Monday, February 28, 2011

To find the words, first you must find the time.

Clementine, yesterday: ear infection from a week and a half ago came roaring back, along with a 104.4 fever, a mysterious swollen eye, and, the cherry on the cake of her day: molars coming in. Great timing, molars! Poor sweet Pie was miserable, and as you know, miserable baby = miserable parents. It's just so hard, being so powerless beyond a little bottle of children's Tylenol and lots of kisses and cuddles. Anyway, another much-needed Sunday family day fell by the wayside. 

She's on the mend now, after a trip to urgent care (why does this have to happen on the weekend??) but it's just one of those things that kicks writing to the wayside. I need to seize the minutes and go and write NOW while she's napping, but I just wanted to pop in here and say hi.

I am writing every morning (except Sundays, usually for reasons of fun, not misery), and the new book (the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone) grows steadily. I am deeply excited about this story. I am also deeply excited that it looks like VERY SOON I will be able to share the ARC cover and copy for Daughter of Smoke and Bone with you. Yay! At last! It's been quite a process, and I *think* I'll be able to share a little of that process, though I have not been directly involved in it. Little, Brown has been great about keeping me posted on the daily developments. It's a nail-biting thing for an author, waiting for their cover! Waiting to see the public face of the thing they have toiled at for so long -- it's weird that we have nothing to do with it, but also, generally right. Most authors have no expertise in design or marketing, so we just sit on our hands and mumble and fret and stress our editors out with our worries :-)

There's a lot going on right now, from behind-the-scenes book stuff to life stuff, but it is critical that the butt goes in the chair every day (sick baby being the exception to that, obviously) and that the new book continues to grow. That is my job #1 as a writer -- as Max* would say, "A writer must write! -- and it gets a bit harder during pre-publication with all the excitement, but one must focus. FOCUS, I say! (to myself)

For me, the process of writing a novel can be boiled down to: writing and writing until I find the story, and writing and writing until I find the right words to tell the story with. It's twofold. The narrative/plot/storytelling is one major component, and the words/prose are the other. Between the two lies the emotional heart, the center, the axis. That's the thing that makes you care about it (or not), and it's dependent on both the storytelling and the particular words that tell the story. I want to get into that in more detail, and I will, but not now. Right now I need to be writing and writing and hopefully finding!

I hope you all are well! Happy Monday!

Meanwhile, a happier Pie over the weekend, when Kira at A Children's Place (our great local indie children's bookstore) let her "help" stock stuffed animals:

photo by Kira Porton

photo by Kira Porton

photo by Kira Porton

(You might be thinking from the book selection behind C that those don't look so "childrensy" but that's the small, well-curated parents' section, which I think is a great idea :-)

*Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman, my all-time-favorite picture book!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Essaouira Strolls

Out for a stroll on the old sea wall in Essaouira.

The old Portuguese cannons, from the days when this was Mogador. 
Isn't that a sinister name? Sounds straight out of Tolkien. 

And in the main square:

And the harbor.

Around town.

And the beach!

(Clementine's first-ever opportunity to swim in the sea, and she loved it!)

A very beautiful, colorful, and relaxing town. We loved it!
(More of Essaoira to come. But right now I'm falling asleep. Good night!)

For the blue doors of Essaouira, click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowy Day

Pretty pale world outside.

Pretty and pale and sad. A friend died yesterday. Author LK Madigan. Lisa. I didn't know her as well as I wish I had, but she was the first local YA author I met in person. We now have a wonderful community, but at the time many of us didn't know each other, and I can't even recall how Lisa and I got in touch initially. Blogs, probably. We met up for cake, and she was just so fun and gracious and interesting and interested and sweet and real. One of those people you go away from each time saying to whoever is at hand, "I just really like Lisa."

I just liked her so much. 

And the rest of our local YA community too: Lisa Schroeder and April Henry, both of whom were very close to Lisa; Suzanne Young, Christine Fletcher, Bridget Zinn, Emily Whitman, Sara Ryan. There are some others who have come into the fold in the past year, but I have had to miss most of our gatherings, so I don't know them well. And that's the thing: why did I miss those gatherings? I might have spent more time with Lisa, and with these other wonderful women whose company feeds my soul. 

My heart goes out to Lisa's family. I want to punch the universe, a little. Why can't the a-holes get cancer instead? Last night I set aside the book I was reading and picked up Lisa's to reread: The Mermaid's Mirror and Morris Award-winner Flash Burnout. It's nice to hear her voice through her writing, at least, and to know that she had achieved a dream, and lived a life that she loved.

Goodbye, Lisa. You are missed.

If you would like to contribute to Lisa's son's trust, you may send a check here, made payable to Nathan Wolfson Trust:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 2185
Portland, OR  97204
Once a check is received, an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the donor.

(Thank you.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Houses

Look: a dollhouse for Clementine!

No, really. It is for Clementine. Really.


Surely you aren't suggesting that I would buy a dollhouse for myself. 
That is a heavy charge, my friend. And besides, Jim ordered it.

For Clementine.

What's that you say?

Did Clementine put pictures on the wall, and rugs on the floor? Don't be silly. She's 18 months old.
I mean, really. I did that. For her. Not for my own enjoyment. I didn't enjoy it in the least.

And after Clementine was asleep, I did not put all the clothes back on the elephants (after a certain tot stripped them all and left them in a naked elephant heap) and arrange them in the living room. 
Oh. Wait. Actually I did do that. But I didn't enjoy it. 


And I most certainly did not set up this strange tableau.

Barbapapa serenading Barbamama on the toilet? That's just weird.

And this? Danger! Who put that teeny infant elephanty all alone on the top bunk?

It's making me nervous just looking at her!

Okay. Okay. You got me. I might have played with the dollhouse a little bit.

But I was just playing. I wasn't sublimating my nesting impulses in this tiny, tidy environment as a result of a certain other house looking like this:

And this:

And this:

This ...

... having morphed into this ...

And this ...

to (ulp) this ...


If only it were as easy as this ...

Ha ha!

Seriously, though, progress on the house is amazing and terribly exciting (with the first and hopefully last infuriating DIY mishap under our belts), and as for the dollhouse, it is crazy-cute, and Clementine is having a blast with it. It's from Magic Cabin, and that elephant family is by Calico Critters, which I am IN LOVE with. Have you seen what they have? My goodness! I want it all! Ahem. For Clementine, I mean. Of course.

I have a beautiful dollhouse my dad built for me when I was eleven -- it's in the garage in need of renovation, a bit more like the *real* house above, ha ha. I also have boxes of great stuff for it, but there's lots of little pieces and fragile bits, and it will have to wait till the Pie is a bit older. And I am so going to paint it pale pink. Its future is guaranteed pink. But first: there are ample *real* walls to paint. Oh my yes. And paint. And paint. And paint. Look at that pea green and shocking yellow above! Enough said.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A City of Blue Doors

After the earth-toned palette of southern Morocco,
getting to this city of blue doors was like . . . a breath of sea air.

Where? It's Essaouira, a few hours from Marrakesh, on the Atlantic.

Ah, beautiful, relaxing Essaouira. Sunshine and seafood. More next time :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Portland Neighborhood Ramble: Hawthorne edition

For our Sunday "play day" today, we got out to Hawthorne Street, in Southeast Portland, for some meandering. Hawthorne is one of the prime "destination" streets in the city, known for its alternative vibe, lots of used clothing stores and vinyl, plenty of pubs and cafes and funky boutiques. 

The "waffle window" was hoppin'.

We entertained thoughts of lunch there (have never been, but want to!)
but it was cold out for alfresco dining.

We paused at the door of Chez Machin . . .

But ended up at the Bagdad.

The Bagdad Theater and Pub is a McMenamin's place, which means something to all Portlanders. The McMenamins are a pair of brothers who buy cool old properties and fix them up into pubs and hotels and second-run movie houses, etc. They are some serious awesome. One of their places is a turn-of-the-century elementary school turned pub complex with the movie theater in the old auditorium, full of comfy sofas; there are bars in the detention room, the honors room, and the boiler room! Also, a soaking pool. The classrooms are B&B rooms, chalk boards still in them. Another is the old county poor farm, out by the Columbia River Gorge, and that's a whole post in itself. And there are many more cool McMenamin's, like the Crystal Ballroom, a live music venue with possibly the only "floating dance floor" (sprung floor) left in the US. The Bagdad is a 1927 movie palace, and like all McMenamin's properties, it's all decorated with cool salvaged lighting, old furniture, and murals by local artists.

Movies are only a couple of bucks, and you can bring your pizza and beer right in with you. Portland is a great city for movie-going, because of all the quirky arthouse and second-run theaters, most of which involve pizza and beer! But we didn't see a movie today, just ate in the pub, which is so cute. There's also a completely awesome bar behind the movie screen, with pool tables and murals and a ceiling seven stories high!!!

Clementine enjoyed lunch. Ha ha. 

Actually, she did. She was awakened by the smell of pizza!

From our table, we saw this wizz by, a common sight here: a tall bicycle. 
Portland is a major bike city, and lots of people build their own.

After lunch, strolling and browsing.

Love this local muralist, Jesse Reno (my blog photo above is in front of one of his pieces;
he has a few on Hawthorne):

We ran into an acquaintance, the poet Matthew Dickman. Matthew and his identical twin brother Michael Dickman are both amazing poets, multiple fellowship winners, published in many cool and prestigious places. We hadn't seen either of them in a while, and catching sight of . . . well, one of them . . . we didn't know if it was Matthew or Michael, so we called out "Matthew Michael!" and it was Matthew :-)

Check out his pin.

Probably they get tired of being identified with this, but Matthew and Michael have an interesting thing on their CVs. They are the twins from the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. You may remember, they spent the whole movie in a pool of water with Samantha Morton. How cool is that? But seriously, they are both amazingly talented poets. Check them out.

A favorite gift/card store, Presents of Mind:

Pretty things!

Hawthorne is really fun. I left out a lot, such as that there is a Powell's Books, and a few doors down from it, a Powell's Books devoted just to cooking and gardening books. Also our [tied for] favorite pizza and our favorite Indian food are on Hawthorne, though neither are in this central stretch. This is one of the best places in Portland to wile away some hours shopping, eating, drinking coffee, and people watching.

Did I mention we came *this close* to ordering deep-fried cookie dough for dessert? The important thing is not that we considered it, but that we resisted :-)

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