March 26, 2009

Greetings from the Land of Revision . . .

It's just down the literary lane from the State of Confusion and the Isle of Insanity. I'll be hanging out here for another weak, er, week or so . . . then it's time to pack up my finished manuscript and head off to Deadlineville, where my editor will be waiting.

I realize I'm in the Land of Revision because I show up late for everything, pour cold cereal and call it dinner and grouch at my hubby and kids every time they do something unconscionable, like breathe within a five-mile radius of me.

At times like these, I stop and remind myself: Hey, Self, it's not like you're doing pediatric brain surgery here.

And everything falls into perspective.

But then I wonder: When things get really stressful, what do pediatric brain surgeons tell themselves? Relax; it's not like you're writing a children's book here.

And with that thought, I'll paddle back down the River of Revisions, where I'll fight cliches to the death, cut adverbs mercilessly and delete everything that's not absolutely

While I'm busy revising, be excellent editors and don't let your participles dangle!

March 20, 2009

What's on YOUR bookshelf this weekend?

I love the weekend. It means extra time with family and friends. A chance for long walks. And, of course, more time to READ!

Right now, I'm listening to Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars on CD. I'm amazed by his ability to juggle so many story lines successfully and humorously. I will be sad when the last CD is finished.

Am also knee-deep in First Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. It's filled with suspense. I'm passing it to our youngest son when I'm done.

Two books for adults sit by my bed as well. Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck was recommended by Debby Garfinkle. Thanks, Debby. The essays are a hoot so far.

And a book-lovers dream is the little gem I found at the library: The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen. Just the introduction alone about a woman who fufilled her dream by opening a bookstore filled me with inspiration. The only downside to this book is that it makes me want to get all the recommended books. (And I don't have any more room!)

Hubby's reading an interesting one called The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson.

Youngest son's language arts teacher is having the students read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. He just got up to the part about the main character's mother. It's shocking, really.

Oldest son discovered a cache of Robin Cook novels on the used books table at our local library, and being the softie I am about books, I purchased the lot of them for him. Our guy devours books like a cop devours donuts. (Sorry, Jay. Couldn't resist!)

Next up for me are Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta and Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder. I loved Laurel's Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. Both authors are represented by my lovely and talented agent, Tina Wexler. Tina generously sent me an advanced reader copy (arc) of each novel.

So, like I said, I'm glad for the weekend and more time to read.

What are YOU planning to read this weekend? What's on your bookshelf . . . in your CD player . . . on your MP3 player?

March 17, 2009


Went for a mini-adventure in Pennsylvania this past weekend. Of course, it began with a lunch of a Philadelphia soft pretzel and frozen custard at Rita's.

Then, as soon as I set foot in Tyler State Park, I was greeted by this sign . . .

Clever poster reminding folks to get outside. So, I did . . .

Tyler State Park

Had a great time with my friends Jeanne and Steve and their lovely children.

Jared, their youngest, and his faithful assistant, Max, are budding architects . . .

Their oldest daughter, Cara, woke one morning, laid trash bags on her bedroom carpet and worked for hours painting the barn behind their home . . .

Daughter Elyssa handed me a little clay doll she'd created. "It's Vanessa," she said, "from your book." Here's Elyssa holding Vanessa . . .

And because Vanessa is made from Sculpey clay, she was put on a cookie sheet to bake with the other clay creations the children made.

Vanessa had an unfortunate accident . . .

We couldn't figure out what had happened to -- gulp! -- poor Vanessa's legs, until Elyssa said, "Um, I might have, er, used Chuck E. Cheese clay on her legs."

No worries. The cookie sheet survived the melted legs catastrophe, Vanessa was repaired with Sculpey clay and now sits beside me on my desk.

When we weren't melting the legs off of clay dolls, we spent some time with friends doing what we do best -- the Can Can!

June, Me, Jeanne and Sandee

But the reason I visited Pennsylvania was to attend the lovely baby shower of our niece, Susan:

And here's the happy father-to-be, our nephew, Steve:

It was great to catch up with my sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts and friends.

Leigh and Kim

Leigh & Kirk's cute, imaginative son, Matt . . .

And, of course, the dogs-in-law . . .


Sydney Matilda

After the baby shower, it was time to "Get out!"so I hopped onto a Southwest plane. Even though I was one of the last people on, I ended up sitting in the first seat, first row with miles of leg room. If it were any other airline, I'd have been in first class. Flying with Southwest always feels like first class. They are all about great customer service and having a fun time. When it comes to Southwest, I'm always feelin' the LUV!

So, I leaned back, opened a good book (The Book That Changed My Life -- 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them, edited by Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen) and headed back to hubby, the kids and sunny South Florida.

March 11, 2009

Nice News and Lemon Squares to Celebrate!

My editor made my day when she sent an e-mail telling me that As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! made the The Children’s Book Council / International Reading Association Children's Choices list for 2008. This is particularly gratifying as the books were chosen by children.


Then the lovely Natasha from MawBooks sent an e-mail letting me know that she made the lemon square recipe at the back of my book with her sons. And blogged about it here.

Natasha's sons are too cute not to show you their pictures, so here they are . . .

And, if you're wondering how those lemon squares turned out . . .

Thank you, Natasha, for sharing your baking adventures with your adorable sons and hubby. And thank you for suggesting that creating the lemon squares might make a nice activity for mother/daughter book clubs.

If you liked the lemon squares, just wait till you see the recipe at the end of my next book!


March 9, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things . . .


Here comes a list of my favorite things (in alphabetical order) . . .

BOOKS . . .


E-MAIL FROM YOUNG READERS (Reprinted with permission, of course) . . .

I'm 10 years-old so I know how Vanessa feels! I can't wait to read the next book you come out with! One question though..... how would you feel if your life was like Vanessa's? I would be terrified if I knew me or my lovely mom was about to die.

P.S. me and my mom will definitely use that lemon square recipe! :)

FAMILY . . .


PARKS . . .



TRAVEL . . .


(Philadelphia, PA)

(Washington, D.C.)

(Seaside, OR)


THE END . . .