Sunday, July 31, 2011

Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!

My boy Dylan and I are taking off first thing in the morning for a cross country trip to North Carolina. He's on his way to graduate school at East Carolina, so I'm helping him drive his car down there. You guys, it'll be awesome.

Wish us bon voyage. And if we eat anything interesting, I'll for sure let you know.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Some thoughts on tomorrow's nuptials

I've been thinking about my friend Becky this week, partly because I always think about her, but mostly because her second daughter, the lovely and talented Alexandra ANN, is getting married tomorrow.

Here's the deal. When Becky was alive we talked almost every single day, and so we both had the sense that we lived doubly--I had my own life and I had her life, too. She felt the same about me and mine, as well. So when she died, I lost my friend AND I lost my second life. There were parts of myself that shut down that day, and frankly I've just never recovered them, although in my own defense, I have tried.

I can't help but think how frustrated Becky would be with me about this state of affairs. She and I were alike in many ways, but there were differences, and one of them is that Becky had a talent for inhabiting the present with a fierce, delighted energy. When I spoke at her funeral, I quoted C.S. Lewis who said his mother was one of those people who took to happiness the way some people always find the best seat on the train. I, on the other hand, am always looking for ways to keep my past alive, to make it present long after I should let a thing go. I can practically hear Becky scold me. ANN! DARLIN'! I LOVE YOU BUT YOU GOTTA MOVE ON, BECAUSE I HAVE.

On the other hand, she would be thrilled with her girls who are beautiful and smart and emotionally healthy and very much engaged with the present. They are truly their mother's daughters. Awesome cannot begin to describe them. And their father, too. I do love them all dearly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It's been a week since I've posted? Apparently I took an unscheduled, unplanned blogging vacay.

I subbed for Margaret at TKE today and read a lot of new picture books, which leads me to make this observation. One of the cardinal rules of writing picture books is this: EDITORS DO NOT ACQUIRE PICTURE BOOK TEXTS THAT RHYME. Rhyme = Satan. Or so the axiom (which you hear at every writers conference in the world) goes.

But here's the deal. Over half the new books I read today were in verse. And they were fun to read, too!

Yes. I know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Things Right Here, Right Now

Over at High Touch Megastore, Lisa B. shared a lovely list of good things, and I was so taken with her post, I've decided to do the same thing. Here goes.

Daily walks in the first light of morning.

Warm apricots.

A flood of daisies in my front yard.

Phone calls from my boys. From my husband, too.



Happy news. Niece Kelli is engaged.

Cold Dr. Pepper in a can. Nachos!

The view of the mountains from 11th Avenue.

Family and friends who inspire. Thanks, Lisa B!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A novel experience

Over the years my dad has been interviewed by all kinds of people under all kinds of circumstances. But I stumped him last night when I called to ask if he'd ever been interviewed by a puppet. (ANSWER: No.)

I, on the other, spent part of the evening being interviewed on videotape at the downtown library by a puppet named Earl E. Literacy. I know! AWESOME!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feeling very, very blessed

Have I mentioned that another granddaughter is on the way? Dylan and Julie are having a baby girl in October, and I've been floating with happiness. This is a good time of life, folks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

An open letter to my bed

Dear My Bed,

Just want you to know that I like you. I really, really like you. I've been worried you might think otherwise because I haven't crawled inside you much lately what with trips to SF! the beach! Wyoming! And now I'm going to St. George for the weekend, because my parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and we have plans for eating and play-going down south to celebrate.

But I'll return. Eventually.


That person who used to sleep in you

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And then we went to the cemetery

. . . to say hello to our dead. So my mom points at a tombstone and goes, "He was my really good friend. He used to tell me that I had horse legs."

And that's how they do really good friendship in my mother's homeland.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And it has been good times

I sat around this afternoon, listening to Mom and Ava swap stories, some of which began like this: "You remember how Sophie just had that one eye?"

Happy times, people.

Here's what I like about going to Wyoming with my mother

We'll see cousin Ava who's 91 but still interested enough to read books with shirtless guys on the covers. AWESOME. Maybe we'll eat lunch with her at the Senior Citizen's Center where she'll talk circles around people half her age. I'll ask if she has another trip to Wendover planned any time soon.

Ava makes turning 90 look fun.

Monday, July 11, 2011

As per Lisa B's suggestions

I will give a goal update. Today I did, in fact, work on the picture book AND the mystery. A little bit anyway. Then I had to write a talk which I delivered this evening. Hopefully I'll get to the YA thing tomorrow.

Also tomorrow! My mom (aka "the Rodeo Queen") and I are driving to Wyoming to see her people in Big Piney. Then we'll stay overnight in an awesome cabinette in Pinedale and drive home on Wednesday. Looking forward to the conversation.

Friday, July 8, 2011

For your consideration--a few goals for the month of July

1. Write one picture book rough draft every week.
2. Write at least 250 words daily on the mystery M-F.
3. Free-write (bad) poetry as a way to access possible YA mystery M-F. (Sounds weird, but I do have a plan here.)
4. Write a query letter for a magazine article.
5. Write the column once a week.

Okay. We'll see where that takes us.

And btw it's such a pleasure to read your responses. You inspire me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thinking about Radagast's question yesterday

Which was, if you'll recall, why do I want to write.

And here's the deal. I had to think about it. Which surprises me. It seems like I should have a ready answer for that.


If you were to ask my mother why I write, she'd say, "Because my daughter has to." I love it when she says that, because it's kind of cinematic. Like, I could be in a Gene Kelly movie shouting GOTTA SING! GOTTA DANCE! ALSO, GOTTA WRITE WHILE I'M AT IT! (One of the things I love best about my mother, incidentally, is her flair for the dramatic.)

But really I don't feel that way about myself. After spending hours (and hours) (and more hours) writing a piece about Emma Lou Thayne for the Trib, I feel like she's one of those people. Pen and paper are always nearby for her. She really HAS to write in the same way she has to breathe or eat. Me, on the other hand? I can easily go for weeks w/o writing. But not eating. As we all know.

I always make my way back to the writing thing, though. I feel . . . obligated to do it somehow.

In the end, I think I write because when I write I understand how I experience the world. I also write because I like to connect with an audience. And finally I like the feel of words and how you can make something out of them the same way you turn yarn into socks.

BTW Radagast is an awesome poet. I thought I should just tell you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whatcha whatcha whatcha want?

I (and the Beastie Boys) have been busy asking myself that question lately. Hey, thanks for your interest, Beastie Boys! You guys are awesome!

Anyway. I've especially asked this question in regards to my writing life lately, and of course there are some things that immediately jump to mind. A lovely three-book contract with lots of money involved and also a movie deal on the side. NOT TOO SHABBY.

But that's just dreaming. And the truth is all that might not make me as happy as I think it would, although I would love to buy a new dress for opening night. So what do I really want? That I have actual control over?

The writing part, probably. I can do that. I think I'll use the next few days to set some goals, and that will feel fine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Letdown City

Well, we're back from it all. SF. The beach. The Fourth. And I'm trying to battle the inevitable letdown that happens after holidays. What's the solution? Banning holidays? Right now I'm almost tempted. NO MORE FUN, PEOPLE. Because when the fun stops, it's just not . . . fun.

Sorry. Give me an hour or two, a Dr. Pepper or two, and I'll snap out of it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rogue Waves

It's our last full day on the beach, so I woke up in a melancholy mood. This can't go on. I probably wouldn't like it if it did. But somehow I still want it to.

I've been thinking a lot of my grandmother this morning. She used to sit on the deck here wearing her floppy yellow hat and watch the waves. "They say the seventh wave is the dangerous wave," she'd say. I'd roll my eyes because my grandmother was given to odd pronouncements at times. "If you eat beets, you'll have rosy cheeks like Jackie Kennedy," for example. Or "If you put vinegar on your food, it'll melt the calories." So of course when she'd start up with the rogue wave thing, I'd always say, "Yes, but how do you know when to start counting . . . "

Still, this morning as I took my solitary stroll on the shoreline, watching the brown pelicans dive bomb into the water, I found myself looking for that seventh wave. And for the shades of our old selves left behind here.