Simon & Schuster Day!

I am staying with my friend Deb Heiligman and her husband whilst in NYC. Deb beat me to the blogging punch yesterday about how fashionable we were as we power-walked down to 52nd Street. Turnabout is fair play so this is what Deb looked liked before our walk yesterday.

My day at Simon & Schuster started with anab-fab reception where I got to meet many of the good people who work there and sign a couple of books.

After that I did a short taping for Studio 4 to create more video content for the S&S website (here’s is some of the content created in 2008.)

That lady in the backsground is my FORGE editor, Caitlyn Dlouhy. Here she is in her office….

… which is filled with so many books all I wanted to do was to sit and read. But that was not on the agenda. The day was filled with meetings and meals and sometimes meetings at meals. Most of the conversations revolved around the publication of FORGE (October 19! Mark your calenders!) and the booktour that they are putting together for it. I don’t have any details yet about where and when I’ll be speaking, but as soon as I do, I’ll let you know.

Oh – and Caitlyn and I also talked about some upcoming picturebooks. Again – details later.

And I was able to see the FORGE cover, but it is not fully final yet so I probably shouldn’t show that. But I wish I could because it is GORGEOUS. Lizzy Bromley, the designer of CHAINS, is in charge of FORGE, too, and that is a VERY good thing because Lizzy is a genius, and a hard-working one at that.

Instead of showing you the FORGE cover, I can show you this group of nice S&Sers at one of the meetings.

The day ended with a magnificent meal at a cool restaurant off an alley on the Lower East Side, and before I knew it I was in a cab heading uptown and somehow, this dizzying day was over.

And now I am off to do it again at Penguin.

In which I relive Valley Forge – briefly!

I am just about finished with FORGE (well, this draft, at least). A small part of my lifestyle already mimics the late 18th century: heating my cottage (and our house) with wood instead of electricity or fossil fuel. I grow a lot of food in the garden. I have been known to scratch out pages of notes with a quill and ink. (However I am not crazy enough to give up my computer for writing.)

Last fall I cooked a squash over an open fire for a scene in my book that is based on one of the experiences of Private Joseph Plumb Martin. Performing the task as he did was really important for getting the scene right. I’ve tried to do that with a number of scenes in the book.

(Remind me, please, to write a book about an upper glass girl who lives in Paris in 1910. No risk of frostbite researching that one!)

Most of FORGE takes place in Valley Forge; my story does not shy away from the physical challenges of that encampment. That winter (1777-1778) was not the coldest winter of the war, not at all. But the department of the Commissary was in total disarray, the supply lines were nonexistent, and the Congress – which had been formed to fight a war which everyone thought would take a few months at best – was unprepared to coordinate the purchase and delivery of food, clothing, blankets, soap, and medical supplies for 11,000 soldiers.

Which is why Valley Forge was hell. The soldiers went through several periods of having little or nothing to eat. Many of them were wearing rags. Some lacked shirts. Others lacked jackets. Some had to wear blankets because their pants had fallen apart. Many had no shoes or boots.

Which brings me to this morning’s experiment. It was 13 degrees outside. We had a fresh couple of inches of snow two days ago. It was time for me to step back into time.

 I am wearing garb that is as close to Rev War-era as my closet would allow: a linen shirt that I wear to Renaissance Faires, my husband’s Renn Faire britches, hand-knit wool stockings, a scarf, knit cap, knit gloves and a thin wool blanket. No boots. The fact that my clothing was not torn, muddied, or crawling with various insect life, makes this barely authentic, but I didn’t want anyone calling the authorities because a half-dressed crazy woman was walking in the snow.

It sure felt authentic to my feet. I walked up to the cottage to get my hatchet. I planned on then walking to the mailbox (a little more than a tenth of a mile), get the mail, head back to the house and split some wood (with an axe, not the hatchet) because I needed the wood anyway.

Ha. I am a weenie. I have cowardly feet.

After fetching the hatchet, I managed a couple hundred paces and then my feet quit in protest. At first they went numb, which wasn’t so bad, but then they were in wicked pain. I knew if I kept going they would go numb again, which made the prospect tempting, but I figured my health insurance company would deny my claim for frostbite treatment on account of stupidity. We bagged the mailbox walk and the wood chopping and settled for a few paces in the snow for the benefit of the camera.

I am typing this an hour and a half after I came back inside. My feet still hurt.

I continue to be in awe of the soldiers and the women (and children) who survived that winter at Valley Forge.

Off to heap more wood on the fire now!

Shhhhhh…. want an ARC?

I feel like a literary pusher whispering to passers-by on a street corner when I say this but, ::whispers:: want an ARC of Wintergirls?

There are limited quantities available from my most adored Uncle Penguin. How do you try to score a copy? Head over to the Wintergirls MySpace page. Details are in the blog entry there called “Advance readers copies available.” (And yes, I saw the typo there. No, I am not responsible for it.)

Penmage wrote in to let all of us in the Forest know of her review of WINTERGIRLS. Thank you!

I’ve skipped some of the events here at Kindling Words and did NOT go snowshoeing (though it was tempting) so I could work on my book. This is the part of the writing process that is extremely dull to anyone who is not currently inside my head. I am trying to sort through all of the tangled plot threads and make sure that a) they make sense, logically, b) they are properly motivated by the main character’s emotional state and outside events, and c) they make sense. I feel like I am making progress which is good, but I’m not exactly impressing people with my wit here at the retreat because my eyes keep glazing over as I fade out of conversation and back to that tricky turn of the story in Chapter 6.

A lot of people have written in to ask when the sequel to CHAINS will be released. That’s the book I’m working on right now. Title? FORGE. If all goes well, it should be released in Spring 2010.

When I am done with FORGE, I’ll probably write another YA. I haven’t started hearing a new main character yet, but I suspect he or she will start bugging me later in the spring. I get butterflies in my tummy thinking about it – sort of like knowing that I’m going to go on a year-long blind date, but having no clue about the date’s identity.

I’m off to see if they’re serving breakfast yet.

a sea of musket balls and gunpowder

I am neck deep in 18th century lists of military stores; things like powder horns, bayonet belts, grapeshot, and bear skins. It is heavenly!

I spent the weekend on the road. On Saturday I went to the Fort Plain Museum in Fort Plain, NY for a small (but wonderful) Revolutionary War encampment/reenactment.

Sunday was a long, fantastic day at the RevWar encampment/reenactment at Old Sturbridge Village. Nearly one thousand reenactors were there: soldiers, artisans, women, and lots of their children. All of these people are passionate about understanding the Revolutionary War and have made it their hobby. They go to these encampments to live as people did in the period. They dress, cook, work crafts, relax, have military drills and mock battles all as close to the original thing as possible.

This is a Patriot militia unit.

The British had fancy-pants uniforms and they still lost.

There were plenty of women with General Washington’s army. They were not ladies of the night. They were hired to cook, clean, sew, and help the sick soldiers. Many of them were married to soldiers. Some had their children with them.

The reenactors could not have been more generous with the time. I asked a bazillion pesky questions about the tiny stuff – how does one fire a flintlock musket in the air (answer: one usually doesn’t), the finer points of cooking in a dutch oven, and the art of rolling paper gunpowder cartridges.

Back to work on my story now. Remind to tell you about the guy who let me taste gunpowder…