Monday, September 28, 2009

I'll be on readergirlz blog for live author chat and online book party for STEALING DEATH

Wednesday night September 30th at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern!

Special thanks to the readergirlz divas for hosting the party and to diva Holly Cupala for the beautiful blog posters!

Come join the fun!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

We're getting ready for the big book launch party!

Check out the recent interview about Stealing Death in the Chinook Update.

Filling food platters
YAAMBA Marimba band is rehearsing
Dance rehearsal
Can't wait to see friends and celebrate!!

A special THANKS to the amazing Holly Cupala, YA Author and all around talent for the new Blog Banner, this pop-in poster, and the whole face lift for Dreamwalks!!! Thanks, Holly!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Good News!

Sacramento Public Libraries' One Book Sacramento has chosen THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN as a companion read to Steve Lopez's book, THE SOLOIST.

This September I'll be flying to Sacramento CA for speaking engagements set up by One Book Sacramento. It's an honor to be a companion read to THE SOLOIST a second time. Earlier this year Philadelphia Public Libraries listed THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN as a teen companion read to THE SOLOIST for One Book Philadelphia.

THE SOLOIST is a deeply moving book. I read it before watching the movie (also a must see!) Steve Lopez describes Nathaniel Ayers' turbulent life on the street, his heroic struggle with fragile mental health, and his musical gifts with a rare and powerful honesty. I have my own first hand experience with the devastation of brain disorders, illnesses that we, as yet, barely understand. I recognized Steve Lopez's true portrayal of illness in the unflinchingly accurate dialogue and in the complex yet hopeful description of a rare friendship.

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN shares the theme of homelessness. Not that of a single person as in THE SOLOIST, but of a young family secretly living in an old Chevy van struggling to find a home. Zoe Flynn is fiercely guarding her secret from everyone at school. No one is to know they are homeless, that they bathe at the community pool and hang around at the laundromat to stay warm (courtesy of the heat coming from the driers).

The new face of homelessness is not presented on the street, it is lost in the invisible world of children and families couch surfing, living in cars and vans, people who are "between" apartments or homes for weeks or months or years. The year THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN came out I presented at schools across the U.S. sharing the book and raising awareness about homelessness. Many schools got ready for my visit by collection scads of food for local food banks. One school delivered a truck load the day after my assembly! More poignant than that, I discovered most schools had at least one homeless student. (I was usually told this privately before or after the presentation.) Those children were honored that day as I spoke of Zoe's heroic adventures in THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN.

The book's longevity is a testament to heroic children everywhere who are searching for a home.

P.S. Friend and colleague, Holly Cupala just sent me this link to the NY Times Article: Surge In Homeless Pupils Strains Schools. Very timely. Thanks Holly!

Until next time,

Be well

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I just flew home from ALA Chicago

A most magnificent experience meeting nation wide librarians (according to ALA roughly 25,000 library leaders and supporters)touring publishing houses with their newest offerings (like wending through a gold mine), meeting the indomitable Egmont USA team: Douglas Pocock, Elizabeth Law, Regina Griffin, Mary Albi, and Ellen Greene. Chatting and checking the exhibits with my beloved Dial editor, Kathy Dawson, Meeting fellow Egmont authors Julia Keller, Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Myers, Mary Amato, and Kay Cassidy and chumming about with author buddy Lorie Ann Grover who was smart enough to bring a camera!Luckily Lorie Ann said I could pop some of her shots into the blog. Phew!

Lorie Ann Grover, Elizabeth Law, Moi

Chicago weather was perfect. On my first evening we gathered at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Egmont Cocktail Reception where we all nibbled dainties, sipped wine and talking Books Books Books. Doug Pocock, Executive V.P of Egmont USA had us all raise our glasses to toast Egmont. He had us all grinning. If you are a writer, this was why your ears were burning on Saturday evening. Somebody out here loves you.

Early Sunday we scrambled to the wild YALSA Coffee klatch where we had four minutes (yes that's four minutes) per table to speed date YALSA librarians and create "book love" for our upcoming titles. Not easy to breeze through a description of STEALING DEATH in one minute with three left to answer questions. I brought along an "ice breaker" but YALSA librarians were NOT icy in the least and no ice needed breaking. Still we blew our rose petals across the table with drinking straws (a challenging game if there ever was one!)

Christopher Myers and Moi at YALSA coffee klatch. I stood on a chair to reach his 6ft 5? or 7? height!

Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Moi

After the coffee klatch I raced with Elizabeth Law back to the convention center for my author signing at the Egmont USA booth. A nice long line was waiting with readers clutching STEALING DEATH galleys (yes!)

Two buddies Justina Chen and Kirby Larson signing (I didn't take a pic of myself signing. Again no camera. Doh!)

Famished from book signing, Regina Griffin and I taxied to a cozy luncheon with friends. After lunch I raced back to the convention to meet with my Dial editor, Kathy Dawson.

The day ended with the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet.

Lorie Ann too this one -- Moi dressed for the Banquet!

Thank you Egmont for the cold Heineken I was ready for it by that point). Good food but the speeches were delicious from Beth Krommes Caldecott speech where she quoted a friend saying, "Beth Krommes has finally scratched herself to the top." to Neil Gaiman's memorable speech, "the Newbery can actually make you look cool to your children,", and Ashley Bryan's closing speech wherein we were "made to sing."

When words were with us
in our minds and
on our tongues
we sang our way
outside ourselves
to a place
where all can meet

In this sparse economy
we still remember
ideas are free

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

We just returned from Maui where I swam in the sea and went on a 5 day Sacred Maui Pilgrimage Retreat with Ram Dass. The first day there we visited a sacred Hawaiian site by special invitation.

Lei'ohu Ryder invited us into the Kukuipuka Heiau a place of profound healing and inspiration. Lei'ohu Ryder shared stories of the power of the land and the sea -- of the healing earth. She also talked about "letting go of our stories" the stories that tie us down and keep us in the past and do not allow us to grow into our true power. This was only the first day of our pilgrimage, but my husband and I were greatly blessed by land and sea and Kukuipuka Heiau under the guidance of Lei'ohu Ryder and Ram Dass. There is great healing in the land -- the ground we walk on every day of our lives.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

It has been forever since I blogged. Why?? I have been juggling many projects and am in the air all day tossing and tossing.

I was recently asked juggling advice and did I recommend it. Hum . . .
The answer depends on your best way of working. Jane Yolen always juggles many projects at once and seems to thrive on it! I visit the blog on her website often to peek into her life and work. If you thrive on juggling as she does, go for it.

I actually prefer to be married to my work. That is to say I work on one story at a time to nearest deadline, then switch to another. I find the transition difficult -- moving from a fantasy set in a fictional Africa with the spare voice of a male protagonist (Kipp in Stealing Death) to the medieval world of Wilde Island with a female protagonist disguised as a leper and on the run with her three friends from the witch hunter (Tess in Bound By Three).

It's dizzying for me going between these worlds let alone trying to live in the real one. Sheesh!

So pick the tale that's calling to you and go deeply in, or juggle many happily as Jane Yolen seems to do.

Whatever you do, be in love with your characters and their world.

Happy (if frantic) Writing everyone and Keep the balls in the air.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy World Water Day!

Image thanks to PlayPumps

Join me in celebrating clean drinking water with PlayPumps! For World Water Day PlayPumps is focusing on communities in Malawi Africa where only 57% of the rural population has access to clean drinking water.

Do you want to pitch in and Help? Check out PlayPumps!

Clean drinking water is of particular interest to me. Ever since I researched drought-ridden countries for my upcoming YA novel Stealing Death, I've wanted to put my hand in and make a difference.

Check out my PlayPumps fundraising page Stealing Death water for Life Challenge


The terrible drought in Africa puts children and families at risk every day. It is predicted that the global dimming brought on by the developed worlds air pollution will continue to create these severe droughts year after year. I began to study what water shortage does to communities while working to create a realistic drought-ridden landscape for my fantasy novel Stealing Death. Profoundly moved by the suffering I saw, I made a commitment to take action and raise awareness. I hunted for an organization that is making a significant difference and was thrilled to find PlayPumps.

Hope Education Joy
PlayPumps puts hope into the hands of people.
PlayPumps frees girls to attend school regularly
PlayPumps empowers change through children at play

How PlayPumps Works

Watch a PlayPumps Video!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I just finished many present-day trips to India in the pages of Indu Sundaresan's brilliant new short story collection: IN THE CONVENT OF LITTLE FLOWERS (Atria Books).

The fabric of these stories is silken, the flow of language itself transports the reader. Though the stories vary in time and place, all of the striking stories take unflinching looks at human relationships. All explore the question of human value.

In "Shelter of Rain" A young doctor, Padmini Marrick, receives a mysterious letter from The Convent of Little Flowers -- the orphanage she left after her adoption at the age of six to come to America. Now her long lost mother is finally contacting her. Why?

In "The Faithful Wife" a reporter tries to stop a town from committing Sati, the ritual burning of a widow -- the widow is twelve years old.

In "The Key Club" wives are highly valued, but there's a catch.

There are too many stories to name here but the tale entitled "Three and a Half Seconds" has to be mentioned. It is riveting and terrifying, all the more so because it is based on a real story of a son's escalating parental abuse.

IN THE CONVENT OF LITTLE FLOWERS is a book to own, cherish, and reread for its beauty and its unflinching look at humanity. Pick up a copy as soon as you can.