Thursday, December 29, 2005


At the VC res, one of the questions asked of new advisors is whether we want to be reimbursed for printing, mail, etc. I told my students no. My theory was that they're already paying enough, so I just jokingly said that they were welcome to send me chocolates at the end of the semester instead. One of my students, AB, did! Gorgeous, delicious dark chocolates from Vermont (which is not her home state). I was wowed!

In other news, my cousin is here from NYC. We had brunch today at the South Congress Cafe, shopped at Uncommon Objects, hit the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar (best theater in the U.S. for 2005 according to "Entertainment Weekly") to see "Narnia" (my second time, her first). What marks it above the competition, I think, is the pacing and how much the young heroes grow and change. Right now, we're taking a siesta, and then we're off to dinner at Green Pastures.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Christmas Eve and Day were quiet and lovely. GLS and I watched "The Year Without A Santa Claus" and "Teen Witch." We enjoyed quite a lot of seafood, cheese, apples, and a traditional turkey dinner with the healthier of the trimmings.

Along with some smaller items, I gave GLS an electric train and he gave me an iPOD, which is a lot easier to use when I'm walking the treadmill than my CD player. It's also less perilous if I drop it.

We had lunch yesterday with SA and her charming teacher-sis at Eastside Cafe and then dinner and crit group in Travis Peak at TC's log cabin overlooking the lake. Everyone seemed pleased with progress on my wip, especially D's dry voice, the sparking romance, etc. They advised narrowing the fantasy world, which will heighten the focus on D&T, and that makes sense.

Tonight, I look forward to the arrival of my cousin and her boyfriend. She's from Antler's, Oklahoma, by way of NYC. Post blogging, I'll be finishing my thank-you cards and tidying up the house for their arrival.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Tea Embassy

I'm officially high-speed Cyn. Perhaps you're thinking, wow, Cyn, don't you run a huge children's/YA Web site? How can you possibly have been on dial-up all this time? And the answer, my friend, is best discussed at another time. Let's just say Cyn's tech life is rosier these days.

Also, I went shopping with FH this afternoon, and we visited shops on West Lynn and, for the first time, The Tea Embassy at 9th and Rio Grande. I was enchanted. My fellow Austinites, don't miss this urban Oasis!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Before Christmas Gifts

When I was a little girl, I was absolutely enchanted by Christmas and could hardly wait to open my presents. (I'm sure you're surprised).

So my grandparents (see In My Grandmother's House) began the before-Christmas-gift tradition, which I insist on continuing to this day, by which I mean this day. GLS gave me a desk lamp from Pottery Barn, and I gave him a cheese platter inspired by an artist's palette and brush from the shop at the Art Institute in Chicago.

Comic of the Week: Birds of Prey #89; here's to finally telling Commissioner Gordon that Barbara is Batgirl/Oracle, even if he did know the first part.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Solstice, Angel, Photo Archive, Therapy

I spent a good part of the morning working on my upcoming speech for the VC winter residency:

You like me! You really like me!"--Protagonist Likeability: Does it matter? Why or why not? How to achieve it? And what to do when it's (hopefully) not possible.

I've got a good outline that addresses the major points, and I'm planning on finding examples from various books that illustrate those points. I'm going to talk it over with GLS tonight after dinner and then maybe throw out some questions for insights from the CB (collective brain), especially to those authors whose books I plan to feature.

Then I took a few hours to fiddle with the plot for my WIP. I had a couple of epiphanies, including one that came with that much-treasured, yet always elusive I'm-a-genius-the-best-writer-ever-the-world-should-bow-before-me glee. I also picked out a name for a backstory character who dies before the novel begins. Sometimes, names just come to me, but this one I had to ponder a bit. It needed to be a name that would fit a child of a certain age, certain generation, so I did a little research on popular names and one just popped out at me, based on the thematic fit.

I made the mistake of jumping from my writing onto the treadmill without a pen and Post-It notes, so once the blood was pumping and the ideas were popping, I had to either get off (thus lowering my heart rate) or chant code words so I could remember the concepts. I elected for the latter: "solstice, angel, photo archive, therapy." It worked! I was able to keep them all in my mind for the 45 minutes until I jumped off.

What else? I got a lovely query from someone interested in reprinting "A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate," which appears this fall in Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005). She seemed to really *get* it, which is always so validating. I referred her to my agent.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Creative Fire

"You will be a dragon of creative fire this week. "Watch your aim."
--fortune in Greg's cookie tonight at Suzi's South

"Your ability for accomplishment will follow with success."
--fortune in my cookie tonight at Suzi's South

"Hey, can I trade?"
--me to GLS

I don't know that I either demonstrated an ability for accomplishment or aimed any creative fire, though the latter sounds more, well, fiery, but I did manage to pound out a new scene of my WIP today and got a few more ideas about where the story is headed. It felt good to write after having been so long swamped with events and grading.

I look forward to the VC residency, but I also look forward to settling in after that and really focusing on my own writing. The ideas are flowing, flowing, flowing. I need to get fiercer about protecting my own writing time. Roar!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fall Under Her Spell

"Fall under her spell."
--tagline for "Teen Witch," now available on DVD

Not enough people appreciate the cheeseball genius of "Teen Witch" (1989), which is worth renting for the rap number (it's a musical) and casting of Zelda Rubinstein ("Poltergeist") as Louise's mentor, Madame Serena, and Dick Sargent ("Bewitched") as her dad. I watched it probably a million times on HBO as a teenager, but until this week could only find it on video with Spanish subtitles (okay, that was kind of fun). But now, now, it's on DVD--can't top that!

Lunch today at Green Pastures (looks gorgeous decorated for the holidays) with DT, who brought GLS and I portraits of ourselves and (to date) mystery gift. Peahen sightings: 2!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's Good To Be Queen

"It's Good To Be Queen!"
--printed on a mug TLS sent me this week

I've finished grading my last VC packet and keying out the semester evaluations. All zoom away tomorrow morning. Indulging in that happy post-finals feeling. Ahhh!

Still Busy

Yesterday, I answered some fan mail from third graders in San Diego, shopped and autographed stock at BookPeople, started importing my online lesson plans into various teacher guide sites, had dinner at Musashino, and had cocoa at the Four Seasons lobby lounge.

I'm hopeful to finish grading my last VC packet, which is supposed to arrive today, so I can have some time off over the holidays. But at the moment, I'm hopping on the treadmill.

Book I'm Reading: The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis (Random House, 2005).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Last night, GLS and I had dinner at Uchi and saw "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at the Alamo Draft House Cinema on South Lamar (much we like with did with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" last weekend).

I haven't read the book but found the latest Harry Potter installment an enjoyable film. No one grew or changed except Dumbledore, but the Hogwarts faculty and Hermione were well developed as was the external arc, despite the pacing. I'm assuming that the fantasy elements, like the winged horses, that were extraneous in the film play a role in the books, which tempts me to try reading them again. I'm curious as to where the magic comes from. It's energy, yes? So, what is its price? Though clearly perilous, none of the users seemed tired by invoking it. My only quibble is with the use (in this case overuse) of eavesdropping as a plot device, though perhaps that too can be excused because the invisibility cloak is apparently one of Harry's tools.

In any case, I recommend seeing the movie at the theater because the effects were first rate, though if you're on a budget and must pick between it and "Narnia," by all means, go to "Narnia."

I'm spending the weekend finishing grading my VC students' last packets.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What Would Aslan Do?

"What would Aslan do?"
--spotted on a T-shirt at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
South Lamar, Austin, TX

What a wonderful weekend! GLS and I had original planned to vacation in Savannah this month, but that fell through, so we decided to vacation locally for a couple of days instead.

Right after Thanksgiving, we tried to get reservations at the Hotel San Jose on South Congress only to find it already booked solid for the month. So, after some reflection, we elected the Omni Hotel downtown instead. It was just up the hill from The State Theater, which was our Friday night destination.

We checked in as soon as we could--just after three o'clock and then explored the place. The Omni is a 1980s construction modern-style hotel--lots of glass, soaring atrium, pool on the roof. After changing clothes, we struck out into the city and the chilly 20-something-degree wind. We first swung by the bar at the Stephen F. Austin, a historical hotel, for a tempura sushi roll (so-so roll), and then continued onto Shoreline Grill on Lake Travis for dinner. I highly recommend the tempura lobster tail and seared sea scallops.

The main event, though, wasn't dinner but theater. We buzzed up Congress for the evening showing of "Humbug: A Christmas Carol," which has been extended through Dec. 22. The State Theater doesn't have the historic majesty of her sister, The Paramount, but it is intimate, confortable, and the tickets were a steal. The cast was small but outstanding, and I thoroughly enjoyed the production, though it did seem a tad rushed. I wonder how it might've held up for someone not familiar with the story. Next to me, a mother-and-daughter (maybe age 7) quietly whispered now and then through the production as mom answered burning questions. My favorite: "Is that a real ghost?" Mom: "Of course it is." Daughter: "Cool." Very spooky family! Anyway, the whole effect reminded me of the grandfather-grandson intermissions in "The Princess Bride." I was charmed.

Saturday brought even more fun, and the temperature graciously rose to the 50s and 60s. We had breakfast at the hotel (for better migas, try Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard), and then I indulged in a two hour "relaxation body treatment package" at the hotel spa (which is really just a tiny room on the 20th floor). It consisted of a gentle aromatherapy and jojoba oil massage and wrap, followed by an invigorating salt foot scrub, foot reflexology and soothing peppermint foot massage, followed by a Swedish massage. (A much better total treatment than my last at the Hill Country Hyatt, by the way). By the end, I felt like happy JELLO.

That afternoon, GLS and I hit the South Congress Cafe for lunch, and I enjoyed both my tomato soup with gorgonzola cheese and my shrimp cesar salad. We went from there to the U.T. Longhorns fan shop below the U.T. Club because GLS was interested in buying garb commemorating the football team going to the Rose Bowl (football fan that I am (cough), this was the first I'd heard of it). But you know, I'm happy that he's happy (and even happier that he's not the kind of guy who routinely plants himself in front of a TV and watches football).

From there, we walked to the Texas Memorial History Museum of Science and History (the one on campus as opposed the big, new Bob Bullock one near the Capitol). The exhibits could've been better designed (financing would no doubt help), but I really enjoyed myself. The building is art deco, which reminded me of the Chicago museum campus, and I'm just a sucker for a huge dinosaur skeleton. Or for that matter, for a tiny one. Though school groups zoom through fairly regularly, I'm sure, it seemed somewhat like a hidden gem. Great place to bring kids, too (not that we have any, but we're kid friendly).

Afterward, GLS and I drove back downtown to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Austin Music Hall. It was fun, and I loved the crowd, music, and excitement, but I did notice that most of the same vendors were there as last year and in mostly the same spots.

No matter, by that time, I was already psyched about our evening plans. We went back to the hotel to change and then had dinner at Uchi, which is one of the best sushi restaurants in Austin. The actual fish at Musashino's is better, and the cuts are more generous. But Uchi has an upscale (as opposed to tiki bar) atmosphere, and the sort of bells-and-whistles menu items are more inventive. I especially enjoyed the Avo Bake, though to be fair it's served at Musashino's, too, and some of the cooked fish appetizers.

But the highlight of the evening was seeing "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" at the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar, which is hands-down the best place on earth to see a movie. We'd pre-ordered tickets online, which was good because all but the 10 p.m. show had sold out. Imagine: you walk in a fast-moving line to the entrance of the theater, which has been reconfigured as the door to a wardrobe, make your way through hanging coats, and then a forest of Christmas trees on a floor covered in fake snow. Then you enter the theater with it's plush seats and generous arm rests, taking your place behind a long wooden table, where you are greeted by a charming and enthusiastic waitress. Ours brought us, upon request two wine glasses, a bottle of opened Pinot Noir, and a real (not cardboard) bowl of hot, fluffy, fresh popcorn, topped with real butter. We could've also ordered frome the special Narnia-related menu, but of course we'd just had dinner.

As for the film itself, I'll just say that it exceeded my expectations and I can't wait to see it at the theater again. In addition to being a good retelling, well acted, the cinematography was gorgeous!

And that was basically it! We had brunch the next day at Hyde Park Bar & Grill (for a better omlette, try the previously mentioned South Congress Cafe), and now, here I am blogging it up for my spookycyn readers. This week will be a hard-working one for me, but I'm facing it all well rested and in excellent spirits!

Spooky News & Links

Speaking of "Humbug: A Christmas Carol," for those who missed my mention of it on cynsations, I'd like to mention that Esme Raji Codell's new picture book retelling, Hanukkah, Schmanukkah, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Hyperion, 2005) is one of my favorite books this winter!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Santa Knows art

Yesterday, my Dutton editor MM sent GLS and I gifs of some of the color art for our 06 pb Santa Knows. Talk about fun! The workshop is very busy in an almost RS kind of way, and the details are absolutely hysterical. We agreed that it was exactly the kind of a book that as kids we would've spent hours pouring over. As opposed to, you know, cough, now...! SB is a yuletide genius!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

White House Christmas

GLS and I watched "A White House Christmas" on HGTV last night, which reminded me of the breakfast I had there at the Second National Book Festival. One regret: I should've gotten over my star-struck shy self and introduced myself to VD.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Call Me "Sofia"

Lunch today with MS at Houston's on Anderson Lane. Finally got to try the chicken-shrimp gumbo; ask for it with brown rice ahead of time and save yourself (and the waiter) some trouble.

Bought massive Sofia-Loren-esque sunglasses at Emerald's on North Lamar (across the street from BookPeople. (If you decline a bag 10 times, they'll give you a 20 percent off discount on your next purchase).

Tomorrow, Daya. Trying to take it easy before the VC res in January.

Spooky Links

An Interview with Kinky Friedman from Bookslut.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Healthy Kitty

My bruiser Chicago alpha cat Mercury has been on a special diet because he had crystals in his bladder, which led to all kinds of unpleasantness (as well they would for anyone). But the good news today is that his follow-up ultrasound revealed that they have all dissolved.

So, the kitty is in the clear, though we'll continue the diet and monitoring, and in no immediate danger of needing scary surgery. Yahoo!

I'm especially grateful to my amazing home-visit vet, who by the way, is the daughter of PM.

In other news, I may actually have a revision concept for the pb mss I've been stuck on. I plan to talk to GLS about it tonight at dinner.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lunching Here, Lunching There...

Enjoyed lunch with GLS and LL yesterday at the new Italian cafe on South Congress next door to Vespaio, which I believe is owned by the same people. My apologies for not recalling the name. In any case, I had an excellent Cesar salad with mushrooms on the side.

And we had another lovely lunch today with JFH, KA, and a pal from San Antonio at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center cafe. I had the Greek salad, which was quite good.

Both were outstanding for atmosphere and company.

I have FH and BY coming over later today for wine, salmon, and cheese (or in FH's case, probably tea, salmon, and cheese), but I'm going to take advantage of the time window to read more of the new release holiday picture books.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Winding Down

I'm in the process of finalizing preparation for Writing the YA Novel, a workshop I'll be leading tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the B&N Westlake (just outside central Austin).

Mostly I need to tweak the outline, review it with GLS, and print up the extra handouts. These things are always a tad tricky because you have absolute newbies and published folks. We'll try to offer what we can to both. I look forward to it.

That's my last event of 2005, which is thrilling. January will bring the winter residency at VC, which will be great, and then other than grading and a couple of local gigs, I'll be able to concentrate on my writing for a nice, long, (mostly) uninterrupted stretch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Brighter Day

I'm completely finished with holiday shopping except for GLS. I'd wanted to buy him a crystal Santa Claus in celebration of our upcoming pb, Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006), but the only reputable company I could find that carried one was Waterford and the line had been discontinued.

GLS also made reservations for our more major hotel and restaurant endeavors in December.

Austinites: call now! Our first choices were already booked, especially for New Year's Eve.

Went to bed at 9 p.m. last night and slept through with the occasional brief awakening from Blizzard walking on my back or legs. Feeling much better.

Today's highlight will be lunch at Suzi's off Anderson with KM, whom I met at Evening with the Authors in Lockhart.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holiday Crit Group

Last night GLS and I hosted crit group. I made dinner (which means I took my credit card to Whole Foods). We had smoked salmon, smoked cheese, and sesame crackers, followed by cranberry, red onion, goat cheese salad with walnuts, followed by shrimp and green beans, followed by fresh berries and/or peanut butter pie. AB and SP brought wine. We served on our Santa Baby plates from Pottery Barn with napkins that read, "Santa, I can explain..."

My new scene of F&M (which SP suggested I change to M&F) was enthusiastically received. SP also pointed out that I should make DD flatter early on. I haven't combed back through my scribbles yet, but I'll do that later today.

December meeting will be at TC's in the country.

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon packaging up holiday presents. I do send to my editors and agent--nothing big, but as a show of appreciation. Overall, though, I'm trying to cut back a little this year because I've been known to go crazy with the whole thing.

Big picture, I'm trying to get done what I can while taking reasonable care of myself. I think I might actually be clinically exhausted.

My vacation that was supposed to be in August 04 was pushed back after Dad died. My vacation that was supposed to be in August 05 was pushed back when I took the job at VC. My vacation that was supposed to be in two weeks has been postponed to February 06 because I thought the 19th meant the end of the semester for student deadlines, not for everything.

So, it's been five years since I've had more than one day off in a row, and I'm really feeling it. Looking at the calendar, though, not much rest ahead for the wicked or weary.

My mood is fairly upbeat, but I'm deeply achy and a bit teary now and then. Anybody who thinks writers sit around eating bon bons and scribbling in journals has never actually been one.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"That Is A Hot Nun!" -- DH

Is it just because I'm a ex-Chicagoan, or is anyone else who watches "Desperate Housewives" rooting for the nun?

This weekend's surprise in the mail was a thank-you box of pecans from KN--I love pecans!

Today I'm writing a couple of authors about potentially interviewing them on cynsations, running to the PO to mail packages and pick up holiday envelopes for sending gifts, and picking up groceries. First, though, I have one more packet #4 letter to write.

Crit group tonight, my place, must figure out the holiday food thing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Holiday Decorating

"This is Texas! Everyone has a gun. My florist has a gun."
--from "Miss Congeniality"

GLS found some holiday lights made out of red and green shotgun shells at Breed & Co. and was so amused that he bought a strand and hung it over the arches in the foyer.

We also decorated our tree, which stands some 8' beneath our 10' dining room ceiling. It's funny, the history a decorated Christmas tree reveals. From the Field Museum's Sue in gold and Chicago Art Institute ornaments (one a snow globe featuring a lion; the other a silver depiction of the front of the building), it's clear that the Windy City is significant, and in fact, it's GLS's home town. Mine is recognized with a white ball commemorating the Plaza Lights of Kansas City. We also have a "Beauty and the Beast" (Beast with rose) silver disc from the Broadway production, which we saw in Chicago.

But the Texas influence is growing fast with ornaments of armadillos and geckos, Mexican-styled angels and crosses, mostly purchased at Mi Casa Gallery on South Congress. And of course, as people owned by four cats, more than one kitty graces the limbs.

That said, the global theme of the tree is music, which we selected because our 1920s house was built by the family that founded the Austin Symphony.

What else? The hard-carved nativity is displayed on the display cabinet atop copies of: Merry Christmas, Merry Crow by KA (Harcourt, 2005); Santa Baby by JB (Little Brown, 2005); Hanukkah, Shmanukkah! by Esme Raji Codell (Hyperion, 2005); When Cows Come Home for Christmas by DC (Albert Whitman, 2005); Christmas Mousling, also by DC (Viking, 2005); and 'Twas The Fright Before Christmas by JS (Harcourt, 2002)(a particularly good choice for spookycyn readers who celebrate Christmas).

Spooky Link

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Ultra-Condensed by Samuel Stoddard from Book-A-Minute Classics. I read YGB in three English classes in college, which inspired me to feature it in Q's English class in my upcoming novel, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007).

Friday, November 25, 2005

90th Birthday Party

On Thanksgiving, GLS and I had caviar (budget) for lunch. Basically, we took whole wheat crackers and added low-fat cottage cheese, chopped red onion, chopped boiled egg, and the caviar. Then for dinner we had turkey with green bean casserole (no bread/onions) and whole-wheat stuffing--cooked inside the bird. A couple of glasses of syrah, followed by no-sugar-added cocoa. It was relatively healthy and completely satisfying. Leftovers are ongoing.

Yesterday, GLS and I went to the 90th birthday party of BXD at a tennis country club in the Hill Country. It was charming to meet her family, sing a song in her honor, and enjoy lunch with MM. Afterward, MM joined us for an after party drink at The Driskill.

I'm still grading VC packets--working on letter #3. After finishing this one, I'll take a break to do Xmas decorating--fa la la la la la la la la!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I'm starting to think about holiday gifts and the upcoming VC residency. The former are a challenge because so many folks on my list are long-distance. Shopping online is super convenient, though. That's probably the way I'll go. Or a combination of online and catalog.

My main concern about the VC residency is weather-friendly clothing. I've been in Austin some seven years and changed sizes and literally have nothing left of my Chicago wear. I'm considering checking out camping stores for thinner weight but more insular clothes, though probably layers are the way to go because I'll be in and out and can peel if needed. OTOH, I'll be traveling alone and have not much in the way of upper body strength. If any VC folks are out there, any advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Christmas at the Four Seasons

Lovely day yesterday! GLS and I joined AB for lunch at the U.T. Club, and then after dinner at Katz's, we scooted over to The Four Seasons for the lighting of the hotel tree and unveiling of the elaborate gingerbread mountain village. Austinites and visitors are encouraged to swing by the lobby for a look at this culinary architectural marvel.

Three VC packets to grade this week. Taking a break for Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sketches for Santa Knows

GLS and I came home from Quartz Mountain to find illustrator Steve Bjorkman's early art sketches for our upcoming picture book Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006). They're amazing! Fun, funny, emotion packed--wow! N looks a little older than we'd imagined and more spirited, and that really improves the overall book. And don't get me started on those elves in progress--hysterical. Can't wait to show my crit group next Monday. Tonight, GLS and I will gather our happy thoughts to report back to the house.

Checking e-mail brought more good news as my Dutton editor has sent comments on H. I'm so busy pouring over the abovementioned art and reading VC packets that I haven't actually opened the file yet, but I have all faith in his genius.

Spooky News & Links

Remember when I was singing the praises of Computer Nerdz? Well, get this: in my big stack of mail, I found a thank you letter for the shout out and $25 gift certificate for my next service call. (Apparently CNs Google themselves just like the rest of us). Was that a thoughtful surprise or what?! Definitely a class act. Highly recommended again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Possible Plot Twist

I went over the last few pages of F&M yesterday. No new writing to speak of, but I did come up with a possibly interesting plot twist. It complicates the character motivations and raises the stakes, which suggests it's probably a good idea.

No worries if spookycyn is quieter than usual. November is traditionally my busiest and most stressful month--05 is no exception. December should be somewhat calmer.

Recent good news is the wonderful catalog copy for Santa Knows, illustrated by SB (Dutton, 2006) and the fact that sketches supposedly went into the mail this week. Can't wait!

Great Minds Think Alike, Unfortunately

I just found out from reading a review on another blog that one of the gothic fantasy novels out this year has a major plotline that is similar to a minor one in T. "Very fresh," says the reviewer. And yeah, I'd thought so too. Sigh.

Authors go through this all the time. I guess the fear is that you'll seem derivative, even though the your book is already well in progress or under contract or, in my case, in production--especially because publishing time bears no discernable relationship to real-world time (AKA when an editor says "two weeks," that means "someday, eventually").

What's making me feel better is that I've actually been through this before. My debut novel had what I thought were similarities to one by a fave writer of mine (and was released the season before), plus both covers featured a picture of a girl with a camera.

As far as I could tell, nobody but us noticed, though I did enthusiastically recommend to readers who enjoyed mine that they try hers.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Goodie Bag

The author goodie bag I received at the Star-Lit Children's Literary Festival included:

a CD of Peter Boyer "Ellis Island, the Dream of America;"
the November 2005 "Comfort Food" issue of Texas Monthly;
a hard-cover biography of Benjamin Franklin;
an event T-shirt;
a note pad, paper, and Post-It from Republic Title;
cheese in the shape (and colors) of Texas;
Sesame Thins (crackers);
Texican salsa;
tortilla chips;
dried fruit in a plastic container from Central Market;
a cowboy-hat-shaped cookie cutter;
Burger House seasoning salt;
a Border's wrist band;
a white chocolate in the shape of Texas;
a Republic Title coffee mug;
peanuts from Austin Nuts;
Silicon cowboy soap;
The Thymes Ginger Milk Body Lotion;
Tazo Chai Tea;
a blue-and-white canvas bag with a blue-and-white checked interior, garnished with a golden star holiday ornament.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

An Evening With Mr. V

GLS and I zipped to the Sunset Valley B&N tonight where Varian Johnson was signing his debut Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid (a YA/adult crossover novel). He gave a charming talk on the story behind the story and read an excerpt from chapter two. Luminaries in the audience included DT and JW. Congratulations, Mr. V!

Sushi, Catalog Copy, and Blood Wine Boots

Wrote and sent in author bios for GLS and I for the fall 06 Dutton catalog in preparation for the release of our upcoming pb release, Santa Knows, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman.

Took my uber sassy (not-yet-broken-in) blood wine cowboy boots out to dinner at Musashino with KWH and then had an after dinner drink with GLS at Jeffrey's. All good except for the blisters.

Spooky News & Links

Attention Austinites: Debut novelist Varian Johnson is signing Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid tomorrow night, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Sunset Valley Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Quotable Cyn

I received a note from HVD at CW yesterday saying she'd read T "with great amusement and some stomach turning," and asking me for a quote that she could read when presenting the book to the sister company Walker UK and Walker Australia--something about writing gothic fantasy and T in particular. This is what I sent:

To me, being a teenager seemed a lot like being a monster. A shapeshifter with my changing body. A vampire tasting the forbidden. Sometimes wanting to run with a pack--and sometimes wanting to run from it. Overwhelmed by a hormonal rage. Fearful of what might happen next.

Adolescence and gothic fantasy... They're both explorations of our fears and desires, of the horror and heaven of opening oneself to new, redefining possibilities. They're both about deciding when to walk a line and when to cross it--sometimes with life altering, even fatal consequences.

T is a genre bender that draws its inspiration from the old-school gothic masters but with a contemporary and southwestern twist. It'll be a draw for that emerging YA/adult crossover audience, mystery and suspense lovers, romantics, and those who like their blood served with a splash a wit. It's the book that speaks most to my own adolescent AKA the monster within.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Computer Nerdz

In a fit of tech desperation, I called Computer Nerdz on Saturday, and they sent my nerd (a very nice, not-at-all nerdy but smart guy) over today, as promised, and actually called and asked if I wanted him to arrive earlier (I did). This is the second time I've used the service, and I have to say that it's really outstanding. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, prompt, and, best of all, they don't talk to me like an idiot because I don't understand how my tech lifeline works (or doesn't). Plus, I only paid something like $80 for a couple of hours of service. Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Undead and Unemployed by Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unemployed by Mary Janice Davidson (Berkeley Sensation, 2004). Reluctant vampire queen Betsy Taylor has finally reached her version of Heaven (selling shoes at Macy's at The Mall). Unfortunately, adolescent vamp killers are staking her subjects, a mysterious little girl keeps appearing in her bedroom, and her supposed consort Sinclair has seduced her--again. Wait. Which part of all that counted as unfortunate? Light, fun, and funny, a quick and entertaining read. Adult chicklit with fangs. See also Undead and Unwed; Undead and Unappreciated, and her YA titles.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Esme Incoming

Quiet week before the storm of November. I went to Bo Salon yesterday (new salon on South Congress, just a door or two south of Magnolia Cafe South). Barbara gave me a trim and a sort of reddish brown wash thing, just for fun. I highly recommend her. Also, it's worth getting your hair washed there just for the vibrating chairs.

I've been nursing my alpha kitty Mercury, who has an infection and stones in his bladder. He's on a special diet, which he likes better than the old one. GLS and I are taking him into the vet today, and I'm hopeful that there's been some positive progress over the course of the week.

Woke up this morning with a blazing sore throat, canceled my dentist appointment, and am spending as much of the day as possible in bed reading for SP.

Austinites are invited to swing by the Austin SCBWI "Celebrating Our Success" meeting at 10:30 a.m. to noon at Barnes & Noble Westlake tomorrow and encouraged to attend the Esme Raji Codell signing at 2 p.m. at BookPeople at 6th and Lamar later that same day. (I seriously hope to be better by then; it may just be the ragweed.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheers from the Home Team

I heard from my agent at Curtis Brown that she and the dramatics department had read T--"wonderful," "amazing," "treat," "enjoyed it very much."

How odd and interesting it must be for the agents to agree to rep a mss and then see it after the magic of rewrites and editing. I feel so honored that they offer such tremendous support and faith.

Think happy sub rights thoughts for me!

Spooky Link

AS has launched a new Monsterology site; see his related interview on cynsations.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More All Saints: Revisiting Crits

SP: liked the two different worlds and voices, the concept, the comic relief. He thought it was more clear what T wanted than D (despite the letter, so I'll look into adding a reinforcing line). He thought a reference to "only" might better convey. Admired the creepy factor on D's side and the world construct on T's.

TC: ditto on the two worlds. "Fresh, new idea." Humor. The "touch of the modern." Thought the local flavor was well developed; said it made him want to read more.

AB: surprised on the r gender issue. Liked T better than D. Wanted more T up front and more of an indication of what D wants.

GLS: thought I'd "really nailed" the voices. "Distinct and different" with tags. Thought I should keep scene order as is. Keep going.

I made a few adjustments in light of comments and got two and a half new pages written today--one full scene, which is excellent, especially for November, which--between Native Heritage Month and children's book week and what not--always is my busiest and most stressful month. I'm completely maxed out but nevertheless filled with the writerly pride.

All Saints Day

Happy All Saints Day!

I'm just back from visits to the gynecologist, Victoria's Secret, and Lady Footlocker. Needless to say, I'm feeling quite female at the moment.

I also spotted a jack-o-lantern on a silver fire hydrant at South Congress and Nellie as I was on my way to return my elf costume to Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds.

I'm going to back up my mss on the flash drive I keep in my purse and more carefully review my crit group notes from last night.

Not-So-Scary Crits

Just back from crit group at AB's gorgeous, newly remodeled house. She dressed as Martha Stewart (pearls, no ankle bracelet), SP as Scooter Libby (suit, handcuffs), TC as a creepy monster guy, me as an elf, and GLS as Santa (AKA The Great Man Himself). AB served salad and turkey burgers. TC brought ghost blood and monster snot.

TC and I read from new manuscripts. Overall the feedback on F&M was quite positive; everyone especially liked the two contrasting worlds. Will try many of the ideas offered. There was some suggestion, though, of easing readers in and catering to their comfort zones, but I'm not sure that's the best approach with a gothic fantasy novel. Will think about it as I press on.

SP bailed early to see Halloween IV, which allegedly is the best of the series, at the Alamo Draft House on South Lamar.

On the way over, spotted a Tigger, several fairies, and gave gummy body-parts candy to a doctor who looked all of about six years old.

Spooky News & Link

The ghost has a new trick--opening the downstairs hallway closet, even after it is latched and a weight placed along the base. GLS had a plan--locking it with the key, which for no apparent reason suddenly doesn't work.

See AD replendent as Bunnicula--bahaha!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Whole Foods Horrors

Swung by the Whole Foods headquarters store for some spicy salmon brown rice sushi (it is, after all, a holiday)!

Spotted a mid-life woman in a Seuss hat near the chocolate fountain, an angel in cosmetics, a baby devil at the pizza service, a witch at checkout, and a (human) baby Dalmation and toddler princess (in pink!) in the parking garage.

Also stopped by my P.O. Box to discover that AD had sent me a Wonder Woman Pez dispenser (oh, happy day!), which will go on permanent display in my office next to my WW lunch box, and an American Greetings card that asks: Where do vampires learn to suck blood? Answer: Law school. (Class of '94 here!) Brilliant! Thanks, AD!

One of my characters--Marie Headbird from Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001)(Listening Library, 2001) was a Pez collector--and thus Pez is especially dear to my heart. As for my love of WW and all thing vampire, well, y'all already knew about that.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sixth Street Scares

Spotted a light and dark angel last night on Congress, pirates on Brazos, a devil and vampire in the SUV of the parking garage. Heard a group of crossdressing "Girl Scouts" seranade a fellow guest in the bar of the Driskill Hotel. And those were just the highlights. Sixth street was of course closed off, and Halloween revelers flowed through downtown. Of course some of them dress that way normally, but hey, it's Central Austin.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wicked Weekend

Fun day!

I (a) wrote a couple of pages on my new novel mss, (b) continued my "featured author" week on a writing teacher list serv, (c) corresponded with a few authors and illustrators about their new books and, in some cases, doing a related interview on cynsations, (d) received a poster of myself that will appear in federal offices across the U.S. in conjunction with Native Heritage Month (feeling honored and mildly famous)...

Also, it's Halloween weekend! It's Texas Book Festival weekend!


Spooky Link

DFW-HWA: the North Texas Chapter of the Horror Writers Association.


After much techno-angst, GLS and I will try again to hook my computer to high-speed, wireless next spring when less is going on. I could go into detail, but suffice it to say, I appear tech cursed. I await Halloween with some trepidation as it wouldn't surprise me if the computer begins to howl.

On the upside, I did manage to sneak away for some TLC at Daya and GLS took me to dinner at Eastside (I recommend the brie/chutney).

Spooky Links

Annette Curtis Klause from Authors Among Us.

Fear Factor: Werewolves by Adam Lipkin from Bookslut.

Halloween: Creepy Contacts from Shopping.

Stranger than Fiction by Amy Leigh Morgan from MS Encarta. Test your knowledge of the natural world.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Dian Curtis Regan: Why "Desperate Housewives" is a Fairy Tale

This post by children's/YA author Dian Curtis Regan about "Desperate Housewives" is shared from a private message board with express permission:

1. Susan is a children's book author/illustrator, yet we never see her actually writing or illustrating or even talking about her work--other than to say it's what she does for a living.

2. She lives in a gorgeous house, presumably off of her writing income.

3. Last night's episode showed her at the book launch for her first picture book. Reason it's a fairy tale? People actually showed up.

4. Her agent needs her to sign with him so he can stay in business. (After publishing one picture book? Hahahahaha.)

5. Why does her agent live nearby? Where exactly IS Wisteria Lane?

6. She works at home, yet dresses in fashionable, cleavage-baring outfits, with hair and make-up beautifully done. (Okay, I do that, too. Hahahahahaha.)

7. And that cute plumber, Mike, across the street who never seems to be working, yet is around to look hunky and gaze at her endearingly......?

8. Last night, she said she was 'behind in her work.' Where is her messy home office? We never see it.

Note: Dian does however admit that her plumber's name is "Mike."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Great Pumpkin Grows Up

Spotted: a vampire in a fedora walking down Blanco; a werewolf in checkout at Fresh Plus.

Watching "Smallville" season one on DVD. The Clark/Lex people are really onto something.

Spooky Links

The Great Pumpkin Grows Up: Extreme gardening can be an ultra-competitive field by By David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post.

Lucy In Disguise

GLS and I joined AB, SP, SM, A (AKA "TCG") for brunch at Katz's (turkey on whole wheat with a side order of scrambled eggs). I was sporting my burnt orange T-shirt that reads "Spooky" from Target. It worked both for Halloween and game day.

Then GLS and I hit Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds on South Congress, which was the inspiration for All The World's A Stage, the costume shop in "A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate" from Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori Marie Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005). (Incidentally, the fictional store is also mentioned in passing in T).

We picked out two amazing costumes and took them home early as part of the Halloween special. Austinites: rent early! It's already a zoo!

Nope, I'm not telling what we'll be yet. It's a surprise.

Spent most of Friday and part of today working on an article on Native lit that will be featured in an upcoming university press book. I'm hopeful to get some feedback on it from the editors and make any necessary adjustments. Likewise on the T essay. I tried it as a Q&A, just to see what would happen. Better, I think. I still need to address the link between the S and the O.

Also am firmly back to work on F&M!

Spooky Links

Best Burgers 2005 from Austin City Guide. (I don't eat mammals because of FM-K, but the best turkey burger is at Hyde Park Bar & Grill).

Comic of the Week: Batgirl #69 (Mrs. Freeze defrosted; who thought I'd live to see the day?)

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Want A Wonder Woman T-Shirt

I have been most unsuccessful in my attempts to order a Wonder Woman T-shirt and am greatly vexed as a result.

According to DL, DC doesn't license anyone to make them. But you can get a Poison Ivy shirt, a Harley Quinn shirt.... It's just wrong.

I know I could get a Linda Carter TV series T, but I want a comic version.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Paggi House Revisited

Remember how we went earlier this week to Paggi House (official site)? Well, we returned tonight for the tapas bar, which is supposed to be the big thing. Evening menu: gazpacho good, duck quesadillas (I'm told) good, large tempura roll fabu. Highly recommended to couples, redemptive folk in a relationship (looking for brownie points), and anyone longing to gossip about others in children's/YA lit. Not that that would be us. No. Of course not.

Some Days You Just Want to Pack It All Up and Move to Ecuador

Those of you who read cynsations already now that (along with R W-G) I'm joining the VC faculty. On KA's recommendation, I've so far bought Uggs boots, a thermal blanket, and Cuddlebuns undies from JCPenney. All very exciting, but I'm suddenly recalling Michigan winters...

Beyond that, I'm completely swamped in to-dos. Gracious TLS and TB are looking at an article I'm stuck on, though, so I'm pretty much worshipping them today.

Spooky Links

Ecuador is a haven for retirees by Kathleen Peddicord from MSN Money.

Scary Baby Names: Halloween-Inspired Names by Melanie Monroe Rosen from MSN Lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Paggi House

Lunch today with GLS and CH, former director of the TBF turned publicist/book doc. We ate at Paggi House (off South Lamar), which is a low, key, comfy historic house restaurant/bar. I had the hummus for lunch but am most jazzed at the prospect of returning to the tapas bar for dinner.

Also, chilled and thrilled by spooky yard displays in Pemberton on Niles Road (I personally lust after that house at 2 Niles Road--wowza).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How To See A Ghost

My CW editor called my idea/draft of the reader's guide--AKA Q&A, whatever it will be--for T "fabulous" and "fabulously welcome." Yay!

Dinner tonight with AB! Looking forward to seeing her newly remodeled home.

My ghost has been completely well-behaved and low key lately. Perhaps she is happy because JL bought her a gift (antique purse), which is prominently displayed in her room.

Spooky Link

How to See a Ghost by

Tornado Cyn

Am swept up in a storm of busy-ness. Enjoyed our dinner party Saturday with GB and his honey. Finishing up VC packets, running errands, reading Confessions of a Boyfriend Stealer: A Blog by Robynn Clairday (Delacorte, 2005)(entertaining chicklit). More sweet thank you notes from CB and CS for the Austin SCBWI party.

Spoke tonight at the bond hearing in favor of building a new central library. My quotes included: "We won't get a second chance for this generation."

Eh. I felt a little like Miss America finalist, but I was trying.

Spooky Links for fun, light books likely to have pink covers. (Don't believe me? Look at the featured cover art).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I Love Mail

I received a lovely thank you card from LL for last weekend's Austin SCBWI party. Fascinating woman. I'll never forget her reading of "Madonna is Stalking Me" at the Texas Book Festival. Just thinking about it makes me misty.

My author copy of MT came in today's mail. It's really a beautifully produced book. I hope it reaches teen readers.

Dinner party tonight!

Spooky Links

The Gift of ADHD (in relationship to creativity) from MSN Health and Fitness.

Sending a wave to PR from me and James Dean!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Me, royalty?

Am still aglow after my best-ever royalty statement, in part so good because of the sale of reader rights for JD to SF. Oh, how do I love subrights?

Along those same lines, I'm printing multiple copies of T to send to my agent--one for audio, one for foreign, one for film.

Think happy money thoughts for me! I'm trying to afford dining room chairs. (I have the table so the absence is, um, somewhat noticeable).

By the way, it takes forever to print a 49,079 word mss four times (I need one for myself, too--you know, to cuddle on dark, rainy nights).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Neurotic But Happy Author

I sent off my copyedits with an email saying they're incoming. Then, after talking to GLS last night about LB style, I sent another note clarifying that "STET" meant "no change" and "OK" meant "change accepted." I'm sure she thinks I'm a lunatic, but apparently for LB, "OK as is" means "no change," which is the exact opposite.

You see what I mean: I am a lunatic.

In any case, I sent the package via FedEx with a "If you've got it, haunt it" card, which features a vampy chick on the front and was released by Hallmark last year (I stocked up).

Then GLS took me to Threadgill's (the original, not the touristy south one) for dinner (bronzed catfish, broccoli cheese casserole, and green bean casserole)--you have to love a place where so many of the listed "vegetables" have meat in them and others are listed under a non-dairy subgroup.

Then we hit The Driskill for drinks--no ghost incidents in the ladies room this time (though it's now $10 a glass for wine that sells for $15 a bottle). That said, the pianist was divine!

Must run errands today as copyedits went yesterday and VC packets arrive tomorrow!

Spooky Link

Australian scientists spark controversy with a discovery of small bones suggesting the existence of a prehistoric 'hobbit'-like species from Time magazine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Burned Orange?

Just finished pouring through copyedits on T. Overall, a splendid job! The mss is much improved for the effort on all fronts. I only hope the CW editors can decipher my own notes.

On the regional front, I STETed a handful of tightening efforts for "economy of language" that cut against the southwestern voice and my use of "burnt" rather than "burned" orange for the U.T. color.

Spooky Links

In case you missed it, be sure to catch Arthur Slade on Monsterology (Tundra, 2005) from cynsations. His site also features a new audio interview with Count Dracula.

Gator-guzzling Python Comes to Messy End from [Ew.]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Party Prep

We're hosting the Austin SCBWI pre-conference party for speakers and volunteers here at the house, so we're in big-time polish and decorate mode.

Spooky Link

An Interview with Matt Madden by Daniel Nester from Bookslut. "There’s a feeling, especially among underground and alternative cartoonists, that comics should remain lowly so that it remains under the cultural radar..."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Just received copyedits on T--very jazzed! Plan to start on them tomorrow.

Also GLS made the most divine shrimp Creole for dinner last night.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cross-Eyed Cyn

Am meticulously combing through the redesign of the Web site (which will hopefully launch in the near future). Eyes are watering, back aches, tendon may go into repetitive motion disorder at any moment. Whine. Sob.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Spooky T-shirts

Target is selling orange ladies' Ts with "Spooky" written in gothic lettering.

I bought two!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Rudolph RIP

Air force payout cures Santa woes: The Danish air force has admitted causing the death of Rudolph the reindeer and has paid compensation to Father Christmas. From BBC News.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

James Dean RIP

It's the anniversary of James Dean's death, which reminds me of all those oldies songs that romanticized death. It's ironic when you consider how psychotic some parents are about gothic imagery, as if it were somehow new.

Of course I suppose you could say the same about Eartha Kitt songs and sex. Do you listen to Eartha? I'm a fan.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deadly Sins

I'm at Whole Foods last night, and the checkout clerk has tattooed onto her arm spider webs and stars, each star labeled with one of the 7 deadly sins. I could see "lust" and "sloth" from my angle.

It kind of got me thinking about lust and sloth, and whether people could have both at once. It seems like lust would motivate you beyond sloth. But if it didn't, I suppose that would be tragic.

I have no idea what normal people think about.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Use A Paper Towel To Open The Bathroom Door

Pretty low-key day here. I had lunch with a promising new YA/adult writer at Z Tejas. Then GLS and I headed to Central Market to grocery shop. Halibut tonight! Or maybe shrimp.

Spooky Link

Women's Hands Are Cleaner Than Men's: 90 percent of women wash up after using restroom, survey confirms. ("The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game.")

"Desperate" Marathon

GLS and I watched "Desperate Housewives" season 1 eps all day today in preparation for tonight's season 2 premier, which wasn't quite we might've hoped. That said, the Rex funeral/tie scene was kind And I'm intrigued by whatever's going on in the Applewhite's basement.

Beyond that, I knocked out another three pages on F&M, which has been fun and fluid so far.

But I'm most jazzed that KH suggested something about my being WW in disguise. Flattered really. Giddy actually.

The post-Rita scene is mellowing out. Houstonites seem headed home, if not today then Monday.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Another Indie Gone

It looks like GLS and I won't be signing in McKinney, Texas next weekend because the indie bookstore where we were scheduled to appear is closing.

We're pretty much holed up this weekend, watching "Desperate Housewives" season one on DVD. After figuring out how much it would cost us to rent all the discs, we decided to just go ahead and make the investment. It's a good activity as the roads are all packed this weekend.

Wrote 3 pages of F&M today and have tons O notes for tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back In The Saddle

I started my first draft of F&M today. I did the statutory two pages, which, given the chapter head spacing, ended up at about 400 words. Perhaps you thinking, But wait, Cyn, didn't you already finish a rough draft of F&M last winter?

The answer is, yes, careful reader. But self-punishing thing that I am, I routinely throw out the first draft that is keyed out (no great loss to humanity, I promise) and start over, taking what sticks with me and heightening everything.

At this rate, I'll probably have a new, complete draft by the end of January, depending on any unanticipated schedule fluctuations. From that, I hope to have a workable version of the mss that will eventually go to my agent. My spring is as lightly scheduled this year as fall is packed.

Driving up Exposition (should be renamed "McMansion Avenue") today, I noticed tons of cars and trucks lining both sides of the street near O. Henry Middle School. I'm guessing it's one of the evacuee shelters, which explains why that Randall's off Lake Austin was so bought out yesterday. GLS told me we have something like 40,000 Rita-related visitors in shelters, in addition to everyone staying with friends family, and the 65,000 ACL crowd. Put mildly, the roads are crowded, but beyond that, the city plan seems to be working. (Really heartening when you think about it). Right now, you can still get premium gas here, but that's it.

In other local news, L&S are planning a free bash to "thank Austin for its support of his athletic feats and his charitable endeavors." The couple is paying for the whole show. That's so gracious, don't you think? Congrats to them both on the engagement, too!

Out of the Cone

What a difference a couple of days makes. Austin was originally directly in line with the incoming eye of Rita, but now that she's swung so far north, we may not even get rain. My thoughts are still with those northeast.

Crit group last night was big fun (featuring pizza). Congrats to AB on all her good news, SP for his admission to VC, and TC for launching his new mss.

Spooky Links

Thanks to KGL for blinking (blog+linking) to spookycyn.

Study: Half of All Teens Have Had Oral Sex by Laura Sessions Step from the Washington Post. September 16, 2005. Of interest because of its heightened inclusion in YA literature of late, both more and less controversial. Or perhaps it's a function of marketing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Rita is apparently upswinging to Galveston/Houston, which population-wise is awful.

I stopped by Randall's today, and there's no more water left. It's not a panic or anything, just prudence. Austin is no longer in the eye zone as predicted yesterday, but the city is still telling people to be ready for a blackout, flooding, etc., for a couple of days. There are still lots of options, though. People can always go to The Container Store or a camping store and just fill up jugs.

The friendly guy ahead of me in line said that he'd just driven in from Galveston at about 4 miles per hour. I heard on the radio that people were running out of gas on the highway, so the governor is having it delivered to them. Traffic here is pretty intense though because of evacuees.

So far the city/state officials seem to be on top of things, and people are heeding all warnings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Inland Update

Now the news is saying that Travis County is too far inland to be hit with hurricane force, which we kind of figured. That will level off a county or two east--sort of around the A ranch, for those of you who went to that series of Austin-Brazos Valley SCBWI conferences there. KA is already vacated, though. No worries.

Still, we'll have weather. Because the terrace doesn't drain properly (at least by 2005) standards, we picked up some bags of soil to protect the doors into the sun room.

Usually in Texas "Rita" Is A Good Thing

Apparently the news is that the Gulf coast is getting slammed with a category 5 hurricane. For context, I just heard on the radio that Texas has never had a category 5. Galveston was a 4.

The incoming highway from Houston is packed. Supposedly, there's not a hotel room left for miles. The Texas A&M-Texas State game was rescheduled for Thursday.

Austin is fairly inland, and they're still talking that Rita may be category 1-2 by the time she hits here. I'm guessing our biggest role will be taking more evacuees. I heard the Louisiana folks were heading to Arkansas.

GLS and I did the responsible thing, though--stocked up with the necessities (plus chocolate) and the refill for Bashi's inhaler. But again, we're fairly inland.

Here's sending out prayers to everyone from but hopefully not still on the coast.

But as of now, by the way, the Austin City Limits Festival is still on. It's expected to attract 65,000 fans.

Hanging Up

You remember "Hanging Up"--Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, Walter Matthau (2000)? Marketed as a comedy. The clips in the ads were funny. Actually, they were the only funny moments from the movie. A lot of people ended up hating a not-bad film because it wasn't what they'd expected.

Seems like more cover art is this way. Looks like comedy or even chick lit, but isn't so much. Clearly, the marketing idea is to sell via mass appeal, but I wonder about word of mouth (and reviews) thereafter.

Not that this is a sign of the apocalypse. But like most folks, I pick up my next read based on the mood I'm in and whether it's a match. Hm. Maybe content-consistent cover art doesn't matter for splash, but I bet it does for legs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"The Wonderful"

According to VJ's blog, he's making "The Wonderful" an official part of my name.

I like that.

I'm going to pitch it to GLS and the cats at dinner, see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2005

So, if I'm buried somewhere, does that make it an "Indian burial ground?"

I think so. I'm not sure whether I get to haunt it. However, I'm almost positive federal funds can't be used to build a highway over the property. A small victory, I suppose.

Spooky News & Links

New teen books stir up vampires, witches and sex by Kellye Carter Crocker from The Des Moines Register.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hi, Bob

You know the shetland-pony-sized lizard in the back yard?

Have decided to name him "Bob."

Spooky News & Links

Pssst! Where the devil is the exorcist meeting? Pope greets convention members, urges them to continue good work from Reuters. I saw that movie! Yikes.

Death Becomes Him: Tim Burton's gorgeous nightmares, plus penguin love by David Edelstein from reel time.

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

GLS and I were honored and thrilled to join YA author/columnist RP and friends for her party at home in celebration of her past 10 years cancer free!

Then we continued on to South Congress for the opening bash for Bo Salon. Color it THE new hip, hot, fabu Austin place to be for folicle fashion. Catering by Vespaio.

Spooky Links

Both Sides Now by Ruth Pennebaker (Laurel Leaf, 2002). Read an excerpt.

The Changing American Family from MSN Lifestyle. Because the new reality is as diverse as it is beautiful. Or should I say "bo?" Or "beaux?"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Something About September

One and a half VC packets read and one letter sent out. I would've made more progress, but there's something about September.

School has started up again, and I'm literally swamped with correspondence from event planners--upwards of 40 emails this week alone.

In each case, we're headlining their event of the season or the year whereas they're one of our many, which makes none any less an honor or priority, but nevertheless, I've been busy, busy, busy with replying, filing, staying on top of details.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


VC MFA packets came today, and I did my fourth semester student first. I plan to write the letter in the a.m., but the notes are all there.

Was reading DT's blog about dedications.

I dedicated Jingle Dancer (Morrow/Harper, 2000) to my great-aunt Anne. She's a great lady unto herself and in many ways stepped in for my Grandpa Ray, who died the year I was born, before I was born. They grew up together at the Indian school, and she was able to tell me about him as a child. Anyway, I love her, and it was the right first person.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) was dedicated to my cousin Liz (Cousin Liz in Jingle Dancer is named after her). She's a filmmaker and a teacher, raised in Oklahoma and Texas but making it in NYC and I'm so proud of her. Also the good decision.

Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) was dedicated to my grandparents, living and dead, biological and step. Because it's a collection of grandparent/grandchild stories, that felt true.

As for the next two under contract, I already know, but I'm not ready to share yet. No big surprises, I suspect, except maybe that authors/illustrators put far more thought into such things than most people would imagine.

Spooky Links

Thanks to HB for her congrats on my HWA full-member status! Thanks to LZ and DMF for their comments (I'm not sure I am getting your e's DMF?!), and, yes, to all who've wondered, I do read my LJ syndication comments, though not every day, and appreciate them all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Anyone from L.A.?

Go see the film "Happy Is Not Hard To Be," directed by YA author and filmaker Cecil Castellucci, YA author of Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005). It's playing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard. General admission tickets are $9.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Green Light on PB

Spent much of the morning awaiting the arrival of the dishwasher repair person, who did not come. When I called, it took much computer searching to find my request, and I was told said person would arrive tomorrow afternoon instead. Big sigh.

I also sent DL his interview questions and poured through the first section of my Web site (beta version; not yet live), which is in the process of being redesigned by LF. Exciting, but tedious, detail-type work. I'm expecting VC packets on Thursday, though, so I need to get as much done as possible before they arrive.

Best news O the day: our Dutton editor is happy with the pb rewrites, so we're done and the rest of our advance should arrive any day. Yay!

Spooky Link

Thanks to az-ang for writing in about Froot Loops.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Do I Seem Spookier Today Than Usual?

I'm pleased to report that in light of the sale and completion of T, I'm now officially a full member of the Horror Writers Association.


Paved With Good Intentions

Today I had every intention of putting together questions for my interview with DL for YALSA's quarterly print journal, but this afternoon, planners for two of my fall gigs were ready to talk admin details and my web designer sent me the beta version of my site redesign.

On the upside, I'm really jazzed about those two fall events, both of the small-town Texas variety, and I'm completely wowed by my site redesign in progress. LF is a wonder woman. I can't hardly wait until it's all done and ready to go live!

Also, I have a draft of my T essay. It still needs work, but I'll bring it and my multicult essay to group on the 22nd. Five minds are better than one!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

La-Ti-Da Snack Rec

Austinites: try the 7-grain French bread at Central Market on N. Lamar with micro-heated Brie. You'll be glad you did. Also, if you are a serious Froot Loops fan, write me now or forever hold your peace.

Rainy Day

Children's/YA writers often are criticized for showing reality that's not all fuzzy bunnies and sunshine. Why, though? Really, why?

To protect kids from the books? That doesn't even make sense. If they can't handle crisis from the safety of a book, then daily life will incapacitate them.

I think that's just a smokescreen, that the real reason is that these critics don't want to take responsibility for the part they play (if only through omission) in making the world this way--the good, the bad, the in-between. They feel guilty, maybe, for letting down the generation who'll inherit it all.

So rather than deal with truth--even through fiction--they condemn its telling.

Spooky Links

Dream Dictionary from MSN Astrology. "Your guide to interpreting your dreams."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Goodbye, JB!

After hearing EK speak at the Austin SCBWI meeting, GLS and I joined JL and JB for lunch at Macaroni Grill. JB is moving back to Michigan. She'll be missed in Central Texas.

Then I dropped off GLS at home to do law stuff and went shopping. Picked up new pillows for the daybed in the sunroom and a ribbon skirt that looks very much like those sometimes worn by Southeast Indian ladies--when did we become the cutting edge of mainstream fashion?

It also appears that brown is the new black (or maybe that was last year; I can't keep up).

Friday, September 09, 2005

The U.T. Club

DS-B joined GLS and I out to lunch at the U.T. Club today to celebrate her signing with RS and her recent sale to S&S. DS-B is a Middle Eastern Studies and Art History prof at the U, and her first pb was The History of Counting, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow, 1999).

We all went for the buffet, so I had a salad with blue cheese, blue cheese dressing (hey, I love blue cheese), and sunflower seeds, broccoli, artichoke-stuffed chicken, strawberries, and so on. GLS had prime rib and chocolate cake, among other delights.

I made some hefty progress on the D-to-T article, especially with regard to gender roles of the Victorian age (hey, I sound like LB!). Anyway, I still need to address the need for and fuction of gothic fantasy in the close, but I should have a draft done before my packets arrive.

No progress on the fiction front, though I suppose it's all still background, but I may just wait to hit it hard after I'm done grading. October is a low-travel month with perfect ambience. I fully intend to have a workable draft by the end of December.

Attention Austinites: the Louisiana-born owner of an East Austin soul food restaurant, Lola Stephens, and her family and friends are organizing a party starting at 1:00 p.m. Sun. Sept. 11, at her restaurant Nubian Queen Lo-La's Cajun, Soul Food, and BBQ Kitchen, at 1815 Rosewood (corner of Chicon). Lola wants to welcome fellow Louisianians to her new home state by offering them the chance to stage their own musical benefit to raise funds for their resettlement. Every penny raised will go directly to the performers who are currently staying at the Convention Center. -- Source: Texas Folklife Resources.

Suddenly, I'm Amish

My CD player died yesterday--moment of silence--and so I headed to Target for a replacement. Apparently, you can no longer just buy a CD player for your precious Shania, Cher, and Xanadu albums. You must instead buy something that also plays MP3s. I don't even know what an MP3 is, but according to GLS, it can fit a bagillion songs on something the size of a credit card. Too small, too many songs, I'm not interested. Ick. Perhaps I will ask SP to explain it to me.

Plus, I surrendered on my T-to-D essay, only to realize--gasp!--the problem was my topic was too broad. A very snafu I've pointed out to other folks time and time again and yet, here I am, victim to it. I will narrow in the morn.

On the upside, Kerbey Lane Cafe (on Kerbey Lane of course!) has changed its menu since my last visit. I highly recommend the hummus and pitas.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fiction anyone?

On the writing front, I have a draft of my U. press essay and four pages of a draft on the T essay. On the latter, I just need to include a section on gender sensibility, then piece together the conclusion.

It's starting to really bug me that I'm not working on F&M. I came up with a decent first line today, though, so maybe the enforced break is a gift in disguise.

In other news, still no sign of the marked-up mss on H either. But (deep breath) no hurries. If it doesn't come soon, I'll just give him a hard copy and red pen once he hits Casa L-S in October. (Bahahahaha).

Spooky Links

Congrats to LZ on her new home!


Tenderfeet actually.

So, I'm having a great morning. I was awakened by Boo kitty chewing on my hair (that is not the great part), checked my email, worked out (treadmill, Shania Twain), formatted an upcoming interview on cynsations with KWH, and got ready to have lunch with GB at ZTejas on 6th.

For some insane reason, I decide to (a) wear my 3 inch wedges and (b) walk down the steep side of Castle Hill via the asphalt-paved street. It's a big hill. A Hillcountry hill. People from San Francisco would say, "Hey, that's a hill!"

About half way down, it became clear I was going to wipe out. So, I take off my shoes and walk babysteps down the rest of the gravely, glass-ridden alley street in my bare feet. In Texas. In the summer. On asphalt. Can we say "ouch"?

On the upside, GB was lovely company and ZTejas is running this special chili menu. Try the green chili chicken soup.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blood In The Mail

Today I sent in my documentation in support of my membership in the Horror Writers Association. Proof that my advance and royalties were at a certain level and that my manuscript contains an element of horror. Basically, copies of excerpts from my contract and the second half of my advance for T.

It's much harder for a children's/YA writer to become a full member of the HWA than, say, SCBWI. Among other things, there's a word minimum for manuscripts to qualify, and some YAs, most middle grades, and all picture books would be shorter. T is an upper (14-up) YA though.

I also sent postcards for GLS announcing Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005). I'm such the devoted wife, I know.

Spooky Links

Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes (Unbridled Books, 2005); debut novel from the anthologist of Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales (Candlewick, 2004).

Thanks to AS for the cyber anniversary card!