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Friday, January 27, 2012

Take me away...

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It is officially here.... my uncontrollable mid-winter longing for sparkling blue water and sultry tropical air and all manner of jungle creatures-- I wouldn't even mind the skeeters at this point.  But there's none of this for me this year, as we're at the tail end of a house renovation (we've been in rental homes for 8 months now!)...which means we have a distinct lack of time, money, and energy with which to plan a Mexico beach trip.  And just to rub it in,  two of my  closest friends (you know who you are) just went to a beautiful tiny coastal town in Mexico only accessible by boat.  Argh!  (Okay, I'm *mostly* happy for them...)

Playa Mazunte

Whenever I feel jealousy creeping in, I try to transform it to inspiration.  So,  this is inspiration for me to make sure that *next year* we take a delicious beach trip. In the meantime, I've been looking longingly at these pics from my last trip to Mazunte, where I did research for The Jade Notebook (which comes out on Valentine's Day!!)

Here are bits of reviews that have been coming in... this first one's from Kirkus:

"In this third in a series of novels focusing on Zeeta and her wanderlust-stricken mother, readers are immersed in the details of a lovingly described coastal town in Mexico and an action-filled mystery surrounding the poaching of ancient sea turtles that make their home there...  a graceful conclusion to Zeeta’s story."

This part of the review made me smile.:
"... Resau’s skill in evoking an almost visceral experience of setting firmly anchors the story...."

I really love writing setting details... this is something I practice, scribbling observations in my spiral-bound notebooks.  I try to use all or most of my senses in every scene. And this setting of beach-meeting-jungled hills is such an intense sensory experience in real life-- the thick, humid air, the constant hum of insects and bird calls, the rush of ocean, pounding of water against rocks, taste of salt everywhere- on your skin and hair and damp clothes... it was fun to try to capture that on paper.
On the porch of my cabana.  Perfect writing spot.

The first official blogger review  came in this past week, too... Marjolein, a YA book reviewer, calls it "an amazing conclusion" to the series in her 5 star review. (Thanks Marjolein!!)

And a lovely librarian review from TATAL Online:
"This book transcends travel or mystery to instead be a book about growing up, learning to trust and let go, and finding belonging within a family and a community. A fitting end to this unique trilogy."

I love the  landscape of Mazunte....  little beach coves you can hike to, where you feel completely alone.


Some of the action in the book takes place here, on Punta Cometa (Comet Point.) See how it's shaped like a comet, the tail trailing into the ocean?

Here's what "downtown" Mazunte looks like... I think this is the only paved road.

And here's the dirt road leading to the cabanas where I stay:

Some of the most exciting scenes in the book take place on the rocky crags around Punta Cometa... It's such a dramatic setting-- seawater churning and beating against the cliffs... just begging for a story climax to happen here (hint hint...)

From these pics you can't really tell, but this chaos of water is several stories below--it's dizzying and scary to be near the edge...

The water is crashing, booming here...

A giant cactus on Punta Cometa, referred to in the story...

Sunsets viewed from Punta Cometa are stunning... I spent an evening perched there with my notebook, recording my sensations minute by minute as the sun sunk.

If you look closely, you can see the silhouette of a sweet couple watching the sunset together.

Okay, enough beach-longing...time for me to get to work on some other things-- like preparing the presentations I'll be doing at the CCIRA conference next week. But before I leave you, I'll mention some good news with The Queen of Water... it was selected as a title on the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, announced a few days ago by the ALA (American Library Association).  I also found out it was selected as a Recommended Title by the ALA-affiliated Amelia Bloomer Project, which focuses on feminist literature for young people. Maria Virginia and I are happy and grateful for these honors!

Thanks for reading!

Laura       P.S.  If you want to see more of my Mazunte pics, visit this older blog post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Boulder Event for Literacy in Rural Guatemala

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Hey everyone!

I'm so excited about the Story-a-Thon event I'm participating in at the Boulder Bookstore this Saturday.  It's a benefit for Reading Village, a non-profit that fosters leadership, educational opportunities, and literacy in rural Guatemala. All day, local authors and educators and other folks will be at the store reading our favorite picture books aloud (some in English, some in Spanish).  There will also be a bookmark station where kids can make bookmarks for themselves and for kids in Guatemalan villages. It'll be a fun, fun day!

The past two years, I've donated 5% of my royalties to another organization that focused on scholarships and leadership in the Guatemalan Village of Xucaneb.  I'm happy to say that they've met their goal of creating a self-sustaining program with local leadership.  This year I'm looking forward to donating to Reading Village... these kinds of programs are so important. (Rural Guatemala has a 50% illiteracy rate.)

Reading Village's belief statement reminds me of Maria Virginia's speech near the end of The Queen of Water (on pgs 318-319), where she talks about how she spent her early childhood without a single book in her house, and how when she did learn to read (as a teen), it opened a world of possibilities for her.  Both then and now, she feels strongly that literacy and access to books are keys to getting out of poverty and creating a fulfilling life for oneself. 

Here's the statement from Reading Village:
  "Every child should be able to grow up free to express their fullest self, give what they have to contribute to their families, their communities, their countries and the world.
     Access to books, the ability to read, and to think critically and imaginatively are fundamental to the full development of individuals and society.

      Poverty is a human construct and not a natural condition. It can be eliminated. The world is as we shape it."

As Maria Virginia has experienced, reading books gives people the power to shape their own worlds.

 I'm hoping that on our next trip to Guatemala with Lil Dude (who we adopted from Guatemala four years ago), we can visit the communities where Reading Village works.

Speaking of Lil Dude, he wants me to play castle with him now, so, without further ado... here's the info for the Story-a-Thon Reading Village Benefit event-- if you're in the Boulder area, I'd *love* to see you there!

Saturday, Jan 21, 2012, Boulder Bookstore in downtown Boulder, CO.  I'll be reading picture books in English and Spanish from 1:30-2:00. They're not my own books, but there will be copies of my books on hand that I can autograph for you.  I'll plan on hanging out there before and after my session (from 1 pm-2:30)  to chat with you about books, writing, and life!  You can find details on the event here.

Thanks for reading!


( * photos from the Reading Village and Boulder Bookstore websites)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Diggety-Dazzling New Year!

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Hi everyone!

Hope you're excited about the new year... I am!  In just two months, we'll be moving back into our newly-renovated house.  We've been in rental homes over the past six months. Here's a to-scale model of what our house will look like once it's done:

Well, not really, but wouldn't that be fun?

Lil Dude has given lots of input on our house design this past year.  He wanted it to be made of candy and have 20 swimming pools. Lately, he's been talking about how he wants a fire pole, fire bell, and roomy fire engine parking.... He is indeed firefighting-obsessed.

When we made this gingerbread house together, he said that all those gumdrops were smoke detectors, and that candycane on the side was a hose.

May your own home be filled with happiness and love and lots of delicious books this year...