Adventures in Amherst

Now we’re really home!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic OfficeMouse learned all kinds of web-related goodness from the WebGod, Theo Black, who is a calm, ordinary sort of guy.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic While they discussed Flash and code and other things I do not understand, I mostly curled up in a corner with my revisions. But Theo insisted that I try out the Wii, which I had never seen before. Note to BH – we must not buy a Wii or I’ll never write another book. Addictive, to say the least.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic After they were done with the computer magic, OfficeMouse and I went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This bug, disguised as a very hungry caterpillar, was in the parking lot.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is a quilt of the famous caterpillar in the lobby. Visitors are not allowed to take photographs in the exhibit galleries, obviously, so I can’t show you how wonderful they are. Three hours evaporated while we slowly walked through the exhibits and created our own masterpieces in the art room.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Mr. Carle painted these gorgeous, massive paintings for the front hall. We could have stood in front of them for hours, just lost in the color. I know gas is expensive, so you should carpool with some buddies and take a trip to this museum. Well worth the drive.

NPR has a wonderful interview with Eric Carle as well as a terrific slideshow of the man and his work.

Your fact of the day: Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, NY and credits his kindergarten teacher at a Syracuse public school with being the person who opened the door to his lifetime as an artist.

This reinforces my hunch that Central New York is a magical place for writers and artists. You should probably move here.

Although the polish on my final revision was calling, we were in the Amherst/Northampton region, and there was one more home of art we had to take in: the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton. Along with other cool stuff, there is a terrific collection of the work of children’s book illustrators there. Very satisfying.

Remember in my SCBWI-NE speech how I talked about the need to make time and space for art in your life? What artistic adventures have you gone on recently?

Road Trip #2

No sooner had we unpacked from Lake Placid than OfficeMouse and I packed again. Yesterday we traveled to Amherst, MA, home of Theo Black, aka my WebGod, and his talented and fun wife Holly Black. (Yeah, her.) Holly is running a Spiderwick contest on her blog that involves free DVDs and lolcats, so be sure to check it out.

We are here so that the OfficeMouse can learn at the feet of the master (Yeah, Theo) the arcane magic involved with updated my website with things like book tour dates. I have never had an assistant before and I am astounded at what a difference she has made in my life in just a couple of weeks. I’ve been pretty good at staying on top of my writing responsibilities (though not as good as I’d like), but in order to do so, I let everything else go to hell.

Office assistants clear up the hell part.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Yesterday she had me working on fan mail in the car while she drove.

We’re leaving soon on another adventure, then the journey home, but there are two more photos from the race I want to show you.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Underneath the brims of those caps are John Connolly (the great English teacher I told you about yesterday) and me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic BH and I stretching our tender calves at a gas station on the way home from the race. We’re not hurting as much as I thought we would, but we’re definitely moving slower.

The Finish Line

::cue theme song from Rocky::

There are two version to the story of this weekend’s adventure. Here is the short version:

Office Mouse is great! Here is the video of BH and I crossing the finish line. Can you hear them say our names?

In a nutshell: we ran the Lake Placid Half-Marathon, we had a blast, we finished.

The long version provides more details:

On your marks, get set…

The Big Day is almost here: time for our race. Thanks to your generous donations, BH and I have raised $5,652 for cancer research. We are sort of in shape, but in no danger of being plucked from the crowd and offered a spot on the Olympic team (whew!). We’ve had a lot of fun getting ready for tomorrow.

This is a good time to review the status of my New Year’s resolutions:

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 24 – Miles Run: 12, YTD: 425
Week 24 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 166

I have stuck to my plan of writing every day (good thing, too, these deadlines are piling up faster and faster), but I’ve only averaged 17 miles a week, which is a little short of my New Year’s goal of 20 miles a week. Getting sick in February slowed me down, as did some foot and ankle problems in the last month. BH battled back from a hip injury with lots of physical therapy and much gritting of the teeth.

We are as ready as we can be to run 13.1 hilly miles.

Thanks for all the great comments about the contest announcement and garden tour. Yesterday I harvested the first batch of broccoli and basil.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic We ate this minutes after it was picked.

Mad Woman in the Garden, take one

As promised, I’ve been playing around with my new camera. Yesterday, I found the On switch and went out to my garden at dawn to record this little tour.

Keep all expectations low and try not to snort coffee out your nose onto your keyboard.

Keep spreading the word about the Summer Twisted/Speak Book Trailer Contest!

After questions from readers who live outside the United States, I have added Rules 5A and 9A below.

1. Create a book trailer for SPEAK or TWISTED. You may not use clips from the SPEAK movie (it is copyrighted, that’s why). Your trailer must qualify for a PG rating. Try to keep it under two minutes long.

2. Post the trailer on YouTube. Include the phrase “TWISTED trailer contest” or “SPEAK trailer contest” in the title. Submissions must be posted by 12:00pm, EST, August 31, 2008.

3. Once the trailer is posted, notify us by emailing the Office Mouse: officemouse AT writerlady DOT com . When you notify us, please provide a link to your trailer and a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. If you are in a Summer Reading group, include the name of your librarian and her (or his) email address.

4. Watch and wait. Winner will be chosen by Laurie Halse Anderson (aka me).

5. NOTE! Contest is only open to people who will be 21 years old or younger on August 31, 2008.

5A. Edited to add: Contest is open to anyone on the Planet Earth. Teens working aboard the space station are welcome too. Entries from other planets and galaxies will be considered, as long as they can be watched on Earth-created technologies.

6. If your trailer is chosen as the winning entry and you are not 18 yet, your parents will have to sign a release form granting me all rights to use your trailer. If you are over 18, you get to sign for yourself. You will be credited as the producer of the trailer, but the only payment you will receive is the prize described below. If you win, be sure to include this on your college or film school application.

7. If you are in a library summer reading group, your library will receive 5 signed copies of my books. The librarian in charge of the group gets to decide which books to receive.

8. There will be two prizes awarded; one for the best SPEAK trailer, one for the best TWISTED trailer.

9. The creator of the winning trailer will be awarded an 8GB iPod Touch. Winner agrees to be responsible for setting up and paying for Internet connection and any warranty protection plan for the device.

9a. Edited to add: If the winners live outside the United States and do not live in a region where the iPod Touch is supported, a substitute prize of equal value will be awarded.

10. Winners will be announced on this blog, Sunday, September 7th, and will be notified by email.

I think that’s everything. Please feel free to post this announcement to library and academic listservs. If you have any questions about the contest, please post them in the Comments section.