Weekend update & Mail call (many SPEAK letters)!

Weekend update – brief version: I forgot my camera so photos are waiting for various relatives to produce them.

Saturday: PCTELA conference. What the heck is PCTELA? Simply many of the passionate, dedicated English teachers of Pennsylvania gathered in one place at the same time. Thanks to everyone there who made me feel so welcome. It was a wonderful, inspiring day.

(Note – in the hotel where the conference was held, there were FOUR weddings going on. At one point, I saw a priest being dragged up to a room by a distraught mother-type women, trailed by an anxious groom-looking fellow. That made me think only three weddings were actually going to occur.)

Sunday: Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with two daughters, plus their boyfriends and various buddies. It was the first time I attended a Faire this late in the autumn. The weather was cool and crisp. Made me glad I had on my garb that included a wool shawl. Loved the Tartan Terrors. We had SUCH a fun time…… I really love doing stuff like that with my kids. We had a long drive home that night, but it was worth every mile.

Oh, and last night, I went to my dad’s poetry reading. That was a blast.

The mailbag holds a number of very good questions from a 9th grade English class:

Do Melinda’s parents have an affair? Where have they been the night she is raped? Why is that part of the story?
Yes. Their relationship stinks. That’s why they were out (with other people) the night she was raped. It’s part of the story because it helps to explain why their family is broken, and why they don’t communicate well. When/if you figure this out, a number of other things become clear. It’s all about motivation.

During the rape scene of the book, what is the other smell that Melinda smells on Andy? Some of us thought that it was drugs.
No. I put that in there because this is all new – she’s never had any kind of sexual activity – much less one that is forced. She hardly knows what a guy smells like up close and personal.

Why do you give Melinda grades/especially for non-school subjects?
I was trying to figure out how she saw her own performance in those areas.

Does David ever call Melinda?
You mean after the book? I see them as developing a tight friendship for a year, and then they fall in love when they are juniors.

What happens to Mr. Neck? Does David sue him?
Nope. He will take early retirement, I hope.

What was Melinda like before the rape?
Happy, funny. Hopeful. Naïve and trusting. Sweet. She will get most of those pieces of her back, but not the naive part. And once she deals with what happened to her, she will be much stronger and wiser.

Is there any classic books that have influenced you, or this story?
The work of James Joyce has had a real impact on the way I look at language.

What book would you suggest from classic literature that ninth graders read/study?
Oh, dear – this is a hard question. I’m not sure ninth graders are ready for classic literature. I am a fan of the approach suggested in from Hinton to Hamlet, that pairs thematically-connected works from the canon and contemporary YA literature. The important thing is to find classic literature that speaks to the concern of the reader, a story that will really touch their hearts. If a 9th grader does not feel connected to a book, they will quickly abandon it. That defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

Why did you wait until the end of the book to tell about the rape?
Because I wanted the focus to be on her struggle to find the courage to talk about what she was afraid to talk about. That is the real challenge. If I focused on the rape from the beginning, I was afraid that would get lost.

Why doesn’t Melinda kill Andy with the piece of glass?
She thought about it. (I thought about her doing it.) But that would make her into the same kind of person he was.

That’s all from the class – great work!

Dylan writes:Hello! Speak is my favorite book ever! It was funny and serious at the same time. I hope that I can write a book like that someday.
I have a quick question. In the book, why does Melinda only confront Heather about ditching her, while in the movie she does the self-centered social climber thing? I know it’s not a big difference, but calling somebody a social climber would be hard for somebody who hadn’t spoken a lot in a year.

Because I didn’t write the movie. The screenplay writers made a couple of minor changes and that was one of them. Authors usually have no say in the matter.

And finally, a nice note with no questions:
KT writes: I am curently reading you book Speak, and I would just like to say I love it! I really do! I really love the way it’s written, and the amazing story
line. I really like how you show the emotion and changes that Melinda goes through, and why. It’s a really amazing story. I absolutly love it! I can’t wait to read your other books, too!

missed it by that much

Poor Buffalo.

The storm missed us here in The Forest, so we are still enjoying our spectacular peak autumn leaves. The sunrise this morning was an act of worship.

I’m off for a very busy and fun weekend. Details and photos on Monday.

Get outside this weekend, good people of the Book Shire. The Snow Queen is on the march!

deep yoga breaths

in which the author chills…..

The past week with its book challenges and other crappy things have caused two lines the depth of the Grand Canyon to appear between my eyebrows. So I am trying to take life less seriously today.

I am reading Catwoman.

I am listening to The Hives. Loudly.

I am getting ready for Teen Read Week.

I am fantasizing about Japan.

Writing quote du jour: “I leave out the parts that people skip.” Mystery author Elmore Leonard.

What do you do to make the stress go away? What do you wish you could do?

List posted to website

Thank you, thank you to everyone who has let me know where SPEAK is being taught. My webgod made a new page so you can see the list here. (Check out the new seasonal home page, too!)

Please let me know if your school is not on the list yet. I will be adding to it regularly.

Also, I have received notes from teachers interested in corresponding with other teachers who are using the book in class. What is the best way to facilitate this communication?

I pounded out 8 pages yesterday in the WIP (draft 2). I hope I can do that again this morning. Instead of lifting at the gym this afternoon, I’ll be hacking away in the forest with a pick axe, loosening up boulders so I can plant more daffodil bulbs. So far, I’ve planted 150. Only 250 left. (WHAT was I thinking when I sent in that order?)

If I am really lucky, I’ll have time left over for the ever popular Forest past time – picking up sticks. I am assembling a fine collection that will be used for kindling this winter. Speaking of which, there is a rumor of snowflakes in this weekend’s forecast.

The SPEAK list, so far

Thanks to everyone who has written telling me that SPEAK is in your school. If you don’t see your school below, let me know in a comment, or email to comments AT writerlady DOT com. I will be posting this on the website, along with information about why the book is challenged in schools, and how to deal with that if it happens in your community.

Secondary Schools where SPEAK is either in the curriculum, required summer reading or independent reading programs

The Agnes Irwin School, Rosemont, PA
Anderson HS, Austin TX
Arcata HS, Arcata CA
Bensalem School District middle schools, Bensalem PA
Bishop McGann-Mercy HS, Riverhead, NY
Centennial Scholl District, PA
Central Hardin HS, Cecelia, KY
Chagrin Falls, HS, Chagrin Falls, OH
Cheverus HS, Portland, ME
Christian Brothers Academy, Dewitt, NY
Columbus School for Girls, Columbus, OH
Cortland Jr/Sr HS. Cortland, NY
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Jacksonville, FL
East Bridgewater HS, East Bridgewater, MA
Ellington HS, Ellington CT
Hamilton HS, Hamilton, OH
Hannibal HS, Hannibal NY
Hatboro-Horsham HS, Horsham, PA
Hendrick Hudson HS, Montrose, NY
Heritage Hall MS, Oklahoma City, OK
Holicong Middle School, Doylestown, PA
Houston Area Independent School Library Network, Houston TX
Indian Mountain School, Lakeville, CT
King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA
Knightdale High School, Knightdale, NC
Little Flower Catholic HS for Girls, Philadelphia, PA
Maritime and Science Technology HS, Miami, FL
McMinnville HS, McMinnville OR
Menlo School. Atherton, CA
Milken Community HS, Los Angeles, CA
Morrisville-Eaton HS, Morrisville, NY
Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
New Albany HS, New Albany, IN
Noble HS, Berwick, ME
Oswego HS, Oswego, NY
Our Lady of Mercy HS, Rochester, NY
Parkview MS, Jeffersonville, IN
Paul Moore, HS, central Square, NY
Pioneer HS, Yorkshire, NY
Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect, IL
Rancho Santa Fe Middle School, Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Richland HS, Richland, WA
Saint Clement Junior Senior High School , Medford, MA
Scottsburg MS, Scottsburg, IN
Seekonk HS, Seekonk, MA
Sheboygan Falls HS, Sheboygan Falls, WI
Susquehanna Valley HS, Conklin, NY
St. Pauls’s School for Girls, Brooklandville, MD
Syracuse Academy of Science
Tallmadge High School, Tallmadge, OH
Terra Nova HS, Pacifica, CA
Theodore Roosevelt HS, Kent, OH
University Laboratory School, Baton Rouge, LA
Upper Darby HS, Upper Darby, PA
Valley SH, New Kensington, PA
Venice SH, Los Angeles, CA
Washington Heights, NY
Westmark School, Encino, CA
Woburn Memorial HS, Woburn, MA
Woodside HS, Woodside, CA

SPEAK is taught at these colleges and universities in a variety of different classes: Young Adult Literature, Creative Writing, and Adolescent Development

Arizona State University
Clarion University, Clarion, PA
Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Michigan University
Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
Hollins Univiversity, Roanoke, VA
Houghton College, Houghton, NY
Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Kansas State University
Kent State University
Michigan State University
Millersville University
Mills College
Moravian College
Mt. San Jacinto College, San Jacinto, CA
Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD
Syracuse University
SUNY Binghamton
UC Davis
University of Buffalo
University of Maryland,
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota Duluth
University of North Texas
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
University of South Florida
University of Pennsylvania
Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI
Virginia Tech
West Chester University, West Chester, PA
Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
Wright State University, Dayton, OH

What am I missing?