Wildman

I’ve just finished Wildman, by j.c. geiger, and it’s excellent.

It’s about a teenage boy named Lance, who’s about to graduate as class valedictorian and head off to business school. Then his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and he finds himself wrapped up in a society of small-town teens, most of them lost in their own unique ways.

As the days pass, Lance gets increasingly urgent calls from his mom and his girlfriend, but finds himself unable to leave this new place, where he can be and do almost anything… pull a knife on someone, jump a train, sleep with an artist…

And while you can predict from the very first pages that Lance isn’t going back, the story takes all sorts of unexpected turns.

There are plenty of themes in Wildman — choosing your own path for the future, navigating family expectations, balancing art dreams with practical life demands — that overlap with the ideas in Prince of Pot. Which is all particularly convenient because J.C. Geiger and I are speaking on a panel together this month in St. Louis, as part of the ALAN Workshop for the NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English).

Hopefully my plane doesn’t break down along the way, leaving me stranded in the backwoods. If it does, I’m totally jumping a train.

Reconnecting

I’ve discovered the ideal way to reconnect. You write a young adult novel set in your hometown, and then you include situations that your high-school friends recognize.

The Creston Valley Advance published an article a few weeks ago about Prince of Pot. Since then, I’ve received messages from someone who remembers particular hot tub incidents, a man who — twenty-five years ago — served as the Tic Tac repository in a Twin Bays truth-or-dare game, and a friend who may have once “borrowed” a car from the local dealership. The keys had been left inside, and that was all the excuse she needed.

(The funniest part of all this? My beta readers had so many questions about the truck-theft scene. Mainly, they thought it unrealistic that a dealership would leave keys in a vehicle overnight. Which just goes to show that those beta readers didn’t grow up in small towns. And that fact is stranger than fiction, always.)

I’m so glad I had wonderful, wild, daring, loving friends to get me through high school… and friends who will still read my books, all these years later!

How to be a writer with kids

My daughter made me a “how to survive being a writer with kids” package for my birthday, and it’s brilliant. I think she should patent it and start mass-production immediately.

Not only does it have emergency goodies inside, such as a magazine and oatmeal cookies, it has the best coupons ever:

And my personal favourite:

It’s so nice that someone understands me.

Baby days

I looked after my two nephews, ages two and four, for the weekend. They are absolutely adorable, funny, and FULL of action.

As I collapsed on the bed at the end of Saturday, I said to my husband, “How did I do this for so many years? And how did I write books while doing it?”

He said, “Well, you didn’t really shower.”

Ah. Priorities.

Uninvited guests

I was having an idyllic writers’ group meeting in the backyard with Kallie George, Rachelle Delaney, Stacey Matson, and Christy Goerzen. Once the wine was poured and the fruit crisps passed, Rachelle got up to snap this photo.

We discussed picture books. All was well in the world.

Until I saw movement from the corner of my eye.

“Uh… guys? There’s a skunk in the yard.”

But it was fairly benign. When we made noise, it waddled along the fence until it could duck into the neighbour’s yard.

Then its friend arrived. This one wandered all the way around the pond and headed toward us. When  we made noise, it raised its tail. It took a few more steps forward.

With great squealing, snatching of laptops, and scattering of chairs, we sprinted en masse toward the house.

For the record, if there’s ever a track meet for children’s writers, Kallie George is a sure winner in the 100-meter dash.

In miniature

I went last night to the book launch for Kallie George’s new Heartwood Hotel series, an infinitely adorable collection of books about a resting place for forest animals.

There were masses of kids at the launch, and Kallie entertained them all with stories of her near-death hiking experiences. Then, she sent them to the crafts table to create their own woodland creatures. Once completed, the creatures could check in here:

Yes, that’s a replica of the Heartwood Hotel, created by Kallie’s husband Luke.

So of course I went directly home and showed my pictures to Min, who said he would be happy to build me a miniature grow-op for my Prince of Pot book launch.

But it doesn’t seem quite the same, does it?

Plus, I can’t think of a single craft idea. Well, not a single appropriate craft idea…

Entirely unrelated things

Let’s see… should I start with the most intellectual and go toward the least? Or the other way around?

1. Bizaardvark video
My daughter played this for me this morning and it made my day. I think this song is about me!



2. Eyes and Spies
Friends have been emailing and texting me all week about Alex Van Tol‘s piece about Eyes and Spies in BC Bookworld. (You can read it here, on page 35, if your eyesight is excellent. Or you can look for a real-life copy at various bookstores.) It’s such a good article, it made me think Alex should have written the book instead of me.

3. No Is Not Enough
Min and I went with our friends Jacqui and Carl to see Naomi Klein Saturday night, as she launched her new book, No Is Not Enough. That woman opens her mouth and brilliant things spew out of her. Which is really not fair to the rest of us who muddle through life trying to seem smarter than we really are. I do think I may have gained a few IQ points just from listening, and have hopes I’ll gain more as I read the book.

In case you couldn’t tell, I decided on least intellectual to most. But if you’re overwhelmed, Silence also showed me this emoji video. Enjoy.

Overheard

Conversation between two 12-year-olds:

Girl A: Where are you going to be a neurosurgeon?

Girl B: Probably Los Angeles. They’re well known for pediatrics.

Girl A: But then you’ll have to charge people.

Girl B: What?

Girl A: In the United States, people have to pay for health care.

Girl B: Oh no! That’s so sad!

Girl A: Sorry to ruin your future.

The spill-all edition

I am terrible at keeping secrets. I tell you this not so you’ll keep from me your pregnancy and job interview news (though you probably should), but so you’ll understand how painful it was for me to keep THIS a secret for the six years weeks it took to sign the contracts.

I wrote a middle-grade novel! And someone liked it!

Titles sometimes change, but at this moment the book is called THE CAMPAIGN. It’s the story of one 12-year-old girl’s plan to get her own cell phone. (And if there was a 12-year-old girl in my house this year who happened to be lobbying for a phone, that was a complete coincidence.)

It’s going to come out with Tundra Books in 2019. Which seems like a long time from now, but at least I can talk about it until then!