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Hi lovely friends,

Before I get on to more Challenge Updates, I have some very exciting news to share: In just a few weeks, I’ll be heading out on my very first book tour! Along with a bunch of other amazing Fierce Reads authors, I’ll be hopping around the country, visiting with bookstores and readers and one very cool-looking Teen Book Festival. Check out the details here. I. Can’t. Wait.

The past few weeks have been bittersweet. We’ve been super busy, wrapping up skate camp and hosting many, many visitors. It’s been such an incredible summer, and it’s sad to think it’s coming to an end. Living where I do, I always have a hard time saying goodbye to the summer season and all it brings — long beach days, gatherings with friends, our amazing county fair! — but I have to say that this summer with Evie has been, by far, the best one yet.

Last weekend, a bunch of my best college friends and their plus ones came to visit, as part of Challenge #4: Host a College Reunion. Despite some decidedly unseasonable weather, we had a blast. Lobster rolls and steamers in Menemsha, lazy beach mornings, trips to the West Tisbury Farmers Market, and lots of silly, late night fun after the babies were in bed.

It was so amazing just to have them all here together, but I knew I wanted to do something extra special to mark the occasion. We had also been talking about having a small, non-religious “welcoming” ceremony for Evie on the beach, and this weekend felt like the perfect time. We invited a bunch of friends to our favorite beach one evening, and asked a few people to write special blessings to help bring Evie into our wonderful Island community. We sprinkled her with ocean water and she ran around like a giggling lunatic (as usual.) It was absolutely perfect, and felt like the ideal way to celebrate having so many close friends with us on a beautiful, end-of-summer Sunday.

Here’s Evie with her new soul parents, Katie and Tony:

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Here she is being welcomed by our sweet friend Kaila:

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And here we are with Aunties Katie and Courtney. (Evie’s grass crown was woven by Aunt Hannah, who was most likely chasing around the other wayward babies when this photo was taken…)

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I know (or I hope) that there’s not really an asteroid threatening our planet any time soon, but I do think that setting these Tumble & Fall-inspired goals for myself has truly made me appreciate beautiful moments like this one all the more.

Hope you’ve been making some special memories of your own this summer.

xoxo

abc

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I AM STILL HERE.

And slowly, slowly coming out of summerland.  Nobody likes excuses, I know, so I won’t even bother to hurl them at you.  But if you were to guess that one of the reasons I’ve been such a delinquent communicator this summer has a little bit to do with the fact that I live on an island that is just absolutely CUCKOO for summertime, you’d be correct.

So I peep from the surf and sand to say hello, and also to gently remind you to go here and check out the Teen Read Awards, presented by Indigo and Chapters in Canada.  I think you can even register to vote?  I’m nominated in the BEST NEW WRITER category, which is probably one of the coolest things that’s happened in WISH-ville so far.  Also, I get to actually GO to Toronto for the awards ceremony in a few weeks, which is maybe the second-coolest thing that’s happened.  I’ve heard really amazing things about that city and am super excited to visit.

One other quick thing I can tell you is that the ARCs for WISHFUL THINKING arrived and they are so, so lovely and glam.  I’m really excited for this one.  It takes place almost entirely on Martha’s Vineyard, and it was so much fun to write.   If only January ’11 would hustle up and get here so you all could see it, too…

But for now, the sun is shining and it is decidedly un-January-like outside, and so I must vanish from cyberspace again.

Wishing you all the best for lovely, restful, easy days of summers-end,

xoxo

akb

(First things first:  Here’s where I ask you to insert my now-customary groveling for not showing up here more often.  Grovelgrovelgrovel.  So sorry.  Is that a new haircut?  I love it!  Let’s be friends.)

GARDEN NOVICE

Spring is springing here on the island, and here’s something I’ve been doing a lot (since it’s clearly not blogging):  getting the garden ready!   I can’t imagine how dull it is to read about somebody else’s garden…actually, I don’t need to imagine it, I clearly remember reading these kinds of “My Lettuce!  My Beets!  My Cow-Poop Organic Fertilizer Mix!” posts/articles before, back when I’d never had a garden of my own and was happy to buy shrink-wrapped spinach at top dollar.

VERY.  VERY.  DULL.

But, my, how things change.  Especially when you have a backyard for the first time in your life, and the idea of growing your own vegetables in it becomes not only practical, but really kind of life-changing and exciting.  And so, without further ado, I give you…

My Lettuce!  My Beets!  My Cow-Poop Organic Fertilizer Mix!


Now, here’s where you’re probably thinking: “But, Garden Novice, none of that looks anything like lettuce. or beets.  Cow poop, maybe, but come on!”

And you’re right,  but, as usual, I have excuses.  The first is that I just got this fancy application on my iphone, that takes these crazy pictures and requires massive amounts of patience in order to get the lens/film/flash settings just right.  If you know me at all, you know I have no patience, and so what you see is a result of haphazard guessing and the random pushing of buttons. Which is to say, sorry for the glare.

Excuse #2 isn’t so much an excuse, as a little lesson in horticulture.  I just planted these two weeks ago, so they’re still little baby seedlings.  And they’re adorable!  The beets have these little purple stems, and the lettuce is strong and healthy.  There’s also baby leeks, baby swiss chard, basil, arugula, greens galore!   But really, none of it looks like anything you’d ever want to put in a salad, and that’s because they’re newborns.  So get of my back!

As you can see, I have no idea what I’m doing, so let’s all say a prayer that these little guys survive my first go at bringing them into existence.  At least until I eat them.

BOOK TALK

Want to know something else I have no idea how to do?  Give a book talk!  Which is unfortunate, since I’m supposed to be giving one this afternoon.  I’ve done some of these before, and they’re always really casual, and I usually stumble through by saying something half-coherent and being my usual self-deprecating, hopefully-charming-enough-to-make-you-forget-I’m-not-really-saying-anything self.  But I feel like there has to be a better way.  And so I ask you:

Do you go to book talks?  What happens there?  What do you wish happened there, instead?  If you are a teenager, and you’re interested in writing, what would you like to hear a published author talk about?

I’m thinking about bringing in a few drafts of a chapter in the WISH sequel, just to show how many times things change from draft to draft and what the whole editor/writer back-and-forth is like.  Is that boring?  Does anybody care about that kind of thing?  I’m seriously asking, here.  This isn’t a hypothetical situation, or something I’d like you to think quietly about in the privacy of your cubicle/room.  I mean, think all you want, but then HELP ME, FOR THE LOVE OF LIZA!  k?  thanks.

MORE BOOK TALK

Speaking of the WISH sequel, I have some big big news!  Well, not, like, it’s gonna be a movie and we’re all gonna be billionaires news…but almost.  At last, we have a title!  The sequel to WISH will be..

WISHFUL THINKING

What do you think?  I really like it.  It took us all (editorial team plus me plus basically everyone I’ve come into contact with in the past six months, sorry about that guys…)  quite some time to settle on, but I think it’s the perfect play on the WISH theme, and it actually relates to the story quite a bit, which is nice (and not always the case.)

So that’s the news.  But let’s all keep our fingers crossed for the movie/billionaire scenario, too, shall we?

MINI-SHREDDERS

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that, if you’re reading this blog, you’re not a boy between the ages of 7-17.  Which is too bad, because this next little news item is probably going to only be of interest to that demographic.  But I think it’s really exciting, and this is my blog (even if I neglect horribly,) so here we go:

My boyfriend, Eliot — who I rarely talk about in this space because he’s all kinds of shy and convinced that I’m going to tell embarrassing stories about him and that you, my gazillions of readers, are going to find him and laugh at him someday — is starting a skateboarding camp on Martha’s Vineyard.  He just got the website up and running, and we’d both be so happy if you checked it out, and maybe even spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

Linky linky:  www.mvskatecamp.com!  Hooray!

This past weekend we sat in a booth at an all-island trade show, to benefit our local radio station (Hi, WVVY!) and get people psyched about Skate Camp.  We sold some goodies and passed out stickers and fliers, and I tried (again) to master my new fancy camera phone:

A little better, right?  Anyway, the trade show was a blast, much like  Skate Camp will be this summer!

Come on, look at this guy.  Don’t you want to high-five him too?

That’s what I have for you today.  As always, I will try to be better about checking in.  I’ve just handed in my third (and pretty much final!!!) draft of the sequel…I mean, Wishful Thinking…and I know you’re probably tired of excuses, but this revision process truly threw me for a life-wrenching loop.  But it’s in!

And now I begin the cycle of returning to humanity, which, for the good of us all, begins with a shower.

xoxo

akb

A number of things, actually.

First, here are a few things I’m really terrible at: taking pictures, and posting the ones I do take, here.

I would like to fix that.

The last three months or so have been a strange mash-up of lots of solitary writing time on the island, and LOTS of exciting travel time.

Here are some pictures of both:

This is what the winter looked like at home:

Can you feel the frustration?  The long hours?  The ennui?

It didn’t last long.  Because this is what winter looks like in Nicaragua:

And this is what it looks like in Nicaragua at night:

And this is what it looks like in Nicaragua during a tsunami warning, which we waited out in our pajamas at the top of a mountain, while striking intimidating poses:

Back from Nicaragua, I spent a few weeks floating up and down the East Coast, making trips to visit schools, friends and most importantly, to see my tiny adorable goddaughter. Here is what she looked like before I squeezed her into a million tiny adorable pieces:

During this time, I also made a number of trips to NYC, where I am apparently allergic to taking pictures.  But here’s one:

That’s Lady Liberty, beacon of hope and promise.  Behind her is some statue, I think.

And here, sadly, is what happened at my Books of Wonder signing:

That would be the back of my lonely little book, staring longingly at the line of adoring fans waiting in Maggie Stiefvater‘s line. Sigh.

Luckily, the rest of my NYC adventures, though not captured on film, were fantastic. The Teen Author Festival was a smashing success, thanks to the hard-working and endlessly charming David Levithan, and was full of interesting panels, readings, and the chance to meet so many super sweet and talented authors.

Here’s somebody else’s picture, which I’ve just lifted off of facebook:

Don’t we look sweet?  And talented?  And, in my case, like we’re in the middle of what might be either a hearty chuckle or a sneezing attack?

And so ends my winter in pictures.  The sun is shining today, though I’ve heard unfriendly murmurings of snow.  Until I see it with my very own eyes I will continue to bid farewell to winter cold, with its quiet for writing and wanderlust.

It’s been real, but bring on the spring.

Last night, I got a text from my brother.  Both of my brothers consider texting as little more than a vehicle for more jokes and nonsense babble, so when my phone blinked and I saw a note from George, who lives hours away and communicates only in a dialect more commonly known as sarcasm, asking if we were underwater yet, I didn’t jump to investigate.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you that I am on a deadline.  I rarely look out the window, much less leave the house, and while, yes, I’ve noted the pitter patter of raindrops falling on the roof (in fact, one night it was less pitter patter and more wildebeest-trampling-the-gutters…) I saw no cause for alarm.

I’ve also been told it’s windy.  Again, on account of the deadline brain, I haven’t actually witnessed this alleged “wind” phenomenon first hand.  But I can recall typing to the soothing tones of what may have been a mid-sized commercial aircraft landing in the yard.  And, I have foggy memories of EC returning home from work yesterday, dripping wet and saying something about waves the height of large buildings crashing into the cliffs.

But still, I didn’t worry.  No, the worrying only began at about 6:30 this morning, when I was lovingly brought out of sleep by some language that is nowhere near blog-friendly.  EC had gone down to the basement to get some tools, and found them floating in puddles a few inches deep.

Because we are, in fact, underwater.  Or, at least, the basement is.  I just ran down to take some pictures and was told not to leave the steps, in the event that any wires are wet and exposed, in which case I might be electrocuted.

ELECTROCUTED.

I guess there’s a moral to this story, though I don’t really have time to figure it out.  Something about how staring at nothing but your computer screen for days on end may lead to death by flood or electrocution.  Though I prefer the one about texting emergencies ONLY IN ACTUAL EMERGENCIES.

But, to each his own.

For now, it’s back to work.  Tomorrow I’m off again to NYC, for some NYTAF (that’s New York Teen Author Festival) fun, and when I get back, perhaps I will report on how the sun finally came out again this morning, because hopefully by then I will have noticed.

It’s been a busy few days of hunkering down to write in blankets (for some) and shoveling on repeat while grumbling about lost gloves and gamely making do with stunning orange ones (for others,) but I thought I’d poke my head out from the blizzardy snow-zone to say hello, and point you in other, more exciting directions.

Here’s an interview I did with Kaylyn at Darling Reviews.

Here’s a really nice review on the Myrtle Beach Alternatives‘ Literary Page.

Here’s another nice review (5 stars!) at Cassandra’s Books (are) Critical Blog!

Thanks, Kaylyn!  Thanks, Cassandra!  Thanks, Myrtle Beach!

Also, before it got all horizontal-blinding-wind-spitty around here, I stopped over at the wonderful Bunch of Grapes bookstore and saw, for the very first time, my very first book on display:

(Please note the strategic angling of the camera, not-at-all accidentally capturing the close proximity of shiny sparkly purpleness to GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray, only the Printz-award winning Best Ever Book of 2009, no-big-deal.)

And now, it’s back to the hunkering and shoveling…and man-glove-hiding….mwaaaahahahaha.

(We are one tube of red lipstick away from some Shining-style stir CRAZY.  Wish us luck.)

Yesterday afternoon, I sent the very first draft of my very first sequel off to my lovely editors.  As I mentioned on Twitter, this did not happen quietly. There was much squealing, and then much celebrating in the form of a night on the town with the man friend.

And although “night on the town” equals “2-for-1 entree night at one of three restaurants still open in the off-season,” I couldn’t have asked for a better celebration.  It definitely takes some getting used to, living in a place where you know seventy-five percent of the people eating dinner at the tables around you, but there is something really special about getting to share good news right away.  A perfect island night.

And now…the morning after. I haven’t had all that much experience with this phenomenon, but I can tell you it feels strange.  I don’t really know what to do with myself, now that I don’t have a draft to tweak and stare at.  It’s out of my hands, at least for a while, and all I can do is wait…and wait…and try not to dissolve into a puddle of insecurities while I wait.

Here are some non-writing things I’d like to do while waiting:

(Kind of like New Year’s Resolutions, only shorter-term.   And late.)

Shower.  (Like, regularly.  And before noon.)

-Do yoga again.  (I nearly cracked a rib trying to do a single sun salutation yesterday.  Have I mentioned my less-than-stellar Wii Fit assessment?  Needs work, and lots of it.)

Walk the dogs.  (Outside.  And beyond the perimeter of the yard.)

Cook things with vegetables in them.  (Deadline diet involved lots of pasta, oatmeal, and baked goods.  Need veggie detox. Bad.)

-Do a little warm-weather shopping, because we are going to Nicaragua in two weeks!!!

That’ll do, to start.

What do other people do when they’ve parted ways with their projects, I wonder?  I always just feel overwhelmed by non-humaness that it’s hard to know how best to move on.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Non-starch-dominated recipes to share?  I’ll be here…

Waiting…

xox

akb

So I take back those nasty things I said about the sun. It was such a lovely fall weekend here on the island, made even lovelier by a visit from my lovely friend Leah, who made the long journey from NYC (which shouldn’t be that long, but always is, due to bus stop-overs, erratic ferry schedules and traffic…ugh.)  And I’m so happy she did, because it was a festive pre-Thanksgiving couple of days, involving lots of friends, cooking, baking…and eating.

(I mean LOTS of eating.  Here is a *partial* list of yesterday’s pot-luck menu:  Deep fried turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallow-meringues, homemade mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, creamed spinach, brussels sprouts two-ways, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, and for dessert:  sugar-dusted pumpkin churros with chocolate fondue.  Incredible.)

Since Leah is a fancy photographer (her new website is www.leahtepperbyrne.com and it’s amazing — though I’m having trouble linking to it) we also took lots of pictures.  Or, Leah took lots of pictures, and I did a lot of not-sitting-still and squinting and whining.  This is because I am quite possibly the world’s most uncomfortable picture-poser.  The sun is too bright, something itches, I can’t stop laughing, I can’t stop crying…you get the idea.  Luckily, there is an abundance of non-awkward natural beauty around here, so hopefully she got some keepers, despite my lack of on-camera competence.

Leah happens to be Canadian, which means that people ask her about  hockey and health care a lot.  You know who else is Canadian?  Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal, which I watched this weekend and very much enjoyed.  I mean, you’ve got your Sandy, your Ryan Reynolds, classic romantic comedy hijinks, sweeping Alaskan landscapes, and Betty White for crying out loud.  What’s not to enjoy?

All in all, a perfect few days.  I only opened my computer once (so that Leah could show me an amazing video of Sesame Street gangsta rap.)   Which means that it’s time to get back to the writing.  Luckily, I think I ate enough this weekend to keep some of my usual snack-break distractions at bay…at least until lunch.

On account of the abundant sunshine, (because that is literally what the forecast has been for the past two mornings:  Abundant.  Sunshine.) I have been struggling with this whole sitting-inside-and-writing thing a bit more than usual.  Given that it’s mid-November, and given that I know what the wretched months of January through April hold in store, it’s been hard to fight the “But this could be the last sunny day!” logic the dogs have been using lately, to get me to take them on multiple walks.

At least I think that’s their logic.  I don’t speak dog.

Luckily for me — and for the Great Publishing Powers waiting on the other end…Hi GPPs!  Don’t let this blog post fool you!  I am TOTALLY making progress!  Everything is RIGHT ON TRACK!!! —

So anyway, luckily for us all,  it’s deer-hunting season, which makes afternoon woods-walking a bit more exciting.

Particularly when one of your dogs is rather deer-like in every way, up to and including the way she prance-hops through the brush and plays a little game we like to call “What’s that?  I can’t hear you.  I’ll just be over here impersonating a doe.”

To make matters slightly more embarassing (while thwacking through the underbrush, cursing my lack of orange reflective garments and praying to not be shot with a bow and arrow — because, oh, did I mention? We haven’t even entered the joy that is shotgun season around here yet,) the deer-dog’s name is Venga, which, for those of you who took French or Latin, means “Come!” in Spanish.

Ha.  Ha.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, thank you, hunting season.  For giving me a solid excuse to work today.

Also, here’s this:

It’s lived in my head for days, and now I share it with you, in an effort to be rid of it once and for all.

You are welcome.

Well, it’s been a spectacularly unproductive morning here at A.D.D. Headquarters, Up-Island Branch.

First, there’s the sun.  Have you seen it?  It’s EVERYWHERE.  I mean, this weekend was bad enough, what with the near-70 degree temperatures and surf boys running around, all sandy -footed and Endless Summer-like.   But at least there was the fog, which made being outside (for any non-surf related reason) fairly pointless.

But today, it’s all blue skies and this ridiculous late-Spring breeze that keeps setting off some sort of Pavlovian reaction and making me want to pack up my sweaters.  I thought the point of living in the New England was to hibernate and be grumpy and productive?  Thanks so much, global warning.  Now I’m just confused.

In addition to the totally inconsiderate weather, I have been plagued by too much Internet.  It all started with this list.  How genius is Michel Gondry? And how have I never seen that Bright Eyes vid before?  And is that Charles Widmore from LOST?

It’s a tough call, but I think this is my number one:

What about you?  Favorites?  Most Overrated? Overlooked?

Answer quick, before the sun wins and I play outside.

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