One Month and Counting!!!!!!! (and more W&PQ)

Let the countdown begin!

WINTERGIRLS goes on sale one month from today!!! In a month, I’ll be on my way to the airport to catch a flight out to California for the beginning of the book tour.

The spring will be almost as much of a travel blur as last fall was.

Laurie’s Totally Excellent Spring & Summer Roadtrips:
1. Book Tour
2. Visit to Lima, Peru
3. Los Angeles Times Book Festival
4. College graduation of Daughter #3 (YAY!!! ::throws confetti and dances::)
5. International Reading Association conference
6. American Library Association conference

The good news is that I won’t be on the road for such long stretches this time. Being able to come home to my husband keeps me sane, even if it’s only for a couple of days.

Oh, and I’m going to New York City in a few days for some interviews and meetings. I have no clue what to wear. I always feel like a hick when I go to the Big Apple. Probably because I am a hick. Hicks are the new geeks, don’t you know.

My wardrobe issues would all be solved if the rest of the world would join me in my version of sartorial splendor: flannel shirt and jeans, pony tail and sunscreen. What more does a girl need?

I can’t believe there is only a month left until the book is out! My stomach is jumpy and nervous and excited and freaking out just a bit.

Gah. That last sentence didn’t make much sense, did it?

You wrote: what’s it like when on tour, for your writing? Do you have much time/energy left for writing, do you make yourself work on a particular project, or is it only if a deadline’s edging close for a contracted project that you would write while on tour? (It sounds like you need to get this one done before the tour – which suggests you don’t have much time for writing at all – is that frustrating or are you kept too busy to notice that much?)

I do not know what book tours are like for other authors, so my answer only pertains to me.

I ADORE going on book tour. It’s fun and rewarding. I also really, really appreciate the fact that my publisher is willing to spend money putting me on the road, and that booksellers are willing to go to all the trouble and preparations required to set up my visits to their stores and the schools they work with. Because I value what these folks are doing for me so highly, my time and energy while on tour is fully at their disposal.

What does this mean? It means there are days when I have to wake up at 3:30 am, catch a flight to the next city, spend all day signing books and visiting schools and stores, grab veggie wraps from Subway for lunch and dinner, do an evening library presentation and fall into another hotel bed at about 10 pm. Even a relaxed day will start at 9 am and not stop until 9 or 10pm.

But like I said: I love this!! It is energizing to meet readers and I am always honored when people take the time to come out to a bookstore to see me.

The down side? Well, I get sick of the veggie wraps. I rarely have enough time to exercise. And it is very challenging to squeeze in writing time. I try. Usually I can steal half an hour or so while waiting for a plane. And flying time is a wonderful place to jot down ideas, or let my mind drift to new projects. The publicists try to schedule in the occasional day that has some down time – that’s always nice – so there are a few extra hours on days like that for the writing. However it’s impossible to get consistent blocks of time from day to day.

But I must admit, it’s a pretty sweet problem to have, so I’m not whining. I am incredibly fortunate and blessed to have the chance to go on book tour.

Scribblescribblescribble…

CHAINS extras and genre-bending questions

My author copies of CHAINS arrived! Opening that box is sort of like being handed your new baby in the hospital. All you can do is gasp and coo and babble.

Of course, now I have to keep my very ill Chapter 15, she of the dripping nose and viral motivation infection, from infecting the new baby…

Theo the WebGod has been hard at work getting the website ready for the new arrival. Check out his handiwork by clicking on CHAINS. What do you think of the Teacher’s Guide and Bibliography?

A few more questions about genre-bending trickled in.

What’s your take on writers using different names for different genres?

I think it makes sense sometimes, especially if the author can develop a strong following under each name. I have a book idea that is very much removed from what I’ve done before, and there’s a chance I’d publish it under a different name, but I listen closely to what my agent and publishers had to say first.

Do you go through an agent for both publishers? The same agent? When pitching differently genred stories to an agent, will they facilitate dealing with two different publishers for one client?

I published my first seven books without an agent (including SPEAK and FEVER 1793). My agent is very happy to represent all of my work; she’s in it to help me build my career and she does a great job.

How does one decide which direction to go (especially if there are many interests)?

Write down all of your stories ideas on little slips of paper (one sentence per idea per slip of paper). Put all of the strips of paper in a bowl and mix them up. Do not look at them for a week. Then sit down with a piece of paper and pencil. As you pull out the story ideas, rate them 1 – 10 on a scale of how excited you feel when you consider the idea. Write the idea that excites you the most. And it should excite you because the writing sounds fun, not because you think it will be the next Harry Potter. You can’t control the market’s reaction, you can only control the writing.

Other questions?

Majoring in Creative Writing and other questions

Readers questions are pouring in!

Many folks are asking about one of my responses to Katrina’s questions earlier in the week about majoring in Creative Writing in college.

I wrote: Don’t major in Creative Writing, but take some of the classes if the professor has a good reputation with the other students.

This made some people – those majoring in Creative Writing – nervous. So I expanded on my opinion:

My concern is that too many colleges give students the impression that a degree in Creative Writing will nearly guarantee them a lifetime of publishing contracts and a life of ease.

It does not work that way.

If you are fortunate enough to have great professors, your chances of developing your writing skills to the point where you could be published are increased, there’s no doubt about that. But there are a lot of terrible creative writing professors out there. Lately, I’ve talked to several 20-somethings who are bitter and disillusioned because the degree has not translated into anything but rejection letters.

So if it makes you happy, go for it. But do so with your eyes open.

I’d like to add something else to all the high school students out there who want to become authors. I think the single most important thing you can do for your writing career is to spend time living in a different country. Take a gap year and volunteer your services abroad. Or just travel and talk to people. And then come home. You need to get away from the world in which you were raised in order to gain some perspective on your experiences there. Your writing will be stronger and more interesting once you gain that perspective. IMHO.

Were any of you Creative Writing majors? What’s your opinion about this?

On MySpace, a reader asks: “Are you sure you didn’t write symbolism and themes into your books? Because My english teacher seemed pretty hung up on the fact that I could read Speak three times in two weeks without finding some deep, hidden meaning. In fact, I had to write Not one, but two essays about it.
Well, I know I really Love your books.
I don’t search for deeper meanings, becase frankly, I like the Message at the very top.
Can I print Out your myspace and Give it to my English I teacher?”

By teaching you about the uses of symbolism in literature, your teacher is giving you a couple of extra tools that can make reading more fun. I think the symbolism that is important is the symbolism a reader finds in the story. It doesn’t matter what the author tried to stick in there. I’m sorry that the essay writing was painful, but I’m glad you liked the book.

K saw the SPEAK movie on Lifetime this weekend and wrote: “All I really have to say is… you’re my freakin hero! Well, not really… but that’s my way of saying I enjoy the small taste of your work that I have sampled. I’ve honestly never heard of you or your books before, but Speak came on the TV just now and is probably about halfway through and I love it.

It’s everything I think but can never say… Because… people just don’t get it. It’s good to know I’m not the only one with a bitter, sarcastic, cynical look at society’s stupid unwritten rules of communication.

So I haven’t read your book, so I don’t know if these quotes are in there, but they are in the movie and are awesome.

“All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings… is a lie. No one really cares what you have to say.”

“Why couldn’t he just say what he meant? Would they pin a scarlet letter to his chest? ‘S’ for Straightforward?”

“Once you get through this “life sucks” phase, I’m sure lots of people will wanna be your friend. But for right now, I don’t think we should have lunch together.”

That’s enough, I guess. You wrote the book, you know what you said, you get the point.

You don’t have to answer me back. You’re busy. That’s cool. But I pretty much had to tell you I love Speak.”

I’ve had some great letters about TWISTED recently – I think I’ll share them tomorrow.

In closing, many congratulations and all the respect in the world to the Lady Vols of Tennessee and Coach Pat Summitt (whom I adore) for winning the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship last night.

in the middle of the night…

I woke up at 3:30 this morning thinking about the chapter I’m revising. I took this as A Sign. When the Muse kicks you in the rear end in the middle of the night, you might as well get out of bed. I’m glad I did because this is turning out to be a scribblecious day.

I am fascinated by the excellent questions that poured into the Comments section yesterday. I will answer them when I know this draft is going to make it in under the wire, aka next week.

What other writing process questions do you want me to answer?

Finally, because I made such a fuss about the terribly written demand for help from a student in November, I think it’s only fair to post an email that came in last night. This one is a wonderful example of how you can get an author to write back with the information you need. Teachers, feel free to share this!

S., who is my favorite 8th grader in the world because of this letter, wrote:
Dear Mrs. Anderson,
I am an eighth grade student and am doing a 30 page report about you
and three of your books( Speak, Catalyst, Prom). I have gathered
information from numerous sources but I seem to be needing more,
thats at least what my teacher said. In your interviews with
teenreads and St. Petersburg, I managed to acquire some weird
information, aka what clique you were in in high school. If you know
of a good website or have any information that might not be out
there )like what kind of writing you do, and what you are working on
now…..) that would be greatly appreciated. I think your books are
amazing and so touching. My favorite one is Speak, when i read the
book, i felt her pain. thank you so much for being such an amazing
author!

THAT is how it’s done, my friends. (For the record, I wrote her back and suggested she use the Tags on my LiveJournal as an index. It’s the fastest way to come up to speed on what I’m doing.)

A round of applause, please, for S!

As the tummy turns

I feel much better today, but am still hovering on the edge of the crud. (note – I originally misspelled that as “xrud.” I think it works better that way.) BH has had it worse than me. I think another 24 hours of solitude and we’ll be all set.

I am feeling just xruddy enough that I have even less focus than usual. So this will be a random and disjointed entry.

Angela wrote to me on my Facebook: What do you think of the new AmazonKindle and the virtual road down which books have now turned? Do you think this is really the end of the printed word, like so many techies do? … cannot imagine not having an actual “book” in my hand to read…. Troubling, I feel. Your insights would be much appreciated.”

I think that Amazon should give me a Kindle so I can really explore this. They gave one to Neil Gaiman, but then they took it back. That was rather ungrateful of them.

Will Kindle-like devices take the place of paper-based books? Yep, I believe they will. But do not rend your garments or gnash your teeth. The concept of Story isn’t going anywhere. It is encoded into our DNA. It’s just that when technology changes, the vehicle for Story changes and that makes some folks uncomfortable for a while. And then we adjust. I suspect that the need to preserve forests combined with a generation of computer-friendly kids will make paper-based books into historical artifacts. If it helps bring the planet back into balance, I’m all for it.

A note from a Hungarian reader living in Malaysia came in the other day. Yeah, that’s what I said. A Hungarian reader in Malaysia. How cool is that? She read SPEAK and was finishing up PROM for her English 10 class. She wrote ” I loved Prom, too, though for entirely different reasons. To me, it shed some light onto the lives of “ordinary, everyday” teen-life in Philadelphia. You wouldn’t believe the ‘bubble’ I’m coming from! :)”

Congratulations to the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country team for winning Nationals for the second year in a row!!!

Middle school teachers – you want to read this review of Teri Lesesne’s new book, ” Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers”.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic SPEAK at Nottingham was fabulous.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic In large part, because the director, Ginny Fennessy, and the cast and crew put so much energy into it. Thank you!

NB: A number of teachers have written asking for information about putting on SPEAK at their schools. Steve Braddock, the playwright, and my publisher will be working out the details of this soon. I expect to post information about how to obtain the proper rights and scripts by the end of January.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Last, but not least, The Creature With Fangs (who now has an album on my Facebook and her own Dogbook account – sigh) completely killed the toy Meredith bought her at Thanksgiving.

The CWF hates to chew hard things, even though she has great teeth. Fangs. She loves to chew soft things. Problem – soft things are easily destroyed. Does anyone know about an indestructible soft chew toy for large beasts?