To do list

All this public speaking is fraying my mind around the edges. I am an introvert when I’m not holding a microphone. (Do not hand me a microphone. Please.) Pretending to be an extrovert is taking a toll. I find myself making bizarre lists.

So here is my weird list of things to do. I came up with it while eating leftover goulash for dinner.

1. Enter a bass fishing contest.
2. Visit Iceland in the summer.
3. Grow my own popcorn.
4. Create weird artsy-fartsy tile masterpieces on random walls of our house.
5. Visit Iceland in the winter.

Once I shut up for a month or two, I might return to my senses.

Or not.

What weird thing is on your to-do list?

Good-bye, Wisconsin

Yes, this post is 36 hours late, but when I finally got home at 12:30am Saturday, I couldn’t remember how to speak English, much less find the energy to post.

My Beloved Husband came down to cook for me and make me tea because he is the most awesome man on the planet. Mostly, we spent the weekend snoozing and fretting about my parents. They are elderly and my dad got very sick last weekend (extra bad because so far he has been the “healthy” one). We had planned on moving them from Florida to Oswego, NY in September so we could take care of them. Now we have to make it happen fast. I am about to get a crash course lesson in Medicare, Supplemental Insurance, assisted living facilities, etc. etc. etc.

Does anyone out there have experience with emphysema patients who need oxygen 24/7 flying on commercial airlines?

Here is a related piece of advice: don’t smoke. Don’t smoke. Just…. don’t, OK? My mom is dying an inch at a time because she sucked down all that nicotine and tar. It’s a hideous, scary way to go.

On to cheerier subjects.

Had a really good time at New London High School, my last WI stop.

This is their mascot: Image hosted by a giant bulldog.

The winner of the Toughest Binder of the Year Award. Image hosted by

This is the first PROM school project I’ve seen!! (Yes, I find this exciting.) Image hosted by

I’m speaking at Council Rock South High School tomorrow, Council Rock North on Tuesday, West Broad Elementary on Wednesday and Lenape Middle School on Thursday. (These are all near my house, which means I get to sleep in my own bed every night and see Meredith!)

Friday I drive down to the Frostburg State University Children’s Literature Conference.

I am a few weeks away from getting back to writing. I can’t wait!!! *salivates*

Appleton, Day 3

Short entry because my ride is picking me up at 6:15 tomorrow and I’m beat.

Image hosted by Had sooo much fun with the students at West. Image hosted by Best audience I’ve had in a long time. Image hosted by

This whole week has been wonderful, but to be honest, my eyes are not focussing right now. Feels like one of those nights when I’m going to fall asleep with my face on the keyboard.

One last photo before I go.

Image hosted by Both of these signs – on the piano – warn the world not to put anything on the piano.

I was amused.

Appleton, Day 2

Life continues swimmingly here in Appleton, Wisconsin. More hanging out with great kids and librarians (and very cool principals which is always a welcome surprise). More conversations about books and life and teens and culture and what is important. I took the Best Nap of the Century during my break and woke up feeling ready to take on the world.

Here are some things that amuse/intrigue me about this part of the country:
Human-scale living: most of the buildings downtown are only two or three stories tall. People smile at each other. Are these facts connected?
Great town names; stuff you say over and over again like incantations: Oshkosh, Neenah, Kaukauna, Menasha.
Extremely good hot wings served in the restaurant at my hotel.
Harry Houdini grew up here. (I have a bizarre fascination with him. Someone remind me to riff on that in a couple weeks.)
So did Edna Ferber.
They make paper here. Not so good for rivers. Very good for authors and readers.
The slightly Scandinavian accent around “o” vowels as pronounced by people who have lived here their whole lives.

Image hosted by Favorite image du jour. This is the popcorn machine that magically appears in the Madison Middle School staff room every Wednesday (Hump Day) to give teachers the extra boost they need to get through the rest of the week. I want a machine like this to magically appear at my apartment every Wednesday!!! It made Very Good popcorn. (Yes, I whined until they gave me some.)

Image hosted by Here are the some of the folks who came out to the Appleton Public Library tonight. Thanks!

Thursday morning at 9:15 I’ll be speaking at the Neenah Public Library. The rest of the day I’ll be at Appleton West High School. Tomorrow night from 7-8:45 pm I’ll be back at the Neenah Public Library. Friday I head to New London (not too far from here) and on Friday night – if the weather cooperates – I head back to PA.

In Awe of Appleton

Now I have a better fix on what they’ve been doing here.


The community of Appleton, WI has set the gold standard for a “one book, one community” program. As I learn more and more about it, I am absolutely flabbergasted. They took SPEAK and decided that they wanted everybody to read it. Everybody. The program was spearheaded by the library (of course!). They got the Mayor on board, the police department, the schools, the education foundation. Book clubs read the book. Senior citizens in nursing homes read the book. Countless teens and parents read it. People talked about it in church groups. In car pools. Over coffee. Tee-shirts and lawn signs (lawn signs!) were made promoting the project. Everyone wore buttons. There was a billboard. Strangers talked to each other about it in grocery stores and in lines at the bank.

Is this just about the coolest thing that has happened to me? Yep, you betcha.

But this is way, way, way larger than SPEAK. To me, the real significance of all of this is that in America, in 2005, a Mid-Western community came together – all ages, all facets of society – to talk about a contemporary YA story. I think this is so, so, so amazing.

*pauses for stunned contemplation*

My role here is a minor one, but I’m having a blast. Image hosted by Visited Einstein Middle School this morning

Image hosted by TinyPic.comand Appleton East High School this afternoon. These are random East students, dressed sort of… I wasn’t quite sure what they were dressed as… but they looked good. All the kids there were fun.

Tomorrow is set up the same way: Little Chute and Madison Middle Schools in the day, another community presentation at the Appleton Public Library at 7pm.

*goes back to Awe of Appleton*

Just imagine what the world would be like if people in all communities talked about books all the time….