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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Austin TLA Recap (just a month late...)

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Hey yall,
I've been so crazy-busy I haven't had a chance to tell you about my trip to Austin last month (for the Texas Library Association Conference), so now that I've gotten a chance to catch my breath from all the traveling, here goes!

Author buddies David Levithan, James Dashner, Lauren Myracle, Carrie Ryan, and me after a fun BBQ dinner (there were lots of those in the heart of BBQ land!)...

My new editor-- Francoise Bui! The editor I  had for my first six books- Stephanie Lane Elliott-- had a beautiful baby last fall and made a career change, so Delacorte connected me with my new editor, Francoise, who I like very much and who's editing The Jade Notebook with me. (She's in the middle of this pic-- I wish I'd gotten a good one of the two of us together!)

Cool paper mache guitar centerpieces... I think that Texas teens made them for us! Lots of music, art, and tattoos in Austin, I noticed (and BBQ).

And lots of amazing librarians!! Like my fun dinner companions...

Always exciting to hang out with authors I admire... James Dashner is the author of The Maze Runner series-- incredible speculative fiction-- and he's an exceedingly nice guy, I discovered. And we're both interested in parallel universes and the like...

Here are some more great librarian at the signing I did for Star in Forest-- loved their enthusiasm!  I have to say that Texas librarians just *exude* enthusiasm-- it was a real joy talking with them all.

At the Random House dinner... more friends, new and old, in the publishing industry... and super-yummy food!

So much laughing and great conversation that night... topics covered included Friday Night Lights (which I have yet to see but apparently everyone at Delacorte is obsessed with), Paul Simon (who I've loved for decades), blueberries vs blackberries (I prefer the latter), and so much more!

It's such a treat to stay in high-up rooms in fancy shmancy hotels that I'd never stay in normally... and to get picked up in a sleek black car-- the very car that Justin Bieber rode in not long before me, as a matter of fact. I'm no pop culture aficionada, but I do know that name.... my driver, apparently did not! He told me he found himself amidst squealing girls at the airport to meet Justin, and that's when he asked another driver standing next to him, "So who is this Justin Bieber guy I'm picking up, anyway?"  He said Justin was quite the nice young gentleman, and gave him a $100 tip.  (At which point in the story, I started feeling a little bad that regular old authors like me can't swing close to that kinda tip...) 

I have more pics from the trip-- pics of my wanderings by the river/lake path and of my agent retreat, but now I have to try to get Lil Dude to understand what "quiet time" means... he's abandoned naps, to my chagrin, but I'm determined to have some kind of siesta-type hour in the day.  Wish me luck (today was not successful!)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bookbrowse Feature

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Hey everyone,

Just want to say hi! I'm sick with a cold now (as is Lil Dude), so we're both taking it easy today. I'm feeling a little guilty for letting him watch back to back Toy Story and Toy Story 2 videos, but honestly, it's the only way I've found to keep him resting.  He's this bottomless well of crazy energy, even when he's sick and coughing up a storm and needs to sit still.

I've done some fun school visits the past couple weeks-- two were focused on Star in the Forest, and if I get photos passed along, I'll post them here.  I love hearing all the ways in which kids connect with that book-- it's really moving.  And it's so inspiring to see the cool activities the teachers plan for the students... one of the most exciting things for an author is to see creative writing and art projects that stem from their story. Thanks, Columbine and Irish Elementary Schools!

Tamara Smith (an author and agent-mate of mine) did a wonderful feature of The Queen of Water on Book Browse.  Here's an excerpt:

This book pulls no punches. It does not sugar-coat María
Virginia's experiences as a servant for a middle class
mestizo family. She is dealt a cruel hand, and Laura Resau
deftly writes about the details of her abuse - both physical
and emotional - and her dreams of escaping her situation.
Not easy stuff to read. But Laura also lyrically writes
about Virginia's courage and determination - to learn to
read, to understand science, to leave her abusive situation,
to become the person she is meant to become - and the
ways in which she slowly achieves these goals. An
amazing story.

Tamara's article also discusses the collaborative nature of this book (between me and Maria Virginia Farinango)... this was one of the most rewarding aspects of writing the book.

Thank you, Tamara!

You can read more here.

Time to check on Lil Dude and have more tea with lots of honey... wish me a speedy recovery!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Starred Publishers Weekly review for Queen!

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 Maria Virginia Farinango (my co-author and me... happy!!)
Hey guys,

Nice news to start off my week: The Queen of Water just got its *third* starred review-- this one from Publishers Weekly!  I'm over the moon!

* This compelling collaboration between Resau (The Ruby Notebook) and Farinango--who met while Resau was teaching English at a community college--is based on Farinango's tumultuous upbringing in Ecuador as part of an indígena (indigenous) family, forced to live under the thumb of the mestizos (the Spanish upper class). As is common for indígena girls her age, Virginia is sent to live with a wealthy mestizo couple--in her case, Niño Carlitos and his wife, Doctorita--and she babysits their children and serves as their maid for eight years. While the living conditions are an improvement over her family's small farm, she endures physical and verbal abuse and is denied an education. 

Narrating in a singular, authentic voice, Virginia dreams of escape, but her broken identity leaves her directionless. Along the way, though, she employs her imagination, persistence, and hard-won wisdom to recover her strength and freedom. The authors' candid narrative richly depicts Virginia's passage from a childhood filled with demoralization to a young woman who sees her life through new eyes. Ages 12–up.

 Yay!  So happy about this... I didn't even know what starred reviews meant before my first book came out... Basically, it's a system for recognizing the book as having exceptional merit... and the happy consequence is that librarians, book sellers, teachers, and people in the publishing industry pay more attention to the book.... which ultimately gets the book into the hands of more readers... and this, as a writer, is one of my biggest goals... to connect with as many readers as I can.

Okay, I have to wade my way through the heaps of emails that have been building up since I left for Michigan.  I'm in the midst of planning lots of author visits (virtual and actual) with schools and libraries in Colorado-- Broomfield, Boulder, Fort Collins, Basalt, Grand Junction, and more...

(If I owe you an email, don't worry, it'll be coming soon... my apologies!)  Thanks for reading and keeping in touch-- I'm grateful!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Back from Michigan!

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Hello everyone!

Just got back from author visits to Lansing and Ann Arbor, where I had a blast with students from Haslett High, Greenhills School, the International Book club at the East Lansing Library, and the folks at Ann Arbor Library... I loved meeting so many cool teachers and students and librarians and writers and readers... such a treat! 

I also went to my dad's retirement party in Grand Rapids... Lil Dude was with me, which made things extra wild and crazy (he has so much energy he literally bounces off walls).  He was great on the plane ride, but I still feel utterly exhausted at the moment... I'd like to sleep about 20 hours...

More good news has been coming in about Star in the Forest... the latest is that it's an Americas Award Commended Book!  I love the Americas Award... Red Glass was a winner a few years ago, and What the Moon Saw was an honor book.  You can read more about the award here.

I also found out that Star in the Forest is currently a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in the Juvenile category, and The Ruby Notebook is a finalist in the Young Adult Category... yay! Thank you, Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book! 

So excited to go to Aspen again with Lil Dude and Ian for the awards ceremony in June... and the best part is that I'll get to be with my talented, fun friends who are also finalists:

Amy Kathleen Ryan for Zen and Xander (YA, another Fort Collins author and good friend!)

Todd Mitchell for The Secret to Lying (YA--  yet another Fort Collins author and good friend!)
Nancy Bo Flood  for Warriors in the Crossfire (Juvenile, she's one of the brilliant authors behind The Pirate Tree blog!)

Congrats everyone!  I can't wait to cheer each other on in Aspen...

I also wanted to let you know that The Pirate Tree (mentioned above)-- a wonderful new blog about social justice and children's literature-- is featuring The Queen of Water this week. There's a thoughtful review/article on domestic slavery and The Queen of Water and an interview with me... And next week it will be featuring Star in the Forest!  A huge thank you to Lyn Miller-Lachmann and Nancy Bo Flood for their work on this incredible blog (and for their important books)!

Hmmm... I feel like there's more news, but my brain isn't cooperating now... I'll try to remember and write more soon!  Hope everyone's enjoying springtime!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Good news

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Hey everyone!

I've been busy, busy, busy!  Just got my latest revision of THE JADE NOTEBOOK into my editor-- whew!  The release date is Feb 2012 (and a giant *thank you* to all of you who've been enthusiastically asking me about it...)

I'm in Michigan now, doing author visits to libraries and schools in Ann Arbor and East Lansing... fun, fun, fun!  I'm especially excited because these are the first presentations in which I'll focus on THE QUEEN OF WATER!  Speaking of Queen, here are some links to great reviews:

The Denver Post, which calls the book "tremendously potent" and told with "grace and complexity." Read more here.  I did an interview with the reviewer, Claire Martin, a few years ago, for another book.  She's actually been to the Otavalo region of Ecuador (the region the book is set)-- very cool!)

Scene Magazine-- which gives a really thoughtful analysis:

"The Queen of Water is at once depressing and inspirational, savage and innocent, and is all the more poignant since it is based on the true story of Farinango’s upbringing. The first-person narrative creates an intimacy between Virginia and the reader; it is a glimpse into the personal diary of a blossoming and resilient young woman."  Read more here.

Okay, I have to go now... my Lil Dude wants me to watch him ride his bike around the track in the school down the block.  *proud mama moment... Lil Dude just turned four and he's already a master at riding a bike without training wheels... he's actually been doing it since he was 3 1/2!*

(Okay, sorry, that's it for now....  bye!)

xo, more soon,