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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writing Retreat at Angel Fire...

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Hello dear readers, friends, family!

The day is heating up and so is my trailer... time to hook up the brand spankin new swamp cooler I recently purchased. I had a swamp cooler in Tucson and really liked it. It's better than AC because you have to keep the windows open to let air flow. And I really like hearing birds and wind-through-leaves and even passing car sounds as I write. I love this about summer-- that you can hear the outside sounds and everything feels so much more alive.


So... two weekends ago I had a writing retreat with my lovely writing group called Old Town Writing Group. Actually, only half of the members could come (which made three members-- me, Carrie, and Sarah.) We (along with husbands and babies) drove down to Sarah's parents' cabin in Angel Fire, New Mexico. That's one of my all-time favorite place names-- Angel Fire. Apparently it comes from the bright yellow of aspen leaves covering the mountains in the fall. Here's a pic of the view of the mountains from the deck.

I'd been envisioning three deliciously long days of writing for luxurious hours at a stretch, but alas, as this was my first writing retreat with baby in tow, I ended up lucky to get in a total of one or two hours of writing time per day-- and that in small bits and pieces.

I did manage to find time to soak in the hot tub with Carrie and Sarah, eat good food in good company, go on a little hike, play chase with tireless baby on the deck, see a giant river canyon (see pic below), go to a very cool fabric shop in Taos to get fabric for the cushions and curtains in my trailer. (When it's all decorated I'll give you a virtual tour).

Other news: I emailed my editor my manuscript of my next book, tentatively entitled The Indigo Notebook (formerly tentatively titled The Purple Notebooks). Now I'm going to get ready for the France trip and get these curtains sewn and dive into revisions on two more manuscripts.

Oh, and I've had more time for reading lately! I listened to the teen book FEED (M.T. Anderson) on the way to and from New Mexico. Really great. If I were a high school English teacher, I'd have my students read FEED right along with 1984 and BRAVE NEW WORLD. FEED (a National Book Award Finalist (or maybe Winner?))paints a scary vision of the future-- it's easy to see how we're headed there-- and it's also a wonderful commentary on the rampant consumerism in our society-- how insidious advertising is-- how it shapes our needs and wants and ultimately shapes who we are as people (not a good thing at all.) It's also a fun story-- a great voice, lots of humor, a spectacular futuristic setting.

I also just finished the teen book SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey (a prolific world traveling author with whom I had a fascinating conversation at an SCBWI conference-- about dreams, ghosts, psychic phenomena...). SKIN HUNGER was a National Book Award Finalist, too. It's a dark fantasy, a particularly well-written and intriguing one. Once I got into it, I loved it. The narrators alternate-- their narratives are separated by 200 years-- and their stories start coming together plot-wise toward the end. It's the first in the series, and I'll definitely read the next two once they come out.

I just finished DIVISADERO by Michael Ondaatje yesterday. I really liked The ENGLISH PATIENT and have read his other books, as well. I love the language and imagery and poetry in DIVISADERO-- he expresses stories from such odd, interesting angles. The story lines didn't come together in a complete, satisfying way for me at the end. It sort of felt like he had all these gorgeous scenes and images and wanted to put them all together in a book, but didn't quite end up tying them all together plot-wise. Of course, I'll keep reading his future books because of the amazing language and imagery and ideas.

I just went to the library yesterday and got a giant bag full of new books which I can't wait to delve into. More about them later... thanks for reading!