Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Mind of the Tween Boy

What does the "tween" boy think? How does he act? What motivates him?

Never having been a tween boy, I've never been quite sure about this, and the lack of major boy characters in my novels reflects this gap in my knowledge.

This weekend, however, I took a brief journey into the weird and wondrous world of the tween male while chaperoning a ski trip.

Pile four 13- and 14-year-old boys into your car for a two-hour ride back and forth to the mountains and blend into the background as any self-respecting chaperone is expected to do, and you have a ready-made laboratory for monitoring the behavior of this shadowy subculture.

Here's what I took away from the trip:

  1. Having the right songs downloaded onto one's iPod is of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  2. Having the appropriate ring-tone song choice matched to the appropriate caller on one's cell phone is of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  3. Anything and everything related to music and the devices used to play music are of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  4. Tween girls come in a distant second to music in terms of importance to today's tween boy.
  5. Tween boys talk about tween girls in much the same way tween girls talk about tween boys, though some of the language used may be different (e.g., "You should totally go after Kayley, dude. She was looking at you all night. Seriously.")
  6. Tween boys can pack away a lot of food.

True, this is not enough to build a novel around. Four hours in the car with four boys hardly makes me an expert. But at least I know now to add some rock band t-shirts to my minor boy characters' wardrobes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

5,000 and Counting

Last night Just Like the Nut got it's 5,000th visitor! And that visitor was ... Jay Asher! Or at least, according to SiteMeter, it was someone from Jay's hometown who entered here by way of a comment I made on a kid lit message board about his book, so I think it was him. Jay also happens to be the first person who ever left a comment on my blog.

So, in Jay's honor, I want to direct everyone who stops by here to today's Disco Mermaids blog post, where Jay celebrates some exciting news about his book. If you're into kid lit but haven't yet read 13 Reasons Why, well, you are now officially "out of it." Jay's book is going to a second printing less than three months after its release. (Want to know what the first print run was? Check out that link!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How Creative Are You?

You Are 65% Creative

You are beyond creative. You are a true artist - even if it's not in the conventional sense of the word.

You love creating for its own sake, and you find yourself quite inspired at times.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Where's Linda?

Time for a little game, sports fans!

I've been out of town on business for a few days. Can you tell from these shots where I am?

Here's my husband, Joe, sitting beside me on the trolley. If you're able to guess based on this shot, you must be either (a) someone who already knew where I was going this week or (b) a stalker.

An artist's street display. If you can guess by this shot, you must be either (a) a native of this city or (b) the artist.

Street performers. If you can guess by this shot, you must be either (a) a frequent tourist to this city or (b) knowledgeable enough about music to be able to tell what genre this is based on the instruments.

A famous square. If you can guess by this shot, you must either (a) have visited this city at least once or (b) really know your presidential statuary.

A famous cafe known for a certain delicious pastry. If you can guess by this shot, you must either (a) know a little something about U.S. cities or (b) watch too much Food Network.

A typical street scene. If you can tell by this shot, you must be either (a) someone who has seen this city on TV or in photos or (b) a decent guesser. If you cannot yet guess where I am, well, you must either (a) live outside the U.S. or (b) live under a rock.

Me on a famous (or perhaps infamous) street. This one's the giveaway shot.

Ah, yes. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's a Beautiful Thing

Sorry I've been so remiss in posting this week. I want to post, I really do. It's just that I don't have time. And that's because ...

I've started a new novel! It's still too early to tell whether this one is going to go anywhere, but for now, I'm having fun with it. I'm on the fourth chapter, which is enough to know I'm into it but not enough to know whether this could be The One.

I know, I know ... I hate it when people get so wrapped up in writing their new book that they neglect their friends. And you just know that if I get to chapter seven or eight and decide I'm tired of it, or worse, I hate it, or even worse, I like it but can't make it work for some reason that isn't my fault and isn't the book's fault but just is, well, you know I'm going to come crying back here, looking to my blogging buddies for support.

So let me apologize right here and now. I hope you'll understand. I hope you'll be happy for me. Most of all, I hope you find something like this for yourself. It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Now I've Seen It All

Just when you think the Wide World of Publishing couldn't get any stranger ... a friend of my husband's just got him a subscription to this.

I have to say, my Dad will love the piece in the Holiday 2007 edition on beagling.

It's a Start, Part VI

It's a Start is an occasional feature that takes a look at the first sentence (or so) of books picked randomly from the Acorn bookshelves. You can find Parts I-V here.

We have a great crop today, some real winners! As always, if you feel differently, let your voice be heard in the comments section! Note: Maximum number of stars = 5.

You are not going to believe me, nobody in their right minds could possibly believe me, but it's true, really it is! When I woke up this morning, I found I'd turned into my mother. Freaky Friday, by Mary Rodgers

Well, they say you should start the story at the point where something unusual happens to your protagonist. This'll do! We have voice and we have conflict. Oh, do we have conflict. A teenager's worst nightmare. Stars: ****

You'd think I could spend the night at a friend's house without finding myself knee-deep in pig poop. Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary, by Wendelin Van Draanen

Knee-deep in pig poop? Hold my calls, honey, I have some reading to do! Stars: *****

From his perch behind the clock, Hugo could see everything. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

This is the first written sentence of Chapter One of "Hugo Cabret," but as anyone familiar with the book knows, it is hardly the beginning. We have already followed Hugo through a Paris train station and up the steps to the clock through Selznick's illustrations. Still, it's a great first sentence. Why is Hugo perched behind a clock? And what is meant by "everything"? I have a feeling we're about to find out. Stars: ****

RULES FOR DAVID. Chew with your mouth closed. Say "thank you" when someone gives you a present (even if you don't like it). When someone says "hi," you say "hi" back. Rules, by Cynthia Lord

If you haven't read "Rules," these first sentences appear as part of a handwritten list placed before the first chapter, as a sort of prologue. (And there are five additional rules on the list, for a total of eight.) It's a perfect beginning for this book, for a number of reasons. First, it grabs the reader's attention. A handwritten note is unusual and has a very personal feel to it. Second, though the first two rules are ordinary enough and might be applicable to any child (heck, I have to be reminded sometimes, and I'm, er, older than a child), when you get to the third rule, you start to wonder about David. Who is he, and why does he need to be told such a thing? And third, this list sets the stage for the book as a whole, in which David's rules play a major thematic role. Stars: *****

I'll be a millionaire by the time I turn thirty-five. Successful. Independent. Abbey Garner -- Self-made financial genius. Beauty Shop for Rent, by Laura Bowers

Again, this is the start of a brief prologue to the book. I like this because it tells us a lot about the character, and it makes us want to learn more about her. And even though technically it is "telling" and not "showing," it sort of "shows" us that this is one determined, self-confident girl, by virtue of the fact that she would make these predictions so matter-of-factly. Stars: ***

Bonus Start: Hypothetical Question of the Week: If you were forced to have an extra body part implanted on your back, which would you choose? A finger, ear, breast or nose? Beauty Shop for Rent, by Laura Bowers

I just had to add the first sentence of Chapter One of Laura's book as a bonus. While the first sentence of her prologue draws us in and makes us want to learn more about her character, the first sentence of the body of the book is just plain funny. And intriguing. And it's one of those probing first sentences that really makes the reader stop and think. (For the record, I'd go for a finger ... that way I could scratch my own back!) Stars: ****