Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, July 30, 2010

100th Blog Post

Phineas and Ferb (soundtrack)Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to my 100th blog post, dedicated to my current favorite cartoon, Phineas and Ferb. It is one of the few shows that my 5, 8, and 10 year old children can watch together. I have been taking their philosophy to heart lately - what with their theme songs and treating life as an adventure, their sweet attitudes - juxtaposed against their sister Candace's - how do I say this? - more negative point of view. She's always trying to get them in trouble, despite their ongoing inclusion of her, and she ends up flat on her face. An example from this morning:

Candace: (on stage with PFT) Wait a minute! What are you doing?

Phineas: I'm cueing you.

Candace: How did you get a hit single?

Phineas: Well it wasn't easy. It took half a dozen phone calls and most of the morning. But if you're willing to put in the work...

Candace: I'm telling Mom!

Phineas: Okaaaaaay...telling her what?

(Audience stares at her blankly)

Candace: I'm just going to tell.

Poor Candace! Her anger and fear twists her into quite an unhappy person: a cautionary tale. Phineas and Ferb jump right into life. And that's what I need to keep doing, despite the Candace inside me. I need to keep jumping in, stretching challenging myself.

Blogging for the past six months has been a challenge that I have embraced. I almost can't believe it: it was in the winter, late January, when I launched Léna's Lit.Life. This time last year, I was barely acquainted with the verb "blog", and so it was certainly something I never thought I would do. I still have much to learn about the best ways to connect with people and increase readership. Other bloggers have contests, give-aways, *but* - well, maybe that's in the future.

The future. My Writopia students to do not share my affinity for Phineas and Ferb. They are at once too young, and too old. We all agree that Avatar rocks, but these guys don't have the time to watch much TV anymore. Thank goodness! They are the future writers and entertainers of America.

Yet, who can resist this cartoon, the sub-plot with Perry the Platypus, aka Agent P and the bumbling villain, Heinz Doofenshmirtz? What about those lines: "I have an intense, burning indifference." Priceless!

At any rate, this is what my kids watch, and it's good to want what you have, n'est-ce pas?!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Axl Rose: Wecome to Writopia

I'd love to ask Axl Rose to write a theme song for Writopia, but I don't think he would grant my request. So I have taken the liberty of giving myself a silly exercise and written the lyrics for him.

The idea for a theme song popped in my head yesterday. La Vida Writopia came to mind, but Ricky Martin's lyrics to La Vida Loca left me cold. I dismissed the idea as too silly, but . . . I'm allowed to be silly, aren't I? So when my I-Pod shuffled to Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses this morning, I was inspired. This song always makes me giggle - it is a mood elevator. I imagine Axl Rose whipping that long dirty blonde hair of his around himself, and I just crack up. Wait! Welcome to Writopia! A song is born . . .

(However, the lyrics aren't much better than La Vida Loca. I wonder if Axl would like my changes?)

Welcome to Writopia

Welcome to Writopia
We got words to spare
We got everything you want
Couches and laptops everywhere
We are the people that can find
Whatever story you need
If you got a character with a conflict
We can spin the tale with ease


At Writopia
Welcome to Writopia
Watch it bring you to your creative zone, please,
I wanna watch you write

Welcome to Writopia
We take it day by day
If you want it, you gotta work
But it's the price you pay
And make friends along the way
Fiction with a dose of
Reality or fantasy, memoir,
Journalism, comedy and tragedy
At Writopia
Welcome to Writopia
Feel your, your, your serpentine
Dreams, dare to dream

Welcome to Writopia
It gets better here everyday
Ya learn ta write a story
With a beginning, middle and end
You'll see that you can finish
You'll take it eventually
You can have anything you want
But with a story arc, please!


And when you're high on writing, you never
Ever want to come down, so down, so down, so down YEAH!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Polyurethane and Writing

Polyurethane and writing? Is she sniffing something? Hah! No, I'm not one who thinks they need to get high to write, although in my younger days I was prone to romanticizing writers and their substance-induced haze of creativity. Ernest Hemingway, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Dorothy Parker . . . it's more that I haven't been home or seen my family IN THREE DAYS because of polyurethane and the need to be in NYC for Writopia. (And couch surfing with friends Monday and Tuesday nights.) My own writing is simmering on the back burner.

The husband has had the kids, the animal and amphibians up at my mom's, because the floors of our new house were/are being laid down, stained and - you got it - polyurethaned.

I feel a bit as if I've been smelling the polyurethane anyway, being away from my family and waking up in different places. I feel dizzy, discombobulated, but so grateful to be focused on the art of creative writing, even though, or maybe especially because, it isn't my own writing.

I have a group of 11 and 12 year old kids in the mornings who are working in a variety of genres: realistic fiction, poetry, fantasy and a screenplay. All of their pieces are mapped out now - they know where they need to go and where they need to "beef up" (a phrase I use a lot!) so that they can have finished pieces on Friday.

In the afternoons I'm working with 15 year old teens, who are tapping away furiously on their laptops as I write this. They all took their "work" home with them, and are getting their pieces ready to workshop. A thriller, sci-fi/horror, humor, memoir, realistic fiction.

"Ten more minutes," I say. Nodding around the room, and then back to focus on their screens.

I get to go home today, and can't wait to wrap my arms around each of my three children and my husband. We all have never been apart for this long! As of today, the floors are safe to walk on, and I'm taking the 5:30 train from Grand Central Station.

These kids blow my mind and inspire me to write. I know that I will be able to make space for my own writing in my brain and my heart, as well as my house, because that is who I am. I am writer, hear me ROAR!

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Author's Statement" and My Own Edge

The Delicate Arch, a natural arch in Moab, UtahImage via Wikipedia

I have to write an Author's statement for my publicist. This, I gathered from her, is kind of like a college essay wherein I impress upon the world the reasons you should read my book, or why I wrote the book in the first place. Really? Do I have to? I am intimidated!!!!! I'm getting anxious that this is really happening. Publication. I have to get comfortable talking up EDGES and the fact that it's "about" the unglamorous topic of addiction and recovery. (And no, I didn't throw in a vampire as a metaphor, although that was very tempting.)

Luke had been tapping me on the shoulder, waiting patiently for me to tell his story for a very long time. I had known that he was running from his mother's death and father's alcoholism to a youth hostel in Moab, Utah. Originally, I was going to write two narratives: Luke's, and his father, Frank's journey to sobriety and to each other. But then Ava appeared at an AA meeting with Frank, and I became more curious about her story.

I hadn't read any fiction about the process of recovery. There is plenty out there with graphic insight into addiction. (The best of which I think is Crank by Ellen Hopkins.) But what happens when you take away the substance? Or, if like Luke, you just run away?

In my work with teens and substance abuse, I found that the older the kids are, the harder it was to make an immediate difference. Still, planting the seeds of recovery and healing was essential. Books are a powerful tools for learning and discovery.

We are all human and can make poor choices. But where is the line between a stupid choice and disease? I have had more friends and family members die from alcoholism and drug addiction than anybody would want - the latest of whom was three weeks ago. My friend's son, was found in his bed, slumped over from an overdose of heroin. And he had been trying to stay clean. A sweet, kind young man, who will be missed.

We write to understand the world, at least I do, and EDGES came out of a need to find hope in a sometimes bleak world, hope in a time where it's so easy to go over the edge, and somehow more difficult to find your own personal edge - stretching yourself and your mind beyond what you thought possible.

I also wrote EDGES with the underlying hope that I would be of service, that I would plant seeds, without being didactic or preachy, to be curious about how to wear life like a loose garment without either being hyper-responsible like Luke or out of control like Ava.

This "Author's Statement" will be marinating in my lobes and cerebellum all week. It will take me to my own "edge" of my comfort zone. What are my boundaries?

Thank you, oh mighty blog, for letting me "practice" on you, and thank you to my "circle" of readers, who help me keep going!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Breakfast with Judy Blundell and Jude Watson

Yes, you read that right. I had breakfast with Authors Judy Blundell and Jude Watson. Notice how I capitalize the A in Author? These two know how to pack a punch . . . writing in two different genres, for different ages (and genders), all packaged in the same adorable, bespectacled, red-headed body.

That's right, for those of you who don't know yet, Judy and Jude are the same person. Judy's book, What I Did and Why I Lied won the National Book Award for Young Adult literature in 2008. If you haven't read this yet, please do - you are in for a treat! Judy created a literary page turner - it is masterful. The setting is a beach resort in the 1940's. (I love the 1940's - my grandmother's posthumous book, The Joys of Love - is set also on a beach in that time period.) Jude Watson is Judy's nom de plume, and Judy has been writing books in the Star Wars series for Scholastic for the past fifteen years under this name. Judy is also writing books in the middle grade mystery series, The 39 Clues. (Sounds like a fun game of "hot laptop" with a different author writing each part!)

Last fall, when I found out that Judy lives in Katonah,  I wrote her a fan letter, and at the same time, told her I was thinking of moving there. I didn't think that she would answer, but I was surprised.

She was so gracious in her response to me! She even shot me an email when she heard of a house coming on the market.

We had been emailing back and forth for a while, so when I officially "met" Judy yesterday, I didn't feel terribly shy. It was a beautiful morning, and we met at a lovely coffee shop in the village in an old colonial house and we sat out on the porch with our iced coffees,  her daughter reading Rita Williams-Garcia at another table.

We talked for almost two hours, and when we said goodbye, I was thrilled when she asked if I wanted to go with her to the Teen Author Drink Night in the city in September, hosted by her editor and author extraordinaire David Levithan. I've been too intimidated to go to one of those! But now I don't have to be.

I am loving discovering the world of teen lit - I have found my "home", and I am still pinching myself!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Renovation & Synchronicity

This is our kitchen. Or, rather soon-to-be-one-of-these-days kitchen. Needs a floor, maybe an appliance or two - some cabinets and counters. A kitchen sink would be nice.

I've been mulling about renovation as a metaphor for life and writing this past week as it sinks into my tough noggin that this is indeed what we are doing, what most of us (or so I like to think) do when we move into a new home. The to-list is daunting, frightening even, as it becomes an a la carte process - what we have to do NOW, and what we can leave until later. The kitchen couldn't be left until later.

A renovation is a spiritual rebirth, making new again.

This house wanted us to come in and take care of it, revitalize it.

I am about to dust off an old manuscript, and "renovate" it. I am "renovating" myself out in Katonah. I must put myself out there and create community, reaching out and embracing other women, other moms, other writers; looking for kindred spirits. I must make new friendships and renew old ones.

I was planning on writing today about the similarities between home renovation and revision, but  I was stunned to read Judith Lindberg's blog yesterday, covering the very same thing. Synchronicity. We had spoken for the first time the day before - she had been one of my grandmother's writing students and was reaching out to talk about kids and the creative process, as she is also a writing teacher out in New Jersey. We were on the same wavelength. Then when she told me that she was the author of The Thrall's Tale, I gasped. "That's on my bedside table at my mom's!" I had picked it out to read next time I was at Crosswicks, which is this weekend! (Read my blog post My Mother, My Librarian)

So I'm in Katonah, but I have met a kindred spirit in New Jersey, and as I blog more, and reveal myself more, I widen the circle for myself, I renovate and renew. I myself am a Work In Progress, like a manuscript, and I'll never be finished. I never want to be finished with working on myself.

But the kitchen - well, that's another story.

Monday, July 19, 2010

To Website! @Lenaroybooks!

I just published my website! I have a real, "bona-fide" site now, making the "published author" dream all the more close. Five and a half months from publication, but who is counting? Writing about my fears and being held accountable for them by you all helped me to go ahead and explore Author Guild's site-builder, editing with the help of of the husband. Pressing ACTIVATE last night was very anti-climactic, as I had to wait until this afternoon to have the Author's Guild peeps comfirm my domain name, lenaroybooks.com. (My bog will stay lenaroy.com) And then I realized that I could have a BIO page, so I had to come up with a biography! Of course I wrote tons and then had to cut most of it, because that's just the way I roll. I'm so excited, and I really, really hope you guys like it: Lenaroybooks!

Friday, July 16, 2010

To Website, Or Not to Website?

Website image mapImage via Wikipedia

I've been agonizing over this website issue, and now that my book release date is less than six months away (OMG!)it's more apropos than ever. To website, or not to website? I think you know the answer to this, because after all, I'm keeping up my commitment to blogging. It's been almost six months, and I'm almost up to 100 posts. (Eeek!) I even christened this blog lenaroy.com, in hopes that it could expand into a website.

It is trés chére to have someone design your website for you, and then you have to constantly track down the site-builder whenever you want to make changes. Not very independent. Yet glamorous. I have oohed and aahhed over so many gorgeous websites that the whole notion has had me paralyzed. The Author's Guild has been tantalizing me with promotions of FREE website building, but I have waffled. Free? That's not very sexy . . .

"Two grand?" the husband asked when I told him how much a website might cost. "I'll do it myself." And he had every intention of doing so . . . even buying the Idiot's Guide . . . but we've had so much going on . . . so yes, the offer from the Author's Guild is looking MUCH sexier now, and I got my materials into them on the deadline day of June 30th.

And I just got it back for review. It's no frills, but the cool thing is that I can learn to manage the site myself with their site-builder software.

But I'm still agonizing over whether to press ACTIVATE. Turns out that they can't put this blog on the website, but they can LINK to the blog. I will have to call the website lenaroybooks.com, and keep the blog lenaroy.com. Or . . .

So what's a girl to do? Thoughts anyone?
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Madeleine L'Engle and Hilary Clinton

So many things to blog about . . . should I write about the Clinton's moving two towns north to the ritzier side of my own new hometown Katonah? Nah, I don't think it's going to have much impact on my lit.life, although rumor has it that Hilary once claimed A Wrinkle in Time as her favorite book.

Yet, the great thing about the writing process is that writing down the name Clinton in relation to Madeleine L'Engle has me remembering the privilege of visiting the White House in my grandmother's honor, for the prestigious National Humanities Medal. This is definitely apropos for a blog about a lit.life!

The award "honors individuals and organizations whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens' engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand America's access to important humanities resources."

It was the fall of 2004. I was pregnant with my daughter, and my grandmother was still with us, but had just been hospitalized for a cerebral hemorrhage. My sister Charlotte was to accept the award on behalf of our grandmother, although if Bill and Hilary had still been in the White House, we joked that she would have made a speedy recovery in an attempt to receive the award herself!

My brother Edward and I were thrilled to tag along, relishing the chance to see the White House. None of us had ever been there!

We had to go through some very heavy security. To be expected. Once we were finally "in", Each grouping of guests was given an "escort", a naval officer "off" duty who was charming, helpful, and whose job it was to be our host for the afternoon. I wish I could remember his name, because at that time I was writing a short story about an ex-navy airline pilot, and much of my research is thanks to him.

The rest of my memories are a blur: the ceremony, my pride in watching Charlotte accept the award with grace, deference and aplomb, shaking George W. and Laura's hands, the tour, the award ceremony and the amazingly luscious spread that the White House catered afterward (five and a half years later and I still remember the shrimp!)

It is not uncommon for artists to get awards and recognition either at the end of their lives or after. Some artists never get it. Artists strive for recognition, but more importantly, if they are to have longevity like my grandmother, they must make friends with the uncertainty of a creative career, and with failure. My grandmother always said to me: "If you aren't free to fail, then you aren't really free." I am so glad that my Gran was recognized by the government for her achievements.

However, I wish it could have been that Madeleine and Hilary had shaken hands, or shared a moment during the Clinton's reign at the White House: I can't help thinking that it would have been meaningful for both of them!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writopia Pioneers

It is early afternoon and I am sitting in the café at Borders Bookstore in Mt. Kisco, across from my second pioneer for Writopia out here in Northern Westchester.

This morning I met with an eleven-year-old girl at the beautiful library in Chappaqua - we sat in our own little room and worked on a story together using Google Docs, immersed in the process and learning about structure, character and motivation along the way.

The thirteen year old boy works differently, knowing what he wants to write, and not wanting me to interrupt his train of thought.

I find that I can talk about Writopia much more easily than I can talk about EDGES. We were invited to two barbecues with neighbors in Katonah this weekend, giving me opportunities to talk up the program. Whenever I talk about it, there is ample enthusiasm and desire. I admit that I naively thought we would have more enrollment by now, but what marketing have we done? This is a grass roots, word-of-mouth non-profit, and we've only been here for two weeks! I was nervous at first talking to the librarians in Chappaqua, but their faces lit up when I told them about the program and they asked for fliers. I need to do more of this: getting out there and talking to people, marketing something that I truly believe in, and mentioning that I have a book coming out in December is an added bonus!

I will ask someone here at BORDERS if Writopia can host an open mic night at the beginning of the school year, so that the few students I have can show off their work, and possible new recruits can as well.

It will be slow, building up students and a young writing community, but it will happen. If you build it, they will come!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ten Minutes in a Sound Studio

This is a picture of a vocal booth that I was in for all of ten minutes this morning. Was I recording some cabaret songs? Fly Me to the Moon perhaps? No - that dream has faded, although my torched alter-ego Venus de Velcro/Tallulah Trip is still deep in my sub-conscious. Writing a memoir perhaps? (Ms. Venus was content with the leopard print chair the sound studio provided.)

Instead I was recorded reading the introduction I wrote for Madeleine L'Engle's And Both Were Young.

I read through it twice: the first time, rushing through, trying to complete each sentence on a breath. Too fast. The second time, I slowed down and found a more suitable rhythm.

Rebecca Waugh and company were in the other room, sending good reading mojo.

Rebecca is the . . . how do you say? Acquisitor, Acquisitionist, ah, what the hey, the Editor at Random House's Listening Library (audio books). My fabulous agent, Edward Necarsulmer, had put EDGES into her hands at the kidlit conference in Bologna, where she pre-empted the audio rights and thus began our mutual affection for each other.

Rebecca had emailed this proposal to me:

First, in looking at the galley of AND BOTH WERE YOUNG, I realized that you wrote an introduction for it. We’d love to have you read it for the audio if you have the time! The producer says we need to record sometime before the end of August, so whenever you’re available in New York over the next two months, let me know and we’ll arrange it. I was also thinking this would be a perfect time for us to get together for pinkberry.

The answer was never going to be anything but yes, because:

1) I love my Gran and this book - it's an honor to do anything associated with her,

2) Rebecca is a kindred spirit, and

3) I LOVE Pinkberry!

The weather wasn't too sweltering, so we decided to walk uptown from 45th Street for our pilgrimage, only to be thwarted, finding the Pinkberry closed! And the Starbucks kitty corner was too crowded. So we did what any two sweet-tooth, lit loving gals in the city would do: we went to Dean and DeLuca's at Borders Books and shared a chocolate doughnut. Our beverage of choice was the very attractive GINGER gingerale.

"This is our special drink, Rebecca," I said.

"Yeah, GINGER is where it's at: Pinkberry can stuff it!"

After all, it's the company one keeps that's more important. What do you think Ms. Venus/Tallulah? (I know you're there somewhere!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waiting for Edges with Beth Potter

"It seems as if we have to wait forever for EDGES to come out," Beth said after a brief lull in conversation, over our afternoon "cocktail" of Pinkberry (frozen yogurt) and fruit. It was literally 100 degrees or more yesterday in NYC, and we were wilting.

I hadn't seen or talked to Beth in a while and had missed her. She had been assistant editor to Margaret Ferguson, my editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux (FSG) and walked me through much of the "publishing" process. (Including changing the title, but I'll leave that story for another post!)

It was time to ask Beth out on a Pinkberry date. (As you would too, if you knew her!)

EDGES, although she has not made her debut in the world, has been "finished" for many months, waiting patiently for her corsage and introductions this coming December. (Beth admitted that EDGES was as ready as the books coming out in August are *but* everything has a time-line.)

We had been talking about our lives outside of EDGES and FSG. My moving, her apartment hunting, my writing projects, and Beth's new job. She was promoted to full-time editor a few months ago. Go, Beth!

". . . WE have to wait forever . . ."

I love how she says "we" - she's got my back. She believes in EDGES. Things will start to happen soon - ARCs will go out, EDGES will be reviewed and I'll start getting nervous, my baby will be out there in the world - will she be able to stand on her own two feet? Will she make friends?

At any rate, I'm so grateful to have Beth in my (and EDGES) corner! We'll just have to see about the rest . . . and keep reading and writing!

(Psssst. Another Pinkberry date tomorrow with someone special!)

(How do you like my abuse of parentheses tonight?)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Thlot Pickens . . ..

"If you're rewriting a story, is it okay to to use the same plot, or do you find yourself stuck in the same problems?" One of the teens in yesterday's workshop asked me. I had never heard the question about REVISION phrased in this particular way. Have an outline, fill in differently. See how refreshing Writopia is?

We launched into a discussion about structure vs. plot.

(I had hammered out the plot to EDGES in three months, but it took me three years of rewrites and playing with the structure before getting it into the hands of a publisher.)

"How do I do that? How do I know whether or not the structure is working?" She asked.

"That's what we're all here for!" Learning how to both get and give constructive feedback are two of the main goals of workshopping.

This group is split between teens whose writing tends to be plot driven and those who prefer character driven stories. Since both character and plot inform each other so much, these guys and gals have much to learn from each other this week. I relish being their guide and witness.

I suggested switching her Point of View, see the "plot" from another character's eyes, or to simply change the narrative from third person to first person.

Picasso was known to use canvasses over and over again, switching colors, form, content - he had to "rule out" certain factors first, before getting to the heart of his painting.

This is a helpful reminder for me as well: I have a manuscript about a reality TV show (based on my personal experience) that I'm getting excited to get back to, which I wrote as a double narrative in the third person. Maybe I should be open to switching it to a single narrative in the first person. This may alter the plot, structure and character arcs a great deal, and might work better. Or it might not, but I will learn more about my characters and their stories in the process!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence: the Word

I hope that everybody is having a terrific weekend of grillin' and fireworkin' with family and friends. And toastin' to appreciating our civil rights and liberties. But how free are we really?

I'm leery of breaking into the world of sociopolitical commentary, but Big Business/banks/oil in America is like having an abusive boyfriend/girlfriend with a borderline personality disorder. They go for the jugular and suck and gnaw. We're in a twisted relationship with our country, folks.

It doesn't feel like we are independent. Yet independence as a personality trait is valued more than anything else in U.S. culture. So as a nation, we feel collective shame and guilt.

(Sigh) Okay, let me not wane into cynicism, but wax into glass-half-full mode.

We are celebrating the birthday of our country and my kids are full of excitement. We have been discussing the definition of Independence: "freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others."

We fought hard for our Independence from Great Britain, culminating in the big shindig and signing 234 years ago.

Words are important: what we say and how we view things really matter. Let's break it down. I personally want freedom from "control" and "influence" (unconscious or conscious manipulation) by others, and have battled with the vicissitudes of people-pleasing for all of my life.

Yet "support" and "aid" are gentle words, words that imply a certain amount of safety and trust in leaning on one another. I believe that we as a country need to give more support and aid to countries like Darfur, and on a personal level, we need more of a deep sense of volunteerism.

Yes, it takes a village . . . We all need emotional support from our family and friends, but often we don't get it and spend our lives looking for oranges at the hardware store.

If we want oranges, let's go to a fruit stand, shall we? (But be kind to the hardware store - it's not their fault that they don't have oranges!) This Independence Day, let's free ourselves from the chains of our own limited view of our lives, and our poisonous thoughts of ourselves and others. Let's remind ourselves that "support" and "aid" are a good thing, that we don't have to have a stiff upper lip, and we don't need to isolate ourselves in order to be independent.

Happy Birthday United Statesians!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Writers 4 Writers

It's the first Thursday of the month and it's time to picture drop. These two lovelies are none other than Deborah Heiligman and Daphne Grab, and together the three of us had an intimate Writers 4 Writers lunch, although we missed the other five of us (who are off in other parts of the country this July first).

It was my first foray back into the city after having moved last week, and a much needed shot for this junkie of writer-love. Yes, I admit it freely. I am a writer-lover. And my friends reminded me that I am a writer too.

They are both so warm and authentic, quirky and cool in their own ways. Daphne has just moved across the street from my old apartment! And Deborah had just come back from giving her Printz Honor speech at the ALA conference in DC which she had been so nervous about, (but I had already heard from several people that she nailed it with her humor and vivaciousness). Daphne and I hung on her every word as Deborah described her experience. (Check out her BLOG!)

Oh how I long to be a part of that world, the world of conferences and book signings, making friends and geeking out about meeting other writers. I want to go on retreats with other writers, I want to talk to librarians and teachers - soak up the whole world of kid and YA lit!

Maybe next year I'll get to be a fly on the wall . . .