Quote of the Moment:

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Ray Bradbury

Monday, February 24, 2014

Confessions of a (Sort of) Hobbit

I have decided I am a hobbit.

I'd really rather stay home by the fire with my books and my laptop and garden (even though it happens to be dead because it's February) than go anywhere at all.  Even to the grocery store. Even for an adventure. Not that I have many adventures at the grocery store, but that isn't the point.

The point is: I don't like to walk out the door.

Unless Gandalf shows up and pushes me out. Er, not necessarily Gandalf. Maybe just a crazy wish to publish my crazy books. And the cat randomly biting me. Hiss! Grrr! Go to New York!  I took it as an omen. Or, something.

So last Wednesday, yes, I did leave my poor children in the care of my poor husband and also a severely disturbed cat, and I walked out the door and got on a plane to a children's book-writing conference in New York. No, Gandalf didn't come. My daughter did, which was almost as good, except she doesn't carry a magical staff--only her phone with a subway app--and her hat isn't pointy.

Running out the door

First mistake: taking the red-eye flight. What was I thinking?
Second mistake: taking Dramamine 45 minutes too late. Four hours of sick and not sleepy enough to sleep upright from 12 am to 4 am.

The result: a woozy Thursday that only an enormous double-dark-chocolate cookie from Levain Bakery could fix. Yes, it worked. Everything got better from there. Especially the food. New York bagels for lunch and Indian food for dinner. Delicious.
View out my window
Friday: 45 minutes on the treadmill plus intensives with an agent and a publisher and two groups of lovely people who also happened to be great writers. Plus Cuban food for lunch and New York pizza for dinner, with a little MOMA in between. Umm, yes. Good thing about the morning run.

Saturday: 35 minutes on the treadmill and an inspiring keynote by Jack Gantos, former drug-smuggler-turned-children's-author, then agent Daniel Lazar on getting and communicating with an agent. Shake-shack burgers, fries, and chocolate shake for lunch.

Editor Nancy Siscoe talked about middle-grade novels in the afternoon, then Elizabeth Wein gave a powerful speech on a writer's responsibility to her audience and to the people she writes about. A little scary, considering what I'm writing. But it was good to ponder.
Me, eating again

I skipped the panel on book-banning next because, yes, of course I agree books should not be banned. You don't have to convince me. I'd rather go eat. Preferably at The Eatalian. So delicious.

Oops--missed the buffet dinner and social. But my daughter was meeting friends later and it was our only time to hang out. And eat really good food, as opposed to light banquet food. Which I'm sure was lovely, but I'll bet not as lovely as what I ate instead. Then back to the hotel and a good book, because I was pretty jet-lagged by then and also socially burned out. I'm used to my evening books by the fire. After all, like most writers I know, I am a thorough introvert.

Sunday we slept in and didn't attend anything but a hot shower and church and the top of the Rock and Le Pain Quotidien for lunch. Seriously delicious. And then a sick-making taxi ride to the airport because I forgot to take my Dramamine again.
Anna and me on top of the Rock. Except you can't see the view. Huh.

We were early. Really early. Which meant dinner in the airport. Food could have been worse. Could've been better, too. Had a yummy green smoothie at Jamba Juice. And then fell asleep on top of my book and leaning over a counter because the Dramamine finally kicked in with a vengeance.

Top of the Rock, with view
The upside of the earliness: we didn't miss our plane and I was never sick the entire flight, thanks to even more Dramamine. Finished reading my book and we didn't die, either--always a worry for a person with anxiety disorders, like me. And for my kid, who's way too cool and old now to say, the way he always used to: "Have a good trip, Mom, and don't die!"
What do you say to a send-off like that, anyway?

I could never think of anything but, "Ok, honey. I won't." Which always prompted the obvious: "How do you know?"

Well, um, I don't.

But somehow I managed. I went to New York and back and I didn't die. Not even from good-food overdose, which might have been a miracle. I'm not sure. Still too strung out on Dramamine. I'll tell you tomorrow when my brain is back. After I've curled up by the fire for awhile with my books...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Finished; Heading to NY

Finished the book today, after a minor panic attack because it wasn't done and two ultra-marathon writing days living on trail mix, clementines, and Dove's dark.

Still needs polishing. And a better name. And, yeah, reducing. Fattest book yet. Oops.

But 'tis done. A draft that I like.

And now, oh, yeah, time to pack. And buy face-wash. And dental floss. Leaving for SCBWI NY in two days. I'll tell all y'all about that soon. See you later!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The February Post

It's February again, the Unspeakable Month, and time for the annual Trash-on-February post.

January brown air
Because February, Month of Love, is also the season of toxic air, no sun, brown icicles hanging off cars, and cold that goes on and on and on.

January: no new snow, and dog
Tis the time of left-over, tired-out snow, and pollution-induced bronchitis; also pneumonia, sinus infections, flu, and any other lung disease you've ever heard of. There's nothing to sing about but inversion-magnified pollution, the tedium of cold ugliness everywhere, and did I mention the really bad air?

Fa la la, and so forth.

 I barely need mention the decking of halls with pukey-colored Valentines' decor, fuchsia underwear ads, Pepto-Bismol candy, trashy movie-trailers for films that think sex is romance...and yeah, of course, the really, really bad air.

We keep topping the charts for worst in the nation.

Me, trying not to breathe brown January air
And then the depression. Call it SAD if you want. Self-medicate with brownies and a Happy Light. As if I owned such a thing. Whatever. The big D is as inevitable as cold-air inversions along windless mountain valleys. I hear it's an artist thing. My personal feeling is it's a February thing.

Skip the season and move on to March. That's how I feel about it.

February: snow cloud, not smog, and dog

HOWEVER, um...Not this year. I hate to admit it.

I've tried to despise this February enough to write a really great trash-post, but...huh. I can't.

After a full month of zero snow and January impersonating February for thirty days straight, the Month of Love swept in with one lovely, fresh snowfall after another, white dusting all of the trees,  wind blowing out all of the sick air.

Green air quality, people! Joy!
February clean air

And since I barely leave my house (other than to walk the dog, obviously), because all I do anymore is write my novel, I am spared visions of models in heart-stamped undies. I'm too busy for depression. I even wrote a kissing scene. Not that I'm sending Valentines' Day any love. That holiday is still way too tacky to be romantic.

And then I just realized February is only eight days in.

Still plenty of time to get ugly.

More beautiful February snow

HOWEVER... I don't think I'm going there this year. Feb. has been good to me so far, so I'll just stake out with lots of Dove's Dark and my fantasy world and stay far away from the literal until March rolls by. With a quick trip to New York for SCBWI in the middle.

 So there, February! You don't terrify me.

Actually, that's a complete lie. February is terrifying. I think I need my Happy Light.

Oh, wait. I don't have one.

Maybe some brownies...and a long walk in the snow with the dog...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Who needs November? January is the Real Novel-Writing Marathon Month

January is marathon month.

I'm not talking about running. I have no motivation to run lately: four miles max for long runs, if you're being generous. Probably you shouldn't be that generous. I'm not sure I ever run that far.

On my off days I watch Merlin reruns while I ride the bike trainer. Sometimes I have more off-days than on-days. Sometime I think all days should be off-days.

Running Shoes  
 Vs.       Biking Shoes

Clearly running isn't one of my New Year's resolutions. I run when I feel like it. That keeps it fun. And I believe in doing what the season calls for. In December it calls for good food and family get-togethers, and, of course, gaining weight. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the extra five.
Family get-together  2014 

And right now the season seems to be calling for a marathon write.

So I write. All morning long. All afternoon. All evening.

Because it's dark and cold outside. The air looks like poop. Most of the Christmas lights are turned off and everything's hunkered down and closed up. A bulldozer dug up a piece of my usual mountain trail a couple of months ago and it's ugly now without snow to cover it.  It hasn't snowed in over a month and everything's gone brownish.

I'm not depressed about it. Not yet. Depressing is for February.

But in January you need a warm place to go inside your head. Also, when you sign up for a writing intensive at SCBWI New York in February--attempting to balance the evils of that month--and have to bring a polished, complete version of your novel with you, you know you've got some work to do between now and then.

Forget National Novel-Writing Month of November.  November is crazy and busy. January is slow, with hot chocolate and day-dreams. So I hereby declare January Marathon Writing Month. Join me if you like. Come over and we'll have a write-in with Starbuck's peppermint hot cocoa and butter cookies, which you can run off (and I'll bike off in front of Merlin episodes). Or we can do a virtual write-share on the One-Page-a-Day Blog.  Or something.

Either way, I'll be writing my way toward February in New York, where I begin attacking the business side of the job again, after a lovely, long break focusing on nothing but creation. Until then, I'm in my head in front of my laptop.

See you again in a month.

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