Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Record highs, pressure mounts

As I turned 43 yesterday, I heard the door of middle age creak open for me. I’m not quite ready to walk through—not sure if I’ll ever be. Maybe when the time comes I’ll get on my knees and go through the dog door. For now, my feet and my delusions stay firmly planted on the side of youth.

I don’t lament the “growing old” part of aging, l lament the pressure to do more with less time in front of me.

We had a record- high temperature yesterday—108. As I am wont to find meaning in even the most trivial things, I took this as a really good sign. 108 on my birthday! It satisfies my left hemisphere because mathematically speaking 108 is considered an “abundant number” and it satisfies my right hemisphere because 108 is a sacred number in many ancient traditions.

But physically speaking, 108 sucks. It’s hot.

I’m trying to finish my revision on Book One before we leave for Colorado on Saturday and the combination of my fleeting youth, the record-high temperatures, and the revision deadline is adding up to one hell of a pressure cooker...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am 6 years old in Dog Years

With 43 candles I can boil 5.3 ounces of water. The moon was waxing gibbous on the day I was born and my Native American Zodiac sign is Salmon. My life path number is 3, which means I have “skills in the verbal realm” of writing, speaking, acting, or similar endeavors.

For heaps of trivial trivia the day you were born, click on this Birthday Calculator. Fun stuff if you can tolerate the synthesizer version of, “You Say It’s Your Birthday” playing in the background…

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And it hurt...

Nine years ago today I delivered my first blogger! Click HERE to see what she's up to...

Happy Birthday, Juliet!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spelunking the Lava Tubes

My friends and I are usually good planners, but this time we kind of lost it. In the hottest month of the year, we decided to pack up our kids and head to Oregon’s High Desert where it’s even hotter. Apparently that wasn’t punishing enough, so we headed across the border to the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California to really sweat.

It’s a bizarre landscape. As soon as you cross into California you see the long, flat expanse of Tule Lake, infamous for being the largest internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Lawson Inada, Oregon’s current Poet Laureate and the father of my good friend, was held there as a child and he’s written of it in his book Legends From Camp.

Once you pass Tule Lake and its population of huge white pelicans you enter Lava Beds National Monument, a moonscape of black rocks and cinder cones. There are over 750 caves there so everywhere you look you can imagine a subterranean world of bats and other creatures of the night.

We’d forgotten half of the flashlights and a lot of the water, so we had to bumble through caves sharing torches. At one point Joan pulled out her iPhone to use the flashlight feature, but it didn’t seem to be ranked for cave use. I’m not sure why we couldn’t get it together and plan better—I suppose in the searing bright light of the high desert it’s hard to imagine you’d need light—but it did make it more of an adventure.

The rag-tag bunch of spelunkers prepares to enter their first Lava Tube.

The descent into Skull Cave.

Enjoying a respite from the heat - from 104 degrees to 55 degrees in ten easy paces!

Way down at the bottom of Skull Cave the temperature never goes above freezing and this pool of ice never thaws...

Historical footnote:
This was Modoc Indian country and their legacy lives on through the huge collection of rock art in the caves. During the Modoc War of 1872-1873, a small band of Modoc Indians used an intimate knowledge of the volcanic terrain to their tactical advantage. Under the leadership of Kintpuash (Captain Jack), the Modocs hid in "Captain Jacks Stronghold," a natural lava fortress and for five months held off US Army forces numbering up to ten times their strength. Go Modocs!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pass It On...

Author Kay Cassidy, supreme marketer, ex-cheerleader, Mensa member (for real!) has nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks Kay! Kay has created an amazing game for librarians and kids called The Great Scavenger Hunt Contest—check it out, it’s ingenious! Looking forward to having a book out so I can participate as well.

So, for the blog award I must list seven favorite things and nominate seven fellow bloggers.

The seven favorites that came to mind first are:

-Reading in bed in the morning
-Warm, glossy brownies
-The sound of my kids laughing hysterically
-Travel - anywhere
-A frosty Gin & Tonic

I’m nominating these blog friends:

Apologies if you’ve already received this award, but can we ever be too lauded? Thanks for being fresh and creative bloggers and for your great blog comments!

And now for a bit of good news...

If you're a writer today, looks like yong adult is the place to be. There's a great Wall Street Journal article today about Borders launching teen bookstores within their larger bookstores. Apparently, the numbers support cannabalizing the dying CD sections for teen books:

"At a time when book retailing is slumping, young-adult titles and graphic novels are still delivering growth. Albert N. Greco, a professor at the Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration who studies the book industry, estimates that young-adult fiction, fantasy and science fiction will generate $744.3 million in U.S. publisher revenue this year, up 13% from $659.1 million in 2008. That compares with U.S. publisher revenue of an estimated $9.73 billion for consumer books as a whole, a 4.7% decline from 2008's sales, according to Mr. Greco."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You can be a dork too!

In 2011 my name will be on Mars.

Yours can too.

I’m not really sure why this seemed so enchanting to me, but when I heard about it I beelined over to the NASA website. Just type in your name and location and your name will be placed on a microchip going to Mars. You even get a certificate proving the fact.

Am I the only one who thinks this is kind of cool? If you like the idea, head over to to sign up!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Anyone? Anyone?

A friend and I are teaching a summer youth class at Southern Oregon University about getting published as a teen. It starts tomorrow and all of a sudden I'm really, really nervous. I think this is because I am the worst teacher in the history of the world. Fortunately, my friend is the best teacher in the history of the world. I’m afraid I’ll just be an accessory. My big splash is to bring donuts every day.

Anyone out there have any words of advice for teens who want to get published in newspapers and magazines? Any nuggets of wisdom I can feed them with their donuts?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Chocolate Needed

While I was up visiting my sister, I arranged to meet the mysterious Teri Hall, author of THE LINE. Back when her book was slated for a 2009 release, I was assigned as the 2010 author to interview her so we had established a nice email relationship. I was excited to meet Teri; her book was getting buzz and it sounded like something I would love—primarily because one of its Library of Congress designations is “Government, Resistance to.”

I got to Teri’s house at just after six in the evening, armed with wine and chocolate – two things that could prove to be essential props if it turned out we had nothing to talk about. I needn’t have worried; from the word “hello” we did didn’t stop talking for seven hours! My sister called just as we had hit a new juicy topic and said, “Where the hell are you? It’s one in the morning!” I swear I thought it was around ten. We never even opened the chocolate.

I hadn’t done that, sat around and chatted for endless hours, since college. But in a way, being a debut author feels a little like being a freshman again. You and your fellow freshman authors are alone in new territory, not knowing what to expect, not knowing who will flunk out and who will be valedictorian. We talked about agents and editors and plots and process and everything in between. Teri is smart and hilarious and has this strength of will that I admire so much. I could have stayed and chatted ‘till sunup! (Plus she set out this gorgeous spread of French cheeses and olives and other lovely nibbles that kept us fueled through our marathon chat session!)

After our meeting, I was even more intrigued to read her book so when I got the uncorrected proof this week I devoured it. It’s phenomenal. The buzz that it’s getting is no fluke, this is the real deal. I expect to see starred reviews rolling in over the next few months.

Well done, Teri! It will be fun to say I knew you when…

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I love what Cynthia Crossen, who writes the Dear Book Lover column for the Wall Street Journal, wrote about YA literature in a recent column:

"Good YA is not dumbed-down adult fare; it’s literature that doesn’t waste a breath. It doesn’t linger over grandiloquent descriptions of clouds or fields, and it doesn’t introduce irrelevant minor characters in the hope (too often gratified) that the book will be called Dickensian."

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Getting Flashed...

This is a photo of a dragonfly lighting on my daughter, Juliet. It happens all the time in the summer—dragonflies land on her hands, her arms, and even her head. Sometimes we have a hard time getting them off. It’s baffling. Come to think of it, whenever we go in butterfly gardens the butterflies land on her too.

What do you attract? I used to attract flashers.

My earliest memory of being flashed was when I was a kid, on a trip to southern California. I looked over and suddenly the passenger in the car nest to us on the freeway was flashing his junk at me. In college I’d be out for a morning run and and pow! a car door would open with a pantsless guy inside. Even in Europe I got the classic trench flash in a park in Provence. I’m not sure if it’s because I have the kind of face that really registers surprise, or if I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot. It became part of my life.

Then one day I was bored at work and had a hankering to sew (now that’s bored!) so I pulled a sick day and headed to Sears to buy a sewing machine. This was right after college and I didn’t have any money but I had a Sears card with a huge limit, so anytime I needed/wanted anything it had to be from Sears. Klassy! So I walk out of the store with my new entry-level Singer and notice that a guy parked in a white BMW was staring at me and grinning like he knew me. I looked in at him and noticed he was wearing a suit jacket and tie but was missing his pants. And undies. That was the last straw for me; I smiled at him, put the machine in my car, and drove around the corner to call the cops.

Cops in Redmond, Washington don’t have much going on, so two cars arrived within seconds. One pulled up to me, the other to Jiggly McBits. Then they made me get in the police car and drive by to identify him, which really freaked me out. I thought reporting a flsaher was like calling about a dog that won’t stop barking or some other public nuisance, but no. Something about there being a preschool in that mall changed the rules about what he was doing. So I had to identify the guy and then later show up in court to testify. Like I had time for this? I was deep into a curtain project!

Anyway, that ended my run of flashers. Not sure if it was a late-eighties fad or if I flipped some magic switch, but I haven’t seen a flasher since. Not that I’m sorry. Any fetish that involves the unsuspecting is totally uncool with me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I got WOWed on 7/8/9

I knew 7/8/9 would be a lucky day! I got my first WoW (Waiting on Wednesday) post - which means a YA book reviewer has marked my book as one she's excited to read! You have no idea how cool this is to a newbie author. Seriously. I'm levitating right now. Thanks Catt!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Release Date! Happy Beltane!

I just got word from my editor that my release date has been moved up for marketing and publicity reasons. So, move aside July 1, 2010 - May 1, 2010 is my new release date!

It's weird that I can be both elated and nauseous at the same time.

Ever superstitious, I was a bit worried about “mayday” being a distress signal. So I googled it and found it’s just the mispronunciation of the French “m'aidez”(come help me). That aside, I like being released on May Day. It's a holdover from the Celtic celebration of Beltane, especially nice since much of the book takes place in Scotland. I might even have a bonfire in Lithia Park on Beltane Eve to celebrate! Because there are also some ancient Indian connections in the book, I had to also check out the Jyotiṣa calendar and 1/5/10 and indeed, it’s one of the few auspicious days in May 2010—at least according to Vedic Astrology, with which I am temporarily preferring to side on this matter.

PS – Let’s not tell my editor about any of this. It may make me seem crazy. Or crazier, depending on his current assessment of me...


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Guest Blogger: Better Half

I'm still typing with only the lame left hand, which has clearly been getting a free ride all this time. It's spent the last 43 years as glorified a ring holder and now that I'm asking it to take up the slack for my sliced up right paw, it's getting a bit cranky. So I'll redirect to Scott's blog for all the exciting 4th happenings (sadly, no naked lady this year at the parade).

We're hoping there will not be another evening of watching the lawn go up in flames, but with an arsenal of fireworks and a big bucket of frosty beverages, there’s just no telling...

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sweet Sixteens

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary. This is us at Kiana Lodge on Agate Passage, a short ferry ride from Seattle. It was an amazing day, but stressful as I prefer not to be the center of attention! For our honeymoon we were dropped by float plane to the middle of the British Columbian wilderness where a lone cabin sat on the shore of a lake. No electricity, no technology. But the ice chest was stocked with champagne and steak and every three days a pilot flew in to drop off provisions and make sure neither of us had been eaten by a bear. We caught enormous Rainbow Trout and cooked them on the wood stove in big cast iron pans. It was the best way to chill out after a big stressful wedding.

Today is also my 25th High School reunion. This is me at 16. My marriage is as old as I was in this photo. Weird. My marriage may not be looking as fresh, but it’s definitely wiser than this sap!