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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slice of Life and CO Author's League Pics...

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Hello friends,

Well, it's dusk and my man is putting Baby to bed. I'm here in my trailer, and by this time of day, my brain is too tired to do any more on this revision of my book (which is due to my editor on Monday.) I work best in the mornings, half-decently in the afternoons, and by nightfall I'm hopeless.

One nice thing about spring is that I can have fresh flowers next to me as I write. There's an iris by my side now, and I periodically smell it. And there are a whole slew of irises outside this window, in three distinct shades of purple: indigo, violet, and standard iris color.

In case you were wondering if I was affected by the recent tornadoes in Northern Colorado, I wasn't, except that my irises got a bit battered by hail from that storm.

So, maybe you're wondering how I structure my days. (If so, read on. If not, skim a few paragraphs...) I wake up around 6:45 to Baby's sounds in the next room. My hubbie brings him to me and he hangs out with me drinking milk for a while. (He can say milk in sign language-- it's basically the gesture of milking a cow, which is a little weird.)

Then he plays with my alarm clock for a while, which endlessly fascinates him. Then he gets antsy and whiny and does sign language for please, which is rubbing his chest, which means, please let's get the heck out of bed and start running around. Which is what we do next. Then I have tea and honey and milk and then change his diaper. His latest cute thing is "jumping" which is him squatting down like he's going to do a gigantic jump, and then, anticlimactically, not leaving the ground. But he thinks he's jumping, and he claps and laughs and so do I.

The jumping thing reminds me of dreams in which I'm flying, or trying to fly. I have these dreams fairly frequently-- I know I'm dreaming and decide to fly, but it takes a few moments before I remember how to leave the ground. It's like jumping, but just continuing to go up and up. Whenever Baby jumps and doesn't quite manage to leave the ground, I think of these dreams.

The reason I'm justifying writing about it here in my writing blog is that for me, writing is like flying. I'm lifting off from this world and entering a different one. It takes a lot of focus, but at the same time, it takes letting loose and being free, which in some ways seem contradictory. That's what's challenging about creating stories-- the simultaneous extreme concentration and extreme letting go. Meditation or flying are the best comparisons I have for it.

When I was twelve, I kept a dream journal. It was a blue spiral notebook and I probably still have it somewhere. I still write down the Big Dreams in my journals now-- the ones that feel extra important. A lot of the imagery in my books comes from my dreams-- both Helena's and Clara's spirit animals in What the Moon Saw were inspired by powerful dreams I had. Sophie's looking for underwater treasures in Red Glass is another re-occuring dream.

In college, I read lots of Carl Jung on my own... I haven't read his stuff lately, but I think I've internalized it and it's part of me now. I think that we all have our personal mythology, with our own symbols and myths and characters and journeys. I think that as a writer, it's important to honor whatever your mythology is and let it come out in our writing. That's what will give it real depth and resonance.

Baby is sleeping and my husband is talking to his mom on the phone in the backyard, and it's nearly dark. I love summer. I can't wait for it to start. Did you know I'll be in southern France this summer? I will! In Aix-en-Provence, where I lived for a year as a 20 year old. It was a magical place for me, full of mysteries that I will tell you about sometime, maybe. I have an 18th century apartment rented for a month on one of the narrow streets in the labyrinth downtown. I've been busy planning the trip in between polishing my current manuscript (which STILL has no definite name, though I'm coming close, I think...)

Okay, I'm going to make some chicken for dinner. Thanks for reading. These pics are of the Colorado Authors' League Award Banquet. (Red Glass won in the Middle Grade/Young Adult category!) In one pic I'm with my friend Gloria, who is a beautiful and talented Mexican writer, artist, dancer, and singer. In another, I'm with Liz, winning author of Curveball: When Life Throws You a Brain Tumor, who I met at our table over dinner. She's lovely and fascinating and smart! In another pic, I'm receiving my award from, yes, a bunny. This award was freshly named the Harvey Award, which has something to do with six foot tall bunnies...

You know, I realized I got side-tracked and never told you about the rest of my day. So. Baby's babysitter comes at 8:00 and I have time to change out of my PJs and throw on some clothes and grab some yogurt and come out here to my trailer. I either check email or jump right into writing. Ideally, I write a bit in my journal first, but that doesn't always happen.

I write and drink tea and write and drink more tea and have some yogurt and drink more tea. If I'm very very very tired I might rest my eyes a little on the futon in the back of my trailer. (It's no longer a secret... Sarah in my writing group let it slip at a reading we did...)

So then around noon the babysitter takes off, and if the weather's nice, Baby and I wander around Old Town for a few hours-- he plays on large bear and fish sculptures, runs up and down a ramp, hurls himself into puddles, sips milk and watches big trucks go by in front of Ardour Cafe, waves hello and goodbye to countless strangers.

In the evening I pop in a DVD of Six Feet Under or LOST or something similar and we play and I watch TV (a little guiltily, covering his ears at the cursing, and covering his eyes whenever anyone gets shot or has sex.) Then my hubbie comes home and feeds him and then we eat and talk and read and relax and listen to NPR, and perhaps, if I'm not feeling too lazy, I write in this blog...


Monday, May 12, 2008

IRA Conference!

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Hello all!

I just got back from the IRA (International Reading Association) conference in Atlanta, where I accepted the IRA Young Adult Fiction Award! At the awards luncheon, I sat at a table with some wonderful ladies (we’re almost all females at these events…) -- librarians, teachers, and professors of children's and YA literature. The keynote speaker was Suzanne Fisher Staples, who wrote Shabanu-- she was a fabulous speaker-- she gave a slide show about her travels in the Middle East, which inspired her books. The end of her speech gave me shivers, it was so powerful.

Let's see, highlights of the trip:

I got to meet my editor, Stephanie Lane, in person for the first time. She's an angel-- beautiful, brilliant, kind... now that I know her, I feel even more grateful and lucky that she's my editor. And the rest of the Random House women there were super-nice. It made me realize how many people at RH are passionately involved in my books behind the scenes.

I ate lots of tasty food at fancy places with great people-- authors, librarians, teachers... it was the ultimate wining-and-dining experience.

My room was on the 64th floor of one of the tallest buildings in sight! My ears popped going up and down the elevator. And even at top speeds, it took a good minute or so to get to my floor, enough time for me to take some pics (to prove to you that indeed, this hotel had over 70 floors...)

Those of you who've read RED GLASS might remember that Sophie has an elevator phobia... and I must admit that the fear-of-elevators thing is one of the more autobiographical parts of the book. I almost always take the stairs, even when there are ten floors. But 64 floors...well, I decided the stairs were not an option if I didn't want to arrive sweaty and completely out of breath to every event.

It actually wasn't too scary. Like Sophie in RED GLASS, I vividly ran through all the disasters that could occur and how hard it would be to save myself on the 64th floor... but the sheer novelty of being so incredibly high up outweighed the fear.

The pics are:

dizzying views from my hotel room window (the tall cylindrical building is the actual hotel-- some windows are busted from the gigantic storm earlier this spring.)

Stephanie (black dress) and me,

Adrienne (black suit) (RH Library/Educational Marketing) and me

Me and the ladies from my luncheon table, including Lisa, another lovely RH woman (publicity)

The elevator buttons

In other news, my spectacular agent, Erin Murphy, did an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith.
It's definitely worth checking out-- not only is she an interesting, smart person, but you'll also learn a bit about what she does as an agent and how she got where she is. (Plus, she says some nice things about Red Glass! ;)

Sleeptime for me now... g'night!