Thank you, Uncle Frank!

The conference in Albany, organized by bookseller extraordinare Frank Hodge, was a memorable one. I met so many interesting teachers (a second grade teacher who keeps a therapy dog in her classroom, a fifth grade teacher who lived in my house in Pulaski after I moved out of it, English teacher and librarian from a school for deaf students, teachers from Florida who trekked all the way to Albany for the weekend) I can’t stop thinking about them.

Our name tags were futuristic plexiglass that glowed or blinked with blue lights. Frank knew EVERYONE there, and charmed and made us blush in equal parts. There was pumpkin cheesecake. (Hear that conference organizers: pumpkin cheesecake. Yum.) And the hotel had decent bran muffins, which I consider a badge of civility. The schedule allowed time to shmooze. On the gala night we enjoyed champagne and popcorn before dinner. It don’t get no better than that, friends.

Amtrak, bless its pea-pickin’ heart, was late as usual, which gave me more time to read the biography of Alexander Hamilton that is threatening to take over my life.

I came home to find my desk totally awash in mail again. Guess what I’ll be doing for the next two days?

No – wait – there is one thing I will be doing besides wading through the mail.


Trumpet blasting

(warning – unabashed self-aggrandizement ahead)

The current (Fall 2006) issue of The Alan Review contains the speech I gave at ALAN/NCTE in November, 2005, and a wonderful article that compares student responses (both high school and college) to Speak and Fifteen, by Beverly Cleary. As if that wasn’t enough, it has a great article about teaching with Native American Literature, and the cover of the magazine shows Indian Shoes, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Tofu and T. Rex, by her husband, Greg Leitich Smith.

The issue is not online yet, but you can probably find a copy of it in your library. If your library doesn’t carry the ALAN Review, then allow me to tactfully suggest a subscription RIGHT NOW.

Remember me talking about a photo shoot in downtown Syracuse a couple weeks ago that involved dry ice, salt potatoes, and orange mittens? You can see the photos and a short essay I wrote about coming back home to the region in Central New York Magazine, on sale now.

I am out of here tomorrow, heading for Albany for the Got Books? Let’s Read Conference sponsored by the ever-wonderful Hodge-Podge Books. I’m taking the computer with me so I can KEEP WRITING!!!!

great lines

Overheard in the last couple of weeks:

At a restaurant: From the kitchen comes the rumbling sound of a tray of glasses being dropped, but no hint of any glass breaking. The kid at the table next to ours jumps in his seat, eyes wide and yells: “I didn’t know they have bowling here!”

In front of Oswego Hospital (I took my mom for tests): A 20-something guy, unlit cigarette in hand, approaches a 50-something woman busy puffing away, and asks for a light. She smiles and hands him her lighter and says (in a gravelly frog voice): “We’re a dying breed, kid!”

I am writing more today. You might want to, too.

November is a great book for writing a novel. Try it, you might like it.