Those people from PIX are not as excited as they should be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We're off to New York in the morning! Pizza, bagels, egg sandwiches, Eddie's* (which will be the first pizza Sam ever tries; everything is going according to my plan) . . . a 6:30 a.m. flight! We'll have to rise early even for us (our normal wake-up time is 5:30 or so). Wish us luck, please, as Sam is teething like nobody's business at the moment and has had a screwy couple of days as it is.

Perhaps you'd better wish the other passengers on our flight luck, as well.

YA Novel the First news: I sent back my second revisions to Aforementioned Editor. Assuming he approves of the minor changes I made and the itty-bitty new scene I painstakingly crafted, I think we're about to work on a final title for this thing. Finally. I've been sweating through every conversation about YA Novel the First, just dreading the inevitable "So?! What is it called??" As if that's all that matters. Sheesh.

We thought we'd see samples of my latest series for SAB last week, but they didn't show up. It's a shame; I'm looking forward to finally dropping them on the Exile and revealing what "FTM" stands for in the sidebar. Hopefully they'll be in by the time we return from back east. They're a treat to write (I just finished another for the next group in the same series today, as a matter of fact), and hopefully they'll be a treat to read. I can tell you one thing: I've seen much of the art and design, and they're positively gorgeous. They're bound to be my favorite SAB titles.

*That picture I found is awesome.

Going back east, sans laptop

Friday, June 26, 2009

I am saddened, for two reasons:

1. I lost a follower on this blog! I'm back down to 30. Sadness. I think I get a few followers here who aren't terribly interested in anything I have to say but are merely hoping I'll follow them back. I get a tremendous number of such followers on Twitter, too. Oh well. Good riddance, I suppose.

2. My laptop--aka, the most important inanimate object in my life--is in dire need of repair. The display simply doesn't work, 9 out of 10 times I try to start it up. And that 10th time, it usually goes black after a few minutes. The thing is still on warranty, so I'll have to ship it out to Dell and wait for it to return to me.

I am cheered, as well, though. For beginning Tuesday of next week, my family will spend a week in New York! This is great for all the usual reasons (i.e., food), but also because we will finally meet Sam's cousin Jaden, born to my brother and his wife in California way back in December!

With any luck at all, my laptop will be back in my possession shortly after we return home in early July. Then I can get cracking on YA MS the Third, which I am re-excited about after a long discussion with my agent yesterday. Oh, and YA Novel the First? I have to write the two tiniest little passages you ever heard of, which I'll probably do this weekend on Beth's laptop (using it right now!), and then I do believe the editing portion of our show will be over. Woo! Then it's final title, cover ideas . . . I can't stand it.

Oh, and speaking of early July, here is a public service announcement: Please, if you live near a family with a dog, don't shoot off firecrackers or fireworks. Thank you. Oh, also if you have fingers.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm unbelievably tired.

This was, hands down, my best Father's Day ever. It was of course my first, too, but still.

The gifts! My new favorite shirt, narrowly nudging my previous favorite out of first place, is this here:

To find out what it says, go here and use the translator.

Beth gave me that shirt yesterday, on behalf of Sammy, who of course saved up his allowance to buy it for me. Harry didn't get me anything but a crappy card, if you're wondering.

This morning, Beth gave me her present, which is one of the coolest presents ever. It's a calendar of the next 12 months, and once a month, Beth has declared an WYAOD. To go along with these WYAODs, she has given gift cards to my favorite "satellite offices," totaling more than enough money with which to buy coffees and cakes and bagels and such to have a very successful 12 WYAODs. I'm very excited about this. My two WIPs, and maybe even that peskey MG I haven't touched in ages, will get very whipped into shape, no doubt about it.

Following a short bike ride for breakfast on my own, we three headed to the Children's Museum in downtown Saint Paul. It was all of our first time going, and we all loved it. Awesomely, it was "Free Day," which we didn't even know when we headed down there and were thrilled to hear it. Sam got to enjoy the Habitot room, specifically for kids 6 to 48 months old. (Sam's 10 months, by the way.) It was one of the few times so far in his life he's had the opportunity to play with other babies his age, so that was a pleasure to watch.

Lunch at Midtown Global Market, ice cream at Izzy's, a nice long family walk . . . All in all, a great Father's Day, a holiday that's actually been pretty crappy for me for the last nine years. So it was a nice, very welcome, change.

Oh, there was that pesky Chapter-a-Day Challenge that a few Tenners, including myself, were doing this weekend. I didn't win. I failed in epic proportions. Other than revisions, it was a work-free weekend. Also a nice and welcome change, I suppose.

Good cause, good stuff!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quick post. I twittered about it already, but I realize not everyone is using Twitter (and god bless 'em), so I thought I'd mention it here too.

Cynthea Liu, to celebrate her new novel, Paris Pan Takes the Dare, is having an auction for charity right now. What's more, the wonderful Aforementioned Editor, Tenner and Otter Josh Berk and Otter Kurtis Scaletta, and many, many other brilliant minds of KidLit are offering crits. The bidding is open now.

Go and check it out! The prices are so low right now.

Books to make you cry

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I never meant for this to become a review blog, but I have to just drop a quick five stars on Margo Rabb for Cures for Heartbreak. Once again, when I was within about fifty pages of the finish, I was overcome with a sense of dread: What will I have to look forward to when this book has ended? Will life--will the world in general, indeed all of the natural universe--continue to exist?!

Lo and behold, it did, clearly. Still, I loved the book and will likely buy it. (I read the library's copy for once. I underuse our local library; it's rather a shame.)

In other news, SIL will be here in four hours or so to babysit for the afternoon. Class doesn't begin until six, so that will give me a good chunk of hours to do some work. Revisions, this time, rather than straight writing. This is both a shame and a thrill: it's the first round of revisions on YA Novel the First, so I'm excited about that aspect; but my WIP is feeling ignored lately, I think. Still, it can wait. After all, YA Novel the First waited years upon years to be finished, and it turned out okay.

What else? I'm the first Tenner to read The Snowball Effect, by Holly Nicole Hoxter, fellow Tenner. The ARC arrived unceremoniously on my porch yesterday morning, and upon finishing Cures, I started Snowball. More deceased mothers. But still, excellent, and yes, Holly, there are indeed many funny parts, too.

ETA: Thank you, Micol, for reminding me to note that The Snowball Effect will be on sale 3/23/2010.

In which yet another writer makes me want to quit

Monday, June 15, 2009

Apologies. I finished Liar like three days ago and never came back to tell you how much I freaking loved it right to death. Amazing! I was maybe ten or fifteen pages into part two when I was overcome with an urge to never do anything for the rest of my life but read this book.

So yeah. Loved it. Read it like your life depends on it*. (When I rave about a book, I freakin' rave about a book.)

My one problem is the cover, because the model used looks exactly nothing like the protagonist Micah, who is partially of African American descent and has very close-cut, kinky hair. Not remotely the person on the cover. Still, it's just a cover, and if it puts the book in more people's hands, I'm okay with it.

Anyway, not much other news. Dragged Sam to the Como Zoo and he still couldn't care less. The fact is, he'd rather admire Harry up close than an orangutan from fifty feet away. He did giggle at a bison, though I missed the joke there.

Got my first notes from Aforementioned Editor, too, by the way. On Friday, in fact. I've gone through them. I have a little work to do. I don't think anything too, too terribly difficult came up, so hopefully we're close to sending this bad boy out for (dun dun DUN) blurbs! I have a wish list. I'm not telling it to you.

*Important note: Liar will not be on sale until the very end of September of this year. My apologies, but your life will have to wait.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I am the slackingest blogger of all time, with many millions of notable exceptions.

The simple fact is, there isn't much to report. I've been reading an ARC of Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. I just finished part one, and am completely undecided as to how I feel about this book. The writing is strong, the story is compelling, as are the characters, and yet I cannot say for certain that I like the book. There's a very good chance I actually do like the book; my feelings toward it have been improving slowly over the course of part one. Actually, at this point I'm even thinking it's totally worthy of a nomination for the Mock Printz for that adolescent lit class I'm in. I wonder if part of my ambivalence comes from the narrator. I don't like her, well, at all. She's sort of horrible and a big liar, obviously. Yes, I think that's where my ambivalence comes from indeed.

In writing news, there ain't much. I'm still working on YA MS the Third. It's going slightly sluggishly. Here is why: I have outlined the book completely, and when I outline (usually after having exhausted my off-the-cuff material), I always come to a streaking halt. The writing begins to feel quite a bit like work (heaven forbid!), and I consider it a good night if I can squeeze out five hundred or so words. Last night I had a write-night, and finished up a chapter I had started on Friday night.

I'm so not keeping up with the JuJu challenge.

Oh, and I sent the first nine pages of YA MS the Third to those gentlemen in my new crit group. The consensus seems to be the writing is strong, but my experimental ideas might try readers' patience. For now, I think, they are willing to wade through this with me. I maintain hope that it will work. (Have I mentioned the experimental aspects? They exist. I shall say no more about them!)

What else? I took Sam to a Music Together class yesterday morning. It was fun. I do think Sam will get more out of it when he can walk and stand on his own, but I think we'll sign up for the full summer session. He just loves to dance so much. See?

Perfect Thursday

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another week has simply flown by, hasn't it?

It really did go by quickly, and frankly at the moment I can't remember most of it. I'm fairly sure I haven't done my 5000 words for the week, per Purple Clover's challenge, but I am going to take write night tonight, so hopefully I can come close.

How much flashback is too much flashback? I find flashbacks to be an excellent device for maintaining suspense, especially in dramatic and realistic fiction. It worked well for the likes of Jellicoe Road, and Sweethearts, and my own YA Novel the First and YA MS the Second. My current WIP, though, might be taking it too far, with a full three separate eras that need concentration: the first summer, the second summer, and the present day (literally, just the one day). I'm having trouble making this work. My goal yesterday, during an unexpected and most excellent half WYAOD, or WHYAOD, I managed to outline every crucial event in chronological order. Now I simply need to weave the times together into a fabric that will maintain suspense without jarring or confusing the reader. It will be a job of work, a lot of me sitting in coffeeshops, staring into space, and going, "Hmm."

Rather against my typical coy attitude with regard to my WIPs, I sent a few pages -- maybe 20% of what I've gotten down -- off to my agent for his opinions. I look forward to hearing back, but it will undoubtedly be a long weekend while I wait.

Oh, and after a great afternoon of cycling and writing yesterday (including lunch at Hiawatha Pizza--that dude better stay in business!), I met up with Beth and Sam at Punch for more pizza. I believe, by the way, that cycling, writing, Beth, Sam, and pizza are the sum total of the interests listed on my Facebook page. I'm not sure pizza is there, but it certainly ought to be. Which makes yesterday the perfect day!

In other news this week, I joined a new crit group, strictly online, with a group of four other gentlemen (a term I'm using very loosely). I have a feeling we are the only crit group of all guys working on literature for young people in the world. We'd have to be, according to the statistical odds.

Cures for my WIP obsession

Monday, June 1, 2009

My new WIP (that is, YA MS the Third) is still constantly on my mind. "Still" . . . it's been, what? Three days? So anyway. I have barely closed the two Word documents that so far make up that WIP for about an hour total since starting. I can't think about anything else. Beth and I take many walks, especially on weekends, but this weekend, no matter what topic of conversation Beth led us down, I'd inevitably veer us right back to talking about my new WIP.

So, in light of this obsession, I've decided to join this JuJu challenge over at Purple Clover. I'm certain if I can meet the goal required, this WIP will be finished. It really shouldn't break 50k; it feels snappy and short and should be snappy and short.

My other brilliant plan for this project, since Beth, Sam, and I will be back east over the July 4th weekend, is to actually go to Greenpoint in Brooklyn (the setting of the new WIP) and spend a WYAOD right in with my characters, in their setting. I think it will do wonders. I lived there for a year, but have been gone for three, and I'm beginning to forget the odd beauty much of it holds, which is a real shame for a protagonist and narrator who talks at great length about Greenpoint's odd beauty.