PARADE online (2 million unique monthly visitors!) included Lift Your Light as one of three titles in the January 29 Black History Reads list.
The piece is also slated to appear in the Kids’ Table feature for the 2/5 issue of American Profile magazine. American Profile (Parade affiliate) magazine is a short publication included in roughly 800 newspapers, nationwide.
I’m heading up to Northern Kentucky University tomorrow to participate in their annual Bookfest on Friday, May 4. It’s a really incredible day long program in which about 500 middle grade students from around the state come to the NKU campus in Highland Heights to talk about books and reading.
Here is a link to NKU’s webpage about it, with a really terrific video showing highlights of years past:
I will be speaking at NKU’s Book Fest this year, talking to 5-8th graders about reading and writing. This annual event is on Friday, May 4th. Following that, I will be at my favorite bookstore signing books: the Blue Marble in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Below is a clip from their newsletter about the event. Hope to see you there!
Spring tends to be a busy time as more people are out enjoying the beautiful weather, groups schedule more activities and schools are entering their final month of the academic year.
We’ve been keeping busy with author visits at the store and local schools, a literature conference and professional lecture, a reading celebration and ordering new books for the summer and fall seasons. It’s been great seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.
We hope you can join us for our author events over the next month. We’re honored to be hosting Will Hillenbrand,Heather Henson and Debbie Dadey in the next few weeks. Even if you’re not able to visit the store for an event, we’d be happy to have books signed and personalized for you. Autographed books make such wonderful gifts; we have two special sections of books signed by the authors and illustrators who have visited our store.
Currently, we’re showcasing our new poetry and baseball books and have special displays of books relating to theTitanic, Kentucky Derby and horses. We also have books that would make perfect gifts for moms, high school and college graduates and your favorite educators.
We’d love to see you and catch up if you can spare some time to swing by the store. We hope to see you soon!
Peter & Tina Moore, manager and owner
Chris, Nancy, Tish, Betsy, Dave, Marilyn & Tanya, staff
Kentucky author Heather Henson has graciously agreed to visit our store immediately after NKU’s BookFest event. BookFest is a celebration of reading and writing for Kentucky students in grades 5-8. She’ll be signing her picture books and novels including Dream of Night [Atheneum, $15.99 hc] and Here’s How I See It, Here’s How It Is [Atheneum, $16.99 hc & $6.99 pb]. Reading Dream of Night is especially fitting at this time of year as it presents the story of a former racehorse. Ms. Henson is also the author of the award-winning That Book Woman [Atheneum, $16.99 hc] which was illustrated by David Small.
I am thrilled to say that I went on a much needed solitary writer’s retreat a couple of weeks ago! A writing friend had recommended that I try the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, KY. I did some emailing, and found out that I could stay at the Cedars of Peace retreat there.
Here is my cabin from the back. It is called Joy.
The cabin had everything I needed: a kitchen, a bed, a desk, a window with a view of the woods. More than that, it offered complete quiet and solitude!
Here is my cabin from the front.
The cabin was perfect! The setting was perfect! I set up my desk…I sat and looked out the window…I wrote…I read….I walked in the woods…I wrote some more…I read some more. I hardly spoke to another soul, except for the two lovely ladies who run both Cedars of Peace and Knobs Haven at the Motherhouse. They just wanted to make sure I was settled in. And yes, I was very settled in. I hardly wanted to leave my little cabin.
Here’s the view from my desk…..
And here’s the kitchen….
Here are the stairs to the second floor….
And here is the peace labyrinth nearby…..
I spent four amazing days of total solitude and stillness. It was exactly what I needed to help me get back into the novel I have been struggling with. I had never been to the Loretto Motherhouse before, even though it is only an hour from my home. It has a fascinating history — was founded in the early 1800’s. There’s a quiet cemetery there dating back to the beginning. There are trails to walk and a sculpture studio with sculptures by one of the resident nuns. I can’t believe it was only an hour from my home, and yet it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.
I can’t wait to return to the Cedars of Peace the next time I need a restful and inspiring break from the everyday.
It’s been a while since I blogged about poetry. But here I go again. Because I recently read that one of my favorite poets died.
Wislawa Szymborska was born in 1923 in Poland. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. I remember reading the announcement in the New York Times back then. They wrote about her surprise at winning. Apparently, she was a very private, quiet poet. The newspaper printed several lines from her poems, a sample of her work.
Something about the poems grabbed me. I think because the language was so simple, so frank. And yet it had a lyrical quality, a spare beauty. The lines I read had wit about them as well, a subtle wit. A sly kind of wit. A bit of a nudge and a wink. It seemed to me the poet was speaking through the words, saying, “Don’t worry. I’m not taking this very seriously, and neither should you. It’s just a poem, after all. The world is so much more important than this.” And yet, the words demanded attention all the same. They took hold, they sprouted. Her voice got in my head.
I cut the sample poems out of the newspaper that day and put them on my bulletin board, where they stayed, curling a little, browning at the edges, for several years. I also went out back then to St. Mark’s Bookstore in the east village in NYC and bought her book of selected poems. I have it still. I’m looking at it now.
Here are the last few stanzas from her poem, “On Death, Without Exaggeration:”
Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.
Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.
There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob of the invisible door.
Wow! I just met with a group of amazing girls yesterday! I’d been invited a while ago by Trinity Episcopal here in Danville, KY to be part of their Summer Reading Group. Yesterday I arrived at Trinity to discover there were only 3 members of the program, but the small number made no difference at all! The three gals I met and spent some time with had so much presence, enthusiasm and spark — enough for a whole roomful of readers!
First of all, what great questions! Each one of these young minds had very focused, very specific questions about the story I read, the book itself, the art, how the art gets to the page….just really terrific! I read from That Book Woman, and then we talked about the Pack Horse Librarians (first question: were they all women? Answer: no, but there were only a few men who worked as PHL’s), talked about the time period (1930’s), about the poverty and lack of schools or libraries back then. We talked about old time customs, like drinking Sassy Tea and looking at how thick the black band around the middle of a wooly worm is as a way of predicting how cold the next winter will be.
All three girls — Lina, Addie, and Jade — like to write stories as well. We talked about the journals they’re creating, and they said they might help me out with some ideas for a book I’ve been trying to write about “Runaway Hennie,” my son’s pet chicken who seems to disappear all day long and then reappears mysteriously at night as if nothing has happened.
What does Runaway Hennie do all day anyway? Maybe the girls can come up with some good ideas this week! Maybe I could post them on my blog here!
Anyway, it was just a special day. Thanks so much to Jan at Trinity for inviting me, and thanks to all the other folks there who were so friendly and welcoming.
But the biggest thanks of all goes to you girls! You are the BEST! Don’t lose that curiosity! Don’t lose that love of learning! Don’t lose that spunk and that unique thing that makes you YOU!!!! Don’t lose that fantastic GIRL POWER!!!!!
Two years ago, my family’s summer stock theatre, Pioneer Playhouse, invited Johnny Crawford to be our guest celebrity for the season. Johnny is an original Mouseketeer and the Emmy nominated co-star of the classic TV show The Rifleman. (One of my fav shows as a kid!) He is also a singer with a smooth-as-silk crooning voice.
This year Johnny is returning to Danville to do a one-night only performance of Big Band/Swing music in conjunction with the Playhouse’s third show of the season, That Madcap Moon. The play is written by my aunt, Jan Henson Dow, an acclaimed playwright. It is our “Kentucky History” play (we do one a year), set in the Henson Hotel on Main Street in Danville during World War II. The main character is my beloved “Grandma Hen” who ran the Henson Hotel for nearly 7 decades and had a lot of amazing stories to tell. The play incorporates memories of local veterans and those who remained behind during the War Years.
Back to Johnny…Although best known as a versatile actor of stage and screen, Johnny Crawford has also had a successful singing career. Signed by Del-Fi Records, Johnny had a string of hit singles in the 1960’s. More recently he was the vocalist in Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks Orchestra, featured on a Garrison Keillor TV Special from Radio City Music Hall and performing at the 1989 George Bush Inaugural Ball. After forming his own Vintage Dance Orchestra, he now provides authentic period music for film, special events and education. A new CD of his music was recently released to great critical acclaim.
Johnny will be at the Playhouse on July 17, 8 pm, for an evening singing and dancing. (Wear your dancing shoes!) But he will also be at the Boyle County Public Library for a one hour event on July 16 at 2 pm. During this show he will sing a few songs and answer questions about music from the War Years era — and maybe sign a few autographs!
I had the privilege of spending time with Johnny the last time he was in town, taking him around to some of his TV interviews, etc, and I have to say he’s just a wonderful person. So charming and yet so accessible, so down to earth. And so knowledgeable about music! I had no idea before hanging out with him that he had such a vast and rich knowledge of songs and music from by-gone eras. Truly a wealth of fascinating info.
Can’t wait to see Johnny again — and write more about his re-visit to Danville here on my blog. Keep checking back.
And check out the Playhouse website: www.pioneerplayhouse.com for more about the season and Johnny’s performance. You can also listen to one of Johnny’s songs!
Crazy day last Friday, trying to get to my son’s school for an awards ceremony, and then leave on time to get to Cinci for the author’s reception for Books by the Banks. Had just enough time — if there hadn’t been a Reds game going on downtown, and the traffic was sluggish, and it was impossible to find the entrance to my hotel, and once I did find the entrance, I had to circle downwards through several levels of the earth to finally find a parking space. BUT the reception (when I finally made it) was wonderful. I’d never been in the Mercantile Library before. A gorgeous old room with old books so that I felt like I was in a movie set back in time. Had dinner with my writer friend Linda Sanders after the reception. Her book Maggie’s Monkeys is on the Bluegrass Awards masterlist this year — congrats!
Next day — Saturday — headed over to the Duke Energy Center to find out where I’d be sitting. Lucky for me, they put me next to the one-and-only Sharon Draper, who is kind of like a rock star in the kids book world. Sharon and I share the same editor, and while we’ve met and talked briefly over the past couple of years, we’d never spent all day together. And it was just so much fun. I basked in her rock star glow all day, and we traded stories over the tortures our (beloved) editor puts us both through. It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one dearest C tortures! 🙂
Seriously, it was awe-inspiring to get to know Sharon a little better, and to be able to talk to her about her most recent book, Out of My Mind, which is stupendous, and which is sure to be on many a Newbery prediction list.
After Cinci, I rushed back home to see my kiddos, and then it was back to the KY Horse Park for a couple of WEG signings. I will report on that in my next post. But for now, here’s a pic of me and Sharon together at Books by the Banks.
Oh, and one more thing — thanks to all the folks at BBTB, Cinci 2010, for being such terrific hosts. And many thanks to Janice for being my gopher for the day!
For those of you who don’t live in Kentucky and haven’t been aware of all the hoopla over WEG, here’s the deal: the World Equestrian Games, or WEG for short, is kind of like the Olympics of the horse eventing world. The Games have never before been held in Kentucky, or anywhere in the US, for that matter, and so everybody around here is pretty excited.
WEG starts at the end of September and runs through mid-October at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. During the many events there will be hundreds of booths with all things Kentucky and horsey. I am excited to say that I will be at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation booth signing my latest book, DREAM OF NIGHT. Proceeds will go to the local chapter of the TRF, the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, in order to help raise awareness for their cause: taking care of Thoroughbreds after their racing career is over.
Here’s a picture of Susanna Thomas, Director of the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, the woman who has taught me so much about horses, the woman I thank at the end of DREAM OF NIGHT. Susanna and all the folks at MMSC/TRF work so very hard to give ex-racehorses a second chance at a wonderful life.
My book signing will be at the TRF/MMSC booth at the Kentucky Horse Park on Tuesday, September 28 from 11-1, and Thursday, September 30, from 1-3. Check back for more details as they develop!
Wow, Nebraska is gorgeous! I had no idea it would be so green and rolling. I flew into Omaha and was met at the airport by the lovely Karen Drevo of the Norfolk Public Library. From there we drove north and east, criss-crossing the wide Missouri, dipping into Iowa and South Dakota, eventually wending our way to Norfolk, home town of Johnny Carson.
I was not the only author invited to the Norfolk Literary Festival. My partners in crime were Deborah Hopkinson and Tony Varrato. It was fun sharing a car and a weekend with these two wonderful writers. Deborah’s Apples to Oregon is one of my all-time favorite picture books. Her new book, Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek is a new favorite.
Tony Varrato (who kindly provided all the photos for this post) is the author of the young adult novel, Fakie, a gritty story, boldly told. He’s the kind of energetic, funny, inspirational English teacher I wish I’d had in high school. Not only is he a good writer, he can juggle!
One of the reasons for our visit to Norfolk was to give a writing workshop for kids. I was thrilled to have three unique and talented young women in my class: Krista, Aeriel, and Mattie. We did some writing, some giggling, some sharing, some reading, some more writing, some more giggling. I was really impressed with the love of books, the interest in writing, the observations, the immediate connection these three girls had. Thanks, girls, for helping to make my day so special! And remember what I said: keep writing, keep writing, keep writing! And also: keep being you, keep asking questions, keep dreaming! I know you all will go far!
After the workshop I talked to a great group of folks about how I came to write That Book Woman, which celebrates the work of the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky. Many in the crowd were librarians themselves, and I always love talking to librarians about librarians, sharing the stories and photos of those early book women.
People came from far and wide for this annual festival (above are some of the attendees along with me, Deborah, and Tony on the end). The librarians of Norfolk are great organizers and motivators.
The staff of the Norfolk Public Library (pictured above) are real book lovers and troopers. (I hope you get some air conditioning soon!!!!)
Alas, at the end of the day, it was time to bid Nebraska adieu. I really enjoyed my visit. Thanks to everyone, including the Norfolk librarians and especially Karen Drevo (I’m so sorry I don’t have a pic of you by yourself because you, lady, are one stylish librarian!). Thanks to Deborah and Tony too for making it such a memorable trip.
Please check back soon because I’m going to add Deborah’s and Tony’s website to my list of fav websites (but first I have to ask my helpful husband and web monkey, Tim, how to do it 🙂