Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two-Spider Sunday: A Haiku

Unwelcome beasties.
Giant crawling in the tub.
Wee one in the sink.

* * * * *

They were both relocated (i.e., trapped in a cup and dumped out my kitchen window). The little one was a jumper and didn't want to get out. But I made him.

The other day there was a tiny one ON MY PILLOW. Just sitting right there in the middle of one of the pillows on my bed. Not okay! Just totally not okay!

Sigh. Stupid warm weather. I like when it is cold, and most spiders are sluggish and hiding.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reading Lists

I need to find a better way to keep track of the books I want to read. How do other people do this? Right now, I have a list on notepaper in the back of my datebook/planner, I have a Word file on my desktop, I have a list in Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, I have a somewhat outdated list on my website, I have a few things saved in my Amazon wishlist, and I have scribbled notes on post-its and little pieces of paper scattered around my desk.

This is not especially efficient.

I would love to have just one master place to keep track of books I want to read, but each of the above systems has particular benefits not shared by all the others. For example, the Word file is great because I can cut and paste reviews or listserve comments to help me remember where I heard about the book and what made me want to read it and why. But the scraps of paper are great for when I'm not at my computer, or when I am at my computer but Word isn't open and I don't feel like waiting for it (my computer is getting a little old and slow, and those extra few seconds it takes to open programs can sometimes feel like hours, and I am often late, rushing, or just impatient and have no time for such things). And the datebook list is great for when I'm out somewhere and I see a book in a store or get a good recommendation from a friend, but then sometimes I forget that I even started that list until the next time I'm out and someone gives me a recommendation.

As so often happens in various situations in my life, I find myself wishing for the Star Trek computer arrangement, so I could just say to the air around me, "Computer. Add Jumpy Jack & Googily by Meg Rosoff to Master Reading List. Include note that I read about it on the PlanetEsme blog." And Majel Barrett's voice would say, "Acknowledged. Title and note added." (I fear that technology is still some years away, unfortunately. Along with the holodeck. Sigh.)

I've got a new list now of books to read before my first residency at Vermont College, and those are currently divided on little pieces of paper titled "Get at Library," "Requested from Library," and "Ordered from Amazon." I will post them here, sort of as a backup (in case I lose my little pieces of paper) and also in case it is interesting to anyone. These are mostly just the novels and books on writing; there are also many picture books I want/need to read, but I'll have to tackle those another time. Maybe a library day where I try and read as many as I can at the library without checking them all out and carrying them home. I certainly can't buy them all; gotta save my moolah for tuition and besides, I'm already at full capacity on my bookshelves.

Anyway. Novels/stories and craft books I'm reading/going to read before July:

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
What's Your Story? A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer
Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard
Trash by Sharon Darrow
The Painters of Lexieville by Sharon Darrow
Odd Man Out by Sarah Ellis
The Art of Writing for Children by Connie Epstein
Writing Books for Young People by James Cross Giblin
The Vanishing Point by Louise Hawes
Waiting for Christopher by Louise Hawes
The Gate in the Wall by Ellen Howard
Naming Maya by Uma Krishnaswami
The Broken Tusk by Uma Krishnaswami
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey
Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia
Rex Zero and the End of the World by Tim Wynne-Jones

If anyone out there has some awesome system of keeping track of their reading list(s), please share!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Novel update, MFA, and Behind the Book. And cookies.

All right. In the interest of avoiding having the most boring blog EVER in the history of blogging, I'm going to try to post more often. Like, a lot more often. Like, at least once a week. If not more than that. I have no idea what I'll have to say, but I'm hoping things will come to me. Sort of like that other kind of writing, where half the battle is to actually show up, and then sometimes you suddenly find yourself working on a story.

I'm also going to pretend that at the very least, I have some friends and family members out there who are looking at this thing occasionally (hi mom!) and so I won't feel like I'm posting into the abyss. As always, comments are very welcome, just so I'll know you guys are out there, occasionally checking in.

So, update. Right now I'm working on reviewing copyedits on my middle-grade fantasy novel, which is currently scheduled for a February 2009 release and which still does not have a title. Title selection has been proving extraordinarily difficult, and we are running out of time. Also, this copyediting stage is my last chance to make text changes with abandon, so it's kind of a high-pressure experience.

In other news, I've been accepted into the Vermont College MFA program in writing for children and young adults, which I am very excited about. The first residency is in July, and there is lots of preparation going on and plenty of stress and positive anticipation in about equal measure. It is going to be a LOT of work, but it will all be good work—writing the kinds of things I want to be writing more of, critical work on topics that relate to my writing, and reading other students' work and books by members of the faculty and more great children's literature and books on craft and other things.

In other other news, I had a fabulous school visit yesterday with a great class at P.S. 274 in Brooklyn. This visit was through the Behind the Book organization, which is a literary arts nonprofit group that does wonderful things in schools. If you'd like to help support them, please visit their website to volunteer or make a donation. The students I met with are working on creating their own books, and next week I get to go back and hear their first drafts and help them with revising! I can't wait; all of their ideas sounded very exciting and I know they are going to come up with some wonderful stories.

One last thing: I was up in Ithaca last weekend to visit some very dear friends, and I was shocked to discover that the Ithaca Bakery has stopped making my favorite cookies (chocolate chip walnut). They now only make regular chocolate chip, no nuts. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but those cookies are one of the things I really look forward to on my Ithaca visits, and I am greatly saddened to think that they are gone forever. If you live in Ithaca, please add your voice to mine in asking them to bring the walnuts back! I don't see why they can't make both kinds—with walnuts and without—and thereby keep all their devoted customers happy.