February, 2011

California Sunshine?

Flew off to sunny California to celebrate my little sister’s nuptials. Except it wasn’t so sunny! But even rain and Missouri like temperatures couldn’t spoil the fun! I had a great time visiting with family and friends!

Reception was held at Old Town in HB

The happy couple!

My daughter, Kelsey, masquerading as a German Fraulein.

Changing into my superman costume...

My husband finally got to bond with his grandson Noah (the cutest, smartest little boy on the planet!)

Grandpa Dan, Noah and Mommy Adryan

And we even managed to sneak in a few lines of bowling!

It's all about the shoes!

We stayed  with my dear friends, Wes and Kathy Kliewer. Kathy is a middle school teacher like me and we spent a few hours pouring over the YA books on her shelves. She was also excited to share that her class had just enjoyed a fabulous Skype visit with an author-something I will have to investigate for the future! Lastly, the loooong plane ride gave me the opportunity to finally finish an ARC of The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, that I won on Goodreads.

I was so excited to receive  this book and it definitely lived up to the hype! The author states, “If you are making your journey in a hurry, you are making it poorly,” and I would agree-this book needs to be savored slowly. I loved traveling down side roads and following the life stories of minor characters as the protagonist, Natalia, details the relationship she had with her grandfather, unraveling the mystery of the deathless man and the tiger’s wife as she goes, all in an attempt to understand her grandfather’s last days on earth.

I’m glad to be home-but miss my California  friends and family already. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit the Golden State again soon-unless I’m blown away by the tornadoes we’re expecting here in the Show Me State tonight!

A Baker’s Dozen From Borders

The Springfield, Missouri Border’s store will be closing its doors soon, and all merchandise is 20%-40% off. I spent the morning perusing the children’s section, and ended up with the following baker’s dozen.

 I See the Rhythm of Gospel, text by Toyami Igus and paintings by Michele Wood. This book is a creative blend of facts, poetry, art, and music that comes with a bonus CD. When I could tear my eyes away from the vivid illustrations, I found the timeline that chronicled the journey of African Americans from slavery to the election of Barack Obama very informative.

 Ladybug Girl at the Beach,by David Soman and Jacky Davis. Lulu and her faithful dog, Bingo, explore the beach for the first time and eventually Lulu overcomes her fear of the ocean.

Zen Shorts, by Jon Muth. This book intersperses “Zen Shorts” ( Uncle Ry and Moon, The Farmers Luck, A Heavy Road)with the story of  Stillwater, challenging readers to examine their habits, desires, and fears.

Zen Ghosts, by Jon Muth. Stillwater is back, just in time for Halloween. He tells a ghost story about Senjo that is a Koan, a question you have to answer yourself.  Fantastic watercolor and ink illustrations.

 The Boss Baby, by Marla Frazee. I loved the humor in this simple book of a baby who eventually learns to speak his first words while running his poor parents ragged.

Diary of a Baby Wombat,by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley. This book is a great tool for teachers to introduce this genre to K-2 students.

Old Bear, by Kevin Henkes. Bear dreams in vivid color of the four seasons as he naps through winter.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Phillip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Charming woodblock and pencil illustrations help tell the tale of Amos and his friends from the zoo.

The Lion and the Mouse,by Jerry Pinkney.It’s easy to see why this wordless rendition of one of Aesop’s fables won the Caldecott!

Willow, by Denise Brennan Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Illustrated by Cyd More.Enchanting tale of a dreamy student whose creativity and openmindedness first vexes then inspires her teacher, Miss Hawthorn.

Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewcliney.Cute rhyming story about a baby llama who isn’t quite ready for bedtime.

Knuffle Bunny Too, by Mo Willems. I was more enamored by the blend of photography and cartoonish images that illustrate this novel, then I was by the text.

The Sweet Smell of Roses, by Angela Johnson and illustrated by Eric Velasquez.Amazingingly detailed black and white pencil drawings accompany the text about two children who sneak out of the house to attend a speech and march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As an author and avid reader, I am saddened that our town has lost yet another  place where children and adults can go to browse, read,  and buy books and magazines. RIP Borders!

Inspiration Found in the Grand Canyon State

Inspiration comes in many guises. One can find story ideas eavesdropping on a snippet of conversation in a restaurant, reading an article, or listening to the evening news. My latest inspiration came from a trip I took with my husband to the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, in Arizona. Maybe it was lounging poolside, sipping a smoothie in the sunshine. Maybe it was the long walks on the nature trail along a replica of the Gila River. Maybe it was riding through the desert on a mustang named Sundance or exploring the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Or maybe it was the abundance of good food:from strawberry waffles at Queen Creek Olive Mill  to the five star dinner at Kai. Or maybe it was the combination of all these things that had me so completely relaxed that I was finally able to take note of the muse whispering in my ear. In any case, I came home with an idea for a new novel, a handcrafted journal from artist Jeremy Diller, and the beginning of a tan!

The arboretum

In the limo

The hotel

Dan on Jesse, the mustang!

Residual Effects of Snow Days Linger

Having four days off last week due to snow and ice was heavenly. Not that I slept in! Taking care of my “zoo” takes twice the work when cold air is freezing water sources and sending shivers down furry spines. Between barn and kennel runs, I was glued to my computer. My major accomplishment: finishing revisions (that may end up being an oxymoron) and submitting my manuscript to the publisher BEFORE my contract deadline. I then entered the glittery, enticing universe of social media. I actually had time to follow tweet threads and discovered the previously unknown world of book bloggers. I love these folks. They manage to hold down full time jobs as well as read and review mountains of books. They directed me to sites like Library Thing, Shelfari, Teenfire, Random Buzzes etc.-all of which I joined. Leading to what I’m now fondly calling The Residual Effect.

See, now  I’m back to work. That “zoo” still needs tending after I arrive home. Household chores , sadly, still exist. However, so does  my glittery social network world. My e-mail box is exploding with discussion comments and blog updates. Now the latest books I’ve read need to be reviewed in a multitude of places. There are contests to check, articles to read, people to connect to.

And no time. I’ve discovered this world is a full time job in itself. It is stealing my reading, writing, TV, and sleeping time.  Clearly, I need a strategy to manage it all, since I do believe that social networking is a useful tool for marketing my book in the near future. I stopped short of posting a “chore” chart on the refrigerator (giving oneself gold stars or little smiley faced stickers seems a little narcissistic) opting instead to create a schedule in my day planner.

Wish me luck!

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