Monday, June 27, 2011

bombax blooms!

 bombax flowers begin as green and brown pods that elongate slowly, then erupt overnight into full bloom.  This one is in my back yard.  Click any of these twice for max enlargement. 

The flowers last only a day or two, and I love them even  more because of that.  I have decided that they grow in Limori, inside the cliffs, in Jux's forest, magically, unnaturally, on command.... 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing updates book #3: 2011

image copyright Omar Rayyan, 1999

I love this illustration, created for The Unicorn's Secret.  It's a series, eight slim books written so that third graders can read it, but almost half the fan mail is from adults.  The story came from dreams I had in gradeschool, contiguous dreams that went on for about a year and a half and  felt like a second life. Every night I went back to the same place, then, when night fell in the dream, I would go to sleep there and wake up *here*.  Writing these books was the beginning of my strong preference for letting the story write itself.  for first chapter excerpts.

okay, on to much darker things.....

Resurrection of Magic book #3---in progress. 

Traveling always interrupts my work, but it also provides distance. After a week of teaching writing, I spent the first two days here at  home rereading.  Here's what I know now. Hahp has passed a point of no return--and he knows it.  Gerrard is hiding something, from me, from everyone.  Sadima's choices are heartbreaking, logical, impossible. I can only hope.
An acacia tree that died, maybe...didn't.
I have almost 50 solid chapters now, and the time lines are crossing, converging. The city is on the edge of terrible things and the boys in the cliff are almost beyond fear. Almost.  I have one more conference next weekend--four days counting planes days--and am taking my Neo with me.  Then I have a whole month at home. This is so hard to write. I love these people.  

Thanks to everyone getting in touch to ask when the book will be finished. Soon. Probably all too soon...

6 26 2011
Euphorbias -- the fleshy cactus-like limbs sometimes drop and rot, but the thorns live on and on and bones. 
Just returned home from two conferences, back to back. I'm always amazed by the blooming writers in my class sessions and critique sessions. My two-day home-again acclimation is over. The garden is tended, the jet lag is gone and about half of the third Resurrection of Magic book is now sent off to gather early feedback. I will start the day by rereading chapters, listening to my recorders, reading the pile of notes from me to me... and then, probably around noon, I will start writing. 

There is so much trouble in the city of Limori.  The boys in the cliffs can't hear the shouting or see the guards' hands, always on their sword sheaths. They can't see the beggar children in South End who stand silently, one hand out, afraid to speak, to ask anyone for food...but they can feel something changing, collapsing... 


6 29 2011
between thunderstorms in Florida...
Last night, very late and very sleepy, I might have gotten a glimpse of how things will end.  I cried, then smiled, then wrote the notes and filed them.  I am a long way from writing those end scenes...but not THAT it's good to have the future revealing itself.  

6 30 2011
I woke up dreading the place I have to start today.  Immediate, unscripted, un-outlined writing is all about not letting yourself blink, or run away.  I know what will probably happen and I just have to record it accurately whether I am right or wrong.
some trees are like poems 


The backstory in this trilogy is so intricate that I find myself rereading sections of the first two books to check details, to make sure the physical set up of some part of the city is consistent, but then I keep reading far past what I needed to read, notice small things that set me thinking and I finally look up from the book when I realize I am hungry. I am a deep writer. Maybe not an efficient one, though.

But there is THIS:
Karen Bale and I wrote this book for middle grade readers many years ago. It stays in print--and once in a while, gets translated again.  This is the brand new German version--a reminder that life and death drama never gets old. Heroism--and the lack of it--play a part in every life. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

WIFYR (( Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers conference...))

I am just back from an WIFYR  conference in Utah. I met with my class for five days--four-hour sessions each day. It was the best teaching experience I have ever had. We critiqued as a group and I tried to tell them everything I know--and/or suspect about writing. Writer-bloom filled the room!!!

This is the view from the campus....the colors change with every shift of light, every cloud shadow.

The lovely, incredible and famous King's English
Bookstore  was kind enough to hold a pot-luck
dinner for authors and others. The food was so good! The people were wonderful....

and oh, the BOOKS!!!


The store is in an old and beautiful neighborhood. There are five or six interesting book rooms, a gorgeous and artsy patio, amazingly informed and helpful staffers and, as befits a premier independent *astounding* range of books.

The faculty   was full of people I like and admire, including the brilliant Holly Black, so every meal was a writer-fest.
and .....

I got to see Shannon Hale  at The King's English Bookstore!!  We once shared a panel in San Antonio and try to keep in touch. She is fun, funny, and one of the nicest people I know.

I am just hoping WIFYR will ask me back. (Are you listening Carol?)

Thursday, June 09, 2011


this picture was taken in Wisconsin, a state full of odd and lovely trees and very nice people.
Thanks to everyone for writing to me, leaving comments here, getting in touch through FB, Twitter, my website, my publishers, etc.  It makes me write better, and sometimes faster. In a few days, I fly to Utah to talk to writers about their work .  Then I will be back in CA for three days before I go to join and Michelle Burke of Random House publishing and everyone else at

THEN, SCBWI LA (after all)

After that I have a blank calender until October.  I will be chained to my desk during that time--finishing (then revising) the third book of the trilogy. I can't wait to hear your reactions. I think...I hope, it is going to be amazing.

P.S.  I think I will be going to SCBWI after all, mostly living in the critique room...!

this picture was taken in Wisconsin, a state full of odd and lovely trees and very nice people.