Saturday, September 30, 2006

All About E

If you're on one of my writing e-lists, you may notice me getting a lot quieter for a while. With my speeches (90%) ready to go, my office cleaned, and my Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) promo prep about as far along as I can take it, I'm moving E up to the top of my priority list.

Don't get me wrong. Events and grading also are forthcoming, but the mss will rise to the top of the pile. So, I'm Craft Woman again, which feels good.

To get started on the mega revision, I've made my ceremonial trip to OfficeMax to buy three legal size expanding wallet folders and some heart-shaped Post-it notes. Step two will be to read through the previous draft. I was going to start completely over, which I so love to do and have already done on this project. But I do want to preserve the setting, minor characters, and a couple of scenes.

By the way, I'll be posting this link to Cynsations next week, but if you'd like a peek, Authorlink is featuring a new interview with GLS and I about Santa Knows.

Inflatable Snowman

Inspired by our upcoming party, GLS and I decided to invest in some outdoor lighting from Lowes.

The holiday decorations were going up at the store, and they included a 12' inflatable plastic snowman whose lower half is a "snow globe" that housed an inflatable Santa, another inflatable snowman, and a Christmas tree. It sort of suggests that the giant snowman swallowed the rest.

The "globe" portion includes some sort of fan to blow what looks like small Styrofoam balls. Retails for $179. It's kind of stunning.

Yesterday, I had a lunch with GB at Castle Hill Cafe to discuss a suprise I'm not quite ready to unveil to Spookycyn readers (but will soon!). I had the Spicy Szechuan "Hacked" Chicken Salad on field greens and Napa cabbage with corn relish, honey walnuts, fried dumplings, and sesame-ginger Dressing, but I was too busy chatting to eat much of it.

GLS took me to dinner last night at Hyde Park Bar and Grill though, and I was wowed by a special appetizer--Red Chile Shrimp Satay (Black tiger shrimp on bamboo skewers, painted with red chile and grilled, served with a satay sauce and topped with roasted peanuts). Very spicy!

It's also been a while since I've had a supernatural sighting, but I'm positive I spotted a tiny green fairie walking north on a sidewalk on Duval.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Drakula Romanian Restaurant

Since GB told me about this place a couple of weeks ago, I've been dying to go to Drakula Romanian Restaurant at Anderson Square. Immigrant-family owned in North Austin, it's tucked modestly into a stripmall off the highway, small and decorated with souvenirs of the home country. Its Drakula sign is strikingly gothic, but the atmosphere paled against the attentive charms of the wait staff.

GLS and I split an assorted Romanian appetizer plate (Chiftelute/Romanian Meatballs, Salam/Salami, Icre/Caviar spread, and Telemea/Feta cheese). For dinner I indulged in Castelul lui Drakula/Drakula's Castle, which was a huge mountain of chicken and pork, both grilled, with cheese and mushrooms in a mushroom sauce over lima greens, green beans, carrots, and corn. I managed to eat about half of it and took the rest to go. GLS and I also split a bottle of the Vampire pinor noir because, you know, when in Romania...

More Romanian-Hungarian than vampish, though as a vampire restaurant novelist, I appreciated the wine and their sense of humor about it. Decorated with various images of Vlad--the historic, not fictional. Affordable. Outstanding food. We'll definitely return. I really wanted a T-shirt, but they were temporarily sold out.

Located at 8120 Research Boulevard, Suite 104-B in Austin; open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday; closed Sundays.

In other news, I finished my fifth speech and, speaking of the Dark Master, am firmly back to work on manuscripts with E as my prime focus. Lunch today with AL at the new Austin Chinatown Center!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Speech Writing

I've written four speeches so far in the past two weeks. I still have another keynote to go, and I plan to begin working on it tomorrow, hopefully to finish by week's end.

Talks with GLS tend to run about 20 minutes each, which--with introductions and questions--makes for a nice hour. (It's lovely having a partner at the podium in part because neither of you has to carry the whole show and in part because the audience seems to appreciate the shift/mix.) Panels with multiple authors tend to go about ten minutes. A keynote can go 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes shorter.

I took Speech at Johnson County Community College (KS) the summer after my freshman year. I'd wanted to finish up my requirements for the KU Journalism School as soon as possible so I could get on with courses in my news/editorial major. It was a small, upbeat, outstanding class. But you know, it never dawned on me at 19 that writing and delivering speeches would someday be a career cornerstone.

In other news, GLS and I had lunch yesterday at Houlihan's with CH. I recommend the French onion soup. Very cheesy.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Santa Postcards

It's thunder-storming outside, so I'll shut down the computer after posting.

Let's see... I've finished critiquing the second round of VC packets. Picked up my Santa Knows postcards at Sterling Printing & Copying this week, and GLS and I are watching multiple seasons of "Fraiser" on DVD (Niles and Daphne just ran off in the Winnebago) in the sunroom and making them out to our contacts.

This morning, we worked together on a media interview, which we'll checkover tomorrow and send back to the editor.

Not that we haven't always helped each other with this sort of thing, but it's fun being co-authors. I'm feeling very Team Leitich Smith today.

Now, it's Mulligan stew for dinner and then back to work!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Let Me Check My Calendar...

Wow, I fielded five event invitations today! That strikes me as a lot, even with everyone settled into the school year. I wish I could say "yes" to them all, but I book fast--usually a year in advance for distance gigs, though local ones can be more last minute--and have to reserve time for my writing and teaching.

For existing fall 06 events, so far I've written two major speeches and have one more keynote and three more panels to go. On one of the panels, I need to wait to hear from the coordinator for more info, but otherwise, I plan to finish up immediately after round two of VC packets, which are starting to arrive today. This will hopefully include my first foray into PowerPoint (feel free to mock; I know I'm late on the bus).

Today's highlight was lunch with LG (author interview) at Suzi's North. We had a great time chatting. What an inspirational woman!

Spooky Links

Santa Clauses Come to Town: At a workshop in San Dimas, dozens of St. Nicks make lists-- of tips-- brush up on their ho-hos and learn how to be nice, not naughty. By Jean Merl, Staff Writer, from The Los Angeles Times. September 17, 2006. Thanks to publicist Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations for sending this link.

"What Kind of Shapeshifter are You?" from Amelia Atwater-Rhodes at Random House. Note: I'm an avian.

Conference Critiques

Productive rainy weekend here. I finished critiquing my share of the manuscripts for the upcoming Austin SCBWI conference. I read 10-ish page partials, each with a synopsis, and my responses ran one-to-three single-spaced pages. It's too late to submit a manuscript for critique, but not to register for the conference. I'd love to see some Spookycyn readers there!

Here's the information:

The Austin chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators announces its Fall 2006 Conference, "Follow Me" (PDF). The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Texas School for the Deaf at 1102 South Congress in near south Austin. Licensing agent Suzanne Cruise has been recently added to the faculty. Other featured speakers will include agent Sara Crowe of the Harvey Klinger Agency, author Bruce Coville, author-book doctor Esther Hershenhorn (interview), Clarion associate editor Lynne Polvino, illustrator Tony Sansevero, and illustrator Don Tate (interview)(blog). Faculty also includes Dianna Hutts Aston (interview) and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Learn more about the conference.

Note: Sara represents authors of middle grade, YA, and adult fiction.

Thanks to the following Spookycyn LJ syndication readers for their recent comments: cfaughnan and arialas on my wedding anniversary.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Santa Is In The House

What an exciting couple of days! My author copies of Santa Knows, co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Björkman (Dutton, 2006), have arrived. I can hug them (and I am!).

You know, I've published a number of short stories in various anthologies, but it's been a while since I had a new book out. Indian Shoes was a HarperCollins spring 2002 release. Plus, my last picture book, Jingle Dancer (Morrow/HarperCollins) was published in 2000.

Last night I did a really fun online chat with the Institute of Children's Literature, moderated by Jan Fields, and the transcript is already available online. My apologies for the typos; my fingers were flying fast.

Today I had lunch with the charming Jennifer Ziegler, the debut author of Alpha Dog (Random House, 2006)(excerpt) at Katz's. Now, I must run--crit group tonight; we're serving Chicago-style hot dogs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sanguini's Logo in Development

I'm fairly loving my final cover art for Tantalize (front and back), complete with glowing blurbs from ACK and LB, both gothic fantasy goddesses and among the writers I admire most. There's also a bat, which is just gloriously Austin-ish. I'll see what I can do to get the whole thing online.

Today I had lunch with GB, who some of you may know from Austin SCBWI and also works at GSD&M (the people who launched the "Don't Mess With Texas" highways litter campaign). We went to Cafe Josie on Sixth to discuss his designing a logo for Sanguini's, the fictional restaurant featured in the upcoming novel. My plan is to create a CafePress shop for fans,, a certain author who really wants a T-shirt.

Beyond that I changed my blog descriptions (see box above and on Cynsations) as each as evolved into a slightly different beast than I'd originally envisioned.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Los Gatos Black on Halloween

It's been pretty spooky lately over at Cynsations. Don't miss interviews with author Marisa Montes and illustrator Yuyi Morales on their new picture book, Los Gatos Black on Halloween (Henry Holt, 2006).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Austin's Chinatown Center

Yesterday, GLS and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. That morning, I came downstairs to find a dozen red roses and him preparing lox and bagels for breakfast.

That afternoon, we cruised north on Lamar to the new M.T. Market at the new Chinatown Center. Having once lived one El-stop north of Chicago's Chinatown (and visited often), we're especially excited about this development. GLS is Japanese-American on his mom's side, and grew up eating some of the ingredients featured there that aren't available in most groceries.

Various items that caught my eye included quail eggs in water, boiled lotus seeds, Thai red rice (pretty!), and the live Tilapia and Catfish (they also had lobster). The prices were great--big gulf shrimp at $4.49/lb. You could also buy big--anyone hungry for a 6 lb/2 onz. can of straw mushrooms? GLS picked up a gallon of Kikkoman Soy Sauce, which we use practically every day--it was heavy, like carrying around a can of motor oil. The store also includes a large housewares section, primarily kitchenware. The clientele was diverse, but predominately Asian (there's a sizable and quickly growing population in north Austin).

The rest of the development is filling in, though there are still plenty of storefronts available. I'm eager to try the Asian BBQ restaurant, and I found myself charmed by some of the Asian dresses in the shop next to the grocery store. I'll be back.

That evening, we dined at Sullivan's. GLS and I split the lump crab meat appetizer. An iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing came with his steak and with my lobster. We split the greenbeans, he had mashed potatoes, and we split complimentary berries for dessert.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Weekend of Writers

To me, the people of the book world are blessings, home, heartening.

Along those lines, I've had a great few days. GLS and I had a lovely dinner with FB and BY at Eastside Cafe Thursday night. I had a mixed greens salad and mushroom-artichoke-chicken soup. Then I joined JW for lunch Friday at the 1886 Cafe & Bakery at the Driskill for an omelet and gazpacho.

On Saturday morning... Imagine sixteen writers gathered in a circle on a sweeping lakeside porch, sharing their triumphs and challenges--manuscripts sold, declined, set aside; agents won and lost; writing epiphanies, renewed energies; personal and professional downs and ups. It was a wonderful, joyous, laughing and supportive group, ranging in age from twenties to nineties. Of those with an online persona, you can find out more about MGM (author interview), MD, BY, FH, AL (author interview; blog), JW (author interview), JW (author interview, LJ), JL (author interview), NJO, and AB (author interview; blog; blogger interview).

Today I'm typing Q&A interview questions for my publicist, RG, to include in the Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) media kit, and see how far I get from there. I'd like to start pulling research for the E revision, which is at the top of my priority list.

Tomorrow is mine at GLS's wedding anniversary. I look forward to it.