a friday five

May 21st, 2010

I’ve never done this Friday Five thing before, but it’s popular with bloggers and I’ve got a bunch of small tidbits and some catch up to do, so I’ll steal the idea for the week.

#1 Incentive to finish up that manuscript?
I know many of you are budding YA authors and Penguin and Amazon have this very cool Breakthrough Novelist Award. Who knew? This is its third year and this year there is a prize for YA fiction! Per Amazon “The 2010 competition is open to unpublished and previously self-published novels waiting to be discovered. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.” Okay, 15 grand not huge, but I imagine the winner will get a TON of publicity from Amazon, not to mention Penguin. The YA judges include Sarah Dessen (oh, goddess) and Nancy Werlin. They’ve already chosen the semifinalists for 2010—the entry window is January to February—but start polishing your manuscripts for next year’s contest!

#2 So middle school starts in kindergarten now?
This morning, my 5-year-old had a total freakout when she learned her BFF would not be riding the school bus. In the past few weeks, she’s gone from an adamant bus rider, refusing to let me pick her up at school EVAH, to wanting me to pick her up on days when Sophia isn’t on the bus home. “It’s too lonely,” she says of the 20 minute ride. Okaay. But this morning’s freakout was torrential and after sobbing, she finally admitted “There’s mean girls on the bus!” Apparently the 4th grade girls have been teasing her and her friend—I don’t think too badly or maliciously but terrifyingly nonetheless to a smallfy like Willa. And once again I think: How am I ever going to survive her childhood? Especially since, just as with her Dad, you need a friggin pickaxe to figure out what’s really going on with the girl!

# 3 I have no life; it’s true.
I’m reading the new Anna Quindlen novel Every Last One on the advice of my lovely friend Courtney Sheinmel (who has fabulous literary taste, and is an awesome writer herself). I’m just a little ways into it and it’s wonderful already even if I’m not entirely sure what the big arc is yet. But there was a line early on that resonated. One of the moms—a bad selfish mom—was complaining that her messed-up teenage daughter needed to accept that she (the mom) had a life. And the book’s narrator (a very good mom, who’s pretty devoted to her kids but not in a gaggy way, a stand-in for Anna Quindlen herself, I’d imagine from what I’ve read of her columns) says something along the lines of : “We don’t get to have a life. We chose to have kids instead.” It reminded me of another line in Calvin Trillin’s New Yorker-article-turned-book About Alice (which read and cry cry cry cry) in which he reminisces about his seemingly perfect, now dead, wife talking about being parents. Something along the lines of “There are people for whom the children are everything and then there’s everyone else.” I’m sure I’m garbling the line, but that’s the gist. Anyhow, it’s a nicer way of looking at the loserdom that parenthood brings if you become all about your kids. And I don’t mean this in the helicopter I hover over them every second and overschedule them and have no life. I have a life. I have friends. I have a career that I treasure and adore. I don’t care if my kids go to Harvard (I’d prefer they didn’t) or get into the right schools. I want them to be happy and empathetic and independent. And that requires me to be hands off. But you can do a lot of worrying from a distance as you try to set your kids on the right path.  Not to scare all of you who haven’t had kids, but your life becomes your kids; even when you’re not with them, you’re preoccupied with them. If you’re a teenager reading this, go thank your parents right now, no matter how much you hate them. They lose so much sleep over you!

#4 YAY!
I’m very excited about the following things: Friday Night Lights is back and after two episodes looking so promising. I love shows that understand the way to avoid inertia of boredom and suckiness (hello, Office, you had a good run but changing corporate owners not enough, you boring this season!) is to totally reinvent the wheel. The Wire did it every friggin season, which is why many consider it the best TV show ever (I put it in the top 3).  FNL just did it. And Mad Men. I cannot wait for the next season. I’m also excited that it’s in the 80s this afternoon and I plan to spend the whole afternoon outside. My honeysuckle appears ready to bloom. Google today is all Pacman-esque. And BEA is coming up next week so I will score some free books and meet some other authors and hang with my Penguin peeps!

#5 TAC
But before BEA is TAC, the Teen Author Carnival, a fabulously fun panel/schmoozefest/signing/party put on by some very enterprising book bloggers. It’s on Monday May 24th in NYC at the Jefferson Market branch of NYPL from 5 pm-8pm. That’s at 6th Ave and 10th Street. I’m on a panel called My Teenage Love (which reminds me of My So Called Life somehow), along with Elizabeth Scott, Kieran Scott, Susane Colisanti, Sarah Ockler, and others. The panels are short so you can  rotate and go to all of them.  It should be a blast so please stop by if you’re in town!

Happy Weekend, All!

  1. Hopefully I will see you at TAC, but if not I will definitely catch you at BEA!

    And yes, your life becomes all about your kids. That other stuff is just filler.

  2. I’ll be at BEA next week, too. Are you doing any signings, Gayle? I would love to stop by Penguin’s booth if so.

    PS, Enjoy this b-e-a-u-tiful weather!

  3. YAY for Friday Night Lights!!!!!!!!

    Every season I love Coach Taylor a little more. As for Riggins, I’m a bit worried….

  4. Hey thanks for the shout-out! I’m so excited for you to finish EVERY LAST ONE because I want to talk to you all about it! There’s just so much gorgeousness in that book. I wept and wept and then read it again because I couldn’t stand to be done with it.

    See you at TAC and at BEA! Woo hoo!


  5. I don’t have kids (yet) but it seems to me I would consider myself one with them. I would want the same kind of good things for them that I would hope for myself. Happiness, fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong. I have four sisters and 9 nieces and nephews and have no illusions about the horrors. I just can’t see thinking that I’d given up any part of my life.

  6. You don’t give up your life, William, so much as your peace of mind. It is gone. Forever.

  7. “(Y)our children are either the center of your life or they’re not, and the rest is commentary”
    You said it just as nicely!

  8. I love having a husband with mad research skillz.

    And it’s true. The rest is commentary.

    And Katie, I’m not signing at BEA. No book to sign. IF I STAY has been out a year and BEA’s usually devoted to fall books. But I’ll probably be loitering at the Penguin booth Wednesday before and after lunch time.

  9. Every Last One is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, for so many reasons.

  10. why didn’t you make this in to a movie yet it will be or would have been a great hit you should make it into a movie you know that!

  11. I will be there on Wednesday, too. Maybe I can catch you at the Penguin booth at some point!

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