So I just finished a writing retreat in Cuyahoga Valley National Park with six amazing kid lit authors: Cinda Chima, Tricia Springstubb, R.J. Anderson, Megan Whalen Turner, and Shelley Pearsall. Megan Whelan Turner is one of my writing heros, who I had never had the chance to meet. She has the exact "not telling" smile that you would think she'd have, and this is a case where meeting your heroes is an excellent idea.
I wrote 7000 words in four days, turning the magic rush of words from December into the solid first half of a book.
But also we talked and learned from each other and told secrets and drank wine and got caught hailstorms and saw a whole bunch of mice. When words didn't flow the talk did. And when the talk didn't flow there was always the scotch. And life was good.
My gray tomcat here is excited* to announce that Scholastic Canada is reprinting PLAIN KATE. It's never been out of print -- that shiney sticker helps -- but having a new printing will put it back on all the bookstore shelves. This new edition has hits of red on the cover and of course the sticker! Out in the new year.
So I've got a new book idea. I've had it for a while --it's the reason I've been asking everyone to tell me their funniest/weirdest funeral stories (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL NOW DO).
In the last month or so it acquired itself a setting and started to grab up other ideas -- a gravitational process that accelerates as it goes along, like a planetoid clearing an orbit. This week, thanks to a chance encounter with a Mad Magazine cartoon, it found itself a title, and with that, a theme/plot thing. And now it feels ready to start. I even told my big kid about it last night and she seems excited too.
I don't often cross the streams and show my book-reading folks the science writing I also do -- but this is the best thing I've done all year.
Click here to meet S.N. Bose, self-taught physicist. And not the easy kind of self-taught. When he wanted to learn modern physics in Calcutta in 1915 or so, he couldn't get a hold of the text books. Finally he managed to borrow a set, but they were written in German. So, naturally, he taught himself German.
He would eventually do work on minerology, chemistry, geology, anthropology, zoology, engineering, and literature in both Bengali and English. But in physics he's remembered as one (when he is remembered) as one of the fathers of quantum mechanics. He's the Bose in boson, the Bose in Bose-Einstein Condensates, the Bose in Bose statistics. Without his mathematical insights we wouldn’t have superconductivity, or lasers. Which means you wouldn't be reading this right now.
So! HMH sent me a couple of ARCs, or advance readers' copies, of my new middle grade novel Stand on the Sky. These will be sent out to reviewers, media people, bloggers, and bookstore buyers starting about now. The book itself will be published in March of 2019.
Receiving ARCs has always been my favorite part of the publishing process. Seeing my words laid out like this makes me feel as if the book is really a book, not just four years worth of scribbles and drafts and revisions. It's an amazing moment of transformation. Plus, it marks the point where I figure it's too late for my publishers to back out now.....
Enjoy this glimpse of a happy writer and her messy background kitchen.
Coming up next week here in Kitchener-Waterloo is the Lumen Festival, combining light, art, and technology. It looks rocking, and if you're out seeing it, don't miss my poem written with lights on the corner of Erb and Father David Bauer Drive, near the National Clay and Glass Gallery and my old friends at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where I used to work.
September: In the evening of September 29th , I'll be at the Lumen Festival, an open air festival of lights, arts, and technology in uptown Waterloo Ontario. I don't have any specific appearances, but I have a poetry-in-lights installation in Zone 3, and I'll be around.
October: On October 19th and 20th I'll be at the Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers in Tulsa Oklahoma. (Nimrod, if you don't know it, is a venerable and lively literary magazine that lives at the University of Tulsa.) I'll be attending the kickoff on Friday evening (which is free and open to the public) and teaching a "Choose Your Own Disaster" course on world-building on Saturday.
November: On November 2nd and 3rd, I'll be at the Wild Writers Literary Festival, again in Waterloo Ontario. I'm teaching a Young Creators Masterclass on Saturday morning, on where, why, and how to use details to make your writing snap, not bog.
I've been promising news for a while, and I am finally free to tell you -- I have a new book coming out!
It's called Stand on the Sky, and it's a middle-grade adventure with a classic feel -- I pitch it as "Where The Red Fern Grows, but in Mongolia, with a girl, an eagle, and a happy ending." It will be out in March from HMH Books for Young Readers in the US, and from Scholastic Canada in Canada.
And, guys, look: It's so beautiful!
(Cover art by the tremendous Ji-Hyuk Kim. He's so talented!)
I have a life-long passion about birds and falconry, and I spent the summer of 2015 in Western Mongolia, living with a nomadic family of Kazakh eagle hunters, looking for the shape of a book. I found it!
(photo by Seanan Forbes. I basically spent the whole time in Mongolia looking this gormless)
And obviously it's a shape very dear to my heart.
Many thanks to the Waterloo Regional Arts Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting my summer of goats and...