Monday, January 30, 2012

A helluva Month

I'm ready for February. A new start. January wasn't so hot.
1. I broke my arm (technically in December, but the bulk of the result has affected January, not December).

2. Terry Davis fell off a ladder onto a cement floor, ended up being airlifted to Mayo Clinic, went into a coma; we were told he was going to die; he came out of it, had surgery, got labeled "Lazarus," and is recovering at St. Mary's in Rochester. He still has a tough, long road ahead.

Good things about the prior item:
a) My kids came home and I got time with them as a bonus, albeit in circumstances less than ideal.
b)Terry is ALIVE and retains his sense of humor and intelligence in spite of the fact that he was supposed to be DEAD.
c) My boyfriend Tom once again shows his true colors in that he's man enough to be supportive of my friendship with Terry instead of being jealous or intimidated by it. Tom amazes me.

3. I'm not a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards. Strangely, I sort of knew that I wouldn't be. There were sooooo many spectacular nominations in books for young people this year, I didn't think anyone knew me enough to make the top four (although some egotistical part of me wonders if anybody did read Chasing AllieCat while doing the selecting, and maybe it's good that deep down I believe Chasing AllieCat is a good enough book to have made the final cut)...

The top four finalists are SPECTACULAR writers and deserve it entirely. Kurtis Scarletta (who has been deserving this honor for a long time, in my opinion), Pete Hautman (who wins every year he's nominated and that's most years 'cause he's that brilliant), Jacqueline West (whom I don't know and am going to go READ), and Brian Farrey (my editor for Chasing AllieCat!) are amazing writers and kudos to them!
And in children's (younger) books, thrilled to death that Laura Purdie Salas made finalist!

I'm in great company among the talent that got passed over: Rachael Hanel (one of my besties cycling as well as writing, in my writing group!) Anne Ursu (loved Breadcrumbs), Geoff Herbach (I thought he'd win the whole shebang), Marion Dane Bauer (Holy smoke! She's one of my idols), Lynne Jonell (finalist last year--consistently great), Steve Brezenoff (just being in his company for this rejection makes it all okay), Loretta Ellsworth (Also amazed she didn't make the cut), Susan Niz, and a whole bunch of people I don't even know--and where the heck was Kelly Barnhill on this list in the first place?
And in children's (younger books): Stephen Shaskan wasn't a finalist? Okay, I'm fine with not making the cut.

Another  good thing: Girl Meets Boy (Chronicle) is out in the world, and if there's ever a time that's honorable to have my story paired with Terry Davis's story in anthology, this is IT.

So time marches does the good and the bad, the fabric from which this crazy, unreliable life is woven. Bottom line: I'm glad to be alive and to love and be loved by so many wonderful people.

Friday, January 20, 2012

There is one

atheist in a foxhole. I know him well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Girl Meets Boy gets press

Girl Meets Boy gets press at Chronicle

AND here's the trailer...

At least I wrote a story that is getting some press and PR. Don't care if my name isn't front and center...I'm in there, and I like my story...along with most of the others in this book. Great interview with Kelly Milner Halls, editor of the book and one of the authors in the collection.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

10 things it's hard to do one-handed

Especially when your dominant hand is in a clumsy cast.

1. Squeeze shampoo into your hand (while one hand is encased in a garbage bag, taped and vaselined into waterproofness while in a cast and held over your head to avoid leakage), close shampoo, and distribute shampoo onto hair and replace shampoo bottle on shower shelf. *Note: Hold shampoo bottle between knees. Squeeze into hand. Slather hair. Replace bottle.
2. Wash arm NOT in cast and in garbage bag held over head. *Note: impossible.
3. Shave armpit under useable arm. *Not impossible, but tricky.
4. Chop vegetables/onions/fruit. *Dangerous.
5. Cut food on plate.
6. Eat politely.
7. Brush teeth. *I found myself holding toothbrush (AFTER I finally got toothpaste on the brush) holding the brush in my inept left hand and bobbing up and down. Thankfully, floss comes on little pronged picks, so it can be done one-handed.
8. Dismantle artificial Christmas Tree. *Gave up on this one. May have Christmas tree up and use it for Valentine's Tree.
9.  Carry heavy boxes. *Haven't figured this out yet. Works with 2-wheeled cart if stairs aren't necessary.
10. Type. *Pain in the A*@#$$.  But if I tilt my keyboard so the right-angle of my casted arm fits the keyboard, I can do it. My shoulder will either be a)exhausted or b)buff by the time I get out of this cast.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally. A good review in VOYA.

Finally. I wrote something that got a good review in VOYA.  Kerry's story, "Mars at Night," is the one I wrote. So glad I AM working on that novel!

VOYA (Voice of Youth Activates)
"In this collection of six vignettes, readers experience both the male and female perspective of affairs that are challenging, life-changing, or seemingly inexplicable. Bobby Wildcat bemoans his short stature and the bullying he endures in his close-knit tribal community. Then, without warning, he finds himself drawn to Nancy Whitepath, the town’s large and successful basketball talent.  Bobby’s insecurities often lead him to misinterpret how Nancy is responding to him.  In “Want to Meet,” Max plans to meet his online crush, only to be shocked that Alex is a girl (“Alex, it was a gay chat room, okay?”).  Alex’s reasons for starting a relationship online are just as complex as Max’s.  “The Mouths of the Ganges” and ”Mars At Night” look at the challenges that Kerry and Rafi experience in their relationship.  He is Bengali, from a devout Muslim family, while she has grown up on an Iowan farm and lives with constant disapproval and guilt trips from her grandmother.  Their relationship is only one of the many issues they face, including the post-9/11 prejudice Rafi endures and the potential destruction of Kerry’s farming way of life.

These short stories are collected in the same “he said/she said” format made popular by books such as Cohn and Levithan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Knopf, 2006/VOYA April 2006) and Barkley and Hepler’s Scrambled Eggs at Midnight (Speak, 2007/VOYA August 2006).  For some of the stories, there simply is not enough development for the reader to cultivate firm opinions about characters, their motives, or their situations.  Some of the breakout stories, such as Rafi and Kerry’s tale, beg for a home in their own novel.  With its proliferation of romance and hormonally-charged electricity, this book should be an easy sell to readers who like escaping in lighter contemporary relationship stories."- VOYA

"He thought …, but to her it seemed…  As long as there have been two sexes, there have been two views of each relationship.  This collection of stories by proven YA authors explores this dilemma through the novel device of dual accounts by two writers, one male and one female.  In Chris Crutcher’s “Love or Something Like It,” uber-handsome John Smith enlists school “bad girl” Wanda to help him understand women, while Kelly Milner Hall’s “Some Things Never Change” explores Wanda’s preemptive-strike attitude toward men.  In other stories, a Native American star at women’s basketball begins to see possibilities in a shrimpy, artistic schoolmate; Alexis helps her lonely, gay, on-line buddy Max find a possible relationship; an African-American girl and a white admirer connect in sex ed class; and a Muslim boy falls for an Iowa hog farmer’s daughter and uncovers a shocking political deception.  The final story departs from the format to present a jointly-narrated account of transsexual Stephen’s (nee Stephanie’s) decision to accept an overture from an unsuspecting childhood friend.

This diverse collection will appeal to a broader readership than many short-story anthologies, due to its innovative format and universal theme.  Some stories are naturally stronger than others: “Mouths of the Ganges,” by Terry Davis, for example, breaks new ground, while its partner, “Mars at Night,” by Rebecca Fjelland Davis, is more conventional.   Casual profanity and frequent references to sex (more thoughts than action) will not surprise YA librarians.  This is a strong choice for older teen readers."- VOYA

"[A] proliferation of romance and hormonally charged electricity" - VOYA

"A strong choice for older teen readers" - VOYA

Monday, January 9, 2012

Girl Meets Boy study guide

A study guide out from Chronicle for GirlMeetsBoy!

My story in this book, "Mars at Night" is about the same characters as are in the novel I'm working on now. Fun to see Kerry and Rafi out in the world.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


(to me):  "Do you have a punch-card at the orthopedist?"

(another presenter at the conference today): "My mother told me I was the kind of little boy she didn't want me to play with."

"I'm an illlustrator. Can I draw this story instead of writing it?"
(me): "Well, I guess so. So draw the parts of your story that other people are writing."
(time passes): "I don't know how to draw the problem part. Can I just leave that out?"
"Is it a story without a problem? Give it your best try."
(a few minutes later) "I gave up on that. I'll do the other parts.  But I don't know how to draw a city, either. That's the setting..."
and so it went.  The kid is some kind of metaphor for writer's block I think.

SW/WC Service Coop Young Writers' Conference today was a blast.  But I'm tired.

I met a bunch of awesome kids. Some of them are really good writers. All of them seemed to be good listeners and readers.

Even my keynote speech was fun (I was scared to talk to a gym full of 1000 people. I wonder if it showed). I guess it went okay! I was surprised every time the whole gym laughed when I said something funny.