Sunday, October 25, 2009

Writing Progress, all current projects.

updated 10/27
I am so preoccupied with the writing of the third book of the Resurrection of Magic trilogy that I am not writing blog posts (or anything else) very often. I will be MUCH more interesting in a few months. Until then, I think I will start putting my FB writing dailies up here, too. All in this one post, I mean. I will keep adding them to the bottom--you can read downward, oldest first, so it makes SOME's just a sketchy little writing diary as I wade through this third, complicated book:

((adding this later. I am now (11/7) splitting days between two projects
and the updates include The Faerie's Promise, book 3 Wishes and Wings))

Just made the *best* connection in the book. One of those things that drops into place like it has been machined into 1/1000th centimeter tolerance and fits! Oh I love my job.

Good morning, Richard is sick and I kiss him a lot, but I am hoping... Still flying on the third book of the trilogy--can't wait to go to work. LOVE the new covers for The Unicorn's Secret and The Faeries Promise, releasing spring 2010. New website coming up~~wrote the bio: I have such a weird life. Adult and YA readers: the experiment is working better than I ever thought possible.

I was awake between 3:00 and 5:30 whispering into my digicorder and walking the dark house back to front...staring at the moon through the trees. The book is getting deeper and wider.

I am writing like mad, like MAD, I tell you. It is an undescribable high when it comes this fast.....

Maybe getting what Richard has, coughing a little ...gave up on sleep at 4:30, have been working since. I'm writing Sadima's story but have to switch soon. Hahp's story interlocks; I must make them fit. The timelines--200 years apart in the first book-- are now within 40 years of concurrent. Sadima is fighting to stay whole: The boys are capable of anything at this point. Anything. So who knows? Not me. I love my job.

Another good day yesterday, two chapters added (they are short chapters, so about 3800 words.) I hope to add two more today. This helps make up for all the stare at the wall days...I had to spend time trying to get started! Today I will leave Sadima at a delicate... and painful.... crossroads to go see if Hahp and Gerrard are starting to see past the craziness...

The TLA panel I will be on: Cory Doctorow, Matt de la Pena, Chris Crutcher, Shannon Hale and me. And Ellen Hopkins tells me she and Sonya Sones will be on a panel with Lisa Shroeder. That is a lot of YA amazingness all at once. TLA should be huge fun this year. (adding this later, also Jenni Holm is coming. YAY!)

Here for two minutes, apologies to the people I am not responding to for real-time chat... I have to seriously WRITE a few months will have a little more time to play...NEW WEBsite coming soon...YAY!!

The nameless book three is flying. Which is good. Because it took a long time to START flying. But, of all things, there appears to be a love story emerging. Maybe. I can't quite tell yet. A really really REALLY weird one.

Just wrote a really good chapter. Let the twists begin!!!

Today (In the unnamed book I am being eaten by) two people will be face to face who have not seen each other in 10 years. I am afraid that one will not be honest about where and why and what and who...and that the other one won't see the lies because of fear and exhaustion. Not just yet, anyway.

I left off writing last night at a really critical part of an emotional (for Sadima and me) scene. I never finish a chapter, so I always have a pick-up point in the writing, not a cold start, first thing in the morning... and this morning, I will be walking back into a maelstrom ...

Just got a bad review in a major journal. First one. Ouch. Major complaints, "nothing much happens" and "nothing is explained" in Sacred Scars. Well the last thing is sort of true. But MUCH is intimated....

I apologize for the whining. I am a little stressed, I think. Giant dreadlines are far to close....So I am off to write. The weird love story is looking more likely. I just...? It really is odd...but kind of wonderful, too.

Spent some time with the boys inside the cliff and then found a yogi who would talk to me about levitation, how it feels, how it clicks inside, clicks into place, how belief that one can do things is pivotal in doing them....and then I started thinking about how the magic in Limori would be shaped in order to make this possible: base jumping

Woke up with a little avalanche of revelations about something in Limori that has puzzled me lately. As you may know, there were no libraries in that mostly illiterate city except the royal one, which should have fallen into the hands of the magistrates when the last king was dethroned. But it didn't, and now I know where all those books are. Of course.

Sadima has not been to South End in years. This morning, she is on the long road from the countryside into the city of Limori. She has two graves to visit, rent money to collect, a cypress tree to find and a man she must deal with. One way or another.

What happens in South End...stays in South End? Not this time. Sadima visited the graves and went to the meeting hall, where Thomas spoke so often. It's locked up; a broken window; a man in a red tunic seemed to have the keys. But about an hour later, in the middle of a cobblestone street, near what was once her cheese shop, something happened to Sadima that has changed everything.

Two stories, 200 years apart. The first story causes the second, and by the middle of this last book of the trilogy, the time gap will have closed. The stories are about 30 years apart now. I often write 5-10 chapters of one strand, then switch. Sadima's story is at a resting point, so I will go back to Hahp and Gerrard now. Somiss seems to be gone. Why? Is it a chance or a trap...I will begin to find out today.

I ended up following Sadima through a very long and very hard night. And now, TODAY, it's back into the maze of passages inside the cliffs...I am hoping the boys are alive, eating, reclaiming their humanity after what happened in Sacred Scars. There are only five of them alive now. Hahp, Gerrard, Will, Levin and Jordan.

Report from inside the cliffs: everyone is still alive and managing, but the simple logic of "pass or starve" is disintegrating. I have no idea why or what will be replacing it, if anything. I can't tell where Somiss is, but Hahp thinks something is do I.

I am stopped cold this morning by a new idea. Will jot the thing down until the ideas dry up, then sprint back to Limori.

Ok, the new idea is written down and digicorded, therefore safe. I think it might be good. NOW off to Limori. As it turns out, most of the market-place fakers were performing metaphors for actual magic, a disguised art to survive the pograms/hangings. So Hahp is learning this: to prepare for the real stuff. I only hope I can describe it...

Today's chapter will have a terribly sad scene and I am procrastinating...but after that chapter comes one I have been waiting to write since I got the idea for these books 15 years ago...

The sad scene got written. Oh I cried. Then I had to do writerly nonwriting things (2 interviews, respond to emails, books flights for Jan FL writers intensive, etc, etc, ETC. and answer an email from an artist friend who is doing stage design for a play in China. Then I cut down more tree limbs. Today! Now! I write the long awaited scene of the beginners' exercises for the magic that underlies all other magic.

Sadima demanded my attention late last night. And when I add a chapter for her, I have to re-pace the Academy side of the story to add one there, too. Got up early and JUST finished the reordering. NOW I can reread the long awaited Franklin's New Class scene written yesterday morning. It came out faster than I could type, always a wonderful feeling. Next up: a midnight meeting. I think.

Ok. I have to split my time for a week in order to finish the third title of the Faeries Promise. So....Mornings= Faeries's Promise for 2-4th graders. The dark of night will be for the Limori Academy...As of last night I can only say that the forgotten half caved-in passages of the ancient smugglers' tunnels beneath the city of Limori are attracting street orphan "squatters" as the weather turns.

The Faeries Promise: faeries are forbidden contact with humans. Old Lord Dunraven made the laws. Without magic, people are dulled, easier to rule, better serfs. Alida was the hostage to ensure her family's exile, but Gavin, a human boy, has helped her escape. It's an apartheid story, in a way, both cultures damaged in isolation.

In Limori: it's all about trust. And shame. And secrecy. And juggling.

Two reactions to the odd love story emerging in the last trilogy book: The editor: "OOooooOOOoooooooooo...That could be INTERESTING!" The writer-friend whispered "Wow. Wow!! But...can you... DO that?" I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...and the characters want it. So this morning, I will write about faeries ...who want to go HOME. And then, in the dark of night, I will slide back to Limori...

The book with no name: It is raining in Limori today. Sadima is painting, crying. The street-rat kids are shivering and hungry. Inside the cliffs, no one can hear or even smell the rain. But they can hear screams.

People have asked about other projects. So there is a longer update below, then back to eensy ones tomorrow:

Thanks for emailing and tweeting and FBing and etc…I will continue his story when I can scratch out the time to talk to him again, probably in a month or two. I am completely fascinated with him. He is trying to escape his ((crazy and/or abusive or non-human, or victimized, or reality-gamer ...or??) parents and the one-winged angels: but first he has to get to Stehekin before they do. It’s a real place. The story is here, free, incomplete but I think it is kind of amazing…

This one is lurking at the edge of my thoughts most of the time. HUGE idea file now, many-many digicorder notes. Can't wait to write it.

The treatment is growing, expanding and the story is getting grittier and wilder. I will send it off to the incredibly patient agent (we talked about this at lunch in NYC in 2007) soon.

I have one included in an upcoming anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. It's dark...about a unicorn who has lived too long. Many incredible writers are included.

(((The amazing editors: Holly's upcoming THE WHITE CAT is intricate, mysterious, creepy, set in a world almost like ours...*almost*. It stars a teen you can only love and worry about… first of a trilogy.

Justine's recent LIAR is getting stunning reviews, awards buzz, and amazing word of mouth recommendations. It is on my desk. I can't wait to read it.)))

I am writing short stories set in Limori, the city of A RESURRECTION OF MAGIC for my website which is slowly being completely rehauled. It’s a mess right now. It will be awesome…And when the stories are up, I will announce it here.

Take Care, everyone, and now I have to get to work! Tomorrow's update will be tiny again...

Still splitting days. Faeries are on their way back to Ash Grove: Elders, adults, rambunctious faerie kids, babies, goats pulling stout wooden carts, a caravan of winged people--all walking. Midday, continued reading. From 5pm to eyes-are-closing-time, back to Limori. Sadima knows she is being manipulated but by whom? And why?

The Faeries are so much fun to spend time with, I had forgotten how much I love Lord Dunraven's lands. The setting is the same as The Unicorn's Secret. Alida is watching her mother try to settle an argument. (faeries are noisy and opinionated). In Limori, Hahp is following Gerrard, ducking back out of the cold-fire light when he stops...

Fairies are funny. Testy, argumentative, difficult, and interesting. Lovely break from the dark and silent world in the cliffs. And Sadima has a man in her house...

Focusing on faeries for a few days to make a deadline:
Faeries are standing still, breathing silently. The magic makes them invisible. But Dunraven's guards are off their horses now, staring into the trees...

In a meadow near Ash Grove, everything grows faster because the soil has absorbed magic for a thousand years. The townspeople suspect the faeries have come home. They are all so afraid of what will happen when Lord Dunraven finds out.
I am getting close to the end of Wishes and Wings. I am reading it through, from page one, then will write the last two chapters.....

11/ 24 Between the last update and this one, I have finished the third Faeries' Promise, book ((LOVE to click send!))....then slept a little, rose at 3:30 am to make an early flight to Philadelphia, appeared at NCTE, saw many writer-friends, met a few new ones whose work I admire (I love meeting authors), signed many books for many terrific teachers and librarians, did a nine-minutes-per-table-of-fifteen-educators speed-dating session, joined Zilpha Keatly Snyder and Michael Buckly at the Secret Garden Bookstores to meet teachers and sign books, then flew home last night. And now, back to work. Today I start the copyedits of "Silence and Stone", the first of the Faeries Promise books, then will begin, tomorrow, writing the fourth one in the mornings, devoting the nighttime hours to the last book of the Resurrection of Magic trilogy. There is a new interesting idea/thing pounding on the door that I will sketch out today. And there is Russet. He is talking again....

11/25 thru 11/27
Am trying to find a middle grade novel idea I can fall in love with to send an editor I REALLY want to work with. Can't find one yet. Keep coming up with great ready for chapters ideas instead. Also fiddling with three other things, sort of a holiday break and idea-fishing trip... Have to get back to REAL work soon. But wheeeee....this is nice.

11/28 Copyedit/final go-through on Silence and Stone today. Should get the copyedits of (book #2) Following Magic back next week. Wishes and Wings (book #3) is off to the editor. I will start writing the fourth one mid next week.

Good day yesterday: finished Silence and Stone copyedits (short book, 60 pages), wrote text and batched pictures for the website re-do, gave the Free Rat proposal a couple of hours, and recorded MANY ideas/insights for the third Resurrection of Magic trilogy book while doing yardwork. Today: First, the dried out, now lettuce-edged Following Magic copyedit. Tonight: Free Rat again, I think. Or back to Limori... ((added 12/1 : thanks to the people on FB and Twitter who voted for Limori. You won. Hahp and Gerrard are learning this a quickness of mind and body that astound me. And them.
I am not sure where yesterday went. But it is gone. This morning I have begun a final read thru of the Faeries Promise #2 copyedits. Noonish, I will begin the revision of #3, which UPS says is *almost* here... THEN, tonight, I intend to go visit Russet. Thanks to everyone who is nudging (and the few who are pummeling me) me to get back to it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Norma Fox Mazer has passed away. There is a hole in my life, and in yours, too, whether you know it or not. A long time ago, I wrote her a fan letter. I was in the very early stages of my late-start writing career with two small books for beginning readers published. I wanted to write for young adults and I was looking for examples. My editor recommended Norma's masterful After The Rain.

I could only blink and wonder as I read the luminous last few pages. Norma had drawn a perfectly real life for her protagonist:

School, older-than-average parents, a PTSD-missing brother, eldercare for a grandfather so complex and so difficult that I loved and hated him, the kindness of strangers, the pitfalls of friendship, grief, deep, true self-discovery without a hint of sappiness, a sense of history and generations--all of that and a worthy boy to kiss. And the canvas wasn’t crowded.

After The Rain stunned and intimidated me into another ten years of skill-gathering before I would actually try to write YA. But I wrote my first “writer swoon” fan letter to Norma Mazer the day I finished her book. Imagine my amazement when she wrote me back.

We kept writing then began calling each other a few times a year. We finally met at an ALA in San Francisco and went to lunch and talked for two hours. We agreed on most things and argued with zest about what we didn't. And we kept crossing paths as writers do.

Norma and I were writer-friends. I met Harry, her wonderful (and a wonderful writer) husband, only once, also at a conference. We never visited each other's homes. But we shared similar sorrows in our lives, and we talked about them. I was always healed a little by her kindness and her generosity. I hope I gave her the same gift. I am sad and ashamed to admit that I had not contacted her for nearly two years. I don't know why. I would give anything to change that.

A few weeks ago, a twitter post written by Norma's daughter caught my eye. She was going home, she said, to spend time with her mother, who was very ill.
So I wrote her through her website and she told me what ‘very ill’ meant. I wrote a message to the family, and revised it ten or fifteen times, which made me laugh then cry.

So I have known this was coming. And a few minutes ago, I read about Norma’s death on a list for independent booksellers---which is a perfect and fitting way to find out.

Good night, dear Norma.
I miss you.
I will do my best to do my best without you.

If you missed meeting Norma or weren’t aware of her brilliant work, her words and books are still here And that, truly, is the magic of literacy.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sacred Scars Review

No Spoilers!! Yay! (except my use of the eyedropper...?)

SACRED SCARS: Hornbook review 10/09

After the momentary pause at the (cliffhanger) end of SKIN HUNGER, the action resumes full throttle. In alternating chapters, magically attuned servant-girl Sadima plots a rebellion against her exploitive master Somiss, who is keeping her and Franklin captive in a cave complex while he relearns how to use the old magic; and two hundred years later, in the sadistic school for wizards run from the same cave complex, apprentice wizard Hahp plots a rebellion against Somiss and Franklin in a world where magic is now widespread. The plot-gunning question of what has happened to Sadima in the meantime is only partially answered: Duey doles clues with an eyedropper, keeping readers busily but happily engaged in connecting dots even as the horrors and triumphs of the unfolding story hold them spellbound. When the last page of this exquisitely suspenseful fantasy is turned, readers will be satisfied (Both plotlines come to crisis and thence to resolution, however temporary) but will feel they are still living in Duey’s world, waiting to discover what happens to the characters they have become so invested in—waiting impatiently for Duey to conjure the concluding volume.