between retreats

Hey everybody,

While Toddler is eating pizza and watching Sillyville on TV, I'll take a moment to fill you in on last weekend's writing retreat since I'm going to another one next weekend! (In the meantime, I'm revising like a madwoman. My deadline is in a week!!!)

So, my writing retreat was in Angelfire, New Mexico. Angelfire has to be the most gorgeous town name ever. It makes me think of fiery orange-pink sunsets that look like gates to heaven. Here we are, from front to back: Leslie, Sarah, me, Molly, Kimberly, and Carrie. They are all BRILLIANT and HILARIOUS. We're on the deck of Sarah's parents' cabin, which overlooks the Sangre de Cristo mountains. So breathtakingly beautiful.

Here's the hot tub where we hung out in the evenings. Nothing like looking at a zillion stars through steam.

Here's Carrie reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Aimee Bender, adult book), which we passed around. I learned more about the different kinds of magical realism out there.

There were masses of hummingbirds on the deck, attracted by the many hummingbird feeders. I have to say, these creatures can be scary when their pointy little beaks are headed straight for your eyeball, and don't veer away until the last second. (I kept envisioning the ending of a creepy hummingbird-attack story by Molly that we critiqued a few months earlier.)

Here are Molly, Leslie, Carrie, and Sarah (clockwise from top). They're doing what writers do on a retreat between reading, writing, and hot-tubbing... a heated game of Scrabble! It's so hard to find people who are not just willing to play Scrabble, but wildly enthusiastic about it... and dang good at it, too!

Sarah's ENORMOUS dog who protected us from the hummingbirds.

Goldilocks and the bears and some other creature... a wolf? I don't remember what role that other creature plays. Anyway, there were cool little folk artsy surprises hidden in corners of the cabin.

Every day, we each did whatever we felt like... some of us (me) slept late, blissfully enjoying the lack of a Toddler yelling "MOMMY!" at six a.m. Others got up at five a.m. to hike up a mountain and watch the sunrise and get an early start to writing. The cabin was gigantic, so each of us could find a little nook in which to read or write. In the evenings we gathered for yummy food like melon ball-chevre salad and basil-lemon salmon and mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-rice-krispy-pie. After three days together, we all left on a high from so much writing and bonding. Very rejuvenating!

On a different note, here I am with my step-cousin-in-law, Lauren, who I met via my books! One of the loveliest things about having my books out there in the world is that I get to connect with very cool relatives who I didn't even know I had. Lauren is an amazing writer. She's fifteen and is in the midst of writing a number of novels (and they're deliciously good so far!) We had lunch in Loveland a couple weeks ago. She heard an earful about my revision angst. And as she talked about her own writing, I was reminded of all the mesmerizing things about writing (which are easy to overlook when you're sweating under a looming deadline.) Lots of fun!

Speaking of revision angst (and an antidote to it), I stumbled across Cheryl Klein's blog.
She's an editor with Scholastic and full of great revision advice.

I just have to share a couple new reviews of Red Glass that I love. Kathy from Literary Livewire says this:

"Reading this book is biting into a big, juicy guava. It tastes amazing and is the most wonderful thing ever, the sticky juice starts trickling down your chin, and you realize that it’s better that way."

Yum. Thank you, Kathy!

Here's another fun review I came across recently from Pages Blog, entitled "Red Glass: Better than Twilight" (... don't you love it?!)

Twilight sucks so bad compared to this, no offense Stephanie Meyer."

Hee hee! Okay, forgive me, but I couldn't resist quoting the Twilight comparison. (And I'm happy that Angel is deemed better boyfriend material than Edward...) Thanks so much, Kiki and Nathan! You made my day...

I also have to say that it was especially fun to read that review since every time I get together with a bunch of writers, we try to figure out exactly why the Twilight series has become s
uch a phenomenon. As we all know, Stephenie Meyers breaks lots of the classic "rules of good writing" that have been pounded into our writers' brains. (For example, if you can say something in 10 words instead of 100, do it.) Yet her books are utterly addictive to millions. (That was one of our topics of conversation at our retreat, of course...) Intriguing.

Okay, time to go for an evening walk/bike ride with Toddler.

'Night! Thanks for reading!