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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Feeling Twitter-ific!


Memorial Day and the wonderful Vets who served and sacrificed themselves aside, today will be the day that goes down in my own personal history as the day I finally got the point of Twitter.

My friend and fellow writer Courtney has been waxing poetic over Twitter all year and I have just looked at her blankly thinking, yeah babe, whatev's, with you having almost 500 followers and just as many follow-ing, it may be a more exciting way to connect with readers and friends, but I don't even have a book out yet . . . However, I took her advice and set up an account for myself, not understanding why I was doing it.

I've gotten the hang of Facebook and have way too much fun with it, and I'm loving keeping the blog up-to-date, but Twitter? So I've been checking it and updating my STATUS maybe once a month. I have 24 followers, and am following 33 . . . and then yesterday I was fooling around with my sassy new cell phone, noticing a Twitter feature . . . and I noticed something. Not only do I now have 25 followers, but there is a mention of EDGES from May 24th . . . what is this? I clicked on the link, and lo and behold, EDGES has been chosen by a blogger as COVER OF THE WEEK! (It is an amazing cover, I must admit!)

I hit REPLY to message author of The Hiding Spot, Sara Grochowski,(a college student in Michigan with almost 600 followers!) that I am thrilled with her write-up, and I start following HER . . . then today, I see a retweet from her, telling her "followers" that applications to be a Deb at the next Debutante Ball are being accepted starting . . . tomorrow! It is a group blog for debut authors - very, very clever idea.

A light bulb went off in my head. Hey, I thought. I wouldn't have known about this if I hadn't been on Twitter and was "befriended" by Sara! I started my application to be a "Deb," and now I see the light! It really is another way to communicate and get information that I wouldn't get otherwise. So I will keep plugging, blogging, tweeting away, not expecting world domination, but loving you who read my blog and tweets and engage me in word play on Facebook! Let's have fun!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank you Rebecca and Dan


Last night Writopia had it's annual event at the Jewish Community Center on 76th and Amsterdam in NYC.

And I cried. Rebecca Wallace-Segall, founder and director, and the inimitable Dan Kitrosser, actor/writer/teacher - pulled off an extraordinary event with over ONE HUNFRED students, ranging from the ages of 8 to 18. They started by sending out a list of WORDS to all teachers and parents, for kids to look at, cull from their writings, and to make associations with the words. Like BLUE, FATHER, GARBAGE, TOYS . . .

Huh? Was the look I got from many of my own students, and I tried to explain it like the game Apples to Apples, but even I didn't know exactly what Rebecca and Dan had in mind.

What transpired was a leap of faith on many students' part and a transformative experience. It was one of the best performance pieces that I have ever seen. Group poetry. And yes, I cried.

It's hard to believe that Rebecca started Writopia barely three years ago in her apartment, and how much it has grown. It's hard to believe that I have been leading workshops there for only a year! Now there is a sacred kid-centered writing space community on the Upper West Side where young hearts and minds can flourish, and kids have permission to write about whatever they want to write about. I love Rebecca for creating this!

So thank you, Rebecca and Dan, and the rest of the Writopia team, for a truly incredible evening, for shining a great big spotlight on all that is hopeful and unique and wildly creative about each and every student, about our capacity as human beings to reach for wholeness through community.

I share Rebecca's mission and vision, and am opening a Writopia in the heart of Northern Westchester, Mt. Kisco. We are starting enrollment for summer camp right now, so tell all of your friends in the area! (More about this another time!)

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone . . . read and write on!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Endings and Beginnings


I have been caught up so much in my own endings and beginning lately, that I have forgotten the larger picture, the mandala of life.

I gave my last tour at the Cathedral today before we move up to Katonah at the end of next month, and it was no coincidence that I was leading a tour about symbols in the Cathedral, because I needed to see them. Circles, mandalas everywhere - the rose window, the Celtic designs in my favorite chapel, St. Colomba, the pilgrims pavement - there is no beginning and no end.

Yet there is.

The Dalai Lama and a retinue of Tibetan Monks have been in NYC for the past two weeks, reminding everyone of the promise and hope of peace. The monks were working on a special installation of a sand mandala in St. Boniface chapel. Yesterday at the Cathedral I took a group of sixth grade boys to see the Tibetan Monks finish up the work. We were stunned to see the the almost-final product: white sand finely ground and mixed with watercolors painstakingly placed to design a symbol of the impermanence of life.

When I came in with a group of teenagers this morning and brought them to St. Boniface chapel, I was brought up short: of course - the sand mandala installation, The Sands of Time was gone. Part of it's purpose is to be destroyed, sands to be used as offerings for world peace. It reminds me of the Hindu goddess Kali, the small figurine on my altar representing both Creator and Destroyer. Beginnings and Endings.

And at the same time, I am part of the Alpha and the Omega.

There is something excruciatingly comforting about this as I move through leaving my home - the impermanence of material things, of matter. Yet we matter. And that must mean that I matter too, as a child of the universe, and that my charge is to write the-world-as-I-see-it, in all of its gloriousness and messiness, even if very few people read my words - this is how I make sense of the world and connect to the human race.

Thank you, human race!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Elevator Inspiration

Elevators are flights of fancy, right? Everybody has an elevator fantasy, don't they? Well, let me tell you one of mine . . .

I have found "the one", and now I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Obviously, it's not just any boring, hum-drum (but clean) elevator like the one we have in our apartment building. I became acquainted with this tiny cubicle last Friday night when I reached the Center for Fiction in preparation for the Girls Write Now reading. I was to meet Meg and some other mentor/mentee pairs on the sixth floor.

The elevator doors opened, and I was completely unprepared for my reaction to what I saw. The small space was entirely découpaged with pages and pages taken from works of literature. I had such a short ride and was so overtaken with a sense of STORY, that I am ashamed to be unable to report to you what books indeed, those pages were from.

It immediately made me think of The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, an amazingly inventive book where a detective, Thursday Next, follows a mastermind criminal through the world of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. What book would I get lost in? In this elevator, it was easy to extrapolate and imagine how that could happen - instead of the phone booth time machine in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, it would be a literary elevator, taking you into whatever book world you wanted to go to.

What a great writing exercise! Meg fortunately, felt the same way. "Let's use this elevator as a prompt for our next meeting!" I said gleefully.

And fortunately for me, that meeting was today. When I started writing, it was in the first person in the guise of a 30-something fop in a bowler hat named Jeremiah Funicle (where did he come from? This is why I LOVE writing!) who had never read Moby Dick (and neither have I), and was stuck in an elevator with the pages of said novel stuck to to it . . . when I passed my page onto Meg, she stuck with Jeremiah's "voice" and ended with . . . "sea salt smacked me in my face . . ."

Meg started with a girl in the third person, with the elevator taking her through a rip in the space/time continuum. I had the girl wake up on a grassy hill under a tree, only to discover that she was dressed as a fairy princess, and only had the company of one of Cinderella's talking birds who had developed Tourette's syndrome.

I think we'll continue these stories next time we meet!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Girls Write Now Rules! CHAPTERS reading


I'll repeat myself until the cows come home: I wish that I had something like Girls Write Now in my life when I was a teenager, and at the same time, I am so moved that I am able to give of myself, and be a part of this wonderful organization. To help girls find their voice and show them that they matter, that they can take themselves seriously as writers - that's freakin' priceless. It inspires ME, because I need to hear those things too!

It was a perfect evening to be downtown. I got off the subway and walked through Rockefeller Center, amongst the tourists were peppered with several Tibetan monks (as his holiness the Dalai Lama is in town).

Meg got her chance to shine tonight at the reading, and we basked in the glory of sharing our words. How wonderful to have Meg's first reading be at the Center for Fiction! (And I finally got to meet her parents and older sister!)

Morgan Baden EMCee'D the evening, and Maud Newton, the curator of the series, introduced the guest author, Marie Mockett who held us all spellbound reading from her novel, Picking Bones from Ash. (And of course I bought a copy!) All writers/readers tonight were phenomenal, their poems and memoirs touching my core with their authenticity. Meg and I were the eighth mentor/mentee pair in the line up, following a fantastic duo who played their guitars and sang a song they had co-written about having a crush on a (bad) teacher. Meg and I were able to make folks laugh with an excerpt from THE HOW-TO GUIDE FOR INHABITING TWO-LEGGED ANIMALS, a piece we co-wrote and later edited during one of our HOT NOTEBOOK sessions. (We always play, having realized that this is therapeutic and elevates our mood. Try it with a friend - give yourselves the same prompt, and then switch notebooks every five minutes. You'll be surprised by the outcome!

Here, with Meg's permission, I am posting our story.

THE HOW-TO GUIDE FOR INHABITING TWO-LEGGED
ANIMALS
By Marjorie Hopkins and Léna Roy

She opened the door and stood in the dark hallway, squinting as if
turning her eyes to mere slits would somehow improve her vision.

Humans.

A ghost of a smirk made its way to my almost lips as I hovered against the
wall, sinking into the shadows and drinking in her every move. I had been
waiting for a human for too long, yearning for the physical boundary of a two
legged animal. But she stayed standing, frozen. Come inside dear.

As if she heard my thoughts, she took a step.

That’s right.

Now close the door. Shut out the light. We need darkness.

She had stepped in, but the door remained open.

I let out an impatient sigh, releasing my exasperation into the stale hallway
air. I froze. Had I made any noise? Did she hear my wind? Could she smell
my breath? The girl bit her lip.

“Hello?” She finally spoke. I dared not take in another breath. “Is anyone
there?” Her other foot clunked forward and the door swung shut behind her. I
relaxed.

I had her now. At least, according to THE HOW-TO GUIDE FOR
INHABITING TWO-LEGGED ANIMALS I should. You should know this
was my first time.

Rule #10: optimum conditions for host entry entail darkness and closed doors,
sealing you in together with your host.

Funny word, host. It implies that these beings are willing, wanting you to
come on in and stay a while. But who knew? Maybe mine would be grateful
after all.

For too long I had been trapped in the ether, dodging in and out of cats, mice,
flies, gnats. You name it. I had watched her for the past couple of days, a
fourteen year old girl, pale and thin with a penchant for libraries and for living
other lives. Wasn’t that the truth about the world of books? I followed her
home last night and slipped through a crack in the window.


Rule #1: When it comes to humans, you have to live in the host’s abode for 24
hours before you can live in their bodies. Otherwise the transformation doesn’t
take.

She crept down the hallway to her mother’s room and opened the door. Her
mother was lost in depression; my girl vulnerable, scared. She needs me just as
much as I need her.

I heard her murmur. A low, husky, raspy voice croaked in response. Another
few minutes and the girl was tiptoeing back into the hallways, tears glistening
in her eyes. It was time. I sprang towards the girl, as if I had arms to pull her
into a comforting embrace. She yelped in surprise at the sudden sensation. It
was working!

I was inside and we were falling backwards, her head cracking on the floor. She
was unconscious as I settled into the left temporal lobe. Left temporal lobe?
That was a mistake, that controlled memory . . . I should have been in the
frontal lobe, I would be overwhelmed .

. . Rule #15 : Do not enter back of head. How did I get there? I struggled to
move but the memories were taking over.

Her entire life circled around my head, grainy and clear images floating
before my eyes in a whirlwind of memory. Different faces, emotions, songs,
lives. I met her mother before the devastation of mental illness. I lived through
the characters in her books. I saw her family, her relatives, I fell off a bike
when I was three. I dropped an ice cream cone at the county fair. I became shy,
reserved, unnoticeable, unhappy.

And suddenly I was back in the darkened hallway, lying against the wooden
floor, brown hair splayed across my face.

I exhaled slowly, face rearranging itself in an expression of pure shock.
Human emotions were always very draining. (Asccording to the guide book.)
Memories,images…it was never something a spirit could expect. And being
solid. That was also an adjustment.

Everything was purely mechanical from there – breathe in, breathe out,
remember how to balance, stretch muscles, don’t try to walk through walls…

"Is somebody there?" She whispered. Was she talking? That was NOT
supposed to happen. Hosts and widges were not supposed to interact. I'm in
the wrong part of the brain. Again: "Is somebody there?" Oh hell.

"Right here," I answer.

"Where?"

"Inside your head," I wince and she winces too.

"I'm losing my mind, aren't I?" She muttered. Then, "How did you get there?
Here? I am crazy, aren't I? It doesn't matter. Are you good or bad?"

The philosophy of the guide book leapt to mind. "There's no such thing," I
recited. “It depends on your perspective.”





Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hungover from Anticipation


Husband and I watched The Hangover last night, a strangely appropriate movie for the way I have been feeling lately - and no, not literally hungover. We are about to step off the cliff into a new way of life - much like getting married, or having a child - we are moving. And not merely down the street as we have done before (and that's been stressful enough) but to the suburbs. To a house with a room for everyone and a lawn and all of it's attendant problems (such as an ancient septic). A house in beautiful Katonah in the Bedford School District where we won't have to grind our teeth about getting-our-kids-into-the-right-school. Where we will have more psychological space to write. Exciting, right?

Well, I am cranky. Like I've been slipped a roofie and can't remember who I am. Like I'm losing my best friend. And to top that off, there's a tiger in my bathroom I have to deal with. Husband and I have to find our own Doug!

I haven't been mentioning our upcoming move to Northern Westchester, about an hour outside of New York City, because it's been so amorphous, and that slipperiness hasn't had much to do with my Lit.Life except for the fact that it's taken me away from my writing time.

I sped up the finishing of the rough draft of my WIP just so I could say I finished it, and be able to give it to a friend for a critique. It is too short rather than too long, and I have since received her notes and am chewing on it with vigor. I've written before that revision is my favorite process. I had been under the impression that novels take about three drafts. Well, that certainly hasn't been my experience. EDGES was about thirteen after all was said and done. Maybe it will be a little less with this WIP, but not by much. Revision is where I can constantly work on my craft and is an immensely satisfying process. I feel like a detective. It's creating the first rough draft that is painful, and tests my faith in so many ways. But the joy of discovery in finding out "what's next" always feels miraculous to me.

So "what's next" in my life? Moving is inevitable - we have to be out of our Upper West Side apartment by June 25th so that new people can move in. What's next is that I keep focusing on my work, and having faith that we'll find Doug in Katonah. He may be sunburned and mad, but he will be authentic, and love us anyway.

He will remind me that we're near the train station, and that the city is a mere 50 minutes away.

What's next also is another CHAPTERS reading from Girls Write Now at the Center for Fiction this Friday night at 6PM. My awesome mentee Meg and I will be finally reading from a piece we co-wrote together entitled: THE HOW-TO GUIDE FOR INHABITING TWO-LEGGED ANIMALS. It's quirky and fun!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lessons from Madeleine L'Engle: Circle of Friends


Last night I had the profound pleasure of honoring my grandmother with two dear friends of hers - friends that she had met when they became part of her writer's groups, these groups that would form a circle of friends - Pamela Leggett and Stephanie Cowell. One of the more special things about Gran was her ability to create community. Having "Madeleine" as a common denominator seemed to be as good a reason as any to springboard into friendship for many people. Her friends became friends, and so on. (Claudia Mundell, an internet friend known to me as Bookie, has remarked on this phenomenon on her blog.)

Indeed, Gran's "Circle of Friends" got together after her death to create a book of essays by each of them to commemorate Madeleine and the gifts she had given them.

So who were these friends of Gran's, who I now hope to form my own friendship with? Pamela Leggett met my grandmother almost twenty years ago and began going to her writer's workshops. Pam and I got to know each other a bit when I was coordinating care and events for Gran towards the end of her life, before she went to the nursing home. Pam would take Gran to a Sunday evening vespers service at the convent, then when that became too difficult with the wheelchair, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Afterward, they would go to Meridiana for dinner, an Italian restaurant across the street from her apartment building. Gran so looked forward to these outings, and I in turn was grateful for Pam in making this happen.

Sometimes another friend, historical fiction writer Stephanie Cowell would come along on these outings. (Stephanie has just published her fifth book, Claude and Camille about the life of Monet which I can't wait to read!) My grandmother, I learned, was responsible for Stephanie meeting her husband Russell, and indeed gave her away when she got married.

I met Pam at the Cathedral a little bit early for the vespers service at 4PM. Pam was already there when I arrived, a little dewy-eyed, sitting in the very same spot she had shared with my grandmother five and more years ago. The service was beautiful, and I was so tempted to lean into Pam and put my head on her shoulder as I used to do with my Gran. The Cathedral was filled with her presence. Now, many of you know that I have been a tour guide at the cathedral for school groups, so I was unprepared for this onslaught of feeling. But Pam was feeling it too; it was something that we share, a deep and abiding love for an incredible woman who lives on in us.

We were meeting Stephanie at Meridiana's, and as Pam and I left the Cathedral, weaving our way through a block party to the restaurant, she told me about her teaching Madeleine L'Engle style workshops at her church in Montclair New Jersey. I'm a little jealous, I must admit, having never been to a Madeleine L'Engle workshop myself!

Stephanie was sitting al fresco at Meridiana, looking radiant with her shoulder length white hair. I have never seen her look so beautiful. "Success in the publishing world agrees with you!" I remarked. We ordered "Madeleine" fare in tribute. My grandmother always ordered a spring salad with goat cheese and spaghetti carbonara, so we did the same. And we talked about Gran, but mostly about ourselves, forging our own new friendships. I always want to know people's love stories, and their stories did not disappoint!

Thank you Pam and Stephanie, for a wonderful evening, and for including me in this circle of friends. It is my deepest wish that I be able to expand my own circle of friendship in much the same way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Girls Write Now: Graphic Novel workshop


Greetings. I'm blissfully "Lit-ted" out at the moment, having spent the day with both Girls Write Now and Writopia and reading The Little Prince to my daughter.

Girls Write Now hosted an intriguing Graphic Novel workshop, which brought the whole "show, don't tell" dictum of good writing to a whole new level. I can't draw worth #@!, but I'm thinking that it might be a worthwhile exercise to draw sketches of my characters to help me get to know them better. The next chance I get to work on WIP (Monday) I will do this!

A lot was covered, and I don't have time to do it justice after a long day! We had a wonderful guest author, named Lauren R. Weinstein, author of the graphic novel Girl Stories. Her work is pretty awesome, and the way she tells stories is inspiring. Made me want to try my hand at it! She keeps journals of sketches, just like I keep journals of writing. She also talked about being a new mom (to a seven month old) AND moving houses, and how she hasn't had much time to work on her own WIP, a sequel to Girl Stories. I'm with you, sistah!

This is also a great opportunity to let everyone know that A Wrinkle in Time will be made into a graphic novel by Hope Larsen, set to be published in 2012, in time for the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wrinkle.

PS I am so geeking out that Daniel Silva, author of the Gabriel Allon thrillers, friended ME on Facebook. So what if he has over 4000 friends?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pen Parentis: Parenting Done, Write


I've had one of those unbearable-lightness-of-being days. (And full credit goes to Milan Kundera for beautifully encapsulating my feelings in four words. Okay, maybe his translator should get the credit . . .) Life is poignant, technicolor, overwhelming and messy, and I've got a million-plus-one things clamoring for my attention. Calgon, take me away!

Instead, I grabbed my I-Pod and headed for the subway, downtown to a literary salon hosted by Pen Parentis, and it's extraordinary co-founders Milda De Voe and Arlaina Tibensky.

I got off the subway at Fulton Street and made my way to Gold Street to the Gild Hall Hotel, and walked through the revolving doors (how green) and up the wide, elegant staircase to the Libertine Library. I stood there in amazement. It was swanked out with leather couches, walls of books and intimate lighting. Beautiful women in cocktail dresses seemed to drape over the tables and chairs - as much a part of the architecture of everything else. Was I in the right place?

I was greeted by Arlaina, who recognized me from my picture on this blog. (And I just realized how similar our names are! I just don't have the AR in front.) She made me feel right at home, joking about Facebook and the fact that we both write YA. (Arlaina is making her debut in the spring!) Arlaina had to meet and greet so I looked for Milda, the stunning red head I had coffee with last week. Connections made, I chose a leather couch in the corner, opened my journal and started writing, until the first author/parent was introduced.

In this case, it was authors, two producers from the Today Show who had, in their spare time (!) written a book called Today's Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby's First Year. I have to say that I was a bit intimidated by Mary Ann Zoellner and Alicia Ybarbo at first - both were so well-spoken and elegant, but it soon became apparent that these two are extremely down-to-earth women, my kind of women, and have much to offer. (Okay, so I'm still intimidated, but in more of an awe-struck way!)

Next up was Kristen Schultz Dollard reading from The Yoga Body Diet, which also was impressive and amazing. I have been an avid yoga practitioner for the past eight years, but for the past month with all of the transition in my life, I have let my yoga practice fall by the wayside. She reminded me of what I need to do - most importantly, take deep breaths, drink lots of warm water, and practice mindfulness.

Milda announced a break before the last reading, and challenged everyone to mingle. "This is a salon, people!" - so she foiled my plan of hiding behind my journal. Mary Ann Zoellner was sitting next to me, so I was brave and struck up a conversation with her. What a delight! We talked about juggling parenthood with everything else, and how cool it is to raise kids in the city. We were joined by her BFF Alicia Ybarbo who radiated sweetness.

The last reader/writer/parent was Laura Vanderkam, who had us all under her spell reading from her new book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Isn't this exactly what I've been struggling with? And she's a very talented writer, to boot!

Needless to say I am 70 bucks poorer because I had to buy all three books (and have them autographed, of course!) to support not only these authors, but also a fabulous independent bookstore in the financial district called Bluestockings who was supplying and selling the books. What would we do without indie bookstores?

I am so much richer for having gone to this event, and for networking in such a meaningful way. Writing does matter, there is a point, and there are others with whom to share the journey.

Thanks to Milda and Arlaina, for your entrepreneurial/artistic/community passion! they had a poster up that said: Pen Parentis: Parenting Done, Write! Write indeed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gran, your great-grand-daughter is FIVE today!


Your great-grand-daughter is five today - I can hardly believe it. In thinking about the past five years, I can't help missing you as well - I'm looking at a portrait sketch of you near the same age, and people always comment on the striking resemblance.

When she was born, we had just made the difficult decision to place you at Rosehaven in your beloved Litchfield Connecticut after keeping you at home for as long as possible, with 24/7 care since late 1999.

I know that she was able to give you some joy at Rosehaven when we visited, and that the boys did also when they were small and we took care of you at home. So what would you say to Scarlett today on her birthday?

"You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you."

Yes! I love this quote from Wrinkle - (in fact I have based a whole workshop on it!) It is as appropriate for Meg as it is for your great-grands and for any of us - about the gift of life, and the gift of choices - in writing, it is the gift of structure and the gift of our voices. You inhabited all of your characters, but for today I shall think of you in your Mrs. Whatsit guise.

You'll be glad that we're wearing our party dresses and going to have lunch at the Plaza, continuing our tradition of being fancy shmancy and living life to the fullest. You are with us in spirit!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chaos begets more chaos

Things are getting excitingly chaotic, the end of the school year, getting ready to move from an apartment to a house - (we are getting very close!) Transitions are usually hard, but when you feel like you are on the right path, and spiritual energy is behind you, change is welcome. Except, when you're married to me, a writer with a case of the absent-minded-professor - I have a terrible habit of creating more chaos in my wake. It's counter-intuitive, because external mess creates more internal mess - but I "manage" by not managing - my shoes, clothes, books, papers are EVERYWHERE. My husband, also a writer, needs to have more order - and really I need it too! My poor family!

I was able to see myself through husband's eyes this morning, and once he took the boys to tae kwon do, and I dropped the girl off at a playdate, I cleaned and vacuumed, put my shoes away, my clothes away, my papers in order before making my way down to workshop with a gaggle of gals at Writopia. Who knows, with a clean house, I may even be inspired to write, to be guided to create that "cosmos out of chaos" my grandmother wrote about in Walking on Water. (I think I need to give that book yet another read, what say you?)

What happens to you when you're super busy and overwhelmed? Do you let chaos take over, or get obsessive/compulsive about order? Hopefully, you are somewhere in the middle - a place I am continually trying to get to!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

EDGES Available for Pre-Order on Amazon!!!


And I need to sub title this: SHAMELESS NAME-DROPPING & SELF-PROMOTION.

I've been pondering how much more pro-active I can be about marketing EDGES other than blogging, and beating down the doors of my publishers. I've been worried: am I doing enough? I've been insecure: but so and so blogs 5x a day and has 3000 followers! I can almost hear my Gran quoting John Donne as she was wont to do in these times of self doubt: "Comparisons are odious", and I try my best to heed her advice.

But I know I need a swank and hip website, and Elizabeth Winthrop sees my need for career control and keeps telling me to make a teaching guide and a workshop around EDGES - she is so write! I mean, right . . . I've been getting antsy about the whole promoting angle, and resolved to do most of it myself.

So . . . last night when I should have been sleeping - now, I may embarrass myself - I googled "Léna Roy", out of curiosity, not expecting anything earth shattering, you know, maybe a couple of links to this blog, when I found a link to Amazon, and to EDGES! Mon Dieu, it is seven months away from publication, and already available for pre-order. I don't know what this means, but suffice it to say, I am VERY excited, and had energy to bring to this months' Writers 4 Writers lunch with Rebecca Stead and Elizabeth, Carolyn, Lucy and Jeanne. Rebecca had other "promoting" news for me - she had just come back from the International Reading Association convention in Chicago, where she was very busy presenting, but had taken a picture of an ARC of EDGES being displayed next to my Gran's AND BOTH WERE YOUNG! How's that for exposure?

And my friends tell me that they never know anything either until it happens. Or it doesn't - we have to be prepared for that too. (Buy oy! Worry can be crippling!) Suffice it to say that I couldn't get a hold of anybody who knew what was going on today, but at the same time, what this shows me that I need to have a little more faith, and that just because I am blind and naive about this process doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to fall on my tush. And if that happens, as it certainly has on numerous occasions, then I need to pick myself up and redouble my efforts! (After wallowing in chocolate for a week or so of course!)

AND . . . if anybody decides to check out Amazon to see if it's TRUE, (or maybe even pre-order the book? I told you I would be shameless - ah, but you are waiting for my book launch party on December 7th, maybe, yes?) there is no information about the book yet, and I don't have an author page. (Have signed up, but they need verification from the publisher.)

More from me on . . . Saturday!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Writerly-No-Writing-Adventure


It's been a full week since I have looked at my WIP - it's been a vacation, if you will, and an excuse to get together with my other writer friends (and make them play a little hooky too!)

So I went on a downtown writerly-no-writing adventure, a beautiful sunny day in NYC. I finally got to meet IN PERSON, writer, mom and arts activist extraordinaire Milda de Voe, who I had been "set up" with by our mutual friend, musician and composer Dorothy Papadakos via email a few months ago. (Milda has started a non-profit reading salon in the financial district for writers (who are also parents) called Pen Parentis.) Upon meeting me in cyber-space, Milda immediately got me in touch with her partner-in-crime, writer/mom Arlaina Tibensky, to set me up to do a reading in December when EDGES comes out! (Yay! My very first scheduled reading!)

Excited, I arrived early at Le Pain Quotidien on Warren Street and West Broadway. What was Milda like in person? I was writing in my journal when up walks a gorgeous, slim redhead wearing a black sweater with sparkling dark blue nail polish. (A big plus, in my book!) For the next two hours, we talked a mile a minute, finding more similarities than just a love for community building through the arts.

We hugged goodbye, already old friends and I walked by Ground Zero and Century 21 (I didn't go in, I swear!) past Trinity church and the financial district to 75 Broad Street where I was meeting my Girls Write Now mentee Meg in front of her school. We had a date to go have bubble tea. (One of Meg's favorite things in the whole world is to go with her friends to Chinatown to a bubble tea joint called Ten Ren. Going there is the highlight of her week, so I thought it would be fun to go together, see her where she is happiest.) We hopped on the J to Canal street, and wove ourselves through the streets to Mott. She ordered her usual strawberry with a big red straw, and I ordered green apple, (with a straw to match) watching as the server placed tapioca pearls in the bottom of the cup, and then poured a cold tea-like drink over them. Would I like it? I wanted to like it, just because of Meg. (The one time I had it before, it was more like a milkshake, and I didn't like the two textures together.) We sat in the back and pulled out our straws . . . OMG . . . it was delicious!

Meg breathed out a sigh of relief. Then we went strolling down Mott street, talking about her plans to go to the University of Rochester at the end of summer, the up coming AP tests, the prom. I bought presents for my daughter who is turning five next week, while Meg imagined decorating her dorm room with Chinese lanterns.

Thank you Milda and Meg, for a wonderful day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Writopia at Book Culture!


I thought that I was slick with my time-management skills today, house-hunting in Westchester, picking the kids up from school, taking my daughter to ballet - everything leading up to the big event at 6PM: Four of my Writopia students would be reading at the revolving Writopia salon on the Upper West Side at Book Culture on 112th Street. (Because what's one of my missions in life? Mentoring and supporting the next generation of writers, that's what!

My boss, the amazing Rebecca Wallace-Segall called me at 3:30 to check in about this and that. At the end of our conversation I said:

"Can't wait to see you - 6PM, right?"

"Uh - no, it's at 5 - remember?"

Thank goodness she called me! I scrambled, but was able to attend ballet with my daughter, drop her off and pick up my oldest to bring to Book Culture.

And I'm so glad that I didn't miss it - two of my students were a bundle of nerves and wanted to chicken out, but I wouldn't let them.

"I will stand right next to you. If you want me to finish reading the piece for you I will, but you can do this. You can try." The second floor of the book store was packing in a lot of peeps!

There were fifteen children reading excerpts from stories that they had completed at Writopia, ranging in age from 7 to 12. Hats off to all of them - public speaking is the at the top of the list of fears for adults so for children to be able to do it, it is quite an accomplishment. I had the privilege of introducing each one of my students, and stayed with the two who were scared. (Once they started reading though, all traces of nervousness were gone. They were clear, composed - brilliant!)

ALL writers did a fantastic job of completing well thought out and crafted stories in eight weeks. Kudos!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Your Imagination Doesn't Have a Budget


"Your imagination doesn't have a budget," one of my fifth grade Writopia students said today, stopping me cold. We were discussing the differences between books and movies, two wonderful ways of telling stories, but books let you use your mind's eye, while movies do that work for you.

Your imagination doesn't have a budget.

"That's the quote of the month!" I said, pleased to see the happy grins all around when I wrote her words on the dry erase board in our writing lounge before we got town to the brass tacks of accessing our creative energy.

My husband (also a writer) and I been doing boring, grown-up things like budgeting and worrying about budgeting all week with our upcoming move to the suburbs. It's been hurting my brain, and freaking me out. But my imagination, my writing life, doesn't have to have a budget. This is where I can roam free and be child-like. If I give myself permission to do this, then am I able to do the grown-up stuff like plan for the future with my family? Yes!

And no-one taught me better than my grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle, from watching her live her creative life with verve, while being responsible to those around her. When I get really scared, all I have to do is think of my Gran and our similar circumstances when she was in her 30's and 40's - (although, when she was my age, she was just about to move back to the city after her ten-year-foray into country life, and a couple oy years later would become a household name with A Wrinkle in Time.) And I know that her commitment to balancing writing and family life (and survival) have inspired others as well. She would have gotten a kick out of the girl's quote as well and wholeheartedly agreed!