Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Lives On The D-List

While I was on vacation last week, I caught an episode of My Life On The D-List. (That link didn't go to a site with Kathy Griffin doing standup when I plugged it in here. If it does now, I deny all responsibility.)

Watching The D-List made me think of my trip to the Twilight Zone Convention last year. The TZ Convention was similar to a literary festival, and the life Kathy Griffin projects on The D-List is similar to life for a lot of us kidlit writers.

Maybe I'm just self-centered, and everything reminds me of my own life.

But, think about it. In last week's episode, Kathy was going to London where she was going to do a stand-up routine, and she was trying to promote it. Sort of the way we writers try to promote an appearance at a bookstore, see? Or even a new book. Or an old book. Or even just our names. Evidently Kathy has a following in the U.S., and she was trying to promote herself to the same group in London. That's similar to how we kidlit writers try to promote ourselves to librarians. Wait. No. We should be trying to attract reading teachers. No, no, no. Booksellers! We've got to make sure the booksellers know who we are!

Kathy and her posse were always looking for ways to get her some publicity. Writers do the same thing. Should I contact bloggers? Make a trailer? Submit workshop ideas to conferences? Mail postcards to schools? Throw myself a book launch party? What should I do, what will I do, to get a little higher up on the literary hierarchy?

Man, I so related to that show.

This is good place to mention that the September issue of School Library Journal has an article called Rules of the Game: Focus on Middle School that includes Happy Kid!. And the print issue uses the cover!

Imagine Kathy Griffin and me jumping up and down.

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I Go To Yaddo--In A Manner Of Speaking

So Saturday we're in a little museum in Saratoga Springs, and I see that Yaddo, the artists' and writers' retreat is in the area. I think, "Hmmm" and forget all about it, probably because on my way to the car I stopped at a public fountain to try some of the truly vile medicinal waters the area is famous for.

However, we're driving out of town and I see a sign saying that the Yaddo Gardens were open to the public. "Turn in here! Turn! Turn!" I shout to the family member driving. I figured, Hey, I can drive onto the grounds and maybe see some of those famous little cottages where writers go to concentrate on their work and go out of their minds because they have no Internet access. Well, that wasn't the case. We caught a glimpse of the original mansion and a small parking lot but no little writer huts.

The Yaddo website says, "Some believe that the land itself at Yaddo is the source of mystical creative power." What really struck me was how close that land is to the highway. It was probably all woodsy and isolated back in 1900 but now you pull out of the driveway onto a main road and just to your right is I-87.

I was a little disappointed. I'm more away from it all in my own home, and look how little I get done here.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vacations And Books

Several times over the years I've had these bizarre experiences in which my reading intersected with my traveling.

For instance, not long before I took off for Ottawa last weekend, I finished reading A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies by Ellen Cooney, which I heartily recommend if you are a long-married lady, gentle or otherwise. In this book, a character mentions the Rideau River. Wouldn't you know it, last Monday I went biking on the Rideau Canal.

Then, I finished reading Beige by Cecil Castellucci before I even got out of the country. The main character lives in Montreal and twice mentioned poutine. Yup, I ate poutine three times last week. My goal was to eat it once each day, so I failed miserably.

I didn't knock off as many books this vacation as I have on others. For one reason, I was reading Mr. Emerson's Wife by Amy Belding Brown. Though I do love them Transcendentalists, it's not a book for whipping through in the car. Get this, though--yesterday we were in Saratoga Springs and who did I read was there before me? Say, a hundred fifty or sixty years before me? Mr. Emerson himself.

I also didn't do as much book reading because while I was still in Canada I was spending time reading The National Post's series on Mordecai Richler. I was talking about his children's book series here just last...okay, it was back in March. But I am very fond of Richler. The National Post did the series on him because Canadian TV was running a new production of St. Urbain's Horseman, which I read a hundred years ago.

Okay, then I went to The Canadian Museum of Civilization. It had this new exhibit, Face to Face: The Canadian Personalities Hall, and who do you suppose was there? Yes, Samuel de Champlain, but also, Mordecai Richler!

Come on!

You know, but in all the reading I did about him last week, I'm still not sure how to pronounce his name.

Anyway, I just love when my reading and traveling come together like that.

Though I've just told you that I didn't do as much reading as usual, above you will see me rudely ignoring everyone around me so I can read while waiting for a train.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

You Can Tell Vacation's Almost Over

I'm back in the country after four days in Ottawa but not yet home. You can tell I'm getting close, though, because I had a little time this evening and access to a hotel computer so I tried to catch up on my blog reading. I'm worried about being way behind once I'm back in the Land of Steady Habits and Regular Income.

I also made the mistake of checking my webstats, which had grown steadily to incredible proportions but in just two months have crashed down into the toilet. (Was it something I said?)

Before I left Connecticut, I printed out the last two chapters of the old draft of The Durand Cousins, thinking I might work on the revision in odd moments. I must not have had any odd moments, because I never touched them.

Yup, I've got lots of reasons to be all excited about getting home and back to work.

But first I'm biking in a Revolutionary War battlefield tomorrow morning. This particular Gauthier vacation was missing a trip to a war-related site, and we can't go home until we take care of that.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Of Course

Things have been going pretty well the last couple of weeks with the most recent startover on the first draft of The Durand Cousins. Things started to improve when I gave up on the assassin thing. That just wasn't working for me.

I've frequently hit my word goal and sometimes gone over by quite a bit. Yesterday I was scribbling away on it while waiting to have my oil changed. I was still deep into the story while driving home and forgot to stop for gas.

That's good for me.

So, of course, it's time to take off for a week's vacation!

I may be able to post from a family member's home sometime next week, but otherwise Original Content will be going dark until September 22.

My book bag is packed and already in the car.

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