Spirits afoot

Awake well before the sun today to work on revisions. I love the thought that the veil between the spirit world and the walking world is thinnest this time of year. I do not like horror movies or slasher films – real life is scary enough for me, thank you very much, and I think chain saws are best used on trees, not people. But I like the wind moving through the skeletal trees, chasing the leaves across the meadow and the geese out of the corn fields. I love fat pumpkins glowing with candles, and children dressed as ghosts and lions and sunflowers reminding us that life is all about sweetness and giggles. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Writer’s Almanac has a nice history of Halloween, if you care.

The revisions are unfolding nicely; fun scenes to even out the pacing between dramatic chapters, transitions that make sense (I hope), and some humor to balance out the dreadful stuff in my Main Character’s life. I really adore him.

BH and I head back to NYC on Wednesday for some book stuff and a day of researching (yes, I’m already beginning the earliest stages of work on the next book). I have to buy a dress today. This is one of my least favorite things to do on the planet, but I know that I’ll be happy once it’s over. I don’t have many dresses and they are all for summer-time. Must suck it up and pretend that I am an adult who has a complete and weather-appropriate wardrobe. Le sigh.

added later I hate shopping. Loathe it. I was never in danger of buying a dress because I never saw one that was remotely attractive, except for a couple that were suitable for the Oscars. Shopping for a different kind of outfit – pants and jacket/pants and sweater was complicated by the fact that nothing fit. ARGH! I hate shopping. I finally found up with a new pair of pants (8 tall) because my husband is the most patient man in the world. I swear I am only going to order from catalogs for the rest of my life.

For Halloween I will go dressed as a gawky, tall girl whose clothes don’t fit.

Friday afternoon frustrations

Things that are frustrating me right now:

1. My parents’ insurance. I spent all afternoon on the phone trying to sort out one mess after another. I bet healthcare would be more affordable if the employees of insurance companies were better trained. You do not want to know how many calls I had to make to get a simple answer to a simple questions. Grrr…
2. My desk is awash in backed-up mail again.
3. My revision is not yet done.
4. This is a very bad hair day.
5. College basketball hasn’t started yet.
6. I didn’t get to the gym today.
7. October is almost over.
8. I’m hungry and I don’t know what to eat.
9. I hate myself when I am whiny like this.

On a much happier note, yesterday’s visit to Long Island City High School (in Queens) was a blast. It is a massive school – nearly 4,500 students! – but it felt like a warm and nurturing place.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome.

The traffic in New York City yesterday was insane. Brain-splittingly insane. To amuse myself, I looked for things to take pictures of. And I found this:

Image hosted by TinyPic.com This is a group of traffic cops in training. We were lost in Queens at this point, so we asked them for directions. They did not know how to get us where we were going. I guess it was the first day. What is the collective noun for such a gathering? A signal of traffic cops? A misdirection of traffic cops? A gridlock of traffic cops?

I forget to mention that I visited the new location of my favorite NYC bookstore, Books of Wonder yesterday. It is now teamed with the Cupcake Cafe. You should visit there right now and buy books and eat cupcakes.

Squid curry

Yes, that’s what I had for dinner tonight. How can you resist a menu item like that? It had squid (duh), bamboo shoots, broccoli, onion and chili in coconut milk. I liked it. Didn’t love it, but liked it enough to eat an entire plateful. I wonder if I will have strange dreams because of it.

The day flew by.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com The ladies of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School hung out with me at Teen Central, a HUGE YA section at the Donnell Library on 53rd Street. This is the library that had an Anti-Prom last spring, for kids who were feeling a little rebellious about the prom concept, but still wanted a good party. They had more than 100 kids show up for it. This is an idea whose time has come.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com The men and women of Bushwick High, Academy of Urban Planning, Bushwick School for Social Justice, and New York Harbor School. I had such an amazing time with them…. and one of their teachers brought cookies. For everybody.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Some of the kids who stayed late to chat.

Now it’s back to revisions and then sleep. I’m at Long island City High School in Queens tomorrow morning, then the long train ride home. Since I was in Brooklyn today, I want to answer an email I received last week from Jessica in Sheepshead Bay. She wrote: i read the comments section where you said you don’t read many ya books because your usually busy writing them and since i want to be an author i always thought it was important to write books i myself would read i mean whats the sense of writing a book you yourself wouldn’t read? what would make you think other people want to? do you think that aspect of writing is important?

Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify this, Jessica. I agree if you want to be an author (or if you are an author) you need to read a lot. And I really encourage people to read outside of their favorite genre; that’s how you learn new things. I was not in any way disrespecting other YA books. I LOVE them. But books and characters I love tend to stick around in my head, like ghosts. And I think it would be immoral as well as illegal to steal from other authors. So when I am writing YA, I read other kinds of books. That way, the voices of my characters are coming solely from me. Does that clear it up?

I take it back, Amtrak, and a rant about Goth mistreatment

The last time I came to NYC, I had some cranky things to say about Amtrak. I take it all back. My train ride from Syracuse was amazing. I pulled out my laptop and was working on my revisions before we left the station Five hours later, I powered down and pulled into New York. No stress, no hassle, total serenity. I may never fly again.

I signed stock at Bank Street Books and had coffee with a friend who recently moved here and is now living the swanky city life, sort of. Grabbed Thai food for dinner (hard to find in Oswego County, NY) and slept like death. I think I am fighting a cold, so I’ve been pounding tea and honey.

I see bunches of students today and have to sign books again. If I’m lucky, I’ll be asleep by 8pm. Yes, I am pathetic that way, but I am tired and I really do not want to get sick.

Before I go, I need to rant about something. Have any of you seen the television coverage of the tragic murder of Pamela Vitale? She was allegedly murdered by a 16-year-old in her home in California. My heart goes out to the family of this poor woman, and if the kid they have in custody really did it, then I don’t want him on the streets again. But I am furious at the way the media has grabbed on to the label of “Goth” as if a) it is a bad thing, and b) it has anything to do with the fact that this woman was murdered. I heard one story that pointed out his parents separated a few days before the incident. Hello? Do you think the fact that there is clearly pain and stress in his house may have led to the fabled depression of this boy? Not according to some news stories. To hear them, it’s those darn trenchcoats. They are the root of all evil. Give me a break.

Actually, I found an online news piece that examines this situation in a little more depth.

Are you frustrated with the stupid way much of media treats the Goth subculture? What can be done about this?

Life in the Country

….in which our intrepid authoress shares the joys and torments of living off the beaten path (one of an occasional series)….

So we had this tree. A maple tree. An old, old maple tree. It has a diameter of about five feet, circumference maybe twenty feet around. This tree was home to billions and billions of tree-eating insects. My Beloved Husband was going to call a guy we know to cut it down for us, because that’s what you do when big old trees are varmint-riddled.

Image hosted by TinyPic.com So the tree fell down a couple hours ago. Across the driveway. This meant our car was not going to get out of the driveway. Old dead trees are several tons heavier than they look.

What does one do in these situations, gentle reader?

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Fire up the chainsaw and call a friend with a pick-up truck.

What is the role of the intrepid authoress?

Image hosted by TinyPic.com Stay the heck out of the way, mostly. I picked up lots of bark. Tried to avoid poison ivy. I took pictures. I mused about the inevitability of rot and death, and renewed my loathing for most insects. (They crawled down my arms when I picked up wood.) And I said a prayer of gratitude that the tree did not fall on any people or cars, or at 5:30 tomorrow morning. The guys finished clearing the driveway just before sunset. It was exhausting work watching them. I am drained. I think I need to curl up in front of the fireplace, burning bug-free wood, and watch Monday Night football.