Friday, May 29, 2009

A Change Is Gonna Come

I was going to write a nice chatty and informative blog entry, but I just got a one two punch. My rent is going up by a whole heck of a lot (in a failing real estate market, this is really improper), and Television Without Pity has removed its Adam Lambert thread, which has been my favorite place to escape for quite a while now. TWoP says maybe if it's in a good mood, it will bring it back on Monday.

I could become a bitter woman very fast.

Or I could write the entry I intended to write this morning, or at least an approximation thereof. I'll give it a try, but growl grump grump grump.

Okay. Big breath. As you can see, I received the Garden State Teen Book Award for Life As We Knew It, and if you look to the right side of the blog, it has been hung up on the Wall Of Ego, where it looks quite striking. I am very pleased it's horizontal.

There are two other important changes over on the right side. The first is a new poll concerning This World We Live In and whether it should have chapters. It is a completely spoiler free statement to say my editor read the manuscript and expressed doubts about whether the book should have chapters. I figured I'd get input from you, so I put the poll up. For those of you who are interested, I wrote a long entry over at thirdmoonbook summarizing my editor's suggestions and my thoughts about those suggestions. My responses would have been a lot crankier if I'd written that entry after finding out about my rent increase and TWoP, so it's all for the best I got it written this morning when life was good. Growl grump.

The other significant change over at the right, and this is purely coincidental, is that I've removed the offer of bookplates for Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone. I'm down to about 30 of the Always Have Hope plates and about 70 of the Never Lose Faith plates (after giving away close to 1500 of the Always and close to 1000 of the Nevers), and I decided to wait a while before reordering (they come 500 to a roll). I may restock when d&g comes out in paperback (winter 2010) or I may reorder and make a third plate for This World We Live In (still on schedule for spring 2010). I hesitated about removing the offer, kind of hoping I could use them all up in dribs and drabs, but my concern was someone would ask for a large number, and I wouldn't be able to fulfill the request.

The plates were my small way of thanking people for buying my books. I sent them to readers all over the world, and to independent bookstores here and abroad. My UK publisher got a big batch of them as well. Each one was personally signed by me, using a variety of red pens over the past year.

Le sigh. What I save in postage, I guess I'll be paying in rent!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Google Will Be So Excited

For those of you who are wondering why I'm writing this entry starting at 7:19 AM, you can blame it on a combination of Scooter's early morning enthusiasm, and rumors that Adam Lambert will be performing on the Early Show. I figure if Adam is on, they'll save him for the second hour, and I can exercycle to him. While I'm waiting, I'll catch you up on everything else.

The big news is that I've created a term that Google never seems to have heard before. It is a description of Scooter's personality, especially as he exhibits it circa 5 AM. Scooter is Purrsive Aggressive!

Actually, the way I was at New Paltz Crafts Fair this weekend, I could have been described as Purseive Aggressive. A quick trip to Google just now shows I invented that one too.

Between following Adam's every potential move and creating terms for Google, I haven't read that much in Mistress Of The Monarchy. Here's what I know so far: Katherine Swynford's parents are either alive or dead, she's either 4 years old or 28, her sister's granddaughter became a duchess, and the black plague killed off feudalism. I sense a great deal of wheel spinning on Alison Weir's part thus far (which is appropriate enough, since Katherine Swynford was a big St. Catherine fan).

I'm getting a little nervous. The Early Show's been on for half an hour, and I haven't heard them mention Adam yet. I'd hate to think I was watching TV this early for naught (not that Scooter would let me sleep this late).

Hmm. They just showed a big crowd, but they still didn't mention Adam. I find this increasingly worrisome.

For those of you who are wondering what's happening with This World We Live In, well I've been wondering too. I did get an email at the end of last week from the newest editor, and here's what she said:

I don't anticipate a lot of changes, just bumping up some emotion, fleshing out character traits here and there, and providing a sense of background to a few questions that arose early on for those who hadn't read the first two books.

I definitely like the part about not a lot of changes, especially since there was no reference to changing the fabulous ending (the changing of which would involve lots and lots of changes). I suppose I could reread the book this week myself, in preparation for the rewrites. I haven't looked at This World since I sent it off over two months ago. Since then I've been to California and Connecticut and New Jersey and New Hampshire and won several awards (none of which I've actually seen) and acquired a kitten (who I see all the time) and solved the problem of my mother's eye drops, and did volunteer work for two different local organizations, and visited with friends, and suffered through the American Idol finale, and watched dozens, possibly zillions, of episodes of Clean House, and planted five window boxes of impatiens, and learned that Nathan Hale was a remarkably incompetent spy and that the black plague was not Katherine Swynford's fault. Not to mention creating two new terms for Google.

I suppose after all that I should be willing to get back to work. Especially if there's no Adam on the Early Show!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Never! And I Mean It! Never!

Decades ago, when I was a senior in college, I decided for reasons I'll go into some other time, to write a young adult novel (and I did; it was called Just Morgan, and it got reviewed in the New York Times and everything). But before I began writing, I told everyone I knew (at least 4 people, maybe as many as 5), that I was going to write a book. I figured that way I'd be too embarrassed not to finish.

It worked then. So now I'm proclaiming to everyone who reads this blog (at least 4 people, maybe 5) that I'm never going to watch American Idol again. Never! I'm making this a public declaration so you can hold me to it. Never ever ever.

You would think that by not watching American Idol, I'd get a lot more free time, since for me the joy of AI isn't AI, but the endless blogs and message boards on the subject. But last night, instead of reading about AI or anything else, I played two hands of Free Cell with an actual deck of cards. I won both, which leads me to believe the computer version makes it harder for a reason.

I did begin Mistress Of The Monarchy though. As of the moment, we know almost nothing about Katherine Swynford, including who her mother was. This one's going to be a real challenge for Alison Weir.

My friend Lew (aka Lewis Grossberger) is now a contributor to True/Slant. Here's a link to his latest entry.

This morning at 4 AM, Scooter decided to play Purr On The Neck, with unusual fervor. At one point he climbed on my head and planted a flag on my left cheek. I actually gave in at 4:30, got up and put some dry food in his bowl. That bought me two more hours sleep.

A week ago, Marci and Alice came over so Alice could meet Scooter. Alice took a video of Scooter playing her her hair. If you can accept the concept of a video of a twelve week old kitten being kind of kinky, well, it's kind of kinky. Gustave Klimt would have loved it.

But I bet he would have sworn off American Idol after this season also!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Got A Kitten. I Got A Bracelet. I Got Another Award!

My friends Joyce and Lew were up for the weekend. I was in a particularly good mood, having found out about the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award on Friday afternoon.

Scooter was appropriately cute and kittenish during the visit, and Joyce took pictures. I'm not sure why I'm holding Scooter in such an undignified manner, but that's how we were when Joyce immortalized us.

Saturday afternoon (before Joyce took the picture), we went to the Galleria. We go every time Joyce and Lew visit, generally for shopping and a movie (this time we saw State Of Play).

I had decided the time had come to buy something celebratory for myself. I've had so much to celebrate over the past year or so, and I like treating myself to things when I get good news. My celebratory fantasies of late had involved diamond bracelets, which, oddly enough, many jewelry stores at the Galleria were willing to sell me. I know, because I looked at every single one of them, before spending absurd amounts of money on the first one I saw.

I ran into Lew before deciding to buy the bracelet, and tried it on for him. I asked him if it made my wrist look fat, which is the funniest thing I've said in months. Lew encouraged me to buy the bracelet (my guess is Joyce would have too, if I'd run into her), so I did.

Sometime between six months and six years from now, I'll look at the bracelet and ask myself why I wasted so much money on it. But at this particular moment, it's on my wrist, and I am very happy. As it happens, Scooter is napping on my lap, which would also make me very happy.

See Pink Thing in the lefthand side of the picture? The den doubles as a guest room, so I don't have access to my computer when Joyce and Lew come to visit. This time I thought to take Pink Thing with me, just like I was at a hotel. But while Pink Thing is programmed with many of my favorites, I never bothered to put Bloglines on it.

So Sunday afternoon, upon Joyce and Lew's departure, I went back to the den, back to the computer, and back to Bloglines. And I discovered Life As We Knew It had won the Evergreen Young Adult Book Award from the state of Washington!

No, I'm not going to buy another diamond bracelet to celebrate. But the one I bought is sparkling even more.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Is A Wonderful Number

Life As We Knew It has just won its third award!

I am superpleased about this one, because it's the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, high school division.

Ever since I learned LAWKI was nominated, I fantasized about winning the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (any division; I wasn't fussy). I mean, the odds are non-existent that I'll ever win a Pfeffer Award (which, now that I think about, does exist, since my parents created one, but it's for people who do good and noble deeds, which doesn't exactly include me, not to mention that it might seem like nepotism if I won an award my parents created).

Speaking of my parents, my mother says I might need to move to a bigger apartment to house all these awards. My mother is a very practical person.

Here's the email I got, so you can see I didn't make any of this up:

I'm pleased to inform you that Life As We Knew It has won the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, High School category, sponsored by the Maryland Association of School Librarians. The votes have been counted and over 70,000 students from across the state selected their favorite books.

Each year since 1992, the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award has been given in several categories. The purpose of this award is to promote literacy and lifelong reading habits by encouraging students to read quality, contemporary literature. The books placed on lists for each category are expected to broaden the human experience and provide accurate, factual information. The Black-Eyed Susan Book Award honors outstanding books, chosen annually by Maryland students. For additional information on the Award and our organization please visit

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Apartment Is Clean(er)

While I remain in a holding pattern, waiting to hear from the new editor, I figured I'd let you know I don't spend all my spare non-apartmentcleaning time, playing with Scooter.

Actually, since I have almost a week before the American Idol finale, I have plenty of time to read (well, maybe not plenty, since Joyce and Lew are coming this weekend). Here's the list of what I just read, am reading, and will be reading:

I finished reading Devil's Gate. I learned a lot about early Mormon history. If I'd had any doubts before, I decided I never ever want to cross America while pulling a handcart. Never.

I am currently reading Nathan Hale by M. William Phelps. I'm determined to finish it before Joyce and Lew get here, so if Lew wants it, I can give it to him. It has big margins and not that many pages, so I should be able to finish it today.

Next, I'll be reading Testimony by Anita Shreve. It's a 2 week library book, but it has big margins and not too many pages and looks pretty juicy (if any of you have read it, and it's not juicy, don't let me know).

After that, I'll be reading Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir. I had one of those Borders coupons, and I treated myself to it. I always like Alison Weir biographies, so I was pleased to see a new one. This one is about Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancester. I never heard of her either. She was John of Gaunt's mistress. I haven't exactly heard of John of Gaunt (although his name is familiar), but I like biographies with lots of sex in them. You have no idea how many biographies I've read of Henry VIII and all six wives. Catherine Howard was definitely the sexiest.

Scooter is just now figuring out how to chase his tail. This is very distracting.

After I finish Mistress of the Monarchy, I'm going to reread Cashelmara and The Wheel Of Fortune by Susan Howatch. Alison Weir says one of the characters in The Wheel Of Fortune is based on Katherine Swynford (so I guess Susan Howatch had heard of her), and while The Wheel Of Fortune isn't exactly a sequel to Cashelmara, it kind of is, so I might as well reread it first. Susan Howatch novels are my favorite things to reread in the summer.

I found this game on the internet. You open the book you're reading to any old page, and then you write down something from lines 7-12. So in honor of Nathan Hale and inspiring people to read, here goes:

Nathan explained where he had traveled over the past eight months, after he had left Coventry in January. "As to Brigades." he said, "at the beginning of the Campaign we were at Winter Hill...from thence we were removed to Roxbury... and then we moved from that place here...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeghw22222222222222222222kkk, 78222222222222222222222222222222222222222

Okay. Some of that isn't from page 131 of Nathan Hale. Scooter may not know how to read, but he sure knows how to write!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm Sure My New Editor Is Very Cute Also

I got an email today from my new editor saying This World We Live In remains on track for a spring 2010 publication. I should be hearing from her in a week or so about rewrites.

I can't really say I'm on vacation, because Wednesday I'm visiting a local school and Thursday I'm exchanging comments with a class in New Jersey and Friday I'm visiting a class a friend of mine teaches.

But the true challenge of the week will be tomorrow morning, when I take Scooter to the vet for his checkup and shots. Scooter, who screamed loud and long when I took him to the vet's three weeks ago (a couple of days after he moved in with me), has become a considerably more quiet cat, although he still meeps on occasion when there's something he absolutely has to tell me. My guess is though, he'll scream loud and long tomorrow on the way to the vet's, at the vet's, and on the way home from the vet's.

He also has a new favorite game, called Purr On The Neck. He favors playing it at 4 AM. The rules are simple. He climbs on my neck and purrs in ecstacy, while stepping on my face. I fear for my eye sockets, but so far there's been no damage, except to my sleep patterns. Since he's not yet three months old, I can still fool him by hiding my head under the coverlet, but when I tried that this morning, it turned out he was under the coverlet himself, so he had no trouble locating me.

When I got home from New Hampshire last Thursday, I found Marci had left me a vase of lilacs. Here's the most recent Scooter movie, posted to remind myself how cute he is, when he screams non-stop tomorrow morning!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Catching Up

I had a really wonderful time in New Hampshire.

I spent Wednesday at Rundlett Middle School, in Concord, talking with the seventh graders there. Nancy Keane is their school media specialist, and she took extra good care of me. During one break, she drove me around Concord. It's the state capitol. It has many lovely homes, and at least one Dunkin Donuts (I never claimed I ate sensibly when I was on the road).

Thursday I was the luncheon speaker for the New Hampshire Educational Media Association. I told everyone the story of how I came to write Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone, and how my life had changed for the better as a result. People laughed, but I'm pretty sure only at appropriate times.

After I was through speaking, I got to meet Linda Jacobs. What a pleasure that was. I love reading the comments you leave on this blog, but I never get to meet any of you. Or if I do, you're all named Anonymous and I don't know that I've actually met you. But Linda Jacobs is a real person with a real name and it was a real joy to meet her.

I missed Scooter something fierce, and forced roughly half the state of New Hampshire to look at pictures of him. If half of New Hampshire had to, why should you be spared. Here are two of the more than two pictures I brought with me.

New Hampshire, by the way, is a very beautiful state, but the weather was kind of grey and gloomy, so the scenery didn't show up too well. Otherwise I would have stopped to take many scenic photographs.

Back in the real world, I'm still waiting to hear from the newest editor about This World We Live In. I've decided in spite of not hearing anything, that it really is going to be published and therefore intend to put the title in italics from this moment on. Here goes: This World We Live In. I'm also searching for a good nickname for it. I guess I can go with TWWLI, but if anyone has a better suggestion, let me know. B3, which I've used up until now, sounds too generic.

So now I'm home, albeit exhausted. I intend to spend the next few days reading (Devil's Gate by David Roberts- I got it via interlibrary loan, so I feel a strong obligation to read it right away), and playing with Scooter (who woke me up at 4 this morning, he was purring so ecstatically because I was home), and obsessing over American Idol (go Adam go, which actually means stay Adam stay). Oh, and speaking of going and staying, Sasha Cohen has accepted an invitation to compete at Skate America in Lake Placid, which I have tickets for (I'm going with my friends Janet and Pam).

No work and all play sounds good to me right now!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Word For The Day Is "Fatuous"

Today is the two week anniversary of my adoption of Scooter (and his of me). Since he was eight weeks old then, he must be ten weeks old now. I counted back, and that lands his birthday mid-February, which, oddly enough, is where my birthday lands as well. So I decided he and I share a birthday.

Because tomorrow I'm taking my mother to Dr. Eye Doctor, and then in the evening, participating in an online discussion of Life As We Knew It, and on Tuesday going to New Hampshire, I'm posting tonight. Only because I have nothing in particular to say, I'm putting on a new Scooter video. It's kind of career based, since Scooter is somewhat obsessed with the LAWKI mini-poster I keep on the floor of the den. He sees his reflection in it, and keeps trying to locate the kitten.

Stop snickering. This is considerably brighter than I was at ten weeks!