Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Back To Redecorating

I'm home.
It was a wonderful vacation. I won't describe the drive home from the airport except to say if you ever have a choice between driving through a hailstorm or not driving through a hailstorm, I strongly recommend the not option.
Now that I'm home and can't adopt a kitten (I called both local humane societies approximately the minute I got home and neither have any kittens right now), I've returned to redecorating the den. What I should be doing is spring cleaning and putting all the books in some kind of order, but since both of those things could be called work, I've been focusing on the redecorating instead.
Only I can't really do the redecorating (which will consist of putting stuff up on a couple of walls) because I'm waiting for the New Jersey award for Life As We Knew It, and won't put stuff up until I get it. So this is kind of pre-redecorating, which I call work, but only because I call everything work that doesn't involve American Idol this time of year.
Here's the pre-redecorating dilemma. I'm moving all the movie stuff into the spare bathroom (aka the cat's room, only since I don't have a cat, it's the spare bathroom), which will make it a very well decorated spare bathroom and I hope when I get a cat, it appreciates it (I'd hate to get a cat that doesn't like old movies). Where the movie stuff is, I plan to put career stuff, including the New Jersey award. Only I think I have more movie stuff than career stuff, which could be a problem, since without the movie stuff I have movie stuff nail holes, which I need to fill with nails holding the career stuff, of which there may not be enough, unless the New Jersey award is the size of the Z movie poster, which I doubt it will be since people in New Jersey have a lot of taste, which I know from watching The Sopranos.

I put the career stuff on the floor, so you can see how beautiful, tasteful, and sparse it is. There are also before and after pictures of the space to the left of the wall in question, to demonstrate how clever I am at hiding movie stuff nail holes.
That thing in the top left corner of my career stuff on the floor is the New York Times best seller list, which I got framed and picked up today. The little card is the congratulations card that came with the flowers Harcourt sent. And while it's true, I have two South Carolina Young Adult Book Awards (for About David and The Year Without Michael, since you asked), they're both gold medallions and not wallable. Le decorating sigh. And actually, I'd prefer to hang the long thin thing (my honorary college degree) on the little side wall to the left of the Groucho wearing the New York Times Best Selling Author cap, but if I do, I have even less stuff for all those movie stuff nail holes. Le double decorating sigh.

I'm reasonably sure I have other career stuff, but my concern is that it's all in the outside storage closet somewhere, so I included pictures of the outside storage closet to give you an idea of the nightmare that will be trying to find career stuff in the outside storage closet (by the way, that closet within the closet is where I keep all the extra copies of my books, and we won't discuss what the inside of that closet within the closet looks like, because driving through a hailstorm was nightmare enough).
Oh well. Going through everything in the outside storage closet can't be much more dangerous than driving through a hailstorm. Or at least I hope not!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Guess Is Kim, Asada, Rochette

Today is my. last day at Worlds, with the women's final this afternoon. I'm flying home tomorrow morning so I'll be skipping the exhibitions.

I've had an absolutely wonderful time, and I see no reason to think today won't be equally great. In a couple of hours, my cousin Fran is going to pick me up. We're going to a museum with an exhibit of movie costumes, plus lunch, plus the Neon Museum. Then she'll drop me off in time for the skating. Janet is taking a half day bus tour of LA, and Renee is meeting someone with whom she shares DNA (now that could be an interesting way for a serial killer to meet victims). Christy, who lives in LA, is most likely doing stay at home stuff this morning.
We are all still speaking to each other, no small accomplishment in itself.
The skating has been great, and our seats, while with their own peculiarities, are celebrity magnets. Dorothy Hamill is practically a mundane experience at this point. Last night, we had Amber Corwin and Tara Lipinski sitting in the row behind us. Tara looked quite pretty. Renee, who is considerably less shy than I am when it comes to talking to famous people, asked Tai Babalonia a question (which Tai answered). And we had the loveliest time talking to a young skater who represents the Philippines. She didn't make the cut for the freeskate, but she was thrilled with her performance, and with people coming up to her to tell her how much they loved her skate and asking her for her autograph.

To show what a good time I've been having, I'll post three pictures. One is of people blocking my view of Brian Joubert. The second is of people blocking my view of Kurt Browning. And the third is Janet, Christy, Renee, and me.
Except for the fact I'm going to be very busy this spring, visiting schools and libraries and attending library conferences, I intend never to leave my house again and to exercise 8 days a week and only eat sensible nutritious vegetables for the rest of my life.

Good thing I have one more day of vacation to enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pink Thing Says Hello

I love Pink Thing but it's not easy to write on.

I just wanted to say hi (and hi in particular to people who've left comments), and post a few pictures so you can see I'm actually at a skating event.

The one good closeup picture of a pairs team (James and Bonheur, I think), I didn't take. My friend Renee did because I was too shy to ask them to pose.

I also took a bunch of videos but I can't figure out how to load them. I am definitely not the queen of 21st century technology.

There's a place at the Staples Center that makes great soup.

Today I'm going to watch 4 hours of identical paso dobles, then opening ceremonies, then pairs short programs.

My body hates being on west coast time, but I'm certainly enjoying myself!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I've Written Books Shorter Than This Entry

I sent This World We Live In to my editor and my agent Monday evening. Oddly enough, neither of them stopped every single thing they were doing it to read it.

To compensate for their lack of instantaneous response, I told my friend Cynthia the entire plot yesterday. It is a tribute to her inherent goodness that she listened to the whole thing and remains my friend (at least I sure hope so).

Life As We Knew It was nominated for the Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award in Illinois.

Sally Young, a student at Goshen Central High School (NY) interviewed me for her school paper. Here's the link.

The Orange County Citizens Foundation (NY) has a traveling exhibit called Read All About It: The Lives And Works Of Orange County Authors. I went to the library today for the sole purpose of taking pictures of my very own display item, and one of the staff members was kind enough to take a picture of me standing by a picture of me.

Yes, I know my hair needs cutting (it's on my calendar for tomorrow).

Please note (as my hair stylist has) that the older I get, the blonder I get. We are both quite intrigued by this phenomenon.

I leave on Sunday for my vacation trip to Los Angeles to see the World Figure Skating Championships, with my friends (in alphabetical order) Christy, Janet and Renee. Since I couldn't bear the thought of being unable to retrieve emails and learn who got voted off American Idol, I bought a pink thing. I'm not quite sure what it is, besides pink.

I haven't figured out yet how to get on the internet with it, but I'm optimistic magic will happen when I get to my hotel room. I have found a handful of games on it, including Solitaire. Only I haven't figured out yet how to move the cards from the big pile downward. Please feel free to leave comments or email me to tell me how to do it (I wouldn't object to lessons on how to connect to the internet either).

If I can figure out how to get on the internet when I'm in my hotel room, and if Pink Thing allows, I'll probably blog from LA. Trips to the west coast are very tricky for me, because I'm a morning person (or at least I thought I was until I wrote B3, which I wrote in the afternoons and evenings, since I dawdled every single morning when I should have been working and it still remains astonishing to me the book is actually written), and I like to go to bed at relatively civilized times (like before midnight). Usually when I go to LA, I stay on east coast time, and wake up around 4:30 and go to sleep between Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

But the schedule for Worlds is practically on Hawaiian time. Tuesday night, the Pairs Short Program will end at 11:40 PM, and that's assuming it doesn't run late. Nowadays, they save the better skaters for last, so if I want to see the good ones, I have to be able to stay up much later than my body ever wanted to.

I've been trying to train my body to be on west coast time, and the past few days I've stayed up until 1 AM (still two hours short of what I'll need on Tuesday). My body hates it and gets its revenge by waking up on east coast time. If my body persists in this while I'm in LA, I'll have plenty of pre-dawn time to blog, before going to skating practices which start on east coast time and end past everybody's bedtime.

To give me a fighting chance at staying awake for at least some of the pairs, which will start past my ordinary bedtime, I bought something called ZOOM. Take two ZOOM pills and within ten minutes, sleep will be an impossibility for four hours (or so the bottle assures me). I'm telling you this because I'm convinced ZOOM will kill me, and I want all of you to know, so when my estate's lawyer gets to work, you'll be able to tell him who to blame for my early, and startlingly blonde, demise.

If I survive ZOOM and 12-15 hours of watching skating and figuring out Pink Thing, you'll hear from me soon. No doubt at great length!

ETA (isn't it astonishing- all this verbiage, and I forgot to tell you something): I've been told that This World We Live In has an April 2010 publication date. I'd known Spring 2010, but not which month. I'm very pleased. The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wonderful News From Jenni

Back in early December, Jenni left a comment on one of my entries. I'll quote a bit of it:

To be perfectly honest, LAWKI changed/strengthened perceptions I had about my own life. It was actually the topic of my admissions essay in applying to colleges this year.

To which, I responded:

Hi Jenni and thank you for your comment. Talk about being nervous. I will now be nervous until you come back and assure me you were accepted by all the colleges of your dreams. Which, I'm sure you will be, but I'm a worrier by nature.

Friday night, Jenni emailed me. And I quote (with great joy):

A while ago, I mentioned to you in your blog that I loved Life As We Knew It. I mentioned that it quickly became my favorite book and that the lessons inbedded in it really taught me a lot. I mentioned that it made such a difference to me that I chose to write my college admissions essay over the novel.

I just wanted to write this email to let you know that I've gotten into the college of my dreams (University of Rochester) AND into the program of my dreams (a medical program that ensures I've already been accepted into their medical school). So, I've been accepted into the undergraduate and graduate school. I want to thank you once more for writing the fabulous book to begin with, because I feel very strongly that that particular essay had much to do with my admissions.

I asked Jenni's permission to share this with you and she consented. I would tell you how proud I am, but there are no words.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Feeding My Well Fed Ego With B3

It's been a while since I've written a B3 entry. So remember- if it says B3 in the title, it will most likely contain This World We Live In Spoilers.

I've been working and working and working on B3, writing the first draft, then changing the ending a few times, then changing or adding scenes so the ending makes sense, and the past couple of days, line editing and making small revisions. For those who are interested, I just posted a new entry over at thirdmoonbook, with a couple of before and after examples.

This morning, in the five seconds before I had to hop out of bed so I could run errands before getting my mother to Dr. Doctor for her regular once every three months, see she's still alive, appointment (blood pressure 126 over 72, which now that I think about it, my mother at 97 is pretty much smack in the middle of), I thought about B3 and how satisfied I am with it.

I knew I wanted the book to be about Miranda and Alex, and I knew that was a challenge in and of itself. I was reasonably sure at one point they would kiss, but beyond that, I didn't know exactly what would happen between them.

Well, they do kiss. More than once it turns out, but that wasn't what made me feel so self-satisfied this morning.

It was my realization that B3 is a book with ten characters, eleven if you count the baby, twelve if you count Mr. Danworth, the guy in charge of grocery deliveries, or thirteen, if you count Horton the cat. But all those ten main characters have to speak and interact and be important enough for the readers to care about them.

And that's what I think I pulled off. The ten main characters, those readers might already know (Miranda, Mom, Matt, Jon, Dad, Lisa, Alex, Julie) and those new to the book (Syl and Charlie) have their moments, their scenes. I knew, for example, that I was losing Charlie towards the end. The book had veered into Miranda/Alex, and I wasn't showing enough of Charlie. So last night, in addition to editing and extending the very last page, I threw in a tiny bit of Charlie action, thirty or forty pages earlier. Maybe two paragraphs, but enough to remind readers what a sweetheart Charlie is.

I've been saying all along that this is a very thick book. The action starts late April and ends mid-July, and there's close to 300 pages. I know plenty of stuff happens; this isn't a story where people sit around and chat about the end of the world.

But what I hadn't realized until this morning is how much of that thickness isn't just plot. It's those ten characters bumping and bruising each other. And until I hear otherwise (which could well happen, since no one has read what I've written, except for my friend Christy who's read the last 20 pages or so), I'm going to be quite pleased with what I've written.

I have a little less than half of the book left to line edit, and then I'll give myself a day or two before emailing it to my editor and my agent. I doubt either of them will read it before I go to LA on vacation, so I'm confident that I can enjoy waking up and marveling at my genius for at least another week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Twitter Me Kindles

My big brother taught me Pirate Talk.

I got an email a week or so ago, asking if Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone were available on Kindle. The answer is yes and no. Apparently one must beg and plead for a book to make it to Kindleland, and d&g hasn't been begged and pleaded for sufficiently.

I have no idea what my royalty rate is for these things, but if there's any chance I could make money, I'm in favor.

Last week I got a mystery package (I love mystery packages). It contained the Playaway version of my book The Year Without Michael. For those of you (i.e. me) who don't know what a Playaway Book is, I will quote:

Playaway is the simplest way to listen to an audio book on the go. It comes with tbe book already on it and a battery to make it play. Simply plug in its earphones and enjoy. No cassettes or CDs. No downloads. There's nothing left to do but listen.

Now for all of you (i.e. nobody) who wonder whether I twitter, the answer is no. It's miraculous enough that I blog. My friend marvel that I can post pictures (I'm not kidding- they really do marvel at that). But I feel that in deference to the rapidly marching 21st Century, I should at least mock twitter. So here goes:

9 AM- I should do my rewrites.

10 AM- I really should do my rewrites.

11 AM- No point starting the rewrites, since I'll be eating lunch in an hour.

12 PM- Lunch

1 PM- I'd better go out and buy groceries if I intend to eat lunch tomorrow.

3 PM- Who knew the supermarket would have so much food in it!

4 PM- Maybe now I can work on my rewrites.

4:15 PM- It's too close to suppertime to do rewrites. I'll get an early start tomorrow.

If the alternative to rewrites was walking the plank, I might actually do them. But with lunch and supermarkets and supper as distractions, I can hardly be expected to.

I'm off to change the sheets on my bed (see, I do work). Then I'll eat lunch (a woman's got to eat). And then maybe, just maybe, I'll do my rewrites!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This Will Not Be The Post About Redecorating My Den

Although I did run out this morning and buy a new desk chair.
You can see why I wanted a replacement.

But the real reasons for this entry are twofold. One is to announce that last night at 10 PM, I finished the first draft (yet again) of This World We Live In, with its fabulous, never to be revealed, ending. I worked a lot later than I thought I would because my friend Cynthia dropped by with homebaked hamentashen (yum yum) and my cousin Ellen called for some social chit chat, and American Idol announced not only who made it through semi-final group 3, but also who'd been invited back for tonight's wildcard round (go Anoop go).

And secondly, I wrote a new blog entry with a little discussion of what I may or may not change thanks to my fabulous new ending over at thirdmoonbook, for any of you who are interested.

This afternoon, I bought a new vacuum cleaner, which I had every intention of trying out tomorrow morning, but I'm going to have to take my mother for a semi-emergency visit to the dentist instead. Teeth were not made to last 97 years. After I get her back home, I'll read B3 with pen in hand to make notes about where changes are required. Or maybe I'll clean my apartment and save B3 for Sunday. Either way, I'll make the changes and do the final manuscript polishing next week, and send it off before I go off to Los Angeles for the World Figure Skating Championship on March 22 (go Jeremy Abbott go).

And somewhere between now and then, I'll tell you all about my redecorating!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yet Another Excuse To Postpone Working On The Rewrites

Someday, I'm going to figure out why every day it's been a struggle to get to work. I enjoy it when I'm doing it, and today most likely I'll finish the fabulous new ending of B3 (which I've written in my head about 100 times at this point, and when I read to my friend Christy the future final sentence, she said, "Wow." Which definitely beats "Yikes" and should be an incentive to get to work and write that final sentence. And yet, I continue to dawdle).

Where was I? Oh yeah, the reason for this blog entry. I got the Danish copies of Life As We Knew It, aka Mens Vi Endnu Er Her, and I can now say Lisa is pregnant in Danish (Lisa er gravid).

I felt I had to hand deliver a copy to Carol, the co-dedicatee, because her name is misspelled on the dedication page. Carol, who is a kind and gracious woman, took it much better than I would have.

Since Marci (other co-dedicatee) was there as well, I asked if I could take a picture of the two of them holding their copies of Mens Vi Endnu Er Her to post on my blog. They kindly and graciously agreed.

So here it is and now I'll go to work (or at least find some other excuse not to):

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We Interupt The Intended Blog Entry All About Redecorating The Den

To announce that Life As We Knew It is the Garden State Teen Book Award winner for Fiction, Grades 6-8.

I have already exchanged emails to confirm that I'll be getting a certificate (I'll hold off completing the redecorating until the awards luncheon).

My mother says she's very proud.

And so am I!