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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

Thursday, August 5, 2010

LUCKY, GORGEOUS, and BRILLIANT are given a shout-out in today's USA TODAY!


And then, ten minutes after I found out about that, I got the great news that BRILLIANT got a STARRED review in VOYA!

Just woke up here in chilly Los Angeles, and already it's a great day.

Now I am off to Disneyland so we'll see how that goes...

Rachel Vail

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I'll post more, including writing tips, soon -- though if you want my Form to Form a Character, please email me and I will send it when I return to NYC (next Monday)...

But for now, here is a terrific blog entry with detailed notes -- thanks so much, Sherrie!


Rachel Vail

Monday, August 2, 2010

If you want a book...

If you want a copy of JUSTIN CASE (or any of my other books) signed and personalized, especially if you are here with me at SCBWI and there aren't any left (sorry!) we can make that happen.

Click on this link:

When I get back to NYC next week, I will dash immediately across Broadway and sign your book, which will go out to you that very afternoon.

Rachel Vail

in LA, with my fellow bookies...

My head is buzzing and my heart is exploding here in Los Angeles at the SCBWI conference. But if I don't go get some food I am going to go all woozy and '40's movie-swoony so all the details will have to wait. For now, though: I spoke this morning to a room full of a thousand new friends, many of whom were incredibly generous in coming up afterwards to share thoughts, tears, and stories of their own. I have learned so much and been so inspired at this conference. If you write (or want to write) books for kids, I highly recommend attending an SCBWI conference. What a treat. I want to get to the afternoon sessions, though, so I MUST find some food. No more blueberry scones from Starbucks!

Rachel Vail