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Sunday, January 30, 2011

*Starred* Kirkus review for THE QUEEN OF WATER!

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Hey guys,

So, after seven years (I started this book in 2004!), The Queen of Water will soon become a reality.... on March 8th, just over a month away!  Maria Virginia (my co-author) and I have been doing lots of happy-dancing (her in Ecuador, me here in Colorado)... not to mention LOTS of happy squealing over the phone...  The reviews have been lovely, lovely, lovely!  This book is very special to me for so many reasons (which I'm going to write about and add to my website soon).  For now I'll just say that Maria Virginia and I are incredibly grateful that the story feels special to readers, too.

Here's an excerpt of the ***starred*** review from Kirkus Reviews, which calls the book "riveting.":

"Bright spots of humor and warmth are woven throughout, and readers will agonize for Virginia while seething at her tormentors. The complexities of class and ethnicity within Ecuadorian society are explained seamlessly within the context of the first-person narrative, and a glossary and pronunciation guide further help to plunge readers into the novel's world.  By turns heartbreaking, infuriating and ultimately inspiring. (Fiction. 13 & up)"

Thank you thank you thank you!!!  (You can read the whole review here.)

And there's more!  VOYA calls the book "a richly described coming-of-age story set in a culture both foreign and familiar... by turns, shocking and funny."

I'm so glad these reviews mention the humor... I really love this aspect of Maria Virginia's story, too.  She was an incredibly spunky girl (and still is!), and she found all kinds of creative and funny ways to resist her oppressors.  And although she went through very rough times, she wasn't a victim, not at all... her girlhood was indeed inspiring.

In case you're curious what I've been up to since I handed in my manuscript a couple weeks ago... I've been doing all the fun, relaxing things that I put on hold during that final push to finish: long walks by the river, NIA dancing and yoga (very helpful, since those long hours in front of the computer wreaked havoc on my neck and shoulders), tea parties with my Lil Dude, reading books, watching movies with girlfriends (saw I Love You Phillip Morris (weird and funny) on Friday and plan to see The King's Speech, Black Swan, and Blue Valentine soon).  And, the ultimate in fun-creative-inspiring entertainment... went to the Cirque du Soleil show "Allegria"! Wow, wow, wow! Breath-taking and so worth the money (er, pretty pricey).

If you've read The Ruby Notebook, you know I love this stuff... fire dancing...

 whimsical acrobatics...

and clowns, of course...

Lil Dude was enamored of this "beautiful lady" (singer)... and insisted that we try to talk with her after the show (no go)...

 Okay, now to work on updating the website... Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sayulita, Mexico!

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Hello dear friends and readers!

First, a little warning-- if you're expecting to read about the kind of off-the-tourist-track adventures that you saw in Red Glass, What the Moon Saw, and The Indigo Notebook... read no further!  On the other hand, if you'd like to see a realistic glimpse of what my traveling life has become with 3-year-old and hubbie in tow-- chugging right along the well-worn tourist track, then read on, beloved reader (unless you're scared of a little vomit... er, a lot of vomit. (Am I grossing you out already? Sorry. I'll start with the happy parts...)

We went to Sayulita, Mexico (a small beach town near Puerto Vallarta) for a week with Carrie and Sarah of my writing group and their families... couldn't have asked for better company!

There was much-needed girl time...

 There was surfing. (Doesn't Ian look cute here?  Funny-- I knew him in high school-- and back then he had that exact same pair of swim trunks!  They must be 20 years old!)

It took us a couple days to find the part of the beach where the waves don't beat and batter you. (Poor Carrie and Ian discovered this the hard way...)

There were feasts...

There were walks by a colorful graveyard on the way to the scenic yoga palapa (!)

There was dancing (to little kids' music, of course... I still can't get the Buzz Buzz Buzz song out of my head....)

There was a disconcerting circus in town...

I say disconcerting because their main promotional tool was this rickety tiny cage of tigers, right on one of the main dirt roads.  As much as I try to be a non-judgmental traveler, I have to say this really, really bothered me.  It was painful to pass by them about ten times a day.  In fact, the only reason I've even included this picture is because oddly enough, in the manuscript I just finished, The Jade Notebook (set in another Mexican beach town), there is a large feline (I won't give away what kind of feline-- don't want to spoil anything...).  During my research, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos of large felines prowling and growling and whatnot, and I wished I could be in proximity to a real one.  And then, my wish was realized... in this disconcerting way... It did motivate me to learn more about a wild animal sanctuary just a 45 min drive from my house that has rescued many large felines in similar situations to these tigers.

Okay, on to prettier things... like *butterflies*...

 ... and luna moths...

There were dips in the pool... (the kiddie pool was so perfect for the three-year-olds-- Lil Dude played in there until he was blue-lipped and shivering like crazy and we had to drag him out...)  (And oh how I wish I could include photos of him here-- sooo cute with his goggles and boogie board).

The house we rented was ideal for three families traveling together, especially families of *writer ladies*... little patios and nooks galore...


Now you're probably wondering about that vomit I mentioned earlier... well, there was LOTS of it.  Lil Dude caught a stomach virus from his preschool buddies, and started feeling sick on the plane on the way there.  Ugh.  Middle and window seats for us-- the poor lady in the aisle seat was getting up and down every few minutes to let us race to the bathroom.  And then, for the next few days (although Lil Dude *did* have a blast playing in the pool and sea and sand), there were countless bathroom trips, including in the middle of the night.  The vomiting stopped after a few days, but his gastrointestinal tract was -- shall we say-- tender-- for the whole week.  And then, then... I caught it.  Ugh.  And then, Ian caught it. Ugh, ugh.

Enough complaining.  Other than that, it was a very lovely trip!  Okay, to get the vomit out of your mind and leave you on a nicer note, here's a goofy pic of me.  Ian really loves these pictures of me that capture how I probably look most of the time-- kind of spacing out and daydreaming... he actually has a collection of these dorky pics of me in a photo cube in his office, hehehe.

I'll leave you on that note!  I have more news to tell you (good stuff!), but it's time for my NIA (dance) class now! Thanks for reading!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Omi's review of THE RUBY NOTEBOOK

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Speaking of gratitude (which I did in my last post) I want to tell you about Omi, my German grandmother-in-law, who I actually started to adore long before I was married to her grandson. 

When I was twenty years old and traveling around Europe, I took a train to her little town of Langenselbold (Ian was supposed to be there, too, but he wasn't— *ahem*-- that's another story). Anyway, I visited her once in winter, and once in summer.  Both times were magical--- I stayed in her hundred-year-old stone house, sipped coffee in her gorgeous old rose garden, visited castles and ruins with her...  Omi was such a beautiful,  poetic, artistic creative soul then (17 years ago) and she still is now, well into her nineties! She's so open-hearted and delightful--  the kind of person who slips pressed flowers and other little treasures into her letters.

She's read all my books, and I LOVE reading her reviews of them… here's her latest one, tucked into our Frohe Weihnacht und ein Guten Neues Jahr card.  (She writes beautifully in English—it's her second language—I think the little idiosyncrisies that come with writing in a different language make her letter extra charming and poetic).:
Hello Laura,

It's been quite some time now that I forgot the world around me and was transformed into the mysterious person of Z vacationing in the lovely city of Aix-en-Provence, waiting for Wendell to arrive. 

In the meantime strange things happened to me.  I was partly living with and in a group of French young people, a band, people that became my friends and were in some mysterious way attached to me- and-maybe- could become the solution of my search for father unknown.

And there is the charming Madame Chevalier and Vincent the shy lover of days gone by but never forgotten.  I love to be with them from time to time—enjoying a pot of of tea, listening to stories of my story. 
I indulge into their atmosphere of shadows, of shadows which make light appear.

And then- the feared end- fin- and closing of the book!

The dream remains and haunts me for days.

Thank you for a wonderful gift for hours outside of reality.


If you've read my books, you know that there's almost always a wise, kind, creative older lady that the narrator bonds with.  These characters are combinations of real-life kind, wise, creative older ladies who've been essential in my life, embracing me as a granddaughter.  Omi is one of these inspirational ladies.  Danke shoen, Omi! Frohe Weihnacht und ein guten neues Jahr!

Love and Liebe to Omi, my family, friends, and readers!

PS  I just got back from *Mexico* yesterday! More about that soon...

PPS  I'm pretty much finished with THE JADE NOTEBOOK manuscript, at least this draft, which I'll soon send to my editor.  Whew!  Sorry if you were one of the people I neglected during this final push to the finish line... thanks for your patience!