Year’s End in the Forest

Things have been a-hopping in the Forest for the past week as we’ve been enjoying all kinds of family gatherings and celebrations.

We hung eleven stockings by the chimney with care (including one for each dog). No, the chickens did not get stockings. However I decorated their coop with big red bows and made sure that they had lots of yummy chicken treats. They rewarded us with eggs that made the most spectacular eggnog ever tasted in the North Country!





Queen Louise and I enjoyed our traditional screening of Elf.








My Beloved Husband did not exactly “enjoy” the movie. He tolerated it. More or less. Actually, less. He is a bit of a Scrooge about my favorite film. It’s the South Pole elf in him. But he was extremely festive about everything else, so we forgive him.






One of my favorite things this season was making a gingerbread house. Then I realized that the house standing alone looked lonely so I made a band of merry elves from gingerbread and marzipan.


(Gingerbread house recipe was courtesy of Martha Stewart.)






Here’s a close-up of the elves building a fire (foreground) whilst another skates on the pond behind them. If I ever stop writing, I may become a full-time elf creator.







I’m not sure how much blogging will happen between now and 2011, so please allow me to convey our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a healthy and happy New Year.

Peace, my friends!!


You know what we sing on this day in the Forest, dear friends….

::cues Ringo on drums, John on the guitar::



Yep. LOTS of candles on this one; too many to count. Guess this means I should be getting smarter any day now, right?

I am the birthday girl on the right; turning two years old and looking a bit wary about the idea. The cutie pie on the left is my cousin, Barrie Lyn, and that’s my suave Dad in the background.

I share my natal anniversary with a number of friends and authors and some friends-who-are-authors: Gordon Korman, Alex Flinn, Michael Crichton, Augusten Burroughs, Pele, Ang Lee, and the ever-adorable, Weird Al Yankovic.

Today is also Mole Day, which has to do with chemistry, not small critters who dig tunnels. And it is the beginning of the time of Scorpio (though some folks point to tomorrow and call today the "cusp.").

My plans for the day include writing, a long run, familyness, and pumpkin pie. (I am not terribly fond of cake.)

I know you’ve been so busy you haven’t had a chance to run out and get me anything. My birthday wish is simple and so inexpensive it is free.



1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.


When great things happen to great writers who are also my friends


The National Book Award Finalists have been announced. The finalists in the Young People’s Literature category are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
(Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)

I am super, super excited about this list for a bunch of reasons.

First, Deb Heiligman is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I am so happy about the attention CHARLES AND EMMA has received I am in tears, when I am not dancing. YAY DEB!!!!!!!!!!!

Second, it’s about time Rita Williams-Garcia got some more attention for her work!

Third, I think it is wonderful to have three non-fiction books on this list!

I do have a question. Was David Small’s book (which I bought and LOVE) published as children’s literature or was it published as an adult title by Norton? Why do I care? Because if it was David’s intent to have this book seen as an adult title (which I certainly think it qualifies as) I wonder if this award might narrow the market, or make booksellers and librarians think it should only be shelved in the children’s section.

Personally, I think it is an excellent example of a cross-over title. Do you think it matters if it is an adult book crossing into the children’s market or a children’s book crossing into the adult section?

What do you think of this list?

Halfway through the garden

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter the past week, you’ve noticed I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in the garden. What’s up with that?

It’s my therapy.

After the insane amount of travel the past six months, my brain is fried and my soul is tattered. There was no earthly way I could dive back into writing. Many people take vacations when they get burnt out. Packing my suitcase to go away again was the LAST thing I wanted to do. So I pulled on my pink rubber boots, grabbed the shovel, and headed for the back yard.

The first order of business was the flower beds. Last year, they were home to both flowers and veggies, but this year all the beds we can see from the house are flower-based. (The beds we can’t see from the house get a little more sun, that’s why. And we have a short growing season, so we have to take advantage of whatever sun we get.)

It took about a week to get all the plants and seeds in. Our land is on top of a hill that is mostly glacial till. This means a large part of gardening means extracting large rocks and filling in the hole with imported dirt and/or homemade compost.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of a boulder that was two feet tall and big enough around for me to just be able to get my arms around. Thankfully, it had the good grace to split into 5 manageable pieces when I finally removed all the surrounding dirt and smaller boulders. The extraction took two hours. My back is a little sore, but it was worth it!

This week I’ll be catching up on more correspondence and beginning to shift my brain back into writing mode. And – most importantly – I’ll be whipping the vegetable beds into shape. I am fretting because I am very late getting my peas in – that will be the first order of business.

A few book notes.

WINTERGIRLS made The New York Times Editor’s Choice List. As did CHARLES AND EMMA, by my friend Deb Heiligman.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Last Friday, we enjoyed the very last event on the WINTERGIRLS tour, at River’s End Bookshop in Oswego, NY. More than 100 people came out; one guy drove up from Philly, others came from Potsdam, Rochester, and Rome (NY, not Italy). It was a blast. Thankfully, the fire marshal did not stop in to count heads.

And finally, what do you think of The Happiness Project? Is it a load of manure or something worthwhile, useful, and life-altering?