Thursday, August 28, 2008

Manuscript or Pickax?

This is the first week since the beginning of June that I’ve had full days at home alone; the first time in three months that I can actually write. So what do I do? I grab the pickax, of course.

A couple of years ago we bought a big, beautiful Fir to be our outdoor Christmas tree. Because we purchased it in winter when the ground was too hard to dig, we left it in the planter it came in. Fast forward two years: the poor tree was still in the planter, strangling itself with its own roots. I kept meaning to get to it but it was off in an odd corner of the yard that I rarely visited and wouldn’t remember until late at night when you start worrying about the weirdest stuff, like having the death of a fir tree on your conscience.

My manuscript that sold is with the editor for comments, the one I finished in June is with my agent, and now I have to face page one of a new manuscript. So Monday I avoided it by cleaning the house for seven hours, Tuesday I avoided it by creating a website to manage six years of digital photos, and yesterday I avoided it by planting The Tree.

First I grabbed the shovel but the going was slow—this baby needed a huge hole. That’s when I reached for the pickax. I’ve always been impressed with how lethal it looked and I must say, swinging that thing was immensely satisfying; sometimes you need to exercise your inner gravedigger and just go at the earth with a pickax. Once I’d dug a hole big enough to bury one of the Seven Dwarfs, I wrestled the 200 pound mass of needles onto a dolly and wheeled it to its new home. It looks happy.

So I successfully avoided another day of opening a new document, titling it, and typing the first words. But today is wide open—like the calluses on my palms. Today I’ll do it.

Uh, right after I organize my desk.

Does anyone else find crazy ways to avoid the fear of staring a new manuscript?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Class of 2010!

I’m proud to announce that I'm now a member of 2010: A Book Odyssey. Administered by authors Lindsey Leavitt and Heidi R. Kling, this is where the writers who have books coming out in 2010 gather. (Thanks to Suzanne Young for letting me know about the Tenners.)

I must admit I was happy to meet so many other writer’s whose books won’t becoming out anytime soon! After working in high-tech where a product is obsolete after 18 months, a year and a half to bring a book to market seems bizarre. But I'm really excited to be in such great company. Thanks for having me, Tenners.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

8 - 12 - 8

Here is the publishing agreement. Here are my hands. I probably shouldn’t have made that deal with the Devil about cutting off my left index finger for a book contract.

I finally got the courage to sign it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hereinafter referred to as…

I now have in my possession a contract for two books with Flux, an edgy new imprint for teens. On this publishing agreement my name appears and is then followed by these words:

Hereinafter referred to as “Author”

Seeing those five words written after my name has been a dream of mine for decades. It was first a dream so big I put it in the better-to-never-try-than-fail category. Slowly, I circled around it and poked at it until it seemed less daunting. I took endless classes, read all the books, and then I started in earnest. Five years after I typed the first bits of this story I now have an amazing agent and a two-book deal with an editor I respect immensely.

I’m having trouble signing the contract. I ruffle through the glorious 18 pages and gaze at the Hereinafter sentence often, but I can’t get to the last page to sign it. I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s because writing my name on this contract—however small or large the books may turn out to be—will forever put me on the other side of this dream. And that’s a weird concept.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Photo Essay by the World's Worst Photographer and Even Worse Essayist

It began and ended as any gathering of children’s book writers and illustrators should – with a frosty Gin and Tonic. Here Davis Wakefield sips his from one of the 100 cups he “borrowed” from the lobby Starbucks late the first night.

Below is a photo of my "new favorite” Graeme Stone, who came to children’s books by way of modeling. You can tell by his circa 1990s pose that he’s watched a bit too much Elsa Klensch. Graeme knows more about the gritty side of Serbian culture than anyone I’ve ever met. I envy his name, which will make any book jacket seem a little more highbrow.

And then there were the Mermaids. One was working:

Two were working it:

The Disco Mermaids are the most fun people in children’s publishing and are so generous with their time and vast knowledge. Smart and beautiful – you want to hate them but just can’t.

Then there were Katie and Sarah Frances, the Y’all contingent from Mississippi. Gorgeous and elegant and very, very funny. Fabulous accents that make you hang on their every word, wondering what they’ll say next. When I die I want to come back as a southern woman.

I loved hanging out with Lee Wind. Smart, witty and so articulate and passionate about gay teen lit that he’s been asked to moderate a panel at the NYC SCBWI conference with some very heavy hitters from publishing. Congrats to you Lee! Well deserved.

Another woman in the “I want to hate you for your quick success but can’t because you’re too damn funny” category is Suzanne Young. Sorry Suzanne, had a steal a photo from your website because my only pic of you sucked and you deserve better than that. Oregon is kind of a wild west state anyway, so that’s how we roll: See it, take it.

And last but not least there was Jennifer Gray "No one puts Baby in a corner" Olson. An AMAZING illustrator and all-around hilarious woman. We connected on a soul level about Reality TV.

All in all a great conference. Thanks everyone!

Oh, yeah, there were also some good speakers. They get enough publicity on their own.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

SCBWI Post-Mortem

Fun. Lots of fun. Met some really great people, reconnected with some others I'd met earlier, and had a chance to catch up with my agent at a lovely little cocktail party she threw for her clients. Had many awkward moments in my Editor one-on-one meeting, as my manuscript was critiqued by my all-time dream Editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel of Dutton. She is smart and acerbic and gets right o the meat of the matter. Love her, and had to keep myself from stalking her.

More later when I have time to post some pics.