Monday, April 27, 2009

Censorship blog renewed!

Man, I am never surprised by the ugly head of the censor reared. I've seen it far too often now to be easily phased -- from my high school years to the years I've spent working for Chris. But a very brave librarian is battling censorship as we speak and her foes claim NO book has been banned in this country in over 50 years.

It's probably true that our government has not banned a book in 50 years. But school districts and other "concerned educators" ban books far more often than you might imagine. I've seen Crutcher's books banned repeatedly in the five or six years I've worked for him. And I've seen dozens of other challenged and, yes BANNED again and again and again.

For several years, I kept track of banned books and book challenges on my website. I let it lapse because I got too busy...or so I thought. But this is too important for me to be too busy. So I've stepped back into the box, ready to work.

This afternoon, I collected some book banning documentation and posted it on my OTHER blog. I'll be searching for current and future challenges all over the country from now on, and posting them there. They won't all be banned, thank goodness. Most will be challenged, then set right, because ours is still a nation of laws and the First Amendment and Supreme Court rulings still matter. But I'll get them posted so brave librarians will have a resource.

I'll miss some. I always do. But if you have information I've missed, PLEASE let me know.

It's important. At least it is to me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Carrie's FeeJee Mermaid, from her thank you note, via Holmes Elementary. She heard it as Pegi Mermaid, I guess...which is A-OK. Thanks, Carrie.

Thank YOU, too!

...I wrote about this before, but I got two reminders of why I write for kids today. First, I got my royalty check. Thanks Darby Creek. When you do this for a living, those checks are LITERALLY a godsend. Hooray. I sold more than 5,000 more copies of TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS between July 2008 and December 2008, and the book is three years old. Man, if publishers would just let me keep making these kinds of books -- we'd make a lot of money together AND the kids, those reluctant readers (mostly boys) would keep BUYING and READING. That's a win/win, isn't it? This Alien book is all but written. Doesn't anyone WANT IT? Hope I find the editor that does soon.

In the meantime, the second reason -- the second great envelope I got in the mail today. I got GREAT thank you notes from kids from Holmes Elementary -- 4th and 4th graders in Ms. Harper's class. They get it, ya know? And I love them to pieces. Check out the thank you notes they sent me, and these are only two of from Billy and one from Carrie.

Yeah, I do it to make a living, even if it is pretty modest. But REALLY I do it for these kids. In that respect, I'm richer than I ever thought I would be. And the kids are worth it. Absolutely.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Snow? On April 14?

Okay, I moved to Spokane --in part -- because there were four distinct seasons, including wintery white. But three inches of snow in the middle of April is PRETTY weird. Check out my frosty Bigfoot friend. He's not thinking this is funny. And neither do I.

It is pretty, but they've got half ths streets torn up in my neighborhood so the daily commute is already a little snarled. Mix in a little slush and it's down right uncivilized.

Oh well. I guess REAL spring, assuming we don't just leap into summer sizzle, will be that much sweeter. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 Sasquatch Reading Award -- ALMOST

Cryptids almost won the 2009 Sasquatch Reading Award, but Dan Gutman surged forward to win.
Dan's The Homework Machine got 2,351 votes. Cryptids got 2,101. But hey, second is exciting to me, and a BIG congrats to Dan. Very cool!! Thanks to all the kids that voted for Cryptids. I'm so excited the book was worth your time!

All Better...and on to BATS and BIGFOOT

Thankfully, I never stay sad for long, and I'm on to my next nonfiction adventure -- or two, or three. I have been corresponding with the director of a baby bat rescue hospital, and she's eager to help me tell her story. So I HOPE I will soon have a new proposal about this wonderful conservation effort. More on that VERY soon.

And I got confirmation that I'll be sitting in on the Bigfoot Roundup in Yakima, Washington on May 15 and 16 as research for my new book for Houghton Mifflin. I am THRILLED because so many respected expects will be there. And my illustrator Rick Spears MAY be able to come down over for the Roundup too.

I'll take LOTS of pictures, and I'll share them with you -- at the Bigfoot Roundup and when I go to the bat hospital, of course. And I'm still researching about a dozen other topics for other books yet to come. It's good to feel like my NORMAL self. I'm glad I'm not sad very often.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I wish I understood exactly how my sadness switch works. It may be partially genetic as in brain chemistry. I almost never saw my mom awake, other than at mealtimes when I was a kid. She slept most of the day and night, and it always puzzled me as a kid.

How can she nap, I wondered, when she just woke up? I know now that's a red flag for serious depression. So I may have it in my blood.

It may be circumstantial. My marriage was hellish, as was my girls' relationship with their less than decent dad. That was depressing. By the time I got a brain in my head and filed for divorce, I felt so guilty for subjecting them to prolonged madness, I never even thought about trying again. I devoted all my time to paying the bills and being with them. That, I'm proud of doing. I owed them a LOT. I always will.

But now they're grown -- 19 and 26 -- with significant others of their own. So I find myself at loose ends, emotionally. Where I could barely scrape together enough hours in the day as a working mom -- I slept 4 hours a night -- I am now, to condense it down to a word, LOST.

I didn't make many friendships as a kid or an adult -- I didn't know how. Still don't, really. And those I did make, well, they have families of their own. And I'm not easy to like right now. As one friend put it, I don't have any fun. I think I've forgotten HOW.

That's not exactly true. Writing books is fun. School visits are fun. Dinner with my kids is REALLY fun. Movies are fun, though I see most of them alone, which can be hard. Coffee with my friend is fun -- when I'm not being stupid. But for the past few months, I've been stupid a lot. And that's depressing and puts what friendship I have at risk.

Stupid = afraid. And fear is almost never my friend. I mean, it keeps me from driving off a bridge, I guess, so that's not a bad thing. But the fear of loneliness and loss can sometime paralyze us -- paralyzes me. Paralysis doesn't do me much good.

I'm trying to find my way out of the mess I've made of my life. Well intentioned or not, it is a mess. What is it they say about the path to hell? Paved with good intentions? Rings true, at the moment. But where there's a road in, I have to believe there's a road out. So I'm looking for it -- back tracking.

I had help, but I did find my way about of 17 years of abusive marriage. So maybe I can find my way out of this mire. I hope so. But if I could turn the sadness switch off while I try to find my way, it sure would be an easier journey.

Haven't figured that out yet. But I'll keep trying. In the meantime, I have a school visit tomorrow, so I'll have a little escape. I'm really lucky to have those kids.