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Talking Writing and Locked Doors...Oh and Also Peach Cake

Today I took a turn at the great Nerdy Book Club, where I talked about how writing in a group setting (even a classroom) doesn't always work so well for everyone. Here it is.

And here's a completely gratuitious (but so delicious) piece of peach cake from my little town of Baltimore.


Your Turn to Write!

If you have or know children or teens (or extraordinarily precocious toddlers?) who love to write, send them to the Society of Young Inklings site. I created this month's writing prompt. The theme? Growing up. Entries have a chance of being published online. That's better than a hundred sky-blue snowballs, right? Possibly not. But it's still pretty good.


ALA Chicago! The Rodeo...

The American Library Association annual conference took place this weekend. My husband's a librarian and we've gone as a family several times, so this wasn't my first ro-de-o, but it was the first time I was issued my own hat and reins.

On Friday night, I met up with Alison Cherry (RED) at my hotel, and we walked the streets of Chicago to an author/blogger meetup at M Lounge. (I can attest firsthand to the greatness of the shoes Alison has picked out for her October launch party, by the way. I decided this weekend that while women authors still lean toward the basic for their clothes, they give themselves full rein on shoes. The ABRAMS authors alone sported some seriously great footwear.) That night, I got to meet Erica Lorraine Scheidt (USES FOR BOYS), editor/author Wendy McClure (who it turns out knows my mother through Laura Ingalls Wilder channels), Christa Desir (FAULT LINE), and many other wonderful authors, librarians, editors, and bloggers.

Saturday started with a signing at the ABRAMS booth. I was so happy to arrive and find Tamera Will Wissinger (GONE FISHING) waiting to say hi--we'd never met in person. And thanks to Nerdy Book Club celebrity friends Colby Sharp, Donalyn Miller, and Katherine Sokolowski for swinging by and posting photos. (These folks are the most profound book champions you've ever met.) Here's one of their photos:

Laura Mihalick, one of the fiercely organized and incredibly kind ABRAMS publicists (who also always seems to have the loveliest and most subtle nail art going on), was to my left, keeping things moving.

That afternoon, ABRAMS' Steve Tager drove Lisa Greenwald (MY SUMMER OF PINK AND GREEN--and more) and me to Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL. There, I had an event with Lisa and four other wonderful middle-grade writers: S.S. Taylor (THE EXPEDITIONERS), Claire Caterer (THE KEY AND THE FLAME), Tim Federle (BETTER NATE THAN EVER), and Margaret McNamera (SYLVIA AND THE FAIRY BALL). Here I am with Claire, Tim, and Nancy Cavanaugh (THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET), all of whom I've known online for some time, via the debut authors group The Lucky 13s. (A brief shout-out to real-life meetings, by the way. These friends were great to know virtually, but it's even greater to know them in 3D.)

Saturday night I went to the charming purple house that belongs to Elizabeth Fama (MONSTROUS BEAUTY) and her creative, inspirational family. I could have stayed all night, talking to people: Laura Golden (EVERY DAY AFTER), Steph Kuehn (CHARM & STRANGE), Liesl Shurtliff (RUMP), the great John Schu, many wonderful Nerdy Book Club friends, and so many others...

(I'm sort of in a panic, worrying that I'm leaving people out. I probably am. This rodeo weekend was a dusty blur, with occasional bursts of bright clarity.)

Sunday brought two ABRAMS events: a lunch and a book buzz panel. I hung out with A.G. Howard (SPLINTERED), Lisa Greenwald again (feels like I've known her forever, actually--she's lovely), Gareth Jones (CONSTABLE AND TOOP) and his fierce ukelele, Andrea Beaty (DORKO THE MAGNIFICENT), and Lauren Myracle (THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US). I finally got to meet Amulet publisher Susan van Metre and spent more time with my excellent editor, Maggie Lehrman. ABRAMS' Jason Wells continues to impress me with his ability to know (and be known and respected by) almost every single person on a conference floor. Somehow I missed seeing the hilarious Tom Angleberger (ORIGAMI YODA, etc.) again and meeting his wife, Cece Bell.

Sunday night, my husband, son, and I went to the Shedd Aquarium for LIBRARY JOURNAL's party awarding the Howard County Public Library (a stone's throw from where we live in Baltimore) its Library of the Year award. Congratulations to them! There we talked to many great librarians and saw lots of interesting sea creatures, including the pig-like hogfish, a creature so creepy looking, I will feature it here by link only.

Before peeling out of town and back to Baltimore on Monday, we admired The Rookery and its gorgeous metalwork.

Then we breezed through the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, bought Garrett's Popcorn and Intelligentsia coffee, and scored a full-on Chicago hot dog outside the Field Museum. (Can someone please tell me what a "sport pepper" is?)

Our last stop was the University of Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, where we took a photo of our son, who's now 14. When I started writing GENIE WISHES, he was just 9. Constructing LEGO models of the Robie House has been replaced by...well, just visiting the Robie House.

I'm home now, the dust is settling, and routine is once again replacing rodeo. But the house's store of ARCs and bookmarks has been replenished, as has my faith that the world of books remains alive and well--not just in the great city of Chicago, but everywhere. Librarians, booksellers, teachers, editors, publishers, publicists, readers, and fellow authors--even when you're quiet, your enthusiasm for what you read and do is as wild and powerful as the bucking-est bronco. Thanks, and hope to see you again soon.


Board Game!

Recently, a friend sent me photos of the GENIE WISHES board game her incredibly creative daughter, Kata, designed for her end-of-year school project. The playing cards, the board design, the game pieces, the lettering--everything about it is fantastic. I love it! More important, Genie herself would love it.


Adventures in Growing Up

Yesterday I had a turn posting at the International Reading Association's Engage blog. I tried to make the case for how quiet books, slice-of-life books that don't make for great elevator pitches, can be adventure stories too, for the right readers. I worry that publishers are afraid of quiet books these days, and I'd love to see that change.

The post talks a lot about my childhood favorite, and when I went hunting for a cover image to use, I was reminded of how many versions there have been over the years. For me there will always and only be the one.