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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hooray for BRILLIANT!

A 5-Star review was just posted at

Here's the link:


It's been a crazy-busy week.

Last week I went, along with my husband and younger son -- and fantastic author Nick Bruel and a great crew from both Macmillan and Barnes & Noble -- to a Staten Island Yankees Game, hosted by the publisher of JUSTIN CASE, Macmillan. Here's how Publisher's Weekly covered the event:


, Crackerjacks, and Authors

Macmillan authors Nick

Bruel and Rachel Vail, seen here, were both in attendance at Richmond County Bank Ballpark on Staten Island last Thursday, as the Staten Island Yankees defeated the Connecticut Tigers 6-3. Vail signed copies of Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters (Feiwel and Friends, Apr.), illustrated by Matthew Cordell, and Bruel autographed Bad Kitty Gets a Bath (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2008); Bruel’s next Bad Kitty book, Bad Kitty vs Uncle Murray, comes out at the end of this month.

After the game, there were fireworks, and during the fireworks, JUSTIN CASE and BAD KITTY were shown on the big lit-up
screens. This is my pathetic shot of JUSTIN being shown. Oh, well. You'll have to take my word for it. It was pretty darn

Then my son and husband and I went to LA, to the SCBWI conference -- where I got to meet and talk to many published and aspiring writers. My head was buzzing all day long from the excitement, the inspiration, and the freezing cold air conditioning! It was a wonderful time. More info on that coming soon...

(This is a sculpture by Matisse at the Getty in LA, which we visited the day after the conference. I love it, particularly because it seems to me a fabulous and funny metaphor for how teen girls sometimes feel -- like they are really still little but lost somehow in a huger and huger womanly body...)

After that we went south, to Disneyland! Who knew I'd like roller coasters?! We walked our legs off and fell into bed exhausted each night.

(Here's my son, exhausted on Sunday morning, waiting to leave Disney to go to the airport. He was just glassy-eyed and Disney-fied, in front of the TV showing Disney cartoons in the hotel lobby...)

We flew back Sunday, and then yesterday I had a great day at Writing Camp. Yes, friends, Writing Camp, full of amazingly funny but serious kids ages 9 - 14 who love to WRITE. This would have been the camp of my dreams when I was a kid, in competition only with the 2 (count 'em, 2) Shakespeare Camps that are also, like Writing Camp, within walking distance of my apartment. Some days I just really and deeply love NYC.

Though, man, is it HOT. So I am happy, as much as I love the city, to leave it for a bit and listen to the birds chirping in my newly mulched garden.
Soon I will go with my husband and younger son down to the lake to dip our toes in -- and later this week we will head up to Maine to pick up the older boy...

But I was talking about writing camp. I've done a lot of teaching this past week -- yesterday with kids, earlier in the week at SCBWI with adults. And you know what? It's not that different.

If you want to write books for kids, I really, really recommend either. The only hitch is, for writing camp, you have be under 15.

When I went to camp there was a lot of macrame. Just saying. Also curling irons, used in getting ready for Socials. Not a heck of a lot of talk about finding layers in characters you create, and very little iambic pentameter. There was reading, but maybe that was mostly me. I had the rockin' nickname of Bookworm when I went to camp, which really intimidated tennis opponents, I bet.
Okay, gonna go sit looking at how pretty the garden has become, thanks to Garden Gurus John and Cathy.
It smells great, too, all fresh and cedar-y. Then down to the lake for an evening float.

One of my favorite things about summer is the barefootedness. How about you? What are your favorite parts of summer? Don't
even say macrame. Because, really... macrame?

Rachel Vail


  1. Writing Camps sounds like so much fun! And in NYC! I would have definitely loved to go to one of those when I was younger. Even if they were in Spain and not in NYC (which makes it lots better anyway).

    Congrats on your review :).

    And Disneyland and the conference sounds great! Totally agree with the sculpture at your interpretation about teen girls, though.

    My favourite parts of the summer is having lots of time to just laze around, and write, and go out riding, and, especially, swimming! (I don't enjoy as much indoor pools). And, of course, traveling. This summer I've gone to the beach in Spain and to Amsterdam so far, and both were great!


  2. Hi Rachel,

    I was one of those lucky aspiring authors who heard you speak at SCBWI, though I remember a particularly warm room in which you shared your wisdom about character and voice. Don't know where the air conditioning was that day!

    I'm glad you got to see the Getty, and Disneyland is always a treat.

    Happy writing,

  3. Glad you are having such a good summer, Laura!

    Theresa, it is true -- one of my seminars was in HOT room. You took the Bihkram Writing Class. I was down to a tank top, people were fanning themselves... we were about to start passing out when we were told we had to stop... but we had fun anyway, didn't we Theresa? Kidlit writers are TOUGH.