Monthly Archives: November 2011

Me and Katherine . . .


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Nano is almost over

And i know some of you did it (Ilima! I saw your facebook post. You’re so awesome). I’d love to hear how it went for everyone. Did you get discouraged? Did you get excited? Are you taking a break now or can you not wait to start revising? If any of you would like to share you’re experience and any advice for next year, we’d love it.

Now that all that’s over, the Christmas season is upon us and I’m sort of excited to tell you the truth. My boys and I put up the tree. We broke some ornaments. I found some awesome little houses we inherited last summer from Cam’s grandma and somehow managed to get them to light up (though Cam says I’m going to blow up the house. Am I going to blow up the house? It isn’t that bad, is it?). My kids attacked the fisher price nativity set with their toy dinosaurs (though they did leave manger alone. “Anything but the baby,” my oldest said to his little brother and I felt so proud), and we hot glued a bunch of  toys to a wreath. That’s what I call Christmas spirt.

I wonder how my writing is  going to fit in with all this chaos. I’m determined to make it happen. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day. Or fifty words a day. Or just some notes here and there. I’m also determined not to feel bad or guilty anymore about what I can’t and don’t get done. I want to be happy. I want to feel good in the moment that i’m in, whether it’s a writing moment, a mother moment, a watch a stupid show moment, a teacher moment, a sit on the floor and cry moment , a eat handfuls of chocolate chip moment, no matter what kind of moment it is, I’m going to embrace it. That’s my Christmas gift to myself. To be okay with it. It’s great to have goals but it’s also okay to feel good in my skin.

There are a few topics I think we should cover in the next few weeks on the blog:

1. Project writeway. Will it happen.

2. Pacing. I’ve noticed in my reading this is something worth examining. How do you know when to speed up, when to slow down, etc.

3. Dialogue. This has to do with pacing also.

4. Query letters.

5. Word choice.

6. Swearing.

7. Networking

8. Endings

9. Description

10. Tension.

Other ideas or suggestions?

That is all for today.


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No post last week.  I was traveling to Chicago to attend the annual NCTE Convention and the ALAN Workshop.  I just got back last night, and here’s what’s on my mind:

1.  Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner.

2.  The leaves that have buried my backyard.

3.  The ALAN Workshop:

a.  We heard from scores of BIG SHOT YA authors, including Utahns Jennifer Nielson, Kristen Chandler, James Dashner, Sara Zarr, Matt Kirby.  The headliners were MT Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, John Green, Sarah Dessen, Jay Asher, Chris Crutcher, Kenneth Oppel, Neal Schusterman, Jennifer Donnelly, and David Levithan.

b.  Great quotation:  “You can’t revise a blank page.”  Nora Roberts

c.  Great moment:  During her speech, Laurie Anderson said she wasn’t feeling well.  She sat down for a few moments–still speaking—to clear her head.  Then she had to stop and put her head between her knees.  Then she said she felt really dizzy and nauseous.  Then she laid down on the podium behind the lectern and people rushed up to help her.  She had a glass of water, propped her feet up on a chair, had a cool cloth for her head, and then RESUMED HER SPEECH while lying flat on the floor.  It was a classic Anderson speech filled with humor, pathos,and insight, and she delivered it FLAT ON HER BACK!  After the speech, EMTs came in, Laurie puked into a book box, and then they hauled her off to the hospital.  Yesterday morning they told us she’d had a bout of food poisoning.

d.  Great moment 2:  At the Candlewick dinner, I sat opposite Katherine Paterson!  There’s not a classier, smarter, kinder writer in the business.  After dinner, she asked ME to sign a copy of my new picture book for HER!  Then she sat there and read the book!

e.  Great moment 3:  HarperCollins hosted a dinner at Lou Malnati’s pizza joint uptown, and I scarfed down 4 gargantuan slices of deep-dish Chicago pizza, the best pizza I’ve ever had.

f.  Great moment 4:  Candlewick hosted a signing for me and my new book, and I signed and sold all the copies they had.

g.  Great moment 5:  MT Anderson’s erudite and funny speech on the future of publishing.

h.  Great moment 6:  Hearing that John Green has 1.1 million followers on Twitter.

i.  Great moment 7:   Watching the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award ceremony and seeing Utah author Kristen Chandler honored as a finalist for the award.

j.  Great moment 8:  Matt de la Pena’s story of how his gift of a novel to his father led his father to go back for a GED and then on to a college degree.

k.  Great moment 9:  Hearing Kenneth Oppel talk about how difficult it is to write action scenes.

l.  Great moment 10:  Receiving 40 or 50 brand-new YA books.

Western Throwing-Uppers, next year’s ALAN Workshop will be in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand on November 19-20.  If you want to hobnob with and hear from an army of great YA authors, plan to attend.


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Five things for Thanksgiving

1. Today I tucked my fat into my jeans and I thought to myself, I wonder when I’m going to get my body back and then I started laughing. ah ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Has your MC ever tucked their fat into jeans? Why or why not? What do they feel about fat in jeans? How does this relate to their pre-thanksgiving preparations? Do they prepare for Thanksgiving? Help out Mom? Or sit in their room and play Call of Duty?

2. I have to make a bunch of pies for my family thanksgiving dinner and I don’t know how to make pies. I sort of do but I also sort of don’t. I’ve heard that shortening is better than butter. is that true? I’ve also heard that some pecan pies never set. If your MC was going to make a pie, what would he/she make? Mine would go to Village Inn and steal one with her boyfriend. Then they’d eat it on the roof and toss the pie plate at someone walking down the sidewalk.

3. As I was searching for thanksgiving related news to share (Rachael Ray makes thanksgiving chili! You should too!) I read this. It broke my heart. It also would be an interesting premise for a novel. And does it relate to thanksgiving? What do you think you’d be thinking if this happend to you? How would you spend your thanksgiving?   

4. Write fifty words on thanksgiving. At least fifty. Then go eat. 

5. And finally, I am thankful for all of you. I am thankful for wonderful writing friends who support me and laugh with me and at me and make me feel like maybe this is all worth it. I don’t think I’d be still doing this without all of you. Hug a writing friend this holiday season. 

The end. 



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