Starting to rub the sticks together

I am in Burlington VT, taking a break from chapter 20, to say how exciting it is to be here at the Kindling Words retreat! There are old friends here, and people I’ve been looking forward to meet.

Oh, and there is food.

No, not your typical rubber chicken fare. This retreat is held at the Inn at Essex. Yeah, that’s right. Home of the New England Culinary Institute.

Yes, that sound you hear is me gloating. And trying very, very hard not to be a glutton. For lunch I had Thai carrot soup and an omelet with portobello mushrooms and a little tiny bit of boursin cheese (I asked them to go easy on it) and it was so yummy I nearly wept.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Dinner included butternut squash ravioli. This photo does not do justice to the dish.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The dessert table looked killer, but I managed to satisfy myself by taking pictures.

I want to do some writing before bed. Tomorrow is my first presentation. I am so stoked! Jane Yolen is here, and Ellen Wittlinger, Sara Zarr, Vera B. Williams, Tanya Lee Stone, Kate Messner, Linda Sue Park, Gregory Maguire, Wendy Mass, and many, many more!! it is a rare treat to be in the same space as so many creative people.

More photos tomorrow.


Yesterday was a very, very intense day. Wonderful, every single minute of it, but wicked intense. I feel like an apple that was peeled with a dull knife and left on the counter overnight.

It’s weird because I used to be a profoundly shy person, and then I learned how to be brave and extroverted, and now I actually love hanging out at conferences and meeting hundreds of people, but then I have moments like this when I feel shy again. Balance, I guess, is the key.

The highlight of yesterday was booksignings, an hour at Anderson’s Bookstores booth, and then an hour at the PermaBound booth, where the line stretched forfreakingever.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I was thrilled when Ms. J. from Hawaii showed up! I met her on my MySpace page when she wrote asking some questions her students had about the symbolism in SPEAK. Her MySpace photo has her sticking her tongue out, so it seemed appropriate.

Old friends, strikers, and desserts

Portland dinner

I was lucky enough last night to have dinner with a group of people from the Multnomah County Library system (the nice folks who brought me out here) at a lovely Italian restaurant a couple of blocks from my hotel. (I had a fra diablo spaghetti studded with shrimp, clams, and fish.)

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up to the conversation before we ordered. They were all telling me what a wonderful place Portland is: artsy, eco-friendly, mellow, and affordable (compared to Los Angeles, not Mexico, NY). Just as they were listing the authors who live in the region, Ellen, the last person in our group to arrive, walked in with a friend. This friend was on her way to dinner at another restaurant, but wanted to drop in to say hello.

Who was the friend?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Virginia Euwer Wolff, amazing YA author of Make Lemonade, True Believer, Bat 6, The Mozart Season, and many others. I had met her before, but it is always a thrill. She said her hellos to everyone and left for her own dinner.

Happy Teen Read Week, indeed!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I sat between Jenn and Lindsey, who will be introducing me at my events tonight and tomorrow. We had a blast, especially when it came time for dessert.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I had tiramisu. (Loved the bottom layer. Top layer was a little rich.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Jenn had the lemoncake with berry sauce

Image and video hosting by TinyPic and Lindsey had this almond thingie.

I woke up a lot last night, confused about time zones and sunrises and whatnot, but I got enough sleep. It’s finally light out, so I’m going for a run. I wish I could explore a little today, but I really need to work on my revision, so that’s what I’ll be doing until it’s time to leave to give my speech.


I’m in Oregon now, free wifi at my hotel – wa-hoo!

I need to catch you up on my Michigan adventure. First the Detroit airport. Which I love

Image and video hosting by TinyPic because they have one of those cool colorful tunnels that connects the consourses

Image and video hosting by TinyPic and it changes color

Image and video hosting by TinyPic a lot!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Connecting through Detroit always means a trip to Sora, in terminal A, near gate 36

Image and video hosting by TinyPic for sushi and miso soup.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Michigan SCBWI conference was wonderful; extremely friendly (God, I love Midwesterners) and upbeat. Big thanks to (aka She Who Helped With the Myspace Mess In August) for making the drive from Canada, and the conference organizers, and all of the attenders who made me feel right at home.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And there was a real-live reader there! Meet my new friend, Eliza Webb, whose mom was at the conference and who totally made my day by coming over to talk to me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Along with giving speeches and critiquing manuscripts and meeting kindred spirits, I snuck in a run on a beautiful autumn day. But truly, the highlight of the visit for me was this: Jello salad with Mystery Bits in it. This is a staple at United Methodist dinners, which were a staple of my childhood. If you read CATALYST and wondered about the Jello salad, this is what I was talking about. It’s green, it wiggles, and it might be an ingredient in embalming fluid. But damn, it tastes good.

So now I am in Oregon and I have been awake for a million hours. I am at the coolest hotel I have ever stayed at, and I had a great dinner with librarians, and a Famous Author wandered by, and I even worked for a couple hours on my revisions, but all those details will have to wait until after I get some sleep!


Random Saturday thoughts, head start on Sunday’s

I have figured out why our computer system, cable, Internet and phone have been messed up for two weeks. My Muse has transformed herself into the Ghost in the Machine and is haunting all of the electronic communication devices in our house so I have more time to write. I love her. We have had guys with trucks from the cable company out nearly every day, with more coming on Monday.


But email waits for no Muse, which is why I am typing this at the Oswego Tea Company in Oswego, NY. (They are working on the redesign of their page. Anybody from SUNY Oswego want to lend a hand? Maybe they could pay you in cookies or coffee.) Seriously, this is one of my favorite places around and they have free Wifi. Thank you, Lisa who own the Tea Company.

I have recently had many requests to speak at schools. I am still turning all of these down and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, though I do hope to get back to school visits eventually. Teachers, I have name for you, for professional development purposes you want to invite Dr. Joan Kaywell to speak to you. Trust me on this.

We went to the hometown homecoming football game last night: our Mexico Tigers vs. the Fulton Red Raiders. I swear EVERYBODY in our community was there, from new babies to great-grandparents. Mexico lost, but it was a hard fought game and lots of fun to watch. And we beat ESM at their homecoming last week, so the karma is balanced now.

This morning BH and I got up early and headed for the Syracuse Regional Market in search of the season’s last tomatoes (yes, I am roasting them again), fresh cauliflower, enough garlic braids to get us through the winter, fresh bread, and other goodies. One of my favorite local blogs told us about Wake Robin Farm, so we bought heavenly yogurt from them. We also picked up pasture-fed, traditionally raised beef, pork, chicken, eggs and butter from Wendy at Sweet Grass Farm. I swear I will never eat corporate-farmed butter again.

I have been wrestling Chapter Eight of my revision of the historical novel for two and a half days. The dang thing almost had me in a choke-hold, but I finally figure out how to take it down. Kevin, if you are reading this, Chapter Eight just split into two chapters. So yeah, the book is a little longer. Sorry about that.

My alma mater is the coolest.

Great quote heard on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me today: “Blackwater is Enron, but with sub-machine guns.” If you don’t know what that means, please do some investigating into the affairs of Blackwater.

That’s enough now. Back to work.