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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

between retreats

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Hey everybody,

While Toddler is eating pizza and watching Sillyville on TV, I'll take a moment to fill you in on last weekend's writing retreat since I'm going to another one next weekend! (In the meantime, I'm revising like a madwoman. My deadline is in a week!!!)

So, my writing retreat was in Angelfire, New Mexico. Angelfire has to be the most gorgeous town name ever. It makes me think of fiery orange-pink sunsets that look like gates to heaven. Here we are, from front to back: Leslie, Sarah, me, Molly, Kimberly, and Carrie. They are all BRILLIANT and HILARIOUS. We're on the deck of Sarah's parents' cabin, which overlooks the Sangre de Cristo mountains. So breathtakingly beautiful.


Here's the hot tub where we hung out in the evenings. Nothing like looking at a zillion stars through steam.


Here's Carrie reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Aimee Bender, adult book), which we passed around. I learned more about the different kinds of magical realism out there.



There were masses of hummingbirds on the deck, attracted by the many hummingbird feeders. I have to say, these creatures can be scary when their pointy little beaks are headed straight for your eyeball, and don't veer away until the last second. (I kept envisioning the ending of a creepy hummingbird-attack story by Molly that we critiqued a few months earlier.)


Here are Molly, Leslie, Carrie, and Sarah (clockwise from top). They're doing what writers do on a retreat between reading, writing, and hot-tubbing... a heated game of Scrabble! It's so hard to find people who are not just willing to play Scrabble, but wildly enthusiastic about it... and dang good at it, too!


Sarah's ENORMOUS dog who protected us from the hummingbirds.


Goldilocks and the bears and some other creature... a wolf? I don't remember what role that other creature plays. Anyway, there were cool little folk artsy surprises hidden in corners of the cabin.



Every day, we each did whatever we felt like... some of us (me) slept late, blissfully enjoying the lack of a Toddler yelling "MOMMY!" at six a.m. Others got up at five a.m. to hike up a mountain and watch the sunrise and get an early start to writing. The cabin was gigantic, so each of us could find a little nook in which to read or write. In the evenings we gathered for yummy food like melon ball-chevre salad and basil-lemon salmon and mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-rice-krispy-pie. After three days together, we all left on a high from so much writing and bonding. Very rejuvenating!

On a different note, here I am with my step-cousin-in-law, Lauren, who I met via my books! One of the loveliest things about having my books out there in the world is that I get to connect with very cool relatives who I didn't even know I had. Lauren is an amazing writer. She's fifteen and is in the midst of writing a number of novels (and they're deliciously good so far!) We had lunch in Loveland a couple weeks ago. She heard an earful about my revision angst. And as she talked about her own writing, I was reminded of all the mesmerizing things about writing (which are easy to overlook when you're sweating under a looming deadline.) Lots of fun!


Speaking of revision angst (and an antidote to it), I stumbled across Cheryl Klein's blog.
She's an editor with Scholastic and full of great revision advice.


I just have to share a couple new reviews of Red Glass that I love. Kathy from Literary Livewire says this:



"Reading this book is biting into a big, juicy guava. It tastes amazing and is the most wonderful thing ever, the sticky juice starts trickling down your chin, and you realize that it’s better that way."






Yum. Thank you, Kathy!




Here's another fun review I came across recently from Pages Blog, entitled "Red Glass: Better than Twilight" (... don't you love it?!)



"
Twilight sucks so bad compared to this, no offense Stephanie Meyer."



Hee hee! Okay, forgive me, but I couldn't resist quoting the Twilight comparison. (And I'm happy that Angel is deemed better boyfriend material than Edward...) Thanks so much, Kiki and Nathan! You made my day...



I also have to say that it was especially fun to read that review since every time I get together with a bunch of writers, we try to figure out exactly why the Twilight series has become s
uch a phenomenon. As we all know, Stephenie Meyers breaks lots of the classic "rules of good writing" that have been pounded into our writers' brains. (For example, if you can say something in 10 words instead of 100, do it.) Yet her books are utterly addictive to millions. (That was one of our topics of conversation at our retreat, of course...) Intriguing.




Okay, time to go for an evening walk/bike ride with Toddler.




'Night! Thanks for reading!

Laura

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A few tidbits...

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Hi everyone!

So I signed up for Google alerts recently. It's nice-- it informs me of lovely things floating around out there in cyberspace, like this review of Red Glass from Kristin at her Feed Your Imagination blog:

Red Glass by Laura Resau is easily one of the best books I've read this year, and is one of the few books that has brought me to tears. Despite all of the awards it's been recognized with, Red Glass receives nowhere near enough attention considering how much it deserves. Above all, this is an exceptional story about love – love across the generations, romantic love, familial love, and love for one’s heritage. Even if it is difficult to relate to the exact situation any of the characters are in, their emotions are universal and their dignity is certainly to be admired and respected. This story teaches us about human kindness and forgiveness, even in circumstances that seem unforgiveable. And of course, the quotes from The Little Prince not only extend the multicultural aspect of Red Glass – they help make Sophie and her companions’ journey universal. Laura Resau’s writing is entrancing and this story fascinating, so everyone should pick it up. 10 out of 10.

Thanks, Kristin! I've been so wrapped up in planning out promotional stuff for The Indigo Notebook's release this fall, and revising its sequel The Ruby Notebook, that I kind of forgot that people are still out there reading Red Glass for the first time.

Revising The Ruby Notebook is hard, hard work. This is probably the hardest it's ever felt to me because it's the tightest deadline I've ever worked under. In the past, I've let myself be playful with revision ideas and brainstorming in my journal-- "talking" with the characters about what changes they'd like to see, spinning fanciful conversations, giving myself poetry writing prompts, doing all these fun things to get at the story from a fresh, sideways perspective. And in this way, I was able to tap into the source/ my unconscious, whatever you want to call it, and from there, approach the revision.

But with this deadline looming, it's hard to let myself be playful. I feel like if I'm being playful, I'm wasting valuable time (and then I feel guilty that my toddler's in daycare when I'm sitting around "playing.") Finally, yesterday, I let myself go on and on in a fun, stream-of-consciousness way from each of the characters' perspectives. I didn't force any requirements on myself, just let each character ramble a bit in my journal. And of course, all kinds of little gems came out... plus it just felt GOOD. The rambling was seven single spaced pages. It gave me that rush, that feeling afterward of Whoa! Where'd the past two hours go? And I admitted to myself that it was indeed valuable, even though I wasn't focusing with my rational mind.

I think that writing a novel is a dance between the conscious and unconscious minds, with the unconscious mind leading. I love this about writing. I love how intensely thrilling it is to create something huge this way. But it's so, SO hard for me to remember this when I know I have a limited number of hours to spend on this revision, and I want to spend them wisely. I get myself into a bit of an unproductive panic.

Much of the time I spend revising actually involves me giving myself pep talks via my journal. My daily pep talk starts like this:

Okay, Laura. You can do this... YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

On to other things now...

Fun news about The Indigo Notebook audiobook! No, it will not be narrated by Brad Pitt (sorry, Brad, I know you've got your heart set on it). After hearing how he butchered the Spanish in a Cormac McCarthy book I heard, I made my opinion clear to the producer.

Worlds better than Brad Pitt is Justine Eyre, who will be narrating the book. Here she is:

She has a lot in common with the main character of The Indigo Notebook, as a matter of fact. Zeeta has lived a very international life, and so has Justine. She (Justine) was born in Nova Scotia (Canada) to an Australian father, spent her childhood in the Philippines attending British schools, moved back to Canada, then to Florida, and now lives on the West coast. Like Zeeta, she speaks several languages and loves writing. (Zeeta writes in her notebooks, and Justine, who has a degree in English, has written a novel.) I think this is very cool, and I can't wait to hear how the audiobook turns out!

I recently read a great page-turner for teens-- Graceling by Kristin Cashore.



It's her debut book and has been getting tons of well-deserved attention. It's set in magical medieval land, where most fantasies seem to be set, but it sets itself apart with its unique and beautiful love story and the amazing superhero powers of the main characters, who are thoroughly likeable (and the villain is thoroughly hateable, I must say.) The main character's issues and emotional growth are particularly original-- basically, she's the henchman for a tyrannical king, but she begins to see the value in being a humane, kind, ethical person. The writing is great-- it flows beautifully, which is always impressive when you're dealing with a complicated plot and real character/relationship growth, too.

I'm going to bed to reread more of The Time Traveler's Wife now, which is one of my favorite adult books.

G'night!
Laura

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thanks, Nebraska! And thanks, my dear writing group!

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Hi, everyone!

I'm going to squeeze in a post here before I go to my NIA class in 20 minutes. (NIA is a dance fusion thing with dance moves from different cultures, along with elements of yoga, tai chi, martial arts, you name it... it's the only organized form of exercise I'll do, since it involves cool music and feels more like dancing than exercise.)


So, first I want to thank the kids/teens of Nebraska, who nominated RED GLASS to the Golden Sower Award! It's one of ten nominated books, and they'll be gathering votes later this year and early next year. Last year's winner was Twilight... wouldn't it be cool if RED GLASS won the same award as Twilight?!

Last night my writing group-- Old Town Writers Group-- did a reading at Old Firehouse Books for Independents' Day, to encourage people to support their local indie bookstores. We had a blast! I cannot tell you how incredibly brilliant and fun the women in my group are, but I will attempt to here:



This is Sarah Ryan (on the right), who, in her spare time, flies (as in, she's a pilot!) little planes in places like the wilds of Alaska and Africa... she wrote a fabulous camping guide to Colorado, and now she has a hilarious, touching, insightful, juicy memoir represented by a great agent. She read an excerpt from it last night (about a revelation she had upon discovering a stash of Glamour mags from the eighties when she was about thirteen). She had the audience in stitches.

Kimberly Fields is on the left, and she read a very funny piece set in a coffee shop about trying to feel better about herself after a breakup... she should be a standup comedian, I've decided. AND she's great at writing about serious stuff, too-- like her experience with surviving leukemia last year. I'd link to a beautiful This I Believe essay she wrote, but the website is having issues. (Go to thisibelieve.org, and then do an author search).


Above is Carrie Visintainer, who's always hopping off to some cool locale, whether it be a pirate ship off the coast of Turkey or the used car lot scene in Thermopolis, Wyoming or a monastary filled with black-hooded monks in middle-of-nowhere, New Mexico. She's done a bunch of travel writing (she read a side-splitting piece about her experience in German sauna last night). Ever the adventurer, she's now embarking on writing a beautiful novel.


Above is Leslie Patterson, and she's published her delightfully bizzare historical fiction pieces and witty, deep personal essays in many literary journals. Now she's working on a dark and twisted novel loosely based on some really weird historical stuff involving body-snatching in 19th century London.


Molly Reid came on the scene after I took these pics (in a pizzeria after our reading last night), so I'll offer an illustration from an ancient bestiary in lieu of her photo. She's blond and pretty and always wears interesting jewelry, oftentimes featuring birds. She wore hummingbird earrings last night to fit with her sensual, haunting story involving hummingbirds. She's working on a bestiary of sorts-- a collection of short (often very short) stories in which animals reflect human emotions and relationships. So intriguing.


This is moi, who should be working right now on her/my latest revision of The Ruby Notebook. I'm on a tight deadline. Real quick, I'll tell you that last night I read a fun travel piece called "Naked in Oaxaca", which was published a few years ago in a Lonely Planet anthology.


If you came to our reading last night, THANK YOU! Having a super-enthusiastic audience made the event so much fun for us!

Okay, no more dilly-dallying for me! Off to my trailer to revise!

xoxo
Laura