Hotel nights, noisy imagination

I am gifted in a couple of ways. I can eat inhuman amounts of popcorn and still be hungry. I remember obscure words from languages no one has ever heard of. I excel at picking up sticks. And I can sleep. Man, oh man, can I sleep. If someone would pay me to sleep, my income would put Bill Gates to shame.

But not last night.

Can’t blame the hotel – it was quiet here. People are polite and go to bed at a decent hour in Goshen, IN. The Diet Coke at dinner? Maybe that had something to do with it, but BH has seen me put away a pot of coffee and be snoring an hour later. I never turned the TV on. I talked on the phone to various family members, but none of them had disturbing news. (Except for the ER trip for stitches earlier in the day – hope you feel OK this morning, Steven.) But I’m a veteran of ER trips. No, stitches don’t count.

My imagination was in overdrive. Every time I’d turn off the light, it kicked back into gear. I’d scribble down the ideas, look at the clock and decide, “Yes, now I will def. go to sleep.” Light out, head on pillow, and – bam! more ideas! Turn the light on. Scribble more. Over and over this happened, from 10 until sometime after 2 this morning. I look awful this morning. My eyes have enormous bags under them that look like water balloons. But I have half a legal pad of ideas, so I’m not complaining.

(No, I can’t tell you what it’s about. I don’t want to jinx this.)

Off to get coffee, then a trip to Goshen High School.

We have a winner!

Packing one last time tonight! I leave tomorrow for Goshen, IN where I will spend Wednesday speaking at Goshen High School.


Because that is where the winner of the PROM contest goes to school. I’m still waiting for releases to post the names and writing samples of the winner and runners-up, but I guess it’s OK to tell you the winner goes to Goshen. When I’m done in Indiana, I head for Washington, DC, to BEA, the massive conference for booksellers.


Because the very nice people at BEA have invited me to give a speech. Wish me luck (taking a look at who else is giving speeches at the same function and you’ll understand.) I won’t be there very long – arrive Thursday, leave Friday, but I am really looking forward to this. It is a fantastic way to end the current travel/speaking “season”. (If you are a bookseller and you see me there, please let me know you read this LJ!!)

Thanks for all the input on the jacket photo. I am bowing to public opinion and choosing Photo #1, but I’m sure Theo will find some use for the others on the website.

BH & Son picked lilacs for me yesterday. Now our house smells like them, and the apple trees down the road are in bloom like young girls in pretty skirts. Life is good.

Here are the photos you can vote on

I hate having my picture taken. Loathe it. Would rather have root canal. It brings up lots of old body image stuff for me and makes me feel like there is a colony of ants crawling under my skin.

And now I have this career where I travel a lot and many kind readers want to have their picture taken with me. When I get to meet my favorite authors, I like to have my picture taken with them, too, so I understand the impulse and I honor it. In fact, when I have my picture taken at booksignings and schools, I usually get goofy and act like a big ham. This is how I cover up my terror and discomfort.

Recently, readers have started pointing out that I no longer resemble my jacket photo, taken in 1999. And the goddesses in the publicity department have been grumbling, too. So I did a lot of research and found a photographer that maybe, just maybe, could take a picture of me that I could live with.

Last week BH and I traveled to Maine, to the studio of Joyce Tenneson, the photographer. Joyce and her assistant Raquel were the kindest souls imaginable. I was terrified, but they performed magic. We shot outside her studio, on a hill that overlooked a cove on the Maine coast. Joyce was able to make the sun shine on command and conjured the wind to blow a couple times. She sent us home with lots of shots to choose from.

Want to help me choose my next jacket photo?

Where did I go?

I spent the last couple days on the coast of Maine. Why? Getting my picture taken. It’s a long story and I promise details later. But for those of you who have told me – repeatedly – that my official publicity photo doesn’t look like me, take heart. I now have new “official” photos, taken by a photographer who is a magician.

Do you want to see them?

I have to take off in a few minutes for Cortland High School. This afternoon I’ll be signing books at the bakery in Homer, NY. Then I’ll be home for the weekend, getting ready for next week’s final trip of the season.

Thanks for sharing what you’re reading. On the plane I read Joyce Carol Oates’ new collection of short stories and a new memoir by Julia Cameron which still has me thinking.