crazy goldfinch, writing process questions & ALA schedule

We have a male goldfinch who thinks our house is a romantic rival. Seriously. For three days, he has been flying up to the building and attacking it with his beak. He is most persistent. I’ve heard him muttering: She’s mine, I say, MINE. get away, you fool. Don’t you see your quest for her love is in vain? Back, back to the foul place from whence you came!

At first I thought he wasn’t seeing the glass, so I pulled the shades, and tinkered with the angle of the windows (they open outwards). Didn’t help. He’s attacking the siding, too. I’m worried that the little guy is going to break his beak, or get a concussion and forget which nest is his, then his true love will pine away in sorrow, and their children will be sent to a cruel orphanage in the north on England and will have to eat gruel.

Writing Process and More!

Mitali Perkins has posted the Q&A I did on the readergirlz forum last week. In it, I talk about the hardest thing about YA writing, inspiration for various novels, and the challenges of writing outside my gender and ethnic background. Thank you, Mitali, divas, and girlz! I had fun with youze!


I leave for the annual American Library Association conference on Thursday. If you see me wandering around, please come up and say hello because I am always intimidated by these events and am most grateful for friendly faces.

Along with much wandering, this is my official ALA schedule:

Saturday, June 28
10-11am Signing at the Simon & Schuster booth, #2499

3-4pm Signing at the Penguin booth, #2616

5:30pm-? Come hang out with Tanya Lee Stone and me in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel. No tickets! No lines! We’ll be chit-chatting about our new non-fiction historical picture books: Elizabeth Leads the Way, about the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Independent Dames, about women and girls during the American Revolution. Both of us also write YA, so I imagine the conversation could go anywhere. This very informal, just a chance to sit around and talk with librarians without any hoopla.

I’ll be at the S&S party on Saturday night. Must remember not to wear heels to that one. That was a big mistake last year.

Sunday, June 29
noon – I’m going to the Art Luncheon! (very stoked about this) Matt Faulkner, who illustrated INDEPENDENT DAMES and THANK YOU, SARAH will be there, along with Robin Preiss Glasser, Kadir Nelson, and David Small.

4-6pm VOYA Reception for the Perfect Tens 2007 at the Hilton

6-11pm Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. (Might wear heels to this one. Might even wear a dress.)

Sadly, my plane leaves on Monday, so I’ll miss the Printz Awards on Monday, which are always a lot of fun.

Will I see any of you in Anaheim?

Bouncing on toes

I am standing at the mouth of the Cave of Revision, impatiently waiting for the coffee pot to finish making coffee. I think I have a few more long days on this revision before I turn it in.

So. Here are my rambling, hurry-up-coffee-pot notes:

1. Yesterday, I corresponded with readers in Brazil and Norway. How cool is that?

2. My latest obsession is worm castings. Yes, that is a polite word for worm poop. I am gardening organically this year and worms are my new best friends. I am looking for a source in Central New York, if anyone knows of one. So far, I’ve been ordering them from Vermont, and am having a friend’s family (who are in the business of producing worm poop, don’t ask) bring me some on their next visit to the area.

Go ahead, laugh, but you should see what it is doing to my broccoli plants.

3. If you live in Michigan, please vote for the Thumbs Up! Award by May 30th! (twistedtwistedtwistedtwisted)

4. Little birds have been reporting that the TWISTED paperback version is turning up in stores in one of those cardboard stands. (Those are called dumps, but after my discussion of worm poop, I am not going there.) Have you seen one?

5. When you are in the bookstore, be sure to buy Tanya Lee Stone’s newest wonderful picture book: Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. It has been named a Book Links Best New Books of 2008, and a Booklist Top Ten Youth Biography, and is sure to garner more awards soon.

Not only is it a wonderful book, but Tanya just made a generous contribution that brought my Beloved Husband’s fund raising efforts to his goal of $2,500!!! ALL HAIL TANYA! (Please give her some love on her blog!)

The fund raising is done! The fund raising is done! Our nice friends chipped in $5000 for cancer research! ::dances around the cave!!

Now all we have to do is run 13.1 miles on June 15th! ::sits down on cave floor::

No, really, our training has been going very well, so it shouldn’t be a problem. We ran 13.3 miles two weeks ago, and had a hilly 10.5 mile run on Sunday. That one aggravated some tendon issues, but everything will heal in time because I said it would.

6. INDEPENDENT DAMES received another awesome blog review. This one is of particular interest to middle school teachers.

7. CHAINS has been chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection!

8. Did I mention how great my broccoli looks?

The coffee is done and my characters are whining for me to hurry up because they have a lot to do today. See ya!

The Ladies are in the House!

Having your new book – the book you’ve worked on for years, dreamed about, fussed about, cried over, danced with, bored your relatives to tears with (“aren’t you done with that thing yet?”) – having that book arrive is the closest thing possible to the moment when you give birth to a child.

Without the mess and a room full of strangers wearing latex gloves and face masks.

Without further ado, meet INDEPENDENT DAMES: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic ::wipes tears from eyes::

Image and video hosting by TinyPic DAMES is a 40-page non-fiction historical picture book that highlights the revolutionary activity of 80 women and girls you’ve probably never heard of.

When you spend more than a decade on a project, you want to show it off.

Five Great Announcements

Don’t know about where you live, but this morning is one of the most beautiful we’ve had in a while. When the Creature With Fangs and I stepped outside, she looked around and said “Dang! Why can’t it be like this all the time?”

So, basking in natural goodness, I make Five Friday Announcements:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 1. TWISTED has been chosen as a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee. The list of nominees is stellar; be sure to go through it. Teens who read titles on the list get to vote for their favorites during Teen Read Week, October 12-18, 2008.

2. In related news, the paperback version of TWISTED goes on sale in 20 days! I’ll be celebrating it at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, NY on May 15th, 6pm. TWISTED has also apparently been released in England. I found the cover on the Amazon.UK website. You’d think they’d let the author know about these things, wouldn’t you?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 3. Speaking of new releases, we’re about five weeks away from the release of INDEPENDENT DAMES: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution. It’s illustrated by Matt Faulkner, who did the great art for THANK YOU, SARAH, and I am so excited about it I keep skipping, which amuses the dog.

4. Harold Underdown (author of the very important and useful COMPLETE IDIOT”S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS) has posted an extremely good page about getting an agent or artist’s representative. If you are thinking that it’s time, go to this part of his website before you do anything else.

5. Susane Colasanti windowlight has great photos from Viking’s 75th birthday party. ETA – Publisher’s Weekly noted the party, too! Note to Uncle Viking: I have my calendar out: what’s the date for the 100th?

This weekend I’m researching and running and working in the garden. What are you going to do?

Foggy Lincoln morn

I am writing this in the Springfield, IL airport, which is wrapped in fog so thick the planes can’t land or take off.

Yesterday was a crazy busy wonderful day at one of the best state reading/English teacher conferences I have ever been privileged to attend. Thank you to everyone in IL who greeted me to kindly and made a long day a lot of fun. I gave the lunch speech, a workshop on revision, and a workshop in which I divulged the “stories behind the stories”of my novels. And met a lot of very enthusiastic teachers at three book signing sessions. AND, last night, I read a chapter of CHAINS for the first time in public, which went over very well.

I ran into a couple of old and new friends, but didn’t have much time to chat.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Lisa Yee and her traveling Peep.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Richard Peck and I chatted while waiting for our suitcases and in line for coffee.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I just gawked at Brian Selznik

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This teacher was so, so, so sweet because she looked through DAMES and made all the right cooing noises and exclamations. And I am a heel for forgetting her name, but I will always remember how happy she made me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I met Liz last year when I was in St. Louis on book tour; we got to hang out a bit and talk about historical fiction.

OK, fog is lifting, plane is boarding. Thank you, Fine Teachers of the Land of Lincoln! I salute you!