What have I been up to? Report from June 60th & WFMAD news!

I seem to spend most of my time trying to get my feet under me these days. I’m getting to the last of the paperwork generated from my mom’s death and setting up my dad so his life is worry-free. We’ve had a couple of extended family concerns that are working themselves out. I hope and pray that I’ll be back to writing next week!

BH has had his own paperwork and sorrow to work through, but he is back to making progress on the cottage. That’s him dragging the wheelbarrow.

I have even put in a few hours at the cottage. That’s me, below, surrounded by the cedar planks I stained. The planks are for the siding.

And my garden is growing, despite all my neglect. Last night I harvested a few things:

Onions, basil, tomatoes, and snap peas! I sauteed them in olive oil, tossed in some shrimp and alittle hot sauce and sesame seeds and served over rice. Bam! Was made of awesome.

So that’s a long way of saying life is gradually returning to normal. A new normal for us.

And just in time, too. My plan to extend June for an extra month has worked out rather well. (Sorry about that, July. I will lavish attention on you in 2010, I promise.) Tomorrow is June 61st and then…… August 1st.

And you know what that means, right?

August is the 2009 Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge Month!!!

The rules will be the same as last year. I’ll be posting writing prompts and cheerleading in my blog every day in August. You just have to commit to write for a minimum of 15 minutes a day.

Are you up for it??

Warming Up

I am going to try and write the Mother-Of-All-ALA reports tomorrow. Yes, with pictures. I have a particularly fine one of Neil Gaiman taken from approximately 400 miles away.

First up: thank you for all the kind wishes about the death of my father-in-law. BH and I appreciate each and every one. With the deaths of his father and my mother coming so close together, we’re both a little off-kilter right now, kind of like the earth has become sea and the deck of our ship tilts in unpredictable ways. But between the two of us, and with the love of our kids and friends, we lean on each other and stay upright most of the time.

The Horn Book has many great articles online this month. I strongly encourage you to read and discuss Nikki Grimes important essay, "Speaking Out" about the inexcusable fact that no African-American illustrator has yet won the Caldecott. (Leo Dillon won as a team with his wife… Grimes focuses on singular winners.)

(For the record, I agree with her.)

Love books? Love basketball? Then read this article about the literary basketball league my daughter Stef started across from Word, the bookstore she manages in Brooklyn. She has also started a literary matchmaking service. Yep, you better believe I’m proud. Yay Bookavore!!!

And from the Change Topics Completely File, I wanted to share the cover art for the British paperback version of CHAINS:

What do you think?

Another passage

I am very sorry I did not post from ALA. I had a marvelous time and took lots of pictures and promise to fill you in on all the details within the next day or so.

But the sad news is that I had to leave ALA early because my father-in-law was dying.

Imet my father-in-law, Bill Larrabee, at the same time I met my husband; when I was three years old. Bill and his wife Edith became my parents’ best friends. They were so close that I grew up calling the Larrabees "Uncle Bill" and "Aunt Edith." I have never been able to shake that habit, so yes, I call my father-in-law, "Uncle Bill."

He was a magnificent man.

Last week was filled with sadness and many, many trips to the nursing home. The staff at St. Luke’s in Oswego, NY was magnificent, but that wasn’t a surprise. They have cared for him – and all of their other patients – with the highest level of compassion and service you could imagine. We are so grateful for them.

My Beloved Husband and I were sitting with Uncle Bill when he passed. In some ways it was different than my mother’s death last month, but in most, it was the same; the transition of a great spirit from one form to another. The day after his death, the house filled with relatives and we celebrated his life and legacy.

When we were visiting Uncle Bill a few weeks ago, he unexpectedly summed up his life’s philosophy for us with these words: "Don’t hurt anyone. Be kind and have fun."

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Words to live by. Happy June 51st, everyone.

Do you think they should get rid of BBYA?

I know I’ve been under a rock for the past six week, but I had no idea there were discussions about eliminating the Best Books For Young Adults List. Argh!

Liz B. explains what’s going on and gives her excellent opinion.

A quick bit of noodling came up with the responses of Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan.

They said what I am thinking, only in a more articulate way. Plus, I’m an author with a vested interest in the process. They are Super Librarians and have both served on the committee.

What do you think?