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Monday, December 9, 2013

Personalized, Signed Books for Gifts... *and* a Zany, Heart-warming Story of Geese!

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 This is baby goose Grape, who we rescued in May, and who inspired the duck in my story.

Hello, sweet readers!

As my Lil Dude often says, "Two things.  First..."

First, just want to let you know that if you'd like any personalized, autographed copies of any of my books for a holiday gift, you can order them at Old Firehouse Books.  In the Notes section of your order (either online or by phone) you can tell them who you'd like me to sign the book for, and anything special I should know about the recipient.  I'll come to the store (just a few blocks from my house) within a day (barring extreme sickness) and autograph the book and then Old Firehouse will mail it to you! Easy peasy. You can also email me directly and give me a heads up so I'll be sure to sign it asap.  (Lauraresau at gmail.com, subject: Signing Books). I recommend ordering soon to make sure they arrive in time!

Okay, on two Thing #2!  The Geese Story!  As you may or may not know, I put out a call on Facebook for interesting real-life pet skunk or waterfowl stories.  (This relates to my next novel, which I hope to tell you more about soon!)  I got lots of fascinating responses, and I thought I'd feature a couple on this blog... they're too good not to share.

Today's story is from wonderful school librarian, Alexis Gerard, of Maryland.  I'm calling it:

 "Hungover Geese in Cute Sweaters"

 

When my grandmother was a little girl, she lived on a large chunk of property out in the country. They had many yard geese. Before she was born, her family had gathered on the estate for the holidays. They made egg nog with lots of rum. To cool it, they left it outside for a while. 

The geese found it and drank almost all of it. Some time later my grandmother's family came outside to find the dead birds in the back garden. 

They felt bad about it, but what could they do?  Not wanting the birds' lives to be a total waste, they decided they would pluck the feathers from the geese. 

Some time later the geese came to. Then my family felt really bad as it was winter time and now these poor geese were naked. 

They brought the geese inside for a few days. The women knitted little sweaters for every goose. The geese wore those sweaters all winter until their feathers grew back. 

True story! 

 

Don't you LOVE it?!  I think it would make an adorable, funny picture book... but I'm not sure about how appropriate drunk, passed-out geese would be for the preschool crowd...

Thank you SO much to everyone who contributed stories... you have tripled the laughter in my life on these dark December days...

xo
Laura

 
 *If you embiggen this photo, you can see some of the greenish-yellow poo that plays a minor role in my novel.*

Monday, November 25, 2013

Feeling Thankful...

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Hello dear readers,

 The older I get, the more convinced I am that the secret to happiness is gratitude.

I'm grateful for my wild-haired Lil Dude and his new little sister, Wilma the Mellow Beagle...


Always grateful for Ian...

 

and my creative, kind neighbors... some of whom now have this exuberant piano in their front yard. Lil Dude enjoys pausing to play some tunes on it while we're walking Wilma.  Another beloved neighbor, artist Diane Findley, had painted it as part of Pianos About Town.  Once this one was "retired," they let Diane decide what to do with it.  She decided to gift it to the family across the street... and voila!  The most awesome yard art ever, just around our corner.  


I did an interview with Diane for Fort Collins magazine, the Winter issue, coming out soon.  She's one of my role models for creativity, art, dance, play, and life... I can't wait to show you a glimpse of her world!

Speaking of writing, another thing I'm grateful for... my writers' group! We're having a free reading coming up soon: Wed, Dec 4, 7 pm, Bas Bleu Theatre, Ft Collins. (It's for grown-ups only-- sorry to any younger readers... but I'll be doing another kid-friendly event another time soon, I'm sure.)



And of course, I'm grateful for my other friends and family, 
and for the new manuscripts I just finished (more on that later), 
and for *you*, sweet reader!

May you have a Thanksgiving filled with real gratitude!

xo,
Laura

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Sweet Lil Fifties Rig is Undergoing Surgery...

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Happy Halloween, dear readers!


People often inquire about my writing studio camper (which you can get a photo tour of here).  Well, sadly it got some water damage (all my fault for not keeping it properly sealed), and now it's going to undergo some minor surgery.  My poor, sweet lil fifties rig...


For a while I was trying desperately to find someone who had experience repairing vintage trailers... and I heard of a lady named April-- a vintage camper expert right here in Fort Collins.

BUT....

I looked and looked and googled and googled couldn't get any contact info for her.  I was just googling her one day (unsuccessfully, again), when I got dejected and hungry and brought Lil Dude to a pizza place a few blocks away to pick up some pizza.  As I was at the counter, I noticed a business card lying there...

and it had a picture of an adorable vintage camper on it!!!

My heart started pounding, and I said to the lady next to me, "Excuse me, but is this your business card?"

Her: "Yup."

Me (heart really pounding now): "By any chance do you repair vintage trailers?"

Her: "Yup."

Me (heart really, really pounding now):  "Um, by any chance is your name April?"

Her (a little freaked out, maybe): "Yup."

Me:  "Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  I've been looking for you for months!  I was just googling you!  Oh my gosh!"

So yes, my heart was about to explode with serendipity and joy...

and once she realized that despite appearances, I wasn't actually crazy, she agreed to look at my camper.  And she did (she's so delightful and smart and knowledgeable... my lil rig is in such good hands with her.)  She's going to start working on her (my trailer being feminine, she informed me) soon, and I'm so excited!


I've been scouring Pinterest for inspiration for redoing my camper, finding all kinds of cool ideas.  Since we had a renovation done in our house, and I now have an actual writing studio inside, I decided to repurpose my trailer to be a technology-free creative space where I can read, make art, write, dream, drink tea, and sometimes, maybe, doze a bit among plentiful pillows.  And if my Lil Dude promises to be mellow (ie, no ninja moves inside), I'll invite him to join me for a spot of tea or some water-coloring or a good picture book.


Speaking of ninjas, that's what Lil Dude will be for Halloween-- a Red Cobra Ninja-- and now I must make dinner so we can eat and then carve our pumpkin.  May you have a super-spooky, HAPPY Halloween!


xo,
Laura

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One Book One Unionville: The Queen of Water!

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The Queen of Water inspired art by student Terner Thompson

Hey, guys!

Just got back from an author visit to Unionville, Pennsylvania for their One Book, One Unionville program.  I was honored that they chose The Queen of Water for their first year!  The program was initiated by teachers at the high school, and they did a great job of getting the entire school and community excited about the book. 


I gave two assembly presentations for students, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the book, and then did a third presentation in the evening for community members.  I loved everyone's enthusiasm and insightful comments and questions... such a treat for me!


The goal of the program was to "promote student success by instituting a new academic tradition, creating a sense of belonging through shared experiences, providing opportunities for school and community interactions, and encouraging students to further reflect on citizenship and engagement."

The high school students and faculty read the book over the summer, and then had discussions and projects related to the book.  I also did two Skype visits with community members at the local public library.  The program was well-publicized through the town's newspaper, and a number of book clubs chose to read and discuss the book. My visit was the culmination of months of reading and discussing the book.

I was thrilled and a little nervous that Queen would be the first book of the new program-- I really wanted it to be successful so that the community would continue with this program for years to come.  Thankfully, the feedback was really positive about the book selection and my presentations... I'm excited to see what book they choose for next year!

One of the coolest parts for me was to talk with readers and see how they connected with the book.  


Student Terner Thompson did this amazing illustration, inspired by the end of the book. He wants to be an animator.  I think he'd make an incredible one, judging by this masterpiece. 

In the school library with wonderful administrators and the talented Terner


with the delightful librarian Diane (who styled her hair and chose her pretty water-themed blouse just for my visit!) She presented me with this gorgeous book on Longwoods Gardens.

Awesome student projects were hung around the library... I always love seeing interesting activities that teachers come up with and the creative ways students approach them.


Zoom in on the above pic, and you'll see this great scene with Cheetah the goat fending off angry dogs! Love this!


And another close-up-- such a beautiful drawing. My interpretation is that it's young Virginia curled up on the sheepskin rug that she imagines is Cheetah. That's the night when she first comes to the Doctorita's house and is feeling lonely and scared.


I have to admit, I get a little thrill when I see the words "The Queen of Water: The Movie."  This student cast Salma Hayek as the Doctorita-- she's a great actress, so I think she'd be able to pull it off.  Ah, maybe one day....


Here's a close-up of part of a project-- I thought it was so cute-- Virginia on the forbidden red sofa watching the forbidden MacGyver, hahaha!


This newspaper activity looked fun... there's an article about the winner of the Queen competition, as well as a review of the Hotel Otavalo, MacGyver gossip, and new classes at the Republica de Ecuador school.  


Thank you, Unionville, for your warm welcome!  I was so impressed with your great energy, and wish you lots of luck with future One Book One Unionville programs!

xo,
Laura

P.S. I wasn't sure who to credit for the above student projects and artwork, but if you see yours, let me know, and I'll credit you in the caption!  ;-)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making Tortillas with my Lil Dude

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Hi guys,

Happy fall to you!  

I want to share with you one of my 6-year-old's all-time favorite books, which inspired our recent tortilla-making:

 
written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael Lopez


It's a gorgeous, colorful book of haiku poetry about foods native to the Americas.  My Lil Dude knows many of the poems by heart now.  It's interesting how he often *thinks* he likes the Ninjago, Star Wars, Hotwheels, etc books best, but he doesn't actually enjoy them (and they're really painful for me to read-- there's not even an author-- it's like they're one big commercial-- unfortunately, he brings them home from school.)

This book, Yum! Mmmm!  Que Rico!, on the other hand, feels warm and happy and delicious, and has been a bonding night-time read over the years.  The other day, Lil Dude said he wanted to make tortillas.  (He has such a beautiful Spanish accent, it gives me shivers.) 

 
So I got some mazeca (corn flour with the mineral lime) from Safeway and followed the directions on the box (basically adding a little water.)  Instead of a tortilla press, we just used two smallish wooden cutting boards.  We used cut-out circles from plastic Safeway bags so the maza (dough) wouldn't stick.  Then we cooked them, without oil, on a cast iron skillet, and within minutes, we had tortillas!



For me, the whole process was a delicious flashback to my years in Oaxaca, helping make tortillas in smoky kitchens in Mixtec and Mazatec villages.  And it was so, so easy-- and so much fun for my son-- I can't believe we don't do this more often!

Our tortillas turned out small, like the ones we had in Guatemala on our visits as part of the adoption process. We brought our son home when he was 9 months old, and I'm sure he had bits of home made tortillas for those last couple months in Guatemala... I wonder if he has some vague taste-memory of them.

Speaking of my Lil Dude, he wants me to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with him for the twentieth time now... and unbelievably, somehow those piercing, nasal voices are growing on me...

Bye!

xo,
Laura 


Monday, September 30, 2013

Upcoming Colorado Events (including one this week!)

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Hi everyone, 

I hope those of you in Colorado stayed safe during the recent flooding.  My family and
home made it through fine, thankfully.
Just want to let you local people know about a few events I have coming up:
 
Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 (in a few days!)
6:30 pm, Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO. 
 
Fall Book Feast with Middle Grade Authors -- Join Melanie
Crowder, Jeannie Mobley, Jenny Goebel, and Laura Resau for a fun and
lively panel discussion about their novels for upper elementary and
early middle school readers. Free and everyone welcome!

And now, some introductions to these awesome Colorado writers, 
who also happen to be friends of mine!!
 
Here's Jenny.
 
 
 Here's her debut novel, which comes out this fall. I'm looking forward to reading it!
 
  
Here's Melanie Crowder and her beautiful debut novel, Parched, which came out this summer.


Here's Jeannie. 
 
 
Her charming debut novel, Katerina's Wish, came out last year.
 
 
 And I'll be focusing on my own debut novel from 2006, What the Moon Saw. 
 I get to talk about this a lot in school visits, but I haven't done a bookstore talk about this
for a while... I'm excited!
 

Other Event coming up:


Saturday Nov. 2, 2013
2:30 pm, Global Village Museum, 200 West Mountain Ave., Old Town,
Fort Collins, CO.
 
Presentation -- The Queen of Water: the True Story of an Andean
Girl's Journey. As part of the "Legacy of the Andes" exhibit, Laura
will discuss Maria Virginia's amazing story, their collaboration
process, and her research in Ecuador. You'll also get a glimpse into
Quichua culture and recent social issues. The presentation is
included with museum admission ($5 for non-members.) There will also
be live Andean music, played by Marie Louise Borak. You can read more
about the museum here.  http://globalvillagemuseum.org
 
Thanks, everyone! It would be fun to see you at one (or more) of these events! Please spread the word to anyone else who might be interested. xo, Laura

Friday, August 30, 2013

More Extreme Cuteness (of the Wee Library Variety)

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Have you guys seen any mini libraries in your neighborhood?  A new one just popped up down the block from me!  Voila:

*If you click the image to enlarge, you'll see one of my books that I exchanged for Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonders.*

Are these not adorable?!


The concept is this: You make a tiny, waterproof house and stick it in your front yard with a sign encouraging neighbors to borrow and donate books.


Here's the website of the Little Free Library movement, with instructions on how to build our own (and officially register it if you wish). And here is the mission:
  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.


I'm hooked!  I want to do this with Ian and Little Dude sometime soon.  Maybe we could retrofit a large birdhouse or something... hmmm... I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, happy reading to all...

xo,
Laura


Friday, August 23, 2013

Cute as an Exploding Cupcake

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May I introduce you to the newest member of our family... 

Princess Wilma the Beagle!


About a month ago, I marched into the local shelter-- Animal House-- and said, "Give me your gentlest, sweetest, most kid-friendly dog. Small but not too small. Playful but not pushy.  Cuddly but not slobbery...."  My demands went on for a while, and at the end of my little monologue, the woman at the desk said, 

"Wilma's the dog for you!"


And she is! She's perfect.  
(Well, we did discover a few minor imperfections, like wanting to be near us all the time, 
but we discovered those after falling in love with her.)

She's a rescue dog, about three years old, and we don't know much about her background except that she came from Arkansas.

Nope, those aren't real angel wings or fairy wings.... 
I was trying out her outfit for the Tour de Fat coming up in Ft Collins-- 
awesome, giant, zany-costume-filled bike parade that passes right by our house.

My Lil Dude is enamored of Wilma, utterly and completely.  He waxes poetic about her.
  
"Mommy!  Wilma's as cute as an exploding cupcake!"

(She is indeed as sweet as a cupcake... the exploding part comes with 6-year-old boy
 territory-- you know, explosions are just.... the bomb... for them, hehehe.  
The icing on the cake.  Anything is better with an explosion...

Hope these back-to-school days are treating you well!

xo,
Laura

P.S.  Boulder friends-- I'll be at the Boulder Bookstore on what's sure to be a lively panel with author buddies Jeannie Mobley, Melanie Crowder, and Jenny Goebel on THURS OCT 3, 2013 at 6:30. Come hang out with us!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Oh, Serendipity, I love you!

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 Canvas Bowtop wagon, photo credit: Charlie Cox of The Irish Rose Farm

So, a couple weeks ago, we got a sweet little 3-year-old beagle named Wilma from the shelter (photos of Wilma to come in another post soon!)  Lil Dude and I brought her to the Farmer's Market last Saturday. You know how dogs almost magically introduce you to all kinds of interesting people?

Well, Charlie Cox was one of these people!  At his farm stand, he struck up conversation with me about Wilma and beagles... and one topic led to another... and next thing I know, he's showing me photos of his AUTHENTIC GYPSY WAGONS on his cell phone!

It just so happens that all summer, I've been researching all things Gypsy/Roma/Romany/Rom for a new book! Don't you love serendipity?!

 

I've got piles of books and CD's and DVD's about the Romany-- which are great and all, but I always crave real-life, in-person stuff when I'm doing research.  I like talking to people, going places, interacting, getting a completely multi-sensory experience so that I can make scenes come alive for readers.

Anyway, Charlie very kindly invited me out to his farm/ranch in north Fort Collins-- the Irish Rose Farm-- just a twenty minute drive from my house. He and his wife breed, show, train, and sell Irish Cobs, including "Gypsy horses," which led them to an interest in Gypsy wagons.

I drove out to his farm (so peaceful and beautiful) and discovered that this man is a sparkling treasure trove of knowledge about the Romany-- I felt like I'd just won the lottery, in terms of book research.  I love talking with passionate experts, listening to their stories, scribbling notes wildly in a little notebook.  Major research adrenalin rush.

Charlie has two Romany vardo (wagons), which he acquired in Ireland and had shipped here to the foothills of the Rockies.  (One of the deals was sealed by spitting into palms and shaking hands, Romany style.)

This one is called a Canvas Bowtop, built in the early1900's (1930's, I think). Charlie and his wife, Jan, take this to festivals in the region, showing how it's pulled by one of their Gypsy horses.


photo credit: Charlie Cox, Irish Rose Farm


Inside of the Bowtop, repainted in the 1980s.


 this is the front of the wagon-- driver perches on that little ledge


Detail-- this artist, Tom Stephenson, used a fruit motif

pretty scrollwork in classic Irish Romany colors


In the far back is the sleeping area-- a slide-out bed; the cast iron stove is for heating tea and giving warmth.

Charlie's other vardo is under renovation now.  It's a Burton Wagon, aka a Showman's wagon, built in 1914. The14 layers of paint were in bad shape, so he's stripping it and repainting it in Romany style.






Fascinating, no?!  I was captivated.  (For links to more pics, you can go to Charlie's website-- Irish Rose Farm.)  Thanks for swinging by!  Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my research-in-progress...

xo
Laura