Summer Reading, Summer Writing (and some book news!)

With just four days of regular classes left in my school year, there is the usual flurry of June activity. My students are finishing pieces of persuasive writing about issues that matter to them, and on Monday, we’ll be hunting down addresses and emails for the Senators, company presidents, newspapers, mayors, city coucilors, principals, and others, and sending them off.  "Really?" my kids asked when I first explained that I was only a secondary audience for this piece of writing. Some wondered if sending off a single letter could really make any difference, so we talked about that for a while, and I asked them to think about this.  Pretty much everything that has ever been wrong or unjust in our world and then improved has gotten better as a result of somebody — often a whole bunch of somebodys — who pulled together their ideas and expressed them. They thought about that, and then we all started writing.

We’ll be making our summer reading plans this week, too — sharing our Top Ten Terrific Books read this school year and using those to make lists of what we’d like to read this summer.  I’ve been smiling all week, peeking over my kids’ shoulders as they work on their lists.  It’s so much fun to see what titles have really stayed with them this year. I’ll be sharing some of my students’ top picks on the blog later this week.

My own summer includes the usual hiking-swimming-family-visiting-kayaking-ice-cream-eating agenda, as well as plenty of reading.  On my list?  A few adult books like THE HELP (no, I still haven’t read it) and THE PASSAGE (which will have to wait because my 13-year-old son swiped my ARC and will not let it go), along with a big pile of YA and MG books that I expect will grow a bit after this month’s ALA Convention in Washington, D.C. 

And some summer writing plans, which include work on several books at different stages of their lives…

  • First (and quickly!) I need to make notes on the final-pass page proofs for SUGAR AND ICE, my middle grade figure skating novel that comes out with Walker/Bloomsbury in December. This is the "last-chance proofreading" before the book goes to print.
  • Later this month, I’m expecting revision notes for my second MARTY MCGUIRE chapter book with Scholastic.  The first is already copy edited and comes out in Spring 2011. There is some pretty incredible illustrator news, too, which I will share when I get the okay from my editor.
  • I am CRAZY excited about my newest project, which right now I’ll refer to as the "upper middle grade dystopian weather book."  I’m wrapping up a draft, so July will be a month of lemonade and revision.
  • And in August, I hope to be doing some research for my second middle grade mystery.  Which is the reason I woke up to a slew of good wishes on Twitter this morning (thank you!)…and brings me to the book news that appeared in Publishers Marketplace long after I’d fallen asleep on the couch last night…
June 11, 2010
Middle grade 
2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Award winner Kate Messner’s SILVER JAGUAR SOCIETY series, in which a group of kids whose families are part of a secret society bound to protect the world’s artifacts pool their unique talents to solve mysteries tied to the creations of their ancestors, starting with book one: THE STAR-SPANGLED SET-UP, to Anamika Bhatnagar at Scholastic, in a three-book deal, for publication starting in 2012, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

I’m thrilled — for many reasons — but maybe most of all because this book was a huge challenge for me and required a lot of learning along the way.  It’s the book that really taught me to outline more than I ever had before, and the book that led me to Scrivener, the writing program that I use all the time now and love the same way I love chocolate. I blogged a little about the planning for THE STAR SPANGLED SET-UP here.

It’s time for me to put in an hour on those page proofs before the rest of the house wakes up, but first, I have two questions for you to answer in comments if you’re so inclined:

1. If you write, what are your summer writing plans?  What do you hope to finish or work on or revise or explore?

2.  What’s one book you’re really excited to read this summer?  (I’ll share these in a later post, too, so we can all add to our lists!)

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