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!)

best tracker

62 Replies on “Summer Reading, Summer Writing (and some book news!)

  1. Wow!

    Such exciting news on your books! I actually wish I was still in school right now so I could share it with my students.

    As to your questions:

    1- I don’t write, except in journals to myself. I’d love to start a story and have had a couple ideas but nothing that has spoken to me, yet. I do plan on writing a lot about teaching this summer, planning out my year. I’m moving from fourth to fifth and from teaching all my subjects to teaching reading three times a day, writing once. I’m very excited but want to think through a plan for the year.

    2- I, like you, have a stack beside my bed of what I need to read, and it keeps getting taller rather than smaller. The only “adult” book I have in the stack is THE HELP, haven’t read it either. Right now I’m working on WHITE CAT, FALLING IN, and THE BONESHAKER.

    Have a terrific summer, Kate!
    Katherine Sokolowski

  2. Okay, so this is a great post and I want to talk about all the other stuff… BUT!! CONGRATS on the new book deal. I adore the titles: both series title and book one. 🙂


    The other stuff will have to wait. 😉

  3. Re: Wow!

    Thanks, Katherine! I think I may have mentioned this project to your kids during our Skype visit, back when I was still trying to get it into shape to submit.

    Happy writing, planning, & reading this summer. I read THE WHITE CAT and loved it! Can’t wait for the next one in the CurseWorkers series!

  4. Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog as you wrote SUGAR AND ICE and the mystery you’ve sold, and have really enjoyed hearing about your writing process along the way. What an incredible journey.

    This summer, I’m going to work on a revision of a middle-grade novel while developing the idea for another MG novel. Baseball season keeps us really busy, so for me, I like to flesh out the idea for a story during the summer months, writing a little, thinking about the characters a lot, and then dive into the writing in August, when things have calmed down. I most want to read LINGER, but in the meantime, I’m loving THE HEALING SPELL by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

  5. Congratulations, Kate! I am in awe of your productivity, really I need some of that energy and, maybe, time management? My summer writing plans are BIG because for the first time both kids will be in the town camp and I will have a stretch of 6 hours to write 5 days a week for 6 weeks! I’ve never had more than 2 hours! I hope to spend it revising my latest MG novel, and if time allows, going back to wrestle a chapter book into a middle-grade.

    I’m excited to read Tara Kelly’s Harmonic Feedback.

  6. YAY KATE! You know how happy I am to read this news.

    1. Writing goals: Finish revising Hound Dog True. PLAY. I want to fiddle and fuss and think about new stories and ideas without any pressure that these ideas might be for publication. In the fall, I’ll get started in earnest on a new novel, but the summer is playtime.

    2. Reading: I’ve already read several amazing books this year: COSMIC, MOCKINGBIRD, KEEPER, COUNTDOWN, ONE CRAZY SUMMER. I’m so looking forward to TOUCH BLUE, but am stuck wait, wait, waiting for that.

  7. Kate – Huge congrats!!! I love a good mystery! (or three!) YAY!!! Sounds like you have an incredibly busy writing summer coming up.

    My summer writing plans are…

    1. to finish 1st drafts of contracted book 2 and of a contemporary YA speculative that I’ve been working on.

    2. I can’t think of any one book I’m excited to read this summer – there are so many! When you post your list, I’ll try to narrow it down.

    Again – congratulations! I’m so happy for you! *hugs*

  8. Congratulations, Kate! What a fantastic book deal. Silver Jaguar Society sounds like tons of fun, and I can’t wait to get it for our house. Sounds right up my daughter’s alley!

    1) I need to finish a story to submit to an anthology. I’m sort of dragging my feet on which book to write, because I have a proposal on submission. If that sells, I’ll need time to write that. But if it doesn’t sell, I will feel kind of dumb using all summer to work on something for nothing. I’ll probably start picking at a new book in the fall when the kids go back to school.

    2) Looking forward to THE GRIMM LEGACY by Polly Shulman, THE EDUCATION OF BET by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, SHADOW HILLS by Anastasia Hopcus, THE POISON DIARIES by Maryrose Wood, and NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh.

  9. Wahoo! Congratulations on the mystery deal! I love the premise, too. You are a writing whirlwind, with all these different books and series. Good for you!

    To answer your questions:

    1) Finish and do the initial revision pass on my sequel to CIRCUS GALACTICUS.
    2) Honestly? MOCKINGJAY! But to pick something slightly less obvious, I’ll go with THE DEMON’S COVENANT (which is waiting for me at the bookstore right this minute, along with other goodies!)

  10. Wow Kate! This sounds Big Time – Publishers Marketplace always struck me as the who’s-who of writing and I stopped getting it because there were so few kids books in there – you rock!

  11. Congrats on the mystery series beginning!

    For my summer:
    1. I’m planning to write the results section of my dissertation and possibly start on the intro. I hope to finish the results section and explore the implications and how my results expand previous research.

    2. I’m excited to finish the Wheel of Time series. Not great writing, but I like the main stories & characters and look forward to seeing how things come together. I’m also reading Through the Looking Glass for the first time (I recently read Alice in Wonderland).

  12. Congrats Kate!!! Exciting!

    My summer writing plans are to finish my editorial revisions of Between the Sea and Sky, finish the story I’m writing for the Corsets and Clockwork anthology, and finish drafting Magic Under Stone. And then finish applying Jenn’s notes to Olivia and Alfred. It might be technically fall by the time some of this happens, but maybe not, because all projects are already well underway.

    So the keyword here is FINISH. And I’m really excited to finish so I can get to work on new books!!!!

    As for what I’m looking forward to…you know, I barely know what’s coming out except the obvious big titles. I’m not very good at remembering what upcoming title comes out in what season and such. I am reading my ARCs from BEA though, and loved Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution and The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

  13. Oh Kate, hooray, hooray, hooray!!!! So you’ll have two series then – this one and the Marty McGuire one??? WOW!!!! So happy for you!

    1. I will have revisions for my next YA coming one of these days. And if things pan out next week the way I think they will, I’ll have a book to finish with a deadline. More on that later… 🙂 But I really don’t want to spend my whole summer writing!! I may have to go away for a weekend and see how much I can get done that way.

    2. AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson, EVERLASTING by Angie Frazier, THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY AND JUNE by Robin Benway, SO MANY BOYS by Suzanne Young, and MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins – to name a few. 🙂

  14. Really, I am not joking: I was reading blog posts in Google Reader, read about your plans for the last week of school, nodding along (I’m a middle school librarian; we have seven more days of school), then started reading your book news, got to the end of the post, and thought, “What a busy author! So many book projects.” Then thought, “WAIT A MINUTE. That was all by the same person.” I thought I had gone to a different post by someone else. Yes, I already knew that you were both a teacher and an author–but this post particularly impressed me with how much you do.

    I am very excited by the sound of your “upper middle grade dystopian weather book.”

    I am really excited to read Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, but it’s not coming out until September. So, for summer, I’ve told students I may read Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series in one fell swoop (they love it, and I haven’t read any). And re-read all of Eva Ibbotson or Maud Hart Lovelace or some other wonderful summery author.

  15. Sugar and Ice

    Mom left for her Corning workshop at 6:30 so I picked up your ARC of Sugar and Ice . A sure winner. I couldn’t put it down despite a long list of “must dos” left by you know who . Loved the character development and suspense throughout . Gianna Z , an A ; Sugar , an A+ . So proud . Love , Dad

  16. Yay!

    I’m so excited for you, Kate, for a three book deal! So richly deserved, and your determination and eloquence is inspiring!

    I’ll be spending the summer changing a long piece of historical prose to poetry. Hoping to reach the fun part of this soon.

    I’ll be reading poetry, look forward to Keeper and Countdown, and in adult books The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Children’s Hour, begun and put down for lack of time during the semester.

    Oh, Kate, I’m just so happy for this sale!

  17. Your new trilogy sounds like so much fun! Congrats–I’m looking forward to reading it! (Why is 2012 so far away?)

    Summer writing plans: not firm yet, but I think I’m starting a new book.

    Book I’m really excited to read: MOCKINGJAY! (Like several million other people, I’m sure. 😀 )

  18. WOW — that’s wonderful news 😀

    One book (other than MOCKINGJAY, which I have pre-ordered) would be…okay, I can’t possibly narrow it down 😉 I have about 20 coming my way (since I can’t *sob* make it to ALA), and I’m very excited about all of them!

    ETA: Oh, and for writing, I’ve been struggling with two WIPs, but while trail running this week (gotta love the inspiration which comes from nature), I got an idea which already seems much stronger than those, so I’m hoping to pursue it and see if it comes together 🙂 (It’s YA dystopic, shockingly enough)

  19. Congratulations Kate!

    My writing plans include writing units/lesson plans for school and pushing myself to take some time do write for fun; nothing specific yet.

    My reading plans include more than I possibly can get done! On top of the stack right now are Sugar and Ice (thank you, thank you, thank you for the ARC!), Mockingjay when it comes out, Of Monsters and Men (one of my 8th graders ordered it from and told me he would sent it to me when he finished it because I hooked him on the series and got him the second book from my town library), a huge stack from my classroom library, and a stack that I need to prepare to teach next year.

  20. Congratulations, Kate! You’re on such a roll right now. :>)

    I’ve been struggling to revise the opening chapters of my MG before I start querying again, and I need to start writing one of the other 2 MG ideas I have in my head.

    First summer book I thought of was TOUCH BLUE. I just ordered THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART by Sundee T. Frazier, too.

  21. Congratulations, Kate! That’s awesome!

    I’d like to finish the rough draft of my WIP by the end of July. And I’m really excited to attend ALA in a few weeks, since I live right here in DC–I’m hoping that MATCHED and DELIRIUM might be there since I’m on a dystopia kick lately.

  22. Hurray for PLAY! Have fun. 🙂

    I just finished KEEPER, too, & loved the ending. Loved-loved-loved MOCKINGBIRD, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, and TOUCH BLUE, too – and I’m just about 30 pages into COUNTDOWN right now. I think the documentary bits work so, so well in this book.

  23. Great book list – thanks for sharing all those!

    It’s funny how summer is most people’s less-writing time because the kids are out of school, while it’s my good writing season because I’m out of school!

  24. Re: Yay!

    Thank you, Jeannine! So…”changing a long piece of historical prose to poetry” makes me think we’ll be getting another book in the style of BORROWED NAMES? (I am cheering if this is so!!)

  25. Thanks, Robin! Good luck with your new project! I always end up getting inspiration while I’m running, too (which you’d think would make me run more, but somehow it’s always a struggle).

  26. Thanks, Jessica! And maybe I’ll get to see you in person at ALA – I’ll be there signing from 2:30-3:30 Saturday afternoon & then hanging around, generally ogling books. MATCHED was great (I read an ARC after IRA this spring), and I’m looking forward to DELIRIUM, too!

  27. That is so great about your book deal. Hurray!
    I’m rewriting my first picture book after hearing Tammi Sauer at the SCBWI conference here in Forida. A friend on LJ offered to do a critique. Rewrite. Then I will probably look for an agent…
    I am trying not to take any books to Maine (July, August, September at my Grandpa’s camp on Lake Thompson) with me because the libraries and the Friends of the Library book sales are so seductive. Last year I took books up and brought them back unread.
    I too want to read Mockingjay. The Last Train From Berlin (1943) by Howard K Smith, which I picked up for $1.99 at the local used book store. Faery Rebels. Scaling Down (about getting rid of excess stuff of which I have a lot).

  28. Isn’t Tammi great? I’ve met her briefly at conferences and would love to have heard her presentations. Good luck with your rewriting, and have a great trip to Maine!

  29. Oh my gosh,Kate!!! We’re Scholastic SISTERS now!!! And we haven’t even met yet . . . . long lost sibs???? LOL!

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! How fantastic is this! You totally rock, girl!

  30. Yay!! I won’t be at the kidlit drinks night, though – I’m arriving on Saturday morning. I’m signing that afternoon & will be wandering around with my kids after that, so hopefully I’ll run into you then!

  31. Congratulations on everything.
    This summer? Lots of writing (before and after VCFA) focusing on novel revisions.

    The book I’m most excited to read this summer is Keeper by Kathi, my advisor.