Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One Long Eventful 24 Hours

Children's Lit class kicked off this 24-hour period. We talked about Dr. Seuss, but we spent most of the class period talking about banned books and censorship. Most of us were in agreement that talking with kids as they read difficult material or questionable material is the absolute best way to deal with tough issues. Removing questionable material from a library is not an answer.

Then I came home and wrote a couple hours. Went to bed and could not sleep, tossing and turning and debating a couple plot points in my head in Slider's Son, which has been done for nearly a year, but has had major and minor editing going on either in my hands or sitting with my agent or a publishing house (only one has rejected it so far). At one o'clock this morning, I had the idea that could tie the pieces together...the way to make the last little plot twist work. I thought--aha--now I know, so I'll get up and fix it in the morning. No go. Still couldn't sleep, so I jumped out of bed and sat down at my computer.

When I looked up, satisfied with how the story turned out, the clock read about 3:45 a.m. I reread and checked that everything worked together, saved the document, and at 4 a.m., I emailed it to George, my agent.

I fell in bed, but left my alarm set at 6:15. I got up after  a little over two hours' sleep and took Freya for a walk at the Prairie. Jeanne met us there. The morning glistened. Dew, frost, sunrise, golden reds on the hills....a spectacular walk.

Morning mist over the pond. And Freya pretending to a wild, pouncing beast.

Sunrise, finally, and morning light glistening on a frosted spider web.

Got back in the house and before 8, the phone rang. George had received the manuscript, had a couple questions, we talked about the title, and he said he'd look at it and send it off to Calkin Creek Publisher today. When I got to school, he had already sent it, and by noon, Calkin Creek responded that it was received. They're getting an exclusive read, so we'll know something by October 22. Wheeew. Didn't know anything in the publishing business ever moved that fast....of course, rejections often do, and that's what this could be, quite easily. Keeping hope high for now.

School. Walked in and met my buddies who are willing to help me grade some quizzes (thank you very much, if you are reading this). Erin from the bookstore told me she just opened a box of Kirstin Cronn-Mills' new book--hot off the press! Beautiful Music for Ugly People is now in bookstores!  We called Kirstin in her office and screamed in the phone "It's here!" and made her come down to take this picture. : )

Then a meeting, more grading, and another Freya walk this afternoon, and now I'm hunkered down to grade all evening (But not all night...can't do that again). I just wanted to take a break and write this down before I forget this memorable 24 hours. I'm grateful for my life.

Actually, I think I'll go to bed and get up about 3 and grade then. I can't think anymore.

I'm being ultra conscious of my "use by" date...somewhere out in the future, but always looming closer. I have soooo much to write before that day comes.

Pull your socks up!

From a student paper: "Most of us experience hardship through our life but we should pull our socks up and work hard in order to get what we want to accomplish."
Amen to that. Let's pull our socks up.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bum Glue

Bryce Courtenay says 'bum glue' is a critical key to writing - relentless discipline, no excuses, just get on with it.

Bryce Courtenay wrote one of my favorite novels ever, The Power of One, set in South Africa. Ever since reading that novel for the first time, I've wanted to visit South Africa. Now at looks as if it will be happening in May. 

SCC Field Trip to South Africa May 20-June 7.  Plans are shaping up. Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, I had the best writing weekend I've had since school started. I was on a bike ride and and one of those "aha" moments when I knew what I had to do to switch around the novel I've been working on all summer. I'd been feeling stuck, ground into the mud and the action, which was wonderful at first, was starting to bore me. Time to shake things up. I got the idea...moved the location of the story (and for me that's a big deal because I tend to set things very very firmly in a place, but that's what it needed). I wrote fifteen new pages yesterday, and can't wait to get back to it. 

And that's all I can say. I have to write it, not talk about it, and follow Bryce Courtenay's rule about BUM GLUE, no  matter how much other stuff I have to do! 

So, commitments for the fall: 
Be a good mom and grandma.
Be a good teacher and friend.
Be a good dogmom to Freya (see above photo for that reminder).
Ride my bike, no matter how busy I get.

Back to Bryce Courtenay, he recited a poem, a twist of a passage from Song of Solomon (and my poor paraphrase):
A time to live
a time to die
a time to laugh 
a time to cry
a time to love 
a time to hate
and all of us have 
a "use by" date. 

Love it. I NEED to use the days of my life, the hours, to WRITE. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Addendum @ Subtext this afternoon

That's the name of a new bookstore in St. Paul that sells only YA! How cool is that?
I'm headed up there to sign copies of Chasing AllieCat (along with many other Minnesota YA authors signing books) for the grand opening this afternoon.

It's below Nina's Coffee House and a cross from W.A. Frost, and 165 Western Ave. N. in St. Paul.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Slider's Son

So George, my agent, and I had a talk today about what to do with Slider's Son. Zondervan is saying a tentative no. We're walking away from that "without closing the door."
George thinks this is going to be the next place to send it. They want historical fiction! And he's buddies with the acquiring editor. Sounds and looks MUCH better to me! I'm excited. I'm going to do one more read/revision over the next two weeks.

Biggest challenge: this novel needs a different name.
Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged
Chasing AllieCat
both sort of named themselves; however, Chasing AllieCat was simply AllieCat through the first round of rejections.
I think Slider's Son needs a title that moves the focus away from Slider, onto Grant...and maybe hints at the drama/murder and intrigue within.
I am working on possibilities, and I MAY run a contest on FB asking for input. If I'm brave enough.

These are my favorites:
 Two Strikes, One Dead
 Seventh Inning: Three Out, One Dead
Three balls, Two Strikes, One Dead
Three Strikes, One Dead
Full Count: Three Balls, Two Strikes, One Murder

Coal Robber
Honey Thief
Murder Can't Happen Here.
One Had to Die
Murder Please
The Death of Big Joe
Body in the Cellar
Murder Happens Even Here
His Friend Was a Murderer
My friend, the Murderer
All is NOT as it Seems

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lance Armstrong, cycling

I love this guy's perspective on the Lance Armstrong scandal.
He sort of epitomizes what I've been saying all along.
It's too late to make a deal out of this. He won seven Tours and didn't get caught then. How far back would we go to strip champions who have doped through history? More and more evidence about more and more world greats comes to light....where do we stop?

Once again, I compare Lance to Thomas Jefferson. Should we negate what Jefferson said about freedom because he owned slaves and heartily believed that slavery was wrong? Do we write Jefferson out of the history books as a result? It's a moot point.
Let the record stand and clean up the sport now. Even if lots of my die-hard cycling friends don't like Lance, nobody can dispute what Lance did for the sport.

You want to ride the Tour de France even with performance-enhancing drugs? You think you could do what he did?  Let's let him be a hero.