Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phoenix Rocks

Another on hour or less post from me this week. Lots of pictures. It's 8:49. Aaaand go.

Legos, man. Legos.
I went to Phoenix last weekend for an awesome library event, but I forgot to mention that Phoenix ComiCon was on the same weekend, and I just happened to book a hotel downtown...mere blocks from the convention center. And did I mention I know the rocking people who run this conference? Yeah. This was a recipe for a completely awesome weekend.

First, Faith (aka the book babe) whisked me away to the VIP suite where I saw Brandy (who is a rainbow of pure awesome) and was invited to breakfast the next day. And so. Friday night, we celebrated our friend Shannon's last day of work at her old job by having a few drinks at a nice Irish pub. I may or may not have introduced her to my favorite cocktail. Then we partied like a Timelord and did other ComiCon type things.

Happy day of freedom for Shannon! Woot! (w/ the awesome Rebecca.)
Always assume that I woke up early and swam laps, posse. Because I did some glorious laps on Saturday morning before I headed over to the VIP lounge for a scrumptious omelet. And when I mentioned my laps at breakfast, Gil Gerard told me he used to swim two miles a day. (You are to assume from that last sentence that I ate breakfast with Buck Rogers. And he's still totally cute.) I also got to meet and eat with Jeremy Bulloch and his lovely wife, and as a Star Wars geek from way way back, I have to say he was really sweet for a bounty hunter.

Boba Fett and me. Geeked.
I met gobs of cool people that morning including the amazing Artist Tony Roberts who drew one of my favorite novels ever (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) as a graphic novel. He was so so so awesome. I got to see the sweet Tom Leveen and Jon Lewis again too, which was an added bonus.

Tony Parker ROCKS.
I also got to see real light sabers. True story.
And for the record, my hair always looks better in Arizona.

Saturday's [Un]book Fest was a great event. I was so stoked to hang out with Lisa McMann and Ellen Hopkins and Matt de la Peña again as well as Barry Lyga and Stephanie Perkins. (Stephanie, I totally didn't get a picture with you. Sad, I am.) To the great librarians who organized it, thank you, and to the awesome attendees, thank you for coming! It was great to see you and do origami with you. 

Here's Lisa being silly. 

I love when Lisa is silly.
That night, it was back to ComiCon after a lovely dinner with the author crew, and then early to bed so I could breakfast with Buck Rogers again. You'll have to take my word for it. I didn't dare ask him for a picture because he was in his PJs and it didn't seem right. But can I say: what a nice and smart guy? What a nice and smart guy. 

So then I wrote like 3000 words on the plane home. And when I got to Philly, I pulled up my usual parking pictures on my phone and I STILL got lost in the $#^%&@^ garage and it took me like 15 ^&%%$ minutes to find my car. Fifteen minutes is a long time in a dark parking garage in humid Philly air after a 5 hour flight. Fun times. My hair was like four times as big by the time I found the damn car.

Next time I will take video.
I arrived home to big hugs and not a huge amount of rain for a change. (Last few trips I had to drive home in a downpour.) It's been a 11k word week, which isn't bad at all for what I had to do at the same time. Hoping to make next week a 15k week before my next trip out of town...which is a top secret trip.

Top secret trips are the best kind of trips.

Watch this space for a "Letters from readers" post and stay tuned for a secret hideout contest where you could win a foreign edition of VERA DIETZ or a genuine ANTS first pass manuscript.

Live long and prosper.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The One Hour Blog

Mother's Day 2012
That means I have one hour to write and organize everything I want to say here and then, POW, I have to post it. Make a note, the clock says 5:49 right now. This will post by 6:49 or you can call me names.

Where to start?

Still writing. That's good. Tomorrow I finish one project and Wednesday I start back on another. I didn't get a lick of writing done in Rochester while I was there for the Teen Book Festival, but I was insanely busy, so I don't mind. And Rochester is always such an amazing event, I really quite like stopping for a minute and looking at it and saying, "Wow. This is an amazing event."

I'm not going to recap it or anything. I'm going to show you pictures.

Like this one:

That's the front of a [chopped] 1948 Chevy.
And this one:

This is me and Adam Seltzer in said 1948 Chevy.
Or this one:

Yeah. Us arriving in style at RTBF 2012.
Voted most badass ride of my life.
Random pictures of cool people...and know that I kick myself every year for not taking a picture of every cool person.

Me and Jack Ferraiolo, who is hilarious and awesome.
I am a huge fan of Word Girl, so I had to get this for the family.
Jack is being hilarious here. I'm sure you got that.
This is me and Gabirelle Zevin being really serious on purpose.

We interrupt this blog to bring you news about my pants. I got them back. But they're a little different from when I saw them last. You may remember they once looked like this: 

Now, after traveling to a few schools and meeting with many talented Rochester teenagers, they look like this:

A quick shout out to Rush Henrietta High School and Our Lady of Mercy High School for the cool visits and the really enthusiastic students. Thank you for your hospitality and your open minds. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

A diptych of epic proportions thanks to Terry Trueman's camera (and Jessica who took them):

That's Laurie Halse Anderson, Terry Trueman and me. Being silly.


Photo cred: Kim Rouleau
This crocheted squid came to me from the awesome librarian Kim Rouleau at Mercy High School in Rochester. I have some other shots of it, but nothing that does it justice yet. If ever I snap a good one, I will share, posse. I promise. I want to take her everywhere with me. I did, in fact, bring her to dinner on Saturday night. True story. I named her Paul, after Paul Griffin. Long story. Both are great huggers.

Photo cred: the awesome Pam.
Look: Rochester Teen Book Festival takes place every year thanks to endless volunteer hours of many people, an amazing committee and scores of dedicated librarians, teachers, donors and parents. And most importantly, thousands of AWESOME READERS. If you're anywhere nearby, you should come and check it out next year.

NEXT UP: This weekend. Phoenix. Me, Lisa McMann, Matt de la Peña (TIME UPDATE: I GET AN EXTRA FOUR MINUTES BECAUSE IT TOOK ME THAT LONG TO FIND A PROPER N FOR MATT'S NAME--WTH?) Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Perkins and Barry Lyga will be taking part in the [Un]Book Festival. Here's a poster:

I can't tell you about everything it means to "get creative" with A.S. King, but I *might* be teaching people how to make cool stuff out of paper. Like maybe a squid. Or, you know, traditional birds.

Now, on a more serious note:

There's this teacher. Her name is Ms. Pelfrey. She has these students. She calls them Angel Potatoes. They are awesomechutney students because they write me letters. We talk about stuff like satellites and ESP and station wagons. But mostly we talk about books.
Here's a great blog post from Andrew Smith about the Angel Potatoes. 

I don't know what to say about a teacher and students like this. I get fan mail. Yep. I get mail from teachers whose students have been positively affected by my books, too. But Ms. Pelfrey is planning a Revolution. I like her so much I want to give her something that would make her look like that picture of me hugging the squid up there, but I can't figure out what that would be yet.

Right now, I write to her students...who are not only reading great books and making posters about them, but who are book talking kids from a nearby school to get them turned on to reading.

I don't know. I think Andrew probably said it better than I can. These people all rock. It's amazing to watch a person take charge and JUST DO IT GET THEM HOOKED ON BOOKS AND TALK ABOUT BOOKS AND TALK ABOUT HOW BOOKS MAKE POSITIVE DENTS IN LIVES EVEN IF LIFE ISN'T ALL THAT POSITIVE THE REST OF THE TIME. Etc.

Oh look! It's 6:50. With the extra 4 minutes I got for the ñ I will have time to proofread.

Love and tacos.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Week in My Cave

I am lucky.
I've spent a week in my cave, just like I promised.
I've had to use several types of weaponry to beat this book into order. I've found the iron fire poker really useful. I beat out the entirety of chapters 50 and 51 with it only yesterday. I hope to finish by Wednesday when I leave for my favorite book festival in the universe.


The Rochester Teen Book Festival.
If you are anywhere near Rochester, NY, you should really come check it out. Fun times. Great company. I will be talking about how to be a superhero. I do not mean this in an Avengers sort of way. I mean it in a daily-real-life-superhero-to-yourself sort of way.

Random thoughts: 

  • I made an origami squid and an origami turtle today.
  • Too much time spent in the cave leads to sore eyes in the sunlight. Seriously. It burns! It burns my eyes!
  • What's with drivers who swerve all over the place? I came across a bunch today on my way to the Exton Mall. It was weird. Like--right off the damn road and then back on again. 
  • I have opinions and sometimes I say stuff that I think.
  • For example, I might describe those road-swervers I just mentioned as dangerous or reckless. While I understand that the driver might not like being called reckless, I also have to say that as a fellow driver on the road, I don't much like the idea of dying in a fiery crash because someone else isn't paying attention while they drive their car. I think some people might call a driver like this a %&^#^* idiot or other more colorful things. I guess some people might even follow that driver home and stalk them for a week. Of course, that's illegal. 
  • Sometimes I speak in metaphors and allow listeners/readers to piece together exactly what I mean. This is how I do things. Sometimes, people don't get me. Most times, people get me. Usually, it's not all that difficult to follow.
  • So, I tweeted about bullying today. I said: Bullying is not "just a normal part of life." It exists because lazy-brained people say stupid shit like this and others nod. I tweet about bullying sometimes. EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS and DEAR BULLY are two books that deal with the subject and I'm invested in talking to people--any age--about how bullying is wrong. Bullying--enforcing your power over another human by repeated intimidating behavior--is wrong. Apparently, my implying that wrong behaviors [in this case, bullying] exist because people are too lazy [or complacent, which was too long for 140 characters] to change those behaviors got all up in some grills. Oops. 
  • Truth: If anyone tried to do to me today what a bully in high school did to me, I could totally call the cops and get them arrested. That should pretty much copperfasten the idea that bullying is wrong. In the adult world, it's illegal. See also: assault. 
  • I don't watch TV. Did you know that? I don't follow news either. It's all bullshit newsertainment to me. And so, when I mentioned to someone today that people I've never met before on Twitter seemed oddly argumentative toward me about this bullying = wrong + could be stopped if we gave more of a shit equation, I was informed that bullying has made it into our recent news cycle due to a political race. This kind person deduced that maybe my comment about bullying was mistaken as a political statement. 
  • Fact: I don't give a shit about politics. Not even a little, tiny shit. I do care about bullying, though. And up until today, no one ever had their panties knot over my saying that it's wrong and we could do more about it. (And seriously? Some political story could actually reverse your morals that wildly? Dudes, I don't care who did what to whom. If Abe Lincoln had been outed as a bully, I'd still think bullying is wrong and saying it's "just a normal part of life" is lazy-brained horseshit.) (And I love me some Abe Lincoln.)
  • Recap: bullying = wrong. I still think laziness (and nodding) is a huge part of why we allow our world to stay the way it is. (Proof: read your history books. Too busy on your smartphone for that? Yeah. I know. Everyone is.)
  • "Science may have found a cure for most evils but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all-the apathy of human beings." --Helen Keller
  • Helen Keller was born blind, deaf and mute and she did a lot of cool shit.
  • I have opinions and sometimes I say what I think. 
  • So does Judy Blume.
  • I am reading (really really really really slowly) Andrew Smith's PASSENGER, and posse, it's amazing.
  • Andrew has opinions too and sometimes he says what he thinks here on his blog
  • A bison and a squid walk into a bar.
  • Next week while I'm in Rochester is the week of the awesome Nebula Awards. I am so sad I can't be there. As a seasoned sci-fi fan, and as an Andre Norton Award nominee, I am beyond sad, really. But, we make dates, and I've got a date with Rochester and so, wish EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS some luck. 
  • I'm going roller skating for mother's day. If you lived near me, you could totally come with me.
Hey! If you didn't come out to the Exton Mall today, you missed me. Here I am with the awesome Laura. Her t-shirt is the shizz.

I urge you:
Get to the Rochester Book Festival.
Have opinions and say what you think.
Call the cops if anyone ever follows you home or stalks you. Or assaults you.
Pay attention while driving.
Don't assume everyone else watches the 24/7 news cycle.
Have a sense of humor.

Now, back to the cave. I have things to beat.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So...there's this book

I have until next Wednesday to finish edits on REALITY BOY. <----This is partially a lie. I mean, no one is standing over me saying, "You have to have these edits done by next week."
Well, no. I am. I am standing over me saying, "You have to have these edits done by next week."
Look: If I didn't do that, nothing would get done.

Anyway, I have to write the next book. I'm 25k into it and I want to say I'm 40k into it. And then 50k, etc. until I can say I AM DONE WITH THE NEW BOOK.

That feeling is always so nice.
Especially considering I have two other books in my head right now that I want OUT by 2013.
OUT as in: Out of my brain. I want them out of my brain and on paper.

This means sacrifice, posse. Big honking sacrifice.

It means less blog posts. Or short weird ones like this.
It means no internet.
It means less email.
It means I can only hit lane three at the pool after I write at least 4000 words in a day this summer.

But it also means a 2014 and 2015 book.
And a project that might result from me and Andrew Smith hanging around each other for a while.

So we make these sacrifices, right? That's what we do.

Picture me eating organic peanut butter and apples.
I'll be in the basement.
Pip pip. Tally ho.