Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And Now For the Adults: The Radiant City


I am afraid to write this review, afraid that it's meaning will slip through my grasp and fall flat. I have to head this post with a disclaimer that I am extremely fond of The Radiant City's author, Lauren B. Davis, even though we have never met in person. I reached out to her on SheWrites, and we became pen pals. After a while I felt embarrassed that I had never read her books, and only her lovely blog. I am glad that I got to know her a little bit before reading The Radiant City, because I might have been too intimidated by her excellence!

Aw shucks, Léna, she is saying.

This is a richly textured, finely crafted novel, about the festering wounds of war.

Written in the third person and in the present tense, we follow Matthew Bowles, war correspondent and journalist from a hospital in Hebron to the streets of Paris,the City of Lights, the Radiant City, where he hopes he can lose himself. He has been "rescued" by an agent who gets him a big advance to write about his experiences as a war correspondent in Bosnia, Rwanda, Hebron and more . . . but Matthew struggles to do this through drink and post-traumatic stress and meeting up with other "veterans" who share his darkness.

Davis brilliantly uses the backdrop of subterranean Paris as a map for his tortured soul. She weaves in another narrative, from the point of view of Saida, a Lebanese woman who owns a small café in Matthew's neighborhood with a son, father and brother to take care of. She has wounds of her own.

It is also an ode to the path of the artist, the writer.

"You know what Katherine Anne Porter said?" Matthew says to Saida, after having disappeared into his interior world for days, trying to write his experience and failing. "I'm paraphrasing, but basically she said that human life is pure chaos, and the job of the artist - the only thing he's good for, incidentally - is to work that confusion into order. No one understands what's happening to them as it's happening, right? So writers have to remember for other people. We have to sift through experience until our disparate selves are reconciled, and by sharing it, offer the same reconciliation to others . . . I think it's bullshit." p181

It's not bullshit, Davis wants us to know. And I'm glad, because my eyes stung with tears at times: so wrapped up was I in the atmosphere of color and pain that Davis depicted. Obviously, I recommend this book without hesitation and am giving it 5 stars on Good Reads!

Lexulous Fiend


Lexulous is a brain massage,
Play with words, (no less an homage,)
Puzzles distract
and minds contract
Leaving room for fol-ee-age
To grow and bloom, in my little room
My Work-in-Progress before me looms
Throw in a "zany" and while I wait for you
Sentences flow, and sometimes too
When I see your "cheeses" and your "queans"
I am inspired to lean
More into my work: I'm a Lexulous fiend.

Okay, that was pretty terrible. I don't blame you if you stop reading, but Léna's Lit.Life would be nowhere without Lexulous, a game I've been playing on Facebook soon after I started this blogging business. It is Scrabble on steroids, with eight letters instead of seven. Friend and fabulous YA author Daphne Grab and I started having ongoing games: in fact, she just kicked my butt with an 83 point word, REAWAKING! Damn, girl!

Words have the power to both relax and stimulate me (for good or evil), in real life and in books, so why not in games? I play with a librarian in Connecticut who routinely wipes the floor clean with me, and I have an ongoing game going with left coast YA authors Lish McBride and Jen Violi.

So go ahead and friend me on Facebook (if you haven't already) and start a game with me - you'll really be helping me and my creative writing out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Madeleine L'Engle's And Both Were Young


I'm adding an extra special blog post today to let you all know that my grandmother's first YA book And Both Were Young, is available at your local bookstore (and the other usual suspects) today! First published in 1949, and then later by Delacort Press in 1983, it is a thrill that Farrar, Sreaus Giroux have republished it as a beautiful hardback, with an introduction by moi! (I was going to cheat and post the whole introduction here, but I won't. I hope that all of you die hard Madeleine L'Engle fans out there will buy the book anyway.)

And Both Were Young is a sweet story set in the 1940's at a boarding school in Switzerland, and, to quote myself, "meeting Philippa Hunter ("Flip") again was like meeting a long-lost friend: she leaped from the pages as if she were a version of my grandmother's younger self." They sure don't write 'em like this anymore!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Kids Like Dark . . .


. . . and their parents don't. In terms of imagination and creativity that is. I will not even break the surface of this topic here, but as both a parent and a teacher, my thinking has evolved over the years.

"Why do kids like dark? Because it's cool!" My ten-year-old said. Duh, mom. (And I am the mom who let him watch the Spiderman movie for the first time only recently.)

If I have a violent dream, does that necessarily mean that I'm violent?

Is Stephen King a twisted criminal, just because he writes horror? Are we for reading it?

If I like stories about vampires, does that mean I want to be one? Or that I want to give my power away?

(I hope you're saying"no". Otherwise, stop reading. Or no, keep reading! Maybe I'll change your mind.)

I work with kids on their writing, and I have found that many kids aged 10 to 18 really love exploring dark topics and emotional complexity. Sometimes to their parents discomfort, and oh how I understand!

One of our Writopia interns, a bright sophomore at Beacon high school, put it to me this way: "If I explore writing about something really dark like suicide, it doesn't mean I want to commit suicide. It just means that I'm trying to wrap my head around something very confusing and I'm trying to make sense of it in my writing."

But give a piece with those issues to a parent and their response might be one of alarm. Meg, my mentee, also had some interesting things to say on this topic. "Parents live in the real world - when you have a kid, you become hyper conscious of everything that could go wrong. Kids aren't in the real world as much." Kids are more able to live in their imagination, but have to learn to harness it, and writing is an excellent tool for something as wild and untamable as the creative mind.

Kids are exposed every where they turn in books, TV and movies to dark topics, and they are excited about this - they are excited to explore how they feel and think about the world. Two truisms about kids and writing collide:

1: Writing is a cathartic experience.
2: Kids love drama and conflict. They love to see how other people make mistakes and work things out. Or don't. "Darkness is the easiest path to drama," Meg said. "Things are less scary when you make up your own stories about it."

A piece of writing alone is not indicative of an emotional trouble, but we all need to be aware of the symptoms of depression. (Click on this website for more information: Keep Kids Healthy.) As a child who wrote and experienced depression herself, I am sensitive to this issue. Indeed, it set me on a path in my early 20's to become a drama therapist, wanting to better understand the nuances of my own psychology as well as a thirst to help others process things in a creative way, using narrative, whether it's through drama or writing, as a means of finding ourselves.

Friday, April 23, 2010

CHAPTERS: Part Trois


I made sure that I left in plenty of time to get down to the Center for Fiction for the second in the CHAPTERS reading series expertly put together by the team at Girls Write Now. You may remember mes chéres, that Meg and I were slated to read together at the first GWN reading in February, but were thwarted by a ginormous (evidently, ginormous is now an acceptable word) snowstorm and the event was canceled. (But then I was able to hear three of my Writopia students read at Barnes and Noble, so it was all good.)

I want to take a moment to send good vibes to Meg who is visiting The University of Rochester and couldn't be with me at this event.

Thank you. The Center for Fiction is in a beautiful deco building on East 47th Street. I walked through the bookstore and up the stately staircase to the second floor with high ceilings and crown moulding, folding chairs set up in rows with the names of the readers up in front. I saved two seats for my friend YA author Courtney Sheinmel and her friend, up and coming YA author Amanda Berlin. Amanda had contacted me about GWN and has applied to be a mentor. Of course I couldn't stop gushing! They came bustling in with other friends, parents, mentors and volunteers to hear these beautiful voices.

The evening started out with a reading by Lizzie Skurknick, a blogger, poet, journalist and now YA author. Her writing was beautiful and lyrical - mesmerizing. (Afterward, I bought her book, Shelf Discovery, a reading memoir: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. I had her sign it and then was delighted when I got on the subway to open it and have her first book be A Wrinkle in Time! It's probably a good thing that I didn't run back and brag about the author being my grandmother - not the way I want to win friends and influence people!)

But the big show tonight was the girls, and the overwhelming support and love in the room, for the creative expression in a variety of genres. Some mentees read on their own, while others read pieces with their mentors. It made me all fired up about writing, and once again showed me how empowering words can be! And yes, I'll say it again: how I wish there was Girls Write Now when I was a teen! It was made all the more wonderful by hitting a diner with Courtney and Amanda, where we talked more about the powerhouses we had heard tonight. Thanks gals, for being my date!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Distraction, or Peripheral Vision?


On Facebook: Léna Roy is wondering what to blog about today as per agreement with self (and agent) to blog every other day. How could I top Monday's news about the audio deal for EDGES? Ho hum. A response from friend and neighbor Katherine Freedman came (almost) instantaneously: "You could blog about how that jack hammering is sapping the creative soul on Duke Ellington Boulevard!!!!!" Good point.

I met with Meg, my Girls Write Now mentee, and her high school senior self confirmed that this is indeed in the air. Meg was distracted, irritated and anxious, getting ready to go on an overnight trip to check out the University of Rochester. She was biting her nails. Why? "I don't know what to expect, and I need to LOVE it. They are offering me a partial scholarship!" And she is DONE with high school, already.

I think that this was the most cranky I have ever seen Meg. "I've been so distracted by this college stuff that I haven't written in three weeks, besides when I'm with you!" She lamented. Usually we do a short fiction exercise, but this time I asked her to exorcise her feelings about school and the future, while I thought about my own proclivity for distraction . . .

Yes, my brain is a bit scattered. Facebook, Huffington Post, three email addresses and as my friend so eloquently put it, the unrelenting jackhammers on Duke Ellington Boulevard. The fun distractions and the annoying ones both pull me out of focus, and I don't have a proclivity for single-mindedness. At all. You could say that I was born with more of a peripheral vision than tunnel vision. And how I've always wanted and admired tunnel vision! Those people get things done!

Today I ended up letting my WIP marinate a little longer - maybe I needed a jackhammer to get me out of the house, away from the internet and onto the streets, to walk in Central Park, to observe life around me, thinking: can we look at distractions as a form of peregrination? Must I value focus so much that I feel guilty about going with the flow?

When Meg stopped writing, her shoulders looked more relaxed, and the corners of her mouth curved upwards.

"Want to share?" I asked.

"If you really want to hear my teenage angst," she said, almost laughing. "This really worked!"

Writing is a peregrination, a pilgrimage, where most of the time I don't know where I am going, but I need to have faith that I will get there. I will find the focus that I need to get to the other side. But only after allowing a few distractions first!

Monday, April 19, 2010

EDGES Coming in Audio!!!!

Happy Monday, folks! It sure is for me, as my fabulous agent, Edward Necarsulmer has given me the go ahead to share about our big coup in the audio world . . .

He left me three messages on our last Friday in Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago, the final one asking me to call him on his cell as he was waiting to get on a plane for his own vacation. This was highly unusual: I knew that something must be up! He had just been to the Bologna Book Fair, so my heart was racing as I dialed his number: maybe he had news that Germany or England wanted to buy the book? No, too soon, but a gal can have big dreams, can't she?

"Léna, I have some great news for you," he said, and then paused just long enough for me to start feeling dizzy from holding my breath. "Listening Library wants to pre-empt the audio rights for EDGES."

"Pre-empt? Listening Library?" I asked, pacing the floor. I had no idea what that meant.

"Listening Library is part of Random House. Pre-empt means that they don't want me to shop it around anymore. These two facts bode well for the future of EDGES, plus the fact that they don't do many YA titles." I was floored. "Léna? Are you still there?"


Someone at Random House loves my book!
Was all I could think.

"So Léna," he said. "Now your book will also be available on I-Tunes, and will be published on December 7th in conjunction with the book!"

"Thank YOU!" I somehow managed to stammer. Somebody else besides the amazing team at FSG loves my book . . .

I just hope that you all will too!

P.S. This photo up above is the sketch - the draft if you will, of the cover. I don't have the actual jpeg yet, and I believe that the cover may be darker . . .

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Willingness to . . .


I'm thinking of the importance of willingness today. The willingness to change and take risks, the willingness to stay open, the willingness to be conscious and awake, the willingness as writers to follow the story. And the willingness to be an active participant in my own story.

At Writopia, the kids in my workshops teach me about willingness through their creative process. They are willing to jump in and aren't paralyzed by fear of perfection. They are willing and able, allowing themselves, with my support, to enter the realm of creative chaos, and then my job is to help them train it with grammar and narrative integrity. (Notice that I write "train" instead of "tame" - we don't want tame writing! See blog post How To Train . . .) It's amazing what a little grammar can do!

So this translates to life, yes? Willingness to change: A friend of mine said today that change is easier in some ways for him when he has no choice. We turn it over and do our best to move on with our lives. But instigating change ourselves to better our own lives, being the architect, taking responsibility for our choices, now that's a toughie! I found myself nodding in agreement with him: you are not alone, brother.

I don't know about you, but, but my characters take on a life of their own. I get to shape them, but they tell me who they are. Like children, like myself, becoming conscious of my choices and my dreams.

So this is a long way of telling you all, that for the past year, my family and I have been gearing up for a huge change: leaving NYC for Northern Westchester County. Suburbs! This is the first time that I've even said that word! I've just been thinking of it as: out of the city, where there's more space, the schools are good, and real estate is (a little) cheaper.

My dream is to write, and to make a living as a writer, but living in NYC has been a stressful living beyond my means. Sure, I have pieced together a living, and I am GETTING PUBLISHED! Freaking fantastic! Somewhere inside of me, I had the willingness to write and to persevere. But in order to continue, I need to lower our cost of living by leaving the city. I mean, what are the odds of Miramax buying the rights to EDGES? So I have to be willing to do what it takes to keep writing.

What are we willing to do to live (forgive me for chaneling Oprah!) our best lives?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For Older Teens and Adults: BOY TOY


I know it's late folks, but Barry Lyga is my latest writer/hero, so I couldn't resist giving him a shout out tonight. I had met him at Books of Wonder a few weeks ago at the launch party for Sourcebooks and was charmed. Who was this man who looks like Liev Shreiber, with an open face and friendly smile? I didn't set out to read his book, Boy Toy, but I couldn't leave without a signed copy.

"Some parents have a hard time reading it," he warned gently, and I scoffed.

"I think I can handle it," said I, confident that I had tackled some pretty serious issues not only in my fiction, but in my life.

Well . . . he was right. The trauma of sexual abuse does not make for light reading.

At seventeen, Josh Mendel is incapable of intimacy with anyone, including his best and only friend. All he does is study for the "A" and play baseball. No dates, no parties - no socializing, period.

Ever hear the one about the boy who died after having an affair with his teacher? He died high fivin'. Ba-dum-dum. (Male guffawing and laughter ensues.)

When Josh Mendel is twelve, he gets the amazing opportunity to spend time with his "hot" history teacher, alone, in her apartment. He gets to play video games, get her drinks, and is treated like an adult. He likes it, he starts to love it, to love her, to fall-in-love . . . He starts to look at her in a sexual way, and then . . . this is way beyond Mrs. Robinson folks. It is a look into how predators often work, and as a parent, yes, I am horrified. And moved beyond belief by the grief and pain Mr. Lyga has painted.

Do boys get the subconscious message that it's manly to objectify women? That they're all about sex, while it's only girls who want intimacy? Are girls and boys the only ones who are traumatized from sexual abuse by men? Barry takes an unflinching look at not only Josh's emotional landscape as he travels down this path, but at the damage ingrained by our cultural attitudes towards sex and gender.

There were times when this book as so excruciatingly painful and uncomfortable, that I had to stop reading. And yet there were others, like tonight when I couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I had to see the character arc through - to move into hope of recovery. And I wasn't disappointed! I wish that Mr. Lyga and this book had been around when I was a teen: it sure would have helped me understand boys better! But I can be grateful that Mr. Lyga and his growing lexicon are with us now, and are here for future generations.

Good night!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring into Summer with Lila Castle


Spring fever anyone? I am raising up both hands! I am supposed to be cleaning, but blogging is begging to come first. A new YA book called The Star Shack has done me in. The weather here in NYC is simply gorgeous, my windows are wide open and the birds are chirping - and I have just come back home from a lovely walk and coffee with the author of Star Shack, Lila Castle. I had the good fortune of getting my hands on an ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) and tore through this fun and sassy romp in one sitting. Perfect for springing into summer, which is when it will be widely available! I am a sucker for well-paced love stories, and Lila kept me guessing and rooting for our hero and heroine until the end. Written in the first person and in alternate points of view, we get inside the heads of both Annabelle and Pete, who spend summers together on Gingerbread Beach. But this summer, their feelings for each other have changed - or so they think! Annabelle dares Pete to set up a summer horoscope business with her - thus the title, The Star Shack.

Lila and I sat on the beautiful campus of Columbia University, drinking coffee, talking about writing. I love alternate points of view - indeed EDGES is structured by two POV's. (My road to publication post reveals that my first draft had nine POV's!) Lila and I have talked in the past about writing in the first person vs. third person. My fiction writing is almost always in the third person, while Lila feels more "at home" narrating as "I".

I feel shored up after this morning, ready for whatever comes my way! We also talked about our mutual friend Daphne Grab, whose beautiful book Alive and Well in Prague, New York is on our top ten list of YA books. Another first person narrative!

Currently, I am being blown away by Barry Lyga's Boy Toy. I need to get off the internet at night and read more - maybe if I blog about my reading list, it will help me! After Boy Toy, I will delve into the world of adult literature with The Radiant City, by Lauren B. Davis, then today Lila lent me If I Stay by YA novelist Gayle Forman, (which I had read about on Courtney Sheinmel's blog yesterday)! I'm also really excited to read Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble, by Stefan Fatsis.

Thanks for stopping by, and hope to see you soon!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Facebook: A No Bully Zone?


Facebook, we were becoming such good friends, I had even started to fondly call you FB and look forward, at times a little too eagerly I must confess, to tuning in and and reading what's on everyone's mind.

Words we say and write mean something, even our little status update quips have vast potential to cause emotions. Words have power. Do I have your attention yet?

I was dismayed by an email I received this morning, alerting me to a page Facebook has allowed to be created that spews hate and perpetuates the "bullying" problem in our society. This page was created in response to the suicide of beautiful Phoebe Prince, whose suicide was a reaction to being terrorized by her peers at school. (And feeling isolated and alone when she was ignored by the adults in charge.) It is morally reprehensible and I appreciate the outrage that this has inspired. That's why I joined a Facebook page called YA Author's Against Bullying, created by the fantastic Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. It is simply anti-bullying, a forum for people, not just YA authors, to tell their stories and come up with solutions. But this other one goes too far. It's called Sean blank is a blankety blank blank blank, and seems to be a forum for public stoning. (Which, by the way, is exactly what happened to Phoebe Prince, a cold-blooded psychic stoning, the tormentors even laughing at Ms. Prince's death. On where? Your pages, darling.)

Facebook, you took off innocuous pictures of women breastfeeding, and kicked off Ann Magnuson for a tongue-in-cheek photo she put up of herself in lingerie. These are harmless. Why do they need to be booted off and something that causes more pain stays on?

I am full on against bullying of any kind. I've been a victim too , and it's been a long road in learning to stand up for myself. But I have three children, and while I want to shield them from bullies, I don't want to teach them to BE bullies. I want to raise them to be empathetic and respectful of others, and to know when to back away. Having power over somebody else isn't the key to happiness and success. Unfortunately, not everybody shares these values, and I've got to be realistic of what can be accomplished. We need to educate ourselves and each other about empathy and respect. I'm no saint - I certainly have been guilty of saying and writing things that I've wished I could take back and that I've had to apologize for.

And FB, I don't know exactly what you can do about it, you've done such a wonderful job of making us all feel more connected, and I know what you're gonna say - hey, being a grown-up means learning how to self-monitor and self-regulate, right? But sure, that's okay for me and I may miss the point once in a while, but what about our responsibility to teens? Is there something FB can do as an entity to have a "no tolerance" stance on the issue of cyber-bullying?

Two wrongs never make a right.

Therefore FB, I hope that you don't kick me off, but that we can start a real dialogue about what's important.

Sincerely,

Léna Roy, a young adult author against bullying of any kind.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thank You, Catherine Orenstein


"Your opinion matters, and is important," were the words said today to a group of mentees and their mentors today at the monthly Girls Write Now workshop. Today's focus was on journalism, and we started a lengthy discussion on Op Ed pieces.

Normally, this wouldn't stop me in my tracks, but today I started to tear up. I am embarrassed to admit that I grew up holding onto a belief that my opinion didn't count. I have held on to the idea that I am "bad" at arguing, when really I just have a fear of conflict.

So I've been a shrinking violet, guilty of learned helplessness that we as a culture both abhor and encourage. I turned to the world of fiction to sort out how I thought and felt. I find, or at least look for, my "voice", in writing.

I have been turned off from expressing my opinion too strongly, by others who lack empathy and respect. I've been intimidated by others' ability to back up their opinions with facts, when I forget mine in the heat of the moment. Yes, I'm "bad" at debating, so I've given up.

Not any more. Not after hearing our guest author today, journalist Catherine Orenstein, Founder and Director of The OpEd Project, "an initiative to expand the range of voices we hear from the world, with an immediate emphasis on enlarging the pool of women experts who are accessing (and accessible to) our nation's key print and online forums." I scribbled furiously as she talked, this woman in her late 30's who had an enviable ease and confidence, comfortable in her own skin. No shrinking violet.
She said: "The Op Ed pages are the gateway drug of thought leadership and public debate - these are the pages where ideas become policy." She quoted some staggering statistics - that women make up only 10% of the voices we hear in Op Ed pieces and on TV. 10%! But it isn't merely sexism. She points out that only 10% of submissions are from women.

To make her point, she showed us a scene from the movie, Being John Malkovich where John Malkovich himself goes through the tunnel to a restaurant where all he sees is himself, and he is the only thing on the menu. It is a scene of nightmarish hilarity. Orenstein said that this was a good representation of the public debate. Rich, white men are the only thing on the menu.

When Orenstein spoke of the reason that women aren't on the Op Ed pages, my eyes smarted with tears again. Women are afraid of being attacked, of being called "bitches". (Evidently a word sanctioned by the New York Times). That's me to a tee. Afraid of not being "liked". She asked the question, "what is the cost to society when half of the nation's best minds and best ideas - women's minds and women's ideas - are missing?"

I had to pull myself away to go back uptown and teach at Writopia, but I've been thinking about this all day. I don't want to live in a world where there's just one thing on the menu a la John Malkovich, or even a la Léna Roy for that matter. I want to live in a world where my voice will be heard, but I have to take responsibility and actually SPEAK, and be willing to be strong enough to stand up for what I believe in, not letting emotion wash me away when faced with the opposition.

What am I passionate about? I'm passionate about helping both girls AND boys find their voices in creative expression. And I've been putting my money where my mouth is. I'm devoting my life to writing and the arts, but I need to ramp up my advocacy skills. Thank you, Catherine Orenstein for this epiphany, and for showing me what I have to work on. And, as always, thank you Girls Write Now! I needed you twenty-five years ago when I thought my opinion was meaningless!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LOVE NOTES with Jen


I am loving this social networking, this communing on the internet, this finding of like-minded souls - how else would I have received a LOVE NOTE from Jen Violi, another writer/kindred spirit in Portland, Oregon? We have many degrees of internet separation that connect us:

1) I discovered Lauren B. Davis, on SheWrites, and started following her extremely well written, thought-provoking and soulful blogs. I ended up writing to her and now we're modern day pen pals, 2) Lauren suggested I friend one of her friends, another debut YA writer hailing from Seattle named Lish McBride, (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer - fall, 2010) DID IT, (and might I use this as a platform to beg Lish to get thee a website? With her coolth, quirkiness, humor and intelligence, I have very high expectations!) 3) Lish in turn suggested I friend her friend from her MFA program in New Orleans called Jen Violi, who is ALSO a debut YA writer with a book coming out in summer 2011. Putting Make-up on Dead People. (You see, these gals are much funnier than I am!) Granted, we are getting to know each other through Facebook, but how else would we get to know each other I ask you? We even play Lexulous . . .

Now, besides being a writer, Jen has come up with some creative and I must say ENVIABLE side businesses, such as coaching, weddings, (did I ever tell you how I almost became an interfaith minister?) and theses inimitable LOVE NOTES. I'm clunking myself on the head I tell you: why didn't I think of this? She writes "Give yourself or someone you love the gift of fun, tangible mail combined with a reminder and encouragement to take a moment and reconnect to a place deep within."

I came back from Myrtle Beach to a Love Note from Jen. Inside a beautiful card was a packet of Forget-me-nots, and the charge to TRUST IN GROWTH. And it worked, yes it did! It made me feel all warm and fuzzy and helped soothe the cranky beast inside. Her concept of LOVE NOTES aligns with the philosophy I try my best to practice: seeing the glass half full and looking for the best in everyone, INCLUDING MYSELF! If I need constant reminders that the Source is all around me, then I'm sure many others do. We need all the help (and LOVE) we can get!

So take a little trip to Jen's website and check this out for yourself!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

EDGES in FSG book catalog!


Happy Wednesday! It felt like summer today in NYC - in fact, it was warmer here than it was on vacation in Myrtle Beach! We arrived home late yesterday afternoon discombobulated, disgruntled and disorganized, but what joy I later found when I opened my mail and discovered a copy of FSG's Books for Young Readers Fall 2010, where EDGES has it's own terrific display page! Here's their copy:

Two teens, battling addiction and grief, learn how to let go of the past and embrace the wide-open future

After his mother dies and his father begins drinking again, Luke decides to leave New York City. Though he's just sixteen, he finds a job and friends in fantastic, otherworldly Moab, Utah - the last place his family was happy together.

Back in New York, eighteen-year-old Ava finally admits she has a drinking problem. But life doesn't automatically get easier when she join Alcoholics Anonymous.

When circumstances - or fate - bring Ava to Moab as well, she and Luke must both figure out how to heal their families and themselves.

What do you think? Does it make you want to read it? I'm happy with it - I find myself bumbling over my words when people ask me what EDGES is about - I MUST get better at this!

I also received another happy present in the mail - a copy of the re-release of my grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle's book, And Both Were Young, which will officially publish later this month on April 27th! I was lucky to be able to write the Introduction for this book, as well as The Joys of Love, published posthumously two years ago. Uh-oh - look at the time! I'd better save further comments of ABWY for a future blog as it is getting late!

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Mother, My Librarian


As I write this, I am lying on the couch in a sun drenched family room with my mother in Northwestern Connecticut, in the same house that my grandparents, Madeleine L'Engle and Hugh Franklin, had once dubbed "Crosswicks". My mother has made the house her own with an extensive rescue job - the house having had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect. The couch I've taken over for the afternoon is covered in a delicious red velvet and my mother sits across from me in her brown leather chair, reading the paper, a stack of books piled next to her. My mother is perhaps the most well read person I know - not only does she have floor to ceiling bookcases (constantly in need of rearranging due to overflow) but she has stacks of books on every surface by a chair, and she even owns a Kindle! It is a luxury - almost sensual - that Crosswicks is big enough for all these books to co-habitate. In New York City I live in a state of book-deprivation and have to be very sparing living in a small apartment with four other people!

I've always said that my mom's house is my library, but it would be more accurate to say that my mom is my librarian - we talk and breathe books when we are together. She always leaves a stack of books on the stairs for me and of course I can't resist cracking open Michael Connelly's latest Detective Bosch novel, Dragon.

I am drowsy from an action-packed, fun-filled family vacation, and wish that I had more than a day to relax in my mother's world here at Crosswicks, in her cocoon of literature. We made it up here just in time for Easter dinner last night: lamb, and chocolate and friends, waking up this morning to an Easter Egg hunt my husband had rigged the night before. (Evidently, those in the White House do their egg hunt on Easter Monday, which was enough to impress my kids that we didn't have to throw something together in a hotel room on Easter morning.)

I've missed my mom, having not spent as much time up here as I used to, due to my burgeoning schedule beyond the kids. Here in her house was where I passed to my mom the early pages of EDGES.

Crosswicks is also the backdrop for many of my grandmother's works, from A Wrinkle in Time, to obviously, The Crosswicks Journals. So yes, the grounds inspire reading and writing. And, for my part, a little regression, as it is no wonder I come to my mother hoping to be cradled in her figurative, if not literal, bosom. The bosom of her library, and her support for my creative life. I love you, mom!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Shutter Island in Myrtle Beach


Packing up for our last night in Myrtle Beach. (Insert sad face here.) I was going to write about Medieval Times, the cheezee jousting/dining extravaganza, but letting the husbands take the boys seemed like a better idea, while us women took the girls to a Hula and Fire show. Also cheeze-ridden, but is not sparking an idea for tonight's short Lit.Life post.

So, I'll write about last night, which sparked several things, but there's no way I can fit them all in tonight in the half hour I've designated to write this.

"And what's with the cartoon?" You ask. "Trying to get out of what?"

Trying to get out of his mind . . .

Husband and I, on the occasion of our anniversary, went out to dinner and a movie.
We saw Shutter Island. I had read and enjoyed the book by Dennis Lehane about five years ago - but that summer I had been binging on this author, and devouring the lexicon of his work. So it's safe to say that I didn't remember the plot exactly. Does this happen to anyone else? Reading so much that you have to work really hard to remember a certain piece?

I don't love horror, or even the idea of being scared, but I love unreliable narrators in psychological thrillers. Shutter Island did not disappoint in this regard, and I'm glad that I had almost "forgotten" the book, but then again, maybe it didn't blow me away as much as it could have because somewhere in my subconscious, I knew what to expect. I wasn't on the edge of my seat the way I was with Fight Club, or Donnie Darko, two of my favorite movies ever. (Although Fight Club I refused to see on the big screen because I was afraid of the violence.)

Thanks for reading my sophomoric effort tonight! Sweet dreams y'all.