Sunday, December 21, 2008

Look forward to hidden treasure when you read Justina Chen Headley’s new book NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL
February 09 (Little Brown)

This gorgeous novel has already earned a Publisher's Weekly starred review, and I expect that's just the beginning of the praise it's bound to receive. It's rare to find such a perfectly balanced novel. Award-winning author, Justina Chen Headley writes with wry humor and unfailing honesty. Terra feels set apart by her troubled family, and the prominent port-wine stain birthmark on her right cheek. She is lost in a family of mapmakers and can't see a way out. Enter Jacob, a Goth guy who sees Terra's hidden beauty, and challenges her to move beyond her old confining self-image. Leaving their small town behind, Terra and her mother adventure with Jacob's family in China. On this unforgetable journey with Jacob Terra slowly learns to find her way out of her life-long isolation. This book is a treasury of laughter and tears that leads unfailingly to the heart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Driving along the Big Sur coast in California, we stopped to climb down to a deserted beach, then scaled rocks to a waterfall.
Guess what I found embedded in the mud below the enchanted falls?

Pictures tell the story . . .
~the Wart walked up to the great sword for the third time. He put out his right hand softly and drew it out as gently as from a scabbard ~ T. H. White The Sword in the Stone

The Excalibur pen still works.
Shall I save it and use it at my next book signing?
Till next time fellow dreamwalkers
walk well

Monday, October 27, 2008


photo share

October's been a travel month. First stop Oregon SCBWI Retreat at Silver Falls State Park where I taught Story CPR, met fellow writers, Chronicle books editor, Julie Romeis, and Holiday House editor, Leanna Petronella. Leanna gave a stomping good session on writing YA novels.

Five words for this retreat= Terrific!! Watch out for Bears!

Photo Keven Law

Next I flew to Georgia to keynote the librarian luncheon at the Georgia Council of Media Organizations conference. Saw as we rose out of cloudy Seattle, the morning moon full in the pale blue sky. Flying toward the sun on my right, snowy Mount Rainer down below between the two. All this beauty spread out on the vast canvas of the sky.

Five words for the Librarian Lunch = Laughter, salad, book love, serendipity.

The last word because I ran into YA author Sharon Draper in the lobby of the hotel and we talked for nearly an hour before we identified ourselves as authors. Each of us thought the other was a librarian! We had a laugh about that.

Flew out that afternoon to Missouri for the Children's Literature Festival in Athens MO where I taught "Words on the Wing" to hundreds of students, met thousands of readers and signed books, books, books. Yeah!

Eight words for that leg of the trip: Giant beast fangs don't set off airport scanners!

How did this affect my writing schedule? Have laptop will travel. In the air and on the road, I found free time to daydream about Bound By Three (sequel to Dragon's Keep) and write chapters.

Four words for today = fellow travelers, walk well


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What a surprise to be nominated for the I Love Your Blog award! And to be nominated by my favorite blog Wordlings by Justina, Justina Chen Headley is a true honor!

Here's the To Do nomination list flying round the web for those of you who would like to join in the fun.

1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you. (see Justina's link above)

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs. (my list below)

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Blog love . . . pass it on:

Here are the beautiful blogs I visit regularly. And the Nominees are . . . drum roll please:

1) Wordlings by Justina, Justina Chen Headley. I know she nominated mine, but I have to nominate Wordlings because I'm visiting China every week right now vicariously through her blog!

2) Seize the day, Mollymom103. Great writing tips and weekly doodles keep me coming back to Molly.

3) Grow Wings, by Laini Taylor. The art of writing and Art, Art, Art!

4) Opalescent Irritations, Margaret D. Smith. Margaret’s brilliant blog is rich, funny, deep. I go there to be inspired.

5) Bookmark, by O.R. Melling. I like to visit this Irish fantasy author.

6) Brimstone Soup, Holly Cupala. Holly keeps me in the groove.

7) Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast . This is a Wonderland of a book blog!
I could name dozens more (as you can see by my link list) but 7 is the rule and it’s nearly impossible to do this before breakfast!

Until next time

Dream well

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leapin Synchronicity!

Author Julia Cameron talks a lot about how the world joins you in synchronicity when you commit to a project. I've experienced this phenomenon any number of times. The most recent incident had to do with leaping from one novel to another. It was time to leave Stealing Death (after sending it in on deadline -whew) and go back back back to medieval times to continue the sequel of Dragon's Keep. Leaps like that are hard to do but after four full writing days I was in!

The universe, or is it my muse? agreed. I was in the middle of a scene where noisy croaking frogs began a heated argument between Tess and her friends, when I had to run off to critique group. The first thing I saw when I arrived in the backroom of the coffee shop, was an enormous green clay frog in the center of the table.

A bit suspicious I asked, "Who put that there?"
Everyone shrugged.

Hum . . . pretty strange the lengths some muses go to to let a writer know she's on the right track.

Dream well,


Sunday, August 31, 2008

DRAGON'S KEEP is out in Germany

It's always fun to pop open the box when one of my foreign language books arrives in the mail. This week my agent, Irene Kraas, sent me a box with beautiful copies of DRACHENKUSS. The cover art is similar to the US DRAGON'S KEEP except for the hand. The back cover has Lord Faul's yellow-green eyes and the top line reads: Prinzessin Rosalind von Wild Island . . .

A copy is now on the shelf next to the US hardback, and the UK paperback -- same tale titled TALON in England.

Irene has also sold the foreign rights to other countries. Can't wait to see the French cover.

Until next time

dream well


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Last week the Diviners were celebrating again. This time we whooped it up for Holly Cupala's amazing news! Holly's agent sold her YA novel A Light That Never Goes Out in a two book deal to HarperCollins.

Hooray for Holly!

As always, Peggy King Anderson wrote a fun cheer and we pulled out the pompoms.

Pictured here, Moi, Holly Cupala, Molly Blaisdell, and Judy Bodmer.

Diviners not pictured, Peggy King Anderson (currently in Germany), Justina Chen Headley (in China this year), and Dawn Knight.

After the cheer we loaded Holly with gifties:

And of course Diviner award, Ms. Nancy Pearl, has to pack her bags yet again for another move. This time from Molly's to Holly's (however as we speak, Molly's hanging on to the coveted Nancy for one more week.) Nancy says "Shhhh."

Well, Brave Molly deserves to hang on to Nancy a wee bit longer. She came to the celebration even though her back was out. Here's Molly on her knees ready to read her latest piece to the critique group. Yes, even though we're celebrating a lot, we still buckle down (or kneel down) and get to work each week.

Until next time
dream well

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yesterday I taught a fun Mystery Writing workshop in Leavenworth at A Book For All Seasons. Here we are out on the sunny back deck watching one of the campers seek a hidden object.

She's getting warmer!

We worked/played at mystery writing for two hours then the campers went off for lunch and a swim. Later in the afternoon I pulled out my sharpie to sign books in the store. This popular summer writing camp has been going for seven years. This years Poe Camp (Yes I mean Edgar Allan) was indeed mysterious. Run by the effervescent Amy Carlson (in bug eyes below)

Many thanks to Amy, to the campers and to the terrific staff at A Book For All Seasons for a great day, and to Lisa Wells for setting up my live radio interview today on
AM/560 KPQ’s Two O’Clock Show with Ken Johannessen.
Until next time,
dream well

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Here I am on the edge of the cliff and stalling. Well who wouldn't stall before taking a leap? The leap I'm referring to is the next writing phase. I finished my rough draft (all 349 pages of it) On Tuesday. That's 240 pages in a little over two months. A new record for me and all because of the looming deadline (Sept. 1st) Now it's just a matter of reading it and marking needed changes on the manuscript and I've stalled out.

This phase of the process always terrifies me. Will the story delight or dismay? How much rewrite I'm I looking at here? How much will I need to cut, change, redo? I won't know until I read it. I have No Time to waste here, so I better stop stalling and take the leap!

Blogging is one of the ways I'm stalling. It's also a public confession to make me accountable. Now that I've confessed I've been holding back, unwilling to dive into the printed page, I have nowhere to go but in. I must have the courage of my craft, count to three, and jump.

Today is leap day.

May you have the courage of your craft.

Until next time

dream well


(cliff photo by Bruce Denney)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Diviners pictured left to right Holly Cupala, Katherine Grace Bond, Moi, Molly Blaisdell, Judy Bodmer, Peggy King Anderson. Diviners not pictured Justina Chen Headley (getting ready to fly to China for a year!) and Dawn Knight.

The Diviners were at it again this week celebrating yet another book publication. This time we did a cheer (note pompoms in our hot little hands) for the publication of Molly's fabulous picture book: Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs by Molly Blaisdell, illustrated by Nancy Lane, Barrons Publishers.

Peggy King Anderson (in pink) wrote a cheer we performed with said pompoms. Molly opened cards, and was gifted with flowers and the coveted Nancy Pearl Shushing Librarian Award!
The Diviners give "The Nancy" to a praise worthy member to celebrate her success. The Shushing Librarian has to keep her bags packed these days. She's really been on the move with so much good news!

Congratulations Molly!

Until next time

dream well

Saturday, July 19, 2008

You have this way of speaking and it is the way the story is told.
There is no other way to say it. You cannot dam the waters and stop the flow.
You cannot turn back to the old way of saying.
You fall into the abyss of language hoping words will hold you up. They do not. They throw you down.
You have been kicked out of the comfortable nest of “the right way to write
You are falling.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


is now in its 4th printing.

This means the Shriker still haunts the forest of Noor. More readers will have to go on the adventure with Miles and Hanna to end the Shriker's curse.

Do not wander in the deeps
where the Shriker's shadow creeps.
When he rises from beneath,
beware the sharpness of his teeth.

Until next time

fellow travelers walk well


Saturday, July 05, 2008


July 5th. After the fireworks, what? Back to the writing desk. My character, Kipp, is in the desert now. I'm in a dry writing spell and feeling a little lost. Maybe we are both lost and trying to survive.

The desert is harsh and spare. I'm reminded of Bear in the show "Man Vs. Wild" wrapping his tee shirt around his head for a turban to protect him from the sun -- of him searching for water. The earth looks flat, tight and hollow as a drum. How does Kipp get out? How do I get out of the dry writing spell? He walks. I walk too -- walk away from the desk and lose myself in the garden for a while. It's not think time but do time. I keep my body busy so my subconscious can work without my prattling conscious mind getting in the way.

The writer in me can't leave Kipp alone and hungry for long.

Until next time,

dream well.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

When I went to Ursula K. LeGuin's book signing for her new book Lavinia (reading my signed copy now) I told her "Your words open my words."

It was a simple and quiet thing to say. There was still a long line behind me, but she looked up and our eyes met and she asked me my name.

Reading her novels always helps me when I hit a writing wall. I will always be grateful to her for her beautiful books.

If you want to treat your ears and heart, take a few minutes and listen to her read the last chapter of A Wizard of Earthsea


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Where does STORY come from? Writing ideas are a mystery and I like it that way because I love the daily surprises waiting for me in the unfolding words. I recently read THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner, and loved the places where her characters told stories within the story. I did this in THE BEAST OF NOOR with The Shriker's Tale, and a bit in DRAGON'S KEEP and I'm at it again this week.

Right now I'm working on two new books: BOUND BY THREE -- a companion book to DRAGON'S KEEP (Harcourt), and STEALING DEATH (Egmont).

A few days ago I ended a scene in STEALING DEATH knowing my captive character, Kipp, needed to tell a story. I set the scene up one day and ended my writing session by jotting Oh, Boy! A Story! on the page. I left my writing for the next day not knowing what story Kipp would tell, only that I was looking forward to finding out.

Okay here's where the mystery and magic comes in. The bounty hunter has tied up Kipp, left his helper, Billy on first watch, and bedded down near them by the fire. Kipp's purpose for telling the tale is to put Billy to sleep so he can get away from the bounty hunter, but I (the writer) also knew the story had to have a significant connection to the rest of the novel.

What I had going for me: Billy is whittling a spear by the fire, using his knife to intimidate Kipp. Kipp thinks about using the spear Billy is making to draw him into the tale -- okay so the story needed to include a spear.

What else? I knew I had to introduce The Daughter of Time who will appear later in the book -- so maybe a creation story?

What else? My son Josh likes to take my cool collected objects and set them up in his room. Things like candles, glass holders, special stones. Josh recently confiscated my clear glass egg. I found it on his desk and stole it back. So I was staring at the glass egg on my desk when I flipped on the computer.

Kipp began to tell the story. I was amazed at how easily he put all the elements together and came up with in interesting creation tale with a crystal egg, a spear, and The Daughter of Time. I had to tap the keys at a pretty fast rate to keep up with him. The tale was so fun it was a challenge to slow to an ending that would actually lull Billy to sleep. Kipp managed that too, but does he escape from the watchful Billy and the bounty hunter? We'll see about that.

Until next time

dream well


Saturday, June 14, 2008


When the paperback came out this May I was happy to see the newer, brighter cover. Lord Faul really shows his face and haunting eyes in this new shot. I like the fun font too. The letters are embossed. Run your fingers over them. Don't they feel a little bit like dragon scales?

More reasons to be happy over the new transformation -- I love bringing paperbacks to the school visits and signings, they're so much more affordable. Also Harcourt added a Reader Chat Page at the back with provocative questions for classroom or book group discussions.

Until next time,

Dream Well


Monday, May 19, 2008


The Diviners -- that's my fabulous critique group -- really know how to celebrate!! Last week we had a double celebration for Justina Chen Headley (Holding the amazing new ARC of her upcoming YA book NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL above) and for moi for signing another contract. More fantasy books are on the way. Hooray!!
Pictured here -- Back row Katherine Grace Bond, Judy Bodmer, Molly Blaisdell, Peggy King Anderson. Front Row: Moi, Justina Chen Headley. Fellow Diviners not pictured, Holly Cupala and Dawn Knight.

Peggy King Anderson brought here pom poms and wrote a cheer for the celebration. I blushed happily and opened the thoughtful gifts with glee.
This is way better than any birthday. I can't wait to celebrate the next Diviner book! Wonder who will be next???

Friday, May 16, 2008

Glorious Day

A perfect morning to journal out on the deck overlooking the lake. Birds are going mad with pleasure chirping, squawking, twittering, flitting. It's warm with a cool fresh flower-scented breeze.

SHADOW ~Image courtesy of Josh Otis~
The sun is to my right. My pencil runs just ahead of its narrow shadow on the journal page. If we step toward the light - our shadows follow us. If we walk away from the light - we walk into our shadows. A natural metaphor. I've come to believe that everything I need for writing is right here in the present moment. I don't need to stretch out to seek the perfect metaphor. It's here and now in the scene. It's staring me in the face. I just have to open my eyes and Look.

May you walk with open eyes today.

Fellow travelers, walk well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today Bloggers are Uniting for Human Rights.

One of the best orgs around is Amnesty International.

Act Globally:
Amnesty International
Ensure humanitarian aid for Cyclone Nargis victims

Please Please ask the government of Myanmar to ensure delivery of international aid in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

Call on the government of Myanmar to ensure that humanitarian aid is distributed to the victims of Cyclone Nargis and that they cooperate with international relief efforts.


Or Act Locally:
Act Locally

Sunday, May 04, 2008

We had a blast in Japan! I flew there with my husband, Tom. We met my agent, Irene Kraas, in the airport and were driven to a five star hotel.

On the morning of day one, we viewed the Wenny Has Wings movie (Remember That Sky opening in Japan April 26th) in the Sony studio which just happened to be right across the street from our hotel.

Irene and Janet in the hotel room getting ready to view the movie. Note the comfy kimono.
The movie was brilliantly done. Somewhat different from the book but that’s to be expected. The actors were perfect for their key roles: Yutaka Takenouchi as the father, Miki Mizuno as the mom, and the brilliant young actor, Ryohie Hirota as Will and the little, Riko-chen as Wenny. (see poster in earlier blog).

Two days of intensive interviews with help from the interpreter, Yoshiko Okura, followed the film -- newspapers to manga to magazines (including Newsweek Magazine Japan) to TV spots. It was a whirlwind and Irene Krass was there with me through it all. We drank gallons of water to keep going!

We left for a school visit and TV spot at Kabara Junior High School where I played the song a wrote for Wenny "You Had To Fly". We had a terrific time getting to know the kids there. Note the green slippers!

Sony Studios not only put us up in a top Tokyo hotel, they also took us to dinner after the interviews. Here we are with the producers, director, Shin Togashi (on my left), Sony senior publicist, Miki, and senior vice president of SonyMusic.

On day three we were free to become tourists. After another night in Tokyo, Irene joined us on the bullet train to Kyoto.

Irene and Janet in front of Temple Gate
It rained on the day we toured Kyoto temples but we braved the weather. Tom caught this shot of Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion in the rain.


Irene sped back to the states. Tom and I took the train with Drew to Koyasan where we stayed in the temple two nights, went to early morning Buddhist services, visited the historic graveyard, and hiked steep trails through a cedar and bamboo forest.


A wonderful trip.

Traveler may you walk well . . .