Appreciating your goodness and harvesting rocks

Wow. You guys are incredible. I can’t begin to express how much your comments and emails about the New York Times discussion board kerfuffle meant to me. Thank you, thank you!!! I am blessed to have such kind readers and friends!

Because of the stress from the past six months of travel, and losing my Simon & Schuster editor (he was laid off last week – I am still too upset to blog about it rationally), and everything else, I’ve been mostly gardening this week. Despite the soothing effect of attacking the boulders in my garden with an iron bar, pick axe, and rototiller, I am still having nightmares about zombies. Go figure.

But the rocks are slowly yielding, seeds are being planted, and I have no doubt that the zombies will soon crawl back to where they belong.

Cottage Update!!!

While I’ve been wielding my pick axe, BH and his tribe of elves have been hard at work at the cottage.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the interior of the north end. The windows are up high because there will be bookshelves underneath them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They have put the Magic Window in place in the south wall, and filled in the gaps around it. The glass guy is supposed to be here this weekend. He’ll install the clear, insulated, UV-filtering glass – can’t afford stained glass yet – someday!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The insulation crew did their job this week, Coler Natural Insulation of Ionia, NY. Their spray-foam insulation is based, in part, on soybean oil and is a healthier choice for both me and the environment.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Insulation guy at work! The cottage is much, much quieter with the insulation in place. Next step, along with the glass being put in place, is for BH to put up the ceiling and interior walls.

Last but not least notes!

Gail Carson Levine has started blogging. Drop by and welcome her to the blogosphere!

TWISTED won the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award, given by the Indiana Library Foundation (and named after one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters – how cool is that!?) Thank you, Indiana!!

TWISTED was also nominated for the Kentucky Bluegrass Award. Check out the whole list!

Off to hit zombies with a shovel…

Friday Five catching up

1. I picked up my laptop with the new hard drive yesterday. Since the failure of the hard drive was so spectacular and they couldn’t pull any data from it, I set it up to absorb all in the info on the desk computer while I was sleeping. Now I have to configure it to be a lean, mean, travelin’ machine.

I’m also going to try and perform the MobileMe syncing between the two computers and the iPhone. I haven’t tried this since the updates to the MobileMe system. (I couldn’t get it to work last summer, even after OfficeMouse, who is a tech geek, spent hours on the phone with Apple). Is anyone out there successfully using MobileMe to sync their Apple technology? Any tips?

2. Thank you for all of the suggestions about the roof for the cottage. A friend emailed me about a roof/roofing materials on a nearby farm we could reuse. (We’ve been knocking on doors of all the farms near our house in search of old lumber and anything else useful.) Cedar shakes are more expensive than asphalt shingles, but cost less than slate and have a lower installation cost. That might be the right compromise. Someone mention a thatched roof; that would be the ultimate fantasy! But there are only a dozen or so people in the US who can do the work. The closest guesstimate to the cost for a thatched roof? $24,000!!! That is not a possibility.

3. Thank you, Oklahoma! TWISTED has been named to the 2010 High School Sequoyah Book Award Masterlist by the Oklahoma Library Association. Lots of my friends’ books are on the list, too, which is always fun. Thank you, Mitali Perkins, for the heads-up.

4.Thank you, Warsaw, Poland! The school I visited there a few years ago had it teachers’ book club read CHAINS. Yesterday we had a Skype visit to talk about it.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Happy teachers, half a world away.

5. I figured out how to run the contest. It will be as simple as possible and fast. Watch for details on Monday.

13 days til WINTERGIRLS comes out…

W & P Q #5 & vacation ideas & literary tattoos

Looking for a place for a vacation combined with books? You can stay at Nora Robert’s B&B or follow the Bookstore Tourism blog and plan your trip accordingly. Then there’s always the Library Hotel.

Do you have any other book/author-friendly vacation spots?

Unrelated, but fascinating, to me anyhow. Do you remember, in TWISTED, the English teacher told the main character, Tyler, about a friend of his in grad school who had Homo, fuge written on his arm, in Latin? (A wonderful librarian quotes the entire passage on her blog entry about TWISTED, if you don’t remember.)

Well, there is evidence of a real-world person getting this tattoo, though he went for the English translation, not the Latin. I am quite sure this tat had nothing to do with my book and everything to do with the original Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. It’s just cool when the real world and the world in my head intersect. (thanks to Susanna William via Fuse #8 for the linkitude.)

You wrote: This is probably one of those “whatever works for you” kinds of questions, but I’d like your perspective. Since, as you mention, most writers must maintain full-time jobs to live on while writing, how does one balance writing with the other demands of life? This includes not only the full-time day job but also raising children and family demands. I’m sure that your juggling of book tours and fan mail and running and family alongside your writing time must provide some wisdom…please share!

No wisdom, just sympathy. Every writer I know faces these struggles. And they don’t seem to get easier, they simply morph into something new. Most of our kids are grown, but now taking care of our elderly parents takes up a lot of time. Chances are that when our parents have all passed away, grandchildren will appear on scene. “And so it goes…,” to quote a famous man.

I’ve always set well-defined and somewhat attainable goals for myself, both in my writing and my real-world life. Having goals helps me keep the right compass heading when life gets overwhelming. I’ve also gotten better at turning away from the kinds of activities that do not support the priorities in my family life and my work. This means watching little television and going to few movies. I’m not much of a volunteer anymore. I kind of feel bad about that, but to my dismay, there are still only 24 hours in a day.

Here’s something that might help. Indentify the core values in your life (family, marriage, creative work, financial stability, for example). Try to keep it at 5 or fewer.

Write the values down and then list the tasks that you do everyday that connect to and strengthen those values.

Here’s the tricky part. For one week, monitor how you are spending your time. (Maybe you could do this at the top of every hour, or before you go to bed each night.) List which activities support your core values and which had nothing to do with them. Then figure out how you can detach yourself from the things that are not within your core value system. This will free up time for the things you care about the most.

Any thoughts on this?

Back to work. Scribblescribblescribble…

Briefly looking up from page to enlist your help & tour schedule

Loooong day yesterday, loooonger day ahead today so I can turn in some overdue work. I had to bow out of my writer’s group meeting today to get everything done and that has me very cranky and peevish.

Sidebar. Peevish. Has a good ring to it. Could almost be a faux-curse word, don’t you think?

Not much blogging time today, but I wanted to share a couple of quick things.

A teacher named Heather and her colleagues are looking for ideas and advice from other teachers about using TWISTED in the classroom. She has the discussion questions from my web site, but wondered if any of you have other ideas. Any suggestions?

Speaking of the website, Theo the Web God is finishing the last touches on a map for CHAINS and is putting together the WINTERGIRLS pages. In my spare time (peevishpeevishpeevish) I’ve been combing through the site to find the inconsistencies between the flash version and the lo-resolution version, and updating the content. I still need to work on the biography.

What else would you like to see on my website?

I do have a quick and dirty version of the rest of this year’s schedule, including the cities I’ll be hitting for the WINTERGIRLS book tour that starts in …… dear God, that starts in six weeks (peeveeveeveeish!!!!!).

NOTE – on weekdays, I am generally visiting schools and/or libraries during the day, then doing a public bookstore or library appearance at night. The school and library visits are coordinated by the independent bookstores indicated in this calendar. If you want more information, please contact the store, not me, because this is all the information I have so far.

As soon as I have the firm and complete schedule with times and addresses, I will post it here and to the website.

Friday March 20: Los Angeles CA, courtesy of Children’s Book World.

Saturday March 21: Los Angeles CA, courtesy of Vromans & Mrs. Nelsons

Sunday March 22: San Francisco CA, courtesy of Books Inc. & Kepler’s

Monday March 23: San Francisco CA, courtesy of Rakestraw & Copperfields

Tuesday March 24: Seattle WA, courtesy of Third Place Books & Secret Garden

Wednesday March 25: Phoenix AZ, courtesy of Phoenix Book Company & Changing Hands

Thursday March 26: Salt Lake City UT, courtesy of King’s English

Friday March 27: Houston TX, courtesy of Blue Willow

Saturday March 28: Austin TX, courtesy of Book People

Sunday March 29: Oxford MS, courtesy of Square Books

Monday March 30: St. Louis MO, courtesy of Booksource

Tuesday March 31: Atlanta GA, courtesy of Little Shop of Stories

Wednesday April 1: Atlanta GA, coutesy of the B&N in Alpharetta

NOTE: On both 3/31 and 4/1 I will be speaking at the Kennesaw State Literature Conference

Thursday April 2: Vero Beach FL/Miami FL, courtesy of Books & Books

Friday April 3: Raleigh NC, courtesy of Quail Ridge

Other Travel Dates

4/10 – 4/18 Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lima, Peru

4/24 – 4/26 Los Angeles Times Book Festival Los Angeles CA

5/3 – 5/6 International Reading Association Conference, Minneapolis, MN

5/15 River’s End Bookstore, Oswego, NY

7/10 – 7/14 American Library Association Annual Convention, Chicago IL

8/3 Summer Writing Institute at SUNY Oswego (Oswego, NY), through the Reading and Writing Project of Teachers College, Columbia University

9/13 Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn NY

11/6 – 11/8 American Association of School Librarians Conference, Charlotte NC

11/20 – 11/24 National Council of Teachers of English Conference & ALAN Workshop, Philadelphia PA

For the record, 2009 is officially packed full and there is no way I can consider any new engagements. If you have something you’d like me to consider for 2010, 2011, or 2012, you need to talk to the publishers’ contacts on this page (scroll down a bit).

Tomorrow: A few WINTERGIRLS tidbits and news of SPEAK’s 10th anniversary edition
Friday: I do the 25 Random things that I am, apparently, the very last person on the planet to do.

And something nice to soothe my peevishness.

This is the gas station we stopped at in Vermont.

Friday Five – Book News Edition & Twitterpation

Thank you everyone for the very sweet comments and emails about the O’Dell Award! I am still tingling with excitement and hyperventilating.

Christmas is finally over up here on the Tundra. We’ve had Daughter #1 (aka Bookavore) and her boyfriend up here for the final celebration. Author Alert – Bookavore is moving to the Big Apple and will be managing WORD, a super-cool bookstore in Brooklyn, starting next month.

I have finally signed up for Twitter. I think it will be most fun while I’m on tour. My Twitter name is halseanderson. Feel free to follow!

My Friday Five is an assortment of book news I’ve been accumulating for a while.

1. Along with all the other amazing news this week, Isabel in CHAINS garnered a Cuffie Award. Be sure to read through the whole list!

2. The Israeli rights to TWISTED have been sold. Check out this student project about the book.

3. Penguin has posted my poem “Listen” on their website. The poem shares reader reactions to SPEAK. I wrote it for this year’s 10th anniversary of the book. (Follow the link, scroll down, and open the pdf.)

4. Illustrator Matt Faulkner has posted a DAMES video on YouTube.

5. We have a WINTERGIRLS Facebook page now. Another nice review has come in for WINTERGIRLS, but I can’t post it for a few weeks. Stay tuned!

I’m headed into the Writing Cave this weekend, hoping to blast through a plot knot and weave in a subplot. What are you doing?