Friday, January 30, 2009

End of a Happy Week Happy Dance Guy

It's been a good week. Since I am not brave enough to film and post my own happy dance, I'll instead post a tiny little video of my favorite new toy... a happy-dancing alien given to me by dear, dear friends to help me celebrate the events of Monday. So here he is, dancing right out of all of the beautiful flowers I got as well...


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Word of the Week Thursday

Today's Word of the Week comes right out of the first chapter of Savvy.

"When Grandpa wasn’t a grandpa and was just instead a small fry, hobbledehoy boy blowing out thirteen dripping candles on a lopsided cake..."


A "hobbledehoy" is a gawky, awkward adolescent boy. So, I suppose, I was a little redundant in the way I used it, but I do like repetition.

I do like repetition.



This year on the blog, Thursdays are dedicated to vocabulary words I find entertaining. I've always had a fondness for linguistics, but I especially enjoy words or word combinations that are fun to say. To see the rest of this year's words so far CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ever Wonder... to pronounce an author's name? Scieszka? DiTerlizzi? Gaiman? Law? (Just kidding on that last one.)

There is a great place online called (see link in the sidebar) where you can listen to authors tell you how to pronounce their name. There's an alphabetical list. You choose!

Neil Gaiman's been big in the news lately for some award or another... *wink* Maybe you've been talking about him... Want to know for sure you're saying his name right? CLICK HERE

Oh, and in case you're not sure about 'Law'... I'm there too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Newbery Day

Okay, I'm down from the clouds (at least, I'm down far enough to be able to sit calmly for more than three minutes). So I'll share a bit about my day yesterday which was, as you can imagine, quite exceptional and crazy and fun and happily exhausting.

There's been buzz about Savvy and the Newberys for a long time. Since it began, that buzz has been the source of a full range of emotions: disbelief, repressed hope and excitement, fear (it's a big deal--a lot to live up to!), and always, always happiness at just being 'buzzed' about. But, because there are no finalists for the Newbery and there were so many incredible books published last year, I knew it could be a long shot.

I also knew if a call came to tell me I'd been awarded anything it would come early in the morning. So, feeling a little sheepish, I woke up at 5:30, with both my home phone and my cell phone tucked next to me in bed. I turned on one light and waited. I read a bit (The Graveyard Book actually!), I tried not to think, I waited. By 6:45, still no one had called, so I began the process of "moving on." I pulled out my iPod Touch and started playing Bejeweled--something that never fails to settle my brain when it becomes over-active. By 6:55, I was SURE that it was time to stop hoping, and I reassured myself that it would still be a good day.

Then my cell phone rang! And here's where I'll leave a little to the imagination, because it was one of those moments in life that's pretty indescribable and, at least for the moment, one I want to hold close for a bit. I'll just say there were tears, and also panic when my Mac didn't have the right plugin to watch the ALA announcements (my daughter and I listened to them over the phone as my parents and her dad held their phones to the computer)... because, of course, I wanted to know who else had won!

I forgot to eat most of the day... but my daughter and I did go fill a cart at the store for the local food bank. Good comes in--good should go out again... like the tide.

I had a zillion lovely email messages, which were all so appreciated, a phone interview, and I had a wonderful dinner (fondue! food!) with some good friends from Walden Media who helped my daughter and I celebrate.

Today is Tuesday, but it's still glowing from Monday. Thanks again to everyone who sent me messages yesterday--I'm still working on answering them all. Now I have the big shindig to look forward to in Chicago in July! Ack! What will I wear?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!

I don't even know what to type! Savvy was chosen as a Newbery Honor Winner. I'll post more as soon as I come down from the ceiling and stop spinning around...

Many, many thanks to the Newbery Committee!! Thanks too to everyone who helped get Savvy here.

And congratulations to everyone else named by all the award committees today.

Having trouble breathing...

Reader Monday - What's Your Savvy?

I got an email last week from William, a 4th grader in Texas, whose school I visited last Fall. William wrote:

"I think my savvy is being able to understand animals."

I think this would be such a wonderful talent. Think of what we'd learn if we could really understand what animals were thinking and experiencing! Thanks for sharing, William!

I received envelopes full of great thank-you notes from William's school as well. Many of the kids drew great pictures. Here are some of them:

For more reader savvies, click on the What's your savvy? label here on the blog. And check back weekly for Reader Savvy Mondays, where I post what real kids have to say about what their savvy know-how might be. Or to write to me what you imagine your savvy might be, click HERE to be directed to the Contact page of my website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Dare

Yesterday, after a particularly challenging day for both me and my daughter, we were headed on a direct, non-stop trajectory toward the drive-through coffee shop (a simultaneously brilliant and horrifying thing in my opinion), and my daughter dared me to order "two cups of joy with a double-shot of instant gratification."

I wanted to. I really, really did.

But I couldn't.

Now she's singing... "She's a scaredy-cat...scaredy cat..." to the tune of the old eighties Flashdance song, Maniac. Ah well. (How in the world does she know that song, by the way?)

Instant gratification is one thing, but shouldn't it be easier than that to ask for joy, even if you're just at the coffee shop?

Maybe I'll try again today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Word of the Week Thursday

I admit it. I love words. I love it when words surprise and delight me. My daughter and I are currently reading The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan before bedtime. We're on Book 3: The Icebound Land. Last night I was reading aloud and stopped short, absolutely in bliss over a word I'd never seen or heard before. Even knowing how much I love words, I was surprised by my reaction. It was like turning the page and finding money that I'd not remembered hiding, or a secret message or love note left years ago for someone else, or a cookie.

Anyway, enough gushing! Now I've probably built the word up far too much. But here it is for you to enjoy anyway:


Isn't it marvelous? And it's pronounced pretty much the way it looks: tat-er-di-meyl-yuh. Except for the last syllable. As a noun, tatterdemalion refers to a person in shabby or tattered clothes. As an adjective, it means ragged, falling apart, dilapidated.

*Sigh* It makes me very happy. I'm a word geek. It's true.

Oh, and BONUS! On the very next page I found the word CLAPTRAP! Two words for the price of one this week. (Claptrap means: pretentious or insincere language)

And just to prove what a word geek I am I'll share two wordy videos. The first I only discovered because I turned the radio on this morning to annoy my daughter out of bed and found the local PBS TV station on the radio. Sesame Street was on. This word song came on and I'm not sure which got my daughter out of bed faster... being forced to listen to Sesame Street as a 13-year-old, or my own gleeful, practically 4-year-old reaction to it. I can't embed it from YouTube because that feature's been disabled, but here's the link if you're interested:

The other video is quite a bit different and definitely for an older audience than Sesame Street. Still, it's been a favorite video of mine for a couple of years, and I don't believe there's anything too objectionable in the content, except perhaps one mild interjection that some people prefer to replace with "darn."
I hope it's okay to embed it here (ah, YouTube, you confuse me sometimes). Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can't get enough of January in Colorado

Okay, for those of you headed to ALA in Denver this weekend, I'm sorry. The temperature is going to drop. And I know I just blogged about the weather the other day, but today was so gorgeous (over 70 degrees! which is something I only like in January) I just can't help doing it again. Last time, I only had my phone to take pictures. Today I brought my camera and wanted to share one of my favorite places in the world. Not that I've seen the whole world, but with this spot just around the corner from home, I don't always think that's so bad.

Anybody seen Joe Versus the Volcano? This boardwalk (above) always reminds me of the "crooked path" icon, theme, whatever, that runs through that whole movie.

For some reason this (above) is my favorite spot to stand. It's my happy place. And it rarely, if ever, fails me. Have you ever thought about having a favorite place to stand? I've been coming to this spot to stand for almost twenty years.

Here (above) is what you see if you turn around. Though, the ponds are quite low this winter!

And, of course, the magnificent view once you clear the trees.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The 2008 Cuffies

Here is fun link. It's to Publishers Weekly's "Off the Cuff" awards, called the Cuffies. This is where PW asked retailers for their picks in different categories. They selected Savvy for Favorite Book Jacket (isn't Brandon Dorman a genius?) and as the Book You Couldn't Shut Up About in 2008.

They also have some great things like:

The Funniest Thing a Kid Said in Your Store or The Most Unusual Complaint.

Reader Monday - What's Your Savvy?

For more reader savvies, click on the What's your savvy? label here on the blog. And check back weekly for Reader Savvy Mondays, where I post what real kids have to say about what their savvy know-how might be. Or to write to me what you imagine your savvy might be, click HERE to be directed to the Contact page of my website.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cloudless, Sunny, and Warm Enough to Write Outside

Sorry Sarah... I know you folks in Iowa are trapped in the cold, but in Colorado the day was glorious!

The picture's pretty bad because I took it with my phone, but this is where I set up my laptop on a picnic table to work today. If you can't tell by looking, those are mountains in the distance, and see? Not a cloud in the sky. (And no wind either!)

Here's hoping that some of our warm weather heads toward you folks in the Midwest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Word of the Week Thursday

Since I love using crazy words in my writing and sometimes people think I've made them all up, I've decided to dedicate Thursdays to entertaining vocabulary on the blog this year. I've always had a fondness for linguistics, but I especially enjoy words or word combinations that are fun to say.

Some Thursdays I may choose words from Savvy, other Thursdays I may share words from my next book, and still other Thursdays I will share favorite words I've not found a way to use yet...

All that said, I'm going to start with a good one that's NOT in Savvy, but may make it into the next book as I think it's a very "Gypsy" word... (she seems to be the kind of character who would enjoy words with double "O's"). So today's word is:


The definition of this word is basically "melodrama" or "staginess" - contrived plot structure or stereotyped drama. And there is a hysterical video available on YouTube of this word being given in the national spelling bee one year... enjoy! (And see if you can use "sardoodledom" in a sentence this week! Mwu-ha-ha!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Proper Phone Interview Attire

What does one wear for a phone interview? Sure, over the telephone, no one would know if I were in my sweats or even wearing my pajamas! I could be lying in bed or in my car or sitting cross-legged on top of my kitchen table with a basket of fruit on my head and a pint of ice cream thawing next to me.

But I believe that one should try to look their best, even over the telephone. Knowing that I've showered and I smell good and that I have all my clothes on right-side-out can boost the confidence in spades.

And here's where dressing for a phone interview can be much more fun than dressing for a regular appearance. Not only can I feel clean and fresh and confident... I can wear a tiara. How's that for a confidence booster? Yes, a tiara can be a joyous thing. And the best part is: Nobody has to know!

Unless I blog about it.

And post pictures.

More later on the new interview and where and when it will show up!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Dads Online Interview

I was so happy to have the opportunity to be interviewed by Steven at Book Dads - Fathers Who Read.

Steven asked me some terrific in-depth questions that really made me think and were fun to answer! You can read the entire interview by CLICKING HERE. But check out the rest of the site as well. It's worth your time!

Thanks Steven!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reader Monday - What's Your Savvy?

For more reader savvies, click on the What's your savvy? label here on the blog. And check back weekly for Reader Savvy Mondays, where I post what real kids have to say about what their savvy know-how might be. Or to write to me what you imagine your savvy might be, click HERE to be directed to the Contact page of my website.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yummy Good Day

Every January, Lafayette, Colorado (my new hometown) has an Oatmeal Festival and boasts, among other things, the world's largest largest oatmeal toppings bar. People who know me know that I get a kick out of World's Largest things, but even though my daughter and I checked out the giant oatmeal inflatable the day before, I didn't have the chance to check out the festival this year.

Instead, I had a day filled with a giant helping of heartwarming goodness, despite the lack of oatmeal-y fun. It was a delight to spend the day at the libraries in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I got to talk with really great kids, teens, and adults about Savvy.

I met some truly inspired librarians who love what they do (and it shows!), some very intelligent, insightful young women who were simply all-around awesome to talk with, as well as all of the kids and their parents who came with such terrific questions. Thank you all for coming out to the library!

I also had the great pleasure of having author Laura Resau at the afternoon talk and then getting the chance to chat with her for awhile afterward over tea and cookies.

So, all in all, it was a wonderful day... I didn't even miss the oatmeal! (Though next year, I'm totally there!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Author Appearances 1/10/09 - Fort Collins, Colorado, Libraries

The Fort Collins Library District in Colorado will be hosting me for two sessions on Saturday, January 10th - one for children that will be held at Harmony Library from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Another one for teens in grades 6-12 that will be held at the Main Library from 1:30-3:00 p.m. There won't be very many books available to purchase at these author talks, but if you're in the area and already have a book, feel free to bring it by and I'll be happy to sign it.

For more information, please call 970-221-6680, or CLICK HERE.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Links Announces its 2008 "Lasting Connections" List

For the January issue of ALA's Book Links magazine, the editors compiled a list of their choices for the 30 best picture books, novels and informational titles for libraries and classrooms published in 2008, and Savvy made the list! Hooray! Thanks Book Links!

To see the complete list, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Schimmer . . .

So, Savvy is coming out in Germany next month from Carlsen, and I just got a glimpse of the cover art over on Gemany's

What do you think?

I like it. It's the first cover that's photographic, which I found an cool and interesting choice. I love seeing all the different ways publishers around the world are creating their own different, fantastic covers.

If you want to see the full German Amazon link, CLICK HERE. But if you're like me and don't speak German you may not be able to make heads or tails out of it... unless it's mermaid tails!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Reader Monday - What's Your Savvy?

For more reader savvies, click on the What's your savvy? label here on the blog. And check back weekly for Reader Savvy Mondays, where I post what real kids have to say about what their savvy know-how might be. Or to write to me what you imagine your savvy might be, click HERE to be directed to the Contact page of my website.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year, New Things To Wear On My Head

I'm giving in to the fact that I'm a bit of hat person. And, oddly enough, when I write, I sometimes like to have something on my head--especially if I'm feeling particularly unsure, kooky, or need to simply shut out the world by putting a symbolic barrier between it and my brain.

I enjoyed a great long (Long! I had no idea!) lunch with some fellow Colorado writers today (Hi Steph! Hi Robin! Hi Jennifer!) and came home with an awesome new hat that Robin finished crocheting at the table! It's so soft and warm and, believe it or not, it fits perfectly under my other new favorite thing to wear on my head: the Speed Racer helmet my daughter gave me for Christmas. (see photos above)

Yes, Speed Racer. I was very excited by this present because I happen to be one of apparently few people who loved, loved, loved that movie. (And because I'm simply four-years-old at heart. I would still enjoy getting toys with my meals if I could get away with it.)

However, the helmet is a little uncomfortable without something between it and my skull due to the fact that I pulled all the noise-making gizmo's out of it first thing. Thus, Robin's pretty, soft hat has completed my new, crazy-writer attire. Phew!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Cybils Finalists Announced

The holidays are over and soon everything starts up again - not that I've taken a break. I've actually been working quite a lot: writing, writing, writing... oh yeah, there were some present breaks, some cookie breaks, and some spending time with friends and family breaks as well!

I thought it would be fun to come back from my holiday blog break with news of The Cybils (see cool sidebar widget--it changes every time you view the blog!). The Cybils are an annual children's and young adult bloggers' literary award, and the winners are announced on Valentine's Day.

The power of the blog is truly an amazing thing. Thanks to everyone who blogged about Savvy! I appreciate that you took the time to read and review my book. I hope I can keep up with my own blog this year!

So, check out the sidebar. To learn more about the 2008 Cybils and all of the amazing books that have been nominated in a bunch of different categories, CLICK HERE or at the top of the Cybils widget.

Happy 2009!

**Edited 1/4 - I forgot to mention that Savvy is one of the Cybils Finalists! But my book is among such great company, I was caught up in the excitement of the whole thing.