Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I've Been Munched

Actually, it's Dragon Wishes that was munched. It was...it was...it was The Book Muncher! It was my first online review for my debut middle grade novel, and I'm so happy to see that it's such a positive one. So if you get a minute, pop by and read what The Book Muncher has to say about Dragon Wishes on her blog

In other news...it's only five days until I leave on a research trip for my present work in progress, Pelorus Jack. Where am I going? All the way to New Zealand. I've never been that far west before. I've always gone east towards Europe. I am so thrilled to be going to New Zealand. I've read and studied it so much for this story that although this is official business, traveling to areas I write about is really more of a perk than a professional duty.

I'll blog while away if at all possible, but may be tied up mustering sheep, going fishing in the Pacific Ocean and riding the French Pass. Take a look at those rugged waters! The grandmother of the family I am staying with actually swam the pass back in the early 1900s, and lived to talk about it. Mark Twain went there in 1895 just to see the dolphin I'm writing about now, Pelorus Jack. I 'm so thrilled to be following in both their footsteps. (Not the swimming the Pass part. I'm going to try and avoid that if at all possible!) But I do plan on taking in as much scenery as possible. I can't believe I'm actually really going.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

Just when I thought the doldrums of revisions and heavy edits were about to pull me down forever into the nebulous, swirling morasse of writer-tude, I had two of the most unexpected and thrilling surprises this weekend.

It all began with a voicemail. (Note the hook of a beginning and immediate pull of this tale)

A girlfriend of mine with whom I roomed together in grad school and who now lives on the East Coast and I haven't seen for more than half an hour in the last eight years called to tell me her company was sending her to Tulsa - honestly, what are the chances? - on business. Even better, I happen to live in a suburb of Tulsa.

I picked her up from the airport last night at 10 p.m. and then we spent most of the night chatting. It was so much fun. I'd post pictures, but we looked like zombies this morning. The older you get, the worse those late nights are on appearances. Ugh. So, I'm posting a picture of what I fell like on the inside, but that the bags under my eyes and wan color of my skin may actually be kinda masking.

Now, if that wasn't thrill enough, my husband agreed to go clothes shopping for our daughters with me. For anyone whose husband has a phobia about malls, this is really close to miraculous. Not only did he agree, he suggested we go shopping for them. He said, brace yourselves, he thought they needed clothes. I checked to make sure I wasn't stuck in edits and had revised my husband into saying that.

No, he'd said it. He'd suggested. And he was ready to go shopping. The surreal events didn't end there. He helped find - dare I say it - clothes on sale. The man willingly and of his own accord went through entire racks of mark downs all by himself.

I am...sniff sniff...so loved.

So there's my weekend in review. Monumental. It's all gravy from here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Countdown Has Begun

In a few short days, my debut children's novel, Dragon Wishes, goes supernova!!!!

Okay, maybe that's a little exaggerated. I've been reading a lot of scifi stuff recently. Dragon Wishes officially releases on November 4, but I got to do my first interview last week, and it is now available online as a website radio link. Very cool. Suzanne Lieurance with book bites for kids is a great interviewer. She made me feel very at home and easy. I had fun talking about my new book and what it's about. So if you get a chance, please pop by and take a listen. It's guaranteed to be entertaining...I think!

In other news, I went to the Tulsa Oktoberfest this weekend. My husband is from Germany, so this is one of those fun - slightly mandatory - events my kids drag us to each year. They didn't wear their traditional dirndls - Austrian dresses - to the event, but that's only because they wanted to ride all of the carnival rides. I was dragged along onto those. Gone are the days when I hurried up to a ride with no thought as to whether the bolts would hold, the car wouldn't break off in the turn when the G-forces are at their strongest, or, in teh least damaging scenario, I'd lose consciousness or toss my cookies.

My girls don't have nay of these worries. They're still too young. It's how fast, how far, how much fun can we have while riding. And they pulled me right into that fantastical world Friday afternooon. We had a blast. And, as an added bonus, I lived to tell about it...and do it all again next year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October Ovation

Barrie Summy, author of I So Don't Do Mysteries, came up with this great idea to do an October Ovation. We are to tout the horns of those we admire or who have helped us, or who are just, pretty much, great people.

The list is so long. So many people have helped me and been great role models for me throughout my life. However, if I had to pick one, it's Tricia Gallagher. As a full time mom, she doesn't always get the recognition she should, but she's been an amazing friend to me. When my girls were in a near fatal sledding accident five years ago, it was Tricia who helped me survive the first twenty-four hours, and the many that came after that.

When I began my writing endeavors, Tricia read through all of my manuscripts and critiqued them meticulously - part of her legal training put to work for me - which made me a better writer.

When I was on author tour two summers ago, she put me, my children, and my babysitter up for a week in her house, which, did I mention, was totally under renovation.

Tricia Gallagher is a great friend. She's a great role model. She's a great person. And I've never really gotten the chance to tell her how great I think she is. Tricia, this October Ovation is for you!

Share the love by checking out these other blogs for more October Ovations:

Barrie Summy
Through the Tollbooth
Ellen Booraem
Stacy Nyikos
Maureen McGowan
Elizabeth–About New York
Jason–Scribblings of a Madman
Becky Levine
The Adventures (and Misadventures) of Amy
Sandy–Peaceful Heart Stained Glass
Gabe–Gabe’s Meanderings
Debra–From Skilled Hands
Welcome to the Patti-O
Patti Abbott–pattinase
Beth Yarnell
Travis–One Word, One Rung, One Day
Larramie–Seize A Daisy

Writer's Block

The universe, in its infinite wisdom, decided to throw me a bone yesterday. I was suffering from writer's block. I don't even like to admit that I'm suffering from it when I am. As if giving voice to the stone wall between me and my characters will somehow make it even harder to scale than it already is. However, the universe must have had a little extra time, perhaps there were no stars going supernova yesterday, and decided to show, rather than tell, me how to get out of my funk.

People. That's the secret. REAL people, not the imaginary kind.

I spend most of my day hanging out with my imaginary friends. It can get kinda lonely at times. Yesterday, people were calling me left and right. An old friend whose life with three kids gets as crazy as anybody's and whom I haven't spoken with in a few months, called me out of the blue. The brother of a very old friend got my email and dropped a line to say hi, out of the blue. A friend who lives in Germany happens to be in town visiting and stopped by for dinner.

The universe was trying to tell me something: you, type A personality writer, walk away from the keyboard. Give your story time to jell. Talk to the real world. (Okay, and eat some chocolate, maybe even two pieces. Get crazy - boy has the meaning of that term changed since I was in college).

The amazing part, it worked. I came up with an idea as to how to fix the road block in my story while I was out running this morning. So thank you universe, I appreciate the bone. I'll try and do better next time. In the words of the great Buddha: Let the wall crumble away, rather than try to scale it. Or, something like that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wine and Words

I got to do my one adult/kid event this weekend, the Stone Bluff Wine Festival. One doesn't immediately think of a wine festival as a natural fit for children's authors. I - and the the hundreds of kids whose parents drag them along to a wine festival - beg to differ! The kids were tickled pink to find a real live kids' author - one of their kind - nestled into the booths selling wine, wine glasses, wine wreaths, and everything wine. The author was happy to be able to selectively partake of the sweet harvest while signing books.

It was a win-win situation.

And a reunion. This year, I got to see people I hadn't seen in over twenty years. A girl I used to run cross country and track came out with her daughter. Okay, neither she nor I am a girl anymore, but I hadn't seen her since I graduate from high school. I'm still catching up. Another girl/now woman I played together with in the Tulsa Youth Symphony came as well. I used to hang out with her younger sister who was my age, had sleep overs at their house, and took violin lessons from her mom, but I hadn't seen her in twenty years either. It didn't stop there. A friend from high school who now runs his own gourmet restaurant had a booth there. He was one of those "bad" kids in school, And sure enough, he was the one who brought over a bottle of wine to share with me. You gotta love those kinds of friends.

It was a lazy day under the Tuscan/Oklahoma sun where words and wine flowed in happy abundance.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Being Ten All Over Again

I was only a year older than my nine year old daughter last night when I saw my tween heartthrob, Bart Connors. He was standing in line for tickets to the Gymnastics Superstar show that was in Tulsa yesterday evening. I missed the sleeveless gymnastics shirt and those white pants with the feet in them, but it was defeinitely him. I was transported back in time, remembering how I held my breath and watched in awe as he performed in the 1984 Olympics. I had a crazy mad crush on him then, secretly harboring dreams of marrying my tween heartthrob. What girl hasn't?

Last night, I felt my heart pitter pattering all over again, until I realized, his Olympic performance was over twenty years ago. Gulp. Twenty years????

It was my husband's idea to go to the show. He's not Bart Connors, in case you were wondering. He did compete as a gymnast in his native country, Germany, all the way to the national levels. So, even though I didn't grow up to marry my tween heartthrob, I did marry a gymnast, who wooed me with a handstand. No joke. When he stood on his hands in the park the first time we went out, I was head over heels in love.

Last night, we sat next to each other, both a little older, with our two daugthers between us watching their eyes glow as the men's Olypmic gymnastics team showed off a little on the bars. One of the men did a triple salto on his dismount. Secretly, I think I wanted his autograph more than my daughter. But it was the look in my husband's eyes that really warmed my heart. He was smiling and clapping and so full of youthful glee at watching and remembering some of the things he used to do. Jokingly, I told him I'd been in love with him for twenty years, but now, well, those new boys weren't bad. He instantly replied that he'd take the stage. He still had a few moves in him.

I fell in love all over again.

My daughters, on the other hand, are madly in love with the new generation of gymnasts. I can only smile. There's something about those suits they wear and the flips they do that can melt the heart of any girl.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Balancing Act

I'm working on an article for a children's magazine at the moment called, "Balancing Act." It's about an artist I discovered in Germany while I was there over the summer. His name is Sepp Boegle, and he balances rocks in the most unusual way - on their tippy toes, their elbows, their heads, and yes, their chinny chin chins.

It's pretty amazing. No glue necessary. It's all a matter of listening to the rocks and finding their balance. He told me he does it because it helps him find his inner balance. I started wondering, how do we each find our inner balance? Mine seems to be helterskelter most days, with two kids and their activities, my writing life, my husband's busy work schedule, the dog, all that stuff. Sepp got rid of everything and has only two suitcases that hold all of his earthly possessions.

I'm not ready to chuck family life by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd like to find the eye of the storm. Is it possible for a family to do that? Four lives rotating on different axes around different interests and needs. Or is that why the Buddha himself left his family to find inner peace? Do the two exclude each other? I've never heard of a wise man or woman with a mortgage, teenage kids, a spouse, and dinner to get on the table. So I'm putting it out there into the world - is inner peace possible if you are dealing with a quantity more than ONE???

Friday, October 3, 2008

American Authors too....Ignorant?

Not one to shy away from controversy, I thought I'd tie into this recent discourse I read about in the newspaper. The Nobel Prize committee stated that there was a glaring reason as to why no American authors are on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize in literature, namely, we are too ignorant, too suffused in the American diaspora, too - tell me if this is beginning to sound very 1920s pre-WW II - islolationist.

I lived six years of my life in Europe, and while I can say that, yes, Americans as a whole do have a tendency not to see very far beyond our own borders, I can't say I ever had that feeling about our writers. We've got loads of books out on all manner of topics, many very international. I sort of get the impression that we've currenlty got a disproportionate number of middle-eastern themed books in the limelight presently, but that's hardly a sign of ignorance about the big world beyond our front door.

We don't do such a marvelous job of translating foreign works into English and getting those books on the shelves of bookstores nationwide. I'll give the committee that. I wish we did. In every bookstore I was in in Germany and Austria this summer, American titles were on the bestseller list, front of the store, right as you walked in. I can't say the same about American bookstores and foreign titles.

So maybe it's time we broadened our horizons and translated and read more international works. I, for one, wouldn't mind a little more variety in the smorgasborg of titles to choose from. The bestseller list seems a bit, well, predictable. How about spicing it up a bit?

That raises the ageold American question: Is is possible to make a profit on foreign authors and their books in the U.S.? Are we that cosmopolitan? Or has the Nobel Prize committee hit a little closer to home than anyone wants to admit??