April 15-April 25, 2011:

This is the time of year that I run around like a crazy woman, writing on the fly, because of three reasons: 1. There are lots of children’s books conferences, and other speaking opportunities and I seemed to have accepted all the invitations (which is why Heidi has now taken over the job of my schedule   2. Everyone in New England begins to stick his or head head above the ice and breathe deeply again and so lunches and dinners abound  and 3. As I am to leave for Scotland in a month and will be gone until Fall, everyone here wants a piece of me before I go. That includes families, friends, the IRS, people I owe money to, and people I owe poems/stories/books to. (Though the last should realize I do my best work when I am happily ensconced in Wayside, my Scottish home.)

Where have I been recently? So glad you asked. In Chicago to speak at a library, to Minicon the Minnesota Science Fiction Convention and also four days with son Adam and his family in Minneapolis, lunch with two editors there, dinner with the children’s book mafia in Plainfield MA (Bob Marstall, Diane deGroat, Alice Schertle, Susan Pearson, Shelly Rotner), as well as reading the mss sent for the Hatfield Elementary Scool’s Jane Yolen Writing Contest (21st year).

And did I write, you wonder. Why yes, I did. A number of poems for a book of poems about my father’s family, some work on a possible new picture book with pictures by Roberto Innocenti (a Red Riding Hood story and as his pictures are finished, I am writing the story to go with and around them, a process somewhat akin to working with a great big jigsaw puzzle). And as Adam and I have had an actual offer/counter-offer/better offer on a middle grade trilogy proposal, I reworked the first chapter and sent it on to him and we discussed it quite a bit when I was in Minneapolis.

Am I ready to go off to Scotland? Not even close. I still have a trip to Orlando, a trip to South Carolina, and a trip to New York City on the docket. I have two groups of friends staying over before I leave. Oh it’s a social whirl here, my friends. F. Scott Fitzgerald, where are you now that I really need you?

April 5-14, 2011:

My head was set on finishing the novel. I thought I had 5,000 at most to go, but ended up with 52,478, more than 8,00 words since my last post. I actually finished the draft and revision on 4-8-2011 though today, on a long walk with a friend along the Connecticut River I realized there is still a missing piece to the puzzle having to do with the king needing to ask for something without being prompted.

So much of my writing time was taken up with the revision–but not all of it. I also did some small revisions (three times) for the editor of BUG OFF! a book of insect poems. I think her questions made the book better and better. And I wrote a proposal for a new Holocaust novel (yes, I’m crazy).

I also got back from speaking to over 1,000 kids on social justice and the Holocaust in Jamestown, NY, spent three and a half days in New York City visiting four editors and my agent, stayed with friends Delia and Ellen, went to a wonderful revival of the Cole Porter “Anything Goes”  starring the fabulous Sutton Foster.  Did a signing in Bolton MA with Heidi and went to see the house we lived in 41 years ago there. Had tea with new friends Trevor and Nancy who now own Barry Moser’s old house, where Pennyroyal Press used to be. Went to see “Source Code” with Movie Bob.

But mostly it was head down and write, write, write. The novel is now with my beta reader in Scotland, and I wait to hear what she thinks still needs doing.

More anon.

April 1-4, 2011:

Though April started here with a cruel cosmic joke on all of us in Western Massachusetts–snow–it quickly dissipated by afternoon as the temperatures rose into the mid 40’s. And that was how the next few days went–sun, clouds, sun, wind, sun, cold, culminating in today’s thunderstorms and bucketing rain. Welcome to a New England spring!

Good for writing, though, if awful for going outdoors, and I quickly got into the big explosive part of the new novel, The Thirteenth Fey, ending up by Monday afternoon with an actual Big Bang and over 44,000 words altogether. Probably no more than 5,000 words to go to the end, much of that already written (from the published short story of mine on which it is based.)

Managed in these four days to also fit in “Source Code” an sf movie with Jake Gyllenhaal; a tea party at my house with Mira Bartok and her husband Doug, and friend Bob; dinner with friend Patricia Wood; a public reading of some Emily Dickinson’s poetry at the Homestead; and writing some of my own poetry as well. (One poem based on that last event is below.) So there is life between novel scenes. Always good to remember.

Reading Poetry with Emily

You want truth on the slant,

beauty, terror, all in a moment?

Try reading a Dickinson poem aloud

to an admiring throng

in front of the Homestead

on an early spring morning.

Zero at the bone.

© 2011 Jane Yolen, All Rights Reserved

And yet another old friend and one-time neighbor died, this time tragically. RIP, Greg Grenzke. We had some good times together.



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