Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hello, Austin!!

Texas Library Association,  April 13-15, 2011
WLT YA A to Z Conference April 15-17, 2011

I’ll be in Austin, TX for the Texas Library Association meeting April 13-15. I can’t wait! In addition to some food and drink opportunities, I’ll be speaking at the Lone Star Authors Shine panel Thursday morning  8:30—9:50am, and then signing at the Disney-Hyperion Booth 10-11 a.m.  
Check out all the awesome authors who’ll be at TLA:

Here’s more information about the conference

I’ll also be among a posse of YA authors, agents, and editors who will be appearing at the Writer’s League of Texas YA A to Z conference. Take advantage of an awesome assembly of talent! More information here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Real Writers Write

Young Writer writes: My friend… just died at the age of 12, writing has basicly been my escape portal, but I worry that I'll never be a real writer, like you. I really want to make other people happy, by spinning tales and stories, so, what do I do?--Grace

Grace, if you are writing, you are already a real writer. It's tempting to want to please others, but you must first please yourself. We are like singers who sing for the joy of it, even if no one is listening. The writers that last are the ones who understand that it is the writing that matters. That's the only way to survive the cruel and capricious nature of the publishing world.

So write to escape, as I did in fourth grade, when my mother was seven weeks in the hospital. Write to nail down that image or experience that might otherwise slip through the net of memory. Write to seize hold of the people you are not willing to give up. Write to give shape to concepts and arguments and to capture those sharp edges of the spirit that are worn away by time and weariness. You may find an audience, if that is what you want, but that is the only way to begin and continue. Good luck.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Living Low-Tech

I'm not exactly a technofile, but I have become accustomed to accessing information and communication at the click of a mouse. Before we moved into this new house, my husband contacted our cable provider online to arrange transfer of service. Good news! the email reply said. You're still in our service area! A service rep will contact you to arrange transfer of service.
On moving day, we half-expected someone to show up from the cable company, but no one did. But when we set up our modem, routers, etc, lo and behold, we had Internet and digital cable access! How easy was that? we thought.
Too easy. After three weeks in our new home, I returned home one day to find the cable dead.
I called the technical help line and went through the annoying numerical menu, plugged and unplugged the modem, and finally hacked my way through the electronic thicket to find a real person.
"Our cable seems to be out," I said, with the confidence of the righteously wounded. I knew that they would rush right out to fix it. But when I gave my information, it became clear that we were still listed at the old address.
"How can that be?" I said. "We sent a request, and we've been online for three weeks at our new address."
Apparently they did some kind of audit and discovered unauthorized cable service at our new address. They disconnected it at the street.
"I need Internet," I said, in the manner of someone whose oxygen has been cut off. "Turn it back on."
"The soonest we can come is Wednesday," Cable Guy said.
"I'll be in Columbus Wednesday," I said. "Can't you come tomorrow?"
"We're booked up tomorrow," he said. "Are you sure you can't be there on Wednesday?"
Sure. Okay. I just made up that Columbus story.
"," I said.
"Well, we can try to force it in," he said.
"Are you home now?"
"I can try to force an appointment for tonight," he said. "No guarantees."
"Are you saying somebody might be here tonight to turn on my cable?" Hope kindled.
"No guarantees."
"When will you know?"
"Well, uh..." he said evasively.
"I can't watch TV or get online, so I thought I'd get into the tub," I said.
I know. TMI. But it soon became clear that nobody was forcing anything either tonight or tomorrow.
"So," he said brightly, "were you satisfied with this service call?"
"Well, I'm not satisfied that I don't have Internet access or TV, but I think you did your best to help me," I said generously.
"Well, in that case, had you thought about switching to digital phone service, too?"
Many possible responses crowded into my mind., but I chose the high road. "Um, no," I said.
"Don't you want to save money?" Cable Guy asked.
"No," I said testily. "I'm actually looking for ways to squander it."
It's all about timing, Cable Guy. It's all about timing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm Giving Winter One More Chance

I woke up this morning to find a dumpload of snow on the ground and more coming down.  Who says April is the cruelest month? I’m thinking March—around here anyway.
Just a few days ago, I walked the perimeter of my yard, planning borders and beds and vegetable gardens, watching the pattern of sunlight and shadow shift across the winter-beaten lawn, breathing in the voluptuous fragrance of thawed earth.  Spring was coming. I mean, it’s always come before, right?
I dragged on my parka, and my boots, and slid my laptop into my backpack to protect it from the elements, grumbling the whole time. I am tired of the winter rituals—the ordeal of going outdoors. I want to pass easily from interior to exterior spaces without putting on my shoes, without layering on clothes, without scrunching up my body to reduce wind resistance. I want to come inside without peeling.
I envisioned putting an ad on Craigslist. “End of Season Sale! A foot of freshly-fallen snow, primo packing quality. Easily attaches to shrubs and trees. You shovel or will deliver to warm and sunny climates.”
And yet. The backyard was transformed, as only a snowstorm can do, each sharp edge blunted by moguls of snow, all blue shadow and white crystalline surfaces, punctuated by shots of evergreen and the brilliant red of cardinals bickering over the feeder.

I walked downtown, navigating the obstacle course of snowplow leavings and unshoveled walks.  Snow found its way into the tunnel of my hood, collected on my eyelashes and shoulders.
The river flowed like a dark ribbon, flecked with snow and foam, between glaceed trees. The sounds of civilization were muted, the reflective surfaces shrouded in snow, every ugly thing covered over, temporarily, at least.  
 It’s like that old boyfriend that’s caused you endless hassle, and you’re just tired of dealing with him. And, yet, when you see him, he looks so fine.
All right, I thought. I may be a fool, but I’m giving winter one more chance…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gray Wolf Throne Official Cover!!

Well, the cat is totally out of the bag on this one, as sharp-eyed reader and blogger extraordinaire Juanpablo Sullivan  spotted the cover for The Gray Wolf Throne in the Disney-Hyperion Catalog and posted it on Goodreads
Plus sharp-eyed FB friend Beau Bouliane spotted the cover on a poster I brought to the Local Author program at the Crocker Park Barnes & Noble.

Well, then. For those of you who haven’t already seen it, here is the official cover for The Gray Wolf Throne.

As an added bonus, I’ll post the awesome poster Hyperion designed for me.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I’m the kind of person who’s hard to uproot. I’ve been married to the same man for a good long time. I’ve had the same publisher for five books and four more to come. I’ve had the same haircutter for two decades, and I used to drive across town so I wouldn’t have to change dentists. Editors and agents leave me—I don’t leave them.
            And here, to my amazement, I have moved across town. Across the river, even.
Not that it was easy.
Of course, it snowed on moving day. 
 Of course, there were too many books. But, wait—can you ever have too many books?
 We no longer have friends willing to move us for the price of a pizza. And we’ve accumulated way too much stuff to move it all ourselves. So, for the first time in our lives, we hired professional movers.
This was the loading crew, from Parma Movers. 
And the unloading crew.
They were awesome. Moving is really, really hard work. A tip of the hat to those who do this every day. When they talk about raising the Social Security retirement age, I think, it’s one thing for a writer or a CEO to be working into her sixth and seventh decade. It’s quite another for a mover, or a carpet layer, or a carpenter. 
Apollo did not approve of the disruption in his visual landscape. The entire time, he kept saying, “It’s okay? It’s okay, Apollo?” in a worried tone of voice.
As we unwrapped the breakables, we were drowned in a flood of paper. 
 Every fantasy author needs a box of boas and tiaras. But where to put them now?
The attic was a catchall of sorts—reminding me that there are people who never actually unpack all the boxes between moves.
And yet--though I'm still dealing with the shock of transplantation, I believe I’ve landed in fertile soil.