Saturday, March 21, 2015

Snowy Woodstock

Happy spring! Which for me meant snow here in Woodstock NY. When I was little my mother used to have me repeat this silly poem on the first day of spring: spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is? 
Certainly true yesterday!

The Woodstock Literary Festival is in full swing. I spent the day teaching a workshop in front of a wood fire in the most idyllic setting with the loveliest people ever. 

This afternoon at 4 I'm on a panel with Jane Smiley and Stephen Dobbyns. In between now and then, other panels to attend and the streets of this town to wander. 

I'm staying at the funky wonderful Hotel Dylan in one of the most comfortable beds I've had the pleasure of sleeping in. 

On my mind though as the snow falls are revisions for this new novel of mine. Soon I will take it on a date, me and those 560 pages, and go to it--cutting and tweaking and relentlessly revising. 

This is one reason I've been knitting up a storm! I've brought a shawl I just started here with me. But below is the blanket I knit for Annabelle. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Come study Fiction with me in Woodstock, NY!

On March 20 I'm teaching a full day workshop as part of the Woodstock Literary Festival!

In this FICTION workshop, you will bring in the first 5 pages of your novel or short story. Please bring enough copies for everyone. After discussing what makes good beginnings--and what doesn't--and reading examples from literature, we'll turn our attention to your pages. Are you getting your story off to the best start? What needs improving? Why? And how? You will then have the opportunity to revise your opening pages and present them for discussion. Please bring your laptop, or whatever you want to use to implement revisions. At the end of this workshop, your novel or story will be ready to continue to write!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Frigid Chicago

This week finds me visiting schools to talk about The Treasure Chest series. Yesterday found me outside Milwaukee, and today and tomorrow I'm in and around Chicago. It's exciting to explain the life of a writer, the birth of the series, and the lives of the historical characters featured in the books to second, third, fourth, and fifth graders. I'm happily ensconced in a Kimpton hotel, right downtown, a warm and cozy respite from chilly Chicago!

I'm going to let you in a little secret: I have finished a draft of my new (adult) novel. it's in the hands of my agent, who will send me comments for revision. And after I do that, it will go to my editor. I am super excited about this one! Stay tuned for details!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow. What else?

Today Annabelle and I arrived at the train station at 9 for our 9:19 train to NYC. The board said DELAYED. And DELAYED it was. We boarded at 1:30! And arrived at apartment at 6, exhausted. I told her we could have gone to Rome in all that time, to which she replied, "I'd rather be in Rome!" That makes two of us. Snow over the weekend. More snow expected today. And again Saturday. We have something like five feet at home, and now below zero temperatures. But as I reminded myself the other day, it's winter. 

Thankfully I am so deep into writing my novel that all I want to do is stay inside and write anyway. On the home stretch. I can feel it. I love the rush of the ending, seeing it so close, racing toward it. One of my favorite parts of writing novels is when it finally comes together, the pieces falling into place. 

And a weekend of cooking (pasta Amatracini, braised short ribs, pineapple chicken stir fry; toad in a hole, waffles, corn muffins), writing, and knitting is my favorite kind of weekend. 

Look what I finished:

Now on to finishing Annabelle's blanket! And, that novel. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jerusalem Book Fair

If you happen to be in Jerusalem, or no anyone here, come to my talk today (Wednesday) at 11:30 at Cinematheque!

The Book Fair has been wonderful. It's held in the old train station and an adjacent tent. I loved hearing yesterday about someone's grandfather taking the train from Jerusalem to Egypt back in the 1930s. 

Honestly, you can't walk a foot here without stumbling over history. It's magical, and humbling. 

Tomorrow I head home, having hardly scratched the surface of this amazing city and glimpsed only a tiny bit of the country. 

But highlights include yesterday's trip to Bethlehem, which is behind the separation wall. Seeing the manger--touching it--had a spiritual effect on me. 

The Garden of Gethsemene, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall, Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, Sea of Galilee...

And the hummus! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowed in!

How hard to leave balmy St. Pete and land just as two feet of snow got dumped on little Rhody! But in the count my blessings category, at least I wasn't in transit and stuck in Charlotte or Philly. (though truth be told being stuck in St. Pete at the Water Garden Inn, where Bill and Wilder take such good care of us would not be so terrible). Ah! Palm trees! Sparkling ocean! Flip flops!

And the best faculty a writer could ask for, including Laura Lippman, Andre Dubus III, John Searles, Les Standiford, Sterling Watson, Lori Roy, and David Yoo. The keynote speaker JessWater, who only wrote one of my favorite novels of the last decade Beautiful Ruins, made everything even more wonderful. Yes, Writers in Paradise was a love fest as usual. And lots of that comes from the students, who are brave and talented and funny and smart and hardworking writers. At the end of the week, Johnny Temple and Lisa Gallagher and Bill Contardi arrived, bringing Ridge zinfandel and even more merriment. Andre made pomegranate margaritas. Kimberly Standiford baked challah and we had our traditional shabbat on Friday night. Henry made sure we got where we needed to get, and did so with elan and humor. Norris had to step into Christine's shoes--Christine, we miss you!--but managed somehow to get all my xeroxing done, an onerous job indeed. Anthony kept us miked and lit. Jackie Mitchard closed the show.

And then just like that, conference over and here I am, snowed in, drifts so high I can't remember what's beneath them. Second day of no school, Annabelle helping me get final manuscript of Knitting Pearls ready to send off to publisher (have I shared that list of contributors with you? No? Get ready: Steve Almond, Anne Bartlett, Cynthia Chinelly, Melissa Coleman, Michael Collier, Stephanie Danler, Jared Flood, Nick Flynn, Diana Gabaldon, Debra Gwartney, Jane Hamilton, Cathi Hanaeur, Lily King, Perri Klass, Christina Baker Kline, Ann Leary, Caroline Leavitt, Laura Lippman, Maile Meloy, Stewart O'Nan, Clara Parkes, Jodi Picoult, Robin Romm, Bill Roorbach, Michael Ruhlman, Dani Shapiro, Samantha van Leer, and Lee Woodruff!) I know you just swooned when you read that list because I sure did!

Snowed in, I've cooked up a storm. Pork chops and fried rice and corn Monday; flank steak, rice pilaf and sauteed carrots last night; spaghetti carbonara tonight.

Plus I am happily happily knitting my confetti scarf, which is absolutely gorgeous. I cannot wait to finish it and wear it! You can too: