Crazy Busy

This post is going to be mouthier than my usual posts, okay? Because when you have time, you write shorter letters, and when you don’t, you overshare (and you also don’t research deeply enough to figure out whether the shorter-letter quote should be attributed to Twain, Cicero, or Pascal – I give up, guys. I don’t care. Fight it out amongst yourselves on the other side.)

I need to update this blog and I put pressure on myself that I need to do it in a fun, creative, engaging, and appropriate way, but you know what? I am busy. Crazy. Busy. My calendar is not only full at this point, people, it is color coded. COLOR CODED. Or else I will forget where I live.

Exhibit A: Parenting. It’s intense. And awesome. My son is awesome. He is almost five. He tells me every day how many days there are left until he turns five. He is excited, because duh. Five is a very big deal. We’re preparing for the fifth birthday. It will involve cake. He wants it to be frosted entirely pink and then covered in raspberries. Originally, when we looked at cake pictures, he wanted this cake:Pink Ombre CakeI had to break it to him that Mommy is not That Mommy. Once upon a time, I anticipated being That Mommy. I envisioned Martha-Stewart levels of festive yet classy domesticity. Now it is a good day when there is no cat vomit on the floor. (But I could totally make that cake. TOTALLY MAKE IT. Except no time.)

My son is also going to have a new sister in a couple of months, so we’re preparing for her too. Every day, we’re getting the boy off to daycare and Pre-K and field trips and play dates and swimming lessons, and somehow we are getting him fed and bathed and making sure his clothes are laundered and he brings thematically appropriate objects on his show and tell days, and I keep telling myself Enjoy this, because this is what CALM looks like. Adults still outnumber children in this house. Two months from now, you are going to experience a whole new level of insanity.

It’s cool, though. I’ll be fine. Because of my awesome paid maternity leave, and my nanny, and my housekeeping help and… wait. Nope. None of those things. I’m thinking of an episode of Friends.

Exhibit B: Teaching. I’ll keep this part brief. Maybe.

I teach middle school full time, and I teach three preps. I hold myself to a pretty high standard, so I go kind of insane on a daily basis trying to make sure that ALL THE THINGS are planned and executed in the ways that are best for my students. I have roughly 150 students. I love them. Outside of my family and friends, my students are the most important and amazing people in my world, and they give me energy that no Red Bull can ever give a person, not that I would know, as I have never drunk a Red Bull, because once I took a taste of one, and it was vile. So teaching is worth the stress. But it’s a hard job, and it’s underpaid, and all those things that you already know, or maybe you don’t, but I don’t have time to break it down for you. I also direct the school play. It has to be done before Thanksgiving because of IMPENDING BABY. So we’re all in go mode here, people. Big time.

Exhibit C: Writing.

Oh, writing. You poor, sad, neglected little monkey. I love you, I swear I do. I’m sorry that you have been shoved into a corner and starved these past few months. I barreled through 201 pages of copy edit today, like a boss, so you know I haven’t completely forgotten you, but deeper creativity? Drafting new things? Yeah, that’s not happening right now.

But it will. It always does. Even if it has to force itself in like flowers cracking concrete.

Verdict:

I’m actually really happy, because all of these demands are happy demands. I love them all. The tough part is not being able to split into three of myself and do all the things as hard and as well as I want. And sometimes, mainly because I’m afraid I’ll let somebody down – my son, my husband, my principal, my students, my editor, my mother, my SELF – I get pretty beat, and it takes somebody who is outside of my head to help me recover my willingness to push on. Yesterday, that person was a coworker, who said to me out of the blue: “When I feel overwhelmed, I think of you, and I think, if she can do all of that, I can do this.” And you know what? I needed that. I really did. That comment made me stronger, and it dug me right out of the muck I was about to sink into, Artax style. It was a brief, important kindness. Regardless of how busy we are, we all need to take the time to be nice to another human being for five seconds, because it might be five seconds that really matters to that other human being.

Okay. I have 7 more pages of copy edit to go in order to meet my goal today, so I’d better get to it.

Told ya this one would be mouthy.

Back to School

School has been back in session for a couple of weeks, so the only things I’ve been writing are lesson plans. I’ve fallen in love with Google Forms and am using a mess of them to track student data, which I’ve been geeking out about to anyone who will listen. Yes, I geek out about data collection. I’d talk more about that, but now you’re asleep.

Other things that are true:

  • Book two of the Tyme series has gone to copyedits! Away we go. Kristin Brown is working on the map, and it’s looking really cool.
  • My son started Pre-K yesterday. I don’t know how he got old enough for that, but it happened, and it is happening.
  • Most of the local farmer’s markets are closing down for the season, so I joined a CSA for a winter share. I’m ridiculously excited about the idea of getting boxes full of random seasonal produce, some of which I may never have cooked or eaten before.

Well. Today is apparently the day I reveal to you just how boring I am. Student data! Fresh produce! No really, I’m a fun person!

Gotta go fold laundry.

Three Years

As of yesterday, I’ve been keeping this blog for three years. My first book has been published, the second is in copy edits, and I’m drafting the third. I also just started my seventh year of teaching and celebrated my ten-year-anniversary of meeting my husband. My first child is about to turn five, and I’m due to have my second child in December.

That’s a whole lot of long-term. A whole lot of permanence. It’s shocking to me. If you all only knew how many blogs I’ve abandoned, drafts I’ve left unfinished, places I’ve lived, jobs I’ve left. I’m not sure how the shift happened, but I’m glad it did. I like the path I’m on. My feet are under me.

Here’s to another good year.

Costco, Cool Readers, and Getting Used to Awesome

Today I was lucky enough to do a book signing at my local Costco. Thank you, Costco, for the invitation. I appreciate the opportunity.

Poster

Full disclosure: I am still not used to signing books or presenting myself publicly as an author. I sat down at the lovely table with the lovely prearranged book display, right next to the lovely sign with my giant name and face on it, and I did not know where to look. Across the aisle from me there were big stacks of Roombas and Nutri Ninjas and Crock Pots, and I made a lot of eye contact with those. Don’t get me wrong: I was beyond grateful, but sitting there at that table with my book, I still felt kind of like a poser. Which is strange, because nothing could be less posery than signing my name to something I wrote. I just need to get used to how awesome this is, that’s all.

The coolest part of any event is that I get to talk to readers – and most especially, to kids. Some of them are excited; others are shy. Some of them have already read the book; others are looking for a new story to fall into, or for a book to bring back to school with them. Some are prSigningodded ever so reluctantly to the table by their parents (thanks, parents!) Regardless of their reasons for picking up the book, I love interacting with them, asking them what grade they’re going into this year, what their favorite books are, what they’re reading right now, which color pen they’d like me to sign with. It’s never awkward with the kids. (No offense to the grown ups. I still love you. Thank you for buying the book.)

The best part of the day for me was being approached by a young reader who had already read GROUNDED and just wanted to say hello. I signed a postcard for her and asked her what she’s reading right now. She looked very bashful, and she tapped my book on its cover. “I just read this one over and over,” she said.

Oh. Wow. I gave that to a kid. That feeling of wanting to read a book over and over. I’ve had that feeling. That’s an incredible feeling. One of the best. I told her it was the most important compliment I’d ever received on my writing.

I meant it.

AtCostco

Got My Geek On

download

At GeekyCon last week, I was a panelist on the Lit Track. Here is the list of brilliant authors I sat and ate next to, spoke and joked with, signed books beside, and paneled amongst:

Maureen JohnsonJason ReynoldsCourtney SummersJenny HanVeronica RothTahereh MafiHolly Black, James MoranCynthia Leitich SmithRobin WassermanStephanie PerkinsRansom RiggsKatie Rain HillMarie LuLeigh BardugoSabaa Tahir, and Adam Silvera.

Seriously. I got to do that.

20150801_233644I felt like a seventh grader who had passed some magical test, skipped up five grades, and landed in my first-choice college. So grateful to be there, so honored, and so out of my depth. But I only felt terrified for about five minutes, because every single one of those writers is kind and welcoming and cool. They are funny, honest, wonderful people who clearly deserve their many successes, and I am incredibly lucky that I got to meet them and hear their thoughts and stories. I know I learned as much from listening to them as any of the con attendees did. Half of the time, even though I was a panelist, I felt like a glorified attendee, just listening and taking it all in. And when I wasn’t on panels, I was sitting at a table signing books and chatting with fans, who were warm and encouraging and lovely. I kept waiting for someone to pinch me, because I knew that I had to be dreaming. What a beautiful three days.

20150801_235702

Happy to be with my old-school geeks, Melissa Anelli and Kristin Brown

I also had the pleasure of presenting a panel with one of my oldest and dearest geek friends, Kathy MacMillan, a stellar author whose debut YA, SWORD AND VERSE, will be out in January 2016. We talked about our experiences writing fan fiction and how those years helped us – and didn’t help us – on the long road to traditional publication. And another of my oldest and dearest geeks, Kristin Brownwas also there, participating in a panel where she spoke about what it’s like to create plausible geography for fictional worlds (she is the geographer of Tyme). My only regret about the whole con was that I was in a panel at the same hour and didn’t get to sit in the audience for hers.

After the con, my husband and son met me at Disney World, where we spent four days delighting in our family vacation. Now I’m back home, tired and happy and hoping very much that I’ll be invited back next year. That was an awesome experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Long Live Geeky.

Almost Time for GeekyCon

I can’t wait for GeekyCon. Just attending last year was amazing; actually being invited to participate as a Lit Track author is a huge honor. I’m so excited to head out to Orlando next Wednesday, where I will ecstatically geek out with some of the dearest friends in my life, whom I met through the Harry Potter fandom.

Before I go, I’m wrapping up my projects and getting the big stuff off my plate. Book 2 in the Tyme series is coming along strong. Thank you, Homegrown and Starbucks, for being my offices-away-from-home for the past three weeks. At home, I would find a million distractions. Coffee shops let me go into the zone, and so I’ve had five hours a day of wall-to-wall writing time, four days a week. I’ve cleared over 350 pages of the line edit, and I’m so proud of where the story is now. In just a year, this book will be out in the world alongside GROUNDED, and I couldn’t be happier.

When I get back from Florida, I’ll have another signing – this time at Costco, in Kirkland, WA! I’m thrilled and grateful to have their support. I went to high school right up the hill from this Costco and I’ve shopped there a million times – for me, it doesn’t get a whole lot more local than this. Maybe I’ll even see a few faces from my past.

Okay! Time to keep working so that I can be ready to get on that plane next week and have a grand old time with my geeks. May the Force be with you all. See you at GEEKY!

Finally, time to write.

I love summer.

I love writing.

I love having hours and hours and hours, all put together in beautiful shining packages of time, when I can just WRITE. And write. And write. And write and write andwriteandwriteandwrite.

I also love teaching. But having a full-time job and being a writer (and a mom and a wife) is hard. It’s just very, very hard. There are far harder things. I shouldn’t complain. But man, this whole one-job thing is pretty amazing. My son is at a summer day camp for a few days each week, and while he is there, Tyme is my entire world. I can fully immerse.

This is luxury. Every minute of it: Pure luxury. And I appreciate it because of how limited my hours for authorial creativity and productivity usually are. In four days, I have been ridiculously productive – I’ve completely rewritten whole chapters of book two, and I’ve drafted new chapters of book three. In part, this is because I’m bursting at the seams from not having enough time to write at length all throughout the school year. It is also because I know that summer is brutally short and if I don’t use it, I won’t meet my deadlines. That knowledge dogs me.

Maybe this is my advice to anyone who wants to write but lacks the motivation to work hard on it. Find a way to completely deprive yourself of time. Cut yourself off, somehow, from the ability to respond to your creative urges. Perhaps not for long – maybe just for a little while – but until you start to long for the time and the access.

All right, enough. I actually came here to write this blog post because of two recent mentions of GROUNDED in my local press, and I wound up rhapsodizing about how much I love having time to write.

Here are the two lovely mentions:

The Kitsap Sun

“Rapunzel and Jack are smart, spirited, complicated, first-rate protagonists, , and anyone who reads “Grounded” will be happy to know that this fetching tale is the first in a series.”

The Seattle Times

“Sublime summer choices for readers, from toddlers to teens”

Everyone who is celebrating the 4th of July, have a wonderful holiday. Stay cool. See you soon. Or maybe not. Because I will be busy WRITING.

Italian Translation and Second Printing!

GROUNDED is not quite eight weeks old, but it’s walking and talking and doing all kinds of crazy tricks. I have two announcements that make me so happy I could pretty much fly.

First, GROUNDED is being translated into Italian! Thanks to my agent Ammi-Joan Paquette, her international partner Alexandra Devlin at Rights People, and the good people at Feltrinelli Editore who took a shine to Rapunzel, there will soon be a version of my book that I am unable to read. I’m beyond thrilled.

Second, GROUNDED is going into its second hardcover printing. This is awesome news. (Plus, I finally have a good answer to the question “How is your book selling?” which is “Well enough to go into a second printing!”)

As if things aren’t going well enough, this week is also the beginning of summer. I cleaned out my classroom, reorganized it for September, and turned in my keys. Now I have time to swim and play with my son. I have lots and lots of beautiful time to write. I even had time to make gravy last night. Summer is spectacular.

The calm after the storm

In the weeks since the launch of Grounded, things have grown calmer. The tiny storm of DEBUT! is over, and now the book is simply out in the world, finding its readers.

The number one question I’ve been asked since the book launch is “How is it selling?” The answer is “I do not know.” There’s really no way for me to keep track of that information. My publisher will let me know at some point, and until then it’s probably best if I don’t worry much about it. I have the second book in the Tyme series to worry about. That’s my priority now. But thank you to everyone who has asked me “How is it selling?” because even though I can’t give you an answer, that question indicates that you care enough about me to wonder how my book is faring. I genuinely appreciate that.

Wonderful Things That Have Happened Since the Last Time I Posted:

1) My author visit at the Burien Library was spectacular. Many of my students, their parents, and my colleagues came in on a beautiful Saturday morning to be there and celebrate with me, and it was a blast. I had nearly 100 guests – an amazing audience. There were cupcakes, and prizes, and I signed tons of books, and it felt… Well, there’s only one way to explain how it felt. I used to practice my autograph, as a kid, because I assumed that one day I would be a famous actress and people would want my signature. I grew up eventually, of course, and realized that the only people who wanted my signature also wanted my money. So to have people lining up waiting for my autographs was the fulfillment of a dusty, impossible, long-since folded away childhood dream.

It felt AWESOME.

2) Grounded received a lovely review from SciFiChick.com.

3) My editor, Cheryl Klein, who is the very best of editors, wrote a post on her blog about how we met, and how GROUNDED came to be. I love the post. It reminds me how lucky I am to be working with Cheryl (as if I could ever be in danger of forgetting).

4) Finally, this week, Grounded received its second starred review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, written by Kate Quealy-Gainer. You have to subscribe to The Bulletin to access the reviews, so I’ll just include a few quotes here:

“Morrison has a deft hand with both world-building and pacing, carefully constructing the geography and various politics of the fairy-tale world of Tyme in between chase scenes, bridge collapses, narrow escapes, and bargains with all sorts of devious beings.”

“…readers who are wise enough to understand that there is more than one side to a story will find this to their liking.”

I have much to be grateful for, so I won’t complain that this lovely three-day weekend is at an end and I must return to work tomorrow. Instead, I will eat some ice cream and watch Daria and make believe that it’s actually a four-day weekend.

 

Week of Wonderful

Last Saturday, I had my very first author event: a launch party at Barnes and Noble. This was the same Barnes and Noble where I was a bookseller many years ago, so it was especially sweet to return as an author and get to sign books and read to kids and generally have a fantastic time. The folks at Barnes and Noble were very helpful and generous; they gave away a book to the best-costumed kiddo, as well as giving away other small prizes to the other kids, and they even provided cake and cupcakes for the guests. To top off the good time, we sold out of copies of GROUNDED!

On Wednesday, one of my best friends and a phenomenal debut author, Kathy MacMillan, interviewed me for the Sweet Sixteens debut blog. She also posted an extended version of that interview here on her own blog. This interview was especially delightful for me, because Kathy and I were Sugar Quill professors together, back when we were extremely active Harry Potter obsessives (she went by the handle Elanor Gamgee), and she invited other Sugar Quill professors and dear friends (Zsenya and B Bennett) to ask questions as well.

Then, to my surprise and delight, I was tagged in a tweet that linked to this review on YA Books Central, written by reviewer Samantha Randolph, whom I want to hug. There are things, as an author, that you hope a reader will feel as they read your work, but it’s too much to hope that any reader will feel ALL the things you hoped for… right? Apparently – amazingly – not.

“The third person narrative packs all the heart, voice, and emotion that first person narratives often do and provides the reader with uncountable moments of witty, hilarious, and meaningful dialogue.”

“Rapunzel is beautifully flawed, unapologetically herself, and a character whose growth will quite possibly draw a few tears from time to time. She is a top-notch role model whose steadfast sincerity and loyalty will captivate both young and adult readers. Alongside her, Jack is absolutely adorable, a brave dreamer, and a fantastic friend whose own journey is full of meaning and maturing. Megan Morrison does a stunning job of crafting a villain for the story who draws compassion, uncertainty, and above all, complexity.”

I can’t get over this amazing response. This is everything I could have wished to accomplish.

And tomorrow I get to do something I have been dying to do ever since I first told my students that I had written a book. I get to go to the public library near my school and host a library event that is centered on my students, past and present. I get to give them cupcakes, and read to them, and hug them, and talk to their parents, and celebrate.

Life does not get better than this. I am savoring every second.

Facebook Twitter Goodreads