The Magic Place

Hi everyone!

I had a sunny, windy morning walking around Old Town with Ian and Lil Dude-- we did some impulse shopping at the indoor local farmers/artisans market-- got a yummy spice made of crushed chiles, cacao beans, and pumpkin-seeds-- and a marinade made of smoked green tea leaves-- totally unnecessary purchases, but they smell nice... and of course, we topped it off with a bunch of tamales-- Lil Dude had three, and wanted a fourth, but we thought he might explode if he had one more (he only weighs 30 pounds! he probably ate 20% of his weight in tamales today...)

We stopped by Swampgas and Gossamer, or, what Lil Dude and I refer to as The Magic Place. My friend Les -- an artist and welder and all-around creative soul-- designed this place with no other goal than to create a sense of wonder in people who wander in. It's full of breath-taking sculptures and machines that incorporate enchanting things like blowy milkweed seeds. It's the kind of place you don't want to take photos in since the whole point is to just be present in the midst of all this magic. Here are some pics that remind me of his stuff:

(He actually has a kind of merry-go-round structure on the roof of his house,
which I spun around in one glorious afternoon a few weeks ago.)

Ian informed me that Les's art has steampunk elements (a term I wasn't familiar with until I wiki'd it) -- although I don't think Les would consider his art part of any particular category. It's a marvelous adventure wandering his place-- it feels like walking onto a Tim Burton set in some ways (like that factory in Edward Scissorhands). Les is also writing a children's book, which, although I haven't read yet, I imagine it might have some things in common with this mesmerizing book (because of the fantastical inventions) :
It is such a joy talking to Les-- he reminds me that the beauty of being a creator is in the process, not the product. It's all about being present and finding wonder in every moment. So, so important to remember!

On to other things... here's a guest post I wrote about strong female protagonists for Melissa Taylor's Imagination Soup Blog, which is a fantastic resource for parents-- I've really enjoyed reading it myself. Melissa (who is Colorado Parents Magazine Book Review Editor-at-Large also wrote a great review of Star in the Forest, which you can read here. Here's a blurb from her review:

Star in the Forest
is a good introduction to the situation of Mexican children illegally in the U.S., who are fearful and sometimes separated from their family members. We learn that friendship comes from the most unlikely of friends, even someone like Crystal who despite her lies, is a loyal friend. And, we find that Zitlally’s love for her father helps her do courageous things.

She suggests that parents to read this book with their child or choose it for a parent-child book club because there is so much to discuss. She actually gives some book extension activities and discussion questions at the end. She also is holding a contest-- you can win a free copy of Star in the Forest (just scroll down to the end of the review and follow the link.) The deadline is April 6, so enter now!

A quick update on what the heck I've been doing with my time (which slips through my fingers at a maddeningly swift pace): hangin with my "mentee"-- eighth grader Bessana who was "shadowing" me as part of a school project (!), going over page proofs for The Ruby Notebook, going over jacket copy for The Queen of Water, reading and critiquing friends' writing, working more on the beginnings of The Jade Notebook, doing and planning school visits (Newton Middle in Denver was the latest) ... and last but not least, getting ready for the release party for Star in the Forest! Fort Collinites, I hope you all can come-- this Fri at 7 pm at Everyday Joe's! I think it's gonna be lots of fun!!

Much love,