Keep celebrating… and a note about drafts

Yesterday/today is the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and reflection, with extra emphasis on family and community for Muslims around the world. It is one of the aspects of Islam that I really appreciate and admire. BBC has some cool resources, if you’re interested.

Like most Americans, I was sadly ignorant about Islam for most of my life. This changed in 1999 when I was hired to research and write a book about Saudi Arabia for very young readers. I set about reading everything I could about Islam and talking to people about life in Saudi Arabia. The people at the Saudi Arabian embassy let me use their library, and I interviewed the wives of several Saudi diplomats to get a clearer picture about life for kids in their country. The editors of my book did a lot of chopping – I was not at all happy with the finished project. But the experience was valuable and enriching for me.

If you’ve never heard of her, I’d like you guys to look into the work of Rukhsana Khan, a gracious and gifted author who has written many books that touch on Islam. Teachers should be sure to visit her website – it has a wealth of info and links to Muslim resources.

One of the best things about America is that we are all free to choose our religion and worship in peace.

Today I have to get ready for this weekend’s conference in Colorado, and try to find my desk. Right now it is hiding under the six inches of paper that accumulated these last couple of weeks I’ve been hammering on my book.

I want to clear up a misunderstanding about my writing process. The draft I finished Monday was Draft #5. In some ways, it could be considered a first draft – it is the first draft that I consider good enough to show to other people, and there are elements that are rather different that the other four drafts. My novels seems to take 7 drafts. I thought for sure I could do this one in fewer, but my character had other ideas. I am still celebrating the fact that I got it done. Fifty tons off the shoulders makes it easier to walk around.

I also want to celebrate hearing from Max, who are corresponded with me a lot. He finally got to watch the SPEAK movie and this is what he wrote:

I just recently purchased the DVD version of Speak from Barnes and Noble. I took it home and watched it that night. I was very surprised. It did have a lot of differences from the book, but they were good differences. I loved this movie, even though it didn’t have the bathroom chatroom. At first, Steve Zahn didn’t seem like a likely person for Mr. Freeman, but he really pulled it off well. And the dramatic scenes were amazing. I also saw the behind-the-scenes. You looked great! I got through about 3/4 of the movie with the commentary on, but then I had to go out and eat dinner. I loved hearing you and the director’s opinions and little facts on everything. It was so awesome. I wrote a journal entry about what I want to be when I grow up for my texas history class (we have journals due every week). I told her I wanted to be a writer and mentioned your book. In her response, she said that she had read your book and that it was amazing. In my next journal entry, I wrote about the movie, and she was very excited. I am letting her borrow it. Thanks for doing such a great job with this book and giving the rights to make the movie.

Thanks, Max!! ( I would love to see what you get to study in Texas history. That sounds fascinating.)

Things to celebrate

Happy New Year!

Happy Birthday Anne Rice!

And, well, duh. Librarians not only have great jobs, but they are way cooler than most.

But mostly I celebrating the completion of the latest draft of my book. I’m pretty sure it’s not done yet. There could well be another one or two drafts in my future, plus all the headaches joys of copyediting. But this ride on the roller coaster is over.

How am I celebrating?

With a power tool. The house BH and I live in is still under construction. He’s done most of the work himself, and now I am learning how to help. We have something like a million windows (I exaggerate only a little) and their frames all have to be sanded and coated with polyurethane. I get to wear an attractive face mask while I do this. I am living my Rosie the Riveter fantasy.

I think I love my power sander.

Who said it was time for October?

Geesh. Girl turns her back around for one second and another month flies by.

We had a blast in PA. Many thanks to all of Mer’s fantastic friends for making her birthday so special. The family had lunch together despite many of us facing wicked traffic jams. Sunday we loved listening to the Millersville Marching Band. And the Morgan State Marching Band was rocking!! If you ever get the chance to see them, go. The weekend flew by, but we snuck in visits to two out of four kids, plus caught up with my former husband and his family, and we watched some football and enjoyed the changing leaves in two states. Not too shabby.

Dane writes: … i am an eighth grade student in … michigan. My class and i are about to start reading your book called Fever and later on in the year we will be reading speak. rite now in this class we are sposed to do a report on something in the book. My partner M and I are doing a report on facts about you. It would be rely cool to hear back from you. mabey you could e mail me back with some information about yourself. pleas write back. hope to hear from you soon

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to point out where you can find info about me for school reports, Dane. On my website you can find a biography about me, a list of my books and their awards, lots of information about FEVER 1793, and even more about SPEAK. That should be enough to get you started.