Hints about my book-in-progress...

Hey guys,

So I just started using Pinterest to collect inspirational images for my book-in-progress.  Many of you have been asking for details about this next book (thank you for being curious!)  I've been a little mysterious about it, since my creativity seems to work better that way, at this stage at least.  Sorry about that... but I thought these Pinterest images could give you some intriguing clues to my next book.  Maybe you can imagine what the story might be...

There is chocolate.

There are jungle ruins.

There is a magical tree.

There are ancient secrets.

Here is my Pinterest link, in case you want to peruse more of these images, or if you're interested in connecting with me that way: http://pinterest.com/laureysr/ .

Thanks for swinging by.  Now I'm off to my son's preschool "Peace Party."  Apparently the kids came up with this theme on their own.  Sweet, isn't it? It made me remember when he was about two, and we rewarded him with a little sticker after we brushed his teeth.  I had a booklet of stickers, and one of the pages featured lots of tiny peace symbols.  These were his favorite. He'd let us brush his teeth, and then I'd tell him to pick out which sticker he wanted.  He'd smile big and shout, with happy abandon, "I WANT PEACE!"

Hope you're having a peaceful and joyful summer!

Oh, and Baltimore friends: I got confirmation that I'll be at the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September.  My panel, called "Baltimore Bred"  is with some great kids and teen authors-- all of whom grew up in Baltimore!  Check my Events page soon for exact day and time. I'm so excited about this!

And another upcoming event, for my teacher and librarian friends-- the NCTE conference in Las Vegas in November.  I'll be speaking at the ALAN workshops-- yay!  More details to come soon on my Events page.


Valentine's Day Book Giveaway!!!

Hello, dear readers!

In celebration of the release of The Jade Notebook on *Valentine's Day* (Tuesday, Feb 14th), I'm doing a book giveaway! You'll have a chance to win a personalized, autographed copy of one of these three books...

All you have to do is make one comment on this blog post with 1) your name and 2) your dream destination (where you'd fly/sail/drive/bike/hike off to if money/time/work/school were no object). (One comment per person, por favorcito. :-)

You can comment from today (Sunday, Feb 12) through Sunday, Feb 19 at midnight (Colorado time).

On Monday, Feb 20, I'll randomly select *three winners* from the U.S., who will each get a signed paperback copy of either The Indigo Notebook or The Ruby Notebook, or a hardcover of The Jade Notebook.

I'll also select an international winner, who will get some signed bookmarks and a valentine handmade by me and my Lil Dude. (Be warned that my own valentine-making skills are at the level of my 5-year-old's, so remember it's the thought that counts here...)

Be sure to check my blog on Monday, Feb 20 to see if you won! If you end up a winner, please email me your mailing address with the subject heading: NOTEBOOKS CONTEST WINNER.

Tell your friends! Good luck! Comment away...


P.S. Oh, and if you haven't already, try to swing by Melissa Walker's Cover Stories Blog this week-- I did a guest post on the evolution of the cover look for the Notebooks series. Enjoy!

Jade Revision Time!

Hello everyone!

Yesterday I got the long-awaited call from my new editor (Francoise Bui) about revisions for The Jade Notebook! I'd been kinda nervous anticipating this... it was her first time reading the whole series, and I worried whether she'd like it.  I especially worried whether she'd like The Jade Notebook-- a part of me feared she might say something along the lines of "throw the whole thing out and start over!"

But none of my fears came to pass.  She says she's enjoyed the whole series and that Jade might just be her favorite... Whew!  She had some small, totally do-able revision comments (with the help of Krista Vitola, who was an assistant to Stephanie, my former editor, and has been promoted to assistant editor (a well-deserved promotion-- she's fantastic!)

Soon I'll post the final cover for Jade-- it will make you want to drop whatever you're doing and go on a tropical vacation and swim with sea turtles-- at least, that's how it makes me feel!

Must go pick up Lil Dude from preschool now.  I'll write more next week!

Oh, and if you're in the Ft Collins area, please come to my event at Barnes and Noble tonight:

Tues, June 21, 6 pm, Barnes and Noble on 4045 S College Ave. Join me and my two friends and fellow finalists in the Colorado Book Awards young adult category-- Amy Kathleen Ryan and Todd Mitchell.  We're doing a panel on writing novels for teens-- come one, come all-- teens and adults-- and bring questions!


Queen Cover Art... behind the scenes!

Hello dear readers!

I thought it might be interesting to do a post on the cover art for The Queen of Water.  Many readers have been excited to discover that this is a photo of Maria Virginia herself on the cover. Here's the scoop on how that came to be...

During the 6-year process of writing the book, we had plenty of time to imagine what the cover might look like.  I thought it would be good to incorporate a photo of Maria Virginia as a teen, to remind readers that this is a true story, that Virginia is a real person.  We did have  a few wonderful photos that were taken over 15 years ago by photographers of a French magazine for a feature article on a Queen competition in Otavalo (Maria Virginia doesn't remember which mag and doesn't have a copy of the mag-- only the photos.) Here's one of the photos, which was used in an Otavalo newspaper article from years ago:

Maria Virginia envisioned a book cover that somehow incorporated the gorgeous Andean landscape-- she saw the cover as vibrant and colorful. (Earlier on, she'd come up with the title A Dream in the Andes-- Un Sueno en los Andes-- which we decided to change at a later stage).

After getting the contract and turning in our final revision, we were really eager to see what Delacorte came up with... (Typically, with my book cover process, the design dept comes up with something and then sends it to my editor, who sends it to me, for my feedback.  They also show the cover idea to the sales team and other editors in-house to get their opinions. Different publishing houses seem to have varying degrees of author input in the cover design.)

Anyway, flashback to before we even got the contract: A few years ago, Maria Virginia was in town, and about to return to Ecuador in a couple days.  As a last-minute favor, our friend Ken Burgess (photographer by hobby at the time) set up a few lights and a white drape in his living room and took a bunch of shots that we intended to use as future author photos (for promotional purposes-- back flap of the book kind of pics)...  *if* we ever got a contract for the book, of course (little did we know we had many more revisions ahead of us!)

Here's one I really like:

Isn't she radiant?! Her secret to youthful skin is taking only cold showers, which I'm way too wimpy to do (thus the lines that fan out from the corners of my eyes... too many steaming hot showers)! 

So here's the photo that I almost didn't send our editor because it didn't look very author-photo-ey... I decided to add it at the last minute because I loved how introspective Maria Virginia looked.

It was a complete surprise to us when our editor emailed us this cover soon after:

They touched up her face just a bit-- "powdered" her skin and plumped up her cheek to make her look more like a teen than a 30-something woman.   She felt a little shy at first at the idea of having her photo on the cover-- she hesitantly asked if I was sure people would want to buy the book with her face on it.  I assured her, yes!

Later, my editor mentioned that the design dept had originally planned on having an original painting (which they'd commissioned) on the cover.  When the artist completed it, my editor and her colleagues felt that although it was very beautiful, it was unfortunately too young-looking for The Queen of Water, which is geared toward older young adults and adults. (Unfortunately, I don't have permission to post the photo of that cover here- sorry!)

I agreed that the initial cover concept looked younger than the intended audience.  Also, the girl's outfit didn't reflect Maria Virginia's indigenous Otavalena Quichua clothing, which is important in the story, since it relates to her identity issues. We would've wanted to be sure that the girl's clothing on the cover accurately represented the culturally-specific clothing that Maria Virginia and other Otavalena Quichua women wear-- solid white blouse with wide lace ruffle around the neck and forearms of the blouse, a ring of flowered embroidery below the lace of the neck, gold bead necklaces and coral-colored bead bracelets.  If you go to Otavalo, you'll see that although there are slight variations on the smaller details, that women stick very closely to the basic clothing that you see Maria Virginia wearing here:

See how the colors of the embroidered flowers, the faja (waist wrap) color, and the lace texture/pattern vary, but the other elements are basically the same? (Oh, and the anaco (wrap-around skirt) color can vary-- either dark blue or black).  Women often add a fachalina-- a cream or black wool wrap-- knotted over their shoulder and/or folded on their head.

                     Me, Maria Virginia, and Alex (*before* the anaco unraveled!)

As a sidenote, Maria Virginia dressed me up in an outfit like this for a night on the town in Otavalo (an outing which ended with my anaco accidentally unraveled, pooled at my feet, as I stood in my underwear in a restaurant... not my best moment!) Extreme embarrassment aside, it was actually a really interesting "research" experience-- it helped me feel more "inside" Maria Virginia's body as we wrote the scenes involving anacos. You can read about it here!

Laura  * P.S.  I also want to add that the reason for featuring my name first was a purely practical one-- a decision that Maria Virginia and I made together after thorough discussions.  We felt that since there were already many English-speaking readers who were familiar with my name, that it would be simplest to put my name first. That way, in bookstores and libraries, the book would be alphabetized near my other books, and my reader base would be alerted to the book release.  Maria Virginia's goal (which I share) has always been to have our book reach as many readers as possible, and we agreed that having my name first would facilitate this.  We're hoping that this book will be translated to Spanish and available in Latin America (where there's little, if any, name recognition of me and my books at this point). If the translation happens, we'll push to have Maria Virginia's name first on the cover of a Latin American edition. I just wanted to clear that up, since I honestly feel weird about having my name first when it's a story that she actually lived through.  Okay, thanks for reading!

G'night again!


*Starred* Kirkus review for THE QUEEN OF WATER!

Hey guys,

So, after seven years (I started this book in 2004!), The Queen of Water will soon become a reality.... on March 8th, just over a month away!  Maria Virginia (my co-author) and I have been doing lots of happy-dancing (her in Ecuador, me here in Colorado)... not to mention LOTS of happy squealing over the phone...  The reviews have been lovely, lovely, lovely!  This book is very special to me for so many reasons (which I'm going to write about and add to my website soon).  For now I'll just say that Maria Virginia and I are incredibly grateful that the story feels special to readers, too.

Here's an excerpt of the ***starred*** review from Kirkus Reviews, which calls the book "riveting.":

"Bright spots of humor and warmth are woven throughout, and readers will agonize for Virginia while seething at her tormentors. The complexities of class and ethnicity within Ecuadorian society are explained seamlessly within the context of the first-person narrative, and a glossary and pronunciation guide further help to plunge readers into the novel's world.  By turns heartbreaking, infuriating and ultimately inspiring. (Fiction. 13 & up)"

Thank you thank you thank you!!!  (You can read the whole review here.)

And there's more!  VOYA calls the book "a richly described coming-of-age story set in a culture both foreign and familiar... by turns, shocking and funny."

I'm so glad these reviews mention the humor... I really love this aspect of Maria Virginia's story, too.  She was an incredibly spunky girl (and still is!), and she found all kinds of creative and funny ways to resist her oppressors.  And although she went through very rough times, she wasn't a victim, not at all... her girlhood was indeed inspiring.

In case you're curious what I've been up to since I handed in my manuscript a couple weeks ago... I've been doing all the fun, relaxing things that I put on hold during that final push to finish: long walks by the river, NIA dancing and yoga (very helpful, since those long hours in front of the computer wreaked havoc on my neck and shoulders), tea parties with my Lil Dude, reading books, watching movies with girlfriends (saw I Love You Phillip Morris (weird and funny) on Friday and plan to see The King's Speech, Black Swan, and Blue Valentine soon).  And, the ultimate in fun-creative-inspiring entertainment... went to the Cirque du Soleil show "Allegria"! Wow, wow, wow! Breath-taking and so worth the money (er, pretty pricey).

If you've read The Ruby Notebook, you know I love this stuff... fire dancing...

 whimsical acrobatics...

and clowns, of course...

Lil Dude was enamored of this "beautiful lady" (singer)... and insisted that we try to talk with her after the show (no go)...

 Okay, now to work on updating the website... Thanks for reading!


Maria Virginia, Mannequin Belly Buttons, and Ruby Reviews...

Hello all!

Just got back from an outing to our very lame local mall (featured on deadmalls.com) with Lil Dude this rainy afternoon.  He's fascinated by mannequins, and was on a mission to look under each one's shirt to confirm that they each had a belly button.  (All of them did, although many were headless.)  He's into belly buttons.  The other day, out of the blue, he said in a very serious voice, "Mommy, all mammals have belly buttons.  If it has a belly button, it's a mammal."

So, other fun stuff... I had a gathering at my house a few days ago in honor of Maria Virginia Farinango, my co-author for The Queen of Water (March 2011).  She's in town now, but will return to Ecuador soon... we wanted to have a little shin dig to show off the gorgeous review copy of Queen and thank everyone who gave us revision help or general moral support!

Here's Maria V with Maria Luisa (Swiss woman who plays Andean music!) and Julie (writer, bilingual educator, and good friend).  Maria is posed with dirty dishes... it's kind of a running joke that she's not allowed to do any cleaning up at my house, but then she always sneaks in the kitchen and does it while I'm blabbing away and drinking wine... (I always wait till the next day (or day after that or after that) to do dishes.)

Maria and the very sweet Flora, who's from Bolivia-- another gorgeous Andean country...

Sarah, from my writing group, with new baby and cute new haircut! She helped with Queen revisions over the past five or so years!

To the left of Sarah is Michelle-- a fourth grade teacher at bilingual school in our neighborhood-- she helped with Queen revisions during our Spanish-speaking focus group.

To the left of Michelle is Margaret-- a friend of Maria's who does amazing international community development volunteer work (with Afghan women and rug-making)

Michelle with one of the adorable three year old boys in attendance (my lil dude was the other one!)  At one point during the party, noticing that his mom, Carrie's lap was occupied (with his baby sister), he made a general request to adults nearby.: "Can I sit in someone's lap please?"  Awww....

 And here's his mom, Carrie, who is in my writing group, and like Sarah, has seen many drafts of The Queen of Water.  (I think she's the one, who at one point during the process of choosing a title for this book, suggested "Maria and the Potatoes", since Maria talked a lot about potatoes in one draft of the book. Hehehe...)  To the right of Carrie is Holly, holding Sarah's baby (I know, babies galore!) Holly is an educator, fluent in Spanish, and was part of our Spanish focus group.

There's MaryLou in the middle... another amazing woman who does lots of international volunteer work. She's involved with the Xucaneb Fund to enable secondary education in a Guatemalan village, a non-profit where I donated 5% of my royalties last year.

Ian (hubbie, with new haircut) and Paul, another bilingual educator who helped us in the Spanish focus group for Queen. Great guy!

As usual, I'll refrain from posting a pic of Lil Dude, but trust me, with every passing day, his curly hair grows wilder and he grows cuter!

On a different note, here's a little blurb from School Library Journal's nice review of The Ruby Notebook (in their October issue):

"With a hint of mystery, a bit of romance, a touch of travel, and some coming-of-age, this book covers a lot of ground without ever feeling scattered or haphazard. Resau’s robust descriptions give readers a good picture of France and its people... Anyone who enjoys detailed settings and thoughtful narratives will be rewarded with this story." -- SLJ

The Fort Collins Coloradoan also had a lovely review of Ruby today:

"Curl up with this and you'll be sorry when it ends. Resau's easy, heartwarming literary style inserts the reader into the focal setting of the village plaza, making the characters Zeeta hangs out with such as the pigeon man and the elderly binocular lady genuine parts of the scene.  Zeeta juggles a mysterious admirer with her boyfriend and becomes involved in a search for legendary spring waters that offer a coming of age and give Zeeta life lessons on love in all its forms. Highly recommended." – Nancy Hansford 

Thanks for reading!