Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What I'm Reading Now

UNWIND by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers).

"In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would 'unwind' them."

I read a review of this book in the New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago. It is the kind of book that, if I wrote sci-fi, futuristic novels, I would have loved to have written. Set in some unspecified future after "The Second Civil War, also known as 'The Heartland War'", this is a story that teaches young people to think about matters deeper than name brands or romance - not that there's anything wrong with stories like that, but this is a story about what it means to be a member of society.

Neal Shusterman's writing is beautiful and thoughtful. He creates a futuristic world where i-pods accumulate in antique stores, where blacks are "umber" and whites "sienna", and unwanted infants can be "storked" and unwanted teens "unwound". The main characters, Connor, Risa, and Lev, are people I care about and the minor characters are teenagers I know. I'm about half-way through the book and am totally absorbed in this new world. I can't wait to see how how the story finishes, at the same time, I don't want it to end.

Read more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gee, Why couldn’t you come up with Harry Potter?

Okay, it’s simple (and unfortunately unoriginal) but it fits here…

I write, therefore I am (a writer).


I don’t like to mention it in mixed company.

Now I’m down with the whole New Age throw it out to the universe, believe in yourself, write it down a hundred times a day and chant it, you are what you think philosophy. So that on most days, as I sit down with fingers to keyboard, dog curled at my feet, and write, I believe I’m working toward something. The words come out, the scenes are written, the characters that talk to me are alive on a page and all feels right with the world. When I have a good writing day it’s like I’m high on a drug with no bad side effects. If that’s not being a writer, than what is?

Try explaining that to your loved ones, who would rather you cook dinner, play dress-up or take them shopping at Target. I shouldn’t complain because my family supports me in more ways than I probably even know.

Writing? They just don’t get it.

My parents who have logged countless hours of unpaid babysitting in my pursuit of publication still refer to my critique group as my writing class. My children, whom I adore unconditionally, sometimes wonder aloud why Mom is at the darn computer so much. And just the other day my husband alluded to my writing as a hobby. What’s a writer to do?

The pinnacle of this not understanding is when my Dad, who is wonderful beyond imagining, said to me after I came home from my critique group, "Too bad you couldn’t come up with something like Harry Potter."

How do you reply to that?

A shrug of the shoulders, a polite laugh and smile? (which is what I did)


Well, yeah, that would be great, let me just go whip my muse with a cat o’ nine tails and yell "Give me a bestseller NOW!" (which is what I wanted to say, but scary thing is…I think my muse would like it – the whip thing, not the demand for a bestseller)

So my question is this, how do you take yourself seriously, when the people, who love and support you, just don’t "get it"? That when I’m staring off into space, I’m not only daydreaming - I’m getting my story together. All those hours spent at the computer, I’m actually creating a completely different world. One I hope that will enchant and delight readers for years to come.

In the future, I know, I’ll think about all these frustrations and laugh.

I just hope I’m not wearing a straitjacket by then.

Read more!