Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meditating with Poetry

I find poetry soothing. Especially poetry that has been around a long, long time. There is something about reading words written long ago that have stood the test of time that I find comforting. I was sharing these thoughts with a writing friend the other day, telling her how sometimes I'll take a little break and pull a poetry book off my bookshelf and fill myself with the beautiful words for a few minutes. She said, "It's like meditating with poetry."

Yes. That's exactly what it is.

If you'd like to add some poetry meditation into your day, I highly recommend it. Here is one, from one of my favorite poets, Sarah Teasdale, to get you started. Her work is in the public domain.

by Sarah Teasdale

Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
Left me nothing lovely or whole --
Yes I have wrested a gift from you,
Day that dies in dusky blue:

For suddenly over the factories
I saw a moon in the cloudy seas --
a wisp of beauty all alone
In a world as hard and gray as stone --
Oh who could be bitter and want to die
When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Author event - Saturday, November 26th

Just want to let Portland/Vancouver people know I am doing an author event this coming Saturday at Vintage Books in Vancouver, Washington.
From their website:

2 pm – 3:30pm Come Mingle with Popular Children's/Middle Grade/Young Adult Authors!
  • Heidi Schulz (Hook's Revenge, The Pirate Code & Giraffe's Ruin Everything)
  • Laurel Gale (Dead Boy)
  • Lisa Schroeder (It's Raining CupcakesAll We Have is NowMy Secret Guide to ParisThe Girl in the TowerSealed with a Secret The Day Before)
They will be chatting with customers, signing books, & answering questions!

Address: 6613 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA 

Ready or not, the holidays are here!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lucky, lucky me

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of Skyping with a group of students who are in an English as a Second Language class at a middle school in North Carolina. Their teacher likes to use I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME with his students because he's found the way the verse is written, with lots of white space and not a lot of flowery language, works well for them and where they are at with their reading skills. It was so great to talk to these students and answer their thoughtful questions.

When I'm writing a book, I never know how it will be received or who, if anyone, will end up reading it. I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME has had a reach far greater than I ever imagined.

I'm so honored to have written something these students read and then discussed with each other in class. Even more than that, I'm honored to have met and talked with them. Kids often think that they are the lucky ones when they get to meet an author, but I consider myself even luckier every time I get to meet or talk with one or more of them. They wow me. They inspire me. And they fill me with hope.

Friday, November 11, 2016

On empathy

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." ~ Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Getting past the fear to begin

In April I went to a retreat outside of Austin, Texas, in the lush, rolling hills. I'd been toying with a book idea for a while, an idea that would be different from anything I'd ever written. I was so afraid to begin. I think it's one of the hardest things for a writer - going from idea to story and putting words on paper.

Sometimes the idea seems too good to be true, and we're afraid we'll ruin it.

Sometimes the idea is too vague and we worry it will fizzle out once we start writing.
Sometimes the idea feels bigger than we are, and we're not sure we have what it takes to write it.

But as I sat in a quiet, sunny spot with my journal, the trees whispering encouragement, I realized I was in exactly the right place to start this story that scared me so much. I had time and space and room to breathe. I could immerse myself in those early chapters and see what might come of them. I could let the characters lead me where they wanted to go and wherever it was, it would be okay because that is what a writing retreat is for: to write and to explore.

And so I wrote. I wrote 25 pages or so, and then I came home and had to put it away for a while but over the summer, I kept working and working. I had hoped I'd have a draft by September, but that didn't happen. So I wrote in September. And I wrote in October. And finally, a couple of weeks ago, I finished the draft.

I'm revising now, reading over printed out pages, marking them up, trying to figure out what's missing, what doesn't ring quite true, and on and on. I don't know if or when it will sell, although I hope it does someday. What I do know is that after I read a scene today, it brought tears to my eyes. And then, I thought back to those magical trees, and I'm just so glad I took that first scary step and started writing.

We don't always get to write in such a gorgeous spot, I know. Although I think the universe is happy to give out words of encouragement wherever we are, if we just take a moment and listen for them. I wish they were as loud as the words of doubt always seem to be, but they're not. So get quiet and listen, and remember, there can be no ending unless there is a beginning.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cover for Keys to the City

A box of Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) arrived on my doorstep yesterday so I think it's time to share my May, 2017 cover.

It's my third novel about girls having fun adventures around big cities, and this time you can see it takes place in the wonderful New York City! I'm really happy with how this story turned out. There were a lot of "magical moments" while writing this book -- that is, connections that came together very organically as I wrote. I love when that happens!!

Here is the adorable cover:

Brief description: Lindy can't believe she has homework this summer -- to find her "true passion." Does curling up with a good book count? Probably not. Luckily, Lindy has the help of a new friend, a happy dog, and a special journal as she hits the streets of New York City to unlock her secret talents.

Let me answer some questions you may have:

What's the dog's name and does anything happen to him?
The dog's name is Odie and he is alive and well the entire novel, I promise!

Did you include NYC pizza in this book?
Um, pizza is basically my middle name alongside cupcakes and pie, so yes, of course I put pizza in the book!

Anything else you can tell us?
Nora from My Secret Guide to Paris is in the book! Here's an except featuring a short conversation between Nora and Lindy:

"Okay, here are the things I know for sure I'm good at. Eating doughnuts. Choosing just the right emoji for a text. And finding the perfect book to check out at the library. Do you think any of those will work for my project?"

Nora laughed. "Emojis? Really?"

"Hey, it's not as easy as it seems. Pick the wrong face and you might offend someone."

So what do you think of the cover? Maybe we need to see the others to compare.

So excited to have a cute little trilogy now. Thanks for letting me share!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A list of happy just because

Is it November 9th yet?

About once a day I think to myself, I should just delete my social media accounts. It feels like everyone is angry, all the time, and I know there's a lot to be angry about, but I also think there's a lot to be happy about. Isn't there?

I want to believe it will be better after the election, but as time goes on, I'm thinking that is probably very wishful thinking. We may have gotten to a place that will be almost impossible to leave.

Anyway, here's a list of things that are making me happy, because the world needs more happy!

Flowers that my husband brought home for me one day:

Blue skies, for now anyway:

My dog, always: (funny story, sometimes Stormy sits in a camping chair at the top of the driveway, just inside the garage. She's tethered, so she can't go anywhere, which is fine with her because really she just wants to be outside, in the front, where all the action is. When the UPS driver delivered a package yesterday, he told me our house is known as "the house at the top of the hill with the dog in a chair.")

And books. Don't have a photo to share, but I'm reading a lot of great ones. Just finished a short but sweet middle-grade called THE POET'S DOG by Patricia MacLachlan and a page-turning YA titled DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas. If you are fascinated by the Amanda Knox trial, this is an especially great read. Right now, I'm in the middle of reading a few different YAs, KIDS OF APPETITE by David Arnold, TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE, by Abigail Haas, and SPEED OF LIFE by J.M. Kelly. Other MG novels I have here to read soon (hopefully): TWO NAOMIS by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick and MOO by Sharon Creech.