In my writing life, I sort of expected to get the chance to speak with kids about my books. Because, you know, they’re FOR kids and all.
But life has a way of surprising and delighting, and this week I had the chance to speak (and listen) to a group of students who were all smarter than me. Or at least better educated. But possibly both.
Wow! Those are really mature-looking school kids! But with excellent taste in literature.
Also, quite possibly, they knew my book better than I do. This class, taught by Professor Nancy Roser at UT Austin, chose my book to be a part of their “Grimm transformations” studies. They read my book in advance, and had questions and comments. Okay, I was prepared for this. But they had read it like they were planning to write their theses! And they’d thought so deeply about my story that I was humbled. What a gift!
Thank you Professor Roser, and thanks to your Language and Literacy Studies class as well. You made my week!
No surprise this woman has won a ton of teaching awards. She's amazing!
Do you see the cups of M&Ms, Skittles, and popcorn on the tables? Themed! Not shown: the gingerbread and lemonade.
Dr. Roser even made a slide with my picture next to a bowl of Moolennium Crunch ice cream. LOVE!
I ran from this event to a signing at the Barnes and Noble in Northwest Austin – busy! But super fun. Then I danced at the Texas State Capitol for the One Billion Rising event on Valentine’s Day. Political Action + Dance= Awesomeness.
Next week? THREE school visits. Eek! Hope you’re staying busy, too, friends!
As promised, I have pictures from the Montgomery County Book Festival I attended in The Woodlands, Texas last weekend. Wow, those festival organizers sure knew how to treat writers well! The food was great, there were parties and amazing teen volunteers, and parents and kids who liked my gruesome humor.
And they had zombies.
I kissed a zombie and I liked it. LOL
Here’s the rest of the pics – enjoy!
MoCo had the cutest book bloggers ever!
My amazing Tween panel: Bethany Hegedus, Jo Whittemore, and my new BFF Kimberley Griffiths Little!
So glad I had the chance to warn this kid about his teacher's possible menu plans...
... and by menu plans, I meant something like this.
Whenever I see Maria Cari Soto, I laugh this hard. She's funny! And has the best shoes ever.
How does Cynthia Leitich Smith avoid wrist pain, with all the book signings she has to do for her rabid fans? Aspiring minds want to know.
I met Jonathan Maberry, author of the ROT AND RUIN books, and consummate gentleman. Honestly, this guy is wonderful.
So THAT was fun! And tonight is the Austin SCBWI conference! Seriously, I have the best job in the world.
And I got a new book idea last week, too… a very cool, horrifying magical one…
What an amazing Friday I just had! I had the wonderful good fortune to be invited to Bauerschlag Elementary in League City, Texas for an Author Visit with their fourth and fifth grade classes, and two small-group writing workshops immediately afterward.
The fourth graders! Don't they look delicious?
What fun! The PTA Literacy Chair is named Stephanie, and she is lovely. (But she is also named Alyssa Goodnight, and had a book released last week! Yes, I totally got my copy signed when I was there. How cool is that?)
The gym was FULL of attentive kids with insightful questions. I may or may not have said a few slightly inappropriate things regarding the delectable nature of children and the benefits of re-writing Rapunzel with long nose hair… but the teachers didn’t seem TOO fazed. LOL
The fifth graders, who ask VERY difficult questions.
The writing workshops were my favorite part, with kids coming up with the MOST interesting characters to write about. I’m hoping to receive a story soon with a TACO for the main character… (Come on, Bears! Send those stories!)
The librarian, Jenny Mullins, made a lovely basket of goodies for me, and had everything perfectly prepared… and Stephanie brought in lunch… I felt like a princess.
Coffee, chocolate, sugar? Yep. All the major writing food groups.
Thank you, Bauerschlag Elementary Bears! You can growl at me anytime.
Next up? Revealing photographic evidence from the Montgomery County Book Festival. Oh, the stories I have to tell about this weekend.
Thanks again to the amazing Literacy Chair, Stephanie/Alyssa!
I am off tomorrow morning for a super fun author school visit in League City, at Bauerschlag Elementary, and then on to The Woodlands, Texas, for the amazing Montgomery County Book Festival.
I’m also putting the finishing touches on my line edits for my second novel, Nightingale’s Nest, and finalizing my discussion questions/teacher guide for The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy… SO BUSY! But I had to post some pictures of the most wonderful thank you notes I got in the mail from Barton Hills Elementary this week.
I think you’ll agree that these are the cutest thank yous in the history of gratitude. And, kids? This sort of artwork and sweet sentiments make an author’s busy days smell as sweet as roses.
Or hot chocolate.
I’m not sure if any of you who write middle grade or young adult fiction will be interested in this (I hope you ALL will be!)… but I am the featured author this coming month at the excellent Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing blog contest!
Yes, you can win the dubious honor of having ME critique your first five pages. I promise to say something more than “um, yeah. I like it.”
For contest details, click through this link. You have to sign up on the second Saturday of the month, and only the first five manuscripts excerpts will be accepted. (Five lucky winners!) And then you have to be willing to revise, submit your revisions, and have me
hack at them, I mean, offer even more constructive criticism on the revisions.
Seriously, this should be fun and useful – but read the fine print to make sure you enter everything correctly to be considered!
Now I have to go think about kittens, or eat cake, since this all makes me a teensy bit nervous.
Or maybe I’ll just shoot on over to the Cabinet of Curiosities blog, and read a lovely story by Claire Legrand about some very special cake. (I love this new blog! Such scary stories. Like a box of chocolate-covered fingers. Yum!)
I’ve been having so much fun the past few weeks! Too much fun to update my blog, honestly. But here I am, with pictures to make you jealous… or inspire you. Or to stare at when you’re supposed to be working. (Am I getting closer?)
So, this month I’ve been doing Official Writer Things. First off, the Lodge of Death Writing Retreat, where I spent time with some amazing writers (who are also some of my favorite people in the world).
I need fabulous author Jenny Moss to live next door to me forever. Love her!
Samantha Clark and Jo Whittemore look appropriately impressed at Salima Alikhan's reading.
Writers in the front... dead things in the back. So much death at this retreat...
We ate, we drank, we wrote, we read… we stared at dead things.
With some lipstick, it could work as a metaphor for some of my old manuscripts.
Then, I spoke on the Third Thursday panel for the Writer’s League of Texas at Bookpeople with Brian Yansky, Patrice Sarath, and Wendy Muse Greenwood.
Brian is the one on the far left.
Also present (as moral support) was the super fabulous Cynthia Leitich Smith, who hates it when people post photos of her on their blogs.
But it's such a great picture. How can I resist?!
And to wrap up, I presented at a local elementary school for two fifth grade classes, who were amazingly polite, attentive, and prepared.
Barton Hills is awesome!
I have a bunch of other events coming up in the next two weeks, including a school visit in League City, the Montgomery County Book Festival, and… oh, I don’t know, my line edits for Nightingale’s Nest to finish?
BUSY ME! I hope you’re having as much fun as I am, busy or not. Write well!
For Christmas, my mom gave me a crock pot. At first, I thought this was strange. Also, at second, I thought it was strange. “I have two crock pots, Mom. You know this.”
“But you don’t have this one,” she said. “This crock pot will change your life.”
Yes, my mom really, really likes this new brand of crock pot.
She called me every day after Christmas. “Have you used your new crock pot yet?”
“No,” I’d say. “I haven’t gotten it out of the box yet.” Or, “I haven’t read the manual.” And finally, “I can’t figure out how to turn it on.”
Don’t judge me, people. It’s a difficult crock pot to master.
I finally made soup in it yesterday. It was… fine. The soup was good. I could have used my regular soup pot. Did the crock pot change my life?
No. But it is a very good crock pot, with some extremely fancy non-stick action, and some other nice features. It may not have changed my life, but it gave me another tool to help get dinner on the table. (And as writer-cooks know, it gets dinner cooked without the typical “Oh, no, I burned the meal again, quick let’s order pizza” that usually accompanies a meal cooked while the Muse is sending Shiny New Ideas your way.)
I’ve been asked to speak in a couple of weeks about how to motivate yourself to keep writing, no matter what. Aside from “I need to make rent,” there are a lot of motivational strategies. Some involve punitive measures. Some involve kittens. There are thousands of ways, hundreds of blog posts with great advice.
But none of them are perfect for everyone. Not a single one is a surefire way for EVERY writer to keep going, to get back to the page with regularity. Not every great new idea is life-changing for me, even if it may be for every other writer in the world.
Some of them, however, are very good. Many of them are like my new crock pot – a new, effective tool that – while it may not change my life – will make certain recipes/projects easier.
So, what did you get for Christmas, if you celebrate it? Did any of you get a life-changing gift? Or a crock pot?
And if you have any great advice (other than punishment and kittens) for helping writers keep writing, I’d love to hear that, too! I’ll share it with the Writer’s League of Texas in a couple of weeks.
Write well, friends!
Hi, friends! I spent New Year’s Day with the flu (although it may have been the bubonic plague. I swear I was sicker than any flu could cause), and I’m still recovering, so not much to report. But I’m very excited about some things coming up, including the Montgomery County Book Festival. In fact, I’m pulling copies of books off my own shelves to get signed by some of my favorite authors ever. Exciting! I’ll try to remember not to act like a total fangirl.
Or maybe I’ll just go with it.
I was also excited to see my interview up for the end-of-year series at ModPodge Books! I love this site. And the blogger behind it!
Now, back to bed. Thank goodness I have some amazing books to read!
If you’ve read my book, you pretty much know I think a little scary is perfectly fine for kids. This month, I wrote an essay for Hunger Mountain where I expand on that a bit.
I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think! I know many folks will disagree with me, but I wonder how many?
Oh, and if you’re interested, I also have an interview up at the Montgomery County Book Festival blog. I’m so excited for this festival – I’ll get to meet some AMAZING writers – and readers, too! Fun fun fun!
Hi, y’all! I’m busy working on my new novel these days (so not blogging as much), but I DO have a bit of news today! My book is being featured at the website First Page Panda – and you can win a free, signed copy. So, go on. Enter now!