Thursday, December 27, 2007

Miss Spelling

Is it just me, or does anyone else get a kick out of beating spellcheck? I'm not the world's greatest speller (ask anyone who has had to crit my stuff) and those little red dots under so many words is always annoying. A lot of the time, rather than having the Word dictionary fix a misspelled word, I'll try out different variations until the little dots disappear. Just a smidgen of satisfaction in a busy day.

Maybe I should get a hobby.

On this date: In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Waiting for the Big Guy

As of right now, Santa is in Virginia and we're tracking him on the Internet.

Just shows that no matter how old they get or how cool the presents are...they always end up in the box.

On this date: In 1809, Kit Carson was born.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Did you ever get to a point where any morsel of good news from someone else (no matter how wonderful and deserving the person) rubs on your heart like sandpaper until you feel like there's only a raw nub left inside? Did you ever get to the point where you looked up from the computer at all of the real, actual, published books on your shelf and say to yourself "Who am I kidding?" Did you ever read someone else's amazing first line and throw yourself on your bed in a fit of despair because you'll never write anything that good?

And then, did you ever start reading the chapter that you wrote late last night and you come across a sentence is so right and true and perfect where it is that you have to smile because you absolutely don't remember writing it? And then you put your cursor to the end of the word "faster" because that is where you left off and just let your fingers start typing whatever comes next. Did you ever do that? Because it's magic.

On this date: In 1949 two of the three Bee Gees were born.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Muddling Through The Middle

I haven't been saying much about the new book lately because I'm doing what I always end up doing when I'm writing - wandering around at 33,000 words until I figure out what's going to happen next. I switched a few scenes around to make the character arc work better and as soon as I smooth out the rest, I'll be back to staring at the blinking cursor and trying to figure out what is going to happen to Lucy now. I think I know the ending, I just have to get there.

Also, my freelance work kicked back in - which is good, but I'm crazy busy right now and counting the hours until the kids are home for a full two weeks with nothing to do (it's 17 1/2 hours, but who's counting). So, in a nutshell, my 1k per day is temporarily kaput. But not for long....

Maybe next time I should try an outline.

On this date: In 1957, Elvis Presley is drafted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

True Love

Everyone should feel as much love as the Big Hairy Dog had for his bear.

Unfortunately, after this photo was taken, I threw him in the trash because really, what else are you gonna do?

On this date: In 1865, slavery is abolished in America.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eclectic Reading

I know there are probably scores of publishing executives who sit around scratching their heads trying to figure out what kids are reading. I hope they never use my son as part of a focus group. Here is a sample of the books this ten year old checked out of the library last week:

Yes, among the choices are three books on the KKK, two on Adolph Hitler (he says he wants to know what makes people think like that), biographies of Stephen Spielberg, Magellan, Willie Mays, Ben Franklin and Wild Bill Hickock plus the 1950s series Little Pear. No wonder it is difficult to find him good Christmas presents.

On this date: In 1903, the Wright brothers made the first airplane flight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Indoor Snow

It's been a tough couple of days, so instead of talking about writing, today we're going to talk about something that makes me happy: snowglobes.

If you know me well, you know that I have about a hundred (or two) snowglobes that I used to display until we ran out of room (ie: the kids got bigger and needed more space). Most of them are in storage until I can get that long-dreamed about office of my very own. I do keep a few out, mostly older ones like these:

and these:

But today, I found something that makes me really happy - a pop-up snowglobe. It is so cool.

On this date: In 1999 Charles M. Shultz retires.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Giving In To The Holiday Spirit

I've been feeling a little humbuggy so we decided to put up the tree today. Just moments after the lights went on, our cat Fat Stanley took up his post at the base of the tree where he will remain (with a few short breaks) until I get sick of it all and take everything down on Dec. 27th.

We're a bit more hohoho than holy...even the stars on the top of the tree are held up by elephants. So, did it work? I'll let you know.

On this date: In 1915, Frank Sinatra was born.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Writer's Best Friend

I love my dog. Not just because he's the Best Dog In The World, but because he is the best writing partner a gal could have. When I'm stuck (like I am now on some elements of my Triplets story) I just roll my eyes toward his leash and we take off for a mind-clearing walk.

Today, I was dragging (okay, it might have been veering into a short bout of depression) over some story lines and other issues, so I called the BDITW and we suited up to go out. Now, walking with the BDITW is always done slowly. It is his duty to stop at every vertical object and dribble exactly three drops of pee. This gives one lots of time to think and stare off into the distance (because if you watch him, he gets annoyed). By the time we'd gotten to the third block I had gotten a pretty good idea, and by the time we rounded the corner toward home I had one of the major problems with the story mapped out. My heart felt lighter and the mood was lifted, all thanks to the BDITW. I wonder what people do who only own cats?

(As a thank you, I went to Costco and bought him a new pack of bully sticks. If you don't know what those are, go here.)

On this date: In 1936, Edward VIII abdicates the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Break for Your Sunday

My dad sends me stuff all the time, but this is hilarious:

Friday, December 7, 2007

One down...

From this:

To this (yay):

When we got outside after getting his haircut he says: "Hey, Mom - I have a new shadow!" Yes indeed.

On this date: In 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I spend a fair amount of time at various school-district meetings for my kids' school. I went to one sponsored by the California Teacher's Association last week and that had nice giveaways. Among the usual giveaways like pencils and rulers were these:

A bottle opener and a pill case. The weird thing is that nobody else found it particularly humorous.

On this date: In 1884, the Washington Monument was completed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Everything is just to the left of center today and I'm not sure why. Could be the fact that I had to try on a bunch of clothes for DH's holiday party. Or the not-quite-dead bird that Spike the one-eyed wonder cat left for me in the dining room. Or the fact that I taught J to play Nadia's theme on the piano and have now subsequently heard it 57 times in the past hour and a half. In any case, hopefully tomorrow will be a better version of today.

Agent Kristin Nelson had a great blog today about how an auction goes down step by step. It's the stuff dreams are made of. Or the stuff that keeps you awake at night wondering if it's ever going to happen.

On this date: In 1933, Prohibition ended. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Do You Read It?

I've started to sub my new YA chapters to my fabbo critique group. As I'm giving them a synopsis, one of the gals says "Oh, have you read XX? It sounds similar."

Now, to a writer, there is almost nothing so stomach-dropping as that sentence. One of my favorite threads on a Verla Kay's board was called Someone Wrote My Book - And Won A Newbery. Even though everyone writes a different book, blah blah blah, the last thing you want is to spend an enormous amount of time on a book that's just like something that is already out there. "But I'm different," you say. "Unique. This story has never been told before." Uh huh.

So I spent an hour or so frantically researching this book, and (whew), it's actually quite different. There are a few elements that are similar, but the focus in my book is in a different place. The only thing is, School Library Journal gave it a pretty stinko review (BookList did like it though), and some of their comments could apply to my book.

The $1,000,000 question is: should I read the book? The last thing I want is to "unintentionally internalize" someone else's work, but I'd hate to repeat someone else's mistakes.

On this date: In 1991, hostage Terry Anderson is freed in Lebanon after 2,454 days in captivity.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I really have nothing to say today. Enjoy these photos instead.

Oh the places we've been this year.

On this date: In 1977, Roots premiered.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green

Like the good Northern California girl that I am, I try to do my part for the environment. As soon as our 1996 VW Golf gives up the ghost, we are going to get a hybrid. I buy only recycled paper towels and napkins. We are slowly replacing our light bulbs with compact fluorescents. I tried to use earth-friendly dish washing soap. There is only one problem with most of these earth-friendly products - they are not as good as what they are trying to replace. You heard me - most of these products s**k.

The paper towels disintegrate at the slightest hint of water, ditto with the napkins. I hate hate hate the light that compact florescents give off (don't even try to tell me that they're the same). The dish soap was a bust because we were having to run every load twice because everything was still filthy. Kinda misses the point. I don't know about the hybrids - my friends that have them like them, except for the fact that Prius' are ugly. (Okay, rechargeable batteries seem to work, but let's ignore that for the sake of argument.)

The newest item on my list of earth-friendly-products-that-s**k are LED Christmas lights. They're not only NOT warm and inviting, they are positively aggressive. The powers that be (pun intended) decided that they should put LED lights on the giant tree in Union Square in San Francisco. That thing is so glaring that everyone was standing around shielding their eyes. Don't look directly at it - it will sear the retinas right off the backs of your eyeballs! It was awful. Today we were in San Jose at their big Christmas in the park. Hundreds of trees with earth-friendly LED aggressive soul-s**king lights. It was so depressing I had to get out of there.

Hey! You developers of earth-friendly products out there! I would love to help you save the planet, but you need to make things that are at least as good as what we are giving up.

Me personally, I'm putting up those big old fashioned power-grabbing C7 lights on our house this year. They're on a timer, so that they don't waste power by being on more than 4 hours a day. Happy Holidays.

On this date: In 1955 Rosa Parks ignited the bus boycott.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Shape of Things to Come

So I had my first experience with the whole boy-girl dichotomy today. A sample of things to come, no doubt. Mine is always the house with a bunch of kids who don't belong to me hanging around and eating my food. Today, two of the girls came in giggling and confessed that one of them had a "crush" on my ten-year old, J. Unfortunately, the first word out of my mouth was, "why?" Which set them off on another fit of giggling.

To me, he is an overhaired, stinky, dirty boy. Apparently he has other qualities that are being noticed by ten year old girls in his class. Eventually, I said that her having a crush on him sounded just fine to me. Then, she confided that he actually liked another girl in their class. News to me.

I think we need to sit down and have a talk. Not that talk - we actually had that talk two years ago - but the talk where we tell him how to treat girls and what will happen to him if he doesn't. It wasn't all that many years ago I was on the dating scene (actually, it was quite a few years ago, but it seems like yesterday) and I remember wishing that more moms had discussed some of the finer points with their sons. Now it's up to me.

The cool thing is that both the crusher and the crushee are great girls - smart, polite, just the kind of girls I always hoped he'd bring home. I just figured it would be a few years from now.

On this date: In 1947, the UN voted for the partition of Palestine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Joke of the Day

Q: Why was the snowoman pregnant?
A: Because she wanted to have chillldren.

(My seven year old swears he just made this up.)

On this date: In 1925, The Grand Ol Opry debuted.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

1k Per Day....That's All We Ask

I'm so excited! The new YA I'm writing involves a very specific mental disorder and I've been lurking around on websites for children of people who suffer from it. I sent an email to the website introducing myself and what I'm doing. Well, that put me in touch with two fabulous women who are very excited about the project and have agreed to be my sounding board, readers and the people who make sure that I keep the story real. It's a very emotional experience, and I feel like I've been entrusted to tell the collective story of the children who live with this problem. Heavy indeed.

On another note - I've found the secret to writing novels. Seriously. I read about this method and scoffed - I remember reading it out loud to DH and laughing at how ridiculous it is. Except this guy was right and it's very simple. Here it is:
When you're working on a book, write 1,000 words every day. Every day. No taking off for holidays, vacations, or illness. 1k every day. At some point - be it 5am or midnight, you have to sit down and write at least 1,000 words (I write down the running word count on the back of my notebook.) Often it ends up being more, but if all you can manage is 1k, it's all good. I think the original theory was to write for a specific time (3 hours I believe), but this adaptation is working for me just fine. So did I stay up until 1am on Thanksgiving so that I could get in my 1k? You betcha.

On this date: In 1942, Jimi Hendrix was born.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Potpourri

I'm still waiting to hear about my YA, so I'm amusing myself with other things in the meantime.

I had a date with my dad on Saturday night and he surprised me by taking me to see Jersey Boys in San Francisco. Frankie Valli was so his era, and though the show was great, the best part was sitting next to him with tears in his eyes as he watched. Now the kids have to listen to the show CD over and over again. Along with my singing.

My second grader had to answer a question from his teacher about whether he'd rather be the president or a movie star. Here, spelling and all, is his answer:

I would be a movistar because I don't like to write a lot and I can act really good. I don't whan't that much money. I love being a diferent guy. But I wan't to live in a regular house, not a manchon. I would like to sing otograf's.

It's a keeper.

On this date: In 1922, archaeologists enter the tomb of King Tut.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Old House

I live in a 1916 bungalow house here in Northern California. It sounds cute, and it is. Until you try to fix something (which is pretty much all the time). It is never easy.

We decided to put a French door between the living room and main hallway. (Okay, I decided because DH generally just goes along with my crazy plans.) You can see from the puttied-over hinge mortises that there was one there originally. The original owners were on to something, because as the kids get older, the noise level from the living room back to the bedrooms has increased proportionately. You'd think, not that big of a deal. You'd think.

We couldn't buy a door new, because all of the original interior doors are only 1 1/4" wide, but new doors are all 1 3/4" wide, so they won't fit. I went to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore yesterday to sniff around, and the very first door I spotted was perfect. Seriously, in a warehouse full of doors lined up sideways against the wall, I go right to this door that is the right style, the right width and even the right overall size. Like the creator himself was pointing me to that particular door. It was even a brand new blank, so it hadn't had any hinge or knob cutouts made in it. And then it didn't have a tag, so the guy says $60. PERFECT!

Because the house is so old, I have to special order big brass hinges for $15 each. No problem, I know just where to go. Then we try to buy knobs. Because the door is so narrow, you can't buy new knobs because they won't fit, but all of the old knob sets require that you cut out a big square in the edge of the door for a mortise lock. Hard. You can buy a special attachment to do this which costs around $900.

Basically, we're waiting for our very skilled builder friend to come home from Thanksgiving vacation and save us, because we haven't got a clue. But it's going to look awesome when it's done.

On this date: In 1978, Letterman first appeared on The Tonight Show

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Kidlit Writer's Thanksgiving List

In addition to the usual Thanksgiving items (wonderful family, amazing kids, nice roof over our heads), as a writer I have additional things to be thankful for. Here are some, in no particular order:

1. Agent E who doesn't mind (much) soul-searching emails that require occasional hand-holding.
2. Computers.
3. The Internet. How did anyone ever research without it?
4. Clarion Books, who bought my first PB pretty quickly. If they hadn't, I probably would have quit long ago.
5. Critique groups, both past and present, who value honesty over niceness.
6. Writing friends who "get it". All of "it".
7. That I'm a night owl. This way I can be assured of a few uninterrupted hours every day to write.
8. That DH is becoming a morning person. See above.
9. Hot baths on a cold night.
10. Verla Kay's Blue Board
11. In and Out Burger. Okay, I would be thankful for In and Out no matter what.
12. Karen English who encouraged me when my writing was crap.
13. Miss Snark. RIP.
14. Tivo.
15. The typing class I took in 8th grade.
16. Spellcheck.

Feel free to add your own - I'm sure I missed some.

On this date: In 1936, the first issue of Life Magazine is published.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cute Interlude

It's almost Thanksgiving, so in lieu of boring you with my current wordcount on the WIP, or how crazy I'm making myself with the waiting, or how I'm going to still keep up with 1k per day on my YA, even over the holidays....I'm sending you a photo of our new foster kittens.

All together now....awwwwww.

On this date: In 1947, Princess Elizabeth marries Philip Mountbatten.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Friday night is take out and video night around here. We watched Evan Almighty - which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I did take one important bit of Morgan Freeman's wisdom away with me.

When you need to be kind you aren't give kindness as a gift - you are given opportunities to practice kindness. When you need to learn generosity, you are given opportunities to be generous.

I think I really really needed to learn to be patient.

On this date: In 1863, Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Taking the Plunge

So I did it - I dove in today and wrote the first 2k of my new YA. I've been holding off getting into it, partly because it takes a while for the characters to gel enough to start writing, and partly because I'm waiting for Agent E's verdict on where the other YA rates on the crapometer. If it is going to need an overhaul, I don't want to be smack in the middle of something new - it's too hard to cross over. It's a lot like when Gil Grisham from CSI showed up on Without A Trace last week. Very disconcerting.

As I'm writing, I'm researching (I had to know what a person's face looked like after they'd been dead for oh, say, twelve to fifteen hours). If anyone ever stumbled on my laptop and checked the search history they'd be shocked. The upside is that Yahoo has everything. I got this as a pop up ad:
Find Holiday Bargains at Yahoo!
Low Prices on Face+of+Death!

Have a nice weekend!

On this date: In 1988, Benazir Bhutto is elected leader of Pakistan.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Playing Hooky

So yesterday we all caught a case of the Monterey-flu that has been going around. (Cough). The only cure for this is to take the kids out of school and head down the coast to Monterey Bay for the day. So in the name of health, and safety, we did.

Apparently, a random Wednesday in November is the best time to go, because it wasn't crowded at all. We went to the aquarium and saw some jellyfish:

And some more jellyfish:

And some more jellyfish (can you tell which part of the aquarium I like best?):

We sat and watched the fish feeding at 4pm. The boys thought this guy had the best job of all:

Actually, it wasn't just the jellyfish that called to us - it was my uncle too. He lives in Rhode Island and was in CA for business. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen anyone on that side of the family for over nine years - and I'm wondering why because it was really really great. He came up from LA with my cousin and we had a way too short dinner together.

The funny thing (and the one that confused the kids the most) was that we are all about 1/2 of a generation apart. I always pictured him in my mom's generation, but in fact, my uncle is only 11 years older than me. My cousin Jeff is 18 years younger than me, so he is slightly over 1/2 of a generation behind. The kids kept asking how we were all related, but I think they finally got it.

And Jeff, if you're reading this, live the dream a while longer. Your regular life will always be waiting. And I hope you come up to SF to visit soon!

On this date: In 1956, Elvis' first film Love Me Tender opened.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So Much Fun!

I just got back from a fun author signing in San Francisco at Not Your Mother's Book Club. It was so cool! Jay Asher (Thirteen Reason's Why), Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass), Bary Lyga (Boy Toy, Fanboy and Goth Girl) and Brian Mandabach (...Or Not) read and answered questions from the masses. The entire room heard my intake of breath when Ellen was talking about her new book that involves identical twins. My new YA involves identical twins, but apparently that's all they have in common. Whew. There is always that moment of panic when you hear about a book that runs in a similar pattern to yours. Especially one by a very good and famous author.

Jay had a fun reading and got quite a few laughs for such a serious book. I geeked out and had him sign my copy. I got to meet his wife, who was lovely (and I do mean lovely - what's with Jay that he is constantly surrounded by beautiful women?).

As I watched the four of them sitting there up in the front, I realized again how much I wanted to be up there too and how terrified I am of that prospect actually happening one day. When I do have an actual book out, and I have an actual reading in a bookstore somewhere, I'm positive someone will stand up in the back, point a finger and tell everyone that I'm an imposter.

So all in all, it was a very fun evening. Did I mention there was pizza? And little brownie-muffin thingies.

On this date: In 1968, my little sister was born. Happy Birthday Wend!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not a Fan of Holidays

Back when I had a real job, I loved holidays. One (or two) whole days to sit around and relax - ahhhh. Not so much now. Holidays represent one more day of the week when the kids are underfoot, I don't get anything done, and most editors and agents go quiet so there is no hope of a "good news" phone call. Even the email goes into holiday mode. It's a bummer.

Everyone was home from school today. As I work from home, I inherited an extra kid or two for the day. We went here:
Was it as crazy as it looks? Nah. Apparently, most people didn't realize they were open for the holiday and it was pretty empty. See that clover looking thing? That is the hot tub. I spent most of the day in the lower right-hand quadrant helping my BF J figure out how to make a move on the cute guy that was sitting in the corner reading a book. And she did! It was just like Jr. High all over again. Squeal!

Side note: I think I'm going to make it into the City tomorrow night to Books Inc. and the NotYourMother'sBookClub pizza party with fabbo authors including our favorite scribe Jay Asher. Squeal again!

On this date: In 1954, Ellis Island shut its doors.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Doing What They Want

It's always best not to mess with the characters in your head. They laugh at you if you try.

So far, I've got the premise for my new YA, I've got a pretty good handle on the main character and a shadowy idea of the other characters. Not bad, but I was having a hard time nailing down the setting. I was thinking (for reasons that will be revealed later) that it had to take place in a very cold and snowy location - the only problem being that I've always lived in California. So, in my front-brain, I'd decided that this was going to take place in Wisconsin or Minnesota. And then the movie stopped playing. I was getting no more information from my character, no more interesting little tidbits about why she was going to graduate at 17, why she changed her name, etc. Nothing. I started to wonder if the book wasn't going to work after all. I posted a setting question on the Verla Kay Blue Boards, and got wonderful feedback about writing locations that you know nothing about. My great writer friends convinced me that I was probably better off sticking to what I knew.

Last night, I started trying other locations on for size. East Coast? Please, my main character said.. (At least she was talking to me again.) Lake Tahoe? Nope, she said. Okay, I pleaded with her, how about forgetting the snow and setting it in the Bay Area? It gets cold here in the winter. Sometimes. Hmmm, she said. You're getting closer. Re energized, I started picturing different locations in San Francisco where I'd lived before. She seems to like one particular apartment in the Mission District, but we're negotiating between that and a house in the suburbs.

Now that I was doing what she wanted, she dumped a whole bunch of info on me while I was getting ready for bed. I'm so glad we're talking again.

On this date: In 1965, the Great Northeast Blackout.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's Off...

So I shipped the finished YA off to Agent Erin today - I should have an idea by the end of next week if it's a go or not. It's gotten good feedback from my critique people (thanks Nat!), so hopefully it won't need too much before it gets launched out into the world.

At the same time, Agent E gave me the go ahead on the next YA I want to do, which is great, but now I have to play butt in chair and start writing the thing. Its always hard to start, because I have the situation and the starting point, but the characters always reveal themselves slowly. This next one is going to take place in a very narrow time frame and in a very limited location so it should be interesting. I'll keep you posted.

On this date: In 1916, Jeannette Rankin becomes the first US congresswoman.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yard Doody Observations

I was taking my turn at yard-doody today when I saw something that tugs at every writer's heart. Two first grade girls were sitting on a bench at lunch reading amidst all the chaos. Being me, I was curious to see what they were reading, so I went over to check it out. They both had the same copy of Magic Tree House, turned to the same page. One of the girls couldn't read very well, so she was following along in her book while the other girl read out loud from her book. It was so adorable I almost got misty. They told me how much they loved the MTH books, and that when they were done with this one, they were going to go back and read number 5 because they couldn't remember what it was about. Sniff.

On this date: In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President.

Monday, November 5, 2007

And You Thought Baseball Was Ridiculous...

Check out soccer with the hair people!

There are rumblings of haircuts in the near future - I'm all over it.

On this date: In 1935, Parker Brothers released Monopoly.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Art and Life and Art

My MG has a scene in it where the MC runs away to an RV that is in his neighbor's yard. I even called my mom, who has an RV, to see if this would be possible, and what systems would run quietly enough so that it wouldn't be noticed. A few months after I finished the book, there was a news story about a 13 year old who had run away, only to be found a few days later in - you guessed it - his neighbor's RV. I figured that people would think I copied the story, but I swear, I thought of it first!

The newest YA that I just finished has a scene where the bad guy hacks into the university computer system and "sells" better grades to his frat brothers (and gives bad grades to our heroine). I open the SF Chronicle today to see a story, yup, on two guys who just got convicted for hacking into a university computer system and selling better grades to their friends.

Once is a coincidence - twice is a conspiracy. Would all of the newsmakers please get out of my computer!

On this date: In 1983 the Martin Luther King holiday is declared.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Procrastination Olympics

If there were medals given for the procrastination decathlon, I'd win gold every time. I had several hours this morning to work on the new piece and I managed to write exactly twelve words of the synopsis I've promised Agent E. There were issues.

First off, I couldn't figure out what that weird smell was in the boys room. Finally traced it to some rank sneakers that had to be thrown in the wash. In order to do that, I had to finish drying and folding the load that was in the dryer so that the load that was in the washer could get transferred. That ate up somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes. Then I had to talk on the phone for awhile. When I finally sat down, I spent a good hour on the baby names websites trying to hit on just the right name for my MC. After websurfing, I discovered that I didn't have anymore blank notebooks. I need one-subject ruled notebooks with pockets for notes, musings and doodles for each new book. That meant I had to go to Target to get some more. As I am rarely in Target alone, I had to go to pretty much every department and look at everything before paying for my notebooks and one air freshener (see shoes above). By the time I got home, it was lunchtime and blog-visiting time.

I did manage to come up with a really nice opening sentence and figured out that although she is a senior in high school, my MC is only sixteen because she skipped second grade. Still not completely sold on the name, but we're going with Lauren for now. She seems to like it well enough.

On this date: In 1512, the Sistine Chapel opened to the public.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh the Horror!

Knives were flying, guts were spilling out everywhere - screams could be heard for miles around! The kitchen was covered in gore from one end to the other while the children laughed maniacally, digging in with spoons and hands. The smell of sulfur hung in the air, lending an olfactory element to the carnage...

Happy Halloween!

On this date: In 1938, Orson Welles broadcast "War of the Worlds".

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Left Brain?

I've started researching my next YA project and it is taking up a large part of my brain. I can't stand not actively working on something, so even though the other YA is out for critique I had to jump right in. The main character is the daughter of someone with a very specific, but disturbing mental disorder and I've spent the entire day on websites devoted to this disorder, immersing myself with both the patients perspective and that of the children of patients. I found a great site that had 200 comments from children of people with this disorder and it was amazing to get this insight. Fascinating, but I know that I'm going to be dreaming of this for the next several weeks.

The funny thing is, this isn't really the project that my left-brain wants to do. My left-brain would love to come up with a super-commercial, easily accessed piece that would be a quick sale. My right-brain says no. My right-brain is busy channelling all sorts of information on this quirky family, from names to the bits and pieces that make up this disorder. I was in the tub last night, when it suddenly hit me that the MC (who doesn't have a name as yet) actually renamed herself in middle school so that she could distance herself from this family. I have no idea what her given name is, or the name that she chose for herself, but I do have this one piece of information. I guess I can only be trusted with small pieces at one time.

On another topic - I have to brag about my wonderful agent Erin Murphy. She was just named the 2nd highest selling kidlit agent on Publisher's Weekly's new Top Dealmakers feature. We're so proud of her! Finally, I'm in with the cool crowd. Now if she'd only get that website we've all been talking about.....

On this date: In 1929 the stock market crashed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

It Takes a Village

It has been said that you can't write in a vacuum - well you can, but it's crowded. I like to think that you can't revise in a vacuum.

As I've been tweaking, pummeling and deleting, I've had to call on my army of technical advisers. There's my friend's bomb-squad police hubby for the jail scenes, my eighth grade reader for correct use and overuse of slang, and above all, my fabbo 20 year old sister who has the knowledge - or will get it- of everything currently college. Thinking of using U2 in concert in the book? Uh, no. Apparently Incubus is the band of choice. Big floor parties in the dorms? Not done anymore. Who knew? She's getting back to me on the correct frat house to use for one particular scene.

Now, it's off to my readers. Yay!

On this date: In 1881, the Shootout at the OK Corral.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Unfairness of it All

I read in the paper today where Microsoft purchased a stake in FaceBook, and now the 23 year-old creator is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 billion.

This, while my wonderful teacher friend is thinking of quitting because she can never afford to buy a house on a teacher's salary and most writers I know get to do it as a hobby because they can't make enough to quit their day job.

I'm going to bed now.

On this date: In 1881, Pablo Picasso is born.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Writing Wisdom

Today's lesson: Find and replace.

This magic feature on MS Word can be a godsend when you can't decide what a character's name is. You can just go through the whole MS and make the name change 217 times with a press of the button.

Word of caution: You must go back and read the entire MS after using this cool tool. It will replace anywhere that it sees this letter combination, not just in the character's name. Say that you wanted to change a character's name from, oh, I don't know, Ana to Amanda. It will do this for you. It will also come up with fabulous new word combinations such as - mAmandage, marajuAmanda, and my favorite, explAmandation.

On this date: In 1901, the first barrel ride over Niagra Falls

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Two Sweetest Words

Last night at 11:38, I got to type the most favorite words in any writer's rather extensive vocabulary - The End. Lexi got out of jail, Ezra came through in a pinch, and Caleb...well I can't tell you what happened with Caleb. You'll just have to read it. Yes, I've finished the first draft of my new YA, and it feels great.

So what happens when a writer finishes a novel? I suppose that there is a writer somewhere who knows perfection when they see it and emails the MS directly to their agent. Then they close the laptop with satisfaction and pour themselves a glass of wine. I don't know any writers like that, and if I did, I wouldn't hang out with them much.

Finishing a novel just means that you get a temporary feeling of satisfaction until you get up the next morning and open the file to page one all over again. It now has to be kneaded and pummeled into shape - characters need to be inserted in pivotal moments and your finger needs to be heavy on the delete key. Luckily, I did a lot of revising when I switched from third to first person and my crit group has seen a good portion of it. Now, I just have to go over it all again and send it to my crit buddy (who will be owed a favor of monumental proportions) for an emergency whole-MS critique.

I said I would get it to Agent E by November 9th, and lo and behold, I just might!

On this date: In 1971, Disneyworld opened.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Family Field Trip

Today was a teacher thingy at school, so the kids had the day off. Rather than hear them whine about how bored they were, we all took the day off and headed into San Francisco.

If you hit the right couple of days in October, you will find the best weather of the year in the Bay Area. First we hit Golden Gate park for the cement slides.

After lunch at my favorite taqueria on Haight Street (and a stop in J's favorite bookstore), we headed for the beach.

Some of us were having so much fun, we jumped for joy.

Hope you had a good Monday.

On this date: In 1797, the first parachute jump is made from a balloon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tell Me What You Really Think

T (age 7) peering intently at me: Hey! There's a bunch of lines on your face.
Me (age withheld): Yeah. That's because I'm old.
T: You're not old. You just stayed in the water too long.

On this date: In 1961, the movie West Side Story debuted. No, I wasn't there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why by blogger buddy and all-around good guy Jay Asher is officially out tomorrow. I've instructed my local bookseller to stock it so that I could buy my copy from them, and I know that they went to meet Jay last week at the No Cal Booksellers Assn. I don't know about you, but I'm going to have my very own midnight-release party in which I'm going to play old cassette tapes of bands with members that I used to date, and then run to be the first in line at World of Books when they open. It's cold here and rain is forecast, but the sacrifice is worth it.

I actually had my hands on an ARC at one point, and Jay let me read the first chapter before I had to hand it back. I can't wait to curl up and read the whole thing. I suggest you do the same.

On this date: In 1989, a 7.1 earthquake struck San Francisco (I remember it well).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weekend Musings Part Deux

I had said that my weekend suddenly turned busy, but I didn't mention Sunday. On the same fateful fieldtrip, another friend invited me on a day-long limo tour of Napa that she'd bid on at our school auction earlier this year, so Sunday morning found me climbing into a limo (my first ever, after all these years - I got married under a tree in a state park, no limos) with five other gals for a really fun day.

So we were sitting on the deck at the Mumm's Champagne Tasting Room on a gorgeous day talking about girl stuff (if you don't know what that is, I'm not the one to enlighten you), and the talk turned to husbands (as it tends to). One of the gals told a story about her husband's family that had me sitting there with my mouth open, and not just because it was a good story. Then, another friend said that the same thing had happened in her family, and then another friend said it had happened in hers too. The amazing thing was that it was the very subject that I'd been struggling with in my MG. I'd been thinking of changing a major plot-point in case it wasn't realistic enough - and then out of nowhere, three out of the six of us had had that very thing happen in their families.

The universe says keep it the way it is.

On this date: In 1976, Disco Duck topped the charts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bear Territory

In a few short moments, our whole weekend went from one lonely little soccer game to crazy busy. One of the Dads on Friday's fieldtrip leaned over and asked me if I wanted his six tickets to the Cal football game on Saturday as they couldn't go. Um, yeah. So in short order we were surrounded by 63,000 screaming football fans. The energy was amazing and it was so cool to have that psuedo-college experience again. I went to a UC, but it didn't end in "B", and we had a tiny little football team. I took lots of mental notes for the new WIP. One of the characters in the new book is a football player, so now I've figured out a great place to put a football game - right at the end, and it's going to be cool.

They didn't win (at the very last minute), but it was amazing. The only trouble is that the kids are now bugging me to play football. No way. Go Bears!

On this date: In 1951, I Love Lucy debuted.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Eavesdropping for Research

I spent most of the day in a car with five 10 year-olds, driving in the pouring rain for a tour of the Capitol Building in Sacramento. It's always an enlightening experience spending that much time in a confined space (2 1/2 hours each way!) with kids that you're not related to. Well, one that you are related to, but who prefers to pretend otherwise. One of the girls actually brought a book to read - a fantasy novel that I'd never heard of. I started thinking what kind of book I could write that would get each kid to pick it up. For research, I started asking them. Sports, action-adventure, and fantasy were all high on the list. I couldn't pin them down any more than that, but it's a start.

Later this evening, I was standing in line at the pharmacy behind two high school girls. When they weren't texting or talking on the phone, it was really interesting to eavesdrop on their conversation. Want to know what it was? Which celebrities are pregnant and by whom. I started thinking what kind of book I could write that would keep them interested, and toying with some plot lines in my head.

I like this new exercise - what kind of book could I write that would get that kid to read it?

On this date: In 1938, production started on the Wizard of Oz.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Horrors of Halloween

So I was standing there in the Halloween superstore this afternoon with my age hanging out.
That's disgusting. You can't be that for Halloween.
I'm not paying $50 for a few tacky pieces of fabric and rubber.
You can't see out of that. That mask will last all of three seconds.

And the dreaded:
Back when I was a kid, we made our own costumes.

In the end, we compromised and bought some accessories and I'm going to help them make the rest. Another Halloween disaster averted. I'm starting to long for the days of superheroes and cute fuzzy lions. Now we're stuck with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a big hairy Werewolf.

On this date: In 1985, Orson Wells died.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Inspirational Quote of the Day

I'm inching along on my WIP, making a little progress everyday. I'm re-reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott for inspiration and I forgot how much I love this quote until I came across it last night.

On writing:
It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. - E. L. Doctorow

On this date: In 1940, John Lennon was born.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saving Quarters

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a bunch of writers at the conference in San Luis Obispo. Cecil Castellucci was telling us a story about her parents and the unique way they spend their anniversary. It was a great story, one which I won't repeat here, because as you will see, I don't own it.

When she finished explaining it, all of us nodded, and we all recognized the look in each others eyes - we were all trying to figure out where we could use that in a current or future piece. Someone finally said that since it was Cecil's story, it belonged to her and we all laughed and agreed, yeah, that we wouldn't use it, because by rights it did belong to her.

I've been thinking about this a lot. Writers don't use paints, or other scraps in our artwork - we use ideas. It's dangerous when there are a bunch of writers in a room and someone tells a good story or something funny happens - we all want to file it away to use it later. It's a lot like finding a quarter face-up on the sidewalk. If you know who it belongs to, by rights you have to appreciate it and then hand it back. If you don't, then everyone can jump on it and spend it on whatever they want.

On this date: In 1871, the Great Fire destroyed much of Chicago.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Waiting For A Flood

J went outside this morning and reported: "If you breathe in real deep, you can smell Halloween." So true.

I can also tell that it's fall because of the hundreds of catalogues that have been appearing in my mailbox. Each time I peruse one from J.Jill, J Crew, or even Lands End I get more and more depressed. Not because of the cost (although sometimes because of the cost), but because I usually can't order anything out of a fall/winter catalogue. Or even buy anything at a regular store. Summer is my season. Crop pants, short sleeves - bring it on. When we get into long pants and sweaters, I'm in trouble. You see, I'm not normal.

At least, that is what the people who make clothes think. I have a 36" inseam and a 73" wingspan (I know because I just measured). Almost nobody makes pants or sleeves that fit. I've spent my life waiting for a flood and having frostbitten wrists, see:

I'm the one on the left with the groovy Dorothy Hammill haircut, Earth shoes and pants that are about 6 inches too short. I was 5'10" when I was 12 and was not only taller than most of the other 7th graders, I was taller than most of the teachers.

And before you start in with the being-tall-is-so-cool stuff, let me tell you, it's not. Not only can I not buy anything off the rack (Gap makes jeans in Ultra Talls, but they don't make that many of them and you can only get them online), don't even get me started on sitting in coach for 12 hours on the way to London. But, you say, I just saw a picture of you and Mary Hershey on your blog a few weeks ago - you don't look like a giant. Here's a secret - I always scrunch down in photos. Because I'm a giant. On the up side, being called things like "Flamingo Legs" all through middle school is great fodder for writing angst-ridden middle grade fiction.

Speaking of my writer buddy and cousin-by-agent Mary Hershey, you must go to her blog and see the video that she emailed me. I've watched it about 7 times and it makes me smile every time. Awesome.

Have a nice weekend. I'm NOT going shopping.

On this date: In 1961, Breakfast at Tiffany's opened.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lisa Yee and Randy Pausch

I'm reading Millicent Min - Girl Genius by Lisa Yee right now (yeah, it's great), so I've been hanging out at her blog. Plus, the discomermaids know her and love her, and they're not often wrong.

Her newest post contains video of Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch giving a lecture on September 18th. It was titled "The Last Lecture", as he only has a few weeks to live before dying from pancreatic cancer. He says not to cry, but I have to admit misting up, particularly when they showed a photo of him with his three little kids.

He sounds amazing, and one thing he said really hit home. He talks about brick walls, and how they are not our enemy. They are there for us to prove how badly we want something. They are there for OTHER people who will give up when they come to one. I'm going to replay that video whenever I'm feeling maudlin. And like one of the OTHER people.

On this date: In 1957, Leave It To Beaver premiered.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Retreat Mania!

I keep hearing about all of these great retreats and I'm crazy jealous. Big Sur in December, and another retreat in Marin around the same time. Both of these pose a problem with DH's travel schedule - December is notoriously wicked for business travel around here.

I'm thinking that I might stage my own retreat. Maybe in nice Ramada Inn somewhere near a strip mall that can keep me in submarine sandwiches and Cold Stone Sweet Cream and Reeses Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. No view, no shopping, no sights: nothing to distract me from writing. Okay, maybe a teeny tiny hot tub. I'm trying to finish the YA in the next few weeks, and I think that early November might be a good time for a hard round of revisions. The annual CynJay Revisions and Reeses Writer's Retreat. I'm liking it.

On this date: In 1967, Woodie Guthrie died.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lima Gets the Thumbs Up

DH got home from Peru today, and had nothing but raves about Lima. One of the guys took him around the city a couple of times and he really thought it was great. He has to go back in December, and he said that it's one place he won't mind spending more time in. Apparently, they eat a lot of meat in Lima, which to DH is the sign of a good city.

He had the same reaction when he went to Prague. And of course, he grew up in England, so London is always on the list. There are several other cities that have not elicited a favorable reaction, but I won't name them for fear of offending anyone living in those cities.;)

I mention this because, in his line of work it is entirely possible that we could up and move somewhere for awhile so that he can work on a project. It would require mammoth adjustments (Big Hairy Dog being a main one), but I just might be convinced, depending on where it is. Heck knows, in my line of work, I can live anywhere.

So now, Lima is on the list.

On this date: In 1951 Sting (Gordon Sumner) was born.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Best Book Ever! - J

This is ten year-old J's favorite new possession of all time:

If you have a boy (or a man) in your life, get them this and they will love it. Now J is equipped to handle everything from making a go-cart to playing marbles to understanding girls (well, maybe not the girls part, but he did read the chapter).

This book was a hit in Britain last year, and they made a few changes to it for America. The chapter on cricket now contains baseball information, although they can still learn about rugby which makes DH very happy (being an English boarding-school alum and all).

On this date: In 1890, Yosemite National Park was created.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pitfalls (and Benefits) of Working From Home

Many of you know that I've been writing freelance web articles for awhile now. You can't find them under my name because I don't write web content under my name. The pen name for my web-based alter ego is Kat DeLong. You can google it and find some of the stuff I've done recently (no, I'm not the realtor in the Sierras), mainly for, and

I mention this because today T was home with a bad sore throat (better now, thanks). I had two more quizzes to finish under deadline, so he was left to watch cartoons while I worked. I was writing a quiz on working from home, when I realized that if I took it, I'd probably fail. I didn't have alternate childcare for days that I had to work, I did miss the social interaction of an office (sometimes), and I was (gulp) working at the dining room table. But, in the end, I finished my work, and T was able to stay home when he didn't feel well, which is really the point when you think about it.

I have to go watch cartoons now. I wonder if he'll let me watch Hannah Montana with him later.

On this date: In 1997, I got married! Happy 10th Anniversary B!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Staring Into the Abyss

So I did it, and I remembered why I like to revise so much. I've revised all 148 pages of my YA manuscript into first person and have now caught up to the blinking cursor that is new material. Yikes. See, in order to revise, you have to have vised in the first place, which means that at least you have a jumping off spot. Right now, I'm just winging it, and it's not easy.

When I explained to Discomermaid Robin that I felt like my characters had lives of their own, and I just basically wrote down the movie in my head, she looked at me like I was crazy. I think she actually said I was crazy too, but I'm not sure. This is one of those things that I thought was universal - I thought everyone wrote that way - but apparently it is not. Now, the movie doesn't run without a little prodding. I have to give some stage directions.

Like now, Lexi is on the phone while she's at the jail, but I'm not sure who she is talking to. I basically try on different characters until one feels right. Is she talking to Alyssa? Nope. Trevor? Nope. Jessica? Hmmm. Maybe. But why? Its a lot like the book is already written, and I have to figure out what happens before the movie starts to play again. And characters will refuse to say or do things that aren't right to them, regardless of what I think. If they don't like the name I've given them because it is my favorite girl name that I never got to use in real life, I have to change it. If they decide that they would rather be slobs than have the case of OCD that I had planned, I have to acquiesce.

Does that make sense? No? Maybe I really am crazy.

On this date: In 1990, the X rating in films was replaced with NC-17.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Long Distance Parenting

DH is on a business trip in Peru right now. Before he left he installed some Skype thingamajig on my laptop that lets us make video phone calls. He called tonight and after a few minutes of messing with the cords - boom, there he was on my laptop screen. The kids really got a kick out of it and kept grabbing things to show him on the screen. After a while it was time for them to get ready for bed, but they were so wound up they weren't listening (like that's new). The funniest part was him telling the kids to go brush their teeth, and then counting to three from his hotel room 4,529 miles away. Ah, technology.

On this date: In 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was integrated.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cool Chapter Titles

I just finished Cecil Castellucci's new book Beige (which was great, BTW). She uses old punk songs as chapter titles, which gave me a great idea for chapter titles in the new YA I'm working on. No, not punk songs, but close.

Pet Peeve of the Moment: People saying that someone dropped the "f-bomb". Or the "s-bomb" or any other bomb that does not involve actual explosives. I heard it said this weekend on a political talk show, and once the pundits get hold of a contemporary saying, you know it's over.

On this date: In 1961, I Love Lucy aired its last episode.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Potpourri

Being as I pay most bills online I don't go through many stamps. I did have to go and buy some today and I got the coolest Superheroes stamps:

It was so hard to choose which ones to stick on the letters. Choices are difficult sometimes.

On another note, there is a new movie out called Dedication that I'm sure I would hate. It is about a picture book writer who (of course) is having trouble meeting his Christmas deadline for his new book. He and his illustrator take the first half of the movie trying to come up with ideas and illustrations. When the illustrator dies, the publisher loans the writer and the new illustrator (Mandy Moore) his posh Sag Harbor digs so that they can collaborate - she gets a fat bonus if they meet the deadline. I'm so sure.

First off, most of the time, you never meet your illustrator, much less collaborate together on the next book. Second off, these people seem to have lots of money, which only lends credibility to the rumor that if you write one picture book, you're rich. Hang butler has a question. No, not the blue Rolls. The silver one for tonight's outing. Thank you Jeeves. Anyway...being as each party usually gets a few thousand dollars advance for a book, I can only imagine what her fat bonus will be.

One of my favorite movies was Elf, but they do the same thing. Picture book writers = big money, learjets, and a house in the Hamptons. On the other hand, Stranger Than Fiction was quite enjoyable and not very annoying. Now I know why my mom, an emergency room nurse, could never watch Emergency with us on TV. Squad 51, squad 51...see the man on the corner of....

On this date: In 1866, H.G. Wells was born.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jena, LA

Armadillo Season, my MG that is out with editors right now, is largely about race and how people react when the object of the racism is one of their own. It is set in a small Texas town that was all white until recently, when a black family moved in. The "N" word makes an appearance, and it is necessary when it does, as it flows from the mouth of a very racist grandfather. Colored is what he says when he is being nice.The local sheriff acts differently when the same infraction is committed by a white kid and a not-so-white kid.

I've had one editor comment that it felt like a period piece set in the 1950s, because racism like that doesn't happen in this day and age. I've spent a lot of time in a little town much like the one in the book, and I had to disagree - it does.

Enter Jena, Louisiana. It is all over the news today because of a racial divide in this southern town, complete with nooses hanging from trees and civil rights marches. I just heard a radio interview with a pastor in Jena, who didn't understand what the fuss was about - she loved all those nice colored people in town. Yes, she used the word colored. Repeatedly. In 2007.

I hate to say it, but I told you so.

On this date: In 1975, David Bowie hit number one with "Fame."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I'm sitting here watching a documentary on TV. It happens to be on a subject that I'm thinking of tackling for my next book and it's fascinating. No, I know I'm not done with my current WIP, but you always have to be looking ahead. And yes, I'm forbidden to do any actual work on it until I have the current manuscript to Agent E.

When I saw that this show was going to be on, I got almost giddy. Both because it was a chance to learn about a really interesting subject, and because it was like a sign from the universe that I'm on the right track with the next piece because it's an unusual subject, and there it was! Right on my TV. One of the people in this documentary is definitely going to be the model for the character in the book. It's so helpful when you can actually picture a person when you're writing. Too cool. I can't wait.

On this date: In 1960, Chubby Checker's The Twist hit number one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Enough Hours In The Day

And the list grows longer. One of the things I did while I was in SLO was buy a few books that were on offer from the authors who were there. Now I have a giant list of mainly YA that I'm dying to read. They include (in no particular order):
Beige by Cecil Castellucci (currently on my bedside table)
Fat Kid Rules the World by KL Going (ditto)
Everything I Needed To Know About Being a Girl ...edited by Jennifer O'Connell (that too)
Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci
Milicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Runaway by Wendelin Von Draanen
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (I can't wait until next month)
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Flush by Carl Hiaasen (J told me I had to)

These are just the pile that I have sitting near me right now. Being as I only have about 30 minutes a day to read, it is a little daunting. The more cool authors I meet, the more I want to add their books to my list. Maybe instead of going to conferences, I should just stay home and read.

On this date: In 1970, Jimi Hendrix died of an overdose at the age of 28.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Weekend Away

Where to start? I had an amazing writerly weekend at the Central Coast Writer's Conference. The Discomermaids were as gorgeous and generous and fabulous as always. The great thing about hanging out with the DMs is that they attract other fabulous people that you get to hang out with as well. Such as?

Such as the wonderful (and teeny - I was the Jolly Green Giant next to her petiteness) Cecil Castellucci. By sheer coincidence, I had just started her new book Beige, so it was even cooler. I adore Mary Hershey, and she gave a great seminar on humor that made us work for her wisdom so that it stuck. Here we are hanging out:

Jay was so busy being wonderful that he had his nametag stand in for photos.

But then he finished his seminar and showed up in the coolest shirt.

He let me fondle his last ARC for Thirteen Reasons Why and I managed to cram in one chapter before I gave it back. I'm going to go and preorder my copy as soon as I'm done here. His comparison of Pat the Bunny to current YA is not to be missed. Not only that, but he can even make Moon Over My Hammy pretty:

Then, to top it all off, the gang invited me along to dinner with them and wonderful agent Laura Rennert. The waiter's confused look was priceless once Eve and Robin started riffing on him. Talk about thinking on your feet! He never had a chance. We sat outside among the fairy lights and talked about everything. Because I love Agent E, I had nothing at stake and was able to really enjoy hanging out with Laura. If you ever have the chance to work with her, run, don't walk, because she is seriously fabulous.

I stayed at Robin's house with her amazing (ok, I'm running out of adjectives here, but they are all true) and talented hubby and adorable merboy. They put up with me for two whole days, and even took me for a walk by the beach.

The DMs are as great as they seem. Not once did I feel like the fourth wheel on their tricycle, and it is so nice to see all of the love and support they give each other. I'm already saving my pennies to go to the national conference in LA next summer. It was one of those weekends where you wish you could hit rewind and do it all over again.

On this date: In 1965, The Smothers Brothers debuted.