Taking the Muse to a hotel room

Note to self and to all others who write for a living: Never, ever, ever agree to a January 1st deadline.


Why not? Let me count the ways – NCTE/ALAN, Thanksgiving, Daughters 1, 2 & 3, Boyfriends of Daughters 1, 2 & 3, and Number One Son, the 25-person family extravaganza called Christmas dinner, etc. etc, etc.

Life calms down AFTER January 1st, not before. Doh!

I have been working on my new YA on and off for months, but I keep being interrupted; by travel, conferences, speeches to write, interviews, last edits on the historical books, research and planning for the next historical, and all of the above-mentioned winter/holiday frenzy.

To be blunt, I was getting near meltdown about giving the book the energy and focus it needed. My Beloved Husband had the answer: I needed to run away from home. Which was not the answer I was looking for, but he was right. I have a great writing set-up; house in the country, supportive partner, no toddlers hanging around, luring me to play outside. But I needed total solitude so I could immerse myself in the story – no interruptions, no threats of interruptions. I needed to go to the Magic Place.

After giving a speech at Syracuse University and dinner with a dear friend and her daughter Friday night, I holed up in an undisclosed location (fairly comfortable hotel) and got busy. I am not going to tell you how many pages I wrote – I hate it when people get competitive about page counts or word counts. But I’ll tell you this: I arrived with a character in my head. I am leaving with her story on the page. I doubled my personal page goal, and I thought that goal was unrealistic to begin with. (This was the raw draft; the brain dump onto the page. I don’t know that I would even call it a first draft, not yet. But it’s close.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Magic Place.

I am feeling better about being a writer right now than I have for about six years. Because I spent two very, very long days and nights completely given over to a story. I ate and wrote, went out for more food, wrote some more. Ate a snack, wrote. I feel kind of crappy about not running, but I didn’t want to lose a precious minute. I fell asleep thinking about the story, I woke up thinking about the story. I had many instances of unreality, not sure where I ended and the story began.

I did not totally abandon my family. I fielded several Santa question calls and checked in with my BH several times a day. He’s going to be picking me up in a few minutes and we are off to celebrate Jessica’s birthday.

So today I feel like a writer, a real writer. I highly recommend this sort of weekend to everyone who is fighting to find time to write.


My corner of heaven

I’m sitting in the sunroom (yes, wearing sunscreen) so I can enjoy the view.

What do you think?

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The Creature With Fangs loves snow. She gallops across the yard, maw hanging open so she can scoop up snow and eat it. Reminds me of a whale inhaling crill.

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What’s the weather where you are?

As the tummy turns

I feel much better today, but am still hovering on the edge of the crud. (note – I originally misspelled that as “xrud.” I think it works better that way.) BH has had it worse than me. I think another 24 hours of solitude and we’ll be all set.

I am feeling just xruddy enough that I have even less focus than usual. So this will be a random and disjointed entry.

Angela wrote to me on my Facebook: What do you think of the new AmazonKindle and the virtual road down which books have now turned? Do you think this is really the end of the printed word, like so many techies do? … cannot imagine not having an actual “book” in my hand to read…. Troubling, I feel. Your insights would be much appreciated.”

I think that Amazon should give me a Kindle so I can really explore this. They gave one to Neil Gaiman, but then they took it back. That was rather ungrateful of them.

Will Kindle-like devices take the place of paper-based books? Yep, I believe they will. But do not rend your garments or gnash your teeth. The concept of Story isn’t going anywhere. It is encoded into our DNA. It’s just that when technology changes, the vehicle for Story changes and that makes some folks uncomfortable for a while. And then we adjust. I suspect that the need to preserve forests combined with a generation of computer-friendly kids will make paper-based books into historical artifacts. If it helps bring the planet back into balance, I’m all for it.

A note from a Hungarian reader living in Malaysia came in the other day. Yeah, that’s what I said. A Hungarian reader in Malaysia. How cool is that? She read SPEAK and was finishing up PROM for her English 10 class. She wrote ” I loved Prom, too, though for entirely different reasons. To me, it shed some light onto the lives of “ordinary, everyday” teen-life in Philadelphia. You wouldn’t believe the ‘bubble’ I’m coming from! :)”

Congratulations to the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country team for winning Nationals for the second year in a row!!!

Middle school teachers – you want to read this review of Teri Lesesne’s new book, ” Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers”.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic SPEAK at Nottingham was fabulous.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic In large part, because the director, Ginny Fennessy, and the cast and crew put so much energy into it. Thank you!

NB: A number of teachers have written asking for information about putting on SPEAK at their schools. Steve Braddock, the playwright, and my publisher will be working out the details of this soon. I expect to post information about how to obtain the proper rights and scripts by the end of January.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Last, but not least, The Creature With Fangs (who now has an album on my Facebook and her own Dogbook account – sigh) completely killed the toy Meredith bought her at Thanksgiving.

The CWF hates to chew hard things, even though she has great teeth. Fangs. She loves to chew soft things. Problem – soft things are easily destroyed. Does anyone know about an indestructible soft chew toy for large beasts?

Delayed by crud

Today’s journal entry – which was slated to be witty, profound, and full of photos – has been indefinitely delayed because I feel cruddy.

But I am not ready to cave and say I am sick. Not yet.

Right now I am taking two books and lots of peppermint tea.

Time to crawl back on the couch and moan.

PS – I have to say thank you to all the cast and crew of the Nottingham stage version of SPEAK, which we saw yesterday and loved!!! You were wonderful!