Not my favorite thing

I am preparing my taxes for my accountant.

I am mathematically-challenged. This is a root canal without anesthesia.

Tax season is when being self-employed and having to find all the receipts and add everything up in neat columns of numbers that do not change when you double-check them suddenly seems like a very silly idea.

I’ll post the last Chattanooga pics and return to a state of cheerfulness when I’m finished.

Chooing in Chattanooga

I have to admit, I was ignorant. I had no idea Chattanooga was so lovely and filled with exciting things and sweet people. This place needs to go on the Roadtrip Vacation List!

Yesterday I talked to students at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and Tyner High. (Yes, yes, I know I am technically on hiatus from school visits, but this trip were arranged through the A Tale for One City program, so it’s different.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Do they look like Monday morning, or what? They were actually much more lively than this picture looks. It was really nice to hang out with kids again. (Special thanks to the kids who came over from Howard!)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CSAS is in a historic building and some of the lockers are wooden. Gives the expression “old school” new meaning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic After CSAS, my wonderful host, Fran Bender, took me to the Art District for lunch at a coffee shop and quick walk through the museum neighborhood. Then it was on to Tyner.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The students at Tyner were some of the friendliest I have ever had the good fortune to run across.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Some of the guys instantly freeze into GQ cover model positions whenever they feel a camera on them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The girl on the left wins the “most thoughtful and insightful questions of the decade” award.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Thank you everyone for making the day so much fun!!

Long day today – more schools and my public presentation tonight.

I leave you with John Scalzi’s article about the financial realities of the writing life, not to discourage any of you from becoming writers, but so you know what you’re getting into. If you are seriously contemplating writing as a career, you owe it to yourself to read the entire article. Thank you, Stef, for the link.

Finally, thank you, for the heads-up about the extremely nice review of TWISTED in the Drew University Campus newspaper, The Acorn.

Oh – one last thing. Dinner last night? Shrimp and grits. Heaven – just heaven.

My coffee cup runneth over

I live a charmed life. There is no doubt.

In the last 48 hours, friends of mine in the publishing world, in education, fellow writers, relatives, high school buddies, readers, and students getting by on ramen noodles have contributed a total of $1,100 to our race effort!!! That means we are already more than 20% of the way to our goal of $5,000!

I am stunned and humbled.

I got a little teary-eyed yesterday as I read through emails from people who have lost dearly loved parents, siblings, and children to cancer. It feels like everyone is touched by this and reminded me again why our effort is important.

Thank you all very, very much. If you haven’t donated yet, please go to the Laurie Halse Anderson Team Website and contribute. If you want to support the guy-side of this effort, go to my husband’s site and give money there. The totally awesome Nancy Werlin donated to Scot, so if you give on his side of the ledger, you’ll be in extremely good company.

If you can’t afford to donate (I totally understand – been there and have the tee-shirt), please help out by blogging about our cause and bugging your friends who have so much money they can afford to blow three dollars on a cup of coffee. You know who I’m talking about.

(For the record, we ran at the gym yesterday. BH ran 5 miles. I only ran 3 because my knee was a little squeaky.)

Along with the fundraising email, yesterday marked the official beginning to The Busy Season. This Spring I am traveling to Chattanooga, TN (they’re reading SPEAK for One City/One Book), Springfield, IL (Illinois Reading Council), Nashua, NH (SCBWI New England), and San Jose, CA for writing workshops.

In addition, I have a new picture book coming out in June that has such a gorgeous cover I can’t wait any longer to show you.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What do you think? (I’ll be giving more info about the content of the book and some sneak pictures of the inside soon.) I’ve been working on this project for a veeeeeeeeery long time. It’s hard to believe it’s actually coming out.

Dang!! I was jumping up and down so hard I spilled the coffee again.

I have miles to go before I sleep tonight: chapters to revise, a gazillion emails, and new material I have to generate for the website. Thanks again for a great kick-off to the race in June. Please wish me luck with the Revision Race of February.

edited to add Today is Langston Hughes’ birthday, one of my favorite poets and guiding lights.

Lake Placid Half-Marathon countdown: 136 days

An award list to dance to & how running helps my writing

Thank you, thank you American Library Association committee members!!!!

I am very proud that TWISTED made both the 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and the 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers lists!!!!

This feels awesome. Excuse me while I take a moment to bask.

Ahhh. So, so sweet.

OK, back to work. I have spent the day rewriting Chapter 19, because the same thing happened to that chapter as happened to 17 on Sunday. But it’s all good.

nudged me about answering a question she posted to my Facebook a while back. She wrote: Do you think that running/excersize helps your creativity/creative process?

(Truth in blogging disclosure: I just finished a carb-heavy lunch and am staring at my clothes that are laid out for this afternoon’s long run. It promises to be a chilly one.)

Does my running help my writing? Yes. Absolutely. No doubt. Ja. Si. Absolutement.

If I ever write a book about writing (do you think I should do that, BTW??), it will contain long passages about how moving your body fires up your imagination. For now, here are my top five reasons why my running helps my writing:

1. Running makes me happy, thus, it is a very good reward and incentive to do my work.

2. When I write, I am a) sitting still and b) dangerously close to my kitchen. If I didn’t exercise regularly (and trust me, there have been times in my life when I didn’t) I eat more than my body needs. This slows down my brain and expands my rear end.

3. Running is a meditative exercise – it helps me process my stress in a healthy way.

4. My travel schedule is often grueling. Running (and weight lifting, which I don’t talk about much, but I do, too) keeps me physically stronger and better able to fight off the germs that try to attack unsuspecting travelers.

5. Running has helped me develop mental discipline, which allows me to stay immersed in my stories longer. I have several writing/running mantras that I repeat in my head when I am tempted to stop writing or hit the Stop button on the treadmill.

6. Yes, this is a bonus reason. The human body was designed to move. If we want our minds and spirits to produce their best, we have to help our bodies be the best they can be, too. It’s all connected.

(Thank you for the nudge, )

Now, I have three more pages and a long stretch of road ahead of me.

Inspiration, revision truths, and silliness

This is a revision weekend. I’m actually excited about it, though I am feeling a little confused about a scene that I know should be in the book, but since I changed some things, I cannot figure out where to put it. Paging the Muse, paging the Muse, clean up in aisle three…

I had a reader question come into my Facebook. Kendall wrote: “… where (in general) do you get your inspiration and ideas for different books?”

I probably come across at least one idea that could become a novel every day. Generally, it’s a person trapped in an interesting situation, or facing a conflict that forces him/her to change and grow. This idea will pop into my head out of nowhere, or I stumble across them because of something I’m reading, some fragment of dialog I overhear, a scene I witness at an airport or the grocery store. I start to ponder: “what if….”

But not all ideas about books are robust enough to become books. Along with the initial conflict, I have to dream up a character with a rich interior life, well-defined background, and memorable secondary characters. And then I throw in setting. And then I throw in subtext; exterior image systems that reflect the character’s inner journey. And then I revise eight or eleven times and I have a breakdown or two and I pull out all my hair and I have a book.

Do you dream of writing a novel and having it published and living the life of an author? Read “My Book Deal Ruined My Life” and tell me what you think.

Nobel Prize winner (literature) Doris Lessing has a MySpace.

What if the Nobel in Literature were awarded in an alternate universe?