Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy, Happy, Happy

has been kind enough to mention me for the Happy Award. This seems like a great thing to do right now considering they are predicting record level cold tonight and into the weekend. I can tell you that a forecast like that does NOT make me happy so this is a wonderful distraction right now. Here's the countdown for the happiometer:

1. Writing - which surprised me when I thought of this since I would have guessed my kids as first. But writing has been with me longer than they have, and it will be with me when I am just someone to visit at Christmas, so that had to come first. I actually get into bad moods when I don't write for a couple of days, and the kids will say to me, "Sheeesh, why don't you go on the computer for a little while and stop being such a psycho mom." I hate when they say that because they are so right.

2. My kids - even though they make me grit my teeth at least once a day, nothing and no one makes me happier than they do. I have always liked being around them and I think I always will.

3. Chocolate - my personal Xanax and a gift from the Aztec gods.

4. Animals - I'll just say it's a very good thing that we all like rescued, highly eccentric animals around here because we have a half dozen (and Emma is lobbying that we have room for one more kitten...)

5. Junk shops - for some reason I haven't fully figured out, I like to prowl junk shops and look at old dishes and furniture. My kids are suspicious of any item that comes home and ask me, "Are those new red glasses in the cabinet glasses from the dead?" I am sensitive to this and usually respond, "Better than being from the undead." I've gotten lots of great picture frames, flowerpots and Halloween costumes from these stores.

6. The Beach - We went to Bermuda for our honeymoon because I couldn't imagine not connecting the happiness of getting married to the beach. I spent most of my time snorkeling and finding out about coral reefs. Luckily, now we live near Long Beach Island which has a great ocean beach. I never feel as at home anywhere as I do at the beach.

7. Reading - kind of an anti-social habit, but with blogs and all, you can share more now than ever. I have to stop rereading books and move on to newer books.
(But seriously, Twilight as opposed to Jane Eyre?)

8. Libraries - Word nerd that I am, I love everything about libraries. It's kind of a combination of junk shop for books and a social area. They're always having sales with titles like "3 books for a dollar" and they host all sorts of talks and films. Plus, they have all the new books, and they are like room service - you just check off what you want to read or watch, and they will get it from another library. They are amazing places.

9. Friends - being around friends is good for the soul. I almost never have time to socialize, but in the small amount that I do socialize, it is always really fun.

10. Cooking/Gardening/Recipes - not the Tuesday night turkey burgers and broccoli, but growing the herbs, making a soup, reading old cookbooks (which I bought at the library sale or the junk shop) that kind of cooking. When I can't sleep, for some bizarre-o reason, I read old cookbooks, the kind that don't mention microwaves or husbands in the kitchen.

And that's about it. Right now, I am going to go get a whole bunch of stuff to cook the cold away. And I'm going to get some writing done. That should make me happy.

Happiometer? Did I say that?

Whoops - forgot to pass this award on. I will pass it on to Jemi and Elizabeth ,Lisa and K.C. if they would like to play along.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Interview with Lisa

Lisa Amowitz, an aspiring YA writer and artist, who has been flattering me to the point where I am considering changing my blog title to, Anne Spollen, Literary Diva, has posted an interview about my two novels on her blog, Why A? She asks some great questions -

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'll Be Back

I should probably get a Twitter account or something instead of using my blog for announcements, but I just don't want to be any more connected than I am. This is a quick blog to explain why I may not have answered or responded to something you sent me.

First, I'll tell you that Boston was really fun. Philly was great, too. I went there the night before the train because it made life easier, and I am all for easier. The kids came, but not to the hotel - I had forgotten what it was like not to have to bring juice and fruit snacks to a hotel room. It was a little weird that no one jumped on the bed or kept begging to order room service. We did get to see a lot of stuff about Ben Franklin, his house and some of the things he did.

And I found out that I really, really like being on a train. I sat in the cafe car by random chance and I got a whole table to myself and with no one around, I was able to write without anybody interrupting. I think I might just go around and buy train tickets and ride to nowhere so I can hang out and write while watching New England go by. (Of course, they also serve beer on Amtrak which I had not realized, and by Providence, there was singing...)

Ben Franklin was in Boston, too. He had a house there also and did wonderful, patriotic things like he had done in Philly. In fact, I crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge to get to my hotel in Philly, and it was on Ben Franklin Boulevard.

But I am really behind -- I have a ton of emails in my mailbox that I haven't gotten to. I will get to them. I had to write a new curriculum when I got back, then there was a full day of work, and I just got home from jury duty about an hour ago. I was selected as a juror, which surprised me because I told them that I don't really watch tv and I read teen fiction in my spare time. I figured they would think I was way to weird to make an informed decision, but I spent most of the day in the suspended animation of a courthouse, but at least the trial is done and I am back.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is another full day of work, so I promise Friday I will be back to write back and come visit your blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gangsta Librarians

I love train stations. That may seem weird since stations are so much like waiting rooms. It could be that I used to watch movies from the 1940's all the time (I still think that was the best decade for films) and everything important changed at a train station. People were always going off to war in Europe or waving them home from somewhere amazing while standing on train platforms.

Later on, I am taking a train from the Philly Amtrak station (see picture above) and I can't wait to take some pictures of the station. Here's another one:

Of course, my leaving the house has caused major questions from the kids because Mom only leaves to
a) work
b) get them food.

When I told them I was going to the ALA Conference in Boston, they wanted to know what our room would look like and if they got a day or maybe two off from school. "I'm not actually sure how much I like history," Emma reminded me, "and that's all like Pilgrim stuff, isn't it?"

They were stunned when I told them I would be back on Saturday night, and I was leaving and returning alone. These are kids who never even had a babysitter (I know, I know)

After the initial shock wore off (indicated by uncharacteristic silence), Philip asked me, "So are you like famous now or something?"

"No, it's just a conference."

He looked at me suspiciously. "You know what happened to Tupac when he became famous, right?"

I had that coming.

For years, it's been, "What? You ate a PORK HOT DOG THERE? Did you know they are associated with childhood leukemia?" "You forgot to wash your hands? WHAT? That's how the PLAGUE spread!"

You get the idea.

"Yes, I know what happened to Tupac. But these people are mostly librarians, people like that. They tend not to be violent."

"Maybe they are," he insisted. "They just cover it up."

"Gangsta librarians? The image just isn't forming, Philip."

They are coming with me all the way to the Amtrak station in Philly. Then I get to spend a day or so with a bunch of people who like books and reading and all that stuff as much as I do, probably even more. I'm betting I get over a hundred texts from my kids - and that will be within an hour of leaving the station.

But it's okay; I finally get to wave from a train - both ways.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Light Beneath Ferns

Since I've blogged about my dog, I think it's only fair to devote one blog about a new book I have coming out.

Probably the number one question people ask me is, "So what is it like to get a book published?" I think my answer to that has changed. With my first book, I actually felt terrified. I liked anonymity, writing whatever I wanted without anyone knowing anything more about me other than where I had previously published. And it was really, really weird to go from that to having people send me manuscripts to pass along to "the people at Flux" -- I guess everyone knows by now that if you have a published writer's email address, you're just about there...

But you get used to it. And you get used to people asking you to sign the book and telling you what's wrong with the book and how they would have written it and what both you and Andrew Karre (the previous editor at Flux) should have done. But it's definitely a life transition. The readers force the change in your life. There's one Library Thing reader review of The Shape of Water that speaks to how that's done more than I ever could:

This novel helped me let go of some painful and shameful things I had a difficult time with in my own life that I had...I was able to finally speak up to my father about anger that I had never been listened to without him cutting me off mid-sentence and that was the one main thing I was angry about. This novel changed my being able to speak up for myself, by persisting and clarifying what I meant to him. I have never been able to say that before about a book. I really love this book. As a result of reading this book, I dealt with tying up some loose ends in my own life. TERRIFIC!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND. The entire review is here.

That amazes me. And it reinforces what I've always believed: that books have the power to change lives. (Wonderful, I hear my son's voice saying, "Yeah, Mom, but so do diets." He's not here now, and I don't recall him ever saying that; I just hear that response. He really needs to go away to college...)

Anyway, I'm not talking about my NEW book which I said I would. First off, I love the cover. Everyone does; they tell me how great it is. I always say "THANKS!" even though the lovely folks at Flux did all the work. They figured out what went with the story, scouted for it, put it together, showed it to me, and I get the credit. So I love covers.

And second of all, I've already gotten emails that ask "It's not like your first book, is it?"

Nope. It's different. I think it's easier to read, less dense, and probably for a younger reader. I'm sure people will tell me what I and Brian Farrey (the present editor at Flux) should have done.

Or maybe not. I'm not sure what it's like to have a second book out yet, since it's not really official until February. I do know that if someone asked me now, "So what is it like to publish books?" I would answer: "It's great. It's really, really fun." How else would I ever open my email to read this from a thirteen year old girl: "Your new book is Parnormalish, right?"