Monthly Archives: December 2017

Best of 2017

Thinking about 2017, I’ve read so many best of lists – books, movies, cupcakes. I decided to choose best photo memories of my year. Wishing everyone a 2018 full of good memories.

January: full moon through the trees

February: First run of the day skiing with the sun and moon in full view.

March: Lenticular clouds resting above peaks as seen from Magnolia Rd.

April: Cloud formation that served as inspiration for my second picture book, Gustavo’s Big Idea.

May: A visit to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium included many highlights but the best of all was the day at Keukenhof Gardens.

June: So many great hikes and amazing wildflowers this month. My favorite photo captures both of these – my friend Michelle’s beautiful dog Bhakti with columbines.

July: Southampton Writers Conference. I spent two weeks working on my craft with amazing mentors and peers who wrote children’s books, poetry, literary fiction, memoirs, and plays. I got to be a fangirl meeting many inspiring writers and made new writer friends who continue to provide love, support, and feedback.

August: Morning glory visited by a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Our first high altitude garden included many successes, including vegetables and flowers that served to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

September: exquisite fall colors featuring aspens juxtaposed with pines along Peak to Peak highway – a favorite spot for leaf peepers.

October: A visit to Detroit was definitely a highlight for me personally as I spent time with my daughter and her boyfriend. A fabulous weekend with amazing people.

November: sunrise from my window. Each morning, I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in this magical setting.

December: the roof of my new garage is almost complete. It’s been a long journey building it, and I’m looking forward to my car being safe and sound inside it in 2018.

Life above the clouds

Life the Rocky Mountains can be magnificent and ever changing. Weather is isolated creating a 15 degree temperature difference between where I live at 8200 ft and Boulder 5300 ft less than 10 miles away most days. Sometimes, on the steep drive, as I twist and turn along Magnolia Rd, it is otherworldly.

These images were captured at a lookout point above Boulder Valley where the clouds gently rested leaving the sunshine for those of us above 8000 ft.

Coco, A Pixar Masterpiece

The latest Pixar release is truly a masterpiece for all ages. I finally saw it today, in a sold out theater full of children, parents, and grandparents. A perfect family movie!

I loved Miguel, a young boy who dreams of being a musician even though his family strictly prohibits music. The story centers on Día de los Muertos where Miguel crosses over to the Land of the Dead and meets his ancestors. The richness of the story featuring a beautifully depicted Mexican family made my heart swell with the love I have for my former students and their families.

I won’t share any spoilers here, but the magnificent colors, themes of family and following your dreams, and music are all perfecto! Below is a link to “Remember Me” a beautiful song with a lovely message. Enjoy.

Winter Solstice Reflections

Winter arrived in the Rocky Mountains this morning with a gentle blanket of snow. Today, Winter Solstice marks the shortest day, the welcoming of winter.

A quote from John Steinbeck, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”

Solstice acrostic

Snow and darkness

On this day we celebrate the new season

Longer grow the days for the next six months

Savor the change of seasons as a time for reflection

Take time to appreciate the dark through sleep or meditation

I embrace the rhythm of the seasons

Celebrate winter for its beauty

Energy is renewed as take time for comfort by the fire.

Interview with Diana Gallagher, author of “Lessons in Falling” Raffle to win free signed copy

IMG_0086       Front Cover

#17DABash interview with the author, Diana Gallagher and a chance to win a free signed copy of the book.  Comment on this blog post to be entered in the raffle! “Lessons in Falling” is a beautifully written contemporary YA book. Before we meet Savannah, she’s suffered a career-ending gymnastics injury.  The book takes us through her senior year as she faces challenges in the aftermath of her injury, with her best friend Cassie, and Marcos, a boy from school who shows her a different type of life challenges. I highly recommend this book!

Q. In Lesson in Falling you have three storylines braided together: the friendship between the two girls, the relationship with Marcos, and the challenge of overcoming injury and going back to gymnastics. Where did the idea for the story?

A. The story began as an assignment for a graduate workshop in writing the YA novel. In fact, the first chapter is very similar to its initial draft: a girl who fails her driver’s test for the umpteenth time and takes matters into her own hands. Although I only had one chapter written for the workshop, I already knew Savannah was a gymnast and had a best friend named Cassie.

Q. How much of Savannah’s gymnastics experience is based on your own? Did you have a serious injury?

A. Savannah is a much better gymnast than I was, but we do have several elements in common: we both preferred floor exercise over uneven bars, we both pursued college gymnastics, and we shared the same injury that took Savannah out of gymnastics. Tearing my ACL was a pivotal moment in my athletic career; while I reacted quite differently than Savannah initially does, it was a valuable lesson in perseverance, patience, and fighting my way back due to pure love of the sport.

Q. How much research went into the racial part of the book? Was that a theme you wanted to tackle when you began writing or did it become bigger as you revised?

A. I researched extensively as I pursued the racial portion of the novel. From the outset, it evolved as an organic part of the story due to the prevalence of the real-life issues facing the area the book is based in. At the time I began writing, a federal investigation was launched into the hate crime death of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, in a nearby town. Because I chose to set the story on the East End of Long Island, NY, it was impossible to ignore the contrast between the ostentatious mansions by the ocean and the migrant workers standing on the side of the road each morning, waiting for work.

Q. The issue of suicide is touched on with Cassie, but not fully dealt with. Do you feel that books like Thirteen Reasons Why are exploring the topic or exploiting it?

A. I think works like Thirteen Reasons Why open up the opportunity for conversations between parents, school administrators, counselors, and teens to deal with real issues faced by teens.

Q. Did you have any personal or cultural inspiration for the relationship between Savannah and her parents, especially her father?

A. The original draft of the novel featured a subplot with Savannah and her mother, but I ended up cutting it after the book sold. It’s fair to say that while my teenage relationship with my father was not nearly as antagonistic as Savannah’s is with her dad, my dad has always been a huge champion of my athletic and artistic pursuits!

If Lessons in Falling is made into a movie, who do you envision in the lead roles?

Savannah–Willow Shields

Cassie–Sasha Pieterse

Marcos–Tyler Posey

Q. What can your readers look forward to from you next?

You can find me contributing humorous essays to websites like The Gymternet. In the meantime, I’m continuing to write more YA novels with sporty protagonists in complicated situations!

Comment on this post by Midnight 12/27/17 Mountain Time to be entered to win a signed copy of “Lesson in Falling.”

Tsundoku – a word for all bibliophiles

A dear friend gave me the book Lost in Translation. It’s full of interesting words in different languages that are unique to a specific language or culture.

Today, I’m sharing the word tsundoku which is a Japanese word for leaving a book unread. This basically describes my TBR shelves; yes I have more than one! 📚

I have read more books this year, than in recent memory, as I have more time now than I did previously. That does NOT mean my to-be-read pile is shrinking! It’s like a chacha – one step forward and two steps back! 📚📚📚📚📚

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The book, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was a favorite of mine growing up. At the time Brooklyn didn’t have special meaning to me, more on this in a minute, but I loved the immigrant story in this and another cherished book “All of a Kind Family.” That book was closer to my own family’s story and I have fond memories of disappearing into these turn of the century worlds.

On my recent visit to spend time with my daughter who lives in Brooklyn, I took this photograph. Immediately, I was transported to my childhood room, where I spent many happy hours reading and escaping into historical fiction families. As I look forward to 2018, one of my reading goals will be to reread these gems.

Interview with author Carlie Sorosiak and a chance to win a Query Critique

An interview with Carlie Sorosiak, the delightful author of If Birds Fly Back

Read and comment on this post for your chance to win a Query Critique of less than 500 words!

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  1. In If Birds Fly Back, you have two main characters with an alternating POV. Did you originally envision the story this way?

 

Originally, I envisioned the entire novel from Linny’s perspective . . . but Sebastian’s voice kept edging in. I found him so organic to write. I also love dual POV narratives. I’ll Give You the Sun is my favorite YA novel.

 

  1. Do you have a background in physics or was there considerable research to make Sebastian’s character so knowledgeable?

 

I don’t have a background in physics, no; but I’ve always been interested in science. One of the best things about writing If Birds Fly Back was the chance to research things that I never learned in school. I read loads of books to support Sebastian’s character; I found those by Professor Brian Cox most interesting and accessible. He has a really fabulous book called Human Universe, which everyone should definitely check out!

 

  1. Using MomandDad as a single character through most of the book was something that I found really interesting. Can you talk about that?

 

I think that as most couples age, they start to develop mannerisms and habits that mirror each other. But really I wanted to use MomandDad as this overwhelming presence that Linny views as quite stifling; making them a singular character at the onset felt appropriate to me.

 

  1. Do you think Linny’s mom is the antagonist in your story? Do you think parents should play a big role in YA?

 

I think that, for a while, Linny might view her as the antagonist; in my view, however, she’s just a mom who wants the best for her children, and who doesn’t know the most sensitive way to express it. She’s also someone who has recently experienced a serious loss (her eldest daughter ran away from home six months before the story begins), so I’ve always felt quite a bit of sympathy for her. Yes, parents should absolutely play a big role in more contemporary narratives, because they do in real life. There was absolutely no one more influential growing up than my mom, and I think that a lot of people would answer similarly.

 

  1. What do you think are the most important relationships in the book besides Linny and Sebastian?

 

Linny and her parents is definitely one. Linny and her missing sister, Grace (and all the turmoil and feelings of abandonment that brings) is another. I’d argue that, almost equal in importance to Linny and Sebastian’s relationship, is Sebastian’s relationship with his father, Álvaro Herrera. It’s partially what drives Sebastian as a character: how he didn’t know his father growing up, and how that’s shaped him in many ways. Álvaro has always been my favorite character, and I loved writing the bittersweet scenes between him and Sebastian.

 

  1. Did you end the book thinking you might write a sequel? If so, will Grace make an appearance?

 

I never thought I’d write a sequel. I quite like where I left the characters. But I’ve always thought that I might write a short story about Grace, and what really happened to her when she was on the road. I’ll possibly get to it when my TBR pile is shorter, and when I’m not on deadline for other novels!

 

  1. Imagine If Birds Fly Back is made into a movie; who do you envision in the lead roles?

 

This is always such a difficult question! I’ll admit that I don’t have a ready answer. A reader during my UK tour did suggest Zendaya for Linny, though, and I support that wholeheartedly.

 

  1. What can your readers look forward to from you next?

 

My sophomore novel, Wild Blue Wonder, comes out in June 2018. It’s basically about a girl named Quinn whose family runs a summer camp (which may or may not have a sea monster), and when something awful happens at the camp, Quinn thinks it’s her fault. As she begins to heal, she starts to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined. I am so, so excited for you all to read it!