Fires on the Mountains...

Hey guys,

This has been a strange few weeks... fires are all over the mountains, not too far from my house. Sad and scary times. Thankfully, my house is a few miles away, which means that we've just gotten lots of smoke-- some days are better than others. This week has been considerably better than the past few-- we're hoping that the firefighters will continue containing more of the fires, and that rain (without lightning) and cool weather will come.

Depending on the winds, the sky has sometimes taken on this eerie glow-- it feels post-apocalyptic. I was taking mental notes on it in case I ever need a disconcerting setting like this in a future book.

This was taken from our back yard a week or so ago:

Creepy-looking red sun.

 It reminded me of the book I had to read in English class in high school-- The Red Badge of Courage.  I didn't like the book (sorry, Stephen Crane)-- maybe I was just burnt out on all the Civil and Revolutionary War books teachers had us read at that time. The only thing I remember from that book (other than the fact that I disliked it) is the phrase that went something like: "The sun was a blood red wafer in the sky."  I remember we had to pick apart the symbolism of it -- we even had a multiple choice question on a test about what it symbolized.  (I really hope no one has to take multiple choice tests on symbolism in my books.  Eek.  That would be upsetting, to say the least.)

How creepy is this glowing red wafer?! It's a view from our back yard.

We escaped from the oppressive smoky heat (100 degrees for days on end, no air conditioning) on our trip to Aspen for the Colorado Book Awards.  Ahhh.... so pretty and blissfully green and clear-skied.


The Queen of Water was a finalist in the YA category, and though it didn't win (darn), I did see a bunch of lovely writer and reader friends (and made new friends, too), and I got to cheer on Jean Reidy, my dear agent-sister, who won in the picture book category for her stunning book Light Up the Night (a favorite of mine and Lil Dude's.) 

As Lil Dude put it, we had a "lot lot lot lot lot lot lot of fun in Aspen!"  We did a hike-- sooo nice, the smell of pines and sage, the quivering of aspens, the rush of waterfalls.  One very sad thing about the fires near our house is that our favorite hiking and camping places are being burnt up.  We'd planned on spending most weekends in the mountains this summer, but we only did a few hikes in May and June before the fires started up.   So, hiking in Aspen felt really good. 

Here's Ian at the awesome farmer's market on Sat morning.   (To his left, people are selling pottery out of an airstream trailer-- love it.)

There were llamas there.  Another thing we'd been planning for this summer was a backpacking trip with some old friends and our young kids, with the llamas carrying our packs (lazy-girl backpacking... sounded good to me).  I was so excited about the trip and had the llamas lined up and just needed to do the llama training session (although I was, admittedly, a little worried I might be allergic to llamas since I'm allergic to cats, horses, hamsters, hippos, and bunnies.)  Alas, we had to cancel the llama trip, so this booth at the farmer's market had to be my llama fix for the summer (and I didn't sneeze-- good sign):

Downtown Aspen is such a pleasant place to spend time in with kids... cool playground, fountains to run around in, a funny balloon man named Checkers, singers/musicians who bring in a bunch of instruments for kids to play along with. Lil Dude took this pic:

We listened to books on CD on the way there -- the main one was Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which I'd read before and absolutely love. (Big Grace Lin fans in our family.)

On the way home, we went through Leadville, where there's a cute coffee shop I like to stop by. After leaving Leadville, we came across this fire that was rapidly spreading along the outskirts of town. So scary.  As we passed it, we could actually see the giant vivid red-orange flames licking across the mountain. I"d never seen anything like it so close.

Okay, enough fire and smoke.  In other news-- happy news-- Maria Virginia is back in town for a few  months!  She came over for dinner tonight and then we went to a book club discussion together for The Queen of Water.  So much fun to hear Maria tell stories about what happened in her life after the book ended... lots of laughter! :-)

Speaking of Queen, here's more good news: It was selected as an Americas Award Honorable Mention-- a really big honor-- you can see the other winners here . The award honors books that "authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. By linking the Americas, the intent is to reach beyond geographic borders, as well as multicultural-international boundaries, focusing instead upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere."  Thank you, award committee!

If you're in the Ft Collins area, and you'd like to meet Maria and discuss the book, please come to our upcoming event:-- here are details:

Thursday, July 19, 2012, 7PM

Matter Bookstore/The Bean Cycle, 144 N. College Ave. Conversation with The Queen of Water herself! Join Laura Resau and María Virginia Farinango for an informal conversation (in a mix of Spanish and English) about The Queen of Water - the highly acclaimed novel based closely on Maria Virginia’s girlhood in the Ecuadorian Andes. This unique experience will be most meaningful if you’ve read the book (or at least started it) beforehand. Everyone welcome! Free!

I also have another event coming up (not with Maria though)-- I'm really excited about it, and I hope you can come if you're nearby:

Saturday, July 7, 2012, 1PM

Old Town Book Fair, Old Town Square, Ft Collins, CO. Young Adult Literature Panel with authors Laura Resau, Amy Kathleen Ryan, Becca Fitzpatrick, Sarah Paige Ryan, and Brenna Yovanoff. Come one, come all, and bring questions! Free! (And check out all the other fun stuff going on all day.)

Thanks for reading! Hope things are clear and cool and blue-green wherever you are...