Three manuscripts, two rats, and a pile of books

It’s been a busy week at the Messner house. 

Three manuscripts:

The draft of my middle grade mystery, which shall remain nameless for now, is DONE.  I finished in a marathon writing session the night before New Year’s Eve.  Now to finish polishing the first few chapters so I can send off to my critique buddies. I’m going on a writing retreat later this month, where I will be revising like a madwoman.

Reviewed copy edits for SUGAR ON SNOW are in the envelope, going back to NYC tomorrow.  My blue pencil got a workout.

And I’ve just received the copy-edited manuscript for MARTY MCGUIRE, FROG PRINCESS, the first title in my chapter book series with Scholastic, which will be coming out in February of 2011.  The copy edit email came with a special series style sheet that has not only a chart of all my characters and their relationships but also a list of "author’s made-up words" that are to be left alone through the copy editing process, including "flippy, boingy, poofy, floofy, princessy, and blech."  This amused me to no end.

Two rats:

But only one would even sit remotely still for a photo.

This is Chester.  The rat-who-will-not-be-still is named Guy (rhymes with "tree" as in Guy de Maupassant and Guy LeFleur) and they are E’s new pets who live in a cage three-bedroom condo in the basement.  They are Dumbo rats, so named for their big ears on the sides of their heads.  We brought them home from a Dumbo rat breeder in Montreal last week, claimed them at U.S. Customs —

"Anything to declare?"
"Two rats."
"Did you say rats?" 
"Yes, pet rats. Do you need to see them?" 
"No, that’s okay."

–and got them settled in their new home. We constructed a rat playpen out of plexiglass ceiling light covers and duct tape —

— and E and her friends have been building them forts and mazes out of cardboard boxes and more duct tape.  They’re quite cute and very friendly. More photos to come if they ever sit still for a minute.

A pile of books:

I was going to clean out my bookshelves and get rid of some books before they completely take over the house. 

But then I decided to get a new bookshelf instead.  

It’s full of novels I read over vacation.  I’ll post more detailed recommendations on my blog over the next few weeks, but for now, just know that CAPTIVATE by Carrie Jones made me gasp and cheer and cry within about ten pages and that Francisco X. Stork’s next book, THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS is so far shaping up to be just as amazing as MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.  I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a very good year for books.

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