Best T’giving pic & a Twitter question

I am stuffed with gratitude and pie. I should go for a run, I should deal with the backlog of mail, I should write out my expense reports. I should write the next book.

But not right now. I am taking a couple of days off to read and drink vats of gravy.

I haven’t mentioned my mom here in a while because she’s been struggling with health issues and frankly, it’s been too sad to talk about. She is back in the rehab facility (the same place she was in August) and we’re hoping she’ll be home in a few weeks.

So as not to overwhelm her, my sister’s family ate Thanksgiving dinner with her, and my crew showed up with the pie.

Mom ate her dessert while wearing my two National Book Award Finalist medals. ‘Twas a sweet moment, indeed.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She liked the ALAN award, too, but pointed out that she could not wear it. Mother prefers bling that goes around her neck.

On a totally unrelated topic….

… any of you Twitter? Should I do this or will it be a massive timesuck? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

NCTE/ALAN photos… and guacamole recipe, I promise

Thanksgiving was filled with gratitude, turkey, stuffing, and pie. As always, it is/was the best holiday of the year for me.

I’ll post the best Thanksgiving photo later…. maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, I need to clear these photos off my desktop.

The trick is to figure out where to start…… with Beowulf, of course!


Image and video hosting by TinyPic I met a teacher, Priscilla, who also has some Beowolf text on her wrist. That’s mine on the left, hers on the right.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic That is Priscilla in the middle, flanked by her fellow NYC teachers, Kate and Alexandra.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I was stoked to see a poster for my friend Deb Heiligman’s new book, CHARLES AND EMMA.

Authors, teachers, Guacamole Dave and the Alamo

NCTE/ALAN fun & festivities

Thank you, good citizens of San Antonio, for providing wifi in your airport! I’m sitting at Gate 13, waiting for the plane that will take me to Atlanta, where I will get the plane to take me HOME.

I’m not feeling terribly energetic or articulate right now, but I am so very, very grateful for everything the past month has brought: the people I met on book tour, the opportunity to go on book tour, the incredible teachers and librarians of NCTE/ALAN…. pretty much everything. I’m a gooey puddle of gratitude, spiked with caffeine and apples.

(Does that make any sense?)

I have plenty of pics to share.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic A common sight all conference. I think these teachers are from Kansas.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the first conference where we passed out galleys of my new YA novel, WINTERGIRLS. The smart lady on the right is Joy Peskin, the editor of WINTERGIRLS. You can kind of see the cover of the book behind me. WINTERGIRLS will be published in March and I promise I will blog about it soon. Like when my brain re-engages.

In the mood for more pictures? Authors and teachers and guacamole, oh my!

National Book Awards fun & festivities

So here’s the story…..

The trip started out with a few minor glitches.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic We woke up to some snow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And poor BH was exhausted because he had food poisoning on Sunday night.

But we People of the Tundra are made tough – neither snow nor bacteria kept us down. We made it to the Big Apple, got a decent night’s sleep, and leapt into the fun.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The first event was held in the Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The was meaningful for a couple of different reasons: a Langston Hughes poem was a huge influence on me when I was a kid and Christopher Moore, the research coordinator and curator of the Center, who kicked off the event, was one of the experts who read the early draft of CHAINS for historical accuracy.

We had a terrific audience of New York teens who had read the books of the finalists in the Young People’s Literature category. We each read from our book, then took questions, under the skillful guidance of Jon Scieszka, the Ambassador of Children’s Literature. School Library Journal has a nice article about the event.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The best part was signing books and talking to the teens after the event, even if it was a little crowded.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Daughter #1, aka Stephanie, aka Bookavore, joined us, as did my friend and fellow author Phil Bildner.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Mr. Ambassador, me, CHAINS editor Kevin Lewis, and Stef.

Tuesday night was the medal presentation. Yes, I cried. Writing is a lonely task. I’m usually fighting the demons of self-doubt and negativity when I’m writing, and am often convinced that my writing stinks. When the medal was placed around my neck, those demons were silenced. At least for a little while.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Happy, happy, happy author with medal around neck and attractive husband on arm after Tuesday night’s reading.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Wednesday was a blur. After breakfast we walked down to the Simon & Schuster offices where I posed in front of the display of CHAINS and THE UNDERNEATH, written by my S&S sister and fellow NBA-finalist Kathi Appelt.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Did I mention that they gave us medals? And that wearing a medal around one’s neck is one of the coolest things EVER??

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Everyone from S&S came in to say hello. This gave Kathi and I and our editors a chance to say thank you to all the people who helped make our books so special. And, of course, there were coffee and bagels. And medals.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I was able to shower love and admiration and gratitude on Lizzy Bromley, the genius book designer who is responsible for the amazing look and feel of CHAINS.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Kevin, me, and Jessica Sonkin, the designer for my next picture book (that’s the cover we’re holding) THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEFFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL. (It will be out in June, 2009.)

After a long lunch, it was time to do the Cinderella transformation. I was something of a wreck because my natural habitat is a house in country and I’m usually dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic But for the National Book Awards, jeans and sweatshirt are not enough. And honestly? BH and I really had fun dressing up and pretending we were sophisticated for a couple of hours. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am really glad I bought the dress. Kevin and BH were right and I’m glad they didn’t let me wear my sneakers.

The event was held at Cipriani’s, a gorgeous banquet space that used to be a bank, located on Wall Street. Maybe the subtext was that literature and the humanities will prevail even as the false gods of hedge fund management crumble into dust.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Being there with my editor and my husband was an honor and a delight. Don’t they both clean up good?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The special honoree of the night was Maxine Hong Kingston, who is now my new role model for the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up.

We had a very fancy and yummy dinner and then the Event started. The chair of the Young People’s Literature committee was Daniel Handler, who gave the best speech of the entire evening. I sure hope it turns up on YouTube or BookTV because everyone who cares about children’s literature, and everyone who thinks that children’s literature is less worthy of attention than adult literature should listen to it.

When the Big Moment came, it was Judy Blundell’s book, WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED that got the nod, not CHAINS. Yes, I was disappointed… for about five minutes. What snapped me out of it was the thought that I needed to find the judges and thank them for this incredible honor before they disappeared into the night. Trust me, I am more than blessed to have CHAINS identified as a National Book Award Finalist. I have no complaints, no regrets. My only problem is a sore jaw from grinning like a fool 24/7 for the last four days.

Some of the judges left before I could track them down, but I was able to catch up with a couple of them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here you see (from the left) Theo Black (husband of judge Holly), Angela Johnson, Kevin, Holly Black, me, Carolyn Mackler, and fellow finalist E. Lockhart, author of THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS.

So it was crazy/wonderful/bewildering/glorious and more fun than I can begin to describe.

Any questions?

Oh – and right now? I’m in San Antonio for the NCTE/ALAN conference. Huzzah!

Congratulations Judy!!!

I know I am wicked behind on postings and updates, but whirlwind doesn’t begin to describe the last couple of days.

The most important thing right now is to tell you that the National Book Award events have been a blast; I am so honored to have CHAINS in league with the other spectacular books that were named finalists.

More details later, but here is one shot from last night.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Congratulations, Judy Bludell for winning the National Book Award for What I Saw and How I Lied, published by Scholastic. I wish you all could have heard her wonderful acceptance speech – it was top-notch and classy.

I’m off to the airport again, this time to hop a flight to San Antonio, TX for the National Council of Teachers of English Conference. More photos later, including a terrific shot of the attractive gentlemen who escorted me last night!