Sources, Milestones & Goals… oh, my

There is so much spinning going on in the world of American politics, you’d think they’d all be nauseous by now. I know I am.

The one thing that writing historical fiction has taught me is that layers of interpretation can quickly distort a fact into a myth. Add to that the biased media (which swings both ways, folks) and political operatives planting rumor and innuendo in email blasts and via political blogs, and you wind up with a very confused voting public.

I imagine a board room full of the people trying to manipulate us screaming “Yes! That’s the point, you twit!”

Cite your sources. It’s the phrase we hear in school, it’s how you make convincing arguments with friends, and if you’re writing a historical novel and you’re challenged on a point, it’s how you defend your writing. This election I am using to wipe the distortion off of my politics. How are you seeking the truth about this election?

I finally hit a long-sought after milestone while running last night. It’s been a while since I dragged out the Resolution Tracker, so let’s have a look.

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 36 – Miles Run: 12.25, YTD: 501.8
Week 36 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 252

12 days until the Philadelphia Distance Run
42 days until the release of CHAINS and my book tour
71 days until NCTE/ALAN

This is Day 253 of 2008. There are 112 days until the end of the year.

Yep. I’ve run 501.8 miles this year. My original goal was to run 1,000 miles, but the injuries that cropped up this summer proved I wasn’t ready for that. So I adjusted. It’s really hard to find time to run on book tour, so if I can sneak in another 100 miles by the end of the year, I’ll be happy.

How are your resolutions faring? How have you adjusted your goals?

Delights & Scribbles

I am very happy to report that the new issue of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy is online. There is a terrific interview with Professor Joan Kaywell, her teenage son Stephen, and me, too, that gives some background into TWISTED and into my writing process. (Joan is the brilliance behind LETTERS OF HOPE, which should be in every middle and high school English classroom.) I would love to see more teenagers brought into the reviewing of adolescent books. What do you think?

I wrote all weekend, ignoring the whimpering of my rather fertile garden and shunning all thoughts of watching football. I’ve had a couple of serendipitous moments in this new book which were absolutely magical. I know I whine a lot about the workload, but I have to admit: I really, really love writing.

BH and I have been talking about how social networking has ramped up between the release of TWISTED 18 months ago and the upcoming release of CHAINS. I love how easy it has become to communicate with readers. In the last two weeks, I’ve had more than two dozen notes – via my various blog places and website – from readers who had a strong and positive response to one of my novels. Last week, a teacher who saw my posting on Facebook about the tentative tour dates contacted me and we were able to add an appearance in her area for teachers and grad students. This morning, I had a lovely note from a father of a reader in Mumbai, India, also on Facebook. More and more people are reading this journal (which is echoed on MySpace), and are giving me wonderful feedback on my work. There was a terrific comment from a teacher using SPEAK yesterday (scroll down to the bottom of the comment list).

I think I’ve managed the art of not letting the online stuff take over. I have stopped feeling guilty about not answering each and every blog comment (though I do read them all). My strongly worded email policy has cut waaaaaay back on the number of homework help requests I’ve been getting. My forested corner of the blogosphere has become like the corner diner for me, filled with buddies and the smell of coffee.

How are you balancing your blogging and social networking with your writing?

playing catch-up

I will be using today’s subject line a lot in the next four months!

Life is busy – good busy. I am so incredibly blessed to have all this fun stuff to do! Right now most of my time is spent working on the new book (it’s a historical that continues the adventures of the characters introduced in CHAINS). My goal is to get the first readable next to my editor my early next month. The tentative publication date is the Spring of 2010.

I’m also gearing up for the crazy CHAINS book tour that starts on 10/21. I’ll be posting more details about that soon. Counting a few events before and after the actual tour (NCTE/ALAN and a couple of bookseller trade shows), I’ll be spending 40 days on the road, and visiting 27 cities (in several places, I’ll be in town for two days). I am a little overwhelmed by the thought of this, but mostly am so excited that I am giving off sparks.

And there is the very advance publicity work I need to do for WINTERGIRLS, my YA that will be published in May, 2009. I hope that the WINTERGIRLS book tour will cover some of the regions of the country (i.e. West Coast) that I won’t be seeing on the CHAINS tour.

Oh – and the other thing about next year? Next year is the tenth anniversary of the publication of SPEAK. More details about any festivities later.

This afternoon is the big meeting with the folks at my mother’s rehab facility spa to discuss her discharge date, and that is the most exciting news of all. She had gotten back much of her strength and is beginning to walk with a walker. If they leave her there much longer, she’ll reorganize the facility, so I suspect she’ll be home soon. Thank you everyone for the prayers and warm wishes. They have meant a great deal to our family.

The sad thing is that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to can as much food as I had hoped, and my garden is showing signs of neglect.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic But my pumpkins are comfortably resting on their cozy beds of shredded manuscript draft.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And my Beloved Husband has finished splitting and stacking almost 25 cords of wood to heat the house this winter. (You can’t see it from the photo, but the stack extends to the far wall of the garage.)

What have you been up to?

Stars in my eyes!

I’m back home and a wee bit tired, but I made great progress on my “Desert Island Down-and-Dirty Draft”. Being able to stay inside the story with no interruptions is perhaps the greatest luxury a writer can have.

The cherry on top of this ice-cream-sundae-mood was the news waiting for me at home…

The first reviews for my historical novel, CHAINS, have appeared, graced with beautiful stars!!!

Publishers Weekly says:

“Pursuing similar themes as M.T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing, this gripping novel offers readers a startlingly provocative view of the Revolutionary War. Isabel Finch, the narrator, and her five-year-old sister, Ruth, are to be freed from slavery upon the death of their mistress in Rhode Island, but the mistress’s unscrupulous heir easily persuades the local pastor to dispense with reading the will. Before long Isabel and Ruth are in New York City, the property of a Loyalist couple, whose abusiveness inspires Isabel to a dangerous course: she steals into the Patriot army camp to trade a crucial Loyalist secret in exchange for passage to Rhode Island for herself and Ruth. But not only does the Patriot colonel fail to honor his promise, he personally hands her over to her Loyalist mistress when she runs away, to face disastrous consequences. Anderson (Speak; Fever 1793) packs so much detail into her evocation of wartime New York City that readers will see the turmoil and confusion of the times, and her solidly researched exploration of British and Patriot treatment of slaves during a war for freedom is nuanced and evenhanded, presented in service of a fast-moving, emotionally involving plot. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)”

Kirkus says:

““ ‘Freedom and liberty’ has many meanings,” but enslaved Isabel knows that while Loyalists and Patriots battle for their own versions of freedom, she is “chained between two nations” that uphold slavery. She wonders, “If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?” Anderson brilliantly recreates New York City in the summer of 1776, viewed through the eyes of a remarkable heroine. Taught to read by her previous owner, Isabel knows the Bible and has memorized poetry, and her eloquent first-person voice portrays her life as a slave even as she spies for the rebels, covertly delivers food to Bridewell Prison and plots her own escape. Readers will care deeply about Isabel and may feel frustrated by the abrupt ending to the novel, clearly poised for a sequel or two. While waiting, they can enjoy M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves, another superb take on the subject. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)”

I am incapable of speech right now. I am out of breath from running around the house screaming “Yes! Yes!” and imitating Brandi Chastain after she shot the game-winning penalty kick over China in the Women’s World Cup championship soccer game in 1999. (see photo below)

I worked really, really hard on this book. It feels delicious to get these pats on the back.