Question for teen writers

I have been asked to contribute an essay with my advice to teen writers.

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of it.

But I should probably go to the source, and make sure I am approaching this from the right direction. So here’s the question:

If you and I were getting together for tea (coffee, hot chocolate, etc.), and you had one writing-related question to ask me, what would it be?


The funeral and family stuff filled up all of Saturday. The pastor was an 80-year-old woman; the perfect choice for my Aunt Janet. I think I want an elderly woman with a crinkly smile and slightly shaky hands to stand in the pulpit when it’s my turn to go. (Which, btw, I have scheduled for sometime in the the mid 2050s.) After the service we trooped back to my cousin’s house and caught up with each other and laughed a lot. That’s how our family deals with pain – we laugh at it. Don’t get me wrong. There have been a lot of tears shed over her death, moments of absolute rage and sorrow. But now we have to keep going, and we might as well do it with a smile.

Spent yesterday reading letters and journals written during the Amer Rev. These didn’t have anything to do with the incidents I am focusing on in my book. I was reading them for language, looking for phrases and words which people in the time period were comfortable using, and which I can appropriately use in my story. I have a lot more of that in front of me today.

I also finally unpacked the last of my boxes of books from the move last summer. I can’t afford the bookshelves I want yet, so for the time being, they are laid out on the floor, watching me type. It was so nice to see some of them again. I missed them.

Yeah, I’m strange like that, but it works for me.

Thoughts while waiting for the coffee to brew

Happy Birthday, Wolfgang!

After a slight wobble when she called CNN two weeks ago, Oprah retakes the crown as Queen of the Known Universe. Thank goodness. Did anyone actually see the show?

I had a moment last night when I was IMing three of our four kids at the same time. It was so cool I could barely contain myself.

I have another massive list of books for BH to fetch home from the library for me. I’m going to need new glasses by the time this research is over.

I keep looking for situations in which I can say “Gotham” and “dolt”. Do you ever do that, obsess over a word for a while and try to shove it into sentences where it doesn’t belong until your friends scream “Cut it out! God, you’re such a dolt!”


Aunt Janet’s advice & picture book news

See, the thing about my Aunt Jan was, she didn’t have much patience for moping. “Knock it off and get to work,” I can hear her saying. So I have to stop. Right. Now. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very, very sad about her death. But I am afraid she’ll haunt me if I don’t live the way she taught us, which means hard work, laughter, and integrity.

So back to work.

I’ve talked about my writing process here a couple of times. For my new novel, I am approaching it a bit differently. First, it is historical fiction, so it has to be grounded in actual events. That means I have to know what the heck I am talking about. (Which is why I am reading myself blind right now.) It also means I have to work from an outline from Day One. So as I am researching and finding the nuggets that I want to include, I am also building an outline for the book itself. This feels good. Right now the outline is very rough. I am psyched about filling it in.

The sketches for my new historical picture books have been arriving. I LOVE THEM!!! They are brilliant and funny and I wish, I wish I could show them to you right now, but if I do, the publishing gods will frown. As the book moves farther along in the publication process, I’ll keep you updated. As soon as I can share things like the title and peeks at the art, I will. (I think we’re shooting for a Summer 2007 publication date.)

PS – Here is what made me smile this morning. A little birdie forwarded a link to a teen’s blog, to an entry where she wrote that she was supposed to be studying for her Chemistry Regents, but she was reading CATALYST instead. ::grinning::

PPS – Thank you so much to everyone who wrote with such kindness and support yesterday, especially those folks who asked that their screened comments remain screened. Much appreciated.