Sunday, June 26, 2016

My new Internet home

Introducing my new author website! Featuring:

  • ways to contact me
  • a love letter to books bio
  • an author photo by Dawn Hackman
  • a color palette that I hope says cheery author of middle-grade realism
  • a feed of this blog, which will also continue to appear in its Blogger location. (The meta magic of this announcement appearing on the website is not lost on me.)

I hope you'll stop by!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Weird revision-brain thing

I'm working on revisions (the self-imposed kind for now) of a WIP that at this point needs a lot of them. I have my list of revision notes laid out in an order that makes sense to me, largest points to smallest points (because why fine-tune the dialogue tags in a scene that might get rewritten?). And I'm close enough to the top of the list that much of the work involves reconsidering big questions about the characters and their world, and the structure and timeline of the story. There will be a point later when revisions can be done in fifteen-minute chunks if I so choose, but this is not that point. Now, I need longer periods of quiet, focused time when I'm feeling energetic and ready to think. But that's not the weird part.

It's also not that weird that in between one revision point (say, figure out some reasons two friends are so loyal and find ways to indicate these reasons) and another (add or subtract days from the plot so Monday follows Sunday), I feel the need to clear my head. To do something less thoughtful for a couple of minutes--hey, look, the device I'm writing on just happens to contain the Internet! What is a little weird, in a brains-are-mysterious-and-cool sort of way, is that in these moments, I crave music. Not continuous music while I'm working, just two minutes of music while I'm not. It helps remove the muddled feeling from my mind much more efficiently than a musicless break might. Occasionally, it even reminds of a theme song at the end of a TV show. The Fix-This-Character Show is over! Time for the Fix-This-Timeline Show!

Maybe it's a way of subconsciously telling myself, "Someone else managed a creative feat. So can you."

Anyone else have quirky revision rituals?


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Update roundup, with #shelfie

Life's been busy in a whole bunch of good ways. I've settled into my new place that isn't Green Gables, a highlight of which was creating this view from the futon.

Not pictured: the adult books; the TBR shelf.

It's a great place to write and revise among lots of reminders that all these people could write books, and so can I. And a few weeks ago, I also surrounded myself with living reminders that writing books is a thing that cool people do at NESCBWI16. It was wonderful to catch up with many of those cool people!

Meanwhile, my place of work keeps churning out cool stuff. There's a podcast now. There's a new summer reading list. There's going to be a blog for parents. The Special Issue on the theme of "Collaborations" is out, and we're working on the next issue, featuring Lots and Lots of ALA Award Stuff.

And congrats to my former place of work on the Pannell Award, honoring its most important section. (I have no bias at all.)

Happy Sunday!




Saturday, April 2, 2016

You're all astute readers...

...Anne Shirley it won't surprise you that, although I did move this week, it wasn't into Green Gables.

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Aprils.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Loads of character



As some of you know, the new apartment I moved into yesterday is technically an in-law unit at the top of a house. It's not neat enough for pictures of the inside yet, but isn't the outside lovely? Look at all that reading space!

I can tell already that this neighborhood is full of kindred spirits. I know a lot of children's lit types like Brooklyn, but I'm excited about my new home in Brookline with an 'e'.



Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Finer Points of an End Zone Dance: In the Name of Research, Part II

A few months ago, I wrote a post with the intention of scratching an inch I feel frequently while writing: the itch to say, "I'm finding myself researching x for the sake of my writing. Isn't that funny?" Well, I think it may have to become a regular-ish feature. When Writing Time rolls around, I expect that I'll be spending time with MG-aged characters in classrooms and homes and summer camps, all places I know pretty well. It blows my my every time the story goes somewhere that requires me to educate myself in:

-the finer points of an end zone dance
-the finer points of a grand jeté
-how to type an accented e on a PC (what has a year+ with a Mac as my work computer done to me?) 
-whether the word hallelujah appears in a service I've attended many times
-whether kids still play Concentration
-how counselor sleeping areas are set up at various summer camps (this one took crowdsourcing; thanks, all!)
-fifth grade curriculum
-what might be in a gluten-free school lunch
-the release date of a movie featuring the first name of one of my major characters--before or after she was born? (I couldn't reach a conclusive answer without knowing the book's release date. She said optimistically.) 
-how old boys usually are when their voices change
-causes of lisps
-when school budgets are announced 
-how to write a good last line (okay, this one's less surprising)

To write is to learn, and relearn, and realize how much you don't know for sure.

And what have you Googled lately?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Drafting is rough. (And that's okay!)

I know the revision process better now, and I think it's made the drafting process less intimidating.

Project A has spent the year going back and forth between my agent and me as we've worked on revisions. Whenever it's been in my agent's hands, I've kept busy working on Project B, also a middle-grade novel. Today, I realized I was on the verge of the last scene and I might as well push through, so I did. I even have a last line that I don't hate.

I made a lot of additions to my revision list today, some about the scene I was in the process of writing and some about the novel as a whole. There are some blanks in the last few chapters because one of the revision list items is to figure out how each secondary-character classmate feels about the main events, and those decisions will determine who says or does certain things that, for now, I just needed any classmate to say or do in order to move forward. The word count is pretty low right now, but that's okay because the revisions are going to add more words.

Although the concept of writing a revision list as I go isn't new at all, I leaned on it more heavily this time than I have in the past. Now that I've done such extensive revisions on Project A, I know what people are talking about when they say revising is easier than writing a first draft. I know that when I'm getting everything down, it's a lot to think about making sure each character is well-rounded but distinct and everything is consistent and logistically possible and the dialogue tags aren't hokey and I don't make people nod five times on the same page. I know that I can go back and first make sure that one character displays a particular set of traits but not too much, and then make sure another character displays a different set of traits but not too much, and then make sure someone who lived on Main Street in Chapter 1 doesn't suddenly live on High Street in Chapter 10, and then double-check the science behind the chapter with the messy experiment, and then make some of my characters shake their heads instead of nodding because conflict, darn it, conflict!

I know I can trust the process. And I'm excited to start the next phase of it in 2016!