Wise words from the wizard woman

It is crazy-busy in the Forest today, so I’ll just encourage you to read or watch J.K. Rowling’s recent speech at Harvard. (Thank you, Office Mouse, for the link.)

Smart woman, that J.K.

If you are in Central New York tomorrow, come out to Creekside Books in Skaneateles at 1pm for my book signing. Then you can buy ice cream and walk around the village because it is one of the prettiest places around.

The June celebration festivities continue. Happy Birthday, Sarah Dessen! Happy wedding to my cousin Karl and his bride, Yi-Yin!

So Many Reasons to Celebrate…

If you are younger than 40, please, please read this so you’ll know how far we’ve come. We still have a long way to go, but there is hope ringing in my heart. Can’t remember the last time I felt this way.

Do you have any plans for Saturday? No? Let me make some for you.

In the morning, head to downtown Syracuse and jog or walk in Paige’s Butterfly Run. It is held in the memory of Paige Yeomans Arnold who died of leukemia when she was in first grade. I am friends with her amazing parents, Ellen and Chris, who have turned their tragedy into hope for other children with cancer by raising a small fortune for research with this run, now in its 12th year.

After you run, enjoy the food and music at the Taste of Syracuse, a downtown celebration that will feature the food of local restaurants and bands that will make you dance.

Then head west to the gorgeous village of Skaneateles to hear me speak at Creekside Books at 1pm. I’ll be bringing folks up to date on my Vet Volunteers series, talking about Independent Dames and might drop a few hints about next year’s YA novel. As always, I am happy to write notes to English teachers begging for extra credit for any students who come out to hear me talk. See an author, raise your GPA!

But the biggest celebration today is with my Beloved Husband, for this is the day we wed. Happy Anniversary, baby, got you on my mind….

creeping into videoworld

We watched Golden Compass last night – loved it. Now I want to go back and reread all the Pullman books. I am happy to report that BH’s ring stayed on his hand all day, and neither of us were threatened by an angry mob of tent caterpillars.

There is a great discussion going on at the Readergirlz PROM forum about the cost of prom night. What do you think is a reasonable amount of money to spend? Should schools or parents be trying to cut down on how much teenagers spend?

I am sticking one toe gingerly in the water of videos. I just got a new camera and spent last night trying to get the dog to do something interesting while I was recording her. She peed. I don’t think you want to see that.

Instead, here is a quick interview with me recorded by Ed Spicer after his galley group of teen readers in Michigan read TWISTED.

Do you want me to post more videos or do you shudder at the thought? Should we post them to the website or just the blog? What do you want to see?

Fear and Loathing of the Caterpillar

As promised, the highlight and lowlight of my weekend.

I spent most of the weekend combing though the second-pass galleys of my book. BH spent the weekend moving millions of tons of tools and wood in the garage. He worked so hard his hands swelled (changing weather contributed, too), and he asked me to wear his wedding ring. (I love it when he does that.)

A surprise visit detoured our plans slightly. My nephew Ryan, home on leave from Iraq, had driven up from Georgia with his wife, Winter, and kids Caitlin and Damien. They arrived Sunday for lunch.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The galleys could wait.

We hung out and chit-chatted and I took the kids out back so they could run around, and I could see if there was any lettuce we could pick for lunch. The kids were talking a million miles an hour and I was loving it and then I saw IT. A dreaded tent caterpillar. While explaining to the kids why I did not want this particular caterpillar chomping through my garden, I picked it up and flung it past the stone fence and into the tall grass of meadow behind the garden.

As the caterpillar was leaving my hand, he turned and cursed me, using the foulest of language. His curse caused my husband’s wedding ring to fly off my hand, over the stone fence and into the tall grass of the meadow beyond it.

It was very quiet for a moment. I reached for the shovel, prepared to dig a deep pit, fill it with tears, and drown myself in it. But I had two sweet little kids watching me.

I put on the happy-Aunt-Laurie face and told them we had an adventure! Find Uncle Scot’s ring. We set out the area to search, then crouched in the grass and turned over every leaf. Damien went inside to get the rest of the family and soon everyone was looking. When I wasn’t fighting waves of hysteria, I tried to convince myself this was a good thing, because we were sure to find it, and we were reclaiming a piece of meadow that I could turn into a new garden bed.

Really. It was all going to work out. And if it didn’t, well it wouldn’t take long to dig that pit and drown myself in it.

BH suggested we should feed our guests lunch. I reached for the shovel and started digging. He gently removed it from my hands.

We ate (yes, using our garden lettuce on our sandwiches) and they had to hit the road. BH drove to a buddy’s house and came back with a metal detector. I was certain that he would find every scrap of farm metal that had been buried out back fifty years earlier. I knew the ring had been spirited away to a nest by a squadron of tent caterpillars and they were using it in their gruesome breeding rituals and we would wake up in the morning to find the entire house encased in a tent caterpillar nest, and they would turn carnivorous and eat our brains while we slept. They would Borg us and we would develop wiggly bodies with lots of little legs and we would spend eternity trying to assimilate the good people of Mexico, NY into our evil caterpillar ways. I was convinced –

BH found the ring in thirty seconds with the metal detector, completely undamaged by flight or worm vandalism.
Ryan and family left for Georgia. (He goes back to Iraq tomorrow.) BH shoved his ring on his own finger. I went back to the galley. All ended well.

There are two morals to the story:
1. With the right tool, you can do anything.
2. Don’t piss off caterpillars. They only look harmless.

Writing grant to The Mothership Conference

Have you ever wanted to attend the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) national conference in Los Angeles? You know you have. (I’ve been once. Best. Time. Ever. Great workshops and amazing networking. Good parties, too.)

“But ….,” you say. But it’s expensive. But I can’t justify the cost because my career hasn’t taken off yet. But it’s on the other side of the country and planes aren’t cheap. But… But…

Here’s your chance. The SCBWI Martha Weston grant awards $1,500 to one lucky winner each year. The money is to “fund the tuition, transportation, and hotel expenses incurred by attending the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles.” That means win the grant and you get the golden ticket to the conference that could change your life.

Applications need to be postmarked by June 10th, so hop to it. You can get more information from grant administrator and my buddy, Elizabeth Partridge, or on the SCBWI website.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the evil caterpillar I came up against this weekend. Right now go apply for that grant.