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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jade Waters...

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Happy, happy holidays, everyone! Hope you're feeling excited about the new year, and dreaming of new creative adventures...

In celebration of finishing The Ruby Notebook, and getting over what is hopefully the last in a string of colds, Ian and I took our first romantic vacation since Lil Dude came into our lives two Decembers ago.


Not only was it a heavenly (and *much-needed*) trip, but it also rekindled my passion for writing The Jade Notebook, which is set in a Mexican beach town (although a different town from the one we visited -- we were near Tulum on the Yucatan, and Jade is set in Mazunte in Oaxaca).

There's nothing better than opening your eyes in the morning and seeing this.


Stepping outside into this . . .


There was no electricity in our palapa, so we used candles at night. One night we lay on the beach and watched a stunning meteor shower... dozens of shooting stars leaving trails across the sky. And each time a star zipped across the sky, I gasped in delight.


Inside view of our palapa's roof. We want to make one of these in our back yard...

We ate meals outside on the sand in the jungly foliage... resulting in a ring of bug bites around our ankles-- which still itch-- but it was definitely worth it to be surrounded by transluscent green as we ate papaya and sopa de lima and sweet flan . . .


The first time I snorkeled, years ago, I felt I'd discovered a different world. I wanted to spend hours, days, weeks, months underwater with flashing silvery fish and wavy sea creatures. I still love it, and if I were brave enough, I'd attempt scuba diving... maybe one day.


We also swam in cenotes-- freshwater underground rivers in caves, which, if you've read my books, you can guess is right up my alley. I love the magical shades of deep blue in the shadows... And I love how, when you least expect it, you swim around a corner and you're met with glimmery columns of sunlight that take your breath away.

Pelicans and sea gulls and the sound of the ocean rushing and the wind through palm fronds...


A tiny tiled pool overlooked the ocean, just in front of our palapa.


After our outings to the cenotes or open sea, these funny elephant creatures greeted us on our bed inside the mosquito net.


One evening we made a sculpture with debris from a spot down the beach... his hair is made of seaweed, and he's wearing a jaunty plastic purple bowl hat.


This little guy enjoyed the sea view, too.

I'm so, so grateful to you for reading my books and this blog, and encouraging me in all kinds of wonderful ways! Here's to an extraordinary new year!

xoxo,
Laura

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winner of THE INDIGO NOTEBOOK contest!

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My dad and me at my reading at Pooh's Corner, in Grand Rapids, Michigan-- what a fun night!

Happy solstice, everyone!

Huge congrats to Charlotte of Victoria, B.C., Canada, age 12! She's the winner of
The Indigo Notebook Fall Contest, and she'll get a signed copy sent as soon as I get to the post office! I loved the true story she submitted-- a wonderful snippet of a bus journey she took in Nicaragua with her family. Here it is:

Getting There is Half the Fun

“Riva, Riva, Riva, Rivas” the conductor yells, leaning slightly precariously, out of the door of the bus as it pulls put of the sprawling market. That is when my parents, my brother and I clamber into another world: the bus. The bus is packed and we attract quite a lot of attention as we are the only gringos on it. An elderly woman and a young schoolgirl squish over to give me a seat. “Muchas gracias,” I say quietly and hesitantly. They then try to start a conversation with me but “hola” and “gracias” is about the extent of my Spanish.
The bus used to be a school bus in Virginia but when it was deemed too old to use there, they shipped it off to Nicaragua. You can still see the sign at the front listing the school bus rules like “keep all body parts inside the bus at all times”. That rule is slightly ironic as whenever anyone has any garbage they chuck it out the window. We stop at the side of the road wherever anyone is and often a vendor will come on as well shouting “agua, gaseosas, jugos” or “pollo frito” or “ensaladas”.
The bus is also the main way of transporting goods and we get loaded up with bags of potatoes and other vegetables headed for market. The conductor is coming around to collect everyone’s fare. When my parents ask the conductor how much the fare is, they attract some curious looks saying “how can you not know how much it costs”. We speed past trees, houses, fields full of various crops and huts made from whatever types of materials are around. We arrive in the market in Rivas, more chaotic than the one that we left from in Granada and we board another bus and another world.

Aren't her descriptions fabulous? Don't you feel like you're right there with her on the bus?! Thanks, Charlotte, for writing this and sharing it with us!


Congrats, also, to Kinsey of Wisconsin, who won the Ultimate YA Group contest! Her signed copy of The Indigo Notebook is also in the mail...

Tidbits of news:
Minnie of Athena's YA blog chose The Indigo Notebook as one of her favorites this year for her Twelve Days of Christmas recommendations. Thanks, Minnie!

Lorie Ann Grover chose
Red Glass as one of her top three What a Girl Wants: Book Recommends. Thanks, Lorie Ann!

I just found out that
Red Glass is on the 2009-2010 Eliot Rosewater reading list. This is a shortlist for the Indiana High School Book Award. Thank you, librarians and teens of Indiana!

A few new reviews:
From BCCB (Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books)-- "[Zeeta's] own questioning of what she really wants also facilitates readerly connections; holding the exciting plot, evocative setting, and unusual experiences up to the rhythms of a more ordinary life enables readers to share Zeeta's ultimate epiphany that she is, in fact, living the life others only dream of.... readers looking for inspiration and impetus to get out and see the world will find this a satisfying outing."

From the
Fort Collins Coloradoan, in an article entitled "Resau's detailed Imagery perfect for Young Adults, Older Readers" -- Nancy Hansford writes: "Somehow [Resau] manages to write young adult novels that enthrall adult readers as well."

Now that I've turned in my Ruby Notebook manuscript, I've been able to indulge in reading piles of books. Here are some good ones I've read recently:
  • Catching Fire (amazing sequel to The Hunger Games)
  • The Miles Between (Mary Pearson also wrote The Adoration of Jenna Fox, which I loved, too.)
  • The Magician's Elephant (Kate Dicamillo has such a great story-telling voice)
  • Marcelo in the Real World (fascinating and satisfying)
  • Impossible by Nancy Werlin (loved how Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme were woven into the story.)
  • Vibes (really funny and written by a writing buddy of mine-- Amy Kathleen Ryan)
  • I've also been listening to the audiobook of The Indigo Notebook. It's an interesting experience to hear someone else reading your work-- especially a professional actress. I love the way she does the little girls' voices... your heart just melts!)
One more tidbit of news: I'm happy to report that my wonderful agent, Erin Murphy, has just created a website for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency! You can read about all the amazing authors she works with here.

Thanks for reading! Happy holidays! (And check back soon to see my Mexico trip pics-- I'll be posting them in a few days!)

Laura

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

where would I be...

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. . . without my beloved writing group?

Sarah Ryan, Molly Reid, Kimberly Srock Fields donning paper crowns that flew out of our exploding golden rocket tubes--
apparently an English tradition (see remnants in lower right corner)


One thing I've discovered in life-- and it's something that I sometimes forget and need to re-discover-- is this: Gratitude and celebration are keys to happiness. Tonight I reveled in both with the brilliant, beautiful women of Old Town Writers Group.

Carrie Visintainer and Leslie Patterson

Look at this scrumptious spread! Leslie outdid herself (and this is just a little fraction of all the food.) We feasted and updated each other about our writing life and did critiques, as we do every two weeks. This special end-of-the-year meeting involved toasting each other's successes... and there were many. The thing we celebrated most of all was the joy and camaraderie of being together in our group.

Leslie is a master mixer of delicious and unusual drinks. I don't even remember what was
in this one, but it was festive and had fresh cranberries and lemon in it. Yum.


Being in a writers' group is a really intimate bonding experience. By sharing your writing-- your innermost thoughts and feelings-- you reveal vulnerable parts of yourself that even your close family and friends might not know about.

Look at these lovely gifts Leslie gave us... a wee journal made of handmade paper, Divine dark chocolate, and my new favorite French liquor (made from elderflowers! I *love* food and drink made from flowers. There's something magical about it.) And best of all, it comes in a teeny tiny bottle which will make a perfect vase for a single wildflower this spring.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Carrie, Sarah, Leslie, Kimberly, and Molly!

If you'd like more details about exactly what we do in our group, click here and scroll down to the question "What exactly do you do in your writers' group?"

On a different note, I have lots more to write about... winners of recent Indigo contests, some lovely Indigo reviews, pics and recap of my Mexico trip, recent good books I've read, good news about Red Glass, some random stuff about The Ruby Notebook... but that will have to wait. I've finished my decaf tea with honey and milk, and I'm ready for bed.

Hope you're having a magical winter... and forgive me if I still haven't responded to your email. I'm slowly making my way through the emails that accumulated as I was wrapped up in the sea and sand and salty breezes last week...

Thanks for reading!

xoxo,
Laura

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

crawling out of the hole...

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Christine (of Boulder Bookstore) and me and Victoria Hanley (author of Violet Wings) at our reading last week. A big thanks to those of you who came out to see us!

Hey everyone!

I just turned the revision of The Ruby Notebook into my editor! Whew! I spent the last two weeks trying to get it finished by the deadline (and I managed, with my mom's help, to get it in only a few hours late!) So... if you wrote me an email in the past two weeks and haven't heard back yet, that's why. (Sorry.) I'm trying to catch up with everything now.

I just found out that Delacorte will be giving a new cover look to the Notebooks series. So far I've seen the new covers for the first two books (Indigo and Ruby). Still waiting on Jade. I really like the new covers-- they're photographic and feature girls on the front, but from a back view, which is nice-- that way you can imagine their faces how you like. I don't think I'm supposed to show you the covers yet, but as soon as I can, I will!

Let's see... so now, after I recover from late nights working on the revision (and a nasty little cold), I'm going to refocus on The Queen of Water-- the memoir I wrote with my Ecuadorian friend Maria Virginia Farinango, which comes out in Spring 2011. We still have to revise it, which I'm actually looking forward to-- it's been over a year since I've delved into it!

Also on my plate is starting The Jade Notebook, which is set in a beach town in Oaxaca, Mexico. My husband and I will be taking a much needed Mexico beach vacation in a few weeks (my parents will be staying with Lil Dude here in Ft Collins. Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I'm hoping the trip will put me in the mood for jumping into Jade...

A few nice bits of news:

School Library Journal gave The Indigo Notebook this lovely review!

"Gr 6-9–This is a family and friendship story turned adventure tale with a touch of romance and an even slighter hint of fantasy. Zeeta, 15, wishes most of all that her mother would settle down so that they could have a regular life, rather than moving her from country to country, quoting the Sufi poet Rumi at every opportunity, and getting involved with eccentric, irresponsible men. As they arrive at their latest destination, a small town in the mountains of Ecuador , Zeeta meets Wendell, an American boy in search of his birth parents. When she agrees to help him in his quest, she becomes involved in a mysterious and ultimately dangerous adventure. As the suspense heats up and becomes more intense, Zeeta’s mother is engaged in her own adventure: a relationship with a man who wants her to settle down and become responsible. The change in Layla forces Zeeta to question what she values about her mother, and whether she really wants that suburban lifestyle after all.

Well plotted, with a cast of likable and interesting secondary characters and a powerfully atmospheric setting that includes a cave of crystals and a waterfall supposed to have magical powers, this novel succeeds at creating a believable and touchingly gentle romance between Zeeta and Wendell. The fantastic element, Wendell’s inherited gift of seeing into the future, is deftly handled. An entertaining and suspenseful read."

Yay! I'm glad she mentioned the plotting. Writing this Notebook series has required me to focus more on plotting than in my other books. In the Notebooks, there are mysteries (actually Ruby has TWO mysteries)... which means I have to think carefully about what info is revealed when, and all kinds of other details of mystery writing.

On a different note, Red Glass was selected as one of the Top Five Most Impressive Multi-cultural Young Adult Novels of 2009 by Marjolein Balm on the American Book Center blog. What an honor! Marjolein also posted a great review of What the Moon Saw on her young adult book blog. She calls the book "magical and inspiring." Thank you, Marjolein!

Another blog review from Read Arizona says The Indigo Notebook "would make a fabulous read over the holidays." :-)

If you know anyone in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, please tell them to come to my book signing on Monday, December 7 at 6:30 at Pooh's Corner. (I'll be visiting family there for a few days. Lil Dude and I will ride the Polar Express-- needless to say, he's over the moon!)

I'll be announcing the winners of the Ultimate YA contest and my own contest soon-- the deadline for entries just passed. I'll try to post the winning entry soon (and send out the signed copies of Indigo soon!)

Hope you all had a scrumptious Thanksgiving!

xoxo
Laura