"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Do Something Nice for Someone

It seems I took a blog vacation! I'm back, but posting may be sporadic for the next week.

First, an amazing thank you to Shelf Elf for the fantastic review of The Emerald Tablet. My favorite line (this is hard because I love the whole review so much):
"I finished this book yesterday, and it made me wish I had a whole list of ten-year olds to find Christmas presents for, because this book is going to make a lot of ten-year-old bookworms very, very happy."

And super thank you to everyone who told me they bought The Emerald Tablet for someone for the holidays! This makes me so happy!

Also, if you are looking to spend a bit more time surfing the internet this holiday season, you can buzz over to Teens Read Too for an interview with me!

So in the spirit of doing good to others, make a plan to do something totally random for no other purpose than to make someone else happy. Make someone's day.
Case in point:
One of my friends (who came to my book release party, BTW) got this in the mail the other day. His fellow magic club member, Richard Garriott, went to space as a tourist (yes, lifestyles of the rich and famous) and sent postcards from the space station, postmarked with the big Russian postmark no less.
When he sent me the email, he phrased it as the coolest thing he's ever gotten in his life (aside from the birth of his kid). Think this postcard made his day?

Can you think of something you can do to make someone's day? I know I'm thinking.

Reading update:
Finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
Started The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

And one of my goals for 2009 is to read 50 books. (Yes, I know many people read many more than this, but in all fairness, War and Peace and Crime and Punishment are on the list. Thanks to Kelly Herold for the War and Peace version recommendation.)

So who's up for the 50 book challenge? How about the War and Peace challenge? Moral support? Anyone?

Hope you're all having a great end to 2008!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Score at the Library!

Thanks to everyone who listened to me on Blog Talk Radio! And if you want to read a quick interview with me, head over to The First Book for five short questions and answers!

On Wednesdays I volunteer at our elementary school library. I joke that the job is a bit Sisyphean (google that one, OK).
  • Check in the books.
  • Shelve the books.
  • Check out the books.
  • Check in the books.
  • Shelve the books.
  • Check out the books.
When a class comes in I grab their books and try to check them in and get them shelved before it's time for them to check out new books. Why? Because kids will run to check out what their friend had checked out the week before. They see their friend with a book that looks cool and want their turn with it this week.

Which is kind of a statement on marketing, right. Word of Mouth. Cover exposure. Read what your friends are reading. That's what it's all about.

Another reason for trying to shelve all the books as fast as I can is that I spend any extra time I have reading. I grab a book each week off the shelves (or bring one from home if I'm way excited about reading it) and sit reading until they're ready to check out more books.

This week, while shelving a graphic novel (maybe The Hardy Boys or something like that) I spotted a brand new copy of Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Illustrated by Nathan Hale beckoning me from the shelf. I grabbed it and immediately checked it out under my son's account.
You might think it's bad that I grabbed the book before the kids could, but it brings us to the whole new books topic. What would make a kid grab a brand new book, maybe one they've never heard of, off the shelf?
The answer...I'm not sure. They don't have a bunch of time to look for books. So how cool the cover is would be the main factor if they've never heard of the book.

So when my son came up to check out his books, I showed him Rapunzel's Revenge. Immediately I had twenty eyes on me and the book - them asking me what it was about, them commenting on how cool the title was, them seeing the inside was a graphic novel and getting excited.
My guess is once I check it in, one of his classmates will clamber to check it out next.
The message: Talk about books to kids/adults. Recommend books to kids/adults.
(Oh, and if you're looking for something to recommend, don't forget about The Emerald Tablet.)

I'm actually getting to be a bit more useful at the library. When the kids came over to get shelf markers, I suggested they go check out the books on monsters and mummies, and even showed them where they were (I'd just shelved some the class before). Ten kids followed me over, and sure enough plenty of monster books were checked out.
BTW, shelving those books with the Dewey Decimal numbers on them is totally tedious and amusing at the same time. Because 599.4 is not the same as 599.42 and is definitely not the same as just 599. And don't forget to keep them in alphabetical order within the thousandths digit.

I shelved a darling book which I really had to mention.
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron.
I've never read it, but I will. Why? Because I love this cover.
BTW, this is the cover the library had. The book looked like it had been there since 1954.

And here's a couple more recent covers.

Makes you want to order it right now, doesn't it! It would make a nice addition to my library (if I could get an original cover).

Have a great Thursday! We have the energy efficiency people coming tomorrow to caulk our house and save us tons on our electric bill each month. The company we're using, Green Collar Operations, is great (in case you live in Austin and have been contemplating getting this done). And the owner is also co-owner of a winery. I swapped a copy of The Emerald Tablet signed to his daughters for a couple bottles of wine!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Check me out on Blog Talk Radio

Aside from an overly-loud first response, I think the interview sounds pretty OK. It's a half hour long, but you know, when I was being interviewed, it totally flew by.
You can listen to the whole interview here.

So has everyone been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. I have! It's important to think about solid goals which require many steps to achieve, but do yourself a favor and make a few one-step goals. Like "Read War and Peace". One step. Read the book. I can do it and check it off the list.
(Also on my list is Crime and Punishment and Pride and Prejudice. No, I have no idea why.)

My signing in Burnet was fun. Windy but fun. And tonight I hear we may even get freezing rain here in Austin. Which, if it does happen, means the town will basically try to shut down.

Did I mention I finished City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare. I loved it personally, and can't wait for the third book. Too often recently I've been a bit disappointed in sequels, so it was a nice treat for me.
And speaking of sequels, one of these days I will learn I shouldn't listen to series on audiobook. It seems by about the middle of the second book I'm making sarcastic remarks to the characters and rolling my eyes every time backstory is mentioned.
Enough on that.

Final note. A huge shout out to my eighth-grade best friend (the same one who recognized my Geometry teacher's name in The Emerald Tablet). She showed up at her son's class as the mystery reader, read the first two chapters of The Emerald Tablet, and then forwarded the Amazon link to all the parents. Thanks, SMC!

Have a great week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Five on a Friday

So who else is looking forward to some relaxation over the holidays?

1) For your viewing pleasure, I give you my Christmas tree, complete with all my Star Trek ornaments. If you look closely, you can see the Borg cube, The Trouble With Tribbles, Deep Space Nine, The Wrath of Khan, The Guardian of Forever, a transporter room.

And speaking of the transporter room ornament, oddly enough, just as I took this photo and was emailing it to my computer, my 4-year-old daughter comes into the kitchen with kind of a horrified look on her face and says "something broke", puts something in my hand, and kind of starts to dash out of the room. I look down in my hand only to find Captain Kirk there with no feet. She'd broken him off (accidentally) leaving his feet back in the transporter room.
Thank you Super Glue.

2) It's December 12th. 12/12. I'm opting to go with New Year's cards this year.

3) Thank you, Kim and Enchanting Reviews for an awesome review for The Emerald Tablet. My favorite line:
"A must read for fans of fantasy, especially with a boy hero. This book will not disappoint."

4) Thank you to Emily at BookPeople for the shout out on the BookKids blog today!

5) Don't forget:

I'll be featured this Friday on Blog Talk Radio - Book Bites for Kids! The interview is noon central time, but will be available thereafter on the site.

If you live in the Austin area and have no other plans for Saturday, head up to Burnet, TX for the Christmas on the Square Festival. I'll be signing copies of The Emerald Tablet outside the library from 11-3. Bring the kids, and see you there!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Snap a fun picture, relax a bit, and write!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nuggets from a Day with an Editor

Couple side notes first:

Thank you, Beth for the fabulous review of The Emerald Tablet! I totally appreciate it! I especially like her comments on Jack the Nogical - "His appearances were rare, but gold every time."

I'll be featured this Friday on Blog Talk Radio - Book Bites for Kids! The interview is noon central time, but will be available thereafter on the site.

If you live in the Austin area and have no other plans for Saturday, head up to Burnet, TX for the Christmas on the Square Festival. I'll be signing copies of The Emerald Tablet outside the library from 11-3. Bring the kids, and see you there!


So I mentioned this past weekend I went to a fab workshop featuring Jill Santopolo, editor at the Balzer and Bray imprint of Harper/Collins, and Cynthia Leitich Smith, super great Austin-based author and faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The format was this: Each participant had submitted the first three pages of a WIP for public critique. All participants had read the submissions ahead of time. And for ten minutes Jill and Cynthia discussed each piece. What worked. What didn't.

They were encouraging. They were helpful. They were very honest. It was amazing, and I'd be totally lying if I said I wasn't the least bit nervous waiting for my piece to come up. Let's face it. I was very nervous. There's always that fear your precious baby will be slandered in front of thirty other people and everyone will turn to you with looks of pity in their eyes.
Thankfully, that didn't happen at all. I was totally pleased with my critique and actually kept enough focus to gleam some nuggets of gold from the day.

In the first three pages, here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Emotional Plot and Action Plot - stories with both are nice.
  • The plot hinted at in the first three pages should be a good showing of the plot for the overall book.
  • Will the plot be enough to sustain the whole novel? Maybe it will, but the editor needs to feel confident by reading the first three pages that the plot suggested at will be enough. So the point here is if your book is about three guys hunting grizzly bears in on the Appalachian Trail, don't have the first three pages be about there indecision to get a haircut.
  • Voice of the main character should match the MC's age.
  • Read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King
  • Minimize backstory
My advice - anytime you can get this type of critiquing, take it.
Jill critiqued as a Harper editor: what they are looking for, why they'd immediately say no to some pieces. She mentioned being aware what is already out there, especially at a house you are considering. She mentioned how the drive is to really find pieces that will stand out among the crowd. They receive a lot of great writing, and when she reads submissions, she is looking for a reason to say no.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Things to Make me Happy on a Monday

Seeing as how I was going to be at an all-day writing workshop (I'll post on that tomorrow - it was fab!) on Saturday, I kept my daughter home from preschool on Friday. We decided to head to IKEA, but missed the exit on the highway. So we took the next exit, and pulled into the outlet mall parking lot to turn around.
Does it surprise anyone we never made it out of that parking lot?
Five stores later, we busted a move out of there to make it to the grocery in time to still pick my son up from school.

The best thing we got: matching red and white checked VANS. I'd planned on getting black and white checked, but my 4-year-old daughter wanted the red AND she wanted us to match.

A second note on what makes me happy. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my son left two sweatshirts at school. The following Monday we found one, but the other was nowhere to be seen. It was his favorite - Pirates of the Caribbean hooded. (This kind of explains the outlets drawing me in from above as the first place we went was the Disney outlet to look for a replacement sweatshirt - no dice, BTW).
I was sad. He was sad. There were none on eBay. I'd pretty much given up (I know - never give up).
Friday when I picked him up from school, he held his sweatshirt high in the air. I almost cried I was so happy! Some fifth graders had found it and delivered it to his classroom!!!!!

Third happiness. One of the best things about Christmas for me is getting out my Star Trek ornament collection and putting them on the tree. Love the ornaments and so do my kids. But this year my son is totally into it, talking about the kinds of ships there are, comparing them, asking about captains.
So imagine my delight when exercising in the garage on the elliptical machine yesterday and I looked up at a bookshelf full of my books and found this awesome Star Trek book!
He got so excited and has been looking at it ever since. He even took it to school today for his DEAR (drop everything and read) time.

So what's made you happy recently?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fun Friday

Rather than my normal Five on a Friday, I'll interrupt with a library story I wrote for the Class of 2k8 blog. It got lost in the madness, so here is it.


What is your best memory from the library as a child? (And please feel free to write your own and post it - what a fun topic!)


Remember in college when the library would stay open 24/7 during exam week? Some of my best library memories were at the Virginia Tech library, fifth floor, at around three in the morning during this time.

So I majored in Computer Engineering. And of the 40 students in Computer Engineering, only two were girls, and both were named Tricia. Yep, me and my friend. Tricia and Tricia. What are the odds?

We gals had to stick together, so we headed off to pull an all-nighter studying for some random subject like Electromagnetic Theory or something like that. But really, the mind can only take so much Electromagnetic Theory. So around three o'clock we got a bit punchy.
Emptying our pockets of every bit of change we had, we headed to the copier and made as many photocopies of our feet as dimes we had. But instead of normal size, we shrank them so they looked like tiny little feet. Baby feet.

Then we hung them from the card catalogs in all their black and white, shrunken glory, for the new round of students coming in the morning to study to see.
We laughed so hard, we almost peed our pants. And I hope we caused at least one other person to smile when they saw them, too.

(And yes, I did scan my foot in just for this blog post.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Facebook for Middle Agers

Last night the husband and I talked about the phenomenon which is Facebook. He's recently joined, and faster than lightning, has found many of his old high school friends (and acquaintances).
We talked about how it's perfect for us middle-age, 20-years out of high school people. It's a cool way to catch up with our past without reliving it :)

In my Facebook friends, I have my 8th grade best friend. It's been ages since I've talked with her, but seeing as how she has a son in the perfect target range of The Emerald Tablet, she bought my book (Thanks, SMC!).

I laughed out loud when she wrote on my wall:
"Did you intentionally name the science teacher after our geometry teacher? That would explain a lot if Mr. Burton was not human."

The joy of connecting with people from long ago is they will pick up on things like this! Nobody since high school would have had a clue of making this association in The Emerald Tablet - not even the husband.
And I love this!

So in addition to spending time on Facebook updating my status, I've pretty much finished revisions on The Navel of the World (Forgotten Worlds Book 2). I sent it to a trusted critique partner to read through, the benefit of which is comments like:
  • Page 50 - Maybe you need to explain the Alliance bond the first time you mention it.
  • Page 220 - This is the first time you've mentioned their telekinesis teacher by name.
  • And so many others.
Keep in mind a couple things.
  • This is the second book in a series.
  • It's gone from 100,000 words to just around 66,000. I've cut tons, added tons, reduces backstory to a thumbprint which is all good. But I need to add a couple clarifying connections here and there to tie things up.

Reading update:
I started City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (finally). I've read a couple manuscripts of others recently and slacked on my other reading. So far so good. It seems to be leading me on a path I'm happy to follow.

Holiday shopping suggestion for those with kids in the house...
(You thought I was going to say The Emerald Tablet but amazingly I'm not. Not to say it wouldn't be a great gift. Anyway...)

Check out Barbarian Battles.
Their foam swords and stuff are awesome. We got some at the Renaissance Festival, and I'm ordering the mace and hammer for Christmas gifts for my kids.
And the best part - They're made in the US!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Making Thanksgiving Productive

It all started with the attempt to get the Christmas decorations out of the garage. I've been letting boxes pile up out there, so of course I had to break down the boxes first. Then, I decided the inflatable innertubes for the swimming pool don't need to be inflated all year. So I undid those and got the air out. But then the giant recycling bin cried out for a new spot, so I cleared some room and moved it next to the trashcan.
By now the floor was well exposed showing years of leaves and dirt. So of course I needed to vacuum.
Once the garage was sparkling, I looked at the living room - the destination of our tree. But the floor needed vacuumed and mopped. So I had to do that first. And if I'm doing the living room, why not the whole downstairs.

So this may seem like it's spiraling out of control, but it feels great to get so much done and be so productive. It's the kind of things I don't get done on a normal weekend.

Note: I have not fixed the toilet yet. The downstairs took precedence this weekend. The toilet is, however, on the list.

In addition to some hard-working days around the house, we watched a few great movies this weekend. At my 4-year-old daughter's request, the first movie we watched was Ironman.
One word: Amazing!
I loved this movie, and if I didn't already love it while I was watching it, the last line of the movie is priceless and perfect. Go out and watch it.
Also we took in Journey to the Center of the Earth (the newest version which I've seen before and I love) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Personally, I like this. Yes, it was cliche and knockoff, but there's something to be said for entering that relaxation comfort zone.
My kids also watched a few Land Before Time movies, giving me time to clean the garage (see above) and wrestle the tree up.

Feel like pushing yourself out of your comfort zone?
The correct answer to this question is yes. We should all strive to push out of our comfort zones.
Our friends did this on Saturday by hosting a play in their backyard. The parents and a neighbor got up on stage and acted out a skit. They'd practiced for a few weeks, and it was hilarious! For their second skit they got all the kids up there, too.
Hilarious to me was when a princess was supposed to be running through a field of flowers, and when asked what kind of flowers they were, my son said Lantana. Yes, it's good to live in Texas.

Here we have a brave knight fighting a bad knight to rescue a princess.

A reminder on why you should buy books this holiday season instead of cheap imports.

And finally, what I love hearing when I walk into Kung Fu is a dad I know walking up to me and saying, "My daughter loved your book!"
If you ever think authors don't want to hear this or think they've heard it too much, think again!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend! We've got one month until the New Year. Let's see what we can get accomplished!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Irony and Book stuff

It's like irony in its best form. I just finished up remodeling the upstairs guest bathroom. New cabinet, faucet, shower tiled, new fixtures everywhere. And it's in perfect working order.
And then...
I'm standing downstairs in the dining room with my husband when I look up to the ceiling.
"Does that look like a leak to you?" I ask.
He looks up. "Yeah. I noticed that."
OK, now we've got a leak. I take off the cabinet, saw a piece of the wall off, but the pipes are dry. The shower looks good. So I measure and determine it's the toilet leaking into the floor.
So now the whole bathroom is disassembled. The toilet is in the bathtub. The wall has a hole in it. But the ceiling below is drying confirming it is indeed our 15-year-old low flow toilet causing the problem. Guess I should have replaced that wax seal on a more regular basis.

Anyway, on to the writing world.

First off, NCTE! What a great fun conference. Aside from our amazing panel, it was one of those free ARC kind of conferences, and seeing as how I drove down to San Antonio from Austin, I could carry an unlimited number of books back with me.
Here's the gang waiting for our talk. From left to right:
Jen Bradbury, Jody Feldman, PJ Hoover (me), Nancy Viau, Brooke Taylor, and Stacy Nyikos

After filling two bags with free books, Stacy Nyikos and I hightailed it back to Austin to celebrate Emily Gravett's visit to the US at a house party hosted by S&S rep Gillian Redfearn. Tons of fun. The kids loved the reading of Monkey and Me and I managed to get my Christmas shopping done for at least one person on the list.

Saturday was a super fun signing at Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble.

I saw a few people I haven't seen in years, all of whom bought The Emerald Tablet! Thank you, Jo Virgil and Barnes & Noble! It was a blast.

Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo Five on A Friday

Because a picture can be worth a thousand words, right? But just for good measure, I'll go ahead and add a few words, also.

1) Priceless photo of Linda Joy Singleton, Me, and Stacy Nyikos doing the Star Wars thing at CLA. I want hair like Senator Amidala.

2) The door on my son's classroom. They drew their favorite books. Yes, the second photo is a close-up of...you guessed it...The Emerald Tablet. Love that boy!

3) The Emerald Tablet has made the Tri State Young Adult Review Committee Books of Note list for 2009! Not only that, it will be included in the Pennsylvania State Librarians Conference in May! I'm so excited for The Emerald Tablet!

4) Thank you Marvell for such a wonderful book signing event today! You guys rock and design the best chips around, even with the memory controller and GCU and MVED. Thanks for bringing back all those wonderful memories, thanks for buying books, and thanks for the giant cookie!
I miss you all!!!!!

5) Extra special shout out to my critique group member, Christine Marciniak, who got the cover of her fab book which is due out in 2009, When Mike Kissed Emma. I love this cover and cannot wait to own it.

6) A quick and delightful read. I picked this up at the school library while volunteering on Wednesday and finished it that night. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I highly recommend this book! Fun, fast, haunting, creepy, and really, really good!

7) If you live in Austin, please come by the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble on Saturday between 2-4. I'll be signing copies of The Emerald Tablet along with Stacy Nyikos who will be signing her brand new book Dragon Wishes (which BTW I read and loved). See you there!

Yes, I know that's seven, but they were brief, fun, and on my mind!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I'll post about NCTE and the book signing on Monday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

California Dreaming

Which I realize is the most predictable title possible, but I do love The Mamas and the Papas. It was one of the very first CDs I bought. I think Van Morrison or the Cure or maybe Echo and the Bunnymen was the first CD (way back in 1988).
Remember when CDs came out? LPs were $4.99 at Kemp Mill Records and then CDs came out for $15.99 and they always said the price would drop. Yeah, what happened? Did the price ever drop?

Before I forget, I have an interview over on LiveMom. Free book giveaway, so if you're interested, head over and leave a comment!

Anyway, back from California where I loved being on a panel with
PJ Hoover (me) (The Emerald Tablet, October 2008)
Stacy Nyikos (Dragon Wishes, October 2008)
Barrie Summy (I So Don't Do Mysteries, December 2008)
Zu Vincent (The Lucky Place, April 2008)
Courtney Sheinmel (My So-Called Family, October 2008)

(Barrie hadn't made it to town yet at this picture).

Highlights besides the actual panel (which went really well) included watching a Cultural Diversity panel with Stacy Nyikos, Belle Yang, Susan Goldman Rubin, Caryn Yacowitz, and Linda Joy Singleton.

I came home with these tasty, signed treats!

Another highlight was dinner at the Chinese restaurant. Here we are sans Courtney (who was actually staying about an hour away).

And why does this amuse me? (Yes, I did go back into the bathroom with my camera to take the picture).

Update on reading:
I finished City of Bones by Cassandra Clare which I really enjoyed (except for the twist which I saw coming to whole time and I have to say was kinda disappointing).
Am now reading Dragon Wishes by Stacy Nyikos (only about 20 pages left) - Fantastic, moving, I love this book.
Listening to The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. So far so good.

I think I commented on about zero blogs while I was gone, so it doesn't mean I don't like anyone! It was the whole travel thing!

Hope everyone is having a great and productive week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Because BookPeople rocks! And Austin rocks!

We had a blast at the BookPeople SCBWI welcome party last night! So from now on, our SCBWI meetings will be at our amazing indie bookstore. Gotta love that.

Fun all around. Philip Yates dressed up like a pirate and read A Pirates Night Before Christmas. It was great, but too short! My kids wanted more! Great job, Philip!

Here's the middle grade panel. Yes, that's me in the middle, along with fab authors Lila Guzman, Jo Whittemore, Helen Hemphill, and Shana Burg moderated by Tim Crow, our Austin SCBWI RA.

And the YA panel featuring Varian Johnson, Jenny Ziegler (one day I will remember if it's "i before e" or "e before i" in her name), Margo Rabb, April Lurie, Brian Yansky, and Cynthia Leitich Smith moderated by Julie Lake.

There was also a picture book panel, but I didn't get any pics since it was at the same time as the MG panel.

My five for the week:

1) My son's artwork - a flower. Though he loved all the other ideas!

2) Water in my guest bathroom - officially hooked up. I tried to do it myself, but couldn't get the valve off. And since it was the middle of the day and I couldn't flush until the sink was fixed, I fast called the handyman. He's coming out again next week to fix the dryer vent. Why? Because I've crawled through the attic of fiberglass insulation enough.

3) It's time to set some goals. My homework for the week of Thanksgiving? To revisit my goals, set new ones, and develop plans to achieve them! Who's with me?

4) Eight hours of plane riding ahead. I'm thinking revision, laptop, and maybe even a nap.

5) Can I just say it's great when someone tells me they or their kids have read my book and liked it. And thanks for posting Amazon reviews! And for buying! And for reading! And for everything!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ever been on the radio?

My big news? We booked a trip to DisneyWorld in May! Love Disney. It's magic.

What to say on a radio interview? Whatever it is, make sure you say it quickly! Yesterday I headed down to the University of Texas to record and interview for KUT, the college's radio station, advertising the party at BookPeople tonight!
My main message in the interview:

Buy Books, and Buy Local!

I've been seeing the thing running around the internet advertising to buy books as gifts for the holidays (and for anytime in general). Books are like the perfect gift. They aren't plastic and won't break and much of the time are printed right here in the USA. And I'm not even saying you need to buy The Emerald Tablet as a gift (though it is perfect for that 8-14 year old in your life).
Just buy books! One stop shopping. Does anything sounds better? Heck, you can order online and never even need to leave home.

When I get the link for the radio interview I'll post it. But trust me when I say it was short. But fun. And nice to get back to the UT campus. I took the opportunity to do some scene scoping for a YA I'm working on.

On the revision front, The Navel of the World (the second of the Forgotten Worlds Books) needed way more revisions than I thought. Which is great because it means I am now objective enough to see all the more changes it needs. Last revision I did was back in May. Subplots need pared way down or cut even more. Action needs moved up sooner and kept fluid through the whole beginning. The middle/end has enough plot and action driving it, but the beginning has a bit too much of that world building going on. Not that world building isn't important, but it can be blended in a bit better.

Also, in case you've been holding out on ordering The Emerald Tablet, I noticed Amazon has dropped its price. No, I have no idea why. I try to understand but it boggles the mind and confuses. Also, now it has three reviews! If you've read and you want to post a review, I'd totally appreciate it (Mom? Dad? Where are the reviews you promised?)

Love this art from my son. Any guesses what it is?

Saturday I head off to California to CLA where I'll be on a panel with Class of 2k8 authors
PJ Hoover (me) (The Emerald Tablet, October 2008)
Stacy Nyikos (Dragon Wishes, October 2008)
Barrie Summy (I So Don't Do Mysteries, December 2008)
Zu Vincent (The Lucky Place, April 2008)
Courtney Sheinmel (My So-Called Family, October 2008)

And next Friday I'm off to San Antonio for NCTE where I'll be on a panel with Class of 2k8 authors
Jen Bradbury (Shift, May 2008)
Jody Feldman (The Gollywhopper Games, March 2008)
PJ Hoover (me) (The Emerald Tablet, October 2008)
Stacy Nyikos (Dragon Wishes, October 2008)
Brooke Taylor (Undone, July 2008)
Nancy Viau (Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, September 2008)

Today? Finishing up speeches. CLA is pretty much done, but the NCTE speech needs a bit more attention. OK, a lot more. But I'm ready! I have an outline :)

See you at BookPeople tonight for the SCBWI Party!
Personalized books (I needed another "P")
Be there!

Monday, November 10, 2008

In a whirlwind

It's been a kid-activity packed weekend: cub Scouts, school carnival, birthday party, Renaissance Festival.
Highlights from the carnival include pace and hair painting and a collection of five pieces of gold on the walk there. (We collect the road reflectors when they come off. These look a bunch like bars of gold and make for fun playtime in the backyard burying them and digging them up).
Highlights from the Renaissance Festival include sausage on a stick and Guinness beer (though drinking it while pushing the stroller and holding the sausage on the stick can be a challenge).

Highlights from Cub Scouts was a trip to the Cedar Park Waste Water Treatment Plant! I've been itching to visit a sewage treatment plant, and was not disappointed! What happens after the flush is truly fascinating!

Aside from my faithful Yorkie, I have another companion who stays with me every night when I write. At first I noticed him once or twice. Now I look for him every night, and he's almost always there.
(The reflection is a bit bad, but somehow he climbs up to the second story front window to hang right by my office).

A piece of good news:
The Emerald Tablet received one of my favorite reviews so far from The Story Siren. Why? Check out the first line from her review:
"What a fantastic debut novel! I really can’t wait to read the rest of this series."
Thanks, Story Siren!

Another piece of good news:
Last I checked, The Emerald Tablet was in stock on Amazon!

For those interested in the more paranormal side of all things Emerald Tablet, check out this awesome link sent to me by someone in Australia on a crop circle formation in the shape of a seven-point star associated with The Emerald Tablet.

I finished Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey this morning (via audiobook on the way back from the post office). It's a great read and certainly leaves things wide open for the series. Which is actually really interesting. Nothing is resolved. It ends more like a part of a larger book. But I'd totally recommend it to anyone interested.
And I've started City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. So far, it's great. Also on audio I'm about to start The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott.

Post Halloween fun! I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving already. This year I'm making pies with the kids. Rhubarb, Apple, and Blueberry. Though we have a Honey-baked Ham gift certificate which we may use for the main course.

Reminder for those in Austin: SCBWI is having a holiday party at BookPeople this Thursday night, 6:30-9. Aside from me on a middle grade panel, there's other amazing panels, a picture book reading, and tons of book signing / networking opportunities! Please come by! It'll be a ton a fun. Check out full details here.

Also up for the weekend ahead, though I'll be at CLA this weekend: Austin Shaolin-Do Kung Fu Open House. If you've ever thought about joining Kung Fu or just are curious, come come this weekend and check it out!
Details here.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week ahead!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Free Internet is a good thing

It lets me get my oil changed, blog, and work on revisions. And there are no distractions of laundry and cleaning, which, even if I'm not doing, are still distracting :)

Last night I finally started a (planned-to-be-quick) revision of The Navel of the World, the second book in the Forgotten Worlds Trilogy (you know, The Emerald Tablet is the first book).
And I love when I start reading and am actually pretty happy with things.
It's interesting... the last time I revised was about 6 months ago (on this book). The main thing I notice has improved in my writing is my use of actions instead of tags to show more about the actual character rather than just telling who is speaking. So this is the main thing I've changed so far.
Yes, part of this was probably the writing exercise I undertook of writing a novel with zero tags.

But in case anyone has missed this amazing blog somehow, I'd just love to point out The Emotion thesaurus thanks to Angela and Becca. This blog rocks. Check it out!

Want some quick fun? Head over to The Class of 2k8 blog today where I give three possible endings to The Emerald Tablet. You get to pick which one you think is the real ending. 
Yeah, this one was fun to write!

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taking a Breath

It's nice that this week is the first week I feel like I finally have my arms around everything I need to do! I've even started a paltry attempt at cleaning the house again. Roomba has scrubbed the floor more times this week than in the last month. And I have a donations place scheduled to come out tomorrow to pick stuff up.

Good news from the Amazon front - some of the earliest orders of The Emerald Tablet have shipped! This is such good news to me you can't imagine. So even though it still says "Temporarily out of stock", I actually believe it will be in stock soon. And more orders will be shipping soon. If you've ordered it from Amazon and gotten the "shipped" email, I'd love to know!

Did I mention what a great holiday present The Emerald Tablet would make for that 8-14 year-old in your life?

I picked up The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan at the bookfair last week and finished it a couple days ago. My son agreed to let me read it first, but I think he's looking forward to adding it to his collection. And I have to admit it's a pretty-looking book. And totally compelling...I definitely recommend it for anyone who reads MG.

Around the web as of late...

I have a nice interview over on Lori Calabrese's blog, so if you get a second, check it out!

And my guest post over on The Class of 2k8 blog today reviews my release party, so if you didn't get a chance to read about it here, check it out over there!

If you live in Austin, please come to the Austin SCBWI party next Thursday from 6:30-9:30 at BookPeople. The official invitation is posted below. I'll be there signing books, and I also get to participate on a MG/YA panel with awesome authors Lila Guzman, Shana Burg, & Helen Hemphill.

I'm officially starting on revisions for The Navel of the World, the second book in the Forgotten Worlds Trilogy (The Emerald Tablet being the first). Yes, I had every intention of starting revisions on it last night, but, well, you know...the election is pretty fun to watch, and my son was totally excited to stay up late with us checking it out.

Hope everyone is having a great week!


You Are Invited To

A Celebration of Books for Children and Young Adults
Austin Style!

Thursday, November 13, 2008
At BookPeople – 6th & Lamar
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Readings * Panel Discussions * Door Prizes * Refreshments * Book Signing

Presented by

The Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Your number one resource for published authors and illustrators of youth literature
"2005 Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year"

6:30 Social Time – Second Floor
Visit and enjoy refreshments

7:00 A Holiday Reading - Amphitheater
Join us in the amphitheater as author Philip Yates (in full pirate costume) reads from his latest book, A Pirates Night Before Christmas (Sterling, 2008)

7:15 Picture Book Panel Discussion – Amphitheater
Featuring: Greg Leitich Smith, Philip Yates, Don Tate, & Emma Virgan
Moderated by Brian Anderson

Middle Grade/Young Adult Panel Discussion – Second Floor by the Stairs
Featuring: Lila Guzman, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Helen Hemphill
Moderated by Tim Crow

8:15 Young Adult Panel – Third Floor
Featuring: Jennifer Ziegler, Cynthia Leitich Smith, April Lurie, Brian Yansky, &
Varian Johnson. Moderated by Julie Lake

Authors and Illustrators Scheduled to Appear

Book Signing opportunities will occur during the social time and after each panel

Cynthia Leitich Smith
Lila Guzman
Jane Ann Peddicord
Mark Mitchell
Greg Leitich Smith
April Lurie
Shana Burg
Frances Hill
P.J. “Tricia” Hoover
Helen Hemphill
Phyllis Peacock
Jennifer Ziegler
Christy Stallop
Julie Lake
Brian Yansky
Jessica Anderson
Varian Johnson
Philip Yates
Emma Vrigan
Brian Anderson
Anne Bustard
Don Tate
Jerry Wermund

For more information about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, visit our website at www.austinscbwi.com or www.scbwi.org or contact Tim Crow, Regional Advisor, at timcrowscbwira@msn.com,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Fun Interview

Because it's my launch week over on The Class of 2k8 blog, buzz over if you get a chance and read a really fun interview!

And vote!(yes, my single political statement I'll make on this blog because the China import stuff doesn't count as political though it is non-writing related)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Around the web

So what did you do with your extra hour? I stayed up late critiquing with mine since the kids went to bed normal time! Now I'm looking forward to a to-do list longer than my arm which is great! Better to be busy, right?

So as not to inundate you with anything else, check out some places around the web:

First - If you want to win one of two ARCs of The Emerald Tablet, head over to Jessica Burkhart's blog and leave a comment!

Second - It's my launch week over on The Class of 2k8 blog! I'll be blogging over there all week. So today is just an overview, but I have a few really fun blog posts planned!

Third - Saundra Mitchell asked me my favorite interview question thus far. Head over and read my Five Minute interview with Saundra and see if you can figure out which question I'm talking about (critique group should get this one!).

Fourth - Want to read more about my release party? Head over to Cynsations where Cynthia Leitich Smith included some cool pictures of the big event!

Fifth - Also on the Class of 2k8 blog, check out this past Friday's post to see my top accomplishments from 2008 and what I want to have by 2018.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Five on a Friday

It's been a great week. With the awesome party behind me (kind of sad that it's over), I've been catching up and actually getting through my to-do list.

Here's my five for the week.

1) I'm so not about the toys at the school book fair. I'd go so far as to say it annoys me to no end when my son comes home with his wish list and it has at least 2 "toy" type items listed on it. That said, even I can succumb. So I volunteered at the book fair today and could not resist these tasty items.

Love those Smurfs. Always have. Always will.

(Yes, my volunteering job today cost me $46. I came home with The 39 Clues by Rick Riordan and Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. And yes, the book fair was so uncrowded during the middle of the day, I'm halfway through The 39 Clues. Not to mentioned I finished Diary of a Fly about 5 times :) )

2) Is it totally shameless that every kid who comes to my house for Trick or Treat will receive their very own laminated bookmark of The Emerald Tablet?
See the way I figure, if I just handed out paper bookmarks, they'd get trashed in all the candy. But laminated? No way. Plus I plan to pitch the book to every kid before they get candy, also.

3) Why is this weekend so mellow and next weekend packed with like 20 different things?
And no, I'm not complaining about either. It's just an observation.

4) A funny response from fellow VA Tech nerd regarding my earlier post on whether being a cool nerd is possible:
"Once a nerd, always a nerd. People have a knack for picking nerds out of a crowd, much as one notices a hair in one’s tea. While some nerds may attempt camouflage in the form of clothing, makeup and hair, as soon as the nerd speaks, they are done. Words of more than two syllables, often of a technical nature, flow from their mouths in an un-naturally fluent way alerting the spidey senses of those around them that something is amiss. This leads to a shunning that can never be fully reconciled and is best relieved by the company of other nerds. In the more common case, words are not necessary since the healthy aura of BO around the nerd is enough to instill this reaction."

5) I love that both my daughter and son are thrilled to wear their "Mummy's Boy" t-shirts tomorrow.

Happy Halloween! May everyone get a laminated bookmark (or at least the first 75)!