Good morning.

A little rant. Brace yourselves.

I am so annoyed about this whole Do Not Call Registry thing. If it’s a matter of free speech that someone can call several times a day, interrupting and annoying you, then so be it, but I’d just like the home phone number of the head of the telemarketer lobbying group, and the judge who blocked this for a SECOND time after fifty million people signed up for it. Then we can all exercise OUR freedom of speech by calling them at home, repeatedly, especially during dinner. Grrrrrrrrrr.

End of rant.

*takes deep breath, smiles*

Okay. So how is everyone today?

I had a request come through on yesterday’s journal to answer some questions for a school newspaper. Because the questions were already posted here, I figured I’d answer them, then open up a few to everyone else to answer, just to make it That Much More Interesting. (Can you tell I am just so sick of myself? And How To Deal (no offense to New Line, but I’m just recovering from a bit of overload, it will pass.) At any rate, here we go….

1. Did you like the way your characters were portrayed in the move How to Deal and were they how you pictured them?

I was, for the most part, pleased with the adaptations, although I think characters always seem different in your own head as your reading than they do on the screen. I think the one thing I missed in the movie was Scarlett. She’s such a big part of Someone Like You, but there just wasn’t as much room for her story in How to Deal.

2. What character do you relate to the most in all of your books?

This is a hard question, because I relate to all of them: I have to, in order to get into their heads and know how they feel about things. I think the character most like me at the time I wrote her was probably Halley, although I have a lot of Colie from Keeping the Moon in me as well. The character most UNLIKE me is Remy from This Lullaby, which is probably why she was so fun to write.

3. When is the approximate date for you next book to come out and is it still on the
young adult theme?

We’re shooting for Summer 2004, I believe, and it is a young adult book. It’s about loss, and grief, and how going through both can either make your world very narrow or open it up bigger than you could ever imagine. I’m editing it right now.

4. What do you like most about teaching a creative writing class?

Well, first, it’s never boring. Every semester I get a new group of people to get to know, and the dynamic is always different. I think my favorite part, though, is how much I learn from my students. Teaching writing keeps me honest. I can’t preach to them about discipline, and hard work, and then go home and not write. And writing is learned so much by doing, and by watching my students work out their own stories, I often see new ways to deal with the problems in my own.

5. When you began writing a book, do your ideas come to all at once, you have an idea you would like to continue with or do you have to work with it and things will come as you write?

I usually don’t start until I have a basic idea of the story: first scene, last scene, climactic scene, and first line. It’s really just a skeleton, but I find that without those things I often find myself two hundred pages in and nothing’s really happened yet. (This is very bad, when it happens. Very bad!) It’s by no means a perfect formula, though. For every book I’ve published, I have at least one other sitting in a box in my closet that didn’t work. But I try to learn from everything, even the disasters.

6. What is one thing you think will help someone with their writing?

I think the main thing is that it’s not easy for anyone, so if you get discouraged and negative and hopeless sometimes, you’re in good company. The main thing is to keep at it, even on the bad days. Just when I think I can’t stand it anymore, that my story is awful, I’ll have one amazing day that turns everything around. You just have to keep going.

And now, the questions for Everyone….go ahead, answer! I dare you!

7. What is one thing you didn’t do in high school that you wish you would have done?

Wow. That’s a hard one…there isn’t a lot I feel like I missed out on. I guess I’d say the same thing I feel like I wish I’d done in college: travelled more. I have cousins who’ve gone camping in Alaska, or rafting in the Grand Canyon, and I didn’t do any of that stuff. I think maybe it would have made me a little more fearless, which I could use sometimes.

8. What is one thing you can’t live without? (I am guessing your tivo)

Well, I have become quite attached to my Tivo, it’s true. And I would say my dogs and my husband, but they aren’t “things” and certainly aren’t possessions. I guess I’d have to say my computer, because I hate writing longhand and I’m addicted to email. Sometimes I think I’d be better off without it, but I can never do without it for long.

9. What advice would you give to young adults today?

Oh, I’m terrible at giving advice. Really. Ask any of my friends. I guess if I had to, I’d just tell them that things pass: as bad as life gets, it always turns around. And as good as it gets, there will inevitably be a bump or two. It’s sometimes hard to keep that in mind, when you’re in the midst of it. But I’m working on it.

10. What is a lesson you have learned in life?

Just one? Hmmmm….I can’t believe how long I’ve just sat here, just thinking. There are so many! The main one, I suppose, is that a lot of the things we think matter—money, status, popularity, whatever—really don’t, in the end. I’ve come to value my family and friends more than anything as I get older. I hope I’m learning not to ever take them for granted, and to appreciate them, and let them KNOW I appreciate them, which I think sometimes I don’t do. So if any of them are reading this now…there you go.

have a good day everyone!