I miss Texas so much, even the cattle are looking good.
Silly me, I thought my work on What Can’t Wait was DONE when I finished it. Little did I know that the work of getting the word out was just beginning. Thinking about publicity has actually been a blessing in disguise because it’s given me opportunities to reconnect with teachers, students, and librarians–some of my favorite people! I especially love getting to be back in touch with students in classroom/school settings.
Work and fun get folded in together–Liam and I’ll be in Texas for a week promoting the book and hanging out with family.
East Texas folks, you can find me at the Longview Books-A-Million from 10-2 on Saturday, March 5. BTW, it’s my birthday, so you can be extra nice to your favorite author!
March 7-11, I’ll be doing school visits in Houston. Can’t wait to go “home” to Chavez, and visit with kids at Bellaire, LECJ, YES! College Prep, and other campuses.
On March 12, find me at the Pasadena Barnes and Noble at 2 p.m.!
I’m only in Texas for a week, but you can bring me to your school, library, or book club via Skype any time. If you’re interested in a virtual visit, contact me for details.
I wish I had a green field instead of slushy mushy snow for my jumping with joy.
What Can’t Wait just got some serious love in this great review ofWhat Can’t Wait over at the fun and irreverent Forever Young Adult site. Now, I love FYA, so I’m stoked just to have my book reviewed there, but beyond that, Erin connected to the book and really, really got it. Plus she’s an amazingly funny writer. So get over there, check out her review. It goes great with chocolate ice cream, donuts, or even rice cakes. Thank you, Erin.
While you’re showing the love, check out an all-new interview at Actin’ Up with Books, where I talk about my secret reading shames, sequels, my shitty first draft of What Can’t Wait, and much more. Many thanks to Joli for coming up with rocking questions to get me talking!
Also, Kelsey Holder of the Indiana Daily Student did a fun profile of me that features some of my favorite things: my tattoo, my book, my husband, my son, my teaching, and my scheduling tricks! There’s a cute picture of Liam with his giraffe courtesy of the IDS photographers. If you missed them the first time around, you might want to do some blog-diving to get the full tattoo story and the scoop on the amazing “don’t break the chain” goal-tracking method.
Finally, in my editor’s words, What Can’t Wait more than made it through the KirkusReview buzzsaw. Among other things, the reviewer called the book “un magnifico debut” and praised its “hopeful but never too-tidy ending.” Not too shabby for our first big-press review, eh? Find the full review in the February 1 issue of Kirkus or online here after March 1.
All this love makes up for the fact that Liam, Arnie, and I have been taking turns getting sick for the past couple of weeks. It seems to be my turn. I think I need to buy stock in the Traditional Medicinals company; I’ve bought so many boxes of their fancy-pants Throat Coat tea that the CEO probably got a bonus.
This is what hangs over my desk still, a relic of my Houston teaching days.
I wrote this personal mission statement some five years ago when I was teaching high school in Houston, and it still hangs over my desk, keeping me on track and reminding me of my scholars. Here’s the explanation on the back side:
My mission statement is designed to help me combat the aspects of my character that would prevent me from living my life fully. I need to remind myself to be peaceful. Just because frustrating circumstances arise suddenly doesn’t mean that I have to become anxious. I can love, teach, and support my students without letting their problems send my brain and heart tumbling into chaos. “Be patient” finds its place in my statement because, once I’ve set a goal, I usually want to achieve it as quickly as possible. But sometimes the changes required are slow in coming. I must let the process take its course. This does not mean that I become passive, saying, “They’ll learn it eventually,” or, “I’ll write a book when the time is right.” No, I must also remember to be persistent. If one method fails, I will try another one. If one approach to helping a student doesn’t make a difference, I will try again. Never will I give up on others. Never will I give up on dreams. Never will I give up on myself. Instead, I will say to myself:
P.S. Reread as needed for inspiration. This is the only life you get; live it with joy and purpose.
Once upon a time, I was a teenager who had a garage darkroom. I read Margaret Atwood by that red light. The pages of my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale are curled up at the edges from being turned by damp fingers, and there’s still the smell of photography chemicals.
When I took photography classes in college, I loved composing images, but what I really loved was working in the darkroom. In those days before digital, you had to keep a little notebook so that you could remember the exposure times you used to get a print just right. It was complicated and messy, and I bet the results were rarely as perfect as with today’s awesomest digital camera.
I know that digital photography is so much more practical: you don’t need the darkroom and all the chemicals. You don’t need expensive photo paper or film. You can track the processes you used to improve an image easily. You can share photos in an instant.
And many digital photographs are beautiful. They can be art in other folks’ hands. (Although this, too, is up for debate, as this blog post, which ought to be titled, “Is Art Photography Dead?,” suggests.) But when I take pictures of my son with our digital camera, I cannot let myself think of them as anything other than snapshots. I have turned off the “art photography” part of my brain.
I had to because otherwise my heart would break every time I took a photo.
I miss the sound of film advancing in my camera. I miss winding film on those horrid little metal reels inside a black nylon bag. I miss the darkroom smell of chemicals and sawdust. I miss the cheap 1990 boombox that played static-y public radio in the days before iPods. I miss watching an image emerge in the developer. I miss pulling prints out of the water bath and hanging them up to dry.
I miss these things like places from a country I’ve chosen to leave and to which I know I’ll never return.
When all else fails to keep you in your chair to do the writing, head down to the Humane Society and get yourself a cuddly lap pet. I love it when our cat, Sugar Mama, curls up and falls asleep in my lap because it takes away the temptation to get up and mess around when I should be working. Of course, this was a much better strategy BEFORE I had a baby, but it might still work for those of you who are not yet knee-deep in the joys of parenting.
Even now, though, if I stay up late writing after my boys have gone to bed, Sugar stays up with me. She keeps her little kitty vigil. Writing is a little less lonely because of her, and I like to think that even if she doesn’t know what I’m doing exactly, she knows it’s important enough to skimp on sleep.
When I’m stuck in my writing, nothing helps more than taking a break to snuggle, and Sugar is always available. (No new mom in her right mind would wake up her baby just to snuggle… those minutes when they’re sleeping are precious!)
So, Sugar, this post’s for you. I know life has been a bit different since Liam showed up, but I also hope you know how much you mean to us. Would you like a cameo appearance in the next novel?
The downside to our Tuesday evening: the power went out (and still hasn’t come on). The upside to our Tuesday evening: WFIU featured What Can’t Wait on its weekly arts program, ArtWorks. Read more and listen to it here. Many thanks to Adam Schwartz for making such a wonderful interview happen!