Saturday, March 22, 2008


Key West -- The highlight of the week was a 5 day visit from Larry and Elliot. Elliot had a 2 week spring break. This was good news for him, but I can't help thinking, what are working parents supposed to do? Randy is lucky. She was able to take a week off and go skiing with Elliot (he's a snowboarder, she's a skier). Then she went back to work, Elliot flew to Key West, and Larry came down to hang out with him. I love watching the two of them together. It must be great to grow up with a fun uncle. I got smart this time and kept my mouth shut (no reminders about sunscreen, or annoying questions about anything). But when Elliot ordered squid ink pasta with clams, mussels, and shrimp, I had to hold my tongue. (I'm allergic to shellfish and get uncomfortable when he insists on eating it, afraid that maybe he'll be allergic, too.) But nothing bad happened, not even from the sushi -- yes, sushi! Looking the other way wasn't as hard as I'd thought and it made for a relaxing, fun time for all of us.

Here are three generations of my guys: (from left) Larry, Elliot, and George.

I left some books in Elliot's room. I find the only way to get a teenager to read a book you think he should read, or even a book you think he'd like, is to leave a pile of books around and let him decide. He picked up Daria Snadowsky's Anatomy of a Boyfriend and read it in an afternoon. It's not unlike Forever. At the bookstore we bought a couple of Nick Hornby books -- seems to me a 16 year old would really enjoy his writing. But Elliot chose a completely different book to read on the plane going home. Hey, reading anything is a positive step! Now I'll get to read the Nick Hornby books before sending them on to him.

The highlight of the week before -- a visit from Michael Casey -- his first trip to Key West. Michael's been highlighting my hair since -- well, since I first got highlights about 27 years ago. My hair hasn't yet turned gray. Strange, I know. It just keeps getting darker. Michael says it's genetic. He's the best, not just at being a hair colorist, but being a friend. He lives in NY and knows everything about the theater. So, when we come to town I ask him what plays we absolutely can't miss. While he was here he also highlighted my hair. Wow -- this was a first for me -- a home visit. Thanks, Michael!

Please don't ask how I'm doing with my book that's due in April, Friend or Fiend. Let's just say we have no more visitors scheduled for this season and tomorrow -- yes, tomorrow! -- I'm going to settle down, focus, and not allow anything to distract me from my writing. Except maybe politics. Speaking of -- am thrilled that Bill Richardson endorsed Obama. And what a brilliant speech Obama delivered this week on race. I watched/listened twice. I know exactly what Bill Richardson means when he says, "There's something so special about this guy..." Now, can we please leave religion out of this campaign and get to what really matters?

More soon.....
xx Judy

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'd Rather Be Tapping

Key West -- I'm having a hard time writing the fourth, and final, book in the Pain&Great One series. "So what else is new?" George says, reminding me that I always feel this way when I start a book. I have a title -- Friend or Fiend -- and I have a rough draft of the title story. And an even rougher draft of the second story, which may turn out to be two stories. That would be good! That's how it works when you're writing a novel. One thing leads to another to another. But with short stories it doesn't work that way. And the Pain&Great One books are made up of seven short stories, all about the same brother and sister - Abigail and Jake. I've never been a short story writer so these books have been a challenge, but what fun each time a story is finished and it works! (That's what I have to keep reminding myself.)

The second book in the series, Cool Zone, will be published in May. A "reader's copy" of the third book, Going, Going, Gone! (due out in September) arrived at my house yesterday. That's like a preview copy, but without all the illustrations, revisions, and corrections. Still, it's so exciting to get a first look at a new book. It's like a birth -- you forget everything that went into it, the difficult days, the pain, the feeling that you'll never be able to do it -- and you just rejoice. You did it!

But now the next deadline is looming. This book is due in May (for publication in May '09). I've been writing by hand this morning and it's going better than it went yesterday. Sometimes when I'm struggling it works better to scribble than to type. There's a brain/hand connection. Also, yesterday I was feeling low about the results of Tuesday's primary. I hate it when the campaign gets negative. I hate that getting negative can bring in votes. I don't usually let whatever's going on in the real world affect my writing. (Wait! Do I really mean that? How about after 9-11 when I thought I'd never write again?)

Now I'm thinking about taking a shower. If I take my shower between 10am and 11am I can listen to the Diane Rehm show on NPR. I love my bathroom radio! I love the Diane Rehm show.
Of course, that takes me away from my characters, but it also gives me a break. This is very different from having a good first draft of a whole book. Once I have that, you can't get me away from my desk. (Well, okay - you can. But I'm not looking for excuses the way I am now.)

All in all, I'd rather be tap dancing!
Which I get to do tomorrow morning.

Here's a picture I can't resist sharing. A Fudge fan put this book into the hands of his baby sister. When I need inspiration I turn to my readers. And you know what? It almost always works.

A DVD of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great 

is available for the first time. I hope teachers and parents will share it with their kids and classes.

*A new brochure will soon be available replacing the ancient one we've been sending out for years. It's made up of several pages from my website, handsomely designed by the talented Mark Tuchman. And now that that's done -- he can get back to the website and animating my Home Page.

Teen Alert!!
A Blogfest is coming, starting on March 12 and lasting for two weeks. My book Forever is published by Simon Pulse which is why I've been asked to participate.

More soon.
XX Judy