1) Kid Lit Cares is a charity thrown together most impressively in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — under the organizational prowess of Kate Messner and Joanne Levy, various agents, authors, and illustrators are donating goods and services to the highest bidder. You can win original art from Tom Angleberger, have Gary Paulsen name a character after you in this next book, or have a classroom Skype visit with R.J. Palacio. Elbowing his way into this flurry of goodwill is yours truly: The winning bidder can send me up to 100 manuscript pages, which I will read and critique — a useful thing, perhaps, for any new writers out there.
2) As for my own writing: It is all over the place these days. No matter how many times I tell myself to pick one, just ONE, work-in-progress and stick to it, I flitter from one manuscript to the next like a drunken moth. My goal was to have a full draft of a new book complete by the end of the year, and that is never going to happen. But at least I am writing. If I keep putting down words, even on three different projects at once, at least one of those projects will eventually get to the finish line, right? That’s just math.
3) We have been weirdly neglectful, as homeschool parents, of teaching Lea how to write well. Oh, she has an advanced vocabulary, and can successfully complete any lesson in her grammar books in about fifteen seconds. When she does write, she does so clearly enough. But we should be doing something more, shouldn’t we? And so my lunchtime lessons with my daughter are easing back on math, which I used to do five days a week — instead, we’re ramping up on reading short non-fiction books and essays, with an eye towards parsing how they are structured. Yes: I, who used to pride myself on making it up as I went along, instead of outlining like one of those stuck-up, so-called professionals, am teaching my daughter how to outline. I figure if she learns to outline chapters of existing books, that will help prime the pump when I ask her to organize an original essay or book report from scratch. Hopefully I can then ease her into writing an actual short story — a task that so far she has been reluctant to even consider.
4) The Puzzler’s Mansion will be out in paperback on May 2, 2013.