Thursday, December 31, 2009

Exposing the Secret Identity and the Goals for the New Year

The New Year. That phrase spanks of promise. It's not that we just turn our calendar to month one yet again--we get a blank slate. A mulligan. A do-over. A fresh start. A whole New Year.

Fill it with whatever you please. Something good!

In honor of the fresh start, I am revealing something about myself. When I started this whole blogging thing, on the scary Internet, I chose a name that was close to my own. I wanted to occasionally post pictures of my kids, and didn't want to worry about the weirdos out there. I've counseled teenage sex-offenders, for Pete's sake! Also, I'm cautious and suspicious by nature. I always second guess a stranger's motives. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I like wearing my heart there. What you see is what you get. So, I guard that sleeve a bit. But I also trust my instincts about people. And the thing is, I like all of you. You've been nothing but supportive and kind. I no longer want to hide behind a facade. So, as a New Year's present to you, I'm revealing my secret identity.

Wa-laa! My name is not Heather Lane, but Heather Elaine Kelly. (There's a maiden name thrown in there as well, but let me preserve some of my mystery--although if you've followed from the beginning, you know that as well.) Anyway, one of my nicknames when I was a small child was Heather 'Laine. Hence the blogging identity.

Now that I've revealed the Real Me, on to the Real Resolutions.

1. I will finish editing my MG fantasy to the point where I would be proud to show it to Katherine Hannigan, Ingrid Law, Linda Urban, Kate Messner, Wendy Mass, or Erica Orloff. (I will, however, resist stalking these authors.)

2. I will finish editing my absurd YA fantasy to the point where I would be proud to show it to Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins, Maggie Stiefvater, or James Kennedy. (Once again, I will not send my ms to said authors.)

3. I will start querying. (I will even resist stalking said authors' agents.)

4. I will not dissolve into a puddle of goo at all the rejection letters.

5. I will start writing a new novel.

6. I will continue blogging each week, and hopefully update some of the Journeys Toward Publication Interviews as those writers go off and get published. (Help me out with this goal, everyone--it's up to you!)

And, the overall goal: TO LIVE LIFE DELIBERATELY. To make my intentions show through my actions. To grow closer to my overall goals of getting published, raise healthy kids, and love my marriage. To treat the world as my own family. To pay attention to what the universe is telling me, and to be open to that message.

So, what about you--what author would inspire your best writing, if they were in your critique group? And since we're dreaming, who would you want to write your blurb on your bookflap?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's Real

Characters and books come alive for me. At times I have to remind myself of what's real and what is book. Characters and scenes live on in my brain, long after I've turned the last page. And I imagine that most of you are the same.

But this Christmas stuff happened in real life--stuff from which I need to gain distance. Because I am imagining over and over what must have happened, since I wasn't there, and the images are awful and horrifying. And to make it worse, it happened on Christmas day. My youngest brother (18) and my stepsister (not much older) spent Christmas night trying to save their mom--my step-mom. And couldn't. A blood clot had traveled to her brain.

Mourning is difficult for me, since while I loved my step-mom, I didn't always like her. She was someone who craved attention, and many times was oblivious to the people around her. When I was young, I was one of those people. But I loved her. Because she was family. Because she was in my life while I grew up. Because she was crazy and strong and beautiful and said whatever was on her mind, no matter how inappropriate it was.

But what is living in my brain right now is the trauma that was my brother and sister's Christmas night. Over and over and over again, I imagine those moments when they tried to save their mom. Soon I will be able to see my brother and sister, and make sure that they are indeed okay, if forever changed. And until then, I need some distance from what is real.

Know that the unexpected can happen. Hug your family. Live in the moment. Make the best of this fleeting life. And I'll see you again when I come back to reality.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa's Helpers

I hope this puts your mind at ease.
Superman and Cowgirl are guiding Santa this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making a Mad Draft to the End

I'm working through a revision of my MG project. But I can't really call it a revision, since I'm not revising. I'm rewriting the end. So much changed in the first two thirds--characters added and changed--that while the storyline and plot remain the same, the people moving around the plot are different. I'm using very little from the earlier draft in this rewrite of the end.

And it's a funny thing. Because it's not really drafting, but it's not revision either. It's a slow rewrite. A cautious thing. I imagine it might be how some people go about drafting--picking each word carefully. I couldn't draft an entire book this way. And, I'm wondering if I should be doing a fast draft to the end, instead of rewriting. Should I be speeding toward the finish line?

It reminds me of how I did Christmas prep this year. I made lists. I checked deals online. I figured out my budget and what gifts would fit into that budget. I braved black Friday(!). Everything I did was deliberate. I wrapped presents. I offered to wrap presents for my in-laws who are arriving from out-of-town. Just send them to me, I said. I don't mind. So then I wrapped more presents. I labeled boxes so wrapped presents wouldn't get mixed up. Slow and steady toward the big day. And I was ready ahead of time. And felt completely drained of Christmas spirit.

Normally my Christmas prep is a quick, mad dash. Out buying last minute gifts with grumpy shoppers. Up all night Christmas Eve wrapping. One fateful year, I ran out of tape, and my husband had to run out in the middle of the night to find an open truck stop. Not fun. Well, kind of fun. In the mad dash I normally do at Christmas time, I never run out of spirit. It's essential to get me across the finish line.

And, I'm wondering if it is the same with my writing. I always let things stew for a really long time before I even start to write. Then I write fast and hard until I get to the finish line. And then I revise. Or rewrite. So, I wonder if I should be making a mad draft to the end, to preserve the spirit of the novel.

How do you rewrite? Is it more like drafting, or more like revision? Or maybe you don't need to rewrite? Any tips for a mad drafter?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Meeting/ The Christmas Crazies

I have a confession to make. I get a bit crazy in the ramp up to the holidays. I get all freaky about stuff that is out of my control. I want the people in my life to do and say certain things. Which isn't exactly fair. They aren't characters in my novel. I need to give them the space to be who they are. I need to get what I need from something else.

I want things to go smoothly during the holidays and be, well, perfect. And every year, (another confession) I kind of expect a Christmas miracle. Naive, I know. And I know that is not how the universe works. I think it is a throwback from feeling the magic of holidays as a child.

I get frustrated with the hard things in my life at the holidays. And that is not what the holidays is about. It's about being grateful for what you have. And I am truly deeply blessed. But holidays also mark the passage of time. Last year is clearly etched in my head. And I hoped that this Christmas, things would be different.

My response to all this is to understand the pressure that I feel around this time of year, and to do some proactive stress relief. And to paint a different picture in my head about the holiday--one with tons of wonderful imperfections. And to latch on to one of the things that I can control--my writing.

Which brings us to the Monday Meeting. This feels interesting, coming off of the open thread on Friday about setting big picture goals. (Feel free to head back there to enter in your long term goal.) I have a clear view of what I need to do to get to the next step. I actually wrote down on my calendar what I want to accomplish day by day. This week, I am going scene by scene in my MG and adding what is necessary. I'm hoping by the end of the week that I will have finished adding/changing the scenes necessary to keep my character's arc flowing smoothly. Then I will have a good idea of what is next in my revision, and write myself an editorial letter about the novel.

When I get all crazy about the stuff in my life, I'll write (and run, and read, get coffee with a friend, and maybe do some yoga). I'll have something to work toward that is in my own control. What do you do about the holiday crazies? What are your goals this week? What do you get all freaky about? And, have you checked out this awesome Christmas carol at MS'sFV?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Open Thread

I have really enjoyed getting to know some of the writers out here in blogland, and thought I would take a week to open up the discussion, and find out where you are. So. The Big Picture. Where are you in your journey toward publication and beyond? What is your immediate goal? (I'm talking deadlines, people!) What is your reach-for-the stars goal?

I'll start.

I'm revising a fantastical Middle Grade novel. My goal is to start subbing this novel to agents in the beginning of the new year. I'm going to say February. (Now that a deadline is out there, I have to stick to it!)

I'm also overhauling my fantasy YA novel from NaNo. I hit 50,000 words, but lack an ending. And, it has some some seriously floundering parts in it. So in March, while I'm waiting on agent interest, I will go full force into overhauling and revising that one.

My immediate goal is to get serious about polishing my middle grade for submission. To stick to my deadline, and to have something (great!) to submit.

My reach-for-the stars goal is to snag an agent and get on the path to publication. Well, it's actually to see my books in print and to make this writing life a profession.

Now that I'm accountable to you for my self-imposed deadline, I'm going to spend today carving out how to get there.

I'm looking forward to finding out where you are on your journey, and what your deadlines are, self-imposed or otherwise. Chime in!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Monday Meeting

Since it's my blog, and I'm all powerful here, I am able to make today Monday. And yesterday was Superman's birthday. Every superman deserves a supermom to create a super birthday. In that spirit, there was the driving to far away IKEA, the buying of the new bed, the putting together of said bed, the cake baking, the gift-wrapping, and the party hosting. But no blogging.

Now there is blogging.

I thought I would start out with some thanks. Thanks to all the wonderful writers who contributed so much to this blog with their insightful interviews. Thanks Erica, Bryan, Paul, and Casey! All the interviews are under a link to the right, if anyone missed one.

Thanks to all of you followers for all your supportive comments. I love the respectful community that we're building here. I appreciate that you take the time to visit.

Thanks to my critique partner for all that he has done and been for me this year. Thanks, R! I would not be here, in my writing world, without your pushing, pulling and support.

Thanks to all the supportive writers and agents and publishers who blog and make me feel a part of this world.

And, one more thanks, wrapped up in a progress report:

Last week my writing was derailed (again, or still) due to all sorts of things, including being supermom for three kids during the holiday season. Just when I decided to turn my back on my writing, I clicked over to Erica's blog and her recent post, "Today, You're a Writer." It got me right back on track. Thanks again, Erica, for always being there, even when you have more than your fair share on your plate. Everyone, go check it out, and then come back and tell me what you are doing this day, this week, as a writer.

What am I going to do? I am going to write. I think that is going to be my only goal during the holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

And on a side note--Superman already made his plea for one of his parents to convert this year (just one--nobody wants to give up Christmas). Eight nights of gifts? What could be better than that? And the dreidel game is always a big winner.

So, I responded with my stock answer--let's learn a bit more about the Jewish faith. And when I reminded them who in our family celebrates Hanukkah, it seemed to make things worse. Like my kids are SO close to celebrating two gift-giving holidays...but don't.

I'm looking forward to our family traditions--cookies and driving around to see holiday lights, caroling and pageants. New PJs at Christmas Eve, and lots of family. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Casey McCormick

Very early in my agent researching days, I came across Literary Rambles, Casey McCormick's fantastically informative blog about all areas of writing, including agent info for the field of children's literature. I was collecting agent information on little index cards, and realized that she was doing the same thing, in a much more comprehensive and organized manner. And, when I posted some comments, I found that she is a gracious host, and a supportive, kind person. Plus, she has style--she owns just about the coolest book-related purse I've ever seen. I am really pleased to introduce the woman behind Agent Spotlights, Writing/Research Tip Tuesday, and Wednesday Word Count!

In her own words:

Casey McCormick is an aspiring author as well as a reader for a literary agent. She lives in California where she neglects her day job as a medical transcriptionist to write young adult fiction and chase her kids around. To find out more, visit her blog, Literary Rambles, where she yaps about writing, literary agents, and a myriad of other desultory thoughts.

Casey--tell us--what are you currently working on?

For the last year I’ve been writing and rewriting (and writing and rewriting) a young adult novel about a psychologically broken teen and the unique way she deals with the events that broke her. That’s all I’m gonna say. ; )

What made you start to write seriously?

I come from The Harry Potter Wave, as I call it. You know, the masses that were compelled to write after experiencing the magic of HP (the sort of masses now coming from Twilight). I’d been writing off and on for years prior (mostly adult fantasy), but J.K. Rowling led me to discover children’s literature and a passion for writing it. It was like finding my forever home.

If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

I can’t say that I have just one. Every blog I read religiously offers a little something different, something worthy of favoritism. That said, I really try to keep up with
The Guide to Literary Agents blog, and highly recommend it, as it helps me stay current on agent news, interviews, and more.

What is your favorite blog post that you have written?

Gosh, I don’t know! I love one I wrote called “
Channeling My Mad Scientist," but I favor all of my Agent Spotlight posts as well. Those posts are filled with care and purpose, and I love that writers appreciate them so much.

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Can I name more than one?
Verla Kay’s Children's Writers and Illustrators Message Board, the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler, and Cynthea Liu’s site Writing for Children and Teens. I’ve learned a ton from all three, and made many new friends from the message boards, including my original, fabulous critique partner. I'm not sure where I'd be now without these resources.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

Sticking with my novels, probably. I have a tendency to cut my (perceived) losses and run when I get to the dreaded middle and fall out of love with a project. I’ve been focusing on overcoming this little habit of mine this past year, but it’s not going particularly well. I think I bring a new level of harsh to being self-critical and can’t seem to love anything I write enough to get truly behind it. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me when everyone else seems to love their manuscripts so much! Beyond that, I think it's really hard to know where I'm actually at as a writer and how to improve what needs improving.

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

I set goals with my fabulous critique partners, withhold things I love until I write, set timers, etc. Whatever I have to do, really. One of the greatest motivators, I think, is to set my writing aside for a while and read instead. When I’m really in a slump, I’ll read a stack of books (or revisit those that have inspired me in the past) and find a strong motivation to write again.

Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

As I mentioned above, Harry Potter led me to discovering kidlit (I didn’t read much of it as an actual kid or teen), so it will always hold a special place in my heart. More recently, I feel that Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson influenced my writing a bit. The poetic nature of the writing made me almost sick with desire to write as beautiful, as good, and as powerful as she does in that book. Let me tell you, it made the self-critic in me a lot meaner, but I learned so much about the potential of the written word in YA fiction by reading Wintergirls that I almost feel indebted to Anderson.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

Aside from wanting to touch the lives of others, my practical goal is to achieve a level of writing I can be proud to publish, and then to make a career out of it. As far as reaching for the stars, I’d love to be a prolific bestseller with a dedicated following. I don’t want to be hugely famous like Rowling or Meyers, not at all; just big enough to know I’m touching the lives of many, and doing what I've wanted to do for awhile now—write full time, successfully.

So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

The best part is seeing how much I’ve grown as a writer. It’s hard to live (and be patient) with the gut feeling that my writing isn’t good enough. But, seeing the progress I’ve made from draft to draft, especially from my first novel to my most recent, is all the encouragement I need to keep going. If I’ve been able to improve as much as I have in the last few years, I know I’m capable of becoming a phenomenal writer someday.

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

Well, since I’ve done it a couple times already, I’m going to name more than one… Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, Hermione Granger from HP, or, if you don’t mind a gender swap, Harry Potter himself.

Casey--I have to say that I already think that you have accomplished your first goal, of touching the lives of others. Your blog is a very special and helpful place to be! Everyone, let's help make Casey feel at home by posting a question or comment for her in the comments. She'll stop by when she can to answer questions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The People in My Head

So, I've been thinking about what makes a great blog. And I was struck by what Paul Murphy said in comments on Friday, when asked about his blogging purpose:

My goal with the blog is to entertain and to appreciate the people who read the thing. If I do those two things well enough, I figure people will keep reading and new readers will find their way there.

And it struck me--this is what makes some blogs so great to hang out at. Great blog hosts are clearly starting a conversation for me. Yes, ME (and YOU). Paul knows we're out here, reading it, and he wants to entertain us a while.

There is a great atmosphere at Paul's blog because it is clear that the blog is as much about the followers as it is about Paul. It's no thinly disguised medium for self-promotion. Well, maybe it is. All blogs are, at their root, about self-promotion. But Paul does it really well, because of his intentions. And because his intentions are respectful.

Is this too simplistic? If you entertain, then people will appear, to be entertained? If you build it, they will come? Very mystical, very magical. But I think this is true, in this day and age when word of mouth has morphed into a world of clicks and links.

And respect is a difficult thing to achieve in a medium where sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued as insensitivity or meanness. I agonize over some comments that I have left on blogs. Did they know that I was joking? Should I delete it?

My intention for writing my blog? Well, it's funny. When I write for my blog, I feel as though I am having a conversation with the voices inside my head.

I see all your cute/handsome/meaningful little avatars over there on the right, but I still feel like I'm going a little crazy, writing all this as if you were real. It's why I love your comments, and why I post writer interviews. Because it's proof of my sanity. (Okay, and because I want to be able to say, I knew you when...)

I feel this way, I think, because at first, my intention simply was to carve out my own little corner of the universe, where I could tuck my thoughts, and writing journal, and goals, and links to fun stuff. And be able to find everything later. I never really believed that if I wrote it, you would read it. But, since you do read it, my blog is evolving into something much more meaningful than just a conversation within my head.

It's like how your writing changes after the first time you find a great critique partner. Suddenly you have an audience. And knowledge of that audience changes your writing. Intention translates into actions.

So, I thank you all, figments of my imagination. Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for making this a meaningful place to be.

And, just in case your requirement for an entertaining blog includes stylish accoutrement, check out this awesome bag*.

So, what are your intentions for blogging, and what do you think makes for an exceptional blog? Do you feel you have a responsibility to your followers? And, if you have decided not to blog, then why not?

*Disclaimer--that purse is one of my aunt and uncle's eco-friendly bags, and occasionally I get awesome bags from them, and lots of love. And, even though I'm biased, their stuff is wonderful!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Meeting

This Monday, I'm reminiscing.

When I was a child, my parents got divorced. And split the holidays. So, every other Christmas we would drive from Pennsylvania to the heat of the Florida Keys to celebrate Christmas with my mom's parents, on their house boat. Did I mention my grandparents are Jewish? It was as if we were trying to make Christmas as un-traditionally Christmasy as we could. Those Christmases are etched in sharp contrast to all the Christmases that had come and gone before, when we would drive to New England to spend the holiday with my dad's parents.

But, a strange evolution of Christmas occurred. It became normal to expect Santa to visit on golf cart, driving down the beach. To enjoy the bizarre pastel Key's interpretation of Christmas decorations. To see our gifts under the Hanukkah bush, and play shuffle board and go for a swim Christmas Eve. To sing 'Margaritaville' in Key West and see Hemingway's cats. To wear bathing suits instead of snowsuits. These things became Christmasy to me--even the Hanukkah bush. To this day, I use blue lights on my Christmas tree.

I loved those Christmases.

My point? That a vacation to the Keys would be perfect this time of year? No--well, yes.

But my real point? That Christmas, and any holiday, is about spirit, not about scene, or even traditions. And, that it is more about spending time with those you love than about anything else.

But on to the task at hand:

The Monday meeting.

This week I am going to write. That's my goal. As the pressure of Nano dissolves and the holiday cyclone sucks me in, I just want to get some writing done. I'd love to finish some things up, and have a solid deadline, but my goal is just to find my rhythm and write.

My other goal is to remember my bigger goal--to get this stuff published, and sooner rather than later. This always fires me up, as I think of all the possibilities.

Plus--another big treat (it is the holiday season, after all!)--this week's Friday interview will feature Casey McCormick from Literary Rambles. She is a fantastic person and writer. Stop by to check it out!

So, are you thinking about the holidays? What are you working on this week?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Feature: Journeys Towards Publication and Beyond: Paul Michael Murphy

It is a pleasure for me to introduce Paul Michael Murphy. I honestly don't remember how I stumbled upon Paul's blog. But, when I did, it became clear that his blog was the place to be. And then when he welcomed me by name in a post, I thought, 'finally--I've made it to the cool kids' table.' I've had the priviledge to read a WIP, and I would be surprised if an agent didn't snap it right up when he puts it out there. He's a genuinely nice guy and funny writer. Here's Paul.

Thanks for the interview, Paul. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a small town called Cass City, Michigan where I had a relatively easy time of things. School wasn’t too hard, I was good enough at sports to avoid being ridiculed, my dad worked, my mom was usually home, and I had a brother who quit whenever a call went against him in whiffle ball. I went to college at Michigan State University and that was nice too. Classes weren’t as difficult as I feared they might be. The girls were pretty. I had lots of free time and played a lot of video games. I became a teacher, met a girl who I managed to convince to marry me, had a daughter, and did some other stuff not worth mentioning. A few years ago I started writing with the idea of getting published.

What are you currently working on?

What I hope is a humorous young adult fantasy about a girl who’s kidnapped by a self-described “swashbuckling buccaneer” and taken to Load, a place ruled by a sarcastic teenager. Load is about to be invaded, and the king’s defenses consist of pollen, colored lozenges, and songs you can’t get out of your head. He’s also training teams of debaters. Lauren realizes that the only hope she has of getting home and of saving the lives of her new friends is to inspire the people of Load—who spend most of their time watching security camera feeds—to overthrow the king before the invasion begins.

What made you start to write seriously?

I try to not write seriously. As for what makes me write instead of take Facebook quizzes or watch Num3ers or cross-stitch, I find the thoughts in my head more entertaining than most TV shows and video games and I lack the dexterity for cross-stitch. So for me writing is about self-gratification. If I write something I like I give it to other people and hope they like it too. And if they don’t then I figure they have bad taste. And they probably watch Num3ers.

If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

During the college basketball season, my favorite blog is Mark Titus’s Club Trillion ( For writing, I’ll be boring and say Nathan Bransford’s because in spite of his reality TV fetish he seems like good guy and he posts regularly.

What is your favorite blog post that you have written?

This one was both fun to write and a service to men everywhere:

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Verla Kay’s Blue Board is awesome, especially if you’re just starting out. When I got serious about writing I spent hour after hour reading old threads and I benefited from the wisdom of people who were farther along the path. No one makes you feel like an idiot at Verla’s, even if you obviously are. I also watched a lot of videos here: and read a lot of stuff about famous writers’ paths to publication because there’s something deeply satisfying about other people’s struggles.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

I feel like I got a late start and I’m constantly playing catch-up. I don’t want to throw my high school teachers under a bus here, but they really taught me nothing about how to analyze a text or how to write much of anything except useless five paragraph essays. I read quite a lot in high school, especially for a guy, and I wanted to write. I just had no idea how. Thank God for the Internet.

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

When I was trying to lose weight I read something that said on those days when you really didn’t feel like exercising you should put your exercise clothes on anyway because having those clothes on triggers something in the brain and you’ll feel like doing it more. I think it’s the same with writing. Just turning on the laptop and staring at it usually leads to something. It might be crap, but even crap is better than nothing.

Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

When I first thought seriously about writing I checked out a lot of books on the craft from my local library. One was Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King and as I read it I realized I was already doing a lot of the things I was supposed to be doing. I found myself nodding along more than anything else as I read, and I thought, You know, I can do this.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

My practical goal is to get published and go to a bookstore and see my book on a shelf. And then I’m going to take my book off the shelf and find one of those tables where the really hot books are showcased and I’m going to replace them with my book. My reach-for-the-stars goal would be to write a book that’s already on the hot books table.

So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

There’s not much I don’t like. I’ve cyber-met lots of fun people. My writing has given me an excuse to blog and I like doing that. It’s made me a better writing teacher and that’s something I actually get paid to do. I’ve had enough small successes to remain encouraged and enough disappointments to realize I can handle them. The best part is the writing itself. When it’s going well and when I’m writing that just-for-my-own-selfish-pleasure first draft, there’s not much better. Except maybe a Mythbusters marathon.

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

I’m kind of risk-averse, so most characters are out of the question because they’re always getting into dangerous situations and fighting bad guys and whatnot. I’m a big fan of stories where the main character is the smartest guy in the room. I loved A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting and I like biographies of really smart dudes. So since I write for kids, I’ll say Nick Allen of Frindle. He’s the kind of precocious kid I wish I would have been. Plus, at the end of the book he’s in college and he’s loaded. And he did it all without having to confront an evil wizard.
Eveyone, please make Paul feel welcome, and post a comment or question in the comments. He's going to check back when his teacherly schedule permits.