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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Five on a Friday

Hey Everyone!
The weeks of summer are flying by. I've seemed to fall into a twice a week blogging pattern for summer. Works for me. Once school starts, I'll get back to my three times a week.

Here are my five for the week:

1) Dental surgery is not all bad. Everything has a silver lining, right? I'm trying to summarize the good things about having dental surgery (which I was fortunate enough to have yesterday).
  • When I got home, I slept from 12:30 pm - 6:30 pm and then still went to bed at 10:30 pm.
  • I have not had such a relaxed day in YEARS. Like as in before I ever had kids. Nothing seemed to bother me during my 4 awake hours yesterday.
  • My relaxation has even carried over to today. Nice.
  • I didn't have to even thing about cooking.
  • I have a titanium screw in my mouth. There's something cool about titanium. It sounds indestructible.

2) So let's face it, before my surgery, I was a bit tense. Really, lots tense. And I needed something lighthearted and fun to read, so I picked up SCREWBALL by Keri Mikulski and loved it! You guys should all read this book. It's amazing, and I can't wait for the sequel CHANGE UP coming very soon.

3) Ahead of me I have TWO weeks of 9-3 summer camp. I mean, not camp for me. For the kids. Which means I get 6 beautiful, wonderful hours of writing time for ten magnificent days. That's 60 hours. And we're not even counting the after bedtime writing. This is during the day.
I love my kids. And I love summer camp.

4) Must point out my friend Christine Marciniak's awesome debut novel, WHEN MIKE KISSED EMMA is due out August 19th. I can't wait! It's fun, light hearted, and a must read for all those teen girls you know and love.

5) I think there was a five, but it's escaping me. So have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Five on a Monday

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

1) Mine started off with this fabulous review for THE EMERALD TABLET from Becky's Book Reviews. My favorite line from the review happens to be the first line:
"I loved this one."
This right here puts a big, huge smile on my face!

2) Love this photo of the peacock outside the Laguna Gloria Art Museum here in Austin where I've been writing the last few weeks. Sadly, art camp is over, so until the school year starts, there will be no more Laguna Gloria for me. But for all you Austinites, totally put this on the list of hot writing spots.

3) I've been having this huge urge to reread some Neil Stephenson, and since I listened on audiobook the first time around, I ordered myself Cryptonomicon the other night. I loved this book. So much I want to love it again!

4) Thanks to Jim at Haunts of a Children's Writer, I was inspired to write a synopsis for a couple of my books in limerick form. Okay, on the spot right now, but here's one for THE EMERALD TABLET:

Benjamin's powers come from his brain.
Telekinesis is a bit of a drain.
He needs to find three keys.
His world is under the seas.
And he thought summer school would be mundane.

Yeah, well, like I said, on the spot here.

5) Progress on my new WIP is going well! I think I'm around 25K words. I'm at the point where the story is starting to tell itself which I love! I hope everyone's writing is going great!

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Gift to you for the Week

I hope everyone had a great weekend! We finally managed to see Ice Age 3 (in 3D), during which my 8-year-old howled with laughter. He is the perfect age for this humor level.

At the bookstore this weekend I picked up:
Not sure which will be next. It will depend on some random number of variables, none of which I can probably articulate now.


Anyway, the other day I folded about seven loads of laundry. I'm not sure why it always ends up being seven, but this seems to be critical mass. We do have nine laundry baskets, so that leaves two to spare. Regardless, I'd put it all away except for hanging a bunch of my husband's shirts.

He asked, nicely, of course, why I hadn't hung his shirts yet to which I replied that I hadn't gotten around to it.

Funny guy that he is, he and the kids secretly made this and gave it to me.

My gift to you for the week is your own round tuit. Keep this picture in your mind and use it to help you get a couple things done off your procrastination list. Clean the junk drawer. Do the critique. Fill out the character worksheet. Whatever it is, get around to it.


And yes, I know this is advance planning, but here I am in a picture with the awesome Jessica Lee Anderson (stolen from Greg Leitich Smith's blog) from this past Saturday's SCBWI meeting. Jessica's book, BORDER CROSSING, is coming out this fall. It's awesome which I know because I've read it, and when it comes out, you guys totally should, too!

Anyway, Jessica and I are having a joint book release party Sunday, October 18th at 2:00 PM at BookPeople. Put it on your calendar now 'cause it's going to be a blast!

And have a great week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Five on a Friday

Happy weekend, everyone!

1) It's amazing the things you find when you google yourself. I stumbled across this TV interview I did last September.

2) Looking for the perfect simile? Ask an 8-year-old. I made a sandwich for my son's friend, and he said it was so good it was "like a piece of Heaven fallen to Earth."
Sweet! Who knew I was such a great sandwich maker?

3) My restart of my WIP is going great! I've even cheated a tiny bit and used some of my previous version. But I'm good with that. I love my new starting point! It's so much better of a place to begin the story. I actually backed up in time. Normally it's the opposite, right. We put too much backstory at the beginning. Anyway.

4) Reading Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull.
Read Evermore (The Immortals) by Alyson Noel.

5) In my effort to get in touch with my redneck roots, I've draped Mexican blankets over all the windows to keep out the infernal Texas sun.
Okay, I don't have redneck roots, but the part about the blankets is true. We are having a BRUTAL summer. Thankfully I've upped my tank top collection in the last couple years.

I hope everyone has a GREAT weekend! Indulge in one guilty pleasure. I bought sushi at the grocery this morning which I plan to eat for lunch :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In which I inspire the Newest Genius Rage

Yes, we all know Erno Rubik is a genius. And if you've been lucky enough to read THE EMERALD TABLET , you know Erno Rubik is a telegen and that he designed the Kinetic Orb as a Rubik's Cube for smart people.
Now let fiction become reality.

Have you heard about the Rubik's Sphere 360? Here's the link on the latest craze sure to drive all you non-telegens crazy. It sure looks a lot like a Kinetic Orb to me.

Thanks to my dad for letting me know my science fiction dreams are reality. Hey, Dad, does that mean you're going to order me one? If so, here's the link!

And for those thinking ahead to gifts, wouldn't the Rubik's Sphere 360 and a copy of THE EMERALD TABLET make a wonderful gift package? Order in advance and get Christmas shopping out of the way!


So I finally got my ARCs for THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD. They look so pretty, don't they!

I had fun showing my family the dedication and the acknowledgments. And I flipped through and noticed some of the new, fun things I've added to the world of Lemuria for Book 2.

Like a new Nogical (with a name very familiar to my daughter's).
And a reference to kumquats (thank you awesome Austin writers).
And lava tubes, and the Trojan Horse, and the Aurora Borealis.
And a location inspired by one of my favorite Michael Whelan prints.

I love being an author. I love being able to put things which are special to me into the books I write. Isn't there some special name for this? Like Easter eggs or cookies or something? It escapes me. All I know is it is fun!

Hope everyone's having a great week!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Keeps us Authors Going

Fan mail

Plain and simple. There's just nothing like it. Any kid who cares enough to let me know they liked my book holds a special place in my heart. And I have to mention a fan Madeline who's read THE EMERALD TABLET 3 times and drew this amazing, awesome work of art.

Aside from her impeccable taste in reading, this girl has serious talent. Notice her attention to detail. Benjamin Holt pinching himself. Proteus Ajax with his arms crossed. The bookshelf containing a globe, a picture of two people, and a Rubik's Cube.
I love this so much! Thank you, Madeline! You rock!

Not yet getting fan mail? I'll move on to what else keeps us authors going.

The joy of feeling like we are improving

Like we're able to see what needs changed in our WIPs and have the motivation to change it.
Like we read a published book and recognize what we think needs changed.
Like we come up with an amazing simile which makes us smile each time we read it.
Like we understand what it is to show and not tell.

I'm about to embark on something new in my writing. I've always written first drafts straight through, but I'm scrapping what I've written thus far and starting again. Fresh. At a different starting point. And hopefully more solid.
I'm nowhere near as gutsy as Cynthia Leitich Smith who scraps her first drafts completely, but for me, just getting rid of what I have so far is empowering. I feel brave. And not the least bit regretful.
Yes, tomorrow, when I'm staring at a blank slate, maybe I will feel differently. Or maybe not. I think the words will flow. I feel good about it.

So what keeps you going? Why do you come back day after day and keep writing?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Osceola Mills, Brick Collecting, ATVs and POVs

Before I forget, we're celebrating Moon Day and giving away a copy of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan over at The Spectacle.
Head over and enter for your chance to win!


I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend! I have to say, in my collection of Fourth of Julys, this past one ranks up way near the top in terms of enjoyment. I'll summarize what I managed to do without boring everyone to tears with regalement of my personal vacation. In Osceola Mills, PA, here's what I did:

  • I hung out with aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, parents, and kids.
  • I saw one of the best fireworks displays yet. And this is a small town display. It was amazing.
  • I went to a carnival complete with a Ferris wheel no way I was going on. Instead my cousin braved it with my daughter.
  • I ate totally yummy homemade Polish Chruschici.
  • I took the long way into town via Philipsburg. I tried to convince my mom it was an adventure.
  • I roasted marshmallows over a real fire in the gravel driveway.
  • I went to a dance in the fire station.
  • I went on four ATV rides and saw GIANT anthills.
  • I collected 20 new antique bricks for my collection.
  • I dug for treasures outside an old mine. We found old rails, bricks, a hook, and a shovel head.
  • I watched "the guys" harrow and spread lime.
  • I saw a snail migration.
  • I scared the heck out of my kids by hiding in the spooky cellar.
Okay, the list could go on. But suffice it to say, it was a blast! There's something about getting out in the middle of nowhere and talking to nature that really helps with relaxation. My kids are old enough to stay out of too much trouble (believe it or not), and since my mom washed all the dishes, my responsibilities plummeted.

Check out these beauties!

That said, I've been talking about how I haven't gotten any writing done while on vacation, but...
I've done a ton of thinking. And I figured out where I need to start my new WIP, how to work the dual POV thing, and what each POV character's story will be. If I'd been doing nothing but writing, I wouldn't have figured this out. Really, the revelation came to me on the last ATV ride, and I have to say, it's brilliant (or so I think).

My POV revelation is why I'm smiling

Anyway, here's photo proof you can give to your critique group when they say "no one uses a rotary phone these days".

Rare photo of rotary phone in use

And in the garage this just brought back horrible memories of Junior year high school English and Citizen Kane. Did anyone else suffer through this like me?


We also found a deer skull in the woods which my son happily claimed and staked in the yard. My cousin was nice enough to make a tombstone with a fun epitaph for the unfortunate dead fellow.

New tomb in Osceola

I'll be back to more often blogging next week, so until then, I hope you all are getting a ton done, having a great time, and enjoying life!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Five on a Fourth of July Weekend

Hey! Greetings from Virginia. We're off to Central Pennsylvania (Osceola Mills in case by some reason you've heard of it) tomorrow for the long weekend. I'm looking forward to treasure hunting with the metal detector, searching for some way cool old bricks for the collection, a small town parade, and lots of family fun.

I'm on Book 3 in the Fablehaven series, Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull, and I just have to reiterate how much I really like this series. I can see kids devouring it. Very high recommendation for the later elementary/middle school readers. This is exactly what I would have wanted to read as a kid.

On movie watching, we've watched
  • King Solomon's Mines (the original movie)
  • part of Romancing the Stone (why did those 80s movies have so much cussing?)
  • and the newest Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Touristing, we've hit
  • Fort Hunt (again, love the old forts)
  • Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Air and Space Museum
  • and the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden.

And believe it or not, now here's my five:

1) I'm psyched I finally got to see these. It feels like a rite of passage (along with, of course, Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, and Archie Bunker's chair).

2) Thank you to Sherrie at Solvang Sherrie for saying such nice things about THE EMERALD TABLET!

3) Check out my critique partner, Christine Marciniak's, book trailer for her upcoming debut novel, WHEN MIKE KISSED EMMA, due out this August! I love this book and will totally re-mention it when the time comes.

4) Fellow awesome Austin author, Chris Barton, has his debut picture book out. Did you ever wonder how Day-Glo colors came to be? I did! Can't wait to buy this book. Anyway, check out his awesome interview over on Cynsations!

5) And speaking of treasure hunting, we went through an old chest and found some way cool stuff!

Writing? I've done none. But I have been doing lots of thinking on my POVs for my WIP. The good news is I am getting a better understanding for how I need to work the novel for the dual POV thing to work. And the even better news is the more I think about it, the more excited I am to return to it (someday when I actually get a chance to write).

Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone!