to the jerk who trespassed in the Forest

Over the weekend someone slashed our “Obama for President” sign with a knife. Sliced it into ribbons.

In honor of that person, I’ve decided to make another contribution to Sen. Obama’s campaign.

I am actually a more conservative person than most people might guess. I am a registered Republican, although the leadership of both parties makes me weep. You have to be a registered something around here. My husband and I own guns and we hunt. I believe in balanced budgets, personal accountability, small government that stays the heck out of people’s lives, and in the old-fashioned concept of Americans caring for each other. I believe that the Bush administration is the worst thing that has ever happened to America, and that under Bush’s leadership our country has been sold out to the interests of major corporations. I want my country back.

I support Sen. Obama’s position on energy use, healthcare, education, and getting us out of Iraq.

I have read Sen. McCain’s position papers. I don’t agree with most of them. If he is elected, I don’t think the country will be in as dangerous a position as we have been under the Bush administration, but I don’t think Sen. McCain really grasps the situation of working people in America. He seems out of touch and his proposals lack vision and depth.

So the Obama signs are going back up on the trees that face the road. They will be hung so that they can be seen by passers-by, but anyone who wants to destroy them is going to have to hike a little to get to them.

Along with the “Obama for President” signs, we’re going to post the following message, to anyone violates our Constitutionally-protected private property and destroys our Constitutionally-protected right to free speech by ruining our statement of political support.

The extra sign will say this:

“God Bless America!
If you are standing close enough to read this, you need to know three things:

1. You are trespassing on private property.

2. You have already been photographed. (by a scouting camera)

3. You are standing in a sea of poison ivy.

Three cheers for the First Amendment!”

Showing Fangs, Seeding Ideas & WFMAD 22

Our wood for the winter should arrive this week. Whatever day it gets here is guaranteed to be 90 degrees and humid. It’s a law of physics. Wood needs to be stacked in garage = unseasonably hot weather + new hatching of mosquitoes and deerflies. But it’s comforting in a weird, sweaty way, to know the wood is coming, because it means I can start thinking of cool fall nights with a fire crackling in the fireplace.

Since I have starting fires on the mind, I might as well share my curmudgeonly opinion about whether YA books get enough respect in the field of literature. (Chasing Ray is doing a great job gathering opinions about this.)

This is a generalized opinion, not specifically tied to any one article or blog post. It comes after nearly a decade of being introduced as “the lady who wrote SPEAK.” If you are easily offended or irritated, you should probably change the channel now.

They don’t respect us for writing YA? Who gives a damn what they think? People who don’t understand the significance of YA literature to our culture are either ignorant or they are idiots.

Ignorance I can deal with. Lots of folks have been busy for the last fifteen years. They missed the revolution and are just now beginning to hear about this thing called YA. They lack information. Without information they are not in a position to judge. So if they look down on me for writing books for teenagers, it’s easy to shrug off their opinions because they are grounded in nothing.

Idiots don’t deserve my time or energy. They are the ones who make grand pronouncements on literature, who believe that the best way to educate a 14-year-old who reads below grade level is to shove Great Expectations down his throat. Then, when the kid says that the book sucks and that all books suck, and he reaches for his game controller, they are shocked and appalled at this horrifying, illiterate generation.

Idiots sometimes write dense short stories in which nothing happens that cause a sub-section of erudite inhabitants of Brooklyn to twitter and fawn, but leave the rest of the reading world scratching their heads.

When idiots look down their oh-so-refined noses at the raucous world of children’s and YA literature, it says oodles about the condition of their own spirits without contributing to the discussion at all. So I guess instead of flipping them the bird, I should try and be a little more understanding.

Or maybe not.

Are you sensing something defensive about this rant? Something snarly, cranky, maybe a little over-the-top? Yeah, I’m feeling my adolescent oats. I suspect I always will. That’s part of what makes me an enthusiastically happy YA author. I adore teenagers and I have a lot of empathy for what the culture puts them through. They are disdained, disrespected, patronized, criticized and scorned.

Gee, that’s the same attitude YA authors often run into.

So maybe the ignorant and the idiots are good for us. Maybe we need them to keep snubbing our work and dismissing our dreams because it reminds us what our readers are facing every day.

Any thoughts?

WFMAD Day 22

Today’s goal: Hasn’t changed. Write for 15 minutes. Don’t stress about the number of words you produce. Your brain is not a factory making word-widgets.

Today’s mindset: hopeful

Today’s prompt: I’m thinking ahead to what seeds I want to order for the garden next year. (BTW, if anyone has had success with using nematodes to control Japanese beetles, please tell me about it.)

I keep a gardening journal. As ideas come up for long-terms gardening adventures, I write them down. I need to ponder some ideas for years before I can really see the best way to execute them.

The same thing goes for books. There is a Future Projects file on my computer that is huge, and notebooks stuffed with ideas. These are the seed packets for my writing for the next decade.

Use your fifteen minutes today to write down seed-ideas for your writing for the next ten years. Let your imagination go wild.


looking for SPEAK teachers, my thoughts on TV for writers

I have an email from a teacher in Australia who wants very much to teach SPEAK. She needs our help. The books have already been purchased, but the principal is having second thoughts about putting the book in curriculum.

She writes: …could you please help me with some real examples of ‘Speak’ being used effectively in the classroom and/or pass on my email to someone who may be able to help me?

If you would like to help this teacher, send me your email address to laurie AT writerlady DOT com. I’ll pass it on to her. Thanks!

I had another email which kept me pondering all weekend. The person heard me speak at the SCBWI conference in Michigan a few weeks ago and asked if I really meant it when I said writers should turn off the television.

The answer is no. And the answer is yes.

My primary point was this: if you are trying to be a writer, and if you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough time to write, then honestly examine how much time you watch TV. The average American watches 4.5 hours of television a day!. If you want to write and you fall in that category, it’s a no-brainer. Turn off the television. Start writing. End of problem.

Now if you like television, and you are satisfied with the amount of time you’re writing and quality of your work, by all means, keep watching.


Some people see their television and movie-watching as a critical part of becoming better writers. They feel that the exposure to Story structure (Plot A, Plot B, Plot C, character arcs intersecting, etc.) that they get out of watching well-written shows helps their writing. I’ve had folks argue with me that they must watch TV to write books and write them well enough to be published.

Are you sure you want my honest opinion here?

I think that kind of viewing will help if you are trying to write a screenplay or break into television writing. But it’s not going to do much for your book writing.

I see a consistent weakness in the writing of young people and writers who don’t read much. They fumble with narrative description. They are great at dialog and they often get the bones of their story laid out well. But the actual description of scene action, setting, the observation of small details which reflect the emotional journey of the character – all that stuff is not up to snuff.

You learn how to write those elements of Story by reading. They are not part of “live action” storytelling – the kind we see on screens and stage. Television and film are different media than books. That’s why books don’t translate onto the screen without a great deal of changes.

TV and film are just as valid as books when it comes to storytelling. I don’t think TV is evil. I see nothing wrong with being a fan of a show and really enjoying your time watching it. (Though I do believe American Idol is an utter waste of time.) There are plenty of shows and movies I’ve enjoyed. My larger point is this: if you think that watching TV will help you write a great book….. well, good luck with that. I don’t think it works.

(Full disclosure – I tracked my TV viewing this week. I watched approximately two hours of news. BH and I watched most of the first Godfather movie Friday night, and some of the Ohio State vs. Penn State football game Saturday. I watched NFL football yesterday while I worked on thank-you notes and started watching a (Netflix) movie with Number One Son that was called on account of homework. And I read three books.)

What is your opinion about this?

on and on

My father-in-law is responding to the meds and is awake and aware. Grandmother Death seems to have given him a pass this week.

I am at the end of the revision of my historical – huzzah – and am looking forward to getting back to the new WIP.

Our problems with Time Warner Cable – messed up cable, internet and phone – continue to drive us crazy and make their technicians curse and kick the ground. This has been going on for a month now. I am about to cancel all of the services, permanently, and see this as the Universe’s way of giving me more time to write and read.

A couple of people have asked me what I think about J.K. Rowling’s announcement that Dumbledore was gay. I think she misses writing, that’s what I think. I suspect that now the pressure is off to finish the series, and the hoopla over the last book’s publication has died down, she finds herself thinking about her characters a lot. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s writing about them, but she doesn’t want to tell anybody until she’d finished.

What do you think?

Looking for answers

I want a magazine that refuses advertisements that use these deceptive dollbaby images.
I want models who don’t look like lollipops.
I want Hannah Montana to stop grinding her hips when she dances in front of an audience of 9-year-olds.

What do you want from the worlds of fashion and entertainment?

To balance out my anger, I went in search of goodness and found it: read about today’s hero, Karen Gaffney, who swam across Lake Tahoe yesterday. Read the article. I guarantee you’ll feel better. Then check out Karen’s website.

Our Internet has been taken over by poltergeists, so I have limited email and web time this week. I am deep, deep in my rough draft, walking around in a fog. It’s a good thing that BH is a patient man. Daughter Meredith sent me a giant vat of popcorn to feed the muse. If this keeps up, I might even meet my deadline!