Sunday, October 24, 2010

On the Graveyard of Good Ideas

This week I had a Whitworth Spotlight article posted online about winning the Spirit of Oregon Award for Academy 7. Awesome, really, but I thought you’d probably rather hear Aerin and Dane's reaction to the award than mine. So I took the idea to Aerin and Dane. And, well, sometimes good ideas don’t work out. This was how the conversation went.

Aerin: He says, “No.”

Me: Really, why not?

(Aurelia enters.)
Aurelia: Haven’t you noticed? He never pulls his weight around here!

Me: Aurelia, this was a conversation between Aerin and me.

Aurelia: You’re both going to let him get away with this, aren’t you?

Me: Aurelia, this is NOT your book.

Aurelia: Fine! (She exits.)

Aerin: They’re too much alike.

Me: I’ve noticed.

Aerin: Anyway, he says he doesn’t do interviews.

Me: But it’s not really press.

Aerin: He says if Aurelia wants to run this blog, that’s fine with him, but we’ll have to do it without him.

Me: And what did you say to that?

Aerin: I said I wasn’t talking in public all by myself.

Me: You’re saying no interview.

She shakes her head.

Me: But don’t you think people would rather hear from you than me?

Aerin: I think they’d rather hear from him.

Me: And he thinks . . . ?

Aerin: He says . . .

Dane: No!

So, I guess I’ll just have to send you all over to the Whitworth Spotlight article instead.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The VOICE and the Laundromat

We’ve all heard it. The VOICE.

As authors, we’re writing our way through a big dramatic climax somewhere around chapter 21, and there’s this voice calling from a short little scene back in chapter four, saying “You’re going to have to fix this . . .”

And sometimes it's the dumbest thing!

Maybe Aurelia forgot to pack her bag correctly on the trip.

Or someone stole Robert’s sword, and I forgot to give it back to him. (Yes, I did this. Robert was fine with it, but apparently the VOICE was not).

Or someone has to cry in such and such scene, even though your editor doesn’t think so.

Or some bird was friggin’ the wrong color.

Or I failed to take Salva to the Laundromat.

Yes, this was the noisy complaint all the way through my second draft of Salvation.

How could I have failed to take him to the Laundromat?

Turned out Salva didn’t want to go. (I know you’re in shock—but really, what 17-year-old boy wants to spend his Tuesday evening doing homework at the Laundromat?).

But apparently this was necessary.

The VOICE must be heeded.

The “Laundromat scene” is really dinky—maybe three pages. I tried to write it in the Laundromat earlier, and it just wasn’t working (turns out this was due to a misinterpretation of the role of a certain friendship bracelet), so I gave up and let Salva study at home. In his kitchen.

Seemed to go fine when I wrote it.

But oh no, the VOICE didn’t think so.

Continued to pester me. For—count them—152 more pages. And through the whole moral dilemma of whether it would be better to turn this in early or go through a full third draft. “You need to take Salva to the Laundromat,” said the Voice.

“It’s not important,” I said.

“Yes, it is,” said the Voice.

“My editor will never know the difference,” I said.

You will,” said the Voice.


So here I am. Literally about ten writing days left before my ultimate deadline. Fixing the Laundromat scene.

Which by the way, I like better now. For NO DISCERNABLE REASON.

Except the VOICE is happy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Crazy Weekend

Am afraid I don't have time to write a regular blog post this weekend. In the past two days, I managed to achieve the following:

Follow fellow author Rosanne Parry's directions to her house without getting lost, then follow her car to Lake Oswego High School, which is covered in scaffolding a la Academy 7.

Accept the Spirit of Oregon Award from the Oregon Council of Teachers of English for the best YA book of the year by an Oregon author for Academy 7. All my characters were very supportive of Aerin and Dane!

Meet fellow author, Laini Taylor, who has brilliant pink hair & was tremendous fun to talk to.

Teach an Author's Toolbox workshop at the OCTE Conference for other teachers (very brave people to attend early on a Friday which they could have taken off from work).

Follow my friend Maria's car to the Cedar Hills location of Powell's (in which I purchased the first Maximum Ride book and The Girl in the Arena (for me), and two illustrated classics for my classroom.

Meet fellow author, Sydney Salter, who was very sweet, and present a dialogue workshop with her for young writers at Powell's.

Purchase gas so that my car would not die in the middle of the city.

Miss the freeway entrance (this was the beginning of the end).

Find the address on Google & my printed Wordstock information for the Ace Hotel, but no Ace Hotel. Ask directions to the Ace Hotel, and head downtown where I attempted to find parking in the dark twice, finally ran out of time to attend the Wordstock author reception, managed to find my location on a map, and returned to Rosanne's.

Had a lovely breakfast of hot chocolate & cheese blintzes at Marcos's in Multnomah.

Survived I-5 gridlock in the rain to get lost on my way to find parking by the convention center. Again, managed to read the map & found my way back to a parking lot.

Arrived at Wordstock, and after again searching on a map, managed to find the "main" staircase with the author reception desk at the bottom. Wandered around looking lost but talked to some college students getting a masters in publishing by running Ooligan Press (very cool). Met my fellow panel members, Patrick Ness, L.K. Madigan, and Conrad Wesselhoeft. Moderated my first author panel in front of a quite large crowd! And gave an interview for three freshman girls who must have an awesome English teacher.

Managed to take the wrong turn trying to get back on I-84. Went around the block, made it onto the freeway and survived the drive all the way back to Eastern Oregon.

Where two dogs, one gray kitty, my family, and one very LONELY Dance kitty were waiting for me.

(who also finished her LAST revision of Exile, revised a paltry ten pages of Salvation, and is now going to read chapter 8 of Mockingjay)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Author Spotlight: Tamora Pierce

Me: Let’s talk about Tamora Pierce.

Aurelia: The name sounds vaguely familiar.

Me: Tamora Pierce!

Aurelia: Oh, you mean your favorite author.

Me: Of course, she’s my favorite.

Aurelia: Why?

Me: Because of Alanna, who disguises herself as a boy in order to train to become a knight! And faces all kinds of dilemmas—including accepting herself: her strengths, her gift, and her weaknesses. Alanna’s quartet, The Song of the Lioness, comes first in Tamora Pierce’s books about the land of Tortall.

After Alanna, there is Daine—a girl with the ability to shoot a bow, overcome her past, and talk to animals: magical, nonmagical, and immortal. Daine’s quartet, The Immortals, comes second.

Following Daine is Kel (from the Protector of the Small quartet)—the first girl in the Land of Tortall to train legally to become a knight.

And then Alianne (in Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen)—who doesn’t want to become a warrior at all, but a spy.

And finally, in Pierce’s current Tortall books, there is Beka (the Beka Cooper Trilogy) who is battling her way through the streets in the early Tortall police force.

In addition to this, Tamora Pierce has written a WHOLE other series, which I also love, but which merit an entirely separate entry in my blog.

Aurelia: And why is she your favorite author again?

Me: Because she writes about strong heroines!

Aurelia: Of this, I approve.