Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yummy chocolate cake & a life-size dollhouse

[First of all, awesome news: Dreamdark books have sold Brazilian rights!!!! Yay!!!! Yippeee yipppeeeee! I [heart] foreign editions, and I hadn't even thought about Brazil. I am THRILLLLLLED!!!!]

I made a yummy chocolate loaf cake yesterday to bring to last-minute dinner plans at a friend's house -- it's a good recipe because it's all ingredients I'm likely to have on hand (no sour cream or anything like that), and it was very moist and good. I set Clementine up on a cushy quilt on the kitchen floor, sitting up with a barrier of pillows for when she tipped over, which is less and less all the time :-) She happily played with her keys and her Sophie (thank you Amber!) and her brand-new sippy cup etc until the final steps of the recipe, involving boiling water, so papa had to swoop in and scoop her up.

From How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

1 cup soft unsalted butter
1-2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
9 x 5-inch loaf pan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line the loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf-pan shaped paper liners. *note: I didn't have parchment and didn't need it, just sprayed a non-stick loaf pan with pan spray and it came out fine*

Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand-held mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next, fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: you don't want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you've added the baking soda (Note: I also added about 1/4 c. of Dutch process cocoa now, for an even richer chocolate), alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.

Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. (I often leave it for a day or so: like gingerbread, it improves.) Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense and damp cake. *note: I dusted liberally with powdered sugar after it had cooled and it looked pretty; note to self: must by rectangular platter for loaf cakes.*

Makes 8-10 slices

* * *

And look at this! A life-size dollhouse, on the plains of Saskatchewan:

Jenn* told me about it last night. Here's the scoop:

Artist Heather Benning created this life-size dollhouse from an abandoned farmhouse in Saskatchewan! One outside wall has been completely replaced with plexiglass to create the dollhouse view. Heather also decorated the house with 60’s furnishings, on account of that is when the house was apparently abandoned.

*And speaking of Jenn, looking at the sweet LOVE garland she's selling in her Etsy shop :-)
Speaking of garlands, I'm working on a garland made out of those animal characters I drew in my sketchbook recently -- they're now painted and printed and I've made one prototype Valentine's garland but it hangs funky, so I'll show it once I work out the *engineering*.

On another note, I've lost 5 lbs. since going back to Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago. So I celebrated with the above chocolate cake, ha ha. Cheers!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mama has a new desktop photo

Oh my gooooooodnesssss! Clementine had a particularly good hair day yesterday, which called for many photos:
It's like a rooster comb :-)
Swoon, swoon.

And look at the amazing hat my dear friend Chary crocheted for Clementine for Christmas:
It makes my heart hurt a little. In a good way.

Meanwhile, had a great library event last night at the Beaverton City Library with some of my favorite local writers:
Left to right that's: Lisa Schroeder, who writes beautiful YA books in verse, with a lovely romantic/creepy element of ghostliness, very deeply moving; LK Madigan, whose debut book Flash Burnout just won the Morris Award (yay!); April Henry, who writes both YA and adult mysteries (the adult ones being on the NYT bestseller list!!), and Christine Fletcher, author of one of my favorite books last year, Ten Cents a Dance. I'd do links, but Clementine is hungry, so I'll leave you to google any of those authors/books you might be interested in. (Hope you will!) It was really delightful being on a panel with these ladies -- thank you to those of you who came last night. It was great to meet some Facebook friends in person (hi, Mary!), and some readers (hi, Heather!) who can do Magpie's accent, which I most definitely cannot!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Little a this, little a that

-- I did some spastic lurch maneuver getting out of bed this morning and knocked my lamp off my bedside table and broke it. Wah! I love that lamp! I've had it less than a year, whereas the terrible one I had before that managed to sit there and not get knocked off for some 10 years. Stupid stupid. It may be glue-able.

-- This was after Clementine decided to be awake at 6 am practicing her raspberries. (I'd gone to sleep around 2). And her raspberries are really LOUD. So, I'm tired.

-- Oh, she got kissed by a boy already, ha ha. At story time at the library, a 10-1/2-month-old name Jake crawled over to her and gave her a wet kiss on the top of the head. So cute! Then he tried to steal her toy.

-- I wrote another chapter yesterday! Short, but still: all new words, a chapter, in a day. Around 11 pm last night I was trying to finish it and my battery was almost in red so I was racing, and it reminded me of this story about Ray Bradbury, and how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 on the pay-typewriters in the basement of the UCLA library. He'd feed dimes into them and then GO! Like writing as a sprint. You couldn't just sit there and ponder next words. I've always marveled that Fahrenheit 451, in its perfection (have you read it lately? DO.) could have been written like that. Anyway, this wasn't that, but it reminded me of that story.

-- Which in turn reminded me of a Harlan Ellison essay I was reading, the intro to his story collection Shatterday, which I just got from the library because Neil Gaiman said it was the book that most influenced his career as a writer. -- "did more to turn the almost-22-year-old me into the writer I would one day become than anything else" -- (And it is a really good essay, and Ellison's reasons for being a writer are way better than my own, which are kind of the same reasons I used to play Barbies: because I can make people do stuff like go skinnydipping and be veterinarians and kiss.) Anyway, at one point in the essay, Ellison tells how he's racing to finish a story because he's literally got to rush to a reading that night and read it out loud to people, and he does, without even rereading it himself first. Sigh. That there are writers who can DO that.

-- By the way, my all-time favorite short story ever is Harlan Ellison's The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore. Read it.

-- Oh, and I met Harlan Ellison once, in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where he was literally "on exhibit" as a working writer, sitting in the middle of this display of graphic novels and writing an actual short story on an actual typewriter (a typewriter!). Though he's a famous curmudgeon, he was very nice to me. He wouldn't answer questions about the above-mentioned story, though, but tried to make me answer them instead, but I got flustered and fled.

-- Did you know YA books are not "real books"? I just found this out by reading an interview with an Oregon writer, in which she answered the question What are you working on currently? as so: "At the moment I'm ghostwriting a young adult novel, working on proposals for two young adult novels (to be published—if I'm fortunate enough to to sell them—pseudonymously), and mapping out the plot and characters for my next "real novel."

Ack!!! Her next REAL NOVEL!!!

Note to "grownup writers": if you don't consider YA novels to be "real," please do not write them, pseudonymously or otherwise :-( There are those of us who believe young people deserve actual books, not "fake" ones by writers who are ashamed to put their real names on them. (Also note: I may be misinterpreting this and being a b****, and if so, I apologize.)

Okay, off to attack another chapter.

Does anyone have a pay typewriter I can borrow? And a roll of dimes?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview at Meg Cabot's blog!!!

Amayyyyyyzing . . .

An interview up with me at . . . Meg Cabot's blog!!!!!!!!!!!


THAT was an email request I was thrillllled to get back before the holidays.


If you're not a kid-lit reader, Meg Cabot is the awesome author of many wonderful YA and middle grade books (and adult books too), of which The Princess Diaries series is the best-known, on account of the movies. She has a slew of awesome books, both series and stand-alones -- it blows my mind how prolific she is. She is also fabulously stylish and also funny. We met her -- very briefly, just long enough to stammer, "Excuse me, Ms. Cabot, can we please get our picture with you?" -- back at BEA:
She had just been one of the keynotes (along with Julie Andrews!) at the Children's Literature Breakfast. That. Was fun. (And after, in addition to being behind Meg Cabot on the escalator, I actually washed my hands next to Julie Andrews in the restroom. Ha ha! Brushes with celebrity.

Anyway, I am so thrilled to be at Meg Cabot's blog. Oh, and if you're looking to delve into her bibliography and start reading, Stephanie Perkins created an awesome primer last year with her advice on where to begin. (By the way, Steph is still in Paris, if you can believe it. Still eating pastries and strolling around in her red coat saying "Ooh la la," and carrying baguettes under her arm :-)

Thank you, Meg!

Other tidbits:

I and four other fabulous local YA authors (all friends) will be at the Beaverton City Library this Wednesday the 27th from 7 to 8:30 pm -- Lisa Schroeder, LK Madigan, Christine Fletcher, and April Henry. We'll talk about writing, and sell and sign books. Hope you can come! Info HERE.


Friday, January 22, 2010


Thank you, YALSA! Lips Touch has been named to YALSA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults of 2009. Yippeeee!! (YALSA is the Young Adult Library Services Association, the YA branch of the American Library Association) As ever, I [heart] librarians:-)

The complete list is here:

Brennan, Sarah Rees. Demon's Lexicon. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Margaret K. McElderry. 2009.
Griffin, Paul. The Orange Houses. Penguin/Dial Books. 2009.
Herlong, M.H. The Great Wide Sea. Penguin/Viking. 2008.
Jinks, Catherine. The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Harcourt/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2009.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Alligator Bayou. Random House / Knopf. 2009.
Small, David. Stitches: A Memoir. W.W. Norton & Co. 2009.
Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Random House / Wendy Lamb Books. 2009.
Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books. 2009.
Taylor, Laini. Lips Touch: Three Times. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2009.
Walker, Sally M. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland. Lerner/Carolrhoda Books. 2009.

I've read three of those, besides my own, and haven't heard of some of them, but I am going to request them at the library and hope for some fabulosity. I've been on a bit of a book bummer lately -- you know, when you read a slew of "meh" books in a row and temporarily forget the feeling of pure reading enchantment? I need to read something awesome. Any suggestions?

Oh, and not to neglect my other new book-child, I'm very pleased that School Library Journal gave a *starred review* to the audiobook of Silksinger. Yay! I also received my German edition in the mail recently, so cool to see :-) They used Jim's cover art, so I won't post a pic here (lazy), but it's called SeidenSanger (with an oomlot over the a. I like oomlots. I wish we had them. In fact, I like the word "oomlot". A lot. I kind of want to get a pet just to name it Oomlot. I've always thought "Shwa" would be a good name for a pet too. And on its tag, you could have just an upside down 'e'? Dorky, I know. Anyway, I think it would be fun to start dressing up English with some cute accent marks. I would do it now, here, to make my point, except that I am too lazy to look up the keyboard codes. Lazy, plus I should get back to work.)

Happy weekend! I'll leave you with this very short (9 seconds) and random video of Kiefer Sutherland behaving in an un-Jack Bauer-like way:

Monday, January 18, 2010

baby toes, book awards, and blue people

Miss Clementine is no longer content to take our word for it that her toes are delicious. She wants to see for herself.
I think she likes 'em :-) If you listen you may be able to hear a nice slurping sound!

In other news, big congrats to all the winners of the ALA (American Library Association) awards today! If you don't follow children's literature closely, these are kind of the Academy Awards for us. I'm most excited that my friend and local Portland author LK Madigan won the Morris Award for a debut YA novel for her terrific book Flash Burnout which I have been intending to review here for weeks (and will, soon, but you don't have to wait for my review. Read it!). Yay, Lisa!

Oh, and guess what. Today, for the first time in over four months, Jim and I went to the movies! (We did bring Clementine with us to the theater once when she was a teeny-tiny sleep-lump.) Today my parents babysat so we could go see Avatar in the theaters -- it really is a theater movie, not a Netflix movie. Ohmygosh it was so awesome! Love-love-loved it. I was so ridiculously excited to be en route to the movies this afternoon. I LOVE the movies, the dark theater, the previews, the opening moments. Magic. I've missed it, and there are a lot of movies I want to see! But, giant bummer: the show sold out while we were standing in line. ARRRRRG! We considered going to see a different movie, but I had my heart set on a big fat sci-fi/fantasy epic, so we picked up lunch for my parents, went home to eat and tank the baby up again, then went to a later showing at another theater. Thank you, mom and pop!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

breaking in the new journal

So, I got a new sketchbook/journal (after that last post on journaling), and I broke it in, and yay! So much fun! The first two pages are more art than text -- a little drawing, a little collage, a few random song lyrics from an Elizabeth Mitchell song I've been singing Clementine. Anyway, I love these little characters! I'm not sure where they came from, but I have an idea where they're going. More on that later. Maybe.
(Click to enlarge.)

And guess what. They're paper dolls! Look what's under their dresses:
(Click to enlarge.)

I'm painting them now. They're about half done, and looking pretty cute, I think.

After messing around with some paint and scissors and scraps, I've got some ideas for a new design project, and have sort of begun it. I'm so happy to be experimenting. This is mostly late-night stuff (it's after 1 am right now, and Jim and Clementine are asleep), as writing takes up the part of the day when my brain is functioning best (morning). That's going well too! AND, I got cracking on another New Year's *resolution* today -- of that, I'll just say: I'm really hungry right now. I'd better go to sleep, so I can wake up and have breakfast :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You will go in the direction you are looking.

Though January is already half gone (huh? whuuuh?), I've only just been able to think over the coming year and my hopes for it. I'm not calling my thoughts "resolutions," not that I think there is anything wrong with resolutions. They get a bad rap. So many people make fun of New Year's resolutions as pointless and made to be broken, but I say it's not so. It's good to be mindful about your life. Your life can be something that happens to you, or it can be something you build, consciously and conscientiously. There's a great piece of advice -- can't remember where I heard it, but it originated with someone's German ski instructor, Horst. It was this:

"You will go in the direction you are looking."

Isn't that fabulous? So simple and true -- not just of skiing, but of life. That's what New Year's *mindfulness* is all about. To get yourself looking in the direction you want to go, so your body can follow.

So, me. It's pretty much the basics, really.

-- Health and well-being and baby weight and feeling good in my skin.

-- Writing every day and finishing, in a timely manner, my novel in progress.

Those are the two things that are ALWAYS my "resolutions" every year. One year, one magical year, after not doing them and not doing them, I finally did them. Both. I finished my first novel AND lost the weight I wanted to lose (healthily) in one terrific year. Let 2010 be another such year!

In addition to the old stand-byes, there's this:

Live a beautiful and memorable life with my family. Do things. Make things. Go places. Have fun. Take pictures. Keep a journal.

My new mission statement:

Love family.

Write books.

Make art.

Enjoy the world.

Have a beautiful life.

There are some specifics attached to those, like: go camping; have a warm beach holiday (maybe Mexico?); cook more new things; get back to journaling!!!!

JOURNALING! I haven't been a consistent journal-keeper in years. Years. And I'm kicking myself now for not starting again when Clementine was born. What was I thinking? You think you'll remember everything, how you felt putting a tiny little onesie on your tiny little newborn for the first time, and what nights were like those first few weeks, and the little lamb-like newborn cry, and the first real smile, and all the marvels, day by day. I've taken lots and lots of pictures, and that's good, but the words. The thoughts. Missing. And never to come again.

It's the same with my relationship with Jim. I met him at the start of art school, and various things in my life conspired against journaling then, which I had done consistently up until that point and I STOPPED. So I don't have a record of our first months and years (now 11 years!!) and I wish I did. I wish I could go back in time and put a pen in that younger self's hand and say, "Listen, you. Write."

Thinking about these lost times -- remembered, but not as fully as they could be, it really brings home the "once-ness" of life. Life is once, and it is irretrievable. Living it fully is the first and most important thing, and if there's only time for that, and no time for recording it, so be it, but if you can do BOTH, both live it, and record it, you should. Words and pictures and movies and art and even music, all the ways of capturing life as it flies by, capturing the imprint of it on the page -- like capturing the shadow of a bird in flight, the way Magpie does in Blackbringer.

So, I'm getting back to journaling. Clementine is 5 months and I want to remember it all, as well as possible, so I'm going to start a new journal. I've been thinking this for a few days, and being me, I of course envision an ELABORATE arty journal full of collage and color and stuff (if there's one thing I do consistently in all areas of my creative life, it's: make things more complicated than they need to be), but the elaborateness of the vision is intimidating. Who ever has time to begin something like that? Never. So instead of starting something you CAN get your hands around, at midnight perhaps, after everything else is done, you just never do it. Ugh. So this morning I grabbed one of my many cute waiting-for-content blank journals from the shelf and started writing in it. So simple.

Also ... unsatisfying. I still want that color and collage and pictures pasted in and little drawings and paper doll people and scraps and string and magic ... So. I'm going to the art store later and see if I can't make that happen. But the humble journal will be sitting by, just in case.

So there's that. Do you journal?

Oh, and by the way. Clementine made the shift from bassinet to crib last night, sniff sniff. She's outgrown the bassinet. She looked so teeny in the crib by comparison, instead of filling up the bassinet. So now she's about 10 feet away at night instead of 2, which is still very near! Her little nursery is adjacent to our bedroom through an open archway, so it's not even really like she's in another room (I don't think I could take that), but still. It was weird having her even in that other space. I lit the nursery with her ladybug star-projecting nightlight (cool) and her weird and awesome glowing dinosaur light that turns rainbow colors, so it was kind of disco in there. She slept soundly until about 2:30 and then I could finally bring her in our bed to nurse. I missed her :-)

And then, this morning, as if to prove she's truly outgrown the bassinet, when I set her in it to make the bed, she was grabbing the cover off the shade and yanking it down. Yeah, she shouldn't be able to reach that. Bassinet, finis. Until the next time :-) (That's another plan for the coming year -- to *start* another baby. If it's in the cards.)

And while I'm rambling about Clementine, can I just say that 5 months is awesome? She's sitting up, eating little nibbles of rice porridge, babbling like a brook (she says mama! But it's just a coincidence. It's just the sound she makes: mah-mah-mah, etc), rolling around, grabbing everything, laughing, trying to drink out of my coffee cup, playing peekaboo, and all kinds of other stuff. Wow. It's the coolest.

Okay. That's it. New Year's mindfulness and journaling and Clementine at 5 months. More later (hopefully) on the progress of fun, colorful journaling and more art-making!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parisian things

Hey guys, Stephanie Perkins is in Paris. Lucky girl! I suppose it's not really luck, though. She made a plan and made it happen. But first . . . she wrote a book. Her first novel, coming this fall from Dutton, is set in Paris, and her third novel will be set there too, so this is a research trip. How wonderful are research trips to awesome places?

Five or six years ago Jim and I took a trip to Prague to research a graphic novel we were planning. Then, post-Prague, I realized the graphic novel was a "newt"* and what I should be working on was Blackbringer, which was half-finished at the time, so I got back to it and the graphic novel has still not manifested itself. But. But! The novel I am working on NOW happens to be set . . . in Prague! Mostly. There's this bit in Morocco, and I've never been to Morocco. Hm. I think another research trip is called for . . .

Let this be a lesson to you: set your books in exotic places, so you can go to them. [Tina Fey: "I want to go to there."]

Speaking of Paris, I recently read a wonderful novel set in Paris, by the French author Anna Gavalda. The English title is Hunting and Gathering (French title = Ensemble, c'est Tout) My friend Lori, who lives in Amsterdam, loaned it to me when she was stateside for the holidays, and I loved it. I may have to get my own copy -- she actually gave me a French copy, but my French is woeful (I set out to minor in French in college, but ended up dropping it), so I borrowed her British edition, but I like the US cover better. So. It's the story of a young Parisian artist, Camille, "exhausted from ennui and anorexia" (I know -- from that, it doesn't sound like my kind of book, but it was) who finds salvation in a strange makeshift family when she moves in with her eccentric downstairs neighbor, an aristocrat . . .

I'm not doing a good job of this. Here is the Publisher's Weekly blurb:
"Camille, a talented artist exhausted by ennui and anorexia, cleans offices at night and cowers in a shabby garret by day. Philibert, the fastidious scion of a titled family, peddles museum postcards while squatting in his dead grandmother's Parisian manse, waiting for her estate to be settled. Philibert's roommate, Franck, a talented (and womanizing) chef with ambition to burn, motorcycles once a week to look in on his stubborn, ailing grandmother Paulette, an "inmate" at a retirement home. . . "

Cut. The rest is spoilers. I see no need for that. Booklist says, "a winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family." And that's what it is.

Oh. Yeah. And it was made into an Audrey Tautou movie. Will it be coming here, I wonder?

Anyway, getting back to the original inspiration for this post: Stephanie's Paris blog posts are awesome, most recently, where she ferrets out every single "hot man" inside the Louvre. Of the paint-on-canvas variety. Hint: there aren't very many. Men who got themselves immortalized in art? It wasn't for being pretty. So, go see Steph.

* "newt" - a New Weird Thing, that is, a writing project that is usurping the place of another writing project. Also known as a "slutty new idea". Newts are to be discouraged, despite their unfailing awesomeness.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Do you really really really like to read books? And would you perhaps like to write a fairy tale retelling?

Do you like to read books? Would you like to read them in a canoe on a magnificent lake that looks like this?
Or maybe at the end of that dock? Or in a meadow, or in a beautiful cabin with light streaming in the window?

Reading reading reading, a juicy stack of wonderful books, and taking breaks for yummy meals prepared for you, in the company of other lovely kindred spirits who have also been living inside books all day?

Can you just imagine it? Elizabeth "blue poppy" MacCrellish has imagined it and made it a reality -- a Reader's Retreat at a gorgeous lakeside resort in New Hampshire. It's one of the latest of the wonderful Squam Arts Workshops (SAW) sessions, and I know it's not for everyone -- I tried describing it to a stranger recently when the subject of New Hampshire arose, and she was absolutely blank with incomprehension as to why people would go somewhere to read books. I mean, can't you do that at home? Yeah, you can. You can do it anywhere. It's a beautiful thing. But I feel pretty confident that if you're here, you get it, and would just love to escape with your to-be-read pile to a reading haven with like-minded folk.

It is happening September 1 -5, and I will be there glorying in reading (along with Jim and a sure-to-be-racing-around-by-then Clementine), and then in the evening, I'll help moderate discussions about reading. I can't WAIT! You can read more about it and look at enticing photos HERE.

And that's not all.

There's another Squam session, the week before, that I will also be at, and it's called The Pixie Session (August 29 - September 2), and it's a sort of "Squam Family Robinson" -- that is, it's a family arts retreat, with classes and fun activities offered for all ages. How awesome is that!? And I'm going to be teaching an all-day class there that I am super excited about:

Fairytale Redux
Spend the day writing a new version of a classic fairy tale of your choice. Fairy tales have great bone structure and provide the perfect story elements for you to adapt into your own tale.

Laini will take you through the process of breathing new life into an old tale and help you to develop captivating characters, compelling setting, time period and original details. There are many ways to work with fairy tales. We will explore several through a series of exercises that will get you writing and leave you with a strong working draft by the end of the day.

Expect a lotta magic as Laini will share many of the tricks she uses to get herself - and keep herself - writing.

Bring your imagination-- and be prepared to write and play! LEVEL: ages 10 yrs and up

* * *

Ooh, I am soooo excited!!!!! I hope some blog readers out there might make it to New Hampshire to take my class. There are other fabulous classes too, including Maskmaking, Printmaking, Storytelling, Illustration (taught by Illustration Friday's Penelope Dullaghan), most open to children, some just for the grownups. And for kids ages 6 - 12 there will be the marvelous-sounding "Loon Island Picnic" that is a "Rockywold-Deephaven tradition" (Rockywold-Deephaven is the name of the resort, and has been a family vacation resort since 1897.) Loon Island, doesn't that sound too magical?

Read all about upcoming SAW sessions here, including a new addition that will be taking place not at Squam but at the beach in North Carolina's Outer Banks -- ooh, I want to go to that one too!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Oh wonderful, oh magical, oh beautiful 2009!

2009 has been a wonderful, magical, beautiful year around here, and I'm sad to see it go. I feel like I'm standing on a dock waving a hanky as this fantastical ocean liner is pulling away. Farewell, 2009! Thank you for everything!

I spent half the year growing in strange new ways.

And the next half nurturing a tiny, beloved new creation.

I loved being pregnant, and as for motherhood . . . Motherhood surpasses anything I could have imagined. I keep wanting to try to capture it in words, but so far I haven't attempted it. Maybe I'm afraid that I won't be able to make the words line up in the right formations to convey what I'm feeling. The magnitude of it. I'll just want to use a lot of superlatives and say, "It's so amazing," and that just won't cut it. I am going to try, though. Some time, but not today.

As for marriage, it just gets better and better.

How cool to discover there are still whole untapped new ways to love somebody!

In all, it was a year of bearing fruit. The seeds that had been planted in the previous year flowered and fruited. Clementine was one fruit (and appropriately named!), and Lips Touch and Silksinger were the others. My books, my beautiful beautiful books! Thank you, Jim, for the "beautiful" part! Thank you Putnam and Arthur A. Levine Books for putting them in the world.

It's been incredibly gratifying to see Lips Touch getting attention! It started with the thrill of the YA Editors Buzz Panel at Book Expo in late spring, and peaked with the wild surprise phone call from the National Book Foundation in fall. Two trips to New York this year, both completely unanticipated! To top it all off, Lips Touch made the "Best Books of the Year" lists for both Publisher's Weekly and NPR!

It has been a phenomenal year during which I have really felt like a writer, which is what I have always wanted to be.

So much goodness and excitement. The support of an amazing family; great friends, both here and abroad; new friendships blossoming; a relaxing beach retreat; a lot of work on the house, and more. Thank you, thank you, 2009!

The one sorrowful note was the loss of our darling Leroy.
May he be waiting for us at the riverbank in the Moonlit Gardens.


Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

What a nice New Year treat -- the CYBILS short lists!!! (Children's & Young Adult Blogger Literary Awards) Both Silksinger and Lips Touch have been shortlisted in their respective categories: Middle Grade Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy. Thank you so much, panelists!! I'm thrilled!!!

As always, there are really intriguing sounding books on the lists that I have never heard of -- it's very exciting. I'm making a slew of requests from the library today. If you're looking for some new things to read (for your children or yourselves), I recommend taking a peek at all the shortlists. They're put together with great care by smart, conscientious book lovers. They're HERE.

Now: fingers crossed for a win! (Or two. God, how awesome would that be?)

(Yippee, welcome, 2010!)

Speaking of the library, as I head over to the website to reserve some books, I'm proud to say our library was one of only five large library systems in the US to be awarded 5 stars by The Library Journal just recently. It totally deserves it. Multnomah County Library is entirely awesome. They have everything, and plenty of it, they do good events, and they even have a very cool program by which they send a book and library card to every baby born in the county. How completely wonderful is that? I was floored when ours came. A library card for little Clementine Pie!

Happy New Year! Hope yours is off to a great start too :-)