I revised all weekend. What about you? If you are working on NaNoWriMo or just putting pedal to the medal to finish a draft, you might want to read the Tips on Writer’s Block I wrote for the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program.

Because of the intense revision schedule I’m on, I need to issue a blanket apology to all my friends for not answering email or phone calls right now. I’d grovel too, except I’m too busy writing.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means… The National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Conference is just around the corner. This year it’s in my old stomping ground, Philly.

::thinks of cheesesteaks::

Here is my schedule:


7–9:00 pm Doylestown Bookshop

Doylestown Bookshop

16 S. Main St, Doylestown, PA 18901

(215) 230-7610

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2009 All Events open to Conference attendees ONLY

7–9:15 am Keynote Speaker at ALAN Breakfast (Ticketed Event)

Philadelphia Marriot
1201 Market St, Grand Ballroom, Salon A (5th floor)


Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

1–2:00 pm BOOK SIGNING AT SIMON & SCHUSTER, Booth #419

4:15–5:30 pm Panel: "Authors’ Blogs: Connections, Collaboration, and Creativity"
Other authors on panel: Maureen Johnson, Justine Larbalestier, Barbara O’Connor & Lisa Yee
Convention Center, Street Level, Room 103A


9 am–12:00 pm Chester County Book & Music Company Author Breakfast with LHA & Sarah Dessen!

Chester County Books

975 Paoli Pike

West Chester, PA 19380

(610) 696-1661

1–3:00 pm “A Novel Idea” Teen Event for Philadelphia Free Library at Children’s Book World

More authors than you can count at this one: Jay Asher, T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen, Steve Kluger, Justine L
arbalestier, David Levithan, Lauren Myracle, Scott Westerfeld & Jacqueline Woodson. And me!

Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Road
Haverford, PA 19041
(610) 642-6274

My husband did a little more tweeking on the exterior of the cottage and he wanted me to post this picture to prove you can’t see the Tyvek anymore:

No worries, mate – Friday Five Plus One, turtle edition

I didn’t mean to alarm anyone by not posting for a week. Things have been a bit busy. Mostly with good stuff, but at such a fast pace I haven’t had blogging time.

First – A wee movie for your enjoyment. This turtle belongs to my daughter, OfficeMouse. When she got the turtle, it was smaller than a quarter.

The turtle thinks it is a cat. This is very confusing to the real cats.

Second – I have heard nothing from the Kentucky high school where TWISTED and other books still appear to be banned. I have no idea what is going on and hope that everyone down there is figuring out how to have constructive, professional conversations about the place of YA contemporary literature in the classroom.

Third – WINTERGIRLS is preparing to move to the world stage. I think the Australian edition will be the first one to go to press. Authors Melina Marchetta and Alyssa Brugman said very nice things about the book – thank you! As it stands now, WINTERGIRLS will be published in Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway, Korea, Poland, Spain & Latin America, Italy, Germany, and Holland. And Great Britain, I think. This is all VERY exciting!!! As soon as I get cover images of these books, I’ll post them. It always fascinates me to see what images the non-US publishers choose to appeal to their markets. 

Fourth – last weekend I got to speak to the lovely booksellers at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Conference. You can read Part One of Jennifer Brown’s conference coverage in today’s Shelf Awareness.

Fifth – I have been struggling a bit with some health issues. I added up the stress factors of the past year and everything suddenly made sense. In addition to the two deaths in the family this summer, and caring for a niece for a while, I was on the road for business for more than 100 days of the last year. That is officially Too Much Travel and explains many things. So please, if you have been trying to get me to come at speak at your school or conference, please understand why I am going to have to say no. I am already scheduled for 50 days next year and we’re going to try and limit it to that number.

Plus One – I’ve been sneaking into the cottageand writing amidst the power tools, but BH assures me we are days away from being able to clear out the equipment and handing over the keys to me. Some of the interior projects, like the wall of bookcase have been put on hold until I hit the road again. Next week I might make a video that shows the entire project. For now, here are a couple of recent shots.

  The south wall with the magic window in place. It only requires a little bit of siding work (that is cedar siding) to be done. BH is planning on stoning that bit of wall from the bottom of the siding to the ground. I don’t know if he’ll have time to do that before the snow flies.

BH standing next to the woodstove where the fire is crackling away. The stove is covered in soapstone so it should radiate plenty of heat. The floorboards are 125+ years old. 

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!

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…