Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday sentiment: speaking music

Are you getting tired of alliteration? I think I am. : \

So Janet Reid posted this musical link (if you don't read her, you need to), and it's brilliant. Like flat-out, like Bobby McFerrin is cooler than cool, like humans are the bomb instead of bomb-makers (oooh, peacenik coming out). Plus, it makes me want to go back to music theory class. Music is a neglected part of my life, aside from listening to it. I used to speak it quite fluently.

Sigh. So much to do in the world! Write, read, teach, watch my kid grow, kiss my spouse, talk to you . . . never enough time.

Happy Saturday, friends. Enjoy the Robin Williams improv in that second link.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday fun: character names

In whatever I'm writing, characters are always driving the bus. If I don't have a handle on my character, nothing goes very far. Names are one of the ways I get in touch with my character--a name says a lot, of course. Mystery Manuscript (my work in progress, hereafter referred to as MM or WIP) has two alternating points of view/characters, and both are named, but one character is proving veeeery elusive right now. It's making things hard.

In the interest of learning more about YOUR favorite characters, I thought I'd post a couple of my favorite character names.

Minty Fresh--a side character in two of Christopher Moore's books, COYOTE BLUE and A DIRTY JOB, one of my fave books of ever. He's not what you'd think.

Stanley Yelnats--probably the best character name ever, because it's so simple but so clever, from Louis Sachar's HOLES. Stanley's one dedicated kid.

Dwight Schrute--from THE OFFICE--I'm not sure why, but his name just sums him up for me.

Furious Styles--Laurence Fishburne's character from BOYS N THE HOOD, John Singleton's 1991 debut film. If you haven't seen it, get thee to your Netflix queue! It's incredible (and there are heaps of stars in it).

So who are *your* favorite charcters?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday tension: help Lauren Myracle!

Scholastic has these big Book Fairs, right? My kid gets one in his school every fall and spring. Scholastic is refusing to stock Lauren Myracle's latest book, Luv Ya Bunches, because there is gay-friendly content (one character has two moms).

Silliness, no? Silliness that speaks to LARGER ISSUES WE HAVE TO STOP IN THIS SOCIETY! Come on, people! This is the 21st century. Humans have an unalienable right to love who they love, and caring parents are caring parents. End of story.

Do your good deed for today:
sign the petition here.

Edited on Wednesday: look what happened!

"UPDATE: After more than 4,000 members petitioned Scholastic Books, the company has responded that they will include Luv Ya Bunches in their Spring 2010 book fairs, and they've issued a statement affirming the dignity of LGBT families and LGBT parents around the globe. Congratulations, and thanks!"

YAAAAAY for the interweb! Yay for standing up! Yay for Lauren Myracle! Yay for two mommies!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday fortune-writing contest!

It's that time again . . . this fortune-writing contest will be open until next Friday, October 30, at midnight. Tell your family! Tell your friends! Tell book people!

The prize this time: a fantabulous copy of JAKE RILEY, IRREPARABLY DAMAGED, by (FTC full disclosure) my most wonderful friend Rebecca Fjelland Davis. Becky's next book, CHASING ALLIECAT--a tale of intrigue, love, and mountain biking--will be published in early 2011 by Flux--yay, Becky! Yay, Flux! For now, Jake and Lainey's story will intrigue you, upset you, delight you, and satisfy you. Plus, the writing's gorgeous--that's always important to me (and it should be to you, too!).

Here we are at the top of Blarney Castle in May of this year, waving at our students--yes, *that* Blarney Castle, and no, we probably don't need more blarney, but we went for it anyway. Maybe it's not OK to feature your friends' books on your blog, but if your friends won't promote you, who will? And I'm not the only one who thinks JAKE RILEY is a good book: read the reviews here. If you want to know more, Becky's web site is here and her blog is here.

So, for an autographed copy of JAKE RILEY . . . what's your advice?

Have a lucky day, friends. And happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday treasures: a sweet gift!

Look what Kelly Berkey made me! She works where I work, and she's an amazing jewelry designer. She can customize a charm for you, too--check out her Etsy store as well as her blog.

What a sweet, kind gift--and totally unexpected! I am wearing it today, combined with some fortune charms another sweet friend (Chelsea) gave me. On the back it says "author." Guess it's time to claim the label, huh?

Thank you, Kelly!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday seriousness: what I learned this week

This blog post is late, yes indeedy. Please forgive me. Internet connections have been brief and/or sketchy.

OK, so, in no particular order, here are the top five things I learned while I was on my barnstorming book tour of Nebraksa:

1) It still isn't OK to talk about girls kissing girls in Central Nowhere--far from it (see above image). But I did it anyway, and it felt good, and I loved looking at the shock on people's faces. In Eastern Nowhere, it was way easier.

2) I still want to be Mrs. Koch (or Mrs. Koch-Johns, as she's known now). She's still my best role model for being a loving, kind, kick-you-in-the-ass-at-the-same-time teacher. Love. Her.

3) I love high school students. Love them. Love how funny they are, how brave and shy, and how they're ready to learn stuff and engage with you. Love. Them.

4) People you haven't seen for 20 years will still support your book, even if they don't agree with the language or content.

5) I think I've opened a Pandora's box. And I'm OK with that.

(Bonus thing I learned: my family is really supportive! But I knew that already.)

Suffice it to say it was a good few days. Now it's time to work. Maybe even work on book #3!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday travels: barnstorming NE trip

Dun dun DUN! Morgan is revisiting the scenes of her crimes this week while I visit my hometown high school, a neighboring high school, and the high school of my favorite teacher. If anyone's interested, there are also book stores involved, to wit:

Thursday, October 15: Strawberry Patch, Cozad, NE: 3-5

Saturday, October 17: The Bookworm, Countryside Village Shopping Center (87th & Pacific), Omaha, 11 a.m.

I'd love to see you, and I'd actually tip over if you came up to me and said "gee, I saw the post on your blog, and so I'm here to meet you!" Anybody who does that gets a FREE BOOK!

Friday's post will be on the fly (har har, no pun intended), because there are no internet cafes in Western Nebraska (if there are no Targets, do you think there'd be internet cafes?) and my dad's dial-up service is unreliable.

Off to pilot the barnstorming biplane. Seeya!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday fandom: FOUR HOURS of book signing

This is a picture of my dear friend Al and his goddess Kathy Griffin. Al was # 710 (his friend Marissa was #711) in the line to have his book signed, in a Borders in the Loop of Chicago. Kathy Griffin signed books for FOUR HOURS. She is my new hero! She is also a huge celebrity and should expect a big crowd, but still . . . four hours? That's stamina. That's over-the-top kindness.

And Al said she took a moment for every person. Seriously--over the top in a way we rarely see--a *good* way. A kind way. The world needs more of that.

Check back next Friday for a new fortune contest. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday tunes: book soundtracks

I've seen a little chat about this in the blogosphere, and I don't know if other writers do this, but my books definitely have soundtracks. I can't live a day without music--I know that sounds like exaggeration, and it is, but it isn't. My day needs tunes. When I'm writing, I listen to specific kinds of music (for SKY, it was VH-1 Classic "We Are the 80s" videos, plus 70s music). When I 'm at the day job, I need music when I'm in my office. Sometimes I let myself listen to "book tunes," to remind me of my writing life.

Right now (like at this instant), I've got my Pandora set to Elvis Presley, crossed with Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Bill Haley & the Comets, to bring me early Elvis. Elvis is a pretty big force in my second book, BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, and I'm feeling lonesome for those characters right now (they're wandering around NYC), so Elvis tunes help. See those album covers? That's what I want my book cover to look like (or something that echoes them). If it was good enough for The Clash, it's good enough for me. When I was at home writing this book, I listened to "solid gold oldies," as my TV music channel called them, which also included a huge dose of Elvis. Me & Elvis have become quite tight.

Sometime I need to go to iTunes and make iMixes for Gabe, the main character of this book. His goal is to become a radio DJ, so he does all sorts of radio shows in the book. They'll make great iMixes.

Today, friends: listen to music! Elvis will do, if you can't think of anyone else. Now Pandora has given me the Beach Boys, "Sloop John B." Not so much. : \ Give me back "That's All Right"!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday follies: what happens in the library stays in the library

I am at a conference, for media specialists in K-12. Not so many people are interested in an edgy YA novel. So I'm in a public library, sitting next to a guy who's probably a little bit wasted (he smells like it), and he's looking at porn. And not just regular porn. Complicated porn. Complicated sexualities and positions, not that I'm looking, but there are big appendages flashing in the corner of my eye.

And I'm thinking--in the library? Obviously people don't get embarassed about much these days. But we still have Banned Book Week. Why?

I need to finish what I'm doing and get back to the conference. Have a good weekend!