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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Colorado Book Award for WHAT THE MOON SAW...

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So, last week my father-in-law and husband and I were in Denver for the Tattered Cover reading, and we passed the beautiful and enormous Denver Performing Arts Center-- a sparkly, oddly-angled silver-and-glass structure-- an ultra-modern fairy palace. I mentioned I'd never been in there before, but would welcome an excuse to go... then lo and behold, yesterday, as I was doing some last minute map-questing to figure out how to get to the Colorado Book Awards banquet, I discovered that it's held in that very building!

I was one of three finalists in the young adult category (the lovely Hilari Bel, author of the Farsala Trilogy, which I've just started reading-- it's wonderful so far, and T.A. Barron, who I've never met, but heard he's a great guy-- author of the Tree of Avalon books) were the others. The whole event was lots of fun-- Ian was there, of course, along with my writer friends Leslie Patterson (and her hubby Dave) and Teresa Funke and Karla Oceanak and Laura Pritchett came down from Fort Collins to celebrate. My friend Denise Vega, last year's winner, was there too, along with the fabulous women in her writing group.

The first winner announced-- in the picture book category-- was Kathleen Pelley, a delightful Scottish-born woman whose trilling, dancing voice you want to listen to forever... she wrote Inventor McGregor, which is a fantastic picture book for all ages-- a story about how the creative spirit blossoms best in cheery, higgledy-piggledy places. I'm going to reread her book whenever I need a snippet of a song or a whirl of a fling to get my creative juices flowing...

And next came the young adult category-- that's the category for What the Moon Saw. As the mc was announcing the winner, my heart was actually making an extremely loud boom-boom-boom sound, to the point where the booming was drowning out what she was saying, and when she said my name it sounded far away (seems like that kind of thing happens in books all the time, but once in a while it happens in real life, too...) So, I managed to make my feet move and walk to the stage without tripping, and meanwhile, Ian and the other folks at my table were cheering and whirling their napkins with abandon, which made me happy.

As the evening went on, I was extra-happy that my table-mates Ben Fogelberg and Steve Grinstead won in the non-fiction category for their book Walking Into Colorado's Past. Ian and I are already planning out which hikes we want to do this fall.

The whole evening made me very grateful to be in the community of Colorado writers-- they're a fun, generous, talented, friendly bunch of people. It was truly a huge honor being part of last night's festivities and surrounded by so much great energy and warmth.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Maryland Book Tour for RED GLASS

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Just got back this morning from my mini-book-tour in my home state of Maryland. It was a fun ten days jam-packed with events and get-togethers with family and friends. The plane trip there was unbelievable horrendous-- a long string of mishaps including running into a bird (which required the plane to be checked before we could take off from the Pittsburg airport where we were forced to refuel after circling near Baltimore because of storms...) I could have traveled to Paris in the time it took to get to Baltimore. So, eventually, I got there.

The next day I headed down to St. Mary's, where I went to college-- a breath-takingly gorgeous campus on a peninsula in between the St Mary's River and the Chesapeake Bay. Here's a pic of Catherine Carter, another alumna, who wrote the lovely book of poems, Memory of Gills. To my right is my good old friend Peter, another alumnus and writer, and to the right of him is Michael Glaser, my creative writing teacher from way back when, and the Poet Laureate of Maryland... quite a fun crowd! Michael put me up in the alumni lodge, right on the water-- here's the view from just outside the back porch. The weather was deliciously perfect-- gentle sun, gentle breeze. After the workshop and reading, we went for a moonlit swim in the river-- something I loved to do when I went to college there.

Over the next week, I participated in a panel discussion at the Baltimore Book Festival with some great young adult authors-- Brad Barkley, Laura Bowers, and Melissa Marr. I went out to eat at a yummy Afgani restaurant afterward, with my favorite librarian ever, Ms. Selma Levi. She was my librarian (and heroine) when I was a kid in Baltimore City, and she's still a librarian (and oral storyteller-- a skill I want to learn), only she's downtown now and a big library star!

On Sunday, I did a reading at Borders and had the joy of seeing lots of friends and relatives who came from all over Maryland.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, I did school visits at my old stomping grounds, Dunloggin Middle School. Being in that school again didn't feel too weird-- it regularly appears in those anxiety dreams I STILL get where I forget my locker combo or I've forgotten to attend class for months and suddenly realize I have a giant test coming up... This was a purely delightful visit, though. I saw some old teachers-- Science and Industrial Arts and Reading-- and it seems they've hardly changed.

I did a workshop at the Howard County library on Tuesday night-- a small but super-creative crowd showed up and wrote some darn good stuff.

Thursday and Friday were my days to relax. I took a nice long walk around Centennial Park lake with my father-in-law... I worked there during a couple summers in high school, supposedly making myself available to save lives in the event of a man-overboard paddle boat situation, but mostly working on my tan, eating free crabcakes and peanut butter M-n-Ms from the concession stand next door, and reading lots of Milan Kundera.

On Saturday morning I went to the Americas Award Program (What the Moon Saw is an Honor book this year). The winning authors and illustrators gave fascinating talks-- the books are The Poet Slave of Cuba (told in verse-- powerful, beautiful language, deeply moving) and Josias, Hold the Book (a picture book set in Haiti-- great message about the value of books).

In the afternoon, I met another writer friend named Peter and felt decadent wandering around DC, having wine with lunch in the sculpture garden cafe, going to the Edward Hopper exhibition (I can't get over how the museums are all FREE!) I like his quote about wanting to paint sunlight on the side of a house. And that's what he did-- painted sunshine. I like that idea of not setting out to paint the house, but the SUNSHINE on the house.

That evening, I ate a scrumptious salmon dinner with my in-laws and got up at the crack of dawn the next morning (today). Everything went unbelievably smoothly with the flight this time-- we even got to Denver EARLY! (And this after I brought along a big sandwich and entire carton of emergency granola because I was determined not to be stuck with only a measly snackbox to eat like the last flight. ) And now I'm home and my husband is telling me it's bedtime... and it is.

I'll post more pics over the next few days, as my friends send them to me...

G'night!