Saturday, August 6, 2016

This generation's Barney the Dinosaur: In the name of research, Part III

"In the name of research" is a semi-regular feature on this blog, compiling the often unexpected topics on which I end up educating myself in the course of writing. And what have you Googled lately?

The latest, all related to The New Project:

-Whether beach houses typically have air conditioners.
-Popular songs of the 1990s. Yes, I was there, but I wasn't cool enough then to immediately know what, say, an uncool dad in the present-plus might sing along with. (Present-plus: the setting of a contemporary novel that isn't done yet and won't come out for at least a few years. Patent pending.)
-Religious and economic demographics of cities, and their distances from other places.
-The names of fictional towns, schools, and businesses to make sure they don't actually exist.
-Names for an aunt character born in a particular decade. Slightly more challenging when your real-life grandparents were blessed with (precisely) ten gazillion siblings and you don't want to use the name of one of your own aunts.
-Points of geography, purely so I can have characters get them humorously wrong in an informed way.
-The number of seats in a minivan (followed by a counting of characters).

-Italian restaurant menus. I even selected the "price: high to low" option for the purposes of a scene, which made me feel very fancy.
-Basic chemistry so as to find a way for a character who hasn't formally learned about enzymes yet to talk about the composition of cheese. (Enzymes, it seems, are proteins. There was a time when I knew that.)
-Details of driving. (It's been a while.)
-Whether arcades are still a thing. (Not to sound crochety, but it's getting harder to get characters to leave the house these days.)
-Arcade games. (I never really went to arcades.)
-This generation's Barney the Dinosaur. That is, something for a kid to be as scathing about as '90s kids were about poor Barney if we were a few years too old for him. I put out a Twitter call for this one out of curiosity, but I'll probably make something up. For everyone's sake.

I may get some interesting ads.


My gloriously nerdtastic Horn Book colleagues and I used the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as an excuse for Fan Week 2016, a celebration of fan creations, fan devotion, and fandom in general. And my gloriously nerdtastic former colleagues at Brookline Booksmith gave Cursed Child a Quidditch World Cup-sized midnight release party. Check out either or both if you enjoy enthusiasm.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Writing is hard work.

I'm in the very early stages of a new WIP, one I'm super-excited about. I have lots of notes, and the manuscript itself is at about 2600 words, many of which will probably be revised or cut. (Jumping in and writing an opening can be a great way to figure things out, but the eventual readers don't necessarily need to watch me figure them out.)

Since I know how much can change in a manuscript, I'm not ready to talk much about the plot and characters. But I will share that the setting made it absolutely necessary for me to spend a day doing extensive research.

Followed by extensive removal of sand from between my toes.

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'.