Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Son, the Mensch

     I'm so incredibly proud of my son today that I have to share his new Facebook post:  How lucky am I that this young man is one half of my contribution to the future? 
     And I'm really proud of the other half too.  She turned 17 today.  Happy Birthday Amy!!
     My cup runneth over.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


     I've been trying hard this weekend to wrestle my book into submission. It has two things it needs to be ready for fairly soon: submission of the first 15 pages for critiques at the NJSCBWI annual conference at the beginning of June (due April 30th), and submission of the first 5,000 words for the Greenhouse Literary Funny Contest (due at the end of July).  I may well have to submit for the critiques before my first draft is complete, but I truly hope that it will be done before I submit for the contest.
     But when I haven't been writing this weekend, I've been reading, and crying over, Elizabeth Wein's CODE NAME VERITY (Hyperion 2012).  There are so many brilliant plot twists and surprises in this YA novel that I'm afraid to say anything about the story for fear of revealing something I shouldn't.  Loose talk costs lives, as the two heroines are wont to say to each other - tongue-in-cheek, but not.  But I can safely say that the book is set in 1943 in England, Scotland and occupied France, and it follows the paths of two young women and their soul-deep friendship through their various roles in the Allied war effort. Each of them in turn tells her own story for her own reasons, and the reasons may not be as they first appear.  But that's all I feel I can say other than: please put this book high on your reading list. Right now I'm feeling as if I've lived through the War myself over the course of this weekend, and that as grueling as the experience has been, I wouldn't trade it for anything. It isn't often that I read a book and come away feeling honored to have met the characters.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


     It's definitely time for me to do another book giveaway (I have a sixth sense for such things), and I know just the book. Maureen Johnson's second Shades of London YA novel, THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH, is coming out next week. So if you haven't yet read Book #1, THE NAME OF THE STAR, isn't it high time you did? Exactly. Here is the deal: I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter and find her so snarkily hilarious that I've developed a serious girl-crush on her. As a result, I recently bought, and read, TNOTS (surely it's obvious that those are the title's initials) despite knowing full well that paranormal is not my thing. Well, I'm here to report that the book is clever and fast-paced and well-written and atmospheric, but paranormal is still not my thing. So it seems to me that there is no sense in my holding on to my copy of TNOTS (which is in excellent condition) when someone other than me could win it, and read it, and love it, and then go out and snatch up the sequel.
     Which brings me to: the rules.  If you want to enter, leave a comment on this post describing your top three literary associations with the city of London. They can be authors, or individual books, or characters in books, or a combination thereof. Do your best to make me feel what you feel, both about your choices and about London itself.  I will choose, in my own purely subjective method, my favorite comment, and I will immediately send my copy of TNOTS (yes, I really like those initials) winging its way to you, wherever you live, at my expense.  You have from now until this Friday, March 22nd, at midnight East-coast time, to post your comment. Okay? GO!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


But damn! I did a pair of good posts last St. Patrick's Day, if I say so myself, and I thought I would just link to Part I and Part II tonight, and wish everyone erin go bragh!

Monday, March 11, 2013


     It's just sort of a paltry substitute for a post, and its purpose is to say that I know I've violated my own rule by not blogging this past weekend, and I sat down at my computer both last night and
tonight fully intending to correct that error, only to find that I have nothing to say.  Usually that doesn't stop me, I admit, but this time... It got so bad that I found myself composing a post about my daughter's visit to the orthodontist this afternoon, and that was when I knew it was time to take a step back.
     I'll do a real post someday, I hope, if and when my brain returns from its journey to parts unknown.  Meanwhile, if you happen to turn off your computer at some point and don't know what to read, you can never go wrong with Auden's poetry.  But if you don't want to read his poetry right now, then, here - just read his face.  Study it for a long time, as if it were a map of a terrible and beautiful terrain.  You won't forget it any time soon.  


Saturday, March 2, 2013


     So, I'm at the stage with my Work in Progress where I'm completely obsessed with it, but at the same time, want to blast it out of existence with some sci-fi weapon.  I thought it was time to share my brilliant solution to this dilemma, which is: compulsive eating! Man, I just can't stop shoveling in the food, although - fyi - it does not actually help with the writing.
     See, but here's the thing. After years and years and years of writing, I now know that this whole deal is known as The Process.  From following successful writers on their blogs and on Twitter, I know that many of them begin loathing their books about midway through their first drafts.  I know that Harper Lee once threw the only extant manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird out of the window of her Manhattan apartment, that's how much she hated it.  Fortunately, it wasn't a windy day, so when she immediately had second thoughts and scurried downstairs to retrieve it, it was still there.  Lucky her.  Lucky us.
     I even know that gifted, experienced, widely-revered authors still fear failure as they work on new projects. Like Sara Zarr, for example.
     I know all this now.  I didn't know any of it in my 20's and 30's.  Instead, when I reached a point like this, I would stick my partial manuscripts in a drawer and leave them there for months at a time because I couldn't bear to look at them.  And I would try to just live my life and do other things, until the pressure built so high that I couldn't not write any more or else I would explode, and then I would pull the manuscript out of the drawer, force myself to read it, and, inevitably, think: this is actually not so bad, you know? I wonder who wrote it?
     It's been a long journey for me from there to here.  I haven't forgotten any of it, though.  So if I had to choose between going through all that again or eating compulsively for a month or so at a time, it would be no contest.  Hmmm.. a few extra pounds v. months of despair?  Let me think about it.
     IT'S THE PROCESS.  It's not just me, or you, or anyone in particular.  After pouring everything we've got for months on end into a book, and facing the realization that we're going to have to keep going for more months on end, we hit a wall.  I'm told it happens to marathoners too, somewhere around Mile 20.  They recognize the wall for what it is, and they summon all their remaining strength, and they keep going.  That's what writers do too.  That's what I'm going to do.  My clothes might not fit as well by the time I get to the finish line, but I'm going to get there.  Sometimes, my friends, it all just comes down to putting one foot in front of the other.