Season turning & question about taking risks

This morning’s sunrise felt like it had the angle of springtime. I haven’t been down the road for a few days, but I bet they’re getting ready to tap the maple trees on the farm.

Thank you, everyone for the kind and wonderful comments about the magic window and the cottage. BH spent all day yesterday sanding the window and we promise we’ll be updating regularly on the progress. The anticipated completion date is late summer/early fall.

WINTERGIRLS is #3 on Indiebound’s Kid’s Indie Next List for Spring. This is a list of exciting new titles compiled by the independent booksellers. Be sure to check out the whole thing.

Let’s go to the mailbag!

You wrote: How do you know if people accept or condemn like your book? …. What I mean is, how do you know if, because your book might have a few aspects that will undoubtably raise some conservative eyebrows, that it won’t just be deemed inappropriate and nobody will want to read it?

Speak is one of my favorite books, and one of the things I love about is that you don’t try to shove the subject of rape under the ring, or use lavender words to merely allude to it. You tackled it straight-on, which a lot of writers won’t do because–heaven forbid–it’s a difficult topic.

This excellent question goes to the heart of YA literature. When we write for teens, we are writing for millions of readers with vast differences in maturity level, experiences, and background. They come from diverse families. Some kids will be ready for books that are gritty and realistic, others won’t be. This is why parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and reviewers are all part of the YA literature universe.

Someone will always pop up to object to or complain about your book, no matter what you write. That’s a given. There is no way you can please everyone. Neither can you write a book that will appeal to everyone’s tastes. First and foremost, you need to write the book that is in your heart.

When I am towards the end of my revision process, I give serious thought to my intended reader. If I had written any of my books for an adult audience, I am sure I would have made some different choices. I wanted SPEAK to be appropriate for younger as well as older teens because so many young teens are sexually assaulted; they are easy targets because they are young and naive. I deliberately toned down Melinda’s memory of the rape scene, made it less graphic, for that reason. The less-graphic description works organically within the story because when she was raped, she’d had a couple beers, so the memory is a little blurred around the edges. In part because I made the decision not to give a sexually graphic description of the rape, most people feel comfortable handing the book to 8th graders, and some to 7th graders.

And then there are the folks who feel it is a book that should only be given to a senior in high school, at the end of senior year, because that’s when they are old enough to discuss these issues and read stories that reflect the realities of sexual assault.

We cannot control how people react to our books. Our job is to write; write honestly, write with passion and compassion, write the true. Does that help?

WINTERGIRLS goes on sale in 15 days!!

Sunshine and magic window

OK, no clouds or grumbling today. Just fun.

First, some fun announcements.

The BCCB has given WINTERGIRLS its 5th starred review!! Thank you, BCCB!

The audio version of WINTERGIRLS has won an Audiofiles Earphones Award. (I wonder if it comes with a statue of giant earphones…) I had a very nice note from the narrator, Jeannie Stith over the weekend. I got to, erm, voice my opinion about the auditions and I thought she nailed Lia’s voice. I am so excited about the job Brilliance has done with this. Audiofile magazine agreed. Their review says “Stith takes listeners deep into Lia’s dark and frightening fight for survival.”

I’m not running to raise money for the Leukemia Society this year, sadly. I am so snowed under with work, I’m hardly running at all. (My goal to run 750 miles this year had to be tossed out. But I’m not grumbling. No clouds.)

However, the indefatigable and ever-organized Julia Maguire is running a marathon to raise $5,000 to find a cure for blood cancer. Julia works at Simon & Schuster and has always been an enormous help to me. If you liked CHAINS, please donate to Julia’s run, because there is no way the book would have been published on time without her. Go Julia!

And now….. the magic window.

Backstory: It is getting harder and harder for me to find a quiet place to write. My office up in the loft in busy and crowded with “author” stuff: outreach to readers, research, correspondence, etc. In the last two years, I’ve taken several mini-sabbaticals in hotels where I basically lock myself in and crank words. I have enjoyed these respites enormously, but it’s expensive.

Back in October, my Beloved Husband suggested that he make me a writing cottage in our Forest. I resisted the notion and found lots of reasons why I shouldn’t do it, but he was right. I need my own version of Walden Pond. Thoreau built his cabin himself. I don’t need to because I am married to a carpenter.

We’re in early days yet, but the plan is for “The Cottage” to be off the grid (solar power) and heated with a woodstove. We’re also trying to use as much recycled and sustainable materials as possible. To that end, we went to a salvage yard on Saturday to see what old building elements we could reuse.

We found a magic window.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It is around 125 years old and came from a church.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Loading it up and carting it home was a little nerve-wracking for me, but BH had it under control.

Obviously, it needs a little work. No, a lot of work. BH and a buddy of his are starting on the rehab of the wood. Once that’s done, they’ll bring in a glass guy. The window is ten feet wide and eleven feet tall and will take up nearly an entire wall of the cottage, if everything works out. I’ll be posting about the construction project as it happens. Right now we’re waiting for the snow to melt.

And now this blog entry is already too long. Writing questions tomorrow, I swear!

Not the best weekend ever – computer crashes and porn hacking

There were a couple of wonderful things that happened this weekend. I keep trying to remember that. The taxes are almost done and I started taming the file cabinets. We played a marathon game of Planet Earth Monopoly with Number One Son and his girlfriend, who shall now be named The Real Estate Mogul because she trounced us.

And we had an adventure Saturday morning that wound up with the purchase of a magic window. Which I will show you tomorrow.

But two very frustrating, irritating, enraging things happened.

The hard drive on my two-month old MacBook Air died Saturday. Completely died. I’m thinking it was a massive stroke. There was no way to recover any data or email. Most of it was backed-up, but I’m sure some things will slip through the cracks. If you are waiting to hear from me about something and I don’t respond by the end of this week, please mail me again.

Apple is replacing the drive without any problem. But I lost a day of work and will lose more time getting the replacement.

The second thing was worse. A pathetic loser hacked into the UNOFFICIAL LHA fan page on FaceBook and emailed all the members a link that took them to a porn site.

I would like to see that person flogged, but the police say I’ll have to settle for less.

The page that was hacked had no connection to me. It started by a high school student a couple of years ago. She has since left the group and don’t think anyone else stepped in to be the admin, hence the problems. A member of the group emailed me about the hacking and and I contacted FaceBook. I think they may shut the page down.

FOR THE RECORD….. There are 3 “official and approved” LHA pages on FaceBook:

1. My personal page; open to family, friends, and readers of my books. Send a request and I’ll friend you. URL:

2. An official”fan” page, for people who care only about my books and are a little sick of hearing me talk about snow and tomatoes. The URL for that is:

3. The official Wintergirls page:

These pages, as well as my presence on LiveJournal and MySpace and Twitter are all monitored; you’re as safe as a person can be on the Internet if you stick to the monitored sites.

I apologize to everyone who received the email from the skanky creep. I am very sorry and angry someone highjacked my name. I would love to meet up with that person and express my discontent face-to-face, but that’s what my lawyers are for.

SO! That was my weekend. How was yours?

I promise a return to unabashed perkiness tomorrow. I am very stoked about the magic window and can’t wait to show you pictures.