Thursday, August 30, 2007

Film rights optioned for The Penny Tree!

Right now, I wish blogger had a 'noise' feature that would let me add a long and enthusiastic WHOOP to this post (insert WHOOP here). I found out earlier today that film rights have been optioned for The Penny Tree and I've been asked to write the screenplay, both fantastic pieces of news I just had to share in a quick blog post.

P.S. I'm at the Maui Writers Retreat and
I don't have internet access in my hotel room, so posting is a big headache. In addition, I've been busy writing (Karen Joy Fowler is an incredible instructor, by the way). The conference starts Friday, so I'll try to post some snapshots in a few days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What have I gotten myself into?

Okay, I'm finally in KoOlina, Hawaii on Pat's boat after 18 hours of travelling yesterday, including two sitting on the tarmac in LA while United Airlines 'changed a tire' and
all I've heard since arriving is "When are you getting up?"

Click, Click, Click, Click.
I swear I'm gonna smash her camera!

By the way, I was a tad surprised by her "boat". I'm not a boat person in any way, shape, or form, but like many of you, I was under the impression ORION was this edgy little yacht from all the photos I'd seen. Not. Check out my photo if you want to see what it really looks like. Oh, and all those people floating around it in kayaks? Those are 'Lottery fans' and they're 100% annoying. All they do is circle the boat calling out for Pat, begging for her autograph, tossing copies of Lottery up onto the deck. I've picked up half a dozen since I got up this morning...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maui bound in three days...

I leave for Maui in three days and I'll be gone for two weeks. (Actually, I'm flying to Honolulu first to do some research for my fourth novel, and then I'm off to Maui).

In Honolulu, I'm staying with fellow author Patricia Wood and her husband on their boat. This was planned six months ago and at the time I thought I'd be done The Silver Compass by now, but I'm not, so that means I'll be writing late each night while Pat's cats keep me company. Then, when we fly to Maui for the retreat & conference, I'll be working every night I'm there, too.

This will my 4th time attending the Maui Writers Retreat & Conference, an investment that's always been equally enjoyable and beneficial to my career. This year, I'm working with Karen Joy Fowler (NYT bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club) but I'll also get to reconnect with friend and fellow author Jacquelyn Mitchard who's teaching at the retreat as well.

I'm looking forward to the trip. It'll be great to be surrounded
by like-minded writers. Think 'gambler landing in Las Vegas' and you've got the idea.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Finding pockets of willpower

I quit smoking 14 years ago and I haven't had a drag on a cigarette since. It was hard. I'd smoked for years and I liked it. Anyone who knew me well thought I would never quit. Neither did I.

Sixteen years ago, I wrote an eight page letter to someone very close to me. It wasn't a nice letter. I wrote things I'd never have the courage to say out loud, things I'd only thought before, things that would flatten this person if they ever read it. I still have that letter in a sealed envelope. I never mailed it and I never will. Writing it was enough for me.

Eighteen years ago an ex-boyfriend took me for dinner right before I moved across the country to live with the man I eventually married. He tried to talk me out of leaving, and when the waitress brought us our fortune cookies, he said, "Why don't you crack yours open & make the decision to stay or go based on what it says inside?" But I'd already made my decision, so I never did crack open that fortune cookie. I still have it, inside an old tin box at the back of my closet.

I received an email from a reader this week asking where I found the willpower to write novels. Wasn't it hard?

Yes, it is, but it's like quitting smoking, or not mailing that letter, or keeping that unopened fortune cookie all these years. I have wanted to be an author since I was ten years old, and I am stupid stubborn about remaining one now that I've got my foot in the door. However, that said, I do have a saying taped to my monitor that helps give me willpower when I feel myself losing steam: Nothing is particulary hard if you divide it into small jobs -- Henry Ford.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The power of imagination (and memory)

My eight-year-old brought a new friend home the other day. He seemed like a nice kid. Polite, respectful, no tattoos. However, the reality remains that I work from home, and right now, I'm a bit more on edge than usual, pushing to complete some major revisions for The Silver Compass.

That said, when my son and his friend came downstairs, I swiveled in my desk chair to explain that they had to be quiet. However, this time my son put up a hand and said he would handle it. Here's the conversation that followed:

"Look, my mom's working and she's under pressure and stress and strain so we gotta be quiet if we're playing downstairs."

"What's she working on?" the new kid whispered.

"She's writing a book."

Long drawn out "W-o-w!"

A few seconds passed.
Then my son lowered his voice and said, "She's actually a retired superhero. She used to walk into big crowds and read minds and tell the police who they should arrest. She would concentrate real hard and then she would point to some plain looking guy and say, 'If you check his pockets you'll find the missing diamonds.'"

The new kid leaned past my son and stared at me. "Does she still read minds?" he whispered.

Slow sad shake of my son's head. "All the time."

Long pause, followed by a whispered, "Let's play outside, okay?"

On their way past my desk, my eight-year-old winked at me
and his friend shot me a skeptical look. It made my day. First, that my son remembered that crazy I'm-a-retired-superhero-who-used-to-read-minds-for-the-FBI story I had told him three or four years ago, and secondly that he had reiterated it to this kid to help clear the house out and give me some much needed peace and quiet.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Book Clubs add rocket fuel to my pen...

Two nights ago I had yet another 'book club chat' with a group in Ohio and, as usual, I hung up an hour later feeling completely revived. The reason? These ladies enjoyed The Penny Tree and they were kind enough to take the time to tell me so.

Better yet, they aren't friends or family or blogger buddies or fellow authors who might feel the need to do so out of obligation. Their input is 100% honest and open, which helps reaffirm that I'm on the right track, especially on days when I could use a good boost.

Thanks Chris, Heather, Lisa, Emily, Jill, Tara, Angie & Shannon. It was great talking to all of you. I look forward to chatting with you again in September after you've finished reading The Tin Box. And thanks again for choosing it as your next book club pick, by the way. I'm honored.