A Long Time Coming

When I read this news, it made me cry.

"About 15,000 African slaves and their descendants were once unceremoniously buried under what is today Manhattan— and forgotten.

On Saturday, a new visitor center opened near the rediscovered cemetery from the 17th and 18th centuries to celebrate the ethnic Africans who had toiled, many unpaid, to help make New York the nation’s commercial capital.

"It’s shocking — the number of people today who are still unaware that this history exists in New York," said Tara Morrison, superintendent of the African Burial Ground National Memorial.

It’s located a short walk from Wall Street, where African slaves once were traded."

It was a good cry, what my kids used to call "happy tears." We are finally beginning to look at our shared history of slavery. We have to look at it in order to understand it. We have to understand it in order to learn how American culture became so poisoned with racism and prejudice. We have to learn, acknowledge, and own our history, so that we might become the nation we have always had the potential to be: a country where all people truly are treated and respected equally. That’s my dream, too.

Make your day better and read the entire article. The author got one thing wrong: New York did abolish slavery in 1827, but the statue had loopholes that left people in New York in bondage well after that year.

It has taken centuries, but now we finally have recognition and respect for the people who deserve it the most: the African Burial Ground National Monument. I visited the site in its early days and was deeply moved. Any trip you take to Lower Manhattan needs to include this. (The monument’s superintendent, Tara Morrison, was a wonderful resource when I was writing CHAINS.) Be sure to check out this photo essay to see more.

If you’ve read CHAINS, you already know where this Burial Ground was.

This is Manhattan around the time of the Revolution.

Remember the Commons, where the traitor who planned on assassinating George Washington was executed, and where the British barracks and the jail were?

The Commons is that triangle above. See the Water up there, too? That was the Collect Pond. The African Burial Ground was very close to the original Pond. In CHAINS, Isabel mentions it on page 112

I’ll keep my eye on the NPS website for the new monument and will be sure to add links to any classroom resources they put up in the new-and-improved version of my website.

Since I’m on the topic of race and cultural heritage, this is a good time to link to Anne Sibley O’Brien’s post on white privilege in children’s literature.

What do you think about all of this?

Officially crawling into cave

Yesterday was amazing: our Number One Son qualified for the New York State boy’s swimming meet by taking third place in the 100-meter breast in the preliminary heat at yesterday’s Section III championships.

That is a mouthful for an early-morning post. Boiled down to its essence, it translates into: My kid is going to States!!!! Yeah, we are just a wee bit excited about this here.

Good thing we did all of the hooting and hollering yesterday. Today marks the beginning of the period known as Laurie Is Crawling Into Her Cave To Work on Her Book. I won’t be posted much, if any, over the next two weeks. I will be writing, writing, throwing out the pages that don’t work, then writing some more.

This is the part of revision that I love the most. It’s like going crazy studying for finals – very long, intense days (and sometimes nights) spent wrapped in all the story threads. In college, my fuel of choice was late-night doughnuts and very bad coffee. I’ve exchanged the doughnuts for salads and the bad coffee for wonderful coffee, but the game is the same: work to exhaustion, sleep, eat, work some more, exercise, eat, work to exhaustion, start again the next morning. I hit this phase with all of my books. Remember the scary scene in TWISTED with the gun? That came to me during this phase. These intense days and nights bring the characters to life – they truly incarnate for me. This is a Good Thing.

Before I grab my pens and scuttle deep into the cave, let me give a last shout out to the 28 Days Later project. Today’s featured author is one of my favorite guys in the whole world, Walter Dean Myers. I think Walter should get his own month. He was born in August. Let’s rename it as “The Month of Walter.”

Thanks to my friend Jerry from high school, and my fellow author buddy Ellen, I am 88% of the way to my fundraising goal for the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society’s Team in Training Half marathon. I am still offering a free audio version of TWISTED to the nice person who puts me over the top. You can donate here. If you want to cheer on my husband (who has to put up with my craziness for the next two weeks) donate to him – he’s logging just as many training miles as I am, and he keeps the coffee hot for me.

ETA I didn’t watch any news yesterday, so I am just catching the news about the horrible campus shooting at Northern Illinois University. This is the fourth school shooting in America this week. Dear God in heaven, how do we keep all of our kids whole in body and mind?


Go away, please. I’m writing.

No, wait! Come back!

Because TWISTED was nominated for a 2008-2009 Georgia Peach Book Award!!!! So were a lot of other great books, including a few written by friends. So I am baking a cyber-peach pie to share with Cecil, Jordan, Sherman and Gail. Somebody else better bring ice cream, ’cause we don’t have any.

Don’t forget to visit 28 Days Later, where today’s featured author is Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, who wrote The Shadow Speaker, which just made the finalists list for the Andre Norton Award (YA category) given by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Be sure to stop by her site.

OK, now you can go. On your way through the kitchen, please turn on the burner under the tea kettle, OK?

See you tomorrow.

the proper name for this draft

This is the dopeslap draft. I have a headache from hitting myself upside the head every time I figure something out that has probably been obvious for months, only I just realized it for the first time. “Duh! Of course that’s where her father works! Duuuuh, of course she’s going to do that!”

I need to reserve my words for my story today, so here are some links to keep you happy:

Continuing with this week’s “grande dame of children’s literature” theme, I present a new interview with the creator of Ramona, Beverly Cleary.

Today’s featured author at 28 Days Later is Eleanora E. Tate, who wrote Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance. Be sure to read the powerful bio on her website.

Join the most exclusive club in all of children’s literature! Low membership fee, everlasting gratitude! Earn bragging rights!

Lake Placid Half-Marathon countdown: 130 days. Seems like it’s a million years away.

And then the main character turned left instead of right…

I threw out the last third of my book yesterday. Yeah, the one that is due very, very soon.

(I didn’t actually throw it out. I put it in the file marked “Extremely Good Writing In Search of the Right Story.” It has many friends there.)

The main character announced the need to take a different path than the one I chose. While it is utterly terrifying to have no clue how the book is going to end, I must admit, it’s also kind of fun, like skiing down an icy slope on a Black Diamond trail. I might end in an emergency room, but then again, I might end up in front of the fire in the lodge regaling the crowd with a tale of adventure, sipping a mug of hot cheer. Either way, it promises a wild ride.

No skiing yesterday, but I did run 10 miles. BH ran 8. We can barely walk today.

Today’s featured author at 28 Days Later is Janice N. Harrington, who wins the best title of the day award because she wrote The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County. She also wrote the much lauded and awarded Going North.

Judy Blume Alert!!!! My favorite quote of the interview: “After each book I get panicky. I don’t love the reviews. I don’t like going through all that, and you would think that, after almost 40 years of writing, I’d have got the hang of it. You can never grow complacent about it because it’s always new, it’s always exciting and it’s always like the first time.”

I didn’t know she has a blog! ::rushes to hit Bookmark button::

Off to work now. Keep scribbling.

Join the most exclusive club in all of children’s literature! Low membership fee, everlasting gratitude!

Lake Placid Half-Marathon countdown: 131 days