It’s Almost Spring

I dashed outside the Cave of Revision this morning and it’s true: it is almost Spring up here on the tundra. In fact, I think it will happen today, while I am deeply buried in my story.

I won’t be able to haunt the Forest with my camera to pounce on the Absolute Moment, so here is the closest I can come to proving this to you.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here the Creature With Fangs poses next to one of the last piles of snow we have.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Next: daffodils on the brink of blooming. (Yes, those daffodils, mentioned in ’06!) I tried to get the CWF to pose here, too, but she was more interested in crushing the plants with her paws. I threw a stick in the other direction and snapped this shot.

Thank you to everyone who donated to my husband’s Race for Cancer. There is still time to help our cause and get some of the free LHA goodies mentioned earlier this week (scroll to bottom of post).

Attention New England SCBWI Conference attenders! Today is Day 5 of my 21-Day Writing Challenge. How’s it going for you? I’d love to hear what you’re doing – leave a note in the Comments section and pass the word along to the other folks who were there.

OK, back into the Cave I go.

Give & Receive Goodies!!!

I’m emerging briefly from the Cave of Revision (where I had a very nice epiphany yesterday, thank you, and now I’m pretty sure I know how to fix the part that wasn’t working in this story) to check the calendar.

Note: there is a chance to win free books ahead, including a collectible first edition. Keep reading!

Gasp. We only have 61 days until the half-marathon in Lake Placid.

::reaches for running shoes::
::slaps self and points to massive manuscript and mountain of notes::

Truth be told I ran yesterday, so today is a cross-training day (w00t). So far this year, I’ve done pretty good sticking to my goal of running 20 miles a week. As of yesterday, when I staggered up the driveway, I have run 303 miles since January 1st. The snow is finally gone up here on the tundra, so I’ve abandoned the treadmill in favor of hilly country roads well-stocked with rotting roadkill.

New readers of the blog might be wondering why on earth I’m doing all this running. My husband and I have vowed to raise $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training fund. The money goes for research into the causes of and treatments for blood cancers, which kills an American every ten minutes. My cousin is fighting this disease right now so it is a cause that means a great deal to our family.

Note: You’re almost to the part where you get to win the free stuff! Keep reading!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Because I know a million, bazillion people, I was able to meet my fundraising goal last month. My studly, adorable, patient, quick-witted husband (yeah, that’s him in the photo) is not far behind, but he could use a little help. He is 60% of the way to his goal. All he needs is another $1,000. But he needs it soon. (Photo by Sonya Sones, BTW.)

Here’s where the bribery begins… I mean, here’s the free stuff!!!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
If you donate $50 toward Scot’s goal, I will send you a free audiobook of TWISTED (seen here hanging out with the revisions of my WIP).

If you donate $100, I’ll send the audiobook and a special surprise.

If you donate $500, I will send you a very rare, first edition, first printing copy of SPEAK. No one had high hopes for the book when it was published, so the first print run was limited. Here is your chance to snag a collectible.

Or you can donate what you can afford and receive our everlasting gratitude and a really good feeling in your heart. Come on. You’re about to get a check from the government. Here’s a way to put it to good use.

Please help us. It’s for a good cause.

NESCBWI Recap and Wings

Wow! Those New Englanders know how to do it!

BH and I spent a high-energy weekend at the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s” conference. It was HUUUUUUUGGGGGEE!. I think someone said there were 550 people there. Amazing. And incredibly well-organized. They even had vegan lunches for people who didn’t want beef or turkey or tuna. I was impressed.

I gave the keynote Saturday morning. It was a poignant moment for me. When I started writing for kids, all I had was a handful of dreams and a lot of ambition. Along the way I made every mistake possible, and a few that no one had heard of before. And somehow, I’ve moved from the newly-hatched dreamer in the audience to the person standing (well, pacing) behind the podium. Very, very strange and wonderful.

During the speech, I held up my rejection file, and read a few of those dastardly polite letters that hurt so much. I will never forget what it feels like to get those in the mail. I remember the tears and doubts and the fears. What am I talking about – I still have them!

That is the cool thing about writers’ conferences. It doesn’t matter where you are on your creative journey – published or pre-published – we all sit on the same raft in an ocean of doubt. Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome and much-needed boost of camaraderie.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Mitali gave a wonderful workshop about using the Internet to promote books. She should know: she has a wonderful site and a delightful blog. I took many, many notes! She is one of the forces behind Readergirlz which is featuring my book PROM in June. You’ll be hearing more about that later.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Enjoyed dinner with Sarah Aronson (left) and Tanya Lee Stone (right), who has a great picture book biography about Elizabeth Cady Stanton out soon. Also saw Kate Messner there, and Kelly Fineman, and Harold Underdown (I’ll be talking about his new book in a couple of weeks), and Debra Garfinckle, who graciously signed one of her books for me.

Jo Knowles – were you there? Did we talk? I could be blanking here (I’m still pretty tired). Help me out. What did you think of the conference?

I also hung out with my buddies Nancy Werlin and Toni Buzzeo, but my camera messed up their photos. Go to their websites to see their shining faces.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Like I said, the conference was packed!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They had to turn away people at the door to keep the fire marshals happy.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here are a couple of the hard working souls who put the conference together: Jan Kozlowski, Sally Riley, Janet Arden, and J.L. Bell, who writes one of my favorite blogs: Boston 1775. The other organizers kept moving so fast, they appear in photographs as a blur. BH and I thank you all for a wonderful weekend!

The theme of the conference was “Stretch Your Wings”. I am flapping mine with great vigor as I head back to the Cave of Revision.

How was your weekend?

Brand New Writerlady Dot Com

:: trumpet fanfare plays and cymbals crash::

Web God Theo Black has finished the major website overhaul at my website,!

All Hail The Theo!
All Hail The Theo!
All Hail The Theo!

Yes, there are nit-picky things to clean up, and yes, there are still a few things to be added, including a page to tell you how to get signed copies of my books, but we’re getting there. If you get stuck in the branches of the tree (still a glitch there) use the words at the bottom of the page to navigate.

Be sure to check out the shiny new, veeeeeeeeeery long Frequently Asked Questions section, which is found in the Junk Drawer. (Many of the questions were posed by people on my blog: thanks for the help.)

What do you think of this new version of the site?
What do you like?
Anything not working for you?
What’s missing?

Majoring in Creative Writing and other questions

Readers questions are pouring in!

Many folks are asking about one of my responses to Katrina’s questions earlier in the week about majoring in Creative Writing in college.

I wrote: Don’t major in Creative Writing, but take some of the classes if the professor has a good reputation with the other students.

This made some people – those majoring in Creative Writing – nervous. So I expanded on my opinion:

My concern is that too many colleges give students the impression that a degree in Creative Writing will nearly guarantee them a lifetime of publishing contracts and a life of ease.

It does not work that way.

If you are fortunate enough to have great professors, your chances of developing your writing skills to the point where you could be published are increased, there’s no doubt about that. But there are a lot of terrible creative writing professors out there. Lately, I’ve talked to several 20-somethings who are bitter and disillusioned because the degree has not translated into anything but rejection letters.

So if it makes you happy, go for it. But do so with your eyes open.

I’d like to add something else to all the high school students out there who want to become authors. I think the single most important thing you can do for your writing career is to spend time living in a different country. Take a gap year and volunteer your services abroad. Or just travel and talk to people. And then come home. You need to get away from the world in which you were raised in order to gain some perspective on your experiences there. Your writing will be stronger and more interesting once you gain that perspective. IMHO.

Were any of you Creative Writing majors? What’s your opinion about this?

On MySpace, a reader asks: “Are you sure you didn’t write symbolism and themes into your books? Because My english teacher seemed pretty hung up on the fact that I could read Speak three times in two weeks without finding some deep, hidden meaning. In fact, I had to write Not one, but two essays about it.
Well, I know I really Love your books.
I don’t search for deeper meanings, becase frankly, I like the Message at the very top.
Can I print Out your myspace and Give it to my English I teacher?”

By teaching you about the uses of symbolism in literature, your teacher is giving you a couple of extra tools that can make reading more fun. I think the symbolism that is important is the symbolism a reader finds in the story. It doesn’t matter what the author tried to stick in there. I’m sorry that the essay writing was painful, but I’m glad you liked the book.

K saw the SPEAK movie on Lifetime this weekend and wrote: “All I really have to say is… you’re my freakin hero! Well, not really… but that’s my way of saying I enjoy the small taste of your work that I have sampled. I’ve honestly never heard of you or your books before, but Speak came on the TV just now and is probably about halfway through and I love it.

It’s everything I think but can never say… Because… people just don’t get it. It’s good to know I’m not the only one with a bitter, sarcastic, cynical look at society’s stupid unwritten rules of communication.

So I haven’t read your book, so I don’t know if these quotes are in there, but they are in the movie and are awesome.

“All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings… is a lie. No one really cares what you have to say.”

“Why couldn’t he just say what he meant? Would they pin a scarlet letter to his chest? ‘S’ for Straightforward?”

“Once you get through this “life sucks” phase, I’m sure lots of people will wanna be your friend. But for right now, I don’t think we should have lunch together.”

That’s enough, I guess. You wrote the book, you know what you said, you get the point.

You don’t have to answer me back. You’re busy. That’s cool. But I pretty much had to tell you I love Speak.”

I’ve had some great letters about TWISTED recently – I think I’ll share them tomorrow.

In closing, many congratulations and all the respect in the world to the Lady Vols of Tennessee and Coach Pat Summitt (whom I adore) for winning the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship last night.