Sunday, December 05, 2010

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles

Christmas music is playing, it's cold and gray outside, and I am untangling Christmas lights. But my heart is still in Hawaii. So hard to believe a week ago today, I was standing barefoot in the sand on Wailea Beach in Maui, surveying a three-foot tall sand castle just completed by my grandkids Josh and Amanda and their Daddy. Their absolute delight when Daddy discovered a live crab in the sand as we dug, makes me smile just thinking about it.

There's something about discovering a new place with a four and a six-year-old that brings life into full and living color. One sunny morning during our stay, we took a boat cruise out to snorkel with the Honu, the giant sea turtles. I will never forget the yelp of pure joy when almost 6 year-old Amanda Rose came nose-to-nose with a turtle bigger than herself. She pulled her head out of the water, and couldn't stop giggling with sheer delight. She quickly put her face back in and she and I enjoyed several mystical minutes as we floated serenely along next to Honu, who did not seem to have read the snorkeling rules about no physical contact between humans and sea life. Honu very much wanted to be friends with Amanda and me, but we did keep a few inches between us for the most part.

It was an experience I won't forget, one of many during those joyful 12 days in Hawaii.

I hold these memories in my heart, treasures to journal, to relive again and again as I write my stories for children.

This is one of the great delights of writing; every experience can be relived and shared with others.

And now I'll go back to untangling lights and stringing them on every bush and tree I can reach. Time to leave Hawaii, at least for awhile, and begin to live into the joys of Christmas.

May you all have the joy of discovering Honu with an astounded grandchild--or stringing brightly colored Christmas lights for others to see, and to smile.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tell Me A Secret

We all love secrets, right? The excitement of having a good secret, wanting to share it with someone we trust--and the fun of discovering a secret as well.

Well now the Secret is out, and it's Holly Cupala's wonderful new book, TELL ME A SECRET. To find out all about it, take a look at this amazing trailer:

I have the joy and honor of being in Holly's writing group, the Diviners, and smile as I think of all the little secrets from this amazing book that I got to learn along the way, as Holly shared chapters with us in writing group.

Now the Secret goes out to the world! I can hardly wait for all of you to join me in acclaiming Holly, as you meet and come to love Rand in this wonderful new book.

Once you read the book, you won't be able to resist sharing the Secret.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gnomes in the Garden

One week ago Saturday, I stepped into a Story Garden. Immediately, like magic, roots grew down into the ground, connecting me to a rich substrata of writers, editors, agents, all with amazing stories to tell. As I wandered the Story Garden (known to some as the SCBWI Western Washington Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference) flowers of every sort shot up out of the ground at my very feet. I watched with amazement as one particularly bright colored blossom (Genus Lainius taylorus, fuschia petals, quite lovely) began to speak. Wondrous tales of a circus troupe within her very being, struggling to emerge, wove a spell around all of us in the Story Garden, prompting great excitement at the possibilities for each of us, ready to bring forth our own fruit.

As the day wore on, and we were watered, fertilized and shone upon by Master Gardeners Jay Asher, Peter Brown, Edward Necalsulmer IV, Jordan Brown, Lisa Graff, Paul Rodeen, Michael Bourret, Sara Crowe, and so many others--voila! We bore fruit. Many of us scurried to secret corners, to quickly capture those first buds of a new story, the tentative tendrils of a plot twist.

No garden is quite complete without a Garden Gnome, and by early afternoon, our very own gnome appeared (see above), cheering us on, giving bits of writing advice to each of us who captured him before he disappeared back into his own hidden garden, once again to write.

And now each of us have returned to our own secret gardens, treasuring all we brought back from that magical weekend, seeding our own stories to bloom in due time.

Watch our gardens grow!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I received a special picture in the mail yesterday.
Entitled The Cat, it was drawn by my five-year-old grandson Weston, who lives in Santa Fe.

Anything that Weston draws is special.
But this picture has particular significance. Weston created this picture in response to his Daddy, who has already raised over $7000 for DWB (Doctors Without Borders) to help the people of Haiti. Weston's dad, Eric Keller, mobilized many of the photographic artists he works with, each of whom contributed one of their photographs for a fundraiser for this cause that has torn all our hearts asunder.

When Weston saw his Daddy hard at work on the exhibit, he asked if he could do a picture too. He understood that many people were hurting, and wanted to help. My heart is so touched by my dear Weston, as well as his Dad. Of course, I was honored and delighted to have first opportunity to purchase this one-of-a-kind artistic work.

I encourage you all to look at the many prints offered in this amazing exhibition and fundraiser.
You may find something wonderful to bless your home or place of business, and at the same time help the people of Haiti.

I will smile each time I look at The Cat, framed here in my writing office, and rejoice that so many care enough to reach out in times of need, including one very special five year-old grandson.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mirror Images

Okay, so I've promised to give some snapshots, some scenes, from the Amazing Family Reunion. One of the best echoes in my mind from that event is the moment my two adult sons, David and Michael, got their first look at each other after two years apart. In that two years, lots of things have happened. Both became husbands and dads in that two year span, and I had the great joy of holding both one year-old Cecilia, and (then) one month-old Anika Faith.

But one of the most startling moments for me came afterwards, looking at the pictures, seeing things I had not seen before. In one amazing picture (take a look!) I am holding Ceci, and my two sons are looking across us at each other, sharing a brotherly memory.

They are mirror images in this picture, and remind me so much of their dear Dad.

But, being a writer, I couldn't help but think what a powerful set-up this is for story, how mirror images in our stories can tell so much. I'm thinking of this today, as I've just done the final (yes, really it is) rewrite of my last chapter for FINDING NONNA.

I am delighting in the wonderful mirror scene I see reflecting the first chapter. I tell my students often that a well-written first chapter is like an arrow pointing to a mirror chapter at the end. It's fun to see it working here in my latest book--Ellie, rescuing the injured snow goose in the first chapter, and at the end, after a hard journey of spirit, rescuing in a totally different way. Ellie is changed, but the elements of chapter one are present in this final chapter, creating for me (and hopefully for the reader) a real Aha! moment.

Like the Aha! I experienced looking at this picture of my two sons, seeing reflected in them my husband, and their love for each other, and the blessing they each have in their new families.

Mirror images of joy.