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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

What Are You Doing New Years' Eve?

It's the Eve of the New Year, a time to ponder over the past one, and send energy out for the new. How was your year? What are your hopes for the new one? 2010 marks my moving through a lot of fear - I started blogging, I moved, I published. I put myself out there in a wholly new way, shedding old skin to make way for the new. My hopes for the New Year are tangible, but I'd like to get to a more ethereal place. Yeah, we all would like a book contract or two, right? And how about financial security? 'Nuff said.

I am celebrating this New Year with my family, my mom, and some of her friends at Crosswicks in Northwestern Connecticut. We have done this for a few years in a row now, establishing a tradition - the kids are excited to stay up as late as they want to watch the ball drop, and to play Apples to Apples and Trivial Pursuit, maybe watch a movie, nibble and snack. My mom also presented them with gift cards from www.globalgiving.org where they can choose their own charitable contribution. I am extremely grateful to be able to take them into the New Year giving to other.

And my late Christmas present from my mom came in today's mail - perfect timing: my very own Kindle! Finally, I will join the ranks of e-readers. A Kindle - something I would never procure for myself but am giggling with delight over. Something I feel that I can't afford - but a gift, making me feel rich! Is this a premonition of things to come - will I leap into the New Year with more technological savvy? Will I leap with faith that book contracts and job security will happen on their own time and when they need to?

I was happy to pay $9.99 for Edges, and thrilled to find that I could download my great-grandfather's out-of-print books for 99 cents each. (Yes, Madeleine L'Engle's own father, Charles Wordsworth Camp was not only a journalist, but a playwright and the author of mystery novels!) My first read will be The Gray Mask.

So . . . I will ring in 2011 with hope and gratitude, love and joy. With a focus on the journey, rather than specific accomplishments. And remember the words of Mick Jagger whenever I hit a road block: You can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, but sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!

And the poetry of Rumi:

They will ask you
what you have produced.
Say to them,
except for Love,
what else can a Lover produce?



I wish you all the best in the year to come! Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is it Really Wednesday?

Is it really Wednesday? I get lost in the maelstrom of snow and holidays and vacation - yesterday felt like a Sunday, and I don't even know what today felt like. (I managed to make it to the gym and to the library to work with an eighth grade girl on her amazing story.)

What are we doing right now? My ten year old is reading Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld, my eight year old is humming Oh Come All Ye Faithful while he finishes a puzzle (did he inherit this humming habit from the great grandfather he never knew?) My five year old is watching Little Bear and my husband is making dinner. And I am blogging under the glow of the Christmas lights. It's all very cozy, isn't it?

Edges has been out for three weeks, and reader response has slowly been trickling in, positive and lovely. I haven't been able to work on my manuscript - it's almost there - almost. The kids have been home and I've been enjoying them, reading aloud (A Wind in the Door and The Hobbit) and watching movies (Nanny McPhee Returns and Hook).

I even got the chance to read a novel, staying up late into the night to finish it. Little Bee, by Chris Cleave. Two narratives - a Nigerian refugee and a suburban London housewife, moral ambiguity. Good stuff.

I'm being called to the dinner table . . . I'll write more on New Year's Eve, when we'll be up at Crosswicks with my mom!

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Do You Believe?

The original letter sent asking about the vera...Image via Wikipedia
"Do you really believe in Santa Claus?" my oldest son has asked me for the past three years.

And the answer is always "Yes!" Or at least, I want to believe. It is more fun to suspend disbelief than not. My ten year old chooses to have fun, and my five year old doesn't have to suspend anything: she knows. My eight year old is somewhere in between.

A post-Christmas blog about Santa ? How passé, you are probably thinking.

Yet this time of the year never fails to strengthen my belief that we are what we perceive. This is what I am most curious about with my friends, family and new people that I meet: how do you view the world? It's not a question of religion.


My eight year old son, when he hasn't been playing in the snow, has been running around the house with a special pair of glasses that his grandmother in North Dakota sent him. These glasses hold promises of rainbows - you put them on, look at a light, and the world becomes a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. Quite an interesting spin on the ole "rose-tinted glasses" phenomenon.

In my youth I used to wear figurative rose-tinted glasses  - it was like being a fraudulent Pollyanna. But whenever I got shot by the slings and arrows of life, I would rip them off, giving myself a dose of hard "reality", which would inevitably send me on a frantic search for those glasses again. You see the tautological conundrum!

As an adult I am constantly seeking balance between these two ways of looking at the world, and of course have found multiple others. (You all know how obsessed I am with mysticism!) Rose-tinted glasses don't have to be what we put on when we don't want to deal with reality. Neither does religion, Santa Claus, spirituality.

And somebody somewhere is always accusing religion of being the opiate of the masses. (Karl Marx)

But it is what helps us to see the world in all of it's glory, both dark and light. My beliefs help me to see the cup as half-full, and help me to stay grateful for what I do have instead of focusing on what I don't.

This is what I wish for myself and for everybody this solstice/ Christmas/ New Year: gratitude and acceptance, with a generous sprinkle of the fun of Santa Claus, no matter where your beliefs lie.



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Friday, December 24, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

A distraught George Bailey (James Stewart) ple...Image via Wikipedia
Hey there and Merry Christmas! What are you up to?  I am watching one of the most heart-wrenching movies ever, as you can tell from the title of my post. I've been talking about it for the past couple of days, so when we turned on the TV at 8PM to look for a Christmas "special" and it was on - it seemed like fate. The boys are staying up late with us and watching for the first time. The girl is long gone to bed.

George has just said to Billy: Where's that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where's that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison. That's what it means. One of us is going to jail - well, it's not gonna be me. A tale of woe, yet also of resurrection and redemption. I start crying on and off from when Mr. Gower hits the young George's bad ear through the whole movie. We feel George edging towards hysteria, we understand it, we can taste it - he is constantly faced with choosing between his values and his dreams.Why do they have to be so disparate?

He is so good, good, good, and life is so unfair that he finally loses it.

Have you ever lost it?

Child: Can I pray for him?
Mary: Yes, pray very hard.

There have been many times when I have lost my way.  

George: Show me the way - I'm at the end of my rope.

And then Clarence the angel makes his bizarre appearance as George is about to jump off the bridge. Clarence doesn't use "magic", no. He simply jumps in the water himself.


Clarence: You tried to save me - and that's how I saved you.


Service, that's what it comes down to. Being of service, taking actions to help others, and tuning into your highest self. George needs to see that this is the way he has lived his life and how it has impacted his community.


(Okay, a moment of horrific comedy - George is aghast that Mary is an "old maid" and a "librarian". Single-dom rocks and librarians are the shizz!!!)

Saving. George sacrificed himself for others, and they in turn "saved" him.

Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks Clarence. And thank you dear reader friends! Blogging and getting feedback has been tremendously rewarding. We're giving to each other!


The boys loved it and have just given big hugs and trotted upstairs to bed, eager for the morning to come. 


It's a wonderful life, indeed. I keep thinking of the moment I had at the book launch when I realized that this could be as good as it gets and I was going to enjoy every minute of it. My anxiety is down, my tear ducts full, my shmaltziness at a peak.


Merry Christmas!





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Monday, December 20, 2010

Wrinkles in Time and the Lunar Eclipse

Lunar EclipseImage via Wikipedia
The full moon sure is purty tonight. Full moon AND a lunar eclipse I hear, starting at 3:17AM in New York. AND it's winter solstice.

AND I just saw a fantastic production of A Wrinkle in Time at The Round House Theater in Washington D.C.

Is this all a coincidence?

As many of you know, I have been struggling with how best to honor my wonderful grandmother, and yet retain my own sense of self, my own voice. I am not trying to ride on her career, I want to have my own, yet at the same time I can't deny the profound influence she has had on me.

My dear friend Katherine and I moved from the same building in NYC at the same time almost 6 months ago - I to Northern Westchester, and she to the suburbs of D.C. Our daughters are bosom buddies. Katherine was offered the position as Grants Manager at the Round House Theater this fall and when she found out that they were producing Wrinkle, she immediately started lobbying for me to come down. She leaned on me in such a disarmingly charming way that after several weeks, even though Edges was just coming out and Christmas was only a week away, even though D.C. is a 6 hour drive, I was able to commit to a matinee on Sunday the 19th. She then lobbied Round House to invite me to do a "talk back" after the show, and after that wrote to me saying that Round House would also like to sell copies of Edges. Wow! "Now I've made it so you really can't back out," she joked.

I was terrified of being a disappointment. Who would care enough to stay for the talk back, never mind buying a book, my book? Fortunately, the play was captivating enough to energize me and get me out of myself. A trimmed down version yes, but for the stage, and John Glore's choices for dialogue and "showing" character was phenomenal. I was worried about Meg - because Meg's faults carry the story - for me. Meg is the character I identified with forever, whose example showed me that I could be, and was, loved, warts and all. Meg could have been played as whiny, and that would have been wrong. But Erin Weaver didn't do that.  She embodied Meg's anger, frustration and spunk perfectly.  We rooted for Calvin to kiss her at the end, and we believed that he saw her awesomeness.

And that's what I hope for, for all of us. That our loved ones will still see the best in us, even when we are at our worst and most insecure. That our own darkness won't totally eclipse us, that we will have the strength to tesser even-though-it-is-terrifying, to find our own light, and to be able to celebrate the darkest day of the year on solstice because we know that the days will start to lengthen again, that we will thaw and new life will grow.

Time was wrinkled for me during that performance, and I was thrown back to being the girl who identified with Meg (except for the math part) tall, awkward, bespectacled and yes, braces graced my teeth.  I thought about how Gran was always a combination of Mrs. Whatsit and Aunt Beast to me, and I was able to get up onstage after the show where people did indeed stay to ask questions, and some also stayed to check out Edges as well - including Erin Weaver and Jake Land, the actor playing Charles Wallace!

I could write so much more about the production - and maybe I will - tomorrow. I am incredibly wiped out after a whirlwind two weeks since the release of Edges and I must confess that I haven't been sleeping very well amidst all of the excitement. So no, I am NOT staying up to witness the lunar eclipse, although it wouldn't surprise me if my Gran whispered in my ear at 3AM waking me up to wrap myself in a blanket, make two mugs of hot cocoa, and sit on the deck and wait.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nostalgia at the Cathedral

This is one of my favorite pictures from my childhood. I am perched on the arm of a hideous orange fake leather chair while my sister sits in our grandmother's lap as she reads to us in the library of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

I took a trip into the city today with some writer friends - played "hooky", in order for me to give them a special tour of the medieval-styled Cathedral, the mish mash of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the site rife with multi-religious and ecological symbolism that has meant so much to me over the years. 

I hadn't been there or given a tour in over 6 months, and it will probably be another 6 months before I visit again. As you might expect, I've been feeling nostalgic for my grandmother and wishing she were here. I'm a published author, Gran!

I really wanted to visit the Library, to sit in an orange chair, joke about the color and talk to her, but by the time we got to Diocesan House, it was the lunch hour and there was nary a soul to let us in.

So in place of that, tonight after a long day (including a two hour session with a student helping him submit his fantastic story to the Scholastic Art and Writing Award contest, and spending time with my loves, I looked up the very first blog I did two years ago on my grandmother's official website commemorating her 90th birthday, and here I am. (It would take me over another year to create this site and start to blog regularly.)

I would like to share it, but I warn you, 'tis lengthy!

So these are my thoughts tonight as I get ready for the next few days of whirlwind activity: Caroling with kindergartners, reading with young Writopians at Borders, road tripping to DC to see old friends and make some new ones at the Roundhouse Theater. And I wish my Gran were here to share it all with me. Aaah - here she is - she wants me to promise to take pics and report back!

;-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good Tidings!

"Guess what?" Allan at Books of Wonder said as he excitedly grabbed my hand yesterday.

"What?" What could he be so excited about?

"I just crunched the numbers this morning, and Edges was our #2 seller this week!"

It took a while for that to sink in while I signed some more stock for the store. Not too shabby for a debut novel, and certainly not what I expected. I'm thinking of Edges as the little-book-that-could: chugga chugga, chugga chugga. How wonderful to have an independent bookstore champion it!

I stayed at the café, waiting for my long-time friend and writer Benjamin (author of wonderful historical fiction novel Lillian Leowe) to go down to the Pen Parentis holiday party with me where I would be reading. I got an email from my publicist that she was finally able to find a bookseller who would be able to sell copies of Edges at the Roundhouse Theater on December 19th, when I will be attending a performance of A Wrinkle in Time and giving a talk-back. Yahoo! (Roundhouse had approached me about this marketing strategy last week, and I figured it was too good of an offer to pass up. However, we were having difficulties finding a bookseller because it is the week before Christmas - AND stores in DC don't seem to be stocking it yet. So this news was definitely a coup!)

AND the husband sent me a link he found to the Christian Scientist Monitor in which I am mentioned in a lovely article that made me cry. (If you read my blog regularly, you'll know why!)

Benjamin and I had a lovely visit, and braved the cold to go down to the Libertine Library on Gold Street downtown. It was an intimate evening in a beautiful space, where I got to share the stage with another writer/parent/friend John Reed. And since there were no kids in the audience, I got to read a different section of the novel. Something more - dare I say it? Edgy.

So I'm feeling good because I feel like there's some real energy behind Edges - besides me just trying desperately to flap my wings. And today I'm being taken out for a celebratory lunch by Judy Blundell and Katie Davis - no, not too shabby at all!
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Persistence and Cribbing

We were determined to do it. That piano had been sitting in our garage since we "moved" into this house in the 'burbs 6 months ago - moved into the basement, that is, while we've been fixing up the rest of the house. (This is the piano I had growing up - I practiced playing Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata, well before I was ready because I was in-love with those pieces. Much as when we write, we fall in-love with something beyond our grasp and seek to understand it through story . . .)

My mom gave it to me when she inherited my grandmother's grand piano. I don't play anymore, but my daughter wants to, and I would like to start practicing again.

It took the husband and me three hours to get it up the two steep steps from the garage into the kitchen, through the dining room and into it's proper resting place. We had to use blocks of wood to lift up each end of the piano slowly. Husband called it "cribbing", a word I never heard of until today, but I quite like. He said it was how they built Stonehenge and the Pyramids, and we would use this technique to move the piano, thank you very much. We would raise one end, then the other, and so on . . .  quite a feat of engineering. And there were moments when we thought that it couldn't be done, that there was no way, despite our best intentions, we were going to get it up the stairs and through that door.

Isn't that a lot like writing, or any other endeavor we are passionate about? The sheer impossibility of taking on a project is mind boggling, but we write anyway. We persist. We engage in "cribbing" with a great lump of a story, and keep raising it up on all sides to make meaning out of our words. We place down our words, like the pieces of wood, and heave, hoping that we won't make a mess of things. And sometimes we look at it and feel like giving up. What's the point of having a piano anyway? What's the point of writing? It's so ha-ha-hard!

Then we take a deep breath and move forward slowly and patiently, taking the wood (words) away and put it where it is needed next.

Now look - the piano is in place - and will help make our home feel warm and cozy, and will inspire us to get other things out of the garage too. Edges will find it's own warm and cozy place, and I will keep writing!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Open Mic and My New Living Room

It's raining cats and dogs and I am finally sitting in my new living room, and finally sitting on the new couch that we bought 6 months ago. Yes, finally. (Breaking rule of NOT repeating words.)

And look at the beautiful paint job husband did! Everything is (one more time . . .) FINALLY coming together: the book AND the house!

I've been feeling like a published author since Thursday evening, after my wonderful inauguration at Books of Wonder. It helped me feel less anxious about the Open Mic event at Borders in Mt. Kisco last night (although I was worried about attendance - because most of my Writopia kids are planning on reading at the event next Friday, December 17th).

The barometer was Borders and the kids' happiness and everyone was thrilled, so the event was a success! (And people bought books!)  I had two girls from my 10-year-old group and my 3rd grader, Finn, brought two of his friends from school to read their poems for the Open Mic portion of the afternoon. Two girls, three boys, and me. An exhilarating part of the evening was the Q&A, where the kids and I answered questions about the writing process. The girls waxed eloquent about Writopia! It was a joy to watch their confidence build the more and more they spoke - indeed, I had the same experience on Thursday night - I was nervous reading, but during the Q&A when I realized that people were really interested in what I had to say, I completely relaxed!

And now I can relax in my living room with my family on a Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow maybe, I can get some writing done, somewhere other than my bed!
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Was a Special Debutante Guest!

Debutante Ball InvitationImage by neutralSurface via Flickr
Hey there strangers! I was invited to dance at the Debutante Ball, and so have a guest post up today! So pop on over if you are so inclined. They asked me to blog about uh, balance, something you know I work hard towards, so it wasn't much of a stretch!

Gotta dash - I've already made a pot of chili to have after the reading at Borders this afternoon, but we have much more cleaning to do before people come over! I'll write more tomorrow - promise!
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Found My Edge

I am the really good kind of exhausted after a slam dunk good time last night. Despite my initial anxiety, I was able to relax, enjoy the moment, and finally feel like a published author! I read an excerpt, answered fabulous questions and signed over 50 books!







Here I am asking Santa for some magical mojo when I visited the North Pole beforehand.





And here with my agent, Edward Necarsulmer of Mcintosh and Otis. We look good together, don't you think? (Husband agrees!)

Books of Wonder is, was, and always will be, an amazing place. I had the first taste of it's magic when Peter Glassman had a much smaller store, and my grandmother and I read from The Glorious Impossible. Little did I think or dream that twenty years later, Peter would be hosting my first book party!

We walked in to a bookshelf facing the door, full of copies of Edges. What a thrill! The staff were awesomely helpful and soothing; Peter gave me a stellar introduction, surprising me with his intimate knowledge of Edges, radiating authenticity in his admiration of it.

And dudes - I got to sign books! With a black sharpie! I found my edge last night - pushing myself beyond spiritual complacency and right into the moment.

Tomorrow is the Writopia Open Mic/ Edges reading at the Borders in Mt. Kisco. I have to keep my expectations of attendance low, because Books of Wonder set the bar so high! Thank you so much to everybody who came out - I felt so loved and supported!
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pre-Party Checklist

Books of WonderImage by Robert Hoge via Flickr
First: Breathe deeply, or that's what I've been told, and I'm trying!

The world keeps turning on it's axis: Edges launched on Tuesday and we're going to celebrate in the city tonight at Books of Wonder. Husband and I have bought 64 cupcakes and 64 brownies for the occasion. Check. I have been striving for a state just below shameless self-promotion on Facebook and Twitter, and hope I haven't been too annoying. I've listed another giveaway on Goodreads - this time the odds are slightly better with two signed copies in the mix. Check.

Next for the day is to live my life: supervise oldest son making lunch, followed by a trip to the city - first stop will be Book Culture on 114th and Broadway to sign copies of Edges, and then we will go to Macy's for our annual visit to Santa. I LOVE Santa! Just because we moved to the 'burbs doesn't mean we have to do away with this tradition!

I got some great news yesterday: I'll be in Washington DC on December 19th at Round House Theater to see their staged production of A Wrinkle in Time adapted by John Glore - not only have I been invited to do a talk-back with the audience after the show, but they want to sell Edges in the lobby after that performance! And I never even asked or thought of that as a possibility! Thanks go out to friend Katherine Freedman, who works there and who has been lobbying for me to come and visit her since the fall and I'm sure has something to do with this!

So tonight I celebrate, and put all of the hard work on Edges behind me. Family, friends and many from the YA community are going to be stepping out with love and encouragement behind their smiles. (I even have a long lost cousin coming - someone I haven't seen in over 30 years!)

If you can't come, I urge you to celebrate your own accomplishments too. We all have them, but if you're anything like me, you hide from them, downplay them. I think this is part of the reason I am so passionate about working with kids and teens, and getting them to step up and put their work out there with pride sooner than later. (Open Mic events at Borders in Mt. Kisco, December 11th and 17th!)

Check back tomorrow, and I'll recap the event!

Hugs!

Léna
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Pub Day to Edges!

Dear Friends,

In honor of my publication day, I am taking an internet break. It is almost 10AM and I have been staring at the screen since the kids went off to school, and gotten frustrated because I can't figure out how to auto tweet. This is not what it's about, Ms. Roy, is it? Therefore, I have printed out another draft of my current WIP and my day will be comprised of lovingly laboring over my written word, and I will celebrate by taking a break and getting a professional pedicure. (Maybe I'll even go hog wild and get a matching manicure.)

You can help me celebrate by hounding your local bookseller - praise them for being awesomely on top of things if they're already stocking it, or kindly ask them to order it for you. Use your gift cards, discounts, what-have-you, and then read in public! At a café, on the train, walking down the street! Or read at home in your favorite spot (mine is under the covers). And if you can't get or don't have time for Edges yet, remind yourself about how much you love reading and writing, how story shapes us, uplifts us, makes us think . . . celebrate reading.

If you want to find out more about Edges or order it on-line, please check out my website for details! I link to Indiebound and Powell's, as well as all of the usual suspects.

And wish me luck on my internet break!

Love,

Léna

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writopia Reminds Me of What's Important

What's a girl to do the day before the publication of her first ever book? Take train to city, forget I-Pod, roll eyes in annoyance, look out the window, try not to think about book, allow a few minutes of self-obsession, meet editor Beth Potter from FSG to celebrate book release at Craftbar in Flatiron District, eat fried risotto balls, feel supported by the gal with the porcelain skin, drink cappuccino, walk her back to work, remark on the cold weather - it's winter already!?! Take subway uptown and . . .

be reminded why I heart Rebecca and Jeremy Wallace-Segal so much by supporting them and their mission at the first ever Writopia fundraiser!!!!

Monkey mind - stop! Writopia reminds me of what's important.

The event was held at a comedy club and we brought swag bags, tables, and goodies from Zabar's  to Stand Up New York on 78th street. There was a flurry activity in setting up, where I rested in not being in charge, but being told what to do. (Sometimes that's so relaxing, don't you think? I feel like I have to make so many decisions every minute - anyway, I digress!)

Everything looked beautiful, and Rebecca and Jeremy were rock stars with their professionalism. Parents and kids alike got up on stage and shared what Writopia means to them, how having this community has shaped their lives, and how it's an important piece of the dream to provide excellent programming to all kids/teens who want to participate, regardless of their socio-economic background. (Writopia prides itself in providing reduced or waived fees to 40% of the student body, but in order to facilitate that, the program need help from the community at large!)

Yes, I got all fired up. It's amazing to be part of this community, for my own personal mission to be so lined up with others. We're growing in Northern Westchester, we are. It's slower than I want, I must admit. We have the carpooling hurdle to overcome, the larger distances and limited public transportation. Sports. Yet I have two vibrant groups and several private students. I'll be hosting two Open Mic events in conjunction EDGES on both December 11th and December 17th at the Borders in Mt. Kisco. Yay!

(Writing and community . . . speaking of community, Judy Blundell was in town for the Books of Wonder holiday party, and we actually were able to meet up at Grand Central Station to take the train back to Katonah together!)

I am so blessed to be a part of all of these different writing communities - as a teacher, a writer, a novice, but most of all, a life-long learner!

Publishing is only a piece of the pie. It is not the whole pie.

That being said, tomorrow is pub day, and I am happy. I am also rambling on, and I must stop! It's late. Sleep well, my friends!
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Not a FIGMENT of the Imagination . . .

Figment is launching, figment is launching! Can you tell that I'm excited? What is this Figment, you may well be asking. A figment of the imagination? No! (Yet it IS all about imagination . . .) It is a new social networking website for teen writers to read and share each others work! Their motto is: write yourself in . . . isn't that fantastic? (You can read the New York Times piece about it here.)

"Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you're into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here."

Sounds like our mission at Writopia, but on-line!

I was invited be part of the test launch of Figment six months ago because of my affiliation with Girls Write Now. It took them six months of testing and perfecting the site, and now they are ready to rock and roll!

I have just spent some time familiarizing myself with the perfected site, and have replaced my old profile with a new one, participating in a forum with teens writing in from all over the world.

I love that new voices are going to be heard!

(And I also love that I can market something else other than my book right now! Big day in the city tomorrow - lunch with assistant editor on EDGES, Beth Potter, and then the Writopia fundraiser at Stand Up New York!)
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Friday, December 3, 2010

The Writer

My daughter's kindergarten teacher gave me this poem today, because it made her think of my boisterous and determined angel. I was thrown back to 25 years ago, when I first read Richard Wilbur, and the self I was back then. Her teacher watched me read with love and intensity, and I surprised myself by needing to fight back tears. Did she know what a gift she was giving me?  My daughter wants to be a writer, like me. Maybe that will change, and maybe it won't, but I left the room, pondering my roles as a parent, daughter, writer, person . . . and I wanted to share with you.

The Writer  
by Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten.  I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.



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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thank you YA Community!

I had a hard time falling asleep last night I was so excited. Everything is coalescing as my book birthday looms in front of me, only five days away. I had lunch with new friend and neighbor Katie Davis the other day. She asked me what my book was about, and I faltered in the telling.

"Why are you hesitating?" she asked.

"Well, people don't think that alcoholism and recovery are very sexy," I said.

"Says who?" She challenged. "You've got to own this. It sounds AWESOME. And it hasn't been done before."

Yeah. My book IS awesome. Thanks Katie! Katie not only writes amazing kidlit and YA, but also does a weekly podcast and is a social media/twitter maven. She told me about twitterbookbday.com and I struggled through the signing up, but I did it! (So hopefully a lot of people will be tweeting about Edges next Tuesday.)

And more thanks go out to Judy Blundell for her endorsement of Edges and for her friendship; Sandra Jordan for being with me through the long haul:  Courtney Sheinmel for her adamant insistence that I have a book birthday party; Rebecca Stead, Daphne Grab, Deborah Heiligman, Lucy Frank, Elizabeth Winthrop, Jeanne Betancourt, and Carolyn Mackler for their support and encouragement during our monthly lunches. (Happening TODAY! Must train to the city with Judy in mere minutes!)

And to you, dear readers, and the community we are building through Facebook and through this blog, your support means everything to me. Thank you so much for reading and for reaching out your hands in friendship - I am reaching back and holding on - you're coming with me!

Addendum: I have to also give a shout out to fellow debutantes Lish McBride and Jen Violi, who both live as far west as you can get in this country, and whom I never get to share a real plate of french fries with, but who have been crucial partners in crime, traveling the zig-zag road of YA Lit and publishing! I heart you guys!






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