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Results 7,951 - 7,975 of 235,185
7951. Charlie


This is Charlie. This is Charlie's first year at a new school. One of his biggest concerns coming into a new school? Will there be author visits? Seriously, it's the first thing he asked the headmaster about—it was a big concern for him. In Charlie's first month of the first year at his new school there was an author visit. I was lucky enough to be that author. And lucky too that Charlie has grown up reading every single one of my books. Charlie was selected to present me with a gift at the end of the presentation, and he was fanatical. He also came to my book signing this evening to get some books signed. I'm so happy to have met this guy, and I know that nothing but big things await him. (He has already been elected to school council.) I feel very grateful for Charlie and readers like him.

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7952. Setting

Three tips to make your setting an important part of your story.

http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com/2015/07/three-tips-for-killer-setting-by-tracy.html

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7953. 2015 Decatur Book Festival

This past weekend, I got the chance to attend the Decatur Book Festival.

At first I was going to take copious notes of the author panels so I could give a summary of the total goodness that happened but then I just got caught up and just couldn’t keep up with all the fabulous that I was hearing and seeing.

So instead I will share with you the books from the authors I met and who were featured at this year’s festival. So much book love! These authors were so gracious. I didn’t get all my books signed but hopefully my paths will cross with them in the future.

You may find some good book recommendations to include in your To-Be-Read (TBR) list.

dbf2015_3

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

dbf2015_1

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Simon vs. The Home Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaiporta and Dhonielle Clayton
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

dbf2015_2

The Living by Matt De La Pena
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

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7954. Early Morning Interview



This is what I sound like at 5 a.m. without coffee. Thankfully I was coherent—that was the only time that worked with Monte's and my conflicting schedules to record this radio interview!


I hope to see you at The Eric Carle Museum on Saturday—and please bring books to donate to Reader to Reader!


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7955. Giveaway For Teachers and Librarians

In honor of wonderful educators everywhere, Islandport Press and I are running a  special contest for teachers and librarians!

For as long as I can remember, teachers and librarians have played a major role in my life by encouraging, nurturing, and gently pushing me out of my comfort zone to try new things. From my hometown librarian who recommended Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, to the sixth grade teacher who built a library of our stories and made us feel published, to a high school English teacher who encouraged me to proudly belt out a Bye Bye Birdie song on stage (even though I couldn’t sing a note to save my life), and so many more, these teachers and librarians will always be close to my heart.

In the past few years, I’ve met many more educators that I admire, some on-line and others in person at conferences and book signings for Cooper and Packrat. Also, as a teacher assistant at Whittier Middle School, I work with some brilliant educators and I’m learning so much. Times may have changed in the last *ahem* 35ish years, what with technology and all, but teachers and librarians haven’t. They still give daily to their classrooms and communities; monetarily, personally, and most of all, from the heart – seeing their students as people, not just a job.

In honor of all the educators from my past and present who give so freely, and with the help of my publisher Islandport Press, we’re giving away a Cooper and Packrat Package: a classroom set of 20 Mystery on Pine Lake paperbacks, a hardcover copy, and a half-hour Skype visit.

Cooper and Packrat cover

Entering the contest is simple, teachers and librarians only need leave a comment on this blog post, telling their name, school, and favorite wildlife encounter. Let Islandport and I know that you’ve spread the word about the contest on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll enter your name twice.

Not an educator? Please tell your favorite teacher or librarian about it!

The deadline to enter is midnight, September 17th. I’ll ask one of my little campers to draw a name on the 18th , the release day for Cooper and Packrat’s first paperback, Mystery on Pine Lake!

 Thank you educators, for all you do! Islandport Press and I know firsthand, that kids everywhere appreciate you more than you know.

Edited to make one little change:  The students in Shannon Shanning’s and my classroom, are very intrigued and excited by the paperback edition of Mystery on Pine Lake.  So I’ve asked them to take part in this Giveaway by pulling the winning name for this contest!  Look for a blog post tomorrow, highlighting the winner!

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7956. Krosoczka!

Quick! Say "Krosoczka" thirty times fast! 
(Bonus points if you know the book based on what you can see of the book spines...)

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7957. One Stop Adventures: Learning To Collaborate As A Team

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-25-smallIt is hard to believe, but One Stop For Writers is only a month away from release! As such, I thought I’d tackle the team aspect of getting a giant project off the ground, seeing as we had a great post recently on how authors can collaborate on writing a novel. Many of the same factors are at work, regardless of the project.

Understanding and respecting each person’s skill set, communication style and expertise is really critical for working together, because no one person can do it all when it comes to a big project. (Or if they can, quality and efficiency is sacrificed.) So for us, we needed to suss out who was good at what, and learn to trust judgement, let go of ownership, and support one another as we all took on different roles.

COMMUNICATION

Becca and I already work together well, which is a real blessing. But it also created some challenges, because we are used to communicating and doing things a certain way. When you add a third to the mix, some of these methods and styles don’t fit, and so a person has to be willing to adapt. Case in point: Becca and I communicate a lot, discussing everything upfront so we problem solve and make sure we’re on the same page. However, too much communication creates a lot of extra reading for Lee, who is task-focused. So we needed to learn how to be more economical so we didn’t drown him in email.

LEARNING FLEXIBILITY

flexibiltyBecause Becca and I plan extensively, once we decide on a path, we usually stick to it. This has worked very well with our books and joint business planning, but with software, we quickly saw adaptability is just as important, especially when you are working with a creative-focused developer. Lee would come up with functionality ideas that would trigger more content ideas from us, and we would have to adjust the plan. This led to some great new implementations.

However it created the challenge of sticking to our timeline and core tasks. Eventually we had to turn off the idea tap and stick to what we had in the works, saving other ideas for later updates. As a result, we also had to push out our timeline (a good thing, as the first one was far too optimistic, and impossible to meet).

BATTLE PLANS: ASSIGNING GENERALS

Dividing and conquering became ultra important. Lee, naturally, took on everything technical, both from a software build perspective as well as a technical operations standpoint. He researched and set up our commerce system, interfaced with the site designer and set up the communication system within One Stop. He also is working with the beta testers to test and fix everything that comes up, another huge part of any software build. (And speaking of, thank you beta testers–we love you so much!)

Becca (bless her) took on the business end of things, namely getting all the paperwork in order to form a new company where the parties all lived in different countries (not easy!), working with a lawyer to create contracts and file for trademarks, she set up bank accounts, and handles our accounting. All this in addition to creating new entries, adapting and formatting old ones, and doing the final pass editing for the site (a HUGE job).

I focused on new content generation, building most of the tools and generators, helped to expand old content and write page content, create auto communications, and handled anything marketing and promotion that wasn’t technical in nature, including building and managing social media platforms, newsletters, launch planning and crowd sourcing.

WORKING TOGETHER ON A SCHEDULE

timezoneWe filled in to help one another as well so we could meet individual deadlines or assist during busier times. Becca took on managing the explainer video we’re having built, and Lee is taking on the tutorial video, two very important pieces of the puzzle. And we all collaborated to get our branding in place.

One of the big challenges for our collaboration is time zones. Becca (in Florida USA), is two hours ahead of me (in Alberta, Canada) which isn’t too bad, but Lee (in Sydney, Australia) is a whopping sixteen hours ahead. When we needed to all discuss something using Skype, we only had a small window to do so. Sometimes decisions and feedback would suffer delays. Becca and I both tried to adjust our working hours a bit to include evenings so we could work though things in real time with Lee.

FINDING A HUB: HAVE YOU HEARD OF FREEDCAMP?

freedcampLuckily as well, Lee set us up with a site called Freedcamp, which became our hub for communication, file sharing and collaboration. It’s a great site for projects like these, allowing for you to set milestones and tasks with due dates assigned to specific people. I highly recommend it if you need a home base for group projects!

All in all, I am thrilled at how well we work together. Our personality traits seem to bring out the best in each other, and create a check and balance system. Once again, I feel like the universe seems to be on our side, and the synergy between Lee, Becca and I makes us all very excited for whatever the future holds.

If you have any questions about how to collaborate with your own team, I am happy to answer them!

Image #2: 742680 @ Pixabay
Image #3 Geralt @ Pixabay

The post One Stop Adventures: Learning To Collaborate As A Team appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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7958. The Balance

If days were never cloudy
We would cherish not the sun,
For it’s only in the balance
We appreciate each one.

So in life, we take this lesson,
Since the very same applies;
Without sorrow in the mix, true joy
We would not recognize.

After days and days of sunshine,
There’s relief to see the rain,
Though we don’t feel quite so welcoming
When joy gives way to pain.

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7959. Book Donations

Our daughters will be walking into their new classrooms with totes filled with books to donate to their teachers. We picked these up at indie bookshops during summer travels. (Except for that balloon one—that was a free author copy.)

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7960. Back to School Books!

New Krosoczka family tradition! Kids take a photo with their favorite book to commemorate the first day of school.


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7961. The Blue Bunny

Always a warm welcome at The Blue Bunny, Books and Toys! Thank you so much for having me!
And Happy Book Birthday to Peter H. Reynolds! I Am Yoga is also out today. Perhaps one could meditate after losing a balloon?


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7962. Mark Lynch and I Talk Comics!


As a kid, I took many classes in comics and animation taught by Mark Lynch at the Worcester Art Museum. Those classes were CRITICAL to my development as an artist (and a person). In those comics classes we created comic book anthologies based around a theme. Mark shepherded us all along, taught us how to work under deadline—and how to work with other artists. He even placed the printed anthologies at the local comic book shop, That's Entertainment in Worcester. 
Mark has also had me on his radio show every single year since I was first published in 2001.
Imagine how excited I was to bring him the second Comics Squad anthology with SNOOPY!
Listen to two old friends talk comics, lost balloons and platypuses here: 
(And listen for my impossibly shy wife, Gina, who was in the room.)

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7963. National Book Fest!

Maria Simon runs the public library in Bowling Green, OH. This past summer, she kicked off her summer reading program with me and ended it with Kate DiCamillo. At the ‪#‎NatBookFest15‬ we all ended up in the same place for a brief moment!


Kwame. 💥🏆💥 ‪#‎natbookfest15‬

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7964. MaxAndBella, Rufflife Mascots play Head Baskets

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7965. National Book Festival

I don't know how or why, but this big ol' room filled with people who wanted to hear me talk. THANK YOU ‪#‎NatBookFest15‬ for a fantastic time!


I am simply flabbergasted by all the love and enthusiasm at ‪#‎NatBookFest15‬. Thank you for letting me scribble in your books!

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7966. My Next Novel: My Sister Rosa

My next novel, My Sister Rosa, will be out from Allen & Unwin in February 2016 in Australia and New Zealand and from Soho Teen in North America in November 2016.

Here’s what the Allen & Unwin cover looks like:

MySisterRosaCover

Pretty creepy eh? What is she going to do to that poor wee little sparrow?

My Sister Rosa is not a cheerful tale of a happy family. Nope it’s a novel of misery and woe told from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old boy whose ten-year-old sister, Rosa, is a psychopath.

It’s up to Che to protect Rosa from the world; and the world from Rosa.

[Cue ominous music.]

My Sister Rosa is my take on the bad seed narrative, which I’ve always been fascinated by. Creepy children? What’s not to love? Research for this book consisted of reading as many bad seed novels as I could. Including, of course, William March’sThe Bad Seed. I also read many books on psychopathy and, following a suggestion from Lili Wilkinson, books on empathy because you can’t understand psychopaths without understanding what they lack: empathy.

All that research has left me seeing psychopaths everywhere. The world is even scarier than I thought. Get my book when it comes out and you’ll be seeing psychopaths everywhere too. You’re welcome.

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7967. Old Friends


Here's MY back-to-school photo. I had my first school visit of the new school year today, and it was with an old friend, Ms. Caroline Goddard. I knew I was visiting her new school, but I didn't know her new role. 
"Are you the reading specialist? The librarian?" I asked. 
"No, I'm the principal!"
How amazing is that?! 
And this former reading teacher worked it out that every single student received a free book! (And yes, I signed all 650+ books!)
I pointed out to Caroline that we have known each other for longer than any of her students have existed.
Also—how appropriate that the mascot at Ms. Goddard's school is a rocket?!
(When you grow up in Worcester, MA like I did, you learn a lot about Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry. His childhood home was five house up from the house I grew up in.)

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7968.

Awesome conversation via Skype about The Book of Nonsense with the teen book club 
@ Sevier County Public Library in Tennessee!


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7969. Library of Congress Shenanigans

Dan Santat, Michael Buckley, Cale Atkinson and I got kicked out of the Reading Room in the Library of Congress. (But that's only because we got there at 9:56 and they closed at 10.)




Dan Santat and I eat breakfast and we watch author/illustrator husband/wife duo Cale Atkinson and Jessika Von order breakfast. 


Dan Santat and I eat breakfast and Dan Santat and I watch author/illustrator husband/wife duo Cale Atkinson and Jessika Von order breakfast. 
Posted by Jarrett J. Krosoczka on Saturday, September 5, 2015



Dan Santat and I watch author/illustrator husband/wife duo Cale Atkinson and Jessika Von order breakfast.
Posted by Jarrett J. Krosoczka on Saturday, September 5, 2015

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7970. Terry Pratchett's The Shepherd 's Crown review (link)

This is an excellent review of The Shepherd's Crown from Tor.com: Review

It made me appreciate it more.

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7971. Love Letters to Literature #2

Contributed by Alison Hong

 

To Lucy Maud Montgomery, 

 

I read it somewhere that you can never forget your first book. 

 

Well, I'm sure that my first book was about a cat in a hat and some wild adventures it had. It wasn't memorable (sorry, Dr. Seuss). But Anne of Green Gables is the first book that touched my heart. That book, which is published in 1908, may be old and seemingly ancient, but it remains part of my heart ever since I read it when I was eight, nine years old. The book has captivated me from the very start. Anne's voice and quirkiness has bonked me upon the head, grabbed my attention, stole my heart. The book you'd created and written, the world you'd made, and the characters who you gave heart to are now part of my soul. I've never been to Prince Edward Island, but through Anne and also, you, I can imagine it right before my eyes as I read through the fading text of my old paperback copy. 

 

You inspired me a lot. 

 

Every time I read Anne of Green Gables, I meet Diana Barry, listen to the world through Anne's thoughts, smile at the Cuthbert's slow acceptance of Anne (in the case of Marilla; Matthew, on the other hand, loves Anne from the very beginning), and most epically, fall in love with Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert Blythe, I must note, is my first literary crush I ever had. 

 

 

*wipes tears from eyes* 

 

Why do I love your book so much? 

 

*takes deep breath*

 

1. Gilbert Blythe. 'Nuff said. 

 

2. Family/relationships. Before the start of the first book, Anne had always been moving from one place to another. When an orphan finds her home in the Cuthberts' hearts, she becomes part of their family. Matthew and Marilla love Anne, giving their home and their hearts and their love to her without second thought. (I must note that Marilla's heart has some thick ice around it, but it eventually thaws.) The friendship shared between Diana and Anne becomes one of my favorites. Their adventures make me smile, their connection is amazing, and their mistakes and errors force me to pound my head on the table in sheer agony. But I love the duo anyway. No matter what stupid decision they make. 

 

3. Anne. Even though the two of us have much different backgrounds (Anne's parents are dead and she has grown up in the 1908; my parents are alive and I consider myself a modern girl of the 21st century), I find common ground with this girl. She's intriguing, lively, and dramatic. She has an old and young soul, and she has a wild imagination (like me). She is a child at heart, and she goes through things I've been through too. Teasing from peers? Check. People not understanding? Check. One friend who truly cares about her and doesn't care how weird she is sometimes? Check. Anne is a remarkable character, whose voice lives on in the readers' hearts and souls. 

 

4. The story. Reading about Anne growing up is an exciting experience. We see her as a young, naive girl, who has her head stuck in a book and her eyes in daydreams. She grows up. She meets new people. She makes friends. She faces off her competitors (hello, Gilbert). She has her pride, and when she matures, the magic happens. No matter how many years has passed since 1908, the story is familiar and will always stick with the readers. Times and circumstances may evolve and press forward, leaving the old traditions in the dust. But humans... They stay the same. They - we - never change. Anne of Green Gables can withstand the test of time and hit a chord in any reader of any age and place - whether male or female. 

 

5. Because Anne of Green Gables is what got me into reading. Which is the greatest gift I could ever receive.  

 

So, Ms. Montgomery, here is what I have to say to you, your work, and its sequels. Thank you for writing them. Thank you for creating a beautiful world and bringing attention to Prince Edward Island. Thank you for Anne Shirley. Thank you for Gilbert Blythe. Thank you so much for crafting this story. Like all stories, this one takes sweat, blood, and tears to be born. Thank you. Thank you. 

 

Love,

Alison H. 

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_alison-h.jpg

 

Alison Hong. I'm in advanced placement. (Yes, that is a Supernatural reference. Kevin Tran, you are a sweet darling who doesn't deserve what he got.) I've been reading books since I could read. I've been reviewing books since 2013. My favorite books include THE LIGHTNING THIEF, CINDER, GRAVE MERCY, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, UPROOTED, and a ton of more books. See you around: Goodreads Blog Tumblr


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7972. 9/11/01

Every year teachers let me know that the post below about my experience living in Manhattan a few dozen blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11 has become part of their classroom curriculum, so I continue to post it annually.

Recent studies, however, have shown that many classrooms don’t teach about 9/11 at all, due to the fact that it’s “too controversial and emotional,” and that it also isn’t a subject covered in text books and on standardized tests, so time constraints forbid it.

That’s totally understandable!

Something I worry about, however, is my grandfather. He was a church-going, golf-playing dog lover who also happened to have fought in World War II. He came home from Europe–where he served under General Eisenhower–with a Purple Heart. He never spoke to me about what happened to him over there, but he did open up to my husband about it, and the stories he told were totally horrifying.

So now when I overhear people insisting that the atrocities that occurred during WWII were exaggerated or didn’t really happen, I get angry. Are they calling my grandfather a liar?

This is why it’s so important that we preserve and teach history–all history, even the “controversial and emotional” kind–so that future generations won’t forget, repeat, or deny it ever happened.

But I think it’s equally important to tell others about the acts of bravery and heroism we saw in the face of great tragedy, so that future generations will be inspired to act similarly when faced by similar horrors.

So if you have a few extra minutes in your day, please read on.

And if you think what you read is important, please share it with a friend. There’s tragedy in the personal story I’ve written below, but there’s also plenty of inspirational heroism, too, I promise, starting with this, the boat lift on 9/11 that helped rescue some of my husband’s co-workers:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/01 started out as one of those super nice fall days where the sky was cloudlessly blue and it was just warm enough, but not hot. My LA friends call that “earthquake weather.”

So we probably should have known something awful was going to happen, but most of us didn’t.

My husband had woken up early to go jogging before leaving for work at his job as a financial writer at One Liberty Plaza, which was across the street from the World Trade Center.

He has never been jogging again.

Not being a morning person, I was still asleep in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue, a few dozen blocks from the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. Our windows were closed and the air conditioning was on. I didn’t hear a thing until my friend Jen called.

Jen: “Look out your window.”

That is when I saw the smoke for the first time.

Me: “What’s happening?”

Jen: “They’re saying a plane hit the Trade Center.”

Me: “But how could the pilot not see it?”

Jen: “I don’t know. Isn’t that near where your husband works?”

It was. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the World Trade Center. The black smoke billowing from it had to be going right into my husband’s busy investment office on the 60th or so floor.

“I better call him to see if he’s okay,” I said, and hung up to do so.

There was no answer at my husband’s office, however, which was crazy, because over a hundred people worked there.

Were they all right? I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through to anyone anywhere. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from either of my phones that day. For some reason, people could call me, but I couldn’t call anyone else.

It turned out this was due to the massive volume of calls going on in my part of the city that day, both on cell and land lines.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse directly across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse, but it was always bustling with activity. All the young, handsome guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days like the one on 9/11, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, with my doormen, with the neighborhood kids. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.The firemen, in turn, always had treats for the old ladies’ dogs.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were hurrying to the fire downtown, throwing on their gear and urgently blaring the horn on their truck.

Every last one of those young, brave boys would be dead in exactly one hour. Their truck would be crushed beyond recognition. That firehouse would sit empty and draped in black bunting for months. No one would be able to look at it without crying.

Of course none of us knew it then.

I turned on New York 1, the local news channel for New York City. Pat Kiernan, my favorite newscaster, was saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Weird, I thought. Was the pilot drunk? How could someone not see a building that big, and run into it with a plane?

It was right then that Luz, my housekeeper, showed up. I’d forgotten it was Tuesday, the day she comes to clean. When she saw what I was watching, she looked worried.

“I just dropped my son off at his college,” she said. “It’s right next to the World Trade Center.”

“My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center,” I said.

“Is he all right?” Luz wanted to know. “What’s happening down there?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t reach him.”

Luz tried to call her son on his cell phone. She, too, could not get through.

We didn’t know then that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working due to the intensity of the flames shooting up the building.

We both stood there staring at the TV, not really knowing what to do. It was as we were watching that something weird happened on the TV, right before our eyes:

The OTHER tower at the World Trade Center — the one that hadn’t been hit — suddenly exploded.

I thought maybe one of the helicopters that was filming the disaster had gotten too close.

But Luz said, “No. A plane hit it. I saw it. That was a plane.”

I hadn’t seen a plane. I said, “No. How could that be? There can’t be TWO drunk pilots.”

“You don’t understand,” Luz said. “They’re doing this on purpose.”

“No,” I said. “Of course they aren’t. Who would do that?”

That’s when Pat Kiernan, on the TV, said, “Oh, my God.”

It’s weird to hear a newscaster say, “Oh, my God.” Especially Pat. He is always very professional.

Also, Pat’s voice cracked when he said it. Like he was about to cry.

But newscasters don’t cry.

“Another plane has hit the World Trade Center,” Pat said. “It looks as if another plane — a commercial jet — has hit the World Trade Center. And we are getting reports that a plane has just hit the Pentagon.”

That’s when I grabbed Luz. And Luz grabbed me. We both started to cry. We sat on the couch in my living room, hugging each other, and crying as we watched what was happening on TV, which was what was happening a dozen blocks from where we sat, where both the people we loved were.

We could see things flying out of the burning buildings. Pat said that those things were people. People were choosing to jump from their offices in the World Trade Center rather than burn to death. They couldn’t escape the flames, and rescuers couldn’t reach them.

But their offices were sixty to ninety floors from the ground. Some of them were holding hands with their colleagues as they jumped. Many of them were women. You could tell by the way their skirts ballooned out behind them as they raced towards the pavement below.

Luz and I sobbed. We didn’t want to watch, but we couldn’t stop. This was happening in our city, just down the street, to people we saw every day. Who would do this? Who would do something like this to New Yorkers?

That’s when my phone rang. I grabbed it, but it wasn’t my husband. It was his mother. Where was he? she wanted to know. Was he all right?

I said I didn’t know. I said I was trying to keep the line clear, in case he called. She said she understood but to call her as soon as I heard anything, and hung up.

Then the phone rang again. It was my husband’s sister-in-law. Then it rang again. It was MY mother.

The phone rang all morning. It was never my husband. It was always family or friends, wondering if he was all right.

“I don’t know,” I kept telling them. “I don’t know.”

Luz went up to the roof of my building to see if she could see anything more from there than what they were showing on New York 1. While she was gone, I went into my bedroom to get dressed (I was still wearing my pajamas).

All I could think, as I looked into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, was that my husband was probably dead. I didn’t see how anybody could be down in that part of Manhattan and still be alive. All I could see were things falling —and people jumping — out of those buildings. Anyone on the streets down below would have to be killed by all of that. The jumping people couldn’t choose where they landed.

I remember exactly what I put on that day: olive green capris and a black T-shirt, with my black Steve Madden slides. I remember thinking, “This will be my Identifying My Dead Husband’s Body outfit. I will never, ever wear it again after this day.”

I knew this because when I worked at the dorm at NYU, we had quite a few students kill themselves, in various ways. Every time a body was discovered, it was so horrible. All the first responders involved in the discovery could never wear the same clothes we wore that day again, because of the memory.

Luz came back down from the roof, very excited. No, she hadn’t seen if the buildings in which my husband and her son were in were all right. But she’d seen thousands — THOUSANDS — of people coming down 4th Avenue, the busy street I lived on at the time. 4th Avenue is always heavily trafficked with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, and scooters.

Not today. Today all the cars and buses were gone, and the entire avenue was crowded with people.

“Walking,” Luz said. “They’re WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.”

I ran to look out the window. Luz was right. Instead of the constant stream of cars I’d gotten used to seeing outside our living room window, I saw wall to wall people. They had taken over the street. They were coming from the Battery, where the Trade Center is located, shoulder to shoulder, ten deep in the middle of the road, like a parade or a rally. There were tens of thousands of them.

There were men in business suits, and some in khakis. There were women in skirts and dresses, walking barefoot or in shredded pantyhose, holding their shoes because their high heels hurt too much and they hadn’t had time to grab their commuter running shoes. I saw the ladies who worked in the manicure shop across the street from my building running outside with the flip flops they put on their customers’ feet when they’ve had a pedicure (the flip flops the staff always make sure they get back before you leave).

But today, the staff was giving the flip flops to the women who were barefoot. They were giving away the flip flops.

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

The manicurists weren’t the only ones trying to help. The men who worked in the deli on the corner were running outside with bottles of water to give to the hot, thirsty marchers. New York City deli owners, GIVING water away. Usually they charged $2.

It was like the world had turned upside down.

“They have to be in there,” Luz said, about her son and my husband, pointing to the crowd. “They’re walking with them, and that’s what’s taking them so long to get here.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. But I wasn’t sure I shared her faith.

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, to ask if anyone might have seen him.

I was afraid to leave my apartment, though, because I thought my husband might try to call. Not knowing what else to do, I logged onto the computer. My email was still working, even if the phones weren’t. I emailed my husband: WHERE ARE YOU?

No reply.

A friend from Indiana had emailed to ask if there was anything she could do. At the time, the only thing I could think of was, Give blood.

My friend, and everyone she knew, gave blood that day. So many people gave blood that there were lines around the corner to give it.

After a month, a lot of that surplus blood had to be destroyed, because they didn’t have room to store it all. And there turned out to be no use for it, anyway. There were few survivors to give blood to.

My friend Jen, the one who’d woken me up, e’d me from her job at NYU. Fred (out of respect for their desire for anonymity, I have changed the names of some people in this piece), then one of Jen’s employees, and also a volunteer EMT, had jumped on his bike and headed downtown to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Jen herself was organizing a massive effort to set up shelter for students who didn’t live on campus, since the subways and commuter trains had stopped running, and the kids who commuted to school had no way of getting home that night. Jen was trying to arrange for cots to be set up in the gym for them.

She ended up staying in the city too that night. She had no way to get back to her house in Connecticut.

Another co-worker from NYU, my friend Jack, did manage to reach his spouse, who worked in the Trade Center, that day. Jack used to train the RAs. He would ask me to “interrupt” his training with a fake administrative temper tantrum — “Why are you in this room?” I would demand. “You never reserved it!”— and then he and I would “fight” about it, and then after I left Jack would ask the RAs what would have been a better way to handle the situation . . . and by the way, did any of them remember what I was wearing? After they’d tell him, he’d have me come back into the room, and point out that every single of them was wrong about what I’d had on. This was to show how unreliable witness testimony can be.

Jack’s wife had just walked eighty floors down one of the Towers to reach the ground safely since the elevators weren’t working due to the flames, only to realize the guys in her IT department were still up there, backing up data for the company. Once she reached the ground, and saw how bad things really were, she tried calling them to tell them to forget backing up and just COME DOWN, but of course she couldn’t get hold of them because no phones were working.

So she went back up to MAKE THEM come down, because who doesn’t love their IT guys?

“Why did you go back up?” Jack asked her, when he finally reached her. By that time she, along with the IT guys, had become trapped in the fire and smoke, and couldn’t make their way down again.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.

Of course it did. She was married to Jack. Jack would have done the same thing. She told Jack to say good bye to their twins toddlers for her. That was the last time they spoke.

I can never think of this, or of Jack’s happy, cheerful greeting every time I saw him, or the stunned looks on the RAs faces when they realized we’d pulled one over on them, without wanting to cry. It seems so unfair that those twins have had to grow up not knowing their mother. And for what reason?

Another friend, a pilot who had access to air traffic control radar, e’d me to say all the planes in the U.S. were being grounded — that what had happened had been the result of highjackings. That it was a commercial jet that had hit the Pentagon, where my friend’s father-in-law worked (they eventually found him, safe and sound. He’d been stuck in traffic on his way to the Pentagon when the plane hit. Many people that day were rewarded for tardiness).

But another friend – a girl I’d worked with when I’d been a receptionist in my husband’s office, a girl whom I’d helped pick out a wedding dress, and who, since the big day, had quit her job to raise the four kids she’d had – wasn’t so lucky. She never saw her husband, who worked at the Trade Center, again.

Then, behind me, I heard Pat Kiernan on the TV say, “Oh, my God,” again.

And this time he really WAS crying. Because one of the towers was collapsing.

I watched, not believing my eyes. Since having moved to New York City in 1989, I had become accustomed to using the Twin Towers as my own personal compass point for the direction “South,” since they’re on the southern tip of the island, and visible from dozens of blocks away. Wherever you were in the maze of streets that made up the Village, all you had to do to orient yourself was find the Twin Towers, and you knew which direction to go.

(If you ever watched closely during the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can see the towers beneath the Washington Square arch in the scene where Sally drops Harry off when they first arrive in New York.)

And now one of those towers was coming down.

I don’t remember anything else about that moment except that, as I watched the TV in horror, the front door to my apartment opened, and, assuming it was Luz back from the street, I turned to tell her, “It’s falling down! It’s FALLING DOWN!”

Only it wasn’t Luz. It was my husband.

He said, “What’s falling down? Why are you crying?”

Because HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Because my husband, being my husband, had picked up his briefcase after the first plane hit and said, “Let’s go,” to everyone in his department, took the elevators downstairs, and insisted everyone start walking for our apartment, because it was the closest place to where they were that seemed unlikely to be hit by an airplane.

(He told me later he’d worried they were going to try for the Stock Exchange, or the federal buildings you always see on Law and Order, and so had made everyone take small side streets home around those buildings, which is why it took them so long to get there).

They had to dodge the bodies of the people who jumped from the burning towers because they couldn’t stand the heat anymore. They saw the desk chairs and PCs that had been blown out of the offices so high above littering the street like tickertape from a parade. They saw the second plane hit while they were on the street, and ducked into a cell phone store until the rubble from the explosion settled. A piece of plane, nearly twenty feet long, flew past them, and landed in a parking lot, just missing Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in this country.

And they kept walking.

I don’t know what people normally do when someone they love, who they were convinced was dead, suddenly walks through the door. All I know is how I reacted: I flung my arms around him. And then I started yelling, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”

“I tried, I couldn’t get through,” he said. “What’s falling down?”

Because they had no idea. All they knew was that the city was under attack (which they had surmised by all the airplanes).

So my husband and his colleagues gathered in our living room—hot, thirsty, but alive, the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home. Eventually, that night, they managed to catch boat rides – see the film above.

Meanwhile, Luz, not wanting to go home until she’d heard from her son, who was supposed to meet her after class in my building, cleaned.

I told her not to, but she said it helped keep her mind off what was happening.

So she vacuumed, while eleven people sat in my two room apartment and watched the Twin Towers fall.

It wasn’t long after the second tower came down that our friends David and Susan from Indiana, who lived in a beautiful condo in the shadow of the Twin Towers with their two young children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was also in our neighborhood) behind them.

They had been some of the people shown on the news escaping from the massive dust cloud that erupted when the towers fell. They’d abandoned their daughter’s stroller and run for it, while shop owners tossed water on their backs as they passed by, to keep their clothes from catching on fire.

In their typical way, however, they had stopped on their way to our place to pick up some bagels.

For all they knew, their apartment was burning down, or being buried under ten feet of rubble. But they’d stopped for bagels, because they’d been worried people might be hungry. Or maybe people just do things in times like that to try to be normal. I don’t know. They didn’t forget the cream cheese, either.

I took the kids into my bedroom, where there was a second TV, because I didn’t think they should see what everyone was watching in the living room, which was footage of what they had just escaped from.

I set up my Playstation for Jake, who was seven or so at the time, to use, while Shai, just turning 4, and I did a puzzle on my floor. Both kids were worried about Mr. Fluff, their pet rabbit, whom they’d been forced to leave behind in their apartment, because there’d been no time to get him (their parents had run from work and grabbed both kids from school).

“Do you think he’s all right?” Jake wanted to know.

At the time, I didn’t see how anything south of Canal Street could be alive, but I told Jake I was sure Mr. Fluff was fine.

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

“Are planes going to fly into THIS building?” Shai wanted to know. She was crying as she looked out the windows of my thirteenth floor apartment.

Me: “No. No planes are going to fly into this building.”

Shai: “How do you know?”

Me: “Because all the planes are grounded. No more planes are allowed in the air.”

Shai: “Ever?”

Me: “No. Just until the bad guys who did this get caught.”

Shai: “Who’s going to catch the bad guys?”

Me: “The police will catch them.”

Shai: “No, they won’t. All the police are dead. I saw them going into the building that just fell down.”

Me (trying not to cry): “Shai. Not all the police are dead.”

Shai (crying harder): “Yes, they ARE. I SAW THEM.”

Me (showing Shai a picture from my family photo album of a policeman in his uniform): “Shai, this is my brother, Matt. He’s a policeman. And he’s not dead, I promise. And he, and other policemen like him, and probably even the Army, will catch the bad guys.”

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

Watching from my living room window, we saw the crowds of people streaming out from what was soon to be called Ground Zero, thin to a trickle, then stop altogether. That was when 4th Avenue became crowded with vehicular traffic again. But not taxis or bike messengers.

Soon, our building was shaking from the wheels of hundreds of Humvees and Army trucks, as the National Guard moved in. The Village was blockaded from 14th Street down. You couldn’t come in or out of the neighborhood without showing proof that you lived there (a piece of mail with your name and address on it, along with a photo ID).

The next day, after having spent the night on our fold-out couch in the living room, Shai’s parents snuck back to their apartment (they had to sneak, because the National Guard wasn’t letting anyone at all, even with proof that they lived there, into the area. For weeks afterwards, on every corner from 14th Street down, stood a National Guardsman, armed with an assault rifle. For days, you couldn’t get milk, bread, or a newspaper below Union Square because they weren’t allowing any delivery trucks — or any vehicles at all, except Army vehicles — into the area), and found Mr. Fluff alive and well.

They snuck him back out, so that later that day, we were able to put the entire family on a bus to the Hamptons, where they lived for the rest of the year.

As my husband and I were walking back to our apartment from the bus stop where we’d seen off our friends, we saw a familiar face standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, where we lived:

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, asking people in our neighborhood if we were all right, and if there was anything they could do to help.

I didn’t go up to shake the ex-President’s hand, because I was too shy.

But I stood there watching him and Chelsea, and something about seeing them, so genuinely concerned and kind (and not there for press or publicity, because there WAS no press, there was never any mention of their visit AT ALL in any newspaper or on any news broadcast I saw that day), made me burst into tears, after having held them in the whole time Shai had been in my apartment, since I didn’t want to upset her.

But you couldn’t NOT cry. It was impossible. Everyone was doing it …so much so that the deli across the street put a sign in its window: “No Crying, Please.” Our doormen were crying. Even Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor (whom I will admit up until this crisis I had not particularly liked for cheating on his very nice wife, Donna Hanover, who used to be on the Food Network), kept crying.

But he also kept showing up on New York 1, no matter what time you turned it on, even at two in the morning, there he was, like he never slept, always crying but also telling us It’s going to be all right, which was BRILLIANT.

The same day we put Shai and her family on a bus to the Hamptons, September 12 — which also happened to be poor Shai’s birthday — companies (even RIVAL companies) all over Manhattan offered up their conference rooms and spare offices to all the businesses in the Trade Center and One Liberty Plaza that had lost theirs, including my husband’s company, so that they would be able to remain solvent, another act of kindness that never gets mentioned anywhere, but should.

Since he was the only person in the company who lived downtown, my husband was elected for the duty of removing all the sensitive data from their now mostly destroyed office, which meant he had to pass through the Brooks Brothers in his building’s foyer, from which he had bought so many of his business shirts and ties. The Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza was now serving as Ground Zero’s morgue.

While under escort of the National Guard, he and guardsmen–the first to enter his floor since the event–found a body in an emergency stairwell. It was determined to be the body of someone from another office, who had probably suffered a heart attack while trying to evacuate One Liberty. The body was removed and taken to the morgue while my husband watched. (He threw away the clothes he wore that day.)

For the next week in Lower Manhattan, even if you wanted to forget, for a minute, what had happened on that cloudless Tuesday morning, you couldn’t. The front window of my apartment building filled with Missing Person posters of loved ones that had been lost in the Trade Center. The outside walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were papered with them as well, and Union Square, at 14th Street, became an impromptu memorial to the dead, filled with candles and flowers. So did the front doors of every local fire station, including the one across the street from my building. The old ladies who used to bring cookies there stood in front of it and cried.

You couldn’t go outside during that week — until it finally rained Friday night, four days later – without smelling the acrid smoke from Ground Zero … and, in fact, you were encouraged to wear surgical masks outdoors. An eerie grey fog covered everything. Some of us tried to brave it by not wearing masks — like Londoners during the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but the smoke made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it, and I’m not surprised so many of them now have respiratory diseases and cancer. I have no doubt that for some, the horrors of 9/11 will continue to be felt years from now.

It wasn’t until employees from a barbecue restaurant drove all the way to Manhattan from Memphis, and stationed their tanker-sized smokers right next to Ground Zero, and then started giving away free barbecue to all the rescue workers there for weeks on end, that the smell changed to something other than death. Everyone loved those guys. It was just barbecue.

Except it wasn’t just barbecue. It was a sign that, as the mayor kept assuring us, things were going to be all right.

But of course, for a lot of New Yorkers that day, things were never going to be all right again. While I was celebrating the fact that my husband had come home, Fred – Jen’s employee, the volunteer EMT who had ridden his bike downtown to see if there was anything he could do – couldn’t find his crew. This was before the buildings fell, before anyone had any idea those buildings COULD fall, when the police and firemen were still streaming into them, confident they could get people out.

The crew that Fred normally volunteered with were inside one of those buildings, helping people down the stairs. Fred couldn’t find them, because all the cell towers were down, and communication was so sketchy. Someone told Fred to drive a bus they’d found, to help evacuate people out of the World Trade Center area.

Fred didn’t want to be outside driving a bus. He wanted to be inside with his crew, saving people.

But since he couldn’t find his crew, he agreed to drive the bus.

Then the buildings came down. Later, Fred found out that the crew he normally volunteered with had been one of the many rescue squads buried under the rubble.

Like a lot of the rescue workers who lost coworkers in the attack, Fred seemed to feel guilty about having survived, while his friends had not. Even when all his NYU co-workers pitched in and bought him a new bike (after his old one got buried beneath rubble at Ground Zero), Fred couldn’t seem to shake his sadness. It was like he didn’t believe he’d done any good that day.

“All I did,” he said, “was drive a stupid bus.”

But that’s not all he did. Because remember Luz’s son?

Well, he showed up at my apartment not long after Jake and Shai and their parents did. Luz grabbed him and kissed him and shook him and cried, and when she finally let go of him, he told his story:

He had been heading towards — not away from – the towers, because he’d wanted to help, he said. A lot like Fred.

But suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone grabbed him from behind, and threw him onto a stupid bus.

“But I want to stay and help!” Luz’s son yelled at the guy who’d grabbed him.

“Not today,” Fred said.

And he drove Luz’s son, and all the other students from that community college to safety, just before the towers fell.

Now more than a decade has passed since 9/11. A year or two after finding that body, and the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him. He decided to follow a lifelong dream: he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He got to work with chefs like Jacques Pepin. At his graduation, Michael Lamonaco–who ran Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the Twin Towers. Michael is another person who happened to be late to work on 9/11–offered my husband a job in his new restaurant.

He declined, however, because we were moving to Key West, where the pace of life is a little bit slower. Michael said he completely understood.

Luz and her family are doing fine. Fred is now married with two children, and head of his own division at NYU. Mr. Fluff did eventually die, but of natural causes. Jake is thinking about law school, and Shai is now a freshman in college. Shai’s mother says her daughter has no memory whatsoever of that day, or of the conversation she and I had, or of the promise I made her — that we’d catch the bad guys.

Shai, however, says she does remember our conversation, and that I was right: we did catch the bad guys.

Of course, now there are some new bad guys out there. That’s no big surprise. You can never catch them all.

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we all remember: we’re all in this together.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

The post 9/11/01 appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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7973. Library of Congress

Gina and I had an amazing time at the Library of Congress!


The Library of Congress is very, very pretty. But all the marble interior aside, this building is such a big part of what makes our country great—the freedom to have access to materials to stimulate intellectual curiosity.


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7974. reviewing Mary Karr's THE ART OF MEMOIR in the Chicago Tribune



Two years ago, the students in my memoir class at Penn were encouraged to read Mary Karr's The Liars' Club—one of those rare chronologically-told life stories that transcends autobiography to become real-live-brimming-with-wisdom memoir. You can't get much more vivid than Karr does with that Club. (I'm also a fan of Lit; both books are featured in Handling the Truth.) And oh, what discussions her words and stories prompt.

I was delighted when the Chicago Tribune invited me to review Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir. The book, which is full of unexpected riffs on a wide range of topics, is especially helpful to those who may be interested in how Karr made, then contemplated, her three life stories. She reports on the writing process, the vetting process, the after glow, and her right to change her mind in subsequent books on the story she lived.

My Tribune review begins like this, below,

When we write about the writing of memoir, we are stuck, up front, with the lexicographer's dilemma: How do we define the word? Is memoir, for example, an autobiographical poem? Is it essay, "new journalism," fiction that feels true, ghost stories, an A-to-Z recounting of me? Is it narcissism, and if it is narcissism, what finally redeems it? Memoir can take many forms. But what, in essence, is it?

In her new book, "The Art of Memoir," Mary Karr — beloved memoirist and Peck professor of literature at Syracuse University — finds herself foiled in her quest for a "Unified Field Theory" for the category. The "first-person coming-of-age story, putatively true" gave the child Karr hope, she writes. Don DeLillo's thought that "a fiction writer starts with meaning and then manufactures events to represent it; a memoirist starts with events, then derives meaning from them" reinforces, for Karr, that "memoir purports to grow more organically from lived experience." A lifetime of reading and writing memoir has persuaded Karr that it is "an art, a made thing." Memoir, for Karr, is many things. Above all else, she suggests, it is a democratic telling open to anyone who has lived.
and can now be found in full here.

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7975. Good Company!

Spotted by a friend in VA on their kid's first day of school. I'm honored beyond measure to be a part of that wall!


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