After the rain and hail...

Fiona and me

Hello, hello, hello!

I'm in my trailer in the cozy aftermath of a spring storm. I love the sound of the rain and hail pelting the tin roof (it's thrilling and a little scary somehow-- so loud!) I spent the morning and early afternoon listening to wild French music and writing away, trying to get The Ruby Notebook in shape (which, incidentally, is the new name for the book formerly referred to as The Cerise Notebook.)

Thank you to everyone who gave me comments on the title Cerise! I emailed my editor, Stephanie, about it, and we decided that Cerise could be a challenge to locate online or in a bookstore if you have no clue how to spell it. I do like Ruby a lot, though, even more now that we've made this decision. Although it's not a French word, it's nearly the same in French-- Rubis-- which sounds pretty much the same-- you don't pronounce the s. So, you francophiles out there can feel free to murmur it with a throaty, sexy French accent... Another good thing about the new title: I've ended up having fun including some ruby-ish images in the book (there actually already were quite a few...), so I think all's well that ends well. (Plus, ruby's my birthstone, so it's a stone close to my heart.)

Me and Allison-- librarian extraordinaire!

I had a great time at my Red Glass paperback release event at Old Firehouse Books on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It was so much fun talking with everyone afterward-- that's my favorite part of these readings! I was grateful and humbled that a few people drove all the way from Denver and Greeley in the rain to be at the reading. (Thank you, Kim and Allison and Alice!)

So here is the almost-final cover for Star in the Forest, which is my middle grade novel coming out in Spring 2010. I like the soft, magical lighting (remember, I'm really into sunlight through leaves...) and how Star's fluffy white fur melts into the grass.

cute dog, huh?!

More about Star later... I've got lots to say about it, but right now I want to post some pics of my ESL students and me at our recognition ceremony. This is the last ESL class I'll be teaching for a while... *sniff sniff*... I started teaching ESL eleven years ago. Last year, I started to feel overwhelmed after the arrival of Baby, but I stubbornly hung on to my last class, since I love it so much. (Teaching ESL is like traveling around the world-- complete with the music, dancing, food (we LOVE parties...) Many years ago, my students were the ones who first taught me cumbia... and a few years later, salsa... and this past year, Jo from Brazil tried to teach me samba, but I can't seem to move my hips that fast. ;) One of these days...

Me, Jo, and Wendy

Anyway, I finally admitted that it's too stressful for me to teach two nights a week while writing several books under deadlines AND spending time with Toddler (AND catching a cold from him every other week-- I'm currently recovering from yet another one) AND managing to have a conversation with Hubbie here and there AND having time to just sit and stare at sunlight through leaves (which, I must admit, is a priority for me.)

Jose Luis and me

I feel so, so grateful to all the students I've had over the past eleven years. I don't think I could have written any of my books so far without them. Many characters and scenes from Red Glass, What the Moon Saw, and Star in the Forest were inspired by my wonderful, warm, fascinating, enthusiastic, smart, funny students, and I can't thank them enough. And my book coming up in Spring 2011-- The Queen of Water-- was co-written with Maria Virginia Farinango, who I met at the school (the next classroom over)! When I was in Ecuador doing research for our book, I stumbled across stories and people that ended up inspiring The Indigo Notebook... so that's *five* books that grew out of my ESL teaching in one way or another. Thank you, beloved students!!! Gracias, queridos alumnos!!! Obrigado!!!

Me and Fernando

May is officially over, which means that my month of fame and glory with the readergirlz is over... such a great time! I'm hooked, and I'll definitely be dropping into the site to chat and comment and read about the other books they're featuring this year. They've archived all the discussion threads, including the live chat (plus the interview, book club party ideas, etc) so if you have time, check it out! Minnie at Athena's YA Book Review did an awesome job of listing the highlights of the chat in her blog-- thanks, Minnie!
Being involved with readergirlz last month had the added bonus of making me aware of all the amazing author/reader blogs out there... I could spend all day wandering around their words of wisdom (but I don't because I unplug my wireless for a few hours every day so I can get some writing done!) I discovered Laini Taylor's blog, which has fantastic essays about the writing process (plus it's got cool artwork that she did herself.) I love her metaphor for the "exploratory" draft of a novel: you've seen the jungle from above and taken notes on it from a big-picture bird's-eye view, but during the exploratory draft, you're down on the ground with your machete, sweating and chopping a path through the underbrush, feeling lost and scared and just hoping you'll survive. I recently finished that phase of The Ruby Notebook, and having survived that (thankfully!), I am now revising, which feels much less scary...

Okay, thanks for reading!