Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poetry, Saturday

We are finally encased in winter. I'm looking forward to hunkering down after the holidays and revisions are done, and losing myself in writing a new book. In the deep mid-winter seems to be my best time to write.

In celebration, here is a poem and some photos from my outings this past week.

Nights Our House Comes to Life

by Matthew Brennan

Some nights in midwinter when the creek clogs
With ice and the spines of fir trees stiffen
Under a blank, frozen sky,
On these nights our house comes to life.
It happens when you're half asleep:
A sudden crack, a fractured dream, you bolting
Upright – but all you can hear is the clock
Your great-grandfather found in 1860
And smuggled here from Dublin for his future bride,
A being as unknown to him then as she is now
To you, a being as distant as the strangers
Who built this house, and died in this room
Some cold, still night, like tonight,
When all that was heard were the rhythmic clicks
Of a pendulum, and something, barely audible,
Moving on the dark landing of the attic stairs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Trailer!

So here's the kick-ass book trailer Jennifer Wolf did for me for The Ring! I think she did an amazing job. It's posted on YouTube, FaceBook, Jacket Flap, and a variety of other places. I hope you like it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday

It's Friday, so it's time for a poem. And one of my favorite, contemporary poets is Jane Kenyon. Like my other favorite contemporary poet, Mary Oliver, Kenyon had a way of looking at the small, everyday things in nature through a wide-eyed, spiritual lens. But unlike Oliver, Kenyon wrote just as eloquently about her dark struggles with crushing chronic depression. As anyone who has lived with chronic depression for years knows, the only "good" thing about it is when you have those periods of grace when it lifts. You appreciate in a whole different way being able to make a dentist appointment, write a poem, work in the garden, and not feel utterly hopeless. Because you know that one day the "black dog", the "unholy ghost" will return.

"Otherwise" Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed on two strong legs.
It might have been otherwise.
I ate cereal, sweet milk,
ripe flawless peach. It might have been
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver candlesticks.
It might have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed in a room
with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day just like
this day.
But one day, I know
it will be otherwise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A room of one's own

I had the great good fortune this weekend to be part of a panel discussion for new authors at our regional SCBWI annual conference. For those of you who don't know, SCBWI stands for Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It's a huge, wonderfully supportive organization. Anyway, for the first time ever, I was on the other side of the table, so to speak. I was a published author and a speaker! The four of us on the panel--Sydney Salter, Jean Reagan, Bree Despain, and myself all talked about getting that first contract, how life was different now, ect. Then we were asked questions by the audience. Do we outline? How did we get an agent? What is our "writing process?" And then the BIG QUESTION: what one piece of advice would we give a writer trying to get published. Everyone had good answers, but I want to share with you mine. Because, after all, this is my blog!
So here was my answer: no one will take you seriously as a writer until you do! If you're serious about wanting to get published, you have to take what you're doing seriously. And what does that mean? I think for women particularly, it means establishing firm boundaries. This is my space and my time to write. That may mean you carve out a nook in your house where you write undisturbed. Maybe you're not lucky enough to have an actual room of your own--I didn't until the kids moved out. But remember, John Grisham wrote his first couple of books, including The Firm in a tiny closet. And Stephan King wrote his first several books at a child's desk in their laundry room! If you can't carve out a space in your house (and don't write at the dining room table when everyone's home!), take your laptop or your notepad and go to your neighborhood bookstore, coffee shop, laudromat, or library. Someplace where you can write uninterrupted, even if it's just for one hour a day. Setting boundaries also means valuing and respecting your creative energy. Why waste it on being the only one in your household responsible for house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking? Now bless their hearts, it is hard for others to see us as hard at work when we're staring off into space or at our computer screen. But damnit, we are hard at work! And no one is going to appreciate that until you do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If it's Friday it must be Poetry

Indian Summer is over, and really, that's okay. The ski resorts are opening in a few weeks. Snow is white gold for all of us living in ski resort towns. So in honor of the white stuff, here's a lovely poem for your enjoyment:

"Snow" by Elizabeth Tibbetts

The old, blue-eyed woman in the bed
is calling down snow. Here heart is failing
and her eyes are two birds in a pale sky.
Through the window she can see a tree
twinkling with lights on the banking
beyond the parking lot.
Lawns are still green from
unseasonable weather. Snow
will put things right; and sure enough by four
darkness carries in the first flakes.
Chatter, hall lights, and the rattle of walkers
spill through her doorway as she lies there--
ten miles (half a world) of ocean between her
and her home island.
She looks out from a bed the size of a dinghy.
Beyond the lit tree, beyond the town, open water
accepts snow silently and, farther out,
the woods behind her house receive the snow
with a faint ticking of flakes striking needles and
dry leaves--a sound you would not believe
unless you've held your breath and heard it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's All About Me

I know, I know...I said I'd not use this blog for flagrant and obvious self-promotion. So I lied. But you have to admit I've done pretty good so far!

So today I found out that my teen novel, The Ring, has been nominated for the American Library Association's Rainbow Project. It's a real honor! To find out more about it, click on this link

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by a great blogger, Marshal Zeringue. He has a wonderful blog spot called America Reads. Great place to go to find out not only good books but what you're favorite authors (and their dogs!) are reading! link

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Doggie Inspiration

Sometimes it seems like if you watch the news, there's not a whole lot of inspiration out there. At least in the two-footed form. Until today. I want to introduce you to Dare, a true two-pawed inspiration. I first came across Dare's story about a year and a half ago when I was cruising Sheltie Rescue websites.( Okay, some people cruise porn sites, I cruise dog sites. Sue me.) Anyway, I came across Dare on a Colorado Sheltie Rescue site. He'd recently been rescued from a area puppy mill. What made his story so memorable (and infuriating) was the poor little guy had had to have one front leg and one back leg amputated--and on the same side of his body! Seems that at this awful puppy mill (save this for another rant), he'd had his front leg mostly chewed off and badly broken his back leg. Of course, neither were ever attended to by the breeder. The only thing the rescue could do was amputate. His medical bills were extraordinary. I cursed the puppy mill, devised elaborate tortures for the breeder, wiped away the tears, and sent them a check to help with the vet bills. And then, quite frankly, I forgot about Dare.

Until this morning when I opened my daily Sheltie (photo/story) fix in my email from Sheltie Nation. Please, please take an extra minute or two to click on this link and meet Dare today. I promise you, you'll be moved and inspired!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Meditation on Patience (not my strong suit)

The Patience of Ordinary Things
by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Books that shape us

Last week, while browsing in a local bookstore, I happened upon wonderful book, Everything I need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book, edited by Anita Silvey. I was utterly charmed and enthralled as I thumbed through the book. In it, famous people from all walks of life--scientists, authors, actors, NPR hosts, sports figures, business tycoons--talk about what book has had the most influence on them. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, All of a Kind Family, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Little House, The Travels of BaBar. See a trend here? They're all children's books! Which made my librarian and writer's heart swell with pride and hope. I did something I rarely do: I bought the book. I've been dipping into it, savoring it when I eat breakfast or lunch.

And it got me to thinking: what about books in my childhood? I was a ravenous, passionate reader from an early age. Could I really point to just one book? No. But I will narrow it down to two. Casey the Utterly Impossible Horse, by Anita Feagles was the first chapter book I was able to read on my own. It's a wonderfully silly story about a demanding, vain, talking horse who insists he needs his own pair of pajamas. I read it over and over to my father, and we laughed at the horse's foolishness. This book not only marks my ability to read on my own; it also marks a happy time in my childhood. When I was about nine, I discovered a book in my elementary school library: Season of Ponies, by Zylpha Keatley Snyder. I read that book so many times, my name filled up both sides of the check out card. Mrs. Conway, the librarian, had to put in a new card for me to fill up. Why did I read it over and over? It was about a girl who had lost her mother and her father. She was a girl, like me, who's heart was broken and who loved horses, and who longed for things hard to express. It was a book filled with longing, and sadness, and magic, and hope, and horses. I found a friend and myself in that book.

So tell me. What book spoke to you, what book enveloped you, and possibly, shaped you as a child?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Hey everybody! This is my first official posting on my new adventure as a blogger! I promise not to bore you with the minute-by-minute details of my life because, quite frankly, I doubt I'm that interesting. Instead, I'll talk about my thoughts on books, dogs, and the occasional rant on who knows what. And I'll let you know what's happening with my books. So, if you have nothing better to do with your time, fix yourself a cup of tea and welcome!