YA Fiction”. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue) | Room TBA

This panel has a YA killer line-up: me, Brent Hartinger, E. Lockhart, Laura Ruby, Tanya Lee Stone & Lara Zeises, and will be chaired by She Who Knows Most Everything, Teri Lesesne. You really, really, really want to come to this one. I imagine the conversation will continue in the hall long after the session is over.

2:00–3:00 p.m. Book signing at Penguin Young Readers Group, Booth #202, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue) | Hall C, Level 1

3:00–4:00 p.m. Book signing at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Booth #442, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue) | Hall C, Level 1

Dinner with a group of teachers.

Saturday, November 17th
9:00–10:00 a.m. Book signing at Anderson’s Bookshop, Booth #479, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue) | Hall C, Level 1

10:00–11:30 a.m. Book signing at PermaBound, Booth #357, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue) | Hall C, Level 1

12:30–2:15 p.m. Books for Children Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, 1535 Broadway | Westside Ballroom Salon ½. Andrea & Brian Pinkney will be speaking – this should be awesome.

Afternoon – I might hang at the convention or I might run in Central Park (if the weather is decent). Anybody want to join me? I’ll run 6-7 miles, probably at a 10-minute mile pace. You are welcome to join me for some or all of it. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments section and I’ll get more details to you.

Evening – I need to write.

Sunday, November 18th
Daytime – holed up in hotel, writing. Might sneak out to attend a few sessions. We’ll see.

6:00–7:30 p.m. ALAN Reception, Marriott Marquis Times Square , 1535 Broadway (at 45th Street) | Astor Ballroom, 7th Floor – I think I am going to wear my new shoes, so I will be the one limping.

Dinner with my publishers.

Monday, November 19th

Breakfast with my agent.

Daytime – hanging out at ALAN and meeting with an editor

Evening – a party and dinner

Tuesday, November 20th
10:30–11:05 a.m. ALAN Program: “Brown-Bagging It with Mattie and Hank: What does Testing have to do with lunch?” Marriott Marquis Times Square, 1535 Broadway | West Side Ballroom, Salon 1, 5th Floor

This should be really interesting. Professor Denise Ousley will demonstrate a fascinating classroom technique – giving students brown paper bags that are filled with objects that relate to a historical novel, and allowing students to respond to the objects. L.M. Elliott will talk about how this technique works with her book, UNDER A WAR-TORN SKY. I will be talking about it in relation to FEVER 1793. I’ll also be talking about the research for my new historical CHAINS (it will be published September, 2008). Please join us!

11:15–11:45 a.m. “Silent book” signing (as other authors will still be speaking) Marriot Marquis Times Square, 1535 Broadway | Room TK

Afternoon – fight the mid-town crowds trying to escape the city for Thanksgiving. If the Turkey God smiles on me, I will make my train and I will get a seat and I will trundle on home where our brood and all of their beloveds and the dog and my husband, who is the bestest Thanksgiving cook ever, will be waiting.

SPEAK on stage at Fayetteville-Manlius

Last night was pretty much an out-of-body experience.

Anyone who reads my books knows that I struggled in high school, for a lot of different reasons. The bad news is that I was a depressed kid for a long time. The good news is that I did not die or do anything permanently stupid. I grew up, dealt with stuff, and became an extremely happy writer with an acute sensitivity for teens who are struggling with all manner of pain, stress, pressure, and sadness.

But last night I had to go back to my high school. The place I had worked so hard to get out of.

It still smells the same.

Three steps into the lobby and I started breaking out in hives. I wanted to bolt, but my Beloved Husband made me promise not to, plus I was curious about how the actors, crew, and playwright had interpreted SPEAK. I dug my fingernails into my palm and sat down in the auditorium where I had spent so many miserable hours. I focused on not hyperventilating.

And the kids saved me. Totally saved me, grabbed my heart, cradled it and made me proud to be connected to them. Thank you, thank you, thank you: Fiona Cunningham for taking the biggest risk of all and becoming Melinda for a while, Tyler Baird, who is Andy Evans only on stage, Chloe Tiso (Heather), Stephanie Jacobs (Rachel), Kate Bonsted (Ivy), and Ross Berman (David), along with all of the other actors and hardworking crew who rocked that stage. Thank you Regan Horacek for the fabulous poster, Steve Braddock for another tremendous job bringing one of my books to life on stage, drama teacher and director Scott Austin for making magic happen, and John Czajkowski for a brilliant set and lighting scheme.

(You can watch interviews with some of the cast from this Channel 10 Page.)

As if that wasn’t enough, Vera House was set up in the lobby to educate people about their powerful Clothesline Project for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Perfect.

One of the privileges of being the author upon whose book a play is based is that you get to go backstage after the show…

Image and video hosting by TinyPic …and talk to the cast and crew.

More backstage paparazzi action!