Writer’s Retreat

Saw this on Facebook today and had to share. Is it sad that the spots I relate to most in this are the First Draft Furnace and the Desperation Drop?

I’m editing right now, so maybe that’s just where I am in the process …

Harper Lee To Publish To Kill a Mockingbird Sequal


That is the reaction I had when I saw a fellow bibliophile post the news on Facebook.

“I have an announcement,” I said at dinner that night. I was so excited, I felt like I might burst. My children put down their forks and gazed at me with anticipation. “Harper Lee is finally publishing a second novel.”

The looks I got at that point ranged from annoyed to exasperated.

The significance of this news is lost on 5-and-8-year-old boys.

So I texted a friend to see if she’d heard. Lee is her favorite novelist and To Kill a Mockingbird sits in a prominent position in her home library. Below is a pic I took of her library when I was visiting this past October. She and her partner do not have children and, therefore, wake up way later than I do. So every time I visit, I make myself some coffee, snuggle into the chaise in their library and read the intro to Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning. It’s become a valued tradition. So last time I was there, I photographed the moment. See Lee’s book on display in the bottom right corner?

She, at least, shared in my excitement, as I’m sure you will.

It’s – in my opinion – the biggest literary announcement of the decade.

If you’d like to get in on this little bit of history, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon.com.

Walmart turned Library

In McAllen, TX, an old abandoned Walmart store has been turned into a HUGE library. With bonus space for a farmer’s market.

I can’t imagine anything more wonderful.

walmart 1

walmart farmers market 6

See the story here.

Upgrading my book cover

As I get closer to the end of my second novel, I am looking for ways to tie it to my first.

The characters are not the same, but both books place young adults in natural disaster situations, to see how they fare. Character development ensues.

I have some ideas about how I want the book covers to fit together, but right now I’m just toying with the creative process. (I don’t even have a release date yet for Book Dos [or, clearly, a title], so this idea is infantile.)

Below are several book covers I enjoy, and some that invoke the same feeling I’d like to inspire with my own.

Disclosure: Not all of these books are some I’d recommend. Some I haven’t even read. These are solely for visual pleasure.

Both of these are simplistic, yet convey powerful images:

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)

These are part of the same series, and I love how they tie into each other:

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Torment (Fallen, #2)

Here’s another example of two books in a series playing off each other. I love the black and white, and the striking use of color to contrast:

The Dark Divine (The Dark Divine, #1)The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine, #2)

I also enjoy the similarity of these:

So, I’m looking for simplicity and drama.  In a branding format.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?




Free books at the airport!!

An article today over at goodreader.comdig-lib-1 304xx640-960-40-0 announced San Antonio International Airport has become the first to offer travelers access to free digital books.

Here’s a tidbit:

If you are passing through the San Antonio International Airport you can now borrow eBooks for free. Two Digital Library kiosks have been installed by the Friends of the San Antonio Public Library at a cost of $26,000.

The San Antonio Public Library has introduced a new innovative new feature into the kiosks that will allow out-of-town travelers to get a temporary library SAPL card that they can use right in the airport. The cards are good for 24 hours and have a limit of three items that can be checked out for seven days.

What an awesome way to attract travelers to the ebook market. And to use a library card!

Good show, San Antonio. Good show.

Characters your girls (and boys) should know

Molly from Molly Makes Do created a great list of characters every young girl should get to know. I love the list, so I’m linking to it, but I have  few comments before I do.

First, as a mom of boys (and only boys), I think it’s not only girls who will benefit from the strong female leads these books represent. Let’s introduce our boys to heroines, and give them examples of emotional and mental strength from female characters.

Second, my favorite childhood heroine is missing from the list, so I’d like to add:

31. Karana, from Island of the Blue Dolphins, the ultimate tale of survival.

What I love about Molly’s list is she includes Anne Elliot from Persuasion, my favorite book of all time, a work often overlooked in the shadow of Austen’s more popular Pride and Prejudice.  

Click on the pic below for the link and tell me, who would you add to this list?


Word Crimes

If you are a word nerd, like me, you will appreciate this video, shared with me by an editor and fellow nerd.



Camping in the wake of a Wildfire

The wildfires that raged across central Texas in 2011 were a core plot theme in my 2012 novel Wildfire.

Recently, we camped with friends in Bastrop State Park, where the lingering effects of the devastation are still hauntingly apparent, even three years later.

Fallen trees are scattered about the landscape, and the remaining survivors reach upward, their spindly, charred bodies a thin, bare skeleton of their former selves.

It was a sad and beautiful hike, as vegetation persists, pushing up around the remains of the fallen victims.

A sign at the front of the campground warned us to “Beware of Falling Trees.” And we did witness one falling, right across the riverbed from our campsite. It was a miserable cracking sound, followed by a crash to the water below.

I love the sky in this one (no filter, I’m not that fancy):

Nature is busy repairing itself here. And small slices have been taken from some of the trees, which I assume is the Forest Service’s method of determining which trees live on against the ruin and which are beyond salvation.

In the pic below, you can see a tree on the right, where foliage springs out at the very top, a desperate attempt to live on, despite the scorched trunk below.

My oldest son’s best buddy came with us, and he mused there must be an evil wizard who lives in this forest. And it does appear to be the kind of forest an evil wizard would choose to live in.

Just two dudes, talkin’ ’bout wizards:

At one point on the trail, it seemed as if someone had set up an obstacle course (runoff deterrent?) (evil wizard?):

Among the fun, s’mores and campfire stories, this trip was a reminder of the lasting effects of the wildfire. And a comforting assurance that nature does endure.

Teen Librarian Toolbox’s open letter to the media

I’m linking to this great article written by a YA Librarian.

It is brilliant. And wonderful. And brilliant.

The post is called “Dear Media, Let me help you write that article on YA literature”.

Read it.

The Iconic Maya Angelou

If you are a regular reader, you know how I feel about Maya Angelou.

I am consistently in awe of her spirit, of her ability to shape words – and overtly simple concepts – into something beautiful and profound.

I have often looked to her wisdom to comfort my soul.

And I’ve often wondered how such a  mind worked on a daily basis.  Obviously, Angelou had pain in her life. But instead of lying back on that pain, she dug her heels into it; she used it to raise her head higher, to pull her shoulders back.

I can’t imagine what the world would be without the passion and grace of Angelou’s words – certainly a dimmer one. I’ve often thought of her words as a gift. And as we mourn her death, I’d like to share some of those words with you.

Because, when such a brilliant human being dies, it is sad. Of course it is.

But it is also a time to celebrate the gifts she gave us, to reflect on the deep and permanent mark she left on this planet.

I mentioned the simplicity of the concepts Angelou often spoke about.  And I don’t mean that as a discredit. What is so amazing about the best writers is their ability to speak to something we all are familiar with, but to shine a light on it that we otherwise would not have seen.

It’s their ability to give depth to something the rest of us see in one dimension that makes them memorable.

Maya Angelou often spoke out against something as simple as complaining, and she spoke of love as a liberating vessel:

One of my favorite lines from the video below is, “take a minute, feel some sorrow, for the folks who thought tomorrow was a place that they could call upon the phone.”

Simple, right? But giving a shade of depth to the single dimension:

If you haven’t seen the Iconoclasts episode she did with Dave Chappell, you must. It’s brilliant. Her humble, honest soul was incredible. Here’s the first part of the episode:

And of course, my very favorite. I’ve linked to it before, but here it is again:

Goodbye, Maya Angelou. And thank you.





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