Thoughts while waiting for the coffee to brew

Happy Birthday, Wolfgang!

After a slight wobble when she called CNN two weeks ago, Oprah retakes the crown as Queen of the Known Universe. Thank goodness. Did anyone actually see the show?

I had a moment last night when I was IMing three of our four kids at the same time. It was so cool I could barely contain myself.

I have another massive list of books for BH to fetch home from the library for me. I’m going to need new glasses by the time this research is over.

I keep looking for situations in which I can say “Gotham” and “dolt”. Do you ever do that, obsess over a word for a while and try to shove it into sentences where it doesn’t belong until your friends scream “Cut it out! God, you’re such a dolt!”


another sad day

This is a bad season for the elderly of our family.

My Aunt Janet died yesterday. She was the aunt whom I spent the most time with growing up. When I was little, she scared me to death because she could be tough, and, let’s be honest, a wee bit ornery. As I grew older, I began to appreciate all she had done with her life, including leaving an abusive marriage back in the day when most women couldn’t leave, and doing a great job raising my cousin, and taking care of my grandparents in their old age. She was always volunteering with church, and teaching people how to read. She made great tuna fish sandwiches. She was a classy dame with an Irish temper and a mind like a steel trap. She is/was/is one of my heroes.

The biggest impact she had on me was with books. There were not many books in my house growing up, and those that we had were mostly religious texts (Dad was a minister). Aunt Janet never lived in a big house, or a grand apartment, but wherever she lived, she had shelves and shelves of books. I used to stare at her bookshelves and drool. She showed me that books were good and important and worth dedicating a part of your life to.

She had one of the best laughs in the North Country.

I miss her wicked.

PS – Alert to everyone I know. I call a “No Dying Week”. If you have to die, you need to reschedule it until a week from today, at the earliest.

I love SCBWI

I spent all day Saturday at a local SCBWI (Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, which was very good for my heart and soul. If I can figure out how to download the pictures from my camera (help me, Mer!) I’ll show you some of the neat people who were there. It felt amazing to get out of the house and be with other writers for a change. Yesterday was get ready for the week day, and movies with some of our kids. We saw King Kong (do not see it), which stank, but gave us plenty to critique (plot, pacing, character development, you name it). I spent all morning with my mom who had another nasty medical thingie to get through.

Happy Martin Luther King’s birthday, everyone!

And now… back to work.

The end of a tree

I didn’t go on about it too much at the time, but Christmas this year was amazing. My husband worked his butt off finishing up various construction projects in time for the big day, and we decorated the house so beautifully I never wanted to go to sleep; I just wanted to wander from room to room for days on end saying drippy things like “Oooooh, pretty lights!” and “Ribbons and pine cones – how tasteful!”

Yeah, I know. Pathetic. But it really did look nice.

We fulfilled one of my lifelong Christmas fantasies this year: we had two trees – the living room tree, and another one in our bedroom. (Yes, they were both live. We don’t do plastic.) I didn’t think about the implications of removing the upstairs tree when I was decorating it. I was too busy drooling and saying “Pretty lights!”

Yesterday while I was obsessing about the details of the ending of my novel, my husband took care of tree removal.

Wait until you see what he did to it

2006 Mail Call #1

Katie from J-D Middle School writes: I am in seventh grade. For Language Arts, we are doing a favorite author report. I chose to do you as my author because I have read all of your books and think that they send very important messages. I wanted to find out how you thought up the story line and such. To find all the information I need, I would really like it if you took time out of your busy schedule to answer these few questions.

1. What are some people or events that have influenced you to write your books?
2. Did the people or events who influenced you affect the storyline/plot of your books?
3. What was your childhood like?
4. How did you think of what life was like for Melinda in Speak? And what she went through and felt like?

Ah… author reports. It still feels weird that students do them about me. Not sure if I will ever get used to it.
1. My father was a huge influence on me. (Still is.) He writes poetry and taught me from a very early age that books are important.
2. I think the teens that I meet are the ones who drive my choice of plot. I don’t ever take the story of one particular kid, but I take the concerns I hear from many of them and try to address them in my books.
3. My childhood was a blast. We lived in a great neighborhood just off Syracuse University’s campus. We walked to school. We played for hours outside (this was before cable TV was invented). It felt like the world was a good and safe place. And then I became a teenager and everything fell apart.
4. I was sexually assaulted and I know what it feels like. I have also dealt with depression on and off for thirty years (as have several family members), so I am familiar with that, too.

I hope the report turns out OK.

Elise writes: I think your book FEVER 1793 is very good. I haven’t finished it yet but I am building up suspense. It has a great plot and very interesting characters. I can’t wait to read any of your other books when I am done with this one. I don’t really know what book I will read next. I may read SPEAK next. All in all, I think I realy love FEAVER 1793.

Thank you, Elise!
I did get your note, Jessica, but it got eaten in my email system and I cannot find it for the life of me. And thank you, teacher John, for the very kind note.

We had a small 75th birthday party for my mom yesterday and I finally cooked macaroni and cheese that she said met her standards. My cousin and her husband were able to join us and we had a sweet evening. I am so grateful that we were able to move my folks up here and be a part of their lives in the last chapter. I take Mom to her oncologist’s office today to make sure that the evil cancer beast that lurks in her bones is still under control.

Still hammering away at final revisions for my WIP. I think I may be within hours of sending it off to my editor…. I keep reading it out loud and fussing with little changes. Revision is hard.