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

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.