Writing Prompt!!

I haven’t done one of these in a long time, but since I am diving back into being a writer (as opposed to being an author, which has consumed the last several months for me), I figured you should, too.

This is the surprise I found in my garden this morning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Write for fifteen minutes about this. Don’t analyze. Don’t plot. Don’t outline. Just write.

A long weekend’s worth of links & deviled egg inquiry

I am slowly transitioning from insane farmer woman back to being a writer who gardens a little. By the end of the weekend, the new vegetable plots should be finished, seedlings in, and seeds sown. And it’s a good thing because I am itching to get back to writing. All the travel and work stress is almost gone, and being in balance again is now appearing possible.

The glass is now installed in the Magic Window, the walls and most of the ceiling are up, and the cool chimney pot we found at the salvage yard is in place on the roof.

Our friend Steve, a natural born Tinkerer, has been up here helping out. He’s our lead elf for alternative energy issues. (The goal is to keep the cottage completely off the electrical grid.) The small wind turbine came last week. At first they mounted it on the garage roof, but that was a bad idea. Then they put it on a 10-foot pole in the back meadow. Better. Now it’s on a 20-foot pole in the back meadow – MUCH better. They are still experimenting with the exact location to take the best advantage of the winds. The other piece of the electric system will be a solar panel that should arrive next week.

Just writing all of this down makes me tired.

Aside from gardening and hanging with friends this weekend, I am going to try and make yogurt in my crockpot, thanks to a tip from Bookavore.

Don’t know what you’re going to do this weekend? I have a few suggestions:

Change a life. Buy a book for a boy in prison (thanks to all at Guys Lit Wire!)

Read Jezebel’s review of Wintergirls.

Read this jaw-dropping interview with A. S. Byatt in which she discusses her new book, The Children’s Book, a novel set in Edwardian England that examines the destructive side of creativity. (For the record, I usually like her books a lot and am looking forward to this one.) In the interview she says some rather stunning things, such as, “Yes, because I noticed that there’s a high rate of suicide among the children of children’s book writers.”

And “I think that most of the children’s writers live in the world that they’ve created, and their children are kind of phantoms that wander around the edge of it in the world, but actually the children’s writers are the children.”

In the first comment, I believe she is speaking only within the context of children’s writers from the Edwardian era, but the second comment seems more general. Any thoughts on this, gentle readers? (The book is available in the UK and Australia now, comes out in the States in October.) (And thanks to Judith in Australia for the info about this!)

That ought to hold you for a couple days.

ONE LAST THING!!! Do you have any secret ingredients you put in deviled eggs? If yes, please tell me what they are!

PS – GoogleLitTrips has a very nice feature on FEVER 1793. Check it out, teachers!

Halfway through the garden

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter the past week, you’ve noticed I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in the garden. What’s up with that?

It’s my therapy.

After the insane amount of travel the past six months, my brain is fried and my soul is tattered. There was no earthly way I could dive back into writing. Many people take vacations when they get burnt out. Packing my suitcase to go away again was the LAST thing I wanted to do. So I pulled on my pink rubber boots, grabbed the shovel, and headed for the back yard.

The first order of business was the flower beds. Last year, they were home to both flowers and veggies, but this year all the beds we can see from the house are flower-based. (The beds we can’t see from the house get a little more sun, that’s why. And we have a short growing season, so we have to take advantage of whatever sun we get.)

It took about a week to get all the plants and seeds in. Our land is on top of a hill that is mostly glacial till. This means a large part of gardening means extracting large rocks and filling in the hole with imported dirt and/or homemade compost.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of a boulder that was two feet tall and big enough around for me to just be able to get my arms around. Thankfully, it had the good grace to split into 5 manageable pieces when I finally removed all the surrounding dirt and smaller boulders. The extraction took two hours. My back is a little sore, but it was worth it!

This week I’ll be catching up on more correspondence and beginning to shift my brain back into writing mode. And – most importantly – I’ll be whipping the vegetable beds into shape. I am fretting because I am very late getting my peas in – that will be the first order of business.

A few book notes.

WINTERGIRLS made The New York Times Editor’s Choice List. As did CHARLES AND EMMA, by my friend Deb Heiligman.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Last Friday, we enjoyed the very last event on the WINTERGIRLS tour, at River’s End Bookshop in Oswego, NY. More than 100 people came out; one guy drove up from Philly, others came from Potsdam, Rochester, and Rome (NY, not Italy). It was a blast. Thankfully, the fire marshal did not stop in to count heads.

And finally, what do you think of The Happiness Project? Is it a load of manure or something worthwhile, useful, and life-altering?

Appreciating your goodness and harvesting rocks

Wow. You guys are incredible. I can’t begin to express how much your comments and emails about the New York Times discussion board kerfuffle meant to me. Thank you, thank you!!! I am blessed to have such kind readers and friends!

Because of the stress from the past six months of travel, and losing my Simon & Schuster editor (he was laid off last week – I am still too upset to blog about it rationally), and everything else, I’ve been mostly gardening this week. Despite the soothing effect of attacking the boulders in my garden with an iron bar, pick axe, and rototiller, I am still having nightmares about zombies. Go figure.

But the rocks are slowly yielding, seeds are being planted, and I have no doubt that the zombies will soon crawl back to where they belong.

Cottage Update!!!

While I’ve been wielding my pick axe, BH and his tribe of elves have been hard at work at the cottage.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the interior of the north end. The windows are up high because there will be bookshelves underneath them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They have put the Magic Window in place in the south wall, and filled in the gaps around it. The glass guy is supposed to be here this weekend. He’ll install the clear, insulated, UV-filtering glass – can’t afford stained glass yet – someday!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The insulation crew did their job this week, Coler Natural Insulation of Ionia, NY. Their spray-foam insulation is based, in part, on soybean oil and is a healthier choice for both me and the environment.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Insulation guy at work! The cottage is much, much quieter with the insulation in place. Next step, along with the glass being put in place, is for BH to put up the ceiling and interior walls.

Last but not least notes!

Gail Carson Levine has started blogging. Drop by and welcome her to the blogosphere!

TWISTED won the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award, given by the Indiana Library Foundation (and named after one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters – how cool is that!?) Thank you, Indiana!!

TWISTED was also nominated for the Kentucky Bluegrass Award. Check out the whole list!

Off to hit zombies with a shovel…

Debates about WINTERGIRLS and camera in my face

My face still hurts… for so many reasons.

School Library Journal sent a photographer to our house yesterday to take a picture of me that will run (July, I think) with an article about the Margaret A. Edwards Award. It’s going to be the cover photo, so there were specific demands of the picture in terms of surrounding space for text, etc. There was also a request to try and get the picture in a natural setting, possibly because of the tree themes in Speak, and the amount of time I spend gardening, etc.

The photographer was a super nice guy from Syracuse. He took pics of me in our Forest, on the stone wall behind the garden, in the house, and by the Magic Window in the cottage. Queen Louise developed a new job skill; she had to hold the whatsit that softened the light. Now she is officially a Grip. And she has a grip on life. Many bad puns were made while the guy shot – I kid you not – hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Here’s hoping that one of them turned out OK.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Me standing on the wall. Do I look like a target for haters? Keep reading.

In other news, a small firestorm about WINTERGIRLS is raging over on the New York Times website, on the Well, a discussion section. The question posed was “In writing about eating disorders, are authors, unwittingly, creating an alluring guidebook to the disease?”

The debate is fascinating; take a peek.

Some of the comments were very painful for me to read, like the one that accused me of writing “anorexic porn.” The debate seems to be boiling down to a question that pertains to many YA novels: Will our children act in a dangerous manner if they read about dangerous behaviors in books?

And then the good people at the Jezebel blog joined the fray, with a blog entry called “Are Teen Girls Really That Fragile?” Plenty of response to that question, too!

What do you think about all of this?