how to collaborate with another writer: a case study

One Small Step: an anthology of discoveries launched last weekend at Conflux. I’m honored to have a story (co-written with the super-talented Jo Anderton) included in it.

This was my first ever collaboration, and I thought it’d be useful to talk about how the process worked out for us.

The Setup

Last fall, Tehani Wessely, editor of the anthology, contacted Jo and me with the idea of collaborating on a short story for One Small Step. We (metaphorically) looked at each other, looked at Tehani, and said, “Sure!” After all we’ve been friends for almost a decade now (has it really been this long, Jo?) and have a lot of experience with each other’s work. Even though our styles are different, we have enough common overlap that we could (probably) handle writing a short story together.

It was also the perfect project for collaboration. Neither of us was playing in the other’s sandbox (“hey, want to write a story in my world?” “Er… no.”) nor was our canvas unlimited (“So what shall we write together?” “Uh, I dunno”). We had a theme (discoveries), a form (short story), and a deadline.

So, we got to it.

The Idea

Almost immediately, we ran into some uh… differences in our processes.

Me, I come up with an idea, then run with it. I churn out several pages to see where it’ll go. Sometimes the idea works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have lots of unfinished short stories on my hard drive. I consider them regrettable but expected casualties of my writing process.

Not so with Jo. She isn’t willing to latch on to the first shiny idea that floats by. She wanted to wait for something special, the idea that set her story senses a-tingle.

So we waited for the lightning strike (some of us more patiently than others). A week or so later, Jo emailed me a photo of an old woman huddled in a doorway with an ornate doll next to her. “I think there’s a story in this picture,” she wrote me.

By golly, she was right.

We were both fascinated by this picture and traded speculations back and forth for days. Both of us agreed that dolls were creepy (I kept having flashbacks to Child’s Play). Then I remembered Hinamatsuri, or Dolls’ Day in Japan. We put the two together and I–yes, well I did what’s natural to my style–forged ahead and wrote a bunch of snippets exploring character, plot, and setting.

I think Jo knew I was chomping at the bit, so she let me. We talked over the snippets a lot (and I learned something about Jo: she doesn’t like to write about royalty). Both of us were very excited and creeped out about what we were getting. And I really appreciated Jo’s insistence on digging deep into the idea and taking it from good to great. “Good enough” doesn’t exist in her vocabulary, and it’s a lesson I’m applying to my own writing from now on.

An Aside

I’m going to pause here to mention one very important thing: do not look at a collaboration as something that will save you time. More likely, it won’t. Jo and I could’ve probably written two stories each in the time it took us to write Sand and Seawater.

Think about it this way. When you’re writing your own story, you only have to satisfy two people: You and Your Muse. When you’re writing with someone else, there are two Yous and two Muses, and they all need to be on board. It’s bad enough keeping one pairing happy, but two…!

(Oh, and apparently, our Muses have some telepathic connection that doesn’t go through us. Now that is also creepy.)

The Actual Writing!

All right, so once we were happy with our ideas, we started writing! Luckily for us, there were two POVs, so Jo took the doll and I took the old woman. We alternated scenes, and I noticed a style difference right away. My scenes sprawl, while Jo writes tighter. Once we hammered out the plot and nailed the climax, we each went through to cut out redundant material and tighten everything up. (I may be a first-draft sprawler but I’m ruthless when wielding a red pen).

A fitting concluding scene took us a bit of back-and-forth, but I think, again, we nailed it.

Checklist For Success

I would call this a very successful collaboration. Not only did we sell the story, but:

  • We are both very proud and pleased with it.
  • This is a story that neither of us would’ve come up with on our own.
  • And–most importantly–we’re still friends. And we both see this experience as a net positive, not something to be quietly shoved into a closet and never ever done again. We’re both too much of loners to do a lot of collaboration, but who knows? In the future you might be seeing more work with both our names on it. *is deliberately vague and mysterious*

Jo has her own thoughts about our collaborative experience here (link might not work until later in the day, since she’s already gone to bed). Update: Link works!

Have you collaborated? Share your experiences!

so, what’s going on with Rainbird?

A few weeks ago, I drew back the curtains on my latest work-in-progress (and next self-published ebook).

Rainbird is a science fantasy novella that grew out of a short story I wrote last year. My protagonist, Rainbird, is both strong and vulnerable, generous and impulsive, determinedly cheerful in trying circumstances but, like everyone else, has her blind spots. The setting is the sunway, a gigantic track made from the bone of an immense dragon upon which this world’s artificial sun moves. Betrayal and love, atonement and duty are some of the themes of the story.

I have a cover for this book. I’ve had it beta-read, and two more people have said “yes” to reading it for one last spit-and-polish. I’m less than ten pages away from finishing version 4 of the story.

And I’m afraid to release it.

I didn’t recognize the fear, at first. I was going great guns on my latest pass through Rainbird when I just–stopped. And I haven’t touched it for almost a week.

I told myself that it was because we got sick (true). I told myself it was because we were busy (also true). I told myself I needed to work on another project whose deadline is coming up very soon (that too).

But those reasons merely disguised the real one: fear.

Fear that it will disappoint my readers. Fear that it will be savaged by reviewers. Fear that it will sink my fledgling career. Fear that it’s not perfect. I feel that if I only hold on to it a bit longer, it will magically become so.

Times like this I need to go read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s wonderful post on perfection. I cried–or at least got teary-eyed–when I first read it. There is no such thing as a perfect story. There is no such thing as story that everyone, everywhere will love. There are just good stories that find their own fans.

As for Rainbird? I love this story. Some–not all–of my beta readers love this story. I know that I’ve done my best with it, and there is no way to make it better without tearing out its heart and turning it into something altogether different.

It’s time to kick the twin demons of Fear and Perfectionism to the curb. It’s time to get on with my copyedit so Rainbird can go seek its audience. It’s time to stop clinging and let go.

So, what’s going on with Rainbird?

It’s coming out this fall. Soon. Watch this space for the release date.

 

She’s a half-breed in hiding.

Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.

She lives on the sunway.

High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.

But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.

For Rainbird. And for her world.

how the internet is changing my brain

I need to change my Internet habits.

I spend a lot of time online for both work and pleasure, and the line between the two often blurs. It’s easy for that to happen on the Internet. You get on to check reviews and samples for homeschooling curricula and, before you know it, you’re watching a video of dueling cellos while ogling pictures of steampunk-themed sand castles and it’s 1 am and five hours have gone by.

So this podcast by Michael Hyatt (via Jodi Lea Stewart) came at the right time for me. Navigating the Internet is like a balancing act and I fell off a long time ago

I’m not a scientist and I can’t discuss the latest research on how the Internet is changing our brains. But I do know that it’s had a negative impact on my brain in the following ways:

First, it’s turning me into a consumer rather than a creator. Guys, there is such a LOT of cool stuff on the Internet. Thoughtful and witty and entertaining blog posts. Gorgeous photos and awesome art. Funny memes, useful how-tos, amazing facts. I could spend hours immersing myself in other people’s words and images.

And quite frequently, I do.

But the thing is, if I’m consuming then I’m not giving myself the time or space or silence to create. And if I don’t create, if I don’t bring art from within me, I feel down and depressed.

Which leads me to another aspect of the Internet: it’s shortening my attention span. Ever notice how you surf the web? You read a short blog post, follow a link to a two-minute video, move on to a series of pictures with funny captions, then tweet or change  your FB status. You’re restless, constantly on the move, clicking links, opening and closing tabs.

If it doesn’t grab right away, if it’s not broken up with lots of white space and cute images, if it’s too difficult to get into, you move on.

And that’s filtering into other areas offline. Follow an argument through several pages of densely-written text? Phbbt. Reached a snag in my current story? I’ll just check my RSS feed for a few minutes. I wrote a paragraph? Hooray. Now I can go see if someone mentioned me on Twitter.

Uh. No. In order to write the kinds of stories I want to, I need to dig deep into myself. I need to burrow into my characters’ heads, wear their skins, feel the bite of the wind and the stench of sewage and the ache of muscle… and I can’t do that if I’m running off every ten minutes.

The Internet keeps me sedentary. I am my brain and my body (and my soul, but I’m not getting into that discussion right now). They feed each other. Ever notice how many ideas come to you when you’re doing a repetitive action, like washing dishes or sweeping the floor or–this is a big one for me–pacing a room? My muscles work, kickstart my brain, and boom! I unsnarl a plot point, a coy character starts talking, and I get a new story idea.

The Internet can cause unhealthy dependence on casual relationships. Online interactions are like a drug. Every comment on a blog post and every retweet can give a momentary high, leaving one craving more. My life, though, is not measured in blog subscribers, twitter followers or the opinions of perfect strangers. When those things take away from the real, important work of raising my children and investing in my close (on and offline) relationships, they’re taking a place that’s not meant for them.

And lastly, too much screen time makes me feel bad. If I spend too much time staring at the screen (and this includes TV and video games) I come away feeling jittery, anxious, sad, or down. And then it’s hard for me to reconnect with the world around me, with my family, with my own stories, with God.

And with that, it’s time for me to get off the computer and take my children outside to see what butterflies and dragonflies we can spot!

How is the Internet affecting your brain? What guidelines govern your Internet usage?

5 tips to help you get started

Getting started is often the hardest part of any project, whether it’s tackling that difficult scene or cleaning out the basement you’ve been tossing things willy-nilly into for the past ten years. I spend an inordinate amount of time procrastinating, especially when I’m making the transition between two very different tasks, say–for instance–wrangling my three children into bed and writing. A lot of laundry-folding and RSS feed checking goes on during that time.

Along the way, I’ve developed some tactics to help me get past the how-do-I-even-begin hump. Here are a few:

1. Warmups. Not every project lends itself to warmups, of course (I don’t know what sorts of warmups one can do before scrubbing out the bathroom–and no, I don’t really need to know if there are). But you can ease into a difficult task. No one goes into a rigorous exercise routine without stretching out their muscles. I don’t tackle a difficult piano piece without limbering up my fingers with scales, or something easier.. In the same way, writing warmups can help get you into the mood before you have to figure out how to rescue the beautiful Princess Meliandora from the Dark Lord’s impregnable fortress. I recommend freewriting.

2. Break it down. Writing a novel is a big undertaking. So is cleaning your entire house. Or starting a business. Or creating a historically accurate Marie Antoinette costume. My advice? Break the project down into manageable chunks. Don’t think of it as writing an entire novel, but as getting to that first candybar scene. Focus on one drawer instead of the entire house.

And celebrate the milestones, even if it is with a cookie or five minutes to check Twitter/Facebook/email/[insert social media of choice].

3. Give yourself a time limit. I’ve extolled the virtues of  writing in sessions of 10-20 minutes before. You can do anything for a short burst of time, whether it’s weeding or scrubbing the inside of the oven or drafting a blog post. Sometimes that short time period is enough to get you going so you can continue even when the timer beeps. Or, if you’re like me, you write super-fast in order to cram in as many words as possible before the time runs out!

4. Get support. Make your goals public. Tell your family and friends what you’re going to do. Use the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter, tell your Facebook friends you’re attacking the attic today (and that they should send in search parties if you don’t re-emerge in a few hours). Get your spouse to prod you, and your friends to harass you about your goal (in a nice we-support-you sort of way). Tell your blog readers you’ve decided to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday–oh wait, did I say that out loud? *grin*

5. Get it on the schedule. Clear your schedule for your project. For the longest time, exercise wasn’t even in the kitchen for me, much less the back-burner. Now, with my husband working from home, I have a standing date with his iPhone to listen to a podcast while taking a brisk walk during the kids’ afternoon Quiet Time. Hire a babysitter, send the family out of the house, or go out yourself–just block that time off. Put it on the calendar, even. In pen. It makes it all the more real and official.

What about you? How do you deal with procrastination?

tools for nanowrimo

Hello, NaNo-ers! Just wanted to wish everyone participating in this delightful madness good luck. It’s a wild ride, a crazy month, a burn-your-muscles-and-make-you-sweat workout. You’re not alone though–there’s a whole community of writers ready to support you, encourage you, and drag you along by your hair, should you need it.

It’s also nice to have some tools to make reaching that 50K goal that much easier. Here are some that help me out when I have  a writing goal and a hard time getting down it.

If you’re into tracking numbers and calculating daily goals, try out WriteTrack. It’s a wordcount tool that let’s you adjust your goals as life happens. Full disclosure: My husband–2009 NaNoWriMo winner–created this as he was dissatisfied with other wordcount trackers. But 342 unbiased iguanas and 210 agreeable aardvarks think this tool is great, so you don’t just have to take my word for it. *grin*

I don’t know about you, but I like to write to music. Pandora lets me create stations to fit my every mood. From adventure music (a la Pirates of the Caribbean) to soft dreamy New Age (Secret Garden), I can have a soundtrack for every scene I write.

Sometimes though, I just don’t want to write. My body whines I’m too tired!, my brain whispers Take a break! You deserve it tonight. Starting is the hardest part of writing, and I need to fool my brain and fingers into writing. So, I use an online timer and set it for 10 (or 15, or 20) minutes. It’s only 10 minutes, I coax myself. Give me ten minutes, and then we’ll see about that episode of Numb3rs. Usually, after the timer beeps, I can persuade myself to do another session or two, or three. Before I know it, I’ve hit my target wordcount.

It’s the how-to-eat-an-elephant-principle. One bite at a time.

Do you have any tools you use for NaNo?

magic school hazing

Sooo, Jo and I were chatting about a week ago, and somehow the conversation turned to hazing rituals… and magic schools… and what hazing rituals in magic schools would look like…

And so being the writers that we are, we dared each other to write magic school hazing scenes. Jo’s got hers up here and mine is down below:

Senses Box

I don’t know who started them, but the whispers tagged us all day. We shared the news behind raised hands as we ate our accustomed breakfast of oatmeal—lumpy, not mashed like what the First Years got. We passed it along in the white hallways, our words sinking into the padded grey carpet. The news made us squirm, tugged our attention from Master Nyssa in Colors.

Rol’s got a Senses Box! An Upper Level Senses Box!

Master Nyssa took us through the greyscale, then rapped her pointer, just hard enough to make us wince. “Pay attention, class. This next swatch”—she tapped at the black-covered board—“is 5% red in white. We call this tint pink. Prepare your mental walls.”

Our first exposure to a primary color! We all straightened, donned our most focused expressions, clasped our (grey) gloved hands and set up our mental walls against the onslaught.

Master Nyssa went around the room, checking posture, mentally scrutinizing blocks, murmuring reassurances that at our level of training, a tint would not cause permanent damage.

Then she removed the black covering.

Red screamed off the swatch and arrowed for my eyes. My mental blocks were too small, too pathetic. The color pierced my membrane, seared through the liquid in my eyeballs, targeted my nerve. It electrified its way up to my brain, shattered my barriers one by one…

…. hit my primary defenses. And stopped.

I panted. Sweat trickled down my back. Slowly, I came back to my surroundings, dazed, crouched over. Many of my peers had collapsed. Trig was a heap on the floor, several classmates held their heads and moaned. Retching sounds came from behind me. Only Ava looked serene as usual, though her hands clenched each other so hard it was a wonder her nails hadn’t poked through.

Master Nyssa briskly administered restoratives. “Not bad for your first time. Good work, Ava and Fali. Run along to Master Derk now. He’ll understand.”

Master Derk had been warned; he was unsurprised to see only the two of us out of the entire Second Year class. We spent Sounds listening to single musical notes, separated by vast spaces of silence.

Lunch was mashed potatoes without even a shake of salt. Someone had judged that the Second Years had suffered too much sensory assault already.

Back to baby food. I sulked, craving the tingle of salt crystals on my tongue.

The Masters had warned us about addiction to the senses. It was a common failing of those of us born to see the world in all its riotous glory, and to manipulate the fabric of its being. Most of our kind didn’t make it out of babyhood, burned to the core by the colors and curves of everyday things, driven to anguish by the touch of a mother’s hand or the crocheted trim of a blanket. Those who survived shut themselves up in their minds behind walls of impenetrable darkness or abandoned their bodies for a brief passionate life entangled in a wall-hanging, a flower, a sunbeam.

They tell us that we are the lucky ones, kept in ascetic surroundings since our babyhood. The Masters slowly introduced us to sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures, and coached us to not be overcome by them. Afterwards, we’d move on to the Collegium where we’d learn to manipulate what our senses perceived.

***

Rol swaggered by with his tray, dramatically tripped on my chair leg (perhaps an inch or two out of its regulated space—Sounds always made me hungry), and sent his dishes flying. Carrot chunks pattered onto carpet, gobs of applesauce rained on Kiri, who beat at the clinging ooze on her robes with rising hysteria. The Second Years let out whispered shrieks at the clatter of bowls and tray and the fleshly thump of Rol hitting ground.

I looked down, mashed potato halfway to my mouth.

Rol grinned at me. His eyes were just shy of unacceptable coloration. “An hour after Lightsout. In the Smell Lab. The Senses Box.”

The Masters swooped down on silent feet. One clapped a mildly-scented washcloth on Kiri’s face, calming her down immediately. Another made a gathering gesture and the offending carrots disappeared. Master Derk hauled Rol to his feet.

“’Sokay, ’sall right. Thank’ee for asking.” Rol brushed his rumpled robe and spoke too loudly in the fake commoner’s accent he affected. He piled his tray haphazardly with bowls and sauntered off.

I stared after him. I’d been noticed. I’d been invited.

I was… somebody.

***

The lab was locked and they were late. I’d been trained—as we all had—to stand still for long periods of time, but it was hard not to fidget.

Rol’s gang didn’t make a pretense at being quiet. Their smothered laughter, the scuff of their feet, the scritch of their clothes made my heart beat faster. As Rol unlocked the door, the hulking Nar showed how he’d pinned paper on the inside of his robes to make them crinkle in that ear-grating way.

In spite of the greasy-feeling bespelled air, the ghosts of old scents lingered inside the Lab. I picked out something citrus, something metallic, and stinky feet.

“This way.” Rol strode to a smooth-surfaced white table and withdrew the Senses Box from his robes. We took in a collective deep breath. It was white and rectangular, with a Fourth Year sigil on the lid.

“How’d you get this, Rol?” breathed Fi, a wispy Third Year with a paler-than-normal complexion.

“I have my ways.” Rol stood up straight. “All right, let’s do this. Nar, you’re first.”

“Awww, Rol. Why me?” In spite of his grumbles, Nar stepped up to the table.

I stared fixedly at the signs on the sides.

WARNING—PRIMARY COLOR OVERLOAD

CAUTION–CURVES

BEWARE—OLFACTORY AND GUSTATORY EFFECTS

And in the biggest letters of them all: MUTABLE

Which was code for organic. My palms grew sweaty.

Nar leaned forward; Rol flipped the lid open. Nar peeked in, eyes screwed almost shut, then reared back and hurried away. Rol shut the lid, but not before I caught its smell through the sluggish air…

Fi was next. One quick look, then her face took on an unhealthy tinge and she scuttled away, holding her stomach.

Flip, peek, hurry, flip. Flip, sway, get pushed aside, flip.

Then it was my turn. The foreign scent of the object inside, heavy and warm like a hand against my lips, fired my nerves. I wanted whatever it was. I wanted to taste it so badly my hands tremored.

So when Rol flipped the top open again, I thrust out my hands, grabbed the object—oh so wonderful and smooth, firm and yielding—and stuffed it into my mouth.

An explosion of color like sunglare in my eyes, rubbery sensation on my tongue that gave way to taste… by the One, the taste of the thing!

Last things I saw, before I was overcome with bliss, were Rol’s gaping mouth and rounded eyes.

***

Three weeks later, once the explosions stopped and the cacophony died to a murmur, they told me what happened. How Rol had fled to the Masters as his gangmates shrieked and scattered. How I’d been stripped and immersed in natal fluid like a baby. How I’d screamed at the light from a single candle, the sound of a whisper.

They told me what it was I put in my mouth. They pulled sad faces, spoke in weighty whispers, told me I’d learned my lesson.

When they left, all I could think of was what awaited me in the world beyond these walls. Of all the wonderful sights and smells, tastes and textures I was missing.

And how I could get my hands on another banana.

summer school

I usually take summer off from serious writing, probably because seventeen years of schooling has ingrained in me the sanctity of summer vacations. This year, though, I hit the actual revising part of HTRYN at the beginning of June. Yes, folks, all of what I’ve been doing since January(!) has been prep work for this. Now I’m working with a hard copy of my manuscript, marking it up, writing out new scenes and all that fun stuff. Can’t stop now!

So, no summer vacation for me this year (but the kids are getting one–barring light school in math and reading–and I’m off the hook for prepping lessons, yay!). The Plan is to be done with the revision by the end of August. To keep myself honest, I’ll be posting weekly progress updates and I expect you guys to poke and prod me if I get lazy, k?

What about you? What are your summer projects?

64 books in 52 weeks, and looking ahead

At the beginning of 2009, I committed to reading 52 books in 52 weeks. By the end of the year I had read 64. However, that number does not accurately represent all the reading I did last year. It doesn’t take into account blog posts, magazine articles, anthologies, all the books I only partially read (reasons: I got bored, I was re-reading my favorite parts, I was interested in just a few chapters of a reference book).

The bulk of my reading was in the fantasy genre. No surprise there. Fantasy is my first love, and what I write. I discovered several trilogies and series that I enjoyed–Garth Nix’s Keys of the Kingdom, Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap books, the Crosspointe novels by Diana Pharoah Francis, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, Nathalie Mallet’s Prince Amir series and Robin Hobbs’ Liveship Traders trilogy. I read Neil Gaiman and Elizabeth Bear for the first time. I rediscovered Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. A lot of Young Adult and Middle Grade books made it into my reading pile.

I balanced the shorter books with doorstoppers like Charles Dickens and A Suitable Boy. I wanted to read more classics, but only managed a small handful. Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth ranks as the book I’m most ambivalent about, the one I found both fascinating and repulsive. It was like a horrific trainwreck that I couldn’t wrench my gaze away from.

I read some non-fiction, but not as much I would’ve liked. Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Salt rank as the two of the more enjoyable ones. I only read one book on American history–Joseph Ellis’ American Creation. Outliers was fascinating, Your Child’s Growing Minds was informative and The Creative Habit inspirational. Karen Andreola’s comprehensive A Charlotte Mason Companion rekindled in me the desire for a literature-and-nature-rich education in our home. It made me view parenting and schooling as two sides of the same coin; it brought home to me the importance of character in a child’s education.

My reading goal for 2010 is 75 books (but no beating myself up if I don’t get there), and expand my non-fiction reading. I want to read at least three books each in the categories of American history, creativity and theology. I want to read much more about history and other cultures. I want to read science books (any recommendations?).

If I get any classics in this year, it’ll be gravy.

I’m also changing the way I review books on this blog. I’ll list my monthly reads with little to no commentary, and do separate review posts for those books I feel the need to say a lot about it.

Do you have reading goals for the year?

it’s never too early to teach your child a trade

The trade of wordsmithing, that is. Sir I. likes to narrate stories to me, usually beginning with “Once upon a time, we all got up” and involving the eating of pancakes and playing out in the snow. This one was inspired by our country study of China (we had a Chinese New Year’s Parade which consisted of me, Sir I. and Miss M. marching around the house blowing through toilet-paper tubes, banging on drums and carrying a stuffed dragon):

The Chinese New Year

Once upon a time, the Chinese people lived in China. One day they woke up. It was Saturday and they thought they would eat blueberry muffins. They made red envelopes and put money in them and scotch-taped it for the Chinese kids. Then the Chinese kids opened up the envelopes and found a nickel. After dinner, they had the parade. They had a dragon and drums and horns and lanterns and a lion. It was the Chinese kids’ bedtime after the parade. They went to the bathroom and washed their hands and brushed their teeth and their daddy read them their bedtime story. After when the Chinese daddy read the Chinese kids the bedtime story, he said their prayer, then the kids fell asleep and the Chinese daddy turned off the light and turned on the music and shut the door.

I like how the Chinese kids get American money. *grin*

52 books in 52 weeks

I’m a planner. I love lists, schedules, menus. I love having goals to tick off and challenges to complete.

In fact, the more, the better!

Since this is a new year and all, I signed up for a reading challenge: 52 books in 52 weeks. I started strong with a theology book (Tim Keller’s The Reason for God) and some kids’ books (Septimus Heap and The Mysterious Benedict Society). I was bogged down for over a week in Your Child’s Growing Mind, but finished up today with a chapter on encouraging the kidlets’ creativity. Good stuff, there.

Now to choose the next book.

In my library bag are:

  • tons of picture books (alas, those don’t count even though I spend about an hour a day reading them aloud)
  • Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix
  • The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
  • Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky

My reading is all over the place, but I’m trying to make sure to hit a few categories this year: American history (this is an ongoing course of study!), theology (I’m in a book discussion group focused on this topic), education (methods, philosophy, anything and everything that’ll help me be a better teacher), books about or set in other cultures and countries, and, of course, continuing to read widely in the spec fic genre.

And I’m leaving lots of room wide open for recommendations, books that catch my eye and the following of rabbit trails.

Do you have any books to recommend?