Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On the Radio and Austin B&N Authors of the Month

GLS and I had a great interview this morning about Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) on KCMN 1530 A.M.

It's been a while since my last radio interview. I did a few for Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) a few years back.

Basically, you have to be quick-witted, upbeat, and mention your title as many times as possible. The host was great though, and really gave us time to answer the questions.

GLS and I both spoke from my office on our main land line, pulling in a phone from the bedroom seating area on a long cord.

We would gesture to one another to decide who would take which question and mostly traded off. It was a good system because if one of us had a mind blank, the other was there to jump in.

I just scribbled off our thank you card to the program director/host.

This afternoon, we swung by the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble to meet with the Austin area B&N CRMs. We're honored to be the Austin area B&N authors of the month for December. This involves special displays and posters, which we autographed. Very exciting!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Twig

Thanksgiving was lovely. AB was kind enough to join us for dinner.

I also think I've gotten all my NCTE/ALAN thank yous and follow-ups done.

Yesterday, GLS and I hopped on I-35 south for a successful storytime signing at The Twig in San Antonio. We also brought Hershey's Kisses (those with the caramel centers were most popular) and the booksellers served cookies with orange sprinklers in honor of the U.T. football game. It was a particular treat to see CR there. She's a VC grad and a past Southwest Texas SCBWI RA. She mentioned how successful their recent conference was and what a treat it was to host MDB.

Then yesterday, I wrapped up my upcoming interviews with DMF and MetroFamily Magazine. I'll let you know when they go live. In addition, I got maybe fifty pages of changes keyed in on E.

Today, I'm off to the Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley (Austin area) for a Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) storytime at 11 a.m., and then GLS and I plan to stop by AB's house to celebrate KA's good news. I'm reading a mss for a pal tonight.

But things should begin to downshift from here on. We still have three Santa Knows signings, two radio interviews, one public library, and a partridge in a pear tree. But they're all local.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Syndication Glitches

Spookycyn and Cynsations LJ readers, please click the link to read my posts at Blogger. My apologies for the connection acting up. This happens periodically and always seems to resolve itself. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Holiday Intermission

It's Thanksgiving morning, I'm just home yesterday from NCTE/ALAN in Nashville, and my puffy purring white cat Blizzard Bently is curled on my lap, clinging to me like I was gone 500 days (rather than five). I missed the furry bunch, too. JAP was telling me at ALAN about fostering kittens, and I dreamt about them that night.

I feel so out of sync with the holiday. Having been gone and preparing for my Santa Knows signing tomorrow morning at The Twig in San Antonio, I hadn't given much thought to Thanksgiving until today (except to realize that my diet had tanked amdist the choices of the Gaylord Opryland, so it will not be the traditional T-day feast for me, which is not to say I regret my grits).

GLS is just back from shopping, and he tells me he's serving salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, followed by poached Cornish game hens and lobster for dinner. (You can always tell when he takes a credit card unaccompanied to Whole Foods).

For those of you in the U.S. who celebrate it, have a wonderful and blessed day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Santa in College Station, at the Junior League

On Wednesday night, we drove to College Station for a TV interview on KAMU TV Texas A&M University. It went well. I liked being on a furnished stage within the otherwise warehouse setting. One challenge though was that the highly reflective paper of the picture book made it difficult to show the art on camera.

We also signed stock copies of Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) at Barnes and Noble in College Station, Texas (711 Texas Avenue South) and at Jacque's Toys in Bryan, Texas (4301 B S. Texas Ave.). In addition, I dropped of an ARC and bookmark for Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) with the B&N CRM.

A highlight of the trip was dinner with author-librarian DL at Cafe Eccell. I had the crab cakes.

On Thursday, GLS and I autographed Santa Knows from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the information booth of the Austin Junior League's "A Christmas Affair." This year's theme was "Home for the Holidays" so they invited Austin area authors to participate. I was wowed by the volunteers. With their help and support we sold out our stack of 75 books in four hours.

The lovely JL overlapped and followed, signing Galveston's Summer of the Storm (TCU, 2003) at the author's corner.

The event is ongoing through the weekend. Parking is at a premium, but I highly recommend Austinites check it out.

Research Topics: Chinese Astrology.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lovely Libba

Wahoo! How much fun was it to spend yesterday evening with the glamorous LB, who was in town from NYC for the Texas State Reading Association conference? So very incredibly much.

We visited BookPeople and signed stock of Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) while she shopped for toys and gave me a Good versus Evil Unicorn Playset. Love it!

Then we continued onto dinner at Green Pastures (Texas appetizers sampler, crispy mushrooms, sea bass with crayfish, ice cream with chocolate sauce and nuts--split three ways) and continued on for drinks at the Driskill Hotel.

Grading and writing are both ongoing. Research topics: 100 Worst Aviation Accidents, Devil's Night.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fancy Dancing Santa

I'm living in this odd mental state, juxtaposed between Native American Heritage Month and the North Pole. Last night, I dreamt that I was on a book event panel and Santa was fancy dancing around the table as I was answering the moderator's questions. The weird thing is that's not hard to explain.

November is always a time of many teacher and librarian information requests, much like Black History Month for African American authors, I'm sure. My website traffic zooms, too. I try to support those who're using my Native-themed books with kids and refer them to quality support resources. This year I'm also busy promoting Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006). GLS and I have nine speaking/critiquing/signing/media events for fall down and thirteen to go!

It looks like I'm going to have more writing time than I expected this week, though. So, I'm off to jump on the treadmill and then dive back into E. Time to write some new scenes!

Spooky Notes

So, yesterday, I'm having lunch at Mangia Pizza (Chicago-style thin crust on whole wheat) on Lake Austin Boulevard, and I notice a movie poster on the wall behind me. Has anyone ever heard of "Spamorama: The Movie"?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Library Love

I'm grading VC packets and celebrating the passing of the bond for the new central public library here in Austin as well as the election of one of my law school classmates, Robert Wilson (Democrat), to the Borough Council in Somerville, NJ.

Last night, I had a wonderful time speaking to Dr. Leavell's children's literature class at St. Edward's U in south Austin. Someone asked whether I have more fun writing fantasy or realistic fiction, which I thought was a good question. The challenge in answering it though is that I always love most the manuscript I'm working on at the moment. So right now I'm all about E. That's sort of necessary. But with that caveat, what I love most about fantasy writing is world building, and what I love most about realistic fiction is finding the angles at which I tackle the realistic aspects.

In other news, I spent a day integrating the fruits of my organizational efforts into the third rough draft of E. Research Topics: sunrises and sunsets; Oklahoma City Bombing; L.A. Riots; Our Lady of Angels Fire. Ended up using only the first of those.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Story Compass

Massive organizational push today on E.

This is what I had: several chapters with scenes written, followed by a lot of notes and rougher-than-scene vignettes.

This is what I have ten hours later: same scenes as above, plus quasi-organized new and date-stamped chapter headings leading to the falling action, each of which begins with a summary of what must happen and is followed by related notes.

I also gave one character, previously mentioned in passing, a last name and a larger role, which solves an interior development issue I was having with M, one of my co-protagonists. In addition, I changed one name.

Notes on known revision points are at the end, but I want to make it through a draft before I address them.

I'm a plunger-plotter hybrid. Plunge and then figure out how to swim. On my third first draft, it looks like I've got the plot 85% figured out and have at least a tentative title for each chapter.

I love chapter titles. I can see where you might want to just stay in the story itself, but to me, it's part of the rhythm of a novel. Also, it's an opportunity.

Research topics included: James Dean; Irish boy names.

Enough for today. My brain is leeking out of my ears.

San Angelo

On Friday, GLS and I packed up and headed out to West Texas--about three and a half hours of Hill Country and flatland roads past cotton fields, small towns, ranches, cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and barbecue restaurants to San Angelo to keynote at the Fifth Annual Fall Literacy Conference "Reading and Writing: Not an English Thing, but an Everything!" ("Literacy is the common thread that connects all learning.") on Nov. 4 at Angelo State University.

The event included a giveaway, book sale, and several breakout sessions. Lesson plan displays featured the work of EC, MG, and LN. Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) was our biggest seller.

San Angelo itself is a charming town with friendly folks, downtown shopping, a saddle-shaped art museum as well as the traditional West Texas enthusiasm for football (think: "Friday Night Lights") and deer hunting (it won't be a bad season, but trophies won't be what they were in previous years).

We were put up at the new Fairfield Inn on Knickerbocker, which was clean, comfortable, and convenient with good service and a computer for free Internet use. (It's a division of the Marriott).

On Friday night, the leadership group was kind enough to welcome us for dinner at Miss Hattie's Cafe and Saloon on Each Concho Street. As they once said, "Miss Hattie's business was the hospitality business. She found great pleasure in entertaining her clients. She believed that if she created a place that was intimate ...private...and ...romatic, no one could resist what she had to offer." (I had the shrimp scampi with wild rice and mixed veggies). Sadly, we did not have time to visit Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum.

However, we did stop by for a peek at the lobby of the Cactus Hotel, which was the fourth built by Conrad Hilton. A stage was set and two very young girls in gowns were rehearsing for an upcoming production of "Cinderella."

We also enjoyed lunch on Saturday at Mr. T's Deli, which apparently used to be a general store, (I had the cheese hotdog with waffle fries) on W. Avenue J. in the historic neighborhood.

Spooky News & Links

On Wednesday, I also voted early at the Howson Branch of the Austin Public Library in Tarrytown. Austinites: remember that the proposal for a new central library is on the ballot!

LF has updated my website, now current with the September status of Cynsations.