Friday, April 3, 2009

Meeting People

This morning, I gave a talk to a group of students at the school where my step-father works. The class was called "life-skills," and the students were all part of the special education curriculum. Basically, I spoke about what it means to be a writer. I have to say it was pretty awesome.

I was nervous at first, mostly because I haven't really done too much of this sort of thing yet. A couple weeks ago, I participated in a Teen Advisory Group run by my friend Anne at the New York Public Library. But other than that, I haven't really gotten up in front of a group of young people since I did children's theater after college. Ah, the memories. Still, performing in a play for kids is majorly different from actually talking about yourself and what you do for a living.

Today, I was impressed with my audience. They paid attention and asked questions and seemed generally interested in what I had to say, which is pretty cool considering that none of them had read my book, or even heard of me before that class. They wanted to know about the cover art, and the titles of my other books, and if The Stone Child is going to be turned into a movie... Ha. I told them that I wouldn't mind if it is.

I'm looking forward to doing more of this kind of thing in the future... Gets me psyched. Helps me remember why I wanted to do this whole writing thing in the first place.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Ghost Story (the first)

Bonus post for today:

Anyone who knows me, knows that I've always loved a good ghost story. Telling 'em, listening to 'em, it's all good. I've lived in quite a few haunted places over the course of my life -- I don't think I'm special or anything... but I have certainly moved a whole bunch... My high ghost percentage probably has to do with this fact more than anything else: the law of averages. Living in many places gives you more chances to end up in a weird one.

I also have to say before I relate the most recent occurrence, I'm not even sure if I actually believe in ghosts. How's that, you ask? I dunno. What I do know is that weird things can happen and often there are no explanations.

Here's my story: I currently live in a sprawling penthouse apartment in an old pre-war building in Brooklyn, NY. No, I'm not rich. I live in the eensy-weensy maid's quarters just off the smallish kitchen. Ah, the writer's life...

My roommate, who owns the place, has been out of town for awhile and I've been alone there. In some of the other places I've lived, I've definitely felt something strange right off the bat. But in the almost 2 years I've lived in Brooklyn, I haven't really noticed anything weird, even after I learned that the guy who built the building jumped off the roof after it opened. That's right, he might have leaped from the ledge just outside my bedroom window. But if his ghost haunts my building, he's not hanging around the roof.

Anyway, this past week, I was in the kitchen late at night, getting something from the fridge, I don't remember what. I went to close the refrigerator door, and for some reason, it bumped back open. I reached forward to close it again. At that moment, I very clearly heard a female voice next to me say, "Pardon me."

Mm-hm. Hallucination you ask? A noisy next door neighbor? Who knows. I'm going to go with the maid who's room I now inhabit. If I'm living with her ghost, at least she's polite!


Way Too Long

I'm taking a break from the failed title of the day feature, if only because I haven't posted a note in several months... Whoa, it's been like three and half months since I've even looked at this thing. And man have things changed.

Since my last update, I've snagged a wonderful agent, wrote a tentative proposal for a new series, started two more manuscripts (one of which I'm currently working on), and spoken to a group of teens at the New York Public Library for the first time ever. I've gotten feedback from actual strangers who've read advanced copies of my book. Things are finally starting to continue to happen! I cannot wait for August when my book is actually on shelves.

Right now, I'm up in Webster, MA, visiting my mom and step-dad at their lake house. I really needed to take a break from NYC. I'm trying to work on this next manuscript, but mostly I've found myself just thinking thinking thinking... I've realized how much time I spend in my head, and I'm not sure if it's so healthy. At the same time, I've come to the conclusion that, for me, the act of writing, of exploring the world of a story is like twisting the release valve on a pressure cooker. I need to write in order to stay sane and if I can't, I start to go a little nuts...

I wonder if other people feel this sort of thing, and not necessarily with writing? For awhile there, I was going to the gym three or four times a week. At that time, I needed to exercise the same way I needed to write. Not sure why I stopped. Does anyone feel compelled toward a hobby or activity which you feel keeps you sane?

I don't know what it is about stories that gets me out of my head, makes me feel safe. Telling them or listening to them, watching them in a dark theater, or reading them while tucked into bed... Mmm. The best...

Okay, so this is a bit of a ramble. I'm going to get back to work now before I break...