Birthdays, Marathon Running, and Life

This time last year I turned 49 years old – a few weeks after our youngest kid went to college and in the middle of the FORGE book tour. Immediately I started to think about what it would mean to turn 50.

In the decade between my 40th and 50th birthdays, I wrote and published six novels and three picture books. I also spent roughly one thousand days – 2.7 years travelling to schools, conferences, and on book tour. And I got divorced, remarried, moved twice, took care of dying parents, cheered from the sidelines as our first three kids navigated the shoals of high school and college, survived cancer, and read a lot of books.

I was tired.

As I hurtled towards my 50th, it was time to recover, reevaluate, and regroup. One of the first things I did was to give myself permission to exercise as much as I wanted. Shortly after that, I signed up for a marathon, something that I’ve always wanted to do.

My Beloved Husband is a born runner; he nearly qualified for States in high school, and is not all that much slower at age 53. Me? Not so much. I am a turtle. The back-of-the-pack runner. When God was handing out speed, I was in the library reading. But running does not have to be about winning. Running is best enjoyed when you stay in the moment, the child-like moment of play, heart pounding strong, hair flying, grinning from ear to ear. Zen running. It’s much like writing, when it works.

BH and I decided that we had two marathon goals: 1) to complete the darn thing, and 2) to complete it without needing medical intervention. We decided to try to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

We headed down to DC well before dawn last Friday. I was nervous. I had trained hard this summer, but had it been enough? I was so nervous, I ordered a big plate of fettucini Alfredo for dinner the night before the race.

I also forgot to eat or drink anything between my 3am breakfast and the 8 am start of the race. I was nervous about everything, but I was super-nervous about the Beat The Bridge rule. Anyone who didn’t make it to the bridge at Mile 20 by the cut-off time would suffer the heartbreak of having to ride the Straggler’s Bus to the finish line.

Given my natural lack of speed, this was a distinct possibility.

And of course, I was nervous about the notion of running 26.2 FREAKING MILES!

Thankfully, the race started before I collapsed from anxiety. It was cool, crisp, and sunny, perfect running weather. The first seven miles flew by, then the fettucini Alfredo kicked in. I will spare you the graphic details. Let’s just say I now hold the record for Number Of Panicked Port-A-Potty Stops During A Marathon.

But racing alongside so many soldiers and veterans, in the capital of the United States, kept my belly woes in perspective. I was surrounded by people who sacrificed more than I could even imagine. It was an honor to run alongside them.

One of the best parts of the day for me was that we shared it with two of our daughters and their partners. This is me catching my first glimpse of the whole crew around Mile 9 in Georgetown.

I ran into my family a few times on the course, which was a much-needed boost, especially between Miles 15 and 19.95 when I was having serious doubts about my ability to Beat the Bridge. But I had no idea what they had prepared for me. They had changed into these shirts….

…..pointing out that 26.2 Is The New 50. I did not start crying until I was past them. I cried because I was so happy. My blessings overflow my cup; love, family, friends, health, country, the chance to do good work, the joy of being very, very alive. I was, and am, deeply grateful.

We made it! Both my husband and I finished the race and neither of us needed medical intervention. The sight of him running down the hill to greet me as I crossed the finish line will stay with me forever.

Running a marathon felt exactly like writing a novel. I was scared. I was exhilarated. I doubted myself. I had supreme confidence. I cursed myself for a blind, arrogant fool. I leaned on my family for encouragement. I whined. I dreamed. I struggled. I took inspiration from the people around me. I laughed. I sang. I prayed. And I celebrated.

Here’s to the next fifty years!!


I’m alive. I’m happy. I’m blessed.

And I have a LOT of catching up to do!

Look for news and stories next week. Until then, keep eating pie.

CYBILS!! Breaking into macromode to celebrate!!!

I have been holed up in the writing cottage
, writing, but so many people came knocking on that I crawled out, blinking, into the bewildering sunshine of February.

And found several nice honors waiting for me.

  CHAINS is the winner of the 2009 Cybil for Middle Grade Fiction!!!!!!

::reaches for inhaler::

Really? I had to check and double-check and yep, there it is. I am very honored that the kidlitosphere appreciated this story so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

But wait! There’s more!

  WINTERGIRLS was a Cybils Young Adult Fiction Finalist!!! 

AND….. WINTERGIRLS is a finalist for the Audie Award, given for the outstanding audiobook of the year. (They have 28 categories, I think! Here is the whole list of nominations for the Teen list:

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, Narrated by Erik Davies, Listening Library
In the Belly of the Bloodhound, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live
Mississippi Jack, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live Audio
Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson, Narrated by Dion Graham, Brilliance Audio
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Narrated by Jeannie Stith, Brilliance Audio

We do love, love, love Brillance Audio here in the Forest.


::uses inhaler again::

Maybe I should hide from the Internet more often!

Naw. I miss you guys too much! February is almost over and I know we’ll have lots to catch up on.

(Yes, I know I am breaking my own suggestions for a sort-of Blog Free February by posting all of this. But can you blame me? And in my defense, Ive been logging 18-hour writing days, which means if I apply my 20 minutes of writing time = 1 minute of blogging time…. ::fumbles for the F12 button to access calculator::, it means I have to go back to the cottage and write.)

::straps on snowshoes::

Oh Happy Day!

There is a lot of music in my head. I always have a song playing in the background of my mind and I ALWAYS wake up hearing a song on Radio Laurie. That song often reflects my mood. This makes it easy to figure out what I’m feeling.

Yeah, weird. I know. But it is the only brain I have.

The selection of songs makes things stranger. I grew up on a college campus in the 60s, fell in love with "classic rock" in the 70s, survived disco (barely – polyesther still makes me break out in hives), and became a fan of hip-hop, indie rock, and country. The only music I don’t enjoy is opera and I’m sure one of these days I’ll get around to it.

Oh, and I’m a preacher’s kid who sang in a gospel chorus. So the playlist on Radio Laurie is rather…. eclectic.

I have more thoughts to add to our ongoing discussion about the suckitude of book pirates. (You really should read through the comments posted on Tuesday and Wednesday – totally fascinating. Thank you to everyone who posted!) But not today.

Today I woke up with this song in my head:

(Much love to our Canadian sisters and brothers a snowball’s throw away from the Forest!)

Today is a happy day for MANY of reasons. Play the music clip above while you read through them.

    1. CHAINS (paperback) has made the New York Times Bestseller List!!!! (The list of February 7th.)

2. AND, CHAINS (paperback) made the Top Ten list of the National Association of Independent Booksellers.

    3. AND, WINTERGIRLS was honored with spots on the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list AND the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers list!

4. But wait! There’s more! WINTERGIRLS earned an Honorable Mention Cuffie from America’s booksellers. (LOVE this award – best sure to read the entire list.)

5. Still not dancing? There’s MORE. named me to their list of the 8 most influential YA authors of the past decade. Was flabbergasted by that one.

Whew! All this joy is balancing out my book pirate frustration rather nicely, I must say.

I am off to the Kindling Words writer’s retreat today. Not sure if I’ll be blogging there or not, but I’ll come home with lots of pictures, I promise.

I’ll leave you with another version of this song, just to keep your toes tapping all day. (It is from Sister Act 2. The lead singer is Ryan Toby.)

The Details of Today’s Adventures! With More Dancing!

I have finally calmed down and warmed up enough to blog. Sort of.

Where to start?

I know.

Congratulations to all of the winners and honor book winners announced today at ALA MidWinter!!! (I am looking for one page to link to that lists all of the winners. Can anyone help with that?)

I am especially happy for my old SCBWI friends who earned well-deserved awards: Hope Anita Smith won a Coretta Scott King Honor for Keeping the Night Watch and Jen Bryant, author of the Caldecott Honor book, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. YAY!!!

Fellow-NBA nominees Kathi Appelt won a Newbery Honor for The Underneath and E. Lockhart won a Printz Honor for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. My sometimes-brother M.T. Anderson also won a Printz Honor for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves. If there was an award for the longest title, I think he’d win that, too. And Jackie Woodson earned another Newbery Honor, this time for After Tupac and D Foster!

Last but not least, I am totally stoked that Neil Gaiman won the Newbery for The Graveyard Book! I have long been a fan of his writing (actually, I am one of those crazy, drooling gaimainites) and it is wonderful to see his work honored by librarians as well as fans.

And, um, yeah. I won an award too.

::cheeks blush, eyes puddle up::

The good and gracious members of the Edwards Committee have bestowed the breathtakingly stupendous Margaret A. Edwards Award, which “honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting achievement,” on me.

::wipes eyes, takes deep breath, composes self::

The beginning of the official announcement reads thusly: “Laurie Halse Anderson is the winner of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for Catalyst, Fever 1793, and Speak. These gripping and exceptionally well-written novels, through various settings, time periods, and circumstances, poignantly reflect the growing and changing realities facing teens. Iconic and classic in her storytelling and character development, Anderson has created for teens a body of work that continues to be widely read and cherished by a diverse audience.”

There’s more, but it stretches the bounds of Blatant Self Promotion to post it all. Read it on the YALSA site.

And make sure you check out the previous Edwards winners.

Suffice it to say, I am honored and humbled to have my work put in the class with writers whom I admire so much. And I am particularly proud that the committee singled out both Catalyst and Fever 1793, and that they get to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Speak, instead of in its shadow.

I actually found out about the Edwards earlier this weekend and, once again, had to walk around with two hands clapped over my mouth. (This made eating difficult and drinking coffee rather perilous.) I was extremely certain that Chains would not make anymore awards lists (it’s had its share, don’t you think?) and I know the anguish of sitting around watching the phone not ring, so early this morning, I packed up my bag and headed for the gym. Had a wonderful, if slow, 6-mile run onthe treadmill, then I treated myself to the ultimate reward: a two-hour massage. That’s right. TWO hours.


I came home, all relaxed and squishy, and VERY hungry. Stoked the woodstove, let the dog out, brought the dog in, locked the door, heated up a bowl of beef soup made from scratch, and reached for the book I am reading. I was one page into the book, three spoonfuls into the soup, when someone knocked on the front door. The Creature With Fangs went crazy. It was just the nice flower deliveryman, bringing me a gorgeous bouquet from Uncle Penguin. I stepped out into the vestibule to get the flowers and closed the door behind me, so the dog wouldn’t eat the nice deliveryman. As his truck drove away, I reached for the door handle.

It did not open. It had locked behind me.

I tried all of our doors. All locked. This is a very secure house, did you know that? It felt like 7 degrees outside, but it was sunny so the vestibule wasn’t quite that cold. BH had been down in Syracuse, but I knew he would be home soon, so it wasn’t worth hiking down to the farm to use their phone.

What does one do in that situation, locked out of one’s house on a winter’s day, hungry, tired, with no book to read or phone to call?

If you’ve just been awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award, you listen to the music in your head and dance to keep warm. So I did. A little more than an hour later, BH came home, and all was well.

I am told that the cool color to wear to the Edwards shindig is orange. Must! Find! Orange! Shoes!