Thursday, March 19, 2015

the love you part.

This weekend I'll be hanging out with this guy. He's fun and funny and pretty much my favorite person in the world. He is also my brother. Chase lives in Denver, and he loves it there. I'm grateful I can sneak away ever so often to spend a weekend with him. Colorado is a wonderful place, but he's the best part of it.

I dearly miss that nerd.

I remember when he decided to move, to ditch the Smokey Mountains for the Rockies. My heart was a storm over it. I had a tornado-heart. I was so proud, but I was also so sad, and those feelings kept swirling and swishing together in constant, crazy ways. It's nuts to me, how it is possible to miss someone so much and love them so much. At the same time. Hearts are miracles, is all.

I've always said jokingly (...but not really jokingly) that I want my own town where I can put all my family and friends. All together. We'd live on the same street, and hang out on weekends and eat cookies and have bonfires and play Clue. Doesn't that sound dreamy? Alas. :)

I miss him heaps, but the proud-part always wins out. Actually the love-you part always wins out. I'm proud of him for following his heart into the wild, wild west. I'm proud of him for being brave enough to become what he knew he needed to be. And I'm thankful for technology. We still talk frequently. As any loving big sister will testify; distance is really nothing when you care about somebody. I'm not that easy to get rid of. ;)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

goals and goalies.

So I've been raving about a recent read called The Swap by Megan Shull. My mom thought it was great. I thought it was great. And I just passed it off to one of my beloved best friends, Hannah, because I couldn't wait for her to read it. That's a definite marker for me when I read a great book: I immediately think of people I want to share it with.

The book is about two 7th graders, Jack and Ellie, who accidentally switch places. Ellie is stuck in Jack's body ... and Jack is stuck in Ellie's. It is funny and smart and heartwarming. And when I say funny, I mean I put the book down and laughed. It's a fantastic story.

One of Jack's quirks is that he's a goal setter. And he doesn't just set short-term goals.  He's only in 7th grade, but he's already working toward goals he's set for years down the road. Like, when he's an adult. Namely: playing professional hockey. And he's devoted to taking the steps to make it happen: he wakes up hours before he has to to run and train. He takes ice baths. He practices hockey even when he's not at practice. He's a force.

I was super-duper impressed by this because, my word, 7th grade! I've met lots of young readers over the past couple of years who put in that same kind of time, devotion and focus to something they're passionate about. I'm not surprised a 7th grader would commit to something that way. I just think it's inspiring. And I think I can sort of relate. At least a little bit ...

I mean, I have never, ever been an athlete. The only sport I know anything about is Quidditch. And my goals will never revolve around anything that involves running or physical coordination.

But. When I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to be an author someday. Even back then, I was consciously thinking about what I could do as I got older to maybe-hopefully-someday make that dream real. I think that's why my heart clicked quick with a character brave enough to shoot for a dream that seems so far away. So far fetched, even.

As an adult, I still have lots of goals. There are books I want to write, places I want to visit and big moments I want to see come to pass in my life. Sometimes I write down those goals and feel invigorated and full of shimmer-sparkling HOPE. And sometimes I write them down ... and feel a little sunk when I realize how far away it all is. I have a whole book of dreams and goals I keep tucked away where nobody can see it.

As I was thinking about Jack and his goals and my goals and GOALZZZ in general, I came across a TEDtalk by Derek Sivers. And I think it's super interesting. He basically says that if you have a big goal ... you should keep it to yourself.

I've always heard the opposite, haven't you? I've heard you should tell people your goals, so they hold you accountable. But as I listened to his talk ... I wondered if there might something to it. At least sometimes.

For example, when I'm writing, I don't usually talk about what I'm working on for a good long time. Or I'm very vague when people ask me about it. I'm not superstitious about the process at all, and I'm not being cagey. But there's a certain excitement I feel in the early stages of writing, when I'm keeping a book to myself, when it's new and it's mine and I haven't shared it with anybody yet. And once I've shared it, the momentum seems to fizzle.

Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love sharing the stories eventually. There's something about every stage in publishing that I like. But I sometimes think early writing is more enjoyable ... and I even tend to write a bit faster ... when I keep it to myself to start. Maybe it's similar to what Derek is saying?

Here's the TEDtalk (it's a short one):

What do you think? Do you share your goals - big and small - with someone else? Or do you keep them close to your heart? 

Friday, March 13, 2015

where i'm going. where i've been.

Hello, Beedles! 

Biscuit and I are popping in to answer a few questions we've been getting lately. I mean, the most frequently question I get asked is probably: "Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get started for you?" 

But lately, I've met some sweet readers who've asked fun book-questions. And I thought it might be fun to answer them on ye olde blog! 

1. Are you writing a sequel to A Snicker of Magic
Not yet. 

… But know Felicity and Jonah have many more adventures. While there’s no sequel in the works yet, there is a distinct possibility you’ll see more stories featuring Felicity & the folks in Midnight Gulch. Maybe sooner than you think. Stay tuned. ; ) 

2. What will your next book be about? 
My next novel comes out in 2016. It’s a middle grade novel called THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY. It is about: 

A brave girl. 
A quiet boy. 
A singing ghost. 
Buried treasure. 
And hot chocolate … 

I just sent the book to copyedits, so it's going to start becoming book-shaped very soon. I can't believe it's already that far along. And I'm so grateful and excited I got to go through this process again. I'll get to share more fun details with you later this year, including the cover. Gilbert Ford is illustrating the cover again, and it's gorgeous. I can’t wait for you to see it! 

3. Do you do school visits? 
Yes! I try to book them as far in advance as possible so I can stay on top of my writing deadlines. If you're a teacher or librarian and interested in booking a visit, contact or just go the Scholastic website and fill out the form about author visits. 

I also do virtual visits (Skype, etc.) with classes and book clubs who've read the book (or experienced it as a read-aloud). Virtual visits are a fun 20 minute time of Q&A. And they’re free. And sometimes Biscuit shows up. :) 

4. Will you be at any events this year? 
Since I don't have a book out this year, I probably won’t be doing many events. But I’ll update the website with more info if I do. I’m very excited to be doing an event in Chattanooga on May 9th. I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble at Hamilton Place with several awesome authors. I hope you’ll come hang out with us! 

5. How tall are you?
I thought this would be fun to answer here because people really do ask me this question a lot, a lot. On my last adventure, a random guy in the airport inquired about my height. I'm not self-conscious about my shortness, and I don't mind answering. But people have always seemed so surprised by the fact that I'm small. I’m 4’11”. Barely. 

6. Where have you been?!?! 
In the past year, I’ve kind of disappeared from blog world. I post pretty often on my Facebook page:

And I tweet lots of pictures of Biscuit:


The website is a work in progress, but it's cool to see it come together. Soon I'll be adding a longer FAQ section that will be especially helpful for readers looking for info for book talks and homework. 

And I’m going to make an effort to churn out some quick (fun) blog posts again.

Which brings me back to where I've been. 

In the past year ... I've been writing. I wrote back when I was blogging frequently, too. But now there are different responsibilities that come along with writing. I enjoy all of it, and I’m super grateful for this season I’m in. I still can't believe I get to write books! And I can't believe people take the time to read them! I just don't seem to have as much creative energy left for quirky blog posts as I did. But I have been writing. 

And here’s where else I’ve been: 

I’ve been snuggling Biscuit. 
I’ve been reading. 
I’ve been spending lots of time with my family. 

I’ve been star-gazing,
and exploring. 

I’ve been listening to records on rainy days,
having impromptu dance parties in the living room, 
and meeting my friends for pancakes at the Cracker Barrel. 
(My goodness, I do dig those pecan pancakes.) 
(But I love my friends more.)  

I’ve had some sweet days lately. And I hope you’re having lots of sweet days too. 

What’s new with you?