WFMAD Day 15 – Better Late Than Never

I’m late. I know. I should probably hang my head in shame. But I’m not going to.

Our weekend was filled with camping with friends and then today we had some family stuff that took up most of the day, which was way longer than I thought it would.

I don’t regret one second.

There are some things that you probably don’t want to allow to interfere with your writing. Like game shows. Volunteering for things you don’t believe in. Hanging out at the mall because you’re bored.

But in my book, making time for family and friends is of the highest priority. And if you are fortunate enough to have great relationships with your family and friends, they’ll understand how important writing is to you and they’ll cut you a lot of slack when you need it.

Balance always sounds simpler than it is, I know, but it’s worth aiming for.

Housekeeping – We’ve made it halfway through the WFMAD Challenge (congratulations, btw!) and I imagine that a few of you have questions for me. Please post them in the Comments section and I will try to get to them in the next two weeks. Thank you!

Ready… “The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.” Stephen King

Set… After you send me a question, you can turn off the Internet and phone

Today’s prompt:

1) Make a list of the five things that you or your character are most afraid of.

2) Circle the one that makes your heart race and palms sweat.

3) Write a scene in which you or your character has to confront the scary thing in a very public place – filled with people – so you (or the character) can’t freak out and run away screaming. You have to interact or avoid the scary thing, but in such a way that no one else will notice you are afraid.

4) Do all of the above without using the word “afraid,” “fear,” or “scared.” Show the emotion instead of telling the reader about it.


Brilliant Win of Kate Messner

I don’t have much time this morning, but I wanted to post a quick video from last night. This is for Kate Messner, who couldn’t be here at BEA because she is a dedicated teacher and she is teaching this week.

That did not stop her book, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, from winning a big honking award last night.


I have a couple of tidbits I’ve been wanting to share with you, so get your pens and paper ready.

1. Congratulations to Professor Annette Gordon-Reed for winning prize after exquisite prize for her incredible, important, must-be-read-by-all-Americans book, The Hemingses of Monticello. In addition to taking last year’s National Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the Pulitzer for History earlier this year, it was recently announced that Hemingses was awarded the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition.

2. Christopher Moore, curator of the Schomberg Center and one of the generous vetters for Chains, has written a book with his eight-year-old son Matthew based on a 400 million-year-old boulder that is now in a park near their home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The book is not published yet, but the story has been turned into a musical, Matthew Takes Mannahatta, which opened last weekend. Bravo!

3. An independent bookseller (who is NOT my daughter) has written an open letter to all authors about the vital bookseller-author relationship. Please read it.

4. The first two books of my Vet Volunteers series have been translated into Japanese!!! Squeeeeeeeee!



  They have ILLUSTRATIONS!! How cool is that?

And that is all the Tidbits from the Forest today.


I know you guys are getting sick of this, but the contest is almost over. Zoe still needs one vote a day, every day, if she is to stand a chance at winding up in abox of Cheerios next year.

When I was a kid, I lived in a house that had the most ridiculous rule in the world: no reading at the breakfast table. This meant that I read the cereal box obsessively. I can still recite way too many lists of ingredients.

When I grew up and became The Boss, I made a new rule: you MUST bring a book to the breakfast table. And now, because all the stars are lining up, one my books – THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL – could be the book that winds up on a million breakfast tables. This is most important to me because a lot of the kids who get a book in their cereal live in families who don’t have the extra money for books. Because of this fun contest, if they eat a good breakfast, they get a free book. That is pretty cool.

But Zoe still needs your vote. Please!


1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October. That is only a few more days!



When great things happen to great writers who are also my friends


The National Book Award Finalists have been announced. The finalists in the Young People’s Literature category are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
(Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)

I am super, super excited about this list for a bunch of reasons.

First, Deb Heiligman is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I am so happy about the attention CHARLES AND EMMA has received I am in tears, when I am not dancing. YAY DEB!!!!!!!!!!!

Second, it’s about time Rita Williams-Garcia got some more attention for her work!

Third, I think it is wonderful to have three non-fiction books on this list!

I do have a question. Was David Small’s book (which I bought and LOVE) published as children’s literature or was it published as an adult title by Norton? Why do I care? Because if it was David’s intent to have this book seen as an adult title (which I certainly think it qualifies as) I wonder if this award might narrow the market, or make booksellers and librarians think it should only be shelved in the children’s section.

Personally, I think it is an excellent example of a cross-over title. Do you think it matters if it is an adult book crossing into the children’s market or a children’s book crossing into the adult section?

What do you think of this list?