debbie's big adventure (the snowy days)

I flew into JFK in February knowing it was cold. I took public transportation from the airport to Great Neck, which took three train changes and about three hours. I saw Brenda Bowen on the train platform in Jamaica and we were both so frozen it took minutes (and boarding the next train) before it registered that that was really her. We wrote to each other later, "I thought I recognized that smile!"

I had come to New York to work at Great Neck South Middle School and to visit my Scholastic peeps and put REVOLUTION to bed bed BED, and I knew it was going to snow while I was there. I didn't understand that it was going to ice in Atlanta, and I wouldn't be able to get home for days, and I wouldn't be able to get out of NYC. Here's the story:

"Over there, ma'am! Over there! Get on the next train over there!"
Unthawing in my hotel room.
Great Neck South Middle School peeps. Principal Jim Welsch, librarian Catherine Graybosch, and 6th-grade teacher Gabe Carras.
Breakfast with teachers.

They all brought their notebooks and I put them to work.
Cotton Candy for dessert, dinner with teachers

From Great Neck to Manhattan on the LIRR.
David Levithan with hair. Lots of hair. John, George, Paul, or Ringo? "Brian Epstein," he says.
I think this should be Phil Falco's official portrait. Phil as Beatle. Phil designed REVOLUTION -- thank you, thank you, Phil.
Good sports. That's publicist Emma Brockway, Erin Black, and David Levithan, who is probably saying, "Don't take that picture!"
The sign says, "I am Brian Epstein." And they are the fab four. Erin Black (permissions work extraordinaire, not to mention so much else); David Levithan, who read and edited this book with me a dozen times at least; Phil Falco, who designed it from the stills and snippets I chose; Emma Brockway, who is REVOLUTION's publicist -- yay!
Antonio Gonzales, who handles school visits for Scholastic authors; me; Candace Greene, conference goddess; and Emily Heddleston, also conference goddess (we have lots of Warrior Women at Scholastic)
Going through page proofs with editor David
Heading out of town -- going north -- before NYC's big snow that evening, as I can't get home to ATL -- they are iced in.
The train was packed with people getting out of town and away from the coming storm.
Sitting at Nancy's kitchen table and talking all things books and catching up -- an unexpected treat, to be in Boston with friends while the snow and ice swirls everywhere else. Boston got a dusting.
Finally heading home.

What I loved about Great Neck South Middle School: the entire school was involved in the day, including the principal and teachers, and we concentrated on COUNTDOWN and did such good work together, writing and telling stories.

What I loved about the day at Scholastic: Beatles wigs. David and Phil with hair. Antonio with more hair. The spirit of camaraderie of the day. The hard work of going through every page of REVOLUTION, and doing it together. The kindness and consideration of everyone at Scholastic who made sure I didn't get stranded in New York City with the coming snow.

Scholastic got me out of New York that evening, on another train, to Boston, where I stayed with good friends, Nancy Werlin and Jim McCoy, for two more days, until the ice thawed in Atlanta and I could get home. It was Valentine's Day evening, as I landed in ATL. Jim and I went to the Galaxy Diner to celebrate - ha! Later, the warmth from my fireplace never felt so good. I sat in the pink chair and relived the fabulous adventure -- it really was a great good time -- and dreamed about spring.

it was a long winter

It wasn't the amount of snow. It was the cold. It was how long it was cold, in Hotlanta. It was so cold this past winter. I just wanted to make soup and popcorn and burrow under old quilts and watch old movies; and look out the kitchen window to see the winter birds forage on all the old seed pods in the garden; take selfies of ourselves now, and compare them to old pictures of us on my dresser and tell ourselves we're not that old yet; buy an enormous (heavy!) cast iron pot and make more and more soup; get up at four in the morning and turn on the lovely lamps and write in my cozy writing place; skype with students sitting at their desks while I sit at my kitchen counter, soup bubbling on the stove; write encouragements on my chalkboard wall so I remember what's good about the isolation of winter; eat all the salads Jim made and all his baked potatoes, too; and wait for spring, spring, glorious faraway spring.

Making home in winter. I loved every quiet minute of it.

my scholastic family, ala midwinter, revolution

And so it begins again, a new book to shepherd into the world. Here are some catch-up shots from ALA Midwinter in January, in Philadelphia, PA. Here are some of the inside pages of REVOLUTION that my editor David L. and I were working with up to the last second, trying to get just-right, sitting at rehearsal the morning of the Scholastic brunch. We'd done this at NCTE, too, the previous November, going over a first-pass of these same pages, looking at design and making some hard decisions. I arrived in Philadelphia and took public transportation to the gig:

Readers' theater with Julia Donaldson, Jon Muth, Rod Philbrick, and Cynthia Lord
Fuzzy photo of Scholastic conference goddess Lizette Serrano, Lucy Christopher, Natalie Lloyd, Lori Benton and me, at the Scholastic brunch.
Barry Cunningham of Chicken House Press with Lori Benton and Lucy Christopher.
Me with my good friend and fabulous teacher Nancy Johnson from Bellingham, Washington.
David Levithan and I rarely have our photo taken together. Here we are, the two people who know REVOLUTION inside and out right now.
Teacher extraordinaire (and great cook) Dean Schneider came (with the equally fabulous Robin Smith) to one of the very first events I ever did for any of my books, at Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, in 2002. I love Robin and Dean. Such champions of books and authors and young readers.
Oh, these women. Maria Gentle, Sharon Grover, Joan Kindig, fellow Children's Book Guild of D.C. members. We've known each other for a long, long time.
Susannah Richards! She shows up and surprises me, every time. I love that.
There's nobody like Candace Greene, Scholastic Fashion Plate and Conference Guru.
Me'n'Cyndi Lord
Arthur Levine and moi, The fuzzy people
Truly the Conference Goddess, Lizette calls us all to order.
Beautiful Philadelphia
Beautiful John Mason
On the way home

It's exciting and nerve-wracking to send forth a new book. For years it belongs just to you, then to you and your editor, then the circle widens, and your publishing family begins to read the manuscript and design the pages and put together the sending-forth plan. Then, pretty soon, the book is out in the world without you, and it doesn't belong to you anymore. It belongs to whoever reads it, then. The reading of the story you've created brings the tale full circle. My Jim always says that story -- like music -- is dialogical. It requires a listener, or a reader, to be complete.

Midwinter was our first coming out. We didn't have galleys yet, but we could talk about the book. Galleys arrived this week, though, and we'll have them for TLA next week -- Texas Library Association in Austin, April 8-10. I'll be there, signing and speaking and greeting and sticking close to my Scholastic family as we help this new book make its first real steps into the world.

I'm going to pack my Nikon. I'm getting better with my phone camera, but I really want people to be in focus! And I really want to remember to just soak up this special time. I am a slow writer. It takes me time to figure out a story and do a good-enough job writing it, revising it, writing some more. Here I am, four years after the publication of COUNTDOWN, ready to introduce readers to book two of the Sixties Trilogy.