Monday, December 8, 2008

New Website

For the past five days, while attempting to master Dreamweaver CS4 (Adobe's web design program), I have been employing every profane, obscene, vulgar expression I know--which is a lot of expressions.  The dogs slink past my door giving me these mournful, accusatory looks. Mary has been keeping her office door closed.  The cursing and stomping and shrieking amused her at first, but after a few hours she'd had enough.  Can't say I blame her.
CS4 is way too fussy and complex for my impatient self.  I may as well have used a John Deere combine to mow my lawn.  
Anyway, it's over.  I just uploaded my new website to Earthlink's server.  It's sort of simple and crude, and I'm sure there are lots of bad links and pages that won't load and so forth.  If you find a problem, please let me know and I'll try to fix it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Scarsdale, and the National Book Awards

I met another Super Librarian, this time in New York, at Scarsdale Middle School. Liz Waltzman (check out her website) is one of those people who gets more done before lunch than I get done in a week. Make that two weeks. Oh, and she does this while suffering from a cold and wearing Uggs. Uggs are HUGE in Scarsdale. I asked one auditorium group how many of them owned a pair of Uggs, and about 60% of the hands went up. I didn’t spend quite as much time with non-Uggs-wearing Scarsdale Super Librarian #2, Sharon Waskow, but she managed to explain the terrifying New York City Subway system so well that I rode the trains all over Manhattan without once ending up in Flatbush or Brighton Beach. Thanks, Sharon! I also met three or four hundred Super Eighth Graders over a two day period, and I am KICKING myself because I did not take my camera out, not even once. So I have no visual evidence that I was actually there. But it was a great visit. I had never before had the chance to do two days running with the same group of students. For once, I almost had time to talk about all the things I wanted to talk about, and the students had time to ask their questions both in an auditorium format, and in smaller workshop-size groups. Their questions were really good. Nobody asked me how much money I make, if I’m friends with Stephanie Meyer, or whether I prefer boxers or briefs. Wednesday, after a full day of workshops in Scarsdale, I went down to Manhattan and put on my tuxedo (a forty-five minute project due to suspender and cufflink problems) to attend the National Book Awards Banquet at Cipriani on Wall Street (go here for lots of pictures). It was a fabulous event, even better than last year. The room was stunning, the people watching was bookalicious, and the food was remarkably good for a banquet of that size (I think there were about 700 people there). I’m going to drop some names now, so if you find such things irritating it’s time to tune out. And yes, I know I’m a lousy photographer. Here is Laurie Halse Anderson with her editor Kevin Lewis, at the pre-ceremony reception. Laurie’s book Chains was a finalist in the Young People’s Literature category. This was Laurie’s second appearance at the NBA. Judy Blundell, whose book What I Saw and How I Lied, was the winner, is standing here with her editor (and mine!), David Levithan. Congratulations, Judy! (BTW, David was not drunk, I must have caught him in mid-blink.) The winner in the YPL category was announced by Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, a very funny guy who, apparently, loves to be on stage, as he spent a long seven minutes entertaining the crowd while the five finalists suffered through an eternity of churning stomachs and heart palpitations while waiting for the verdict. Other celebrity sightings include Peter Matthiessen, whose novel Shadow Country won for best novel... ...and Jonathan Franzen, who won best novel for The Corrections back in, um, I think it was 1999. (Nope, it was 2001.)  I like this picture. It was even better before I took the red out of his eyes. And when I got home…

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Star Struck

I am always hesitant to meet authors whose work I admire.  Several years ago I met (he who shall not be named), whose books I held in high regard.  He was a dick.  I was instantly deprived of the ability to enjoy his work.  So sad.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Samuel R. Delany at the Walker Art Center.  Delany has been one of my literary heroes since the late 1960s, when I picked up one of his early novels (Babel 17) and fell in love with his witty and extraordinarily observant writing. His 1976 novel Triton is one of my favorite SF works of all time.  He was, and remains, a major influence on my work.
 
Delany, I am happy to report, did nothing to undermine my admiration for him.  Whew!

New York

I'm heading to New York next week for school visits in Scarsdale, then down to Wall Street for the National Book Awards banquet on Wednesday evening. I've been to the NBA banquet twice before--once as a finalist, and once as a judge. This year I'm going as a spectator, and I'm hoping for a very relaxed evening--if things go wrong, I bear no responsibility. Also, it will help reduce the per-use cost of the tuxedo I bought four years ago. This years finalists for the NBA are, as always, a fascinating group of books. You can check them out at the National Book Foundation website, along with interviews with the authors and other fun stuff. This will be my last trip for 2008, after which I plan to settle in for some serious uninterrupted writing time...except for Thanksgiving...and all those other holidays...and blizzards. My next school visit won't be until February, when I travel to Granville, Ohio. Book news: It is now official: How to Steal a Car will be published next fall. This years finalists for the NBA are, as always, a fascinating group of books. You can check them out at the National Book Foundation website, along with interviews with the authors and other fun stuff. Here's a photo of me with fellow authors Heather Bouwman, Mary Logue, and Lynne Jonell after a reading at the Loft Literary Center.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wadsworth Fairy Rings

Wadsworth, Ohio is a lovely little town just west of Akron, Ohio (home of The Pretenders, one of the great pop-punk bands of the 1980s). I spent one day in Wadsworth enjoying the way the chunky little Midwestern houses all seemed to be within walking distance of a wooded area or a cornfield. Bonus: I saw some spectacular fairy rings* on several of the well-groomed lawns. The Wadsworth Public Library is much nicer than you would expect in a small semi-rural community, with lots of books, computers, and a user-friendly “loft” for teen readers. I gave a loosely-formatted and wide-ranging presentation to a small but avid group of readers, and left all too soon. Wadsworth is one of those places you visit and think about living there. What's the word? Oh yeah: Bucolic. Very bucolic. Bucolicious, one might say. What I brought back with me, aside from thoughts of impulsive relocation, was leads on some great music from librarian Sean Rapaki, a connoisseur of obscure bands from the 60s and 70s, most notably one Roky Erickson of whom, I am embarrassed to admit, I had never heard. Thanks, Sean! *Don’t know what a fairy ring is? It's a mushroom thing. Check out these two spectacular fairy ring images I pulled off the web: Yeah, I know. I'm a fungus nerd. But fairy rings are really cool, and once you spot one, you'll see them all over the place.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Duck, duck, duck, duck…gray duck!

I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet they don’t play that game in school anymore. Too competitive. Too many hurt feelings. Too unfair to slower, smaller, less aggressive children. Too bad. It was fun. But today’s post is not about childhood games. It’s about DUCK STAMPS. Every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service holds a competition for the new Federal Duck Stamp design. Hundreds of wildlife artists enter this competition, and the winning design is featured on the next year’s duck stamp. The first place winner then sells limited edition prints of his or her design, selling thousands of prints, and thereby profiting from their victory. Second place gets a set of steak knives.* The contest attracts the best of the best in wildlife art. This year, the judging took place in Minnesota. Mary and I attended the event, along with dozens of friends and relatives. Why? Because my brothers Bob and Jim were finalists. (My other wildlife artist brother, Joe, was not eligible, because he won the contest last year.) The results were not all we hoped for. Bob’s entry made it into the top ten. Jim won the set of steak knives.*Josh Spies was the winner. Congratulations, Josh! *If you don't get the steak knife reference, go rent the movie "Glengarry Glenross" and see Alec Baldwin in one of his most memorable roles.  Jack Lemmon, too! You can view all the entries here. For more information about the Duck Stamp, go here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Magnificent Midland

I don't know if it's always beautiful, but in mid-October with the leaves are at their spectacular best, Midland, Michigan is a treat for the eyes. The people are nice, too. I just spent two days there, visiting six schools to talk about--ta-da!--myself. My books, actually. And I learned all over again that schools and teachers and students are the same everywhere, while, at the same time, they are completely different. I don't know why that continues to surprise me, but it does. One thing that never changes is the ten-forty-forty-ten rule. Ten percent of the students think I am great and no matter what I say or do, I'm da bomb. Forty percent think I'm probably-sorta-kinda okay, and they are willing to cut me a break since got them out of algebra class. Another forty percent think they are living in the Matrix and since nothing they see or hear is real, it doesn't matter. And the last ten percent...well, I got no freaking idea. These are what I consider "good numbers." The things that make every school visit unique are the individuals. Like the eighth grader who gave me a biology lesson on mosquito nutrition at (I think) Bullock Creek Middle School. I was playing fast and loose with entomological facts to make a point, and I got nailed for saying that "mosquitoes live on blood." They don't. But the females need blood to reproduce. Okay then. I'll watch my mouth in the future. I'm also impressed, again and again, by the librarians and teachers I meet. For example, the lovely and talented Stephanie Williams (right),who left engineering to become a librarian. Now THAT is an unusual career path. I had planned to take lots of great pictures in Midland, but of course I kept forgetting that I had my camera with me. But here's one of the book club at Windover Alternative High School. You see that kid way off to the left, like he doesn't want to be in the picture? Ask him about hemochromatosis. I dare you. I left Midland tired but psyched to get back to writing, and I came up with a new idea on the flight home, which I scrawled on the inside of the dust cover of John Green's new novel, Paper Towns, and wrote the first ten pages when I got home that night. It never stops.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Downtown Portland, Oregon...

...is not a good place to hunt mushrooms, but is an excellent place to find school librarians. I was there last week for the OASL/WMLA conference, and I found hundreds of them, of every species, from the tattooed hipster variety to the gray-hair-in-a-bun type to the exceedingly rare and elusive male librarian. But they all had some things in common, most notably a love of books, and dedication to their craft. The main speaker at the conference was Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes. He was amazing! If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, DO NOT pass it up. I say this as one who has slunk out of nearly every "keynote address" I have ever had the misfortune to be roped into. But Frank was astonishing, truly. I also got to hang out with (more name dropping ahead) John Green, author of Looking for Alaska (which is not about Sarah Palin), the incredibly prolific Todd Strasser (the only author I know who has written more books than I have), adult/YA mystery writer April Henry, Patrick Jones (who stole the idea for my next novel before I’d even thought of it), historical novelist Christine Fletcher, and a bunch of other semi-famous authors whose names elude me at the moment. And, for the first time, ate at a “Red Robin” restaurant. It wasn’t too bad for a burger joint, but if you go, bring your sunglasses. “Garish” does not even begin to describe the ambiance. So, today, to help myself recover from the high-contrast flashing commercial redness of Red Robin, I bought an original oil by Dodie Logue:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Recent Visit to Orlando, Florida...

...was spent entirely within the walls of the mega resort hotel known as the Gaylord Palms, where the staff has been bred by crossing a phalanx of Stepford Wives with a particularly vigorous Mitt Romney clone. Chewing gum is forbidden within the confines of the resort. I am not kidding. The round-faced young man who delivered my breakfast one morning looked very much like a smiley face come to life. I wanted to take a photo of him, but he SCARED me.   It was eerie, I tell you. Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant two days with the FAMEous Florida librarians (FAME = Florida Association for Media in Education), a group of super-dedicated school librarians who were all working Really Hard to make the most of their annual conference while I frittered away most of my time hanging out with (name dropping, I know, I'm pathetic) David Lubar and Marc Aronson and Rick Riordan and Alane Ferguson and Chris Crutcher and Priscilla Cummings and several other YA fabulists. It was a good time. Here's the view from my balcony, showing a small part of the ginormegaplexicon: Next week I'm off to the OASL/WMLA conference in Portland, Oregon. I'm hoping to score some mushrooms while I'm there! Oh, as far as writing goes, I'm working hard on the biggest and most challenging project I have ever undertaken. More later.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Let the Wild Rumpus Start!"

That's a quote from Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are.  But I have always thought that "Let the wild rumpus begin!" has a more natural sound.  And while I'm at it, don't you think that "Call me Ishy, or call me whatever, just so long as you call me," would be a more powerful opening for Moby Dick?  And don't you think the whale should be lemon yellow, not white?  And don't you think....
Easy, Pete--calm down.  Okay.  Now, where was I?  
Oh yeah, Wild Rumpus.  Last Monday I was at Wild Rumpus talking
about my books and meeting readers.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Wild Rumpus is a fantastical bookstore in the Linden Hills area of Minneapolis with a huge selection of children's books, a knowledgeable and dedicated staff of former children (adults), and a free-ranging menagerie of chickens, cats, and assorted other beasts.*  A wild rumpus indeed.  You should check it out next time you're in Minneapolis, unless you are allergic to fur and feathers.
Here's as pic of me scrawling something on a copy of Godless.
*Including rats, at least one iguana, and probably a unicorn (though he's tough to spot).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My new book, How to Steal a Car...

...including a DVD with instructions on How to Hot-Wire a Honda, will be released in 2009.  
I'm kidding about the DVD, of course, but the book is real.  How to Steal a Car will be published by Scholastic, probably with a September or October 2009 publication date.  I'm not saying too much about it at this point, except to say that it is about a fifteen-year-old girl who, well, steals cars.  I'm excited about this book--it's quite different from my other books.  But you knew that already, right?
And, since you asked (even though you probably didn't and could not care less), here's a photo of some chanterelles I found last week.  It's been a great year for chanterelles in Minnesota--I've harvested several pounds, and they were delicious--one of my three favorite mushrooms, along with porcinis and morels.  Like sweet corn and tomatoes, freshly-picked chanterelles are incomparably superior to their commercially available versions.  I'm hoping for a second fruiting later this summer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dolmas

So you dropped by to read about books and writing and found yourself staring at what looks like a food blog, and you’re feeling a bit bait-and-switched. Well, Binky, I don’t blame you. But here’s the thing—this is my blog, and if it did not accurately reflect my current interests, it would be boring to write. If you want information of a more commercial nature (in other words, info that is designed to sell books), click over to my website. I promise to have some book news here next week. If you’re still reading it must be because you want to know more about dolmas, aka dolmades, a Mediterranean treat that involves wrapping an edible substance (usually rice and/or bulgar wheat mixed with flavorings and, perhaps, meat) in an edible leaf.* The leaf most commonly used is that of the grapevine, but you can also use cabbage, chard, lettuce, etc. I’ve been making dolmas on and off for years, always starting with a jar of brined grape leaves. The hardest part has always been getting the leaves out of the jar without ripping a bunch of them. Anyway, after going through I-don’t-know-how-many jars of grape leaves at about six bucks a jar, it finally occurred to me—duh!—that our property is home to dozens of wild grapevines sporting tens of thousands of leaves. I went out and picked about fifty pristine leaves, which took all of ten minutes, parboiled them in salt water, and proceeded to roll up the best dolmades I have ever eaten. I’m going to freeze a bunch to use over the winter. There are tons of dolma/dolmade recipes on the web, and I see no reason to add to them, but I will say this: use a recipe that calls for rolling the dolmades using uncooked ingredients (including raw rice and/or bulgar wheat), and then simmering it in broth for an hour or so. Here are links to a meat version and a vegetarian version, both of which have, IMO, too many ingredients. *If you want to get technical, the terms dolma or dolmade can describe all manner of stuffed food. And if you want to get really technical, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of other names for these little packets—sarma, dolmasi, yaprakes, etc.—depending on the region, ingredients, type of wrapping, etc. I just call them all dolmas, cuz it’s easy to say.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cooking Lesson (#1—Fresh Morels)

In response to a flood of requests (two), here is how to prepare fresh morels for the table. First, find, steal, or buy some morels.
Cut the mushrooms in half lengthwise. Evict any insects, slugs, arachnids, or other creatures. Knock off dirt. Do not rinse unless absolutely necessary.* Heat a saute pan. Add a lump of butter. When the butter is melted and bubbly, place the morels in the pan. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the morels. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.** Eat straight from the pan, or arrange on slices of toast, or mix with pasta, or stir into scrambled eggs.*** That's pretty much it. Bon appetit. * Much of the flavor of fresh morels is in the hymenium, or spore-bearing surface. When you rinse the mushroom, you wash away the taste. ** If the mushrooms are somewhat dry, you can add a little water and cover the pan for part of the cooking time. If they are particularly moist, you may wish to cook them longer (uncovered) to drive off excess water. *** There are thousands of other methods for cooking and serving morels (including the morel polenta I made for dinner last night), none of which are worth the time and bother.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oh, Leslie...

My friend Leslie and I have known each other since collaborating on the aptly named "World's Worst Comics" in the seventh grade, but this is the first time we've hunted mushrooms together.  Leslie scored three pounds of morels!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reading? Writing? Nah, it's time for morels!

I'll have some news about upcoming books soon, but not this week. Late May is all about the 'shrooms. Here's a shot of my latest morel hunting companions, Tucker and Jack, with their harvest.

Monday, May 12, 2008

...and when I got home...

...I discovered these delicate beauties on the windowsill keeping company with one of my tomato seedlings. My first photographically recorded mushroom of 2008. Coprinus ephemeroides (I think)

May Travels

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting both Michigan (60 degrees and raining) and south Texas (100 degrees and sunny). On Wednesday, the Michigan Library Association gave me the Thumbs Up Award (best YA novel) for Rash, after which there was karaoke. I always knew that YA librarians rock, but I had no idea they rocked so long and so hard. It was way cool. And instead of the usual plaque, I got a quilt made by hard-rockin punk diva Anne Heidemann, who performed a fabulous rendition of Blondie's "Call Me." Here's the quilt--front and back.
From there I went on to visit Weslaco, Texas, way down by Brownsville, just ten minutes from the border. I expected a sleepy little border town with two dogs and lots of tumbleweed, but what I got was a thriving, sprawling community with two large high schools, several thousand dogs, and no tumbleweed at all. It was a great visit--lots of smart, well-read students and super-librarian Renee Dyer. Here's a here's a photo she took of me and the book club. And now, with my spring travel schedule complete, the next three months will be devoted to finshing a new novel, hunting mushrooms, and serious indolence.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Too Many Books, Too Much Snow

There is an essay in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review worth checking out. It's about the self-publishing industry. It seems that about 400,000 new titles were published or distributed in the U.S. last year, many of them self-published. The average self-published work, according to iUniverse, sells fewer than 200 copies. I have met hundreds of authors who have self-published. A tiny handful--Vince Flynn and Steve Thayer being two examples--have parlayed their effort into successful careers. The rest have basements and garages and car trunks full of unsold books. I guess it like anything else--you takes your chances. We woke up in Minneapolis this morning to winter all over again. April 26, the ground is covered with snow, it's still snowing and blowing and it's freaking cold! A hundred or so miles north of us they are looking at 4-8 inches, with blizzard conditions. If you have never experienced blizzard conditions, it's like this: You walk out to your mailbox and never return. Those who know me well know that I am an avid mushroom hunter. I've been picking, identifying, and eating wild mushrooms since 1972, when I stumbled across a patch of Morchella esculenta. So extraterrestrial-looking; so delicious! Around this time of year I get pretty wound up--the morels will be back in a couple of weeks, to be followed by many other delectable species. I've been reading mushroom books (a.k.a. "fungiporn") at night, and I'm looking forward to the MMS (Minnesota Mycological Society) meeting on Monday. I mention this now because it is so depressing to see all this snow on the ground, I just have to remind myself that buried beneath it are quadrillions of miles of mycelia poised to send forth their fungilicious fruits. Stay tuned: There will be pictures.

Friday, April 18, 2008

An old post revisited...

Books Are Dangerous! About a year ago, as I was participating in an “author panel” a member of the audience asked a question about censorship—both about the extent to which we authors self-censor our work, and about how librarians can and should deal with censorship and/or book challenges from parents and school administrators. I can’t remember the precise phrasing of the question, but I do remember that one of the other authors on the panel responded by vigorously defending her work, asserting that her books would never encourage self-destructive behavior in their teen readers. I’ve heard that before. The argument usually goes something like this: Questioner: "Do you ever worry that your book about teens sticking needles in their eyeballs might cause some kids to indulge in self-destructive behaviors?" Author response: "Absolutely not! My book is a realistic account of eyeball-stabbing, and it makes perfectly clear that such behavior can only lead to misery and blindness. I cannot imagine any teen reading my book, Needle of the Eye, and wanting to pierce her tender young corneas!" The implication here goes like this: "Banning a truly dangerous book might be acceptable, but my books are safe as a padded placebo!" Let me state here and now that I am opposed to censorship, book-banning, book-burning, and author-lynching. Most authors, including myself, admit the possibility that inappropriate teen books might exist somewhere, but we like to insist that our own books are entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, to claim that books describing dangerous behavior never encourage such behavior is self-serving crap. Books are powerful. Books are dangerous. Teens (and others) read things in books that may sometimes cause them to do things they would not otherwise have done. If books could not affect the behavior of readers, no one would bother to write them. And any author who believes that his or her book will encourage only intended behaviors is operating under a delusion. It is no more credible than for a shotgun manufacturer to claim that his products will be used only for hunting ducks. Once the gun is in the hands of consumers, anything can—and probably will—happen. I wrote a novel in 2004 called Godless. In that book, a group of teens climbs a water tower. I make it quite clear in the book that climbing a water tower can lead to injury, death, punishment, or all three. I also mention that the view from the top of the tower is spectacular. Will some teen somewhere read my book and decide to climb a water tower and check out the view? It would not surprise me in the least.
UPDATE 10/21/08 -- I just ran across a blog that demonstrates this precise behavior. Yikes! Might one such teen die as a result of his misadventure? It is entirely possible. In another book, No Limit, I tell the story of a teen who discovers in himself a talent for high-stakes poker. In that book, I describe the dangers—and the attractions—of gambling. Will No Limit cause some kid to start playing poker, and go on to develop a life-destroying gambling addiction? It is not only possible, it is likely. Will it cause some other teen to think twice about wagering his money in a poker game? I hope so! Several months ago I was talking with a group of teens, and asked what it is they look for in a book. One girl said, "I’m, like, fourteen, and my life is really boring. I want to read about a girl just like me who goes out and, you know, steals a car or something." That’s one of the reasons we read books. We want to know what it’s like to do things we would "never" do. We want to read about climbing Mount Everest, robbing a bank, killing a dragon, having passionate sex with a forbidden partner, capturing Osama Bin Laden, eating magic mushrooms, ruling the world, playing professional football, living on Mars, or facing down a charging rhinoceros. Most readers—nearly all, in fact—are able to read about such ill-advised adventurers and risk-takers without being tempted to emulate them. But there will always be a few fools who opt to try some of the crazy stuff they read about in books. Some of them will get hurt. Some of them will die. And that’s okay. We don’t stop manufacturing automobiles because people die in traffic accidents. We don’t stop having children because women die in childbirth. We don’t prevent people from swimming, boating, or bathing, even though some of them will drown. As a species, we are engaged in a constant game of risk management. That many activities entail the risk of injury or death does not necessarily make them unacceptable. Reading books is one such risky activity. You take your chances. To assert that a particular book can do no harm is akin to promising that a knife will not cut. Books are dangerous. They should be. Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A few things...

Book news: On April 10 (today!), Doppelganger, the third Bloodwater Mystery, will be published. When a perfect double of Brian turns up missing, Roni and Brian tackle the mystery of where Brian really came from, and how he ended up living in Bloodwater, Minnesota. I’ve been writing a lot this past year, and 2009 will see the publication of at least one, and possibly two new novels. The one I finished most recently is called How To Steal a Car. It’s about, uh, stealing cars, and will come with a free “How to Hotwire a Honda” DVD. Just kidding about the DVD. But the book is real. Also in the works: a romantic comedy, an SSF trilogy tentatively titled The Klathu Diskos, and a non-SSF trilogy that has a title so cool I am afraid to share it. Mary Logue news: Mary’s mystery novel Maiden Rock is a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in the Genre Fiction category. We will both be at the awards ceremony on April 12th with fingers crossed. Dog news: Jacque (The Terminator) is much better, thank you. He is back to chasing squirrels and bouncing off the furniture after his near-death experience with Addison’s Disease. Movie News: Several of my books are currently under option to writers, directors, or producers. I mostly don’t talk about it, because making a book into a film is an iffy business, and most of these options stall out for one reason or another, but in the case of the Godless film project, I feel there is a very good chance it will happen. If the Ten-Legged One so wills. I should know more by summer. Family news: My brother Joe won the Federal Duck Stamp contest for the third time!!! If you don’t know how incredibly cool that is, go here.