Posted on the Squeetus Blog January 04, 2006 1:43 PM PST.

After two weeks of illness, we're finally mending nicely, with just a cough here and a sniffle there. Poor Max got his first ear infection and my cold/flu turned into a sinus infection, then Dean got it as well. But all better now. It's such a joy to see Max able to play and feel good again, to just sit on the floor and play with his trains and run around the stool and laugh. I missed my happy little guy.

I'm doing a series of visits to a middle school this month, and today was my second visit. I talk about how I became a writer, about reading for pleasure, and how to write your own stories. It is often a joy and often exhausting. Today I had a strange experience - one of the worst classes in the world back to back with one of the best classes in the world. It was really intriguing to compare. The worst class was horrible! They didn't throw things or behave horribly or anything, but they just sucked energy. There were 3 or 4 very strong personalities (all boys for some reason) who were very negative individuals, didn't care about the class or me or anything really, and their presence completely intimidated all the other students to silence. No one spoke up. No one answered questions. I don't think those other students even realized how their intelligence and wonderful possibilities were being crushed. It was very sad. I've noticed that my readers, in general, tend to be rather sassy, so I don't think you guys would've responded that way. I wish I'd realized in the moment what exactly was going on and could call them on it, could send the negative influences into the hall and spoken frankly to the rest. I'll say it now. "Don't let them determine what you think and say. Speak up! Be proud of yourselves. You are bright and interesting. Poo on individuality bullies!" After that class I was ready to curl up and take a nap, and then came one of the best classes I've ever experienced. Everyone had ideas, no one was ashamed to speak them, everyone was supportive of everyone else's opinions. I was proud just to be with those great kids. Would that all classes were like that.

I just sent off my notes on the copy edited manuscript of river secrets. Huzzah! All the major stuff is done now. I'll look over it again after it goes to type setting to make sure there aren't mistakes, but I won't make any more big changes. I sent a ridiculously long email with last minute changes to the managing editor at my publisher, some 150 lines of notes. If you're curious, here's a chunk of what I sent. Things in () are to be cut and [] to be added. The first number is the page number.

17 – line 17, “(For a moment,) The sound of two javelins and a fist took up the whole room, lonely and inviting at once. (At once) [Then] a clatter of replies tossed against the walls.”

19 – line 10, “he (could) hear[d] their voices”

20 – cut 2 paragraphs, from “Then his horse, Bee Sting,” to “-without drooling in my hair.”

20 – line 5, “Morning, Enna-girl,” Razo said as he fumbled with a horse blanket. It was no easy task to saddle Bee Sting while the mare was nuzzling his pockets for stowed morsels.”

21 – line 15, “with a pouch of stones[.] (and) Some of the soldiers mocked him for wearing a simple Forest weapon so openly[, but] none protested”

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