Monday, October 27, 2008

Silly Season

You can tell this area is about to vote Democratic when all the Dem campaign signs start disappearing. My Obama sign went AWOL four days after I put it up--just like last time, when this district and this state went for Kerry. Like last time, I'll try to foil the evil-doers by nailing my replacement sign to a tree. (A neat trick, since the replacement is plastic rather than cardboard. I'll manage.)

This is the humane approach--one of my neighbors is talking about smearing his replacement sign with dog poop. On a more stately level, some local Dems are marrying their replacement signs with hand-made signs pointing out how UnAmerican it is to stifle free speech. I have a small American flag somewhere around here--maybe I'll pin that to my new sign.

Tragically, the tree I used last time to quash sign-theft split and fell over yesterday in a wind storm. It was a lovely spruce perched up on rocks with tangled roots, making our driveway entrance look all elven and dwarvish. Beyond the tragedy is the sheer annoyance--we have at least 20 trees to cut down for one reason or another (growing too tall and blocking the sun being the main one). Naturally, every one of them is smugly upright.

Time to take a break and have a chuckle.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Back again

Bad blogger again. Sorry.

I was in Central Massachusetts and Connecticut last week, doing a panel discussion at various Barnes & Noble stores with four other 2k8ers (pictured, clockwise from lower left, M.P. Barker, Marissa Doyle, me, Courtney Sheinmel (whose book, My So-Called Family, debuted this week on the 2k8 blog!), and N.A. Nelson. We had a blast, and to our surprise actually attracted audiences. We were talking about "Networking for Writers," and obviously the Class of 2k8 and other such writer collaboratives were central to our message.

Michele (M.P.) Barker instigated the mini-tour, and even hosted us at her house--way, way, beyond the call of duty. She also organized a lunch with other writers in the South Hadley area. Jeannine Atkins, author of Anne Hutchinson's Way and other historical picture books, was nice enough to blog about it.

Got home Sunday, rescued MCat from her loneliness, lured an unwilling Callie away from the next-door dogophiles with whom she'd been staying, and sank gratefully into a stupor. Welcomed Rob home from a grueling Quebec canoe trek on Monday, and then did whoknowswhat all week. I sort of started working on another book while Kathy at Harcourt reads my last Filioli revision, but also sort of didn't, mostly because I have a couple more events to prepare for.

On Sunday, November 2, at 2 p.m., I'll join Gail Page (Bobo and the New Neighbor) at Friend Memorial Library for a reading and signing. On Wednesday, November 5, at 3 p.m., I'll make the delightful trek to Eastport to talk, read, and sign at Peavey Memorial Library. And then November 12-16 I'll be in St. Peter, Minnesota, talking to students at Gustavus Adolphus College and the local middle school, and giving a talk/reading at the college's Courtyard Cafe at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, November 13.

That last gig was arranged by Lisa Heldke and Peg O'Connor, who grace the college's faculty in the winter and Our Little Town in the summer. They are expert at guerrilla marketing (witness the flyer at right, displayed strategically around town and making me look like An Actual Author).

They have nothing, however, on my dear friend Shelly from Connecticut, who last week pulled off the Barnes & Noble Altar Caper. She was in NYC delivering a copy-edited manuscript to an editor, and happened into B&N to see the thrilling sight of a stack of The Unnameables on an island devoted to new releases, with one book propped up on a bookstand.

Not thrilling enough, Shelly thought, noting that the top shelf of the island looked like an altar to literacy and my book was on the less august third shelf. So, in a maneuver no doubt captured on the store video camera, she switched my stack with the stack of "some baseball book" on the top shelf.

If the baseball author should read this, please be assured that the B&N staff no doubt corrected the outrage minutes after Shelly left the building. If not, well, the baseball season ended when the Red Sox lost anyway.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October Ovation

Yesterday morning, I opened up the Bangor Daily News to see that Ilze Petersons of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine has won an award from the University of Maine as an inspiring woman. (Here's the story.)

I felt an immediate pang of guilt, followed by a burst of elation. The guilt I'll explain in a bit. I was elated because right then I knew what I'd write about today as my contribution to October Ovation, a blog round-up organized by 2k8er Barrie Summy and her cohort Laramie . We're all supposed to write about someone we admire. I was having trouble choosing.

So why the guilt?

I don't know Ilze Petersons. I think I talked to her on the phone once when I was a reporter. For at least a decade, however, I have believed that I would be happier and finer if I were the kind of person who did know the Ilze Petersons of this world. Watching the days tick by in which I still do not know Ilze Petersons, I feel uneasy.

Is this admiration or just self-castigation? For a New England Puritan, I'm not sure there's a difference.

Ms. Petersons has been the coordinator of the Bangor-based Peace and Justice Center for 15 years. The center gets involved in all sorts of causes--opposition to the war in Iraq has been the big one in recent years, but also environmental and social justice issues. Upcoming events include "Considering Democracy: Eight Things to Ask Your Representative" and "Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash."

It's not so much that I agree with the PJC, although I usually do. Nor is it that I approve of their rhetoric, which I sometimes don't. What excites admiration is the fact that Ilze Petersons and her colleagues keep this stuff going even though they're in Bangor, Maine, rather than, say, Berkeley, California.

Maine's Second District, which includes Bangor and my little town, recently has been targeted as a place that might vote for McCain/Palin. Sarah Palin is doing a quick stop at the Bangor airport this week, and her husband was here a few days ago. It ain't easy being an Ilze Petersons in an environment like this. People think you're misguided or nuts or an international conspirator or from Vermont.

And she's been walking around being this particular Ilze Petersons, day in and day out, for 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS! Nobody holds a job that long, especially when a healthy segment of the population routinely distrusts your motives.

Ms. Petersons is not the only person around here who is capable of making those around her instantly happy and fine. Sister Lucy Poulin, who founded H.O.M.E., is another one, along with just about everyone who works with her.

But I don't want to cheat. One ovation per customer, please.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Brooke Taylor Puts Me to Shame

But first, this news flash: I finished my Filioli revision! This should not be misinterpreted to mean that the book is "finished." Ace editor Kathy Dawson has it now, and once again will delve deep into my psyche and identify all the places where I ignored The Little Voice and subconsciously told myself "This'll be fine, fine. Just leave it."

The Little Voice now has a megaphone, so I'm just hoping there are fewer of those places than last time. Still...*sigh.*

On to the topic of Brooke Taylor (2k8er and author of Undone) who has the contest of the gods going on at her blog all this month. In deference to the season, it has to do with vampires and ghosts and such. Check here for details.

As a reward for finishing my revision, I'm going to print out bookmarks for next week's events and listen to another chapter of The Graveyard Book. It's a face-paced life, up here in the woods.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Here and There

More mid-revision musings:

1. At the Class of 2k8 blog, you can enter an extremely easy contest to win a signed copy of The Unnameables!

2. I don't know why, but I keep forgetting to send you to Darcy Pattison's blog. Darcy, a writer and writing teacher, has been running a year-long series on 2k8 writers and their revision process. I'm up, this time. It was so nice of her to ask!

That's all. Back to reading aloud and cringing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Authorial Matters

Too revision-ridden to make much sense, but here are a few current events:

1. Had a lovely time Friday night and Saturday at the Bangor Book Festival, where I was on a panel with Carrie Jones and Monica Wood and saw old friends and new people, and was fed sumptuously.

2. Lyny, featured earlier in this post about the forum that has been my on-line community for several years, gave birth to her second child, Marie-Ange, at 12:18 this morning. Marauders worldwide were in a dither around 8 a.m. EDT because Lyny's stepfather made the sensible decision not to call the news in to Meg in Milwaukee until a decent hour this morning, and we all knew her c-section had been scheduled for 10 p.m. But all's well, and....Happy Birthday, Marie-Ange!

3. I'm celebrating my book launch this week over at the Class of 2k8 blog. The week's offerings will include a tribute to my little town and an interview with Medford, Prudy, and the Goatman (characters in The Unnameables). Don't miss it!

4. I'm on a page with Neil Gaiman! The September/October issue of Scholastic's Instructor magazine, which goes out to 150,000 or so teachers, recommends The Graveyard Book, The Hunger Games, and *drum roll* The Unnameables as "three must-read fantasies."

Back to revision...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pub Day!

Today's the official publication day for The Unnmameables! I raised a glass of champagne last night, and read parts of the book aloud followed by celebratory drinks last Thursday.

Other than that, I marked the day by working on The Filioli. Yay for diligence!

But here's a celebration: A video created by Madison Meyer, one of two videographers hired by the Class of 2k8. I love it!