Thursday, December 30, 2010

What makes a good story

I just watched part of a Biography show about George Lucas. He said, "I'm an old-fashioned romantic. I believe in stories, in adventure, in romance."

Wow. THAT is what makes a good story teller!

By that definition, I guess I'm an old-fashioned romantic, too. I hope so. George Lucas, I hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

cardinal in the window

The birds are so much fun to watch this time of year. I feel sorry for them most of the time, though, so I try to keep my feeders stocked.

Just snapped this photo of a cardinal through my kitchen window, screen and all. It looks like a toy or an ornament or something. It's real, though.
Now: writers' retreat at my house this afternoon--hunkering down to get some work done!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I love holiday break. Get up, make coffee, write, walk Freya, eat lunch, write some more, work out (preferably, XC skiing, or tromping through knee-deep snow, or even sitting on the bike on the trainer and hating Coach Troy), write a bit more, make dinner, read, maybe clean a little, maybe watch a movie, read. Such a schedule is more than idyllic. It's heaven.

The reading part might be the best since during school I barely have time to keep up reading what my students are reading for my own classes.

Right now: I finished the Hunger Games and am halfway through Catching Fire. Don't want to put them down. I have about ten more books I'd like to read in the next ten days. Not sure that's gonna happen. Am going to get Wintergirls and Thirteen Reasons Why and Mockingbird any day now.

And then, there's the good family things that come with holidays. Yesterday, Bill and Cathy (my brother and his wife), came up from Iowa for the day. We had a blast. That sort of Christmas vacation possibility is the very best of all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cross Country Skiing

Lisa P. and I went skiing on the new trail Skarpohl grooms in Busher? Buscher? Park. Great, flat trail. It felt so good to be on skis again! First time this year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas walk and Grand Fondo!

Freya and I had a lovely Christmas walk this afternoon. Even though the snow was up to my knees and she has to barrel or bounce through it, we had a blast. It was quite the work-out. Lightly falling flakes, quiet, a few deer, and the glow of the snowy world. Christmas landscape as it should be.
And news: the Minnesota Ironman Bike ride will now be timed. A new venture! Grand Fondo, here we come!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December mornings and Bob Feller

Finals are over. I'm so relieved. Some wonderful moments of this semester, and some amazing students made it all worthwhile.
But still, it's so much work, I'm glad, glad, glad to be done for a few weeks.

The still early mornings mean no homework, just sitting with my laptop, my story about Grant O'Grady struggling to wend its way forward, Freya snoring nearby, and Christmas tree lights twinkling blue against the black early morning sky.
A magical way to start the day.

Speaking of Grant O'Grady. My protagonist is a fourteen-year-old boy in North Dakota in 1937. His Idol is Bob Feller, who grew up in Van Meter, Iowa, and who pitched for Fargo-Moorhead (Grant got to watch him play), before he was snatched up by the Cleveland Indians at age seventeen.

Bob Feller died this week. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though Grant is a fictional character, he lives in my head, in my life, and all of that part of me grieves Bob's death. Yet, Bob had a good life. That we should celebrate and remember.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sometimes I hate email

Sometimes, I need to bury in and work, but I feel guilty if I don't check my I do...and then I have fifteen things I need to attend to...and forty-five minutes later, I've gotten NO work done.
AAAAAck. It's not even a matter of being disciplined to stay away from email--if checking it has to be done. But sometimes I feel far too available.
Note: I'm not available right now. I'm grading.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Snow for Christmas? Hardly!

Pfeffernut County is indeed buried in snow this year. Everybody should be happy, right?!

Jill Kalz came to my Children's Lit. class at South Central.
I am reading book reviews that my students wrote, and here's a great excerpt (Mike Dokken, thanks):

This was an awesome book. After Jill came to class and read it, I had to buy it for my daughter.
Although that farmer comes off a bit "crazy," all of the other farmers eventually envy him and follow his example.

The message in this book is great. Think for yourself!
Illustrations are very colorful, very on target, and very cool!!!

Overall, AWESOME BOOK!!! I am so glad I got this, and plan to add the rest of the Pfeffernut County Series to my kids' library.
Great Children's Book! I'm glad I picked it up.

What a nice endorsement!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Girl Meets Boy

I am in the throes of grading final portfolios and research papers. I won't emerge until sometime next week unless I have to come up for air in between.

So I'm just relishing this, which I've forgotten to be excited about. That will hopefully carry me through. Then I have three weeks in which I can write EVERY DAY!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards died today. I'm sad.

Elizabeth Edwards was a a real woman. A real, brilliant, articulate, loving woman.
When she visited MSU when John was campaigning for VP, she could answer every question thrown her direction about everything from foreign policy to economics to health care. The only question she couldn't answer was, "Why hasn't your husband's book been made more public during this campaign? It's a brilliant book." She said, "I can't answer that. I have no idea."

After she talked to us, she greeted every single person who wanted to meet her. I thanked her for what she was doing and told her how much I admired her, and she gave me a huge hug. She was a woman who exuded intelligence, kindness, and sincerity. No matter what anyone's political stance, nobody can argue with the fact that Elizabeth Edwards was something. I'm sad that she's no longer in the world.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I finished Swati Avasthi's SPLIT a couple weeks ago, on the way to North Carolina, and I either have had no time to blog, or Blogger has jammed my internet connection, so I haven't mentioned it again. It was one of the best YA books I've ever read. The story follows complex characters with no easy answers to their situations; their complex problems don't necessarily get resolved, yet come to a very satisfying place at the end of the book. It's one of the clearest fictional depictions of how domestic violence works, and the protagonist is so well drawn, that we're with him in his struggle every step of the way.

I LOVED this book. I feel as if the characters are my friends, and they're the kind of characters that stick with me, as if I wonder how they're doing now. I can't recommend it enough for anyone, not just for YA lovers and readers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's winter!

So, the snow that fell sank a bit, but it looks like it's here to stay. This morning, the temp was 11 degrees! Two weeks ago, I was riding in shorts. This is a strange world, n'esct-ce pas?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Swati Avasthi's SPLIT

I worked on Slider's Son for over an hour this morning. Feels good.

I'm buried in homework--so much to grade (as any reader in any of my classes will attest) that I shouldn't be doing anything but that. However, my soul needs a little reading, and for Children's Lit., I have to keep reading along with the class. Is that my rationalization? Or is that real? That means tomorrow sometime, I'll reread The Bridge to Terabithia, which I look forward to 'cause it's a beautiful, sad, and wonderful book.

But for now, I'm stealing any free moment to immerse myself in SPLIT by Swati Avasthi. It's beautifully written. Wonderful prose, great language; the character has a terrific, believable voice, and the story has sucked me in entirely. I never want to put it down when I have to, and it's one of those books I won't want to end. Jace, the main character, has fled his abusive home in the middle of the night, lands with his older brother who had also run away. Crazy, wonderful YA story about dysfunction and love among people who are smart enough to view the world with care.
I'm not done yet, but I recommend it without reservation for EVERYBODY.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shorts on November 7

My 20-mile ride today was a breeze compared to yesterday. I could maintain 17 mph heading into the wind by myself, as opposed to the wimpy 10-11 mph yesterday. That was wicked. Of course the ride home yesterday (wind at my back) was like magic--flying. That always maked bucking the headwind on the way out worthwhile. Yesterday was some suffering, and I was tired at the end, but why is it that we love to suffer when it means being on the bike?

Anyway, today was beautiful, and though I should have been grading papers, I took a bit of time off to ride, and to walk Freya and play outside. I may pay all week, but I'm not actually sorry at all.

And I started Split by Swati Avasthi this afternoon. HOLY SMOKE! Wonderful read! I didn't want to put it down. More on that soon.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Some reviews/Blurbs

Chasing AllieCat "reviews" on the FLUX Now website:

Humbling, I guess. But I'm excited for the book to be out in the world. Had a strange and interesting contact from Kirstin Cronn-Mills. She's at the YALSA Conference in Sante Fe (YA LIT division of ALA). She texted me something about Gay content in Jake Riley? She's on a panel for Gay/Bi/Lesbian/Trans content in YA lit, and Jake Riley was on a table of books that have gay content. Interesting--but cool that it's recognized. The content is certainly not a central focus of Jake Riley, but it sure is there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trick or Treaters


Kt always leads her riding students in full costume, bareback, around Tom's neighborhood to trick or treat. We had candy and carrots ready this year.

And then, the little trick-or-treaters at the library made out like bandits--or like Spiderman--at the end of storytime, too. Chuck Schoettler, aka The Dungeon Master, regaled us with "'Twas the Night before Halloween," and we both fed the kids' sugar obsession. My dead skunk was on hand, too.

And then, last but far from least, came Paige and her buddies from Bethany. We had some good laughs.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloweeny stuff

Freya came to school with me on Friday. She went as Sirius Black. The sign around her neck reads: "Have you seen this Wizard?"

THEN, Saturday morning, I read Halloween stories at the Blue Earth County Library story time. Lots of kids--I bet 60--came and listened--raptly, actually--while I read. Then the Dungeon master, aka Chuck Schoettler, recited his "Twas the Night before Halloween" poem to the kids' delight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maggie Stiefvater to speak to NASA

Maggie Stiefvater has been asked to give a speech to NASA at the TED conference.
Okay, so now I feel pretty privileged to have heard her as a keynote last week. The phone conversation relaying the invitation is funny. Even she didn't think it was a serious invitation:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

The conference Saturday, held at The Open Book/The Loft all day, was worth every moment, and an absolute bargain for registration fee.

Maggie Stiefvater was the keynote Saturday morning. I'm not the hugest fan of all fantasy books, but her prose sucks me in and her conflicts keep me turning the page. Long and short: I admire her. Fully. Absolutely. I think I dreamed four-leaf clovers while reading Lament.
She's as funny and quirky and smart in person as you'd expect.

She talked about her journey as a blogger/social media user. Good stuff, so I'm all the more committed to continuing this!

Brian Farrey (Acquisitions Editor at FLUX, and my editor for Chasing AllieCat) and Andrew Karre chaired/organized the conference. Kudos to them for doing a superb job. They're both cyclists and book people. Go figure that they'd both be such cool guys. : )

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chris Crutcher blubs Chasing AllieCat

Crutcher has this to say about Chasing AllieCat:
"A wonderful, tough, TOTALLY believable story about brutality, resilience, friendship under fire and the healing power of athletics. Hang on tight. This is quite a ride."

Thanks, Crutch!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Llama spit

Llama, llama. Lama.
A young llama lives with two pygmie goats by Tom's dad's barn. Tom's dad found him on the sub-zero night he was born and brought him into the barn. The little guy's ears were frostbitten, and he now has shorter than normal llama ears. Freya and I are friends with all three (llama and goats). When we walk in those woods, we stop on the way, Freya goes nose-to-nose, and I rub Dalai Lama's neck (Yes, that really is his name) and rub the little goats between their horns.

Llamas spit. I know this, and when he starts chortling up his cud, I move out of the direct line of fire. This weekend, however, he was particularly nuzzly and cuddly and wanting rubs, so I let my guard down. Only to get PHLAT! right on the chest and chin. It's green. It' s mostly chewed grass, but it's still a bit phlemy and not exactly pleasant. But still funny.

I've been Llamaed. Llamed Llammed. Lamaied. Phlatted. Two points for whoever can think of the best verb for this experience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dr. Seuss: best "Where do you get your ideas?" answer

Dr. Seuss, when asked "Where do you get your ideas for books?" answered as follows. His answer wins, hands-down, for the best answer I've ever heard to this question. Thanks to Anita Silvey for publishing this in Children's Books and Their Creators, taken from The Horn Book Magazine in 1989.

"This is the most asked question of any successful author. Most authors will not disclose their source for fear that other less successful authors will chisel in on their territory. However, I am willing to take a chance. I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Uber Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock repaired. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them."

Great, huh?

Silvey, Anita. Children's Books and Their Creators. New York: Houghton, 1995

Monday, October 11, 2010

Photo shoot for eventual book trailer

Steve Pottenger shot video and photos for the upcoming CHASING ALLIECAT book trailer. He got some good shots! Thanks, thanks, Steve, Mike, David, Jenna, Rachael, and Daryl for coming out! It was fun--and we got to ride Mount Kato!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's a BOOK.

Oh, I'm afraid this is becoming all too true already. It's great.

(Thanks, Rachael, for sharing this).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recent reads

Between riding on planes and sitting at the hospital, and being quiet at Nikki and Tom's house while baby Alec sleeps, I've read three books since Tuesday.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan:
Absolutely loved this story, and want to read more of Rick Riordan's work. The mythology is pretty close to accurate and delightfully reinforces mythical characters and their characteristics; the only obvious discrepancy I note is that Percy (Perseus) is Poseidon's son in the book--which makes for great drama and waterworks--but in the mythical stories, Perseus is Zeus's and Danae's son. That mythical fact (is that an oxymoron?) disturbs me, but not enough to keep me from loving the book and intending to read the rest of the series.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman:
I have to admit, this is the first Neil Gaiman I've read. I'm sort of embarrassed about that, but I'm fessing up. He's so dark, it's hard to love this book, but still it haunts me, a few days after finishing the last page (sorry for that bad pun). At first, I was disturbed that it won the Newbery--wondering if the overly fantastical life of the dead wowed the Newbery judges into selecting it. By the time I was done, though, I truly loved Nobdoy Owens, and cared deeply for his welfare and success in life--in living, actually. His strange guardian Silas is a delightful character, but made me feel "What? Is the entire world obsessed with the undead and vampires?" Beyond that, it's a very good read. And Gaiman is an artist with language. No question about that.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron:
I also have to admit (confessions on a Sunday morning?) that this was my favorite of the three. Lucky is an absolutely indomitable, lovable, bright and spunky character with "voice" bursting the seams of the book. This is one I could read over and over, and the hardscrabble life Lucky lives, and the way her life turns out within the story is one that can and should touch everybody of any age. Her spunk reminds me Clementine. This one I'll use in Children's lit another time.
I also heard Susan Patron speak at the SCBWI conference in New York after she'd won the Newbery. She was so funny and humble and wise that I did open this book with open arms. The story, however, far exceeded my hopes. "Srotum" on the first page causing the book to be banned is just as ridiculous as banning To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now, I need to read another adult book--on to Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jesus is a fan. WHAT?

Okay, I rarely watch TV (except in July for the Tour de France and other cycling events I get to catch). I remembered why I dislike TV today when a college football game camera panned fan signs. One read, "Jesus is an Oregon fan." GOOD GODALMIGHTY. How stupid are we as a nation to think GOD or Jesus or any deity backs our favorite team because we do and we pray for them to win!? I just had to rant. That made me so mad. It's beyond stupid. It's asinine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apres Velo

I have to put in a little plug for this company from Australia. I love their stuff:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010


I just got off the phone with two publicity people from FLUX, the publisher of Chasing AllieCat.
It's overwhelming--but completely exciting that Allie and friends are going to get some publicity out in the world. It's humbling, too. And it's starting to feel real...

I'm excited, though, for Sadie, Allie, and Joe to start riding in people's world's all over the place.

Pub date: Feb. 1.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flood Stage

It's duck weather out. Even Freya didn't want to be out in the downpour this morning.
Worms are the only happy critters. And ducks. But they don't count when hunting season is approaching, do they?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Just finally read Crank by Ellen Hopkins. I've heard female YA readers rave about it, and couldn't get into the first few pages though I tried a couple times. This time I decided to keep reading until I fell in, and fall I did. It's good. Very good. Sometimes I'm amazed that she gets by with the abstractions she uses in places, but I think it's so solidly imagistic the rest of the time, that we all forgive her. It's well, well, worth the read.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

More than one way to cross a river...

More than one way to cross a river. I LOVE this photo.
The Veloist is looking for caption ideas. Submit away!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Poster from Junior Library Guild

Poster from Junior Library Guild!

I'm feelin' humbled...and very excited. Can't quite believe Chasing AllieCat is showing up somewhere.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The bicycle...

Christopher Morley said, "The Bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets." Makes me smile.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Charlotte's Web

If you love good writing or if you love to read and write, and if you haven't read Charlotte's Web lately, you really ought to give it a second-or fourth or fith go. If you've never read it, then it's a MUST.

We read Charlotte's Web this past week for Children's Lit., and even though I read it two years ago, I had once again forgotten what a spectacular book this is.

Publishers Weekly listed the book as the best-selling children's paperback of all time as of 2000. Lasting as a favorite since its publication in 1952 says volumes about its classic appeal.

Eudora Welty wrote, "As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done."

Last night we examined the major elements of literature within the story, and it holds up to all kinds of scrutiny. Apply almost any school of literary criticism, and Charlotte's Web is a great study. It is, quite simply, a nearly perfectly written story.

And best of all, no matter how many times I read the story, I will cry, yes every time, when Charlotte dies. Anita Silvey tells this in her Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators: "...[W]hile making a commercial recording of the book, White himself choked up as he read those elegiac words about Charlotte--'and no one was with her when she died'--so that the taping session had to be stopped."

Not bad, when the creator himself is so moved.
Want a fast read of one of the most classic of all stories? Pick it up and read it again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sherman Alexie

I'm finally reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Sometimes Alexie's style isn't my favorite, but this book is pretty entertaining, and I do like it a lot. I don't think I understand that it got the National Book Award, but I do think Sherman Alexie is hilarious and insightful, so I don't want to detract from that at all. He throws in cartoon illustrations, which are also funny and painfully honest. I guess that's why it won the National Book Award--an amazying blend of hilarity, pain, honesty, and insight.

So, yeah, I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm pretty excited about the classes I'm teaching. But how quickly we forget how much work it is...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Young Adult literature

Here's an essay about Young Adult Literature and why we love it so much--and how it's popular for readers of all ages, not just teens. I love this. Makes me feel all the better about writing YA, too.

YA books, are great reads for anybody. Absolutely. So nice to be in such good company.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scarlet Pimpernel

I finally watched The Scarlet Pimpernel last night. It's set during the Reign of Terror after the beginning of the French Revolution. It is a different view than those stories that glorify the Republic and the ridding society of Aristocracy. It's a good movie, though it's "old"--made in 1982.

The Pimpernel is a underground hero, saving innocent aristocrats from the infamous guillotine. By day, he plays the foppish English dandy, Sir Percy Blakeney, but he is really the fearless swashbuckling hero, whose identity isn't even known to his wife. The revelation, is of course, a major plot point.

I'm not sure how I'd feel about this movie if I were French. It plays the Engilsh hero against ruthless guillotine-happy French libertines, fighting for the Republic.

It's interesting because it's a precursor to the hidden identity-hero--who plays a fop or bumbler for the public eye. This was written sixteen years before ZORRO appeared, and of course Superman and even Batman also come to mind.

If you're interested in superheros and the evolution of heroic tales--or if you've seen Zorro--or even better, read Isabel Allende's version of his development in her novel ZORRO, you would thoroughly enjoy this movie!

Friday, August 13, 2010

On being ridiculous

I've been lucky enough to have both my kids and their partners home for chunks of summertime. Besides a visit to N. Carolina to see them, I've had more time with them than I have for a few years. Summer has gone too fast, but it's been one of the best ever.

As I write this, my son is at the kitchen table, with his buddy. They are planning a cross-country trip that goes from Minnesota to the desserts in the southwest, up the West Coast through L.A. and San Fransciso, all the way to Alaska, where his buddy's parents live. My son is not teaching this year--burned out--and needs this, especially if he can sell his motorcycle to finance the excursion.

So this morning, I said, "I sure am going to miss you when you leave. But I'm so excited for your trip, that it overrides the selfish sadness I'm going to feel."

"Oh, Mother. You're ridiculous."

"I know. I try. It's one of my goals in life to be ridiculous."

My son: "Well, Mom, check that one off your list."

Ah, chief on my bucket list is to never slide into mediocrity or humdrum existence. Ridiculous is good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My BAT story. Bats 2010.

When Freya got me up to go outside this morning at 4, a BAT was flying laps around my kitchen.

All the bat stories my friends tell involve: 1. a husband chasing the bat while they hide under the covers, 2. a tennis racket--Neither of which I have at my disposal. Tennis racket is in the garage, and I don't want to risk this bat flying off to hide in some cranny upstairs. I don't want to let him out of my sight, so my tennis racket is not an option.

So, first I buck up--nobody else is gonna get this sucker so I gotta do it--I put on my hat (in case the wives' tales about bats getting in your hair is really true), and look for something with which to swat him out of orbit! Used the last newspaper to light the grill last night...wait...a RUG! I swoop up a rug, time his lap just right and wham! I knock him to the kitchen floor. Quick, before he flaps up again, I pick him up in the rug and hustle outside.

Over the raspberry bushes, where the bat body can decompose, I give the rug a shake. No bat. I shake harder. No bat. What? He's stuck to the rug. I'm NOT pulling him off. After all this, I'm not touching him. Is he dead? No, he's hanging on for dear life. I can't shake him loose.

So I hang the rug over a rung of the windmill and let him be. Freya looks at the rug and wonders if she needs to bark at this apparition in the dark. (Why didn't she see the damn bat? She was too busy on her way outside to do her business! And I wouldn't want her chasing it or barking at it in the house anyway).

He was there the whole time Freya was outside, but this morning, he was gone.

Good little bat. Stay OUTSIDE where you belong and eat mosquitoes.

Ah, the price I pay for a farmhouse getaway of my own. Know what? It's worth it.
And it makes a good story.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Children's Lit

I get to teach both Creative Writing and Children's Lit again this fall! I'll have four different preps, so it's gonna be busy, but I'm excited, now that I'm seriously getting stuff ready for classes. It's always a hard transition to go from summer schedule of writing and riding my bike and seeing my kids and reading to a full school load, but once I get going, I remember why I love to teach.

I'm determined to keep writing during the school year. I'm determined. We'll see how long I can keep that mantra going.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Freya!

Freya's two years old. My puppy. The Giant Furball. Joy-bringer, snuggler, galumpher, the Never-Ending Story dog in all-black.

She's spending most of her birthday on the basement floor, trying to stay cool.

Don't you love it when you exercise and take a shower and keep sweating for an hour afterward? It's one of those days.

But I have to spend the day at school. Ah, yes, it's fast approaching. So much to do. It'll be fun. Being around students helps me get excited. Otherwise, I just want to hole up and write (and ride my bike and play with Freya).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Great article/speech by Elif Shafak on fiction writing, and the politics of multi-cultural literature

Elif Shafak on the politics of fiction--and about the art of fiction in general. It's a wonderful speech, and the transcript is available if your computer won't play the video. If you're interested in writing, or in how writers work, you'll find it interesting:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Leadville...sigh, relief.

The author of this article has won the Leadville Mountain Bike race many times. Last year, he was second only to Lance. After I saw Race Across the Sky, I entered the lottery to get into the race. I didn't get in, and as I read about prepping for the race, I'm wistful. But to be honest, I'm also RELIEVED!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Now, I am a believer that when you expect something to happen, it doesn't. I was sure I would not be picked by the Junior Library Guild. Guess that's why it happened.
But this article makes me seriously glad to be picked. I feel very honored, even though I expect nothing more will ever come except simply getting in print.

It's just cool to be a part of this. And this long-in-the process--fifteen rewrites and revisions--pays off, I guess.

Next book project first draft completed last week. Many more drafts to come, I'm sure.

In the meantime, onward to another novel that I've started. More on that later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


OMG. The Junior Library Guild has chosen Chasing AllieCat as one of their official book selections for 2011!!! I'm so stoked. I hope I get to visit lots of libraries and schools to read and talk about stories and biking...and dogs!
Check out Junior Library Guild YA paperback selections:
Preorder at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

hanging on

I'm sad that the Tour de France comes to an end today. It's the only time all year that I watch TV regularly, and it's a bit addicting. I also love Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen and Bobke, and I'll miss spending time with them each day.

Can't wait to watch the sprinters on the Champs Elysee!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

TDF Time Trial

I must be looking for diversion from writing, but I broke down and am watching the TDF Time Trial. So exciting! So many guys could kick some butt today. Contador is by far the favorite, but "fire in the belly" can carry Andy a long way! Lance, anyone? Levi?


Listening to Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 4--The North Carolina Symphony in which my daughter is playing, and Yevgeny Sudbin is on the piano. Amazing music. How can anybody move their fingers like that?
Love it. Great writing music, when it doesn't distract me with its beauty!

Friday, July 23, 2010

fun news about Chasing AllieCat

I found out yesterday that Chasing AllieCat is being considered as a Junior Library Guild selection for 2011. Since it hasn't been chosen yet, I'd better make the most of the publicity possibility while it's still in the running!
And it's available for preorder on Barnes and Noble and now:

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is so wise and funny. War Dances cracks me up with sadness. Does that make sense?
"I think Viagra was invented so that extramarital assholes could have extra years to be assholes."
How sad is that? And perhaps true?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Holy Head-Butt!

Trying hard for "prolificity" writing this summer. However, had to watch the end of today's TDF stage.

Holy head butt!
Renshaw headbutted Dean near the finish to give Cavendish a straight shot to win, which he did! Cavendish is so fast, he doesn't need his team mate playing a Robbie McEwen at the finish line to get a stage win.

I've resurrected an old poster of Petacchi for my fridge. He's amazing and I'm glad he's in the green sprinter's jersey, even though I'm still secretly or not so secretly, rooting for Thor Hushovd! But I also really like Tyler Farrar.
Sprints this year are anything but boring!
And we know, what we'll remember from the Ides of July sprint is Renshaw's head butt!

Now, back to work!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Best recommendation for Chasing AllieCat

My daughter summarized Chasing AllieCat this way:

"kinda Judy Blume meets Steig Larsson. Three kids are montain biking when they find a comatose man in the woods - all hell breaks out. Technically a young adult book but a great read for anyone." Couldn't be a more awesome recommendation. Thanks, Nik!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010


Chasing AllieCat is available for preorder on Barnes and Noble online!!! Here is the cover! I am sooooo excited!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quotes from the TDF

Still love that Phil Liggett called Contador and Armstrong the Siamese twins of the Tour.

And Tyler Farrar said, "To be honest, it wasn't the funnest day on the bike for me."

Phil said: "It's not so far [stage 4]; only 95 miles."

21st century

Whoa. I feel like I just joined the 21st century. Only ten years late. I got my intenet fixed at home--and so far, it's pretty fast!--and I took the leap and got DishNet, primarily and almost entirely to watch the entire Tour de France this year. However, I've already enjoyed a few other TV programs. It's been so long that I've been without, that I forgot how much fun it is and nice to be "connected."

And the Tour, the Tour! oh, I'm so addicted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Giving Tree

This blue spruce, who used to stand tall and proud in my yard, have his life Friday night keeping a giant cottonwood from smashing into my house. Here he is, after we've cleaned up most of the cottonwood, nearly crushed and at a 45-degree angle from how he used to stand. I cried while I cut him up.
And yeah, the spot where I'm standing used to be lawn. The house lost only part of a gutter, thanks to the Giving Tree. We'll have some honorary bonfires soon, to let him continue giving and giving...
(Oh, and yeah, power tools are a girl's best friend).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fairy Circles?

Anybody ever heard of Fairy circles before? These mysterious circles of dark, thick grass grow, sometimes containing mushrooms/toadstools, and sometimes not. We've seen them countless times in the horse pasture, and were sort of baffled by this nearly perfectly round growth. Most were about six feet across. THEN, this ring of mushrooms popped up right beside the vegetable garden! You can see how big it is around Freya and me. It's crazy. We still haven't found a scientific reason for the perfectly circular growth pattern.
But almost every country has its own folklore about fairy rings! Come dance within it, and you may dance until you die of exhaustion, unless someone pulls you out by your shirttail. If no one helps you out, you could be stuck there forever! Or--fall in and go directly to the kingdom of the elves. Or--if you step inside and no one knows did, you may become invisible to humans forever!
They say that even if you dig it up and replace the sod, the fairy ring will return. These mushrooms just got mowed down. So....I'll keep you posted. So far, I think Freya and I are still in the human world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The other book

I couldn't remember is Black Box, a YA story from the perspective of a girl whose sister is hospitalized for depression. It's a very interesting look at the guilt, the need to "fix," and the way mental illness can shatter a family. The protaganist, ultimately learns that she herself has to survive and have a life. Good read. Not my fav YA lately, but thought-provoking.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why do we love Lisbeth Salander so much?

The Girl Who Played with Fire:
Just finished it tonight. Couldn't put it down.

Why do we fall right into rooting for this quicky, absolutely non-conformist, outside-the law-of society's norms, big-hearted girl? 'Cause she's a grown up Pippi Longstocking, that's why!!

She's got absent parents, been kicked around by the institutions set up to supposedly help those in need, and takes matters into her own hands. She's Pippi, in Sweden, and the book is laced with Astrid Lindgren, and Pippi references. It's like falling into an adult version of loving Pippi books all over again.

Started The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest already.
I started laughing when I realized the Pippi parallels, but lots of people have been talking about that, too:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Great summer reads and summer lists...

What do I love about summer? Let me count the ways....
  • a break from teaching, prepping, and grading
  • traveling with students, seeing amazing European sites with wonderful students
  • sleeping closer to 8 hours a night
  • riding my bike many more miles than during school
  • reading whatever I want and when I want
  • writing, writing, writing, and getting lots done so far
I have read some wonderful books since school got out. Here's my list so far:
  1. Choices by Kate Buckley--super YA novel, right up there with Chris Crutcher for a great job with a YA issue novel: this one deals with date rape, teen pregnancy, and abortion vs. the conservative pro-live mindset. Very well done, and good characterization
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo--oh, mygoodness--I think this is the best detective novel I've ever read. Couldn't put it down. Am now deep in the second book of the series. Just sad that Stieg Larsson died shortly after delivering all three manuscripts for publication.
  3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield--This one has been on my nightstand for maybe two years, and I finally grabbed it. LOVED it. It's been called a "love letter to reading." TRUE! More on this book later.
  4. Cemetery Dance--another mystery that was much fun
  5. Glass Castle by Jeanette Wall--one of my favorite memoirs ever since Angela's Ashes.

There is at least one more, but I can't remember it right now. FUN to be reading.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The view from where I sit...

My most frequent view from the car. Freya's nose. Speaking of Freya, she had her first foray into being a real therapy dog today. We visited a preschool/daycare with some other therapy dogs, and I must say, Freya loved it. When the little kids wanted to pet her, she just lay down in her bear rug mode and let them rub her, lean on her, play with her paws and ears, and she loved it. I think she's going to be good at this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Planes, trains, and automobiles

I can't stop smiling. Life is pretty wonderful right now. It's summer.
Had a spectacular trip to Europe in spite of the fact that Planes, Trains, and Automobiles all broke down. We had plenty of reason to be stressed, but our whole group had a great attitude. It's an adventure when your bus breaks down in the middle of Spain, miles from anywhere, except, thankfully, a truck stop that served snacks, meals, ice cream, and beer! The first picture is of the truck stop.
The plane from Chicago to Paris broke before we got on board, and though we had to sit in Chicago for four extra hours, and thus had to readjust our schedule in Paris, we weatherd it well. Two subways malfunctioned while we were aboard, and all we had to do then was get off and wait for another.

Three passports were pickpocketed/stolen from girls in our group. Huge lesson to be learned about keeping that passport next to your body at all times! In spite of these, now memorably humorous mishaps, it was a life-changing trip for lots of students.

Walking through the Louvre and seeing original work by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giotto, Delacroix, Gericault, etc., etc., brough several people (me included), to tears. And then the Musee D'Orsay with Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Degas, Renoir, Bazille, Seurat, and lots of vanGogh...all of whom we'd studied...was moving at the very least.

In Spain, everyone fell in love with Barcelona's beach and beautiful parks and climate. Gaudi's crazy architectural designs had most of us walking around with our mouths hanging open. After seeing Gothic cathedrals in Paris, seeing such a unique and quirkydesign for a cathedral of Sagrada Familia's magnitude was breathtaking. (Second picture here is of La Sagrada Familia).
More about the trip to come! In the meantime, I'm basking in the great time we all had together.
Now: writing like an S.O.B. It's summer!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Research Paper and Mother's Day

Ah, I always wanted to spend Mother's Day grading research papers. Not. But, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Back at it...

Soon, Europe, then summer and writing and riding and getting to see my kids!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Freya's official TDI Dog portrait

Had to have a mug shot for Freya's Therapy Dog International I.D. : ) A photo that shows recognizable details isn't all that easy to get on a black dog! But we got one.

Not getting 75 hours in a day, so better make the most of it

So my wish for 75 hours a day for the next two weeks isn't going to be granted. I just have to stay on task ALL the time and make the most of it.

Countdown to France and Spain begins. We--all 33 of us students and faculty--leave in ELEVEN DAYS. I'm so excited, but right now I don't have time to think about it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kids and school and writing and biking and gardening and FREYA

So much going on, my head is spinning. But it's all good and life is pretty damn wonderful. Springtime and all, too.

Nikki's pregnant, and I am pretty excited, no, scratch that. I'm am SOOOOO excited!!!!!!! I think about it all the time.

Tim James visited my Humanities classes this past Thursday, and he kicked ass. My students loved him, and I felt like they learned so, so much. They thought it was terrific. So fun. He talked about Dali, Picasso, and his own (amazing) work. We talked about the progression from realism to twisting it to do something other than realistic representation. Surrealism, Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism, and Expressionism. And Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. I felt like everybody got most of the distinctions!

Hoping to plant my veggie garden this afternoon. Have to finish grading first.....
Want to get a ride in, too, but don't know if I can do it all.
And then, there's working on my WIP (Work in progress/next novel).

That's why I need 75 hours per day for the next two weeks. Two weeks from today, we leave for France and Spain!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A reminder...

"What's that Russian saying? 'How do you make God Laugh? - Tell him your plans.'"

Monday, April 19, 2010


This weekend, I had too much to do, and got to go to the MN Book Awards, all of which meant I should have spent every spare minute grading.

Instead, I went for a bike ride each day this weekend. Saturday, with Lisa; yesterday, with David and Rachael for sixty miles. What a great rides. Love, love, love passing plowed/disked/in-the-proces-of-planting fields. The smell of spring! Heaven!

(And I got up at 4 this morning to get grading done. It's working!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MN Book Awards

MN Book Awards Gala last night.

Our whole writing group--minus Sally, whom we sorely missed--attended at the Crown Plaza downtown, St. Paul. A grand time was had by all (And I'm still full today).

Kirstin Cronn Mills didn't win, but she only lost to Kate DiCamillo, who has won the Newbery, Newbery Honor, and a MN Book award already, so that's like losing to John Updike. She was a finalist! And we are proud.

Nicole Helget didn't win for Turtle Catcher, either, but I haven't read the book that beat hers. I couldn't put Turtle Catcher down, so it would be interesting to read The Book of Night Women that beat hers. Perhaps it's a cultural thing....but I'll have to read it and see.

I'm still very proud of KCM and Nicole.

Selfishly, the best part of the evening was getting to meet my editor, Brian Farrey, from FLUX who is publishing Chasing AllieCat. He's great. We had fun, and I'm excited to get to work with him and the cool publicist people who were also at the Gala from FLUX.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Guess what I just did? FILED MY TAXES. April 14. Yup. What a great tradition.

I was going to do it over spring break--when I finished my schoolwork--which took the whole week--so I didn't. I was going to do it last weekend, but I had too much grading. Comes down to under the gun.
Maybe that's why I'm a decent teacher--I get the idea of procrastination

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reading my HUM students' papers about our field trip

Awesome. My Intro to Humanities students all wrote responses to our trip to the Guthrie and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. What they have to say makes me so, so, so glad that we do this every semester. It's worth every minute of work and every penny to get to see real original art by masters and to see professional actors on stage. I love reading all they have to say. Makes my teaching job worth it--and just when I was bemoaning no time to write.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Interesting Article on parents in YA Lit

This article talks about either the absent parent, or the ineffectual parent, or the dead parent, etc. Any of these set up the protagonist of the story to need to solve his or her own problems. I've thought about this charateristic of YA Lit quite a bit. But it doesn't always happen that way. Chris Crutcher, though he doles out his share of bad, abusive, and ineffectual parents, also has kind and helpful, honest, good adults or parents available in some of his young characters' lives. I think that's one reason I like his stories: there's a realistic balance, and besides the fact that kids can grow and learn to solve their own problems, there's the fact that helpful adults exist and are avavailable to help through tough times.

Anyway, the article is worth reading:

Rainy day

Well, good thing it's rainy today. I have so much grading to do that I'm glad it's not even tempting to go out for a ngo woods walk with Freya and for a ride outside on my bike. Got the okay from the doctor to try wearing whatever shoes I can stand. I think I'll cut a hole in my road bike shoes so my toe doesn't scream the whole ride.

I did get outside twice this weekend, with a platform pedal on the road bike. Can't wait to clip in again and go.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Field trip today!! Yippeee!!

Today is the day for our huge Humanities field trip: to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and to Macbeth at the Guthrie! (And the Ol' Spaghetti Factory in between). We're all excited.

Yesterday in class we took parts and read the first several pages of Macbeth aloud in prepration. We had a blast, and everybody who came and read feels ready to watch. Fun!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friends and books and awards

My friend Kirstin Cronn-Mills' YA novel is up for a Minnesota Book award. Here's a review from their website:

My friend Kate Buckley's novel CHOICES is up for Book of the year award:

And Nicole Helget's Turtle Catcher is up for a Minnesota Book Award, too!

At least I dwell in impressive company.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Minnesota spring certainly isn't silent.

The rivers are ROARING around here. The Minnesota is so far out of its banks that it's swallowed up both the dog park and the big pond on the Kasota Prairie. Yesterday, the Rapidan Dam had an entire tree stuck through the waterway, half on each side of the dam. However, The world is cracking spring open with a glorious blue-sky day and a fresh-smelling breeze.

Freya ran out on one of the smaller Kasota Prairie ponds and fell through the ice. Lucky she's got webbed feet. She hung on with her front paws and crawled and paddled her way back up on the ice. She was unfazed, but happy to be cooled off!

And my niece just had her baby! New spring life.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The future of KIDS' LIT

Mark McVeigh posted this article about the future of publishing for children and YA. Very interesting. (And thanks, Mark).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

It's my brother's birthday, and that makes my Norwegian self feel nearly Irish. Strange, but true.

Great VeloNews Mailbag article about the coverage of men's racing vs. that of women's racing. Fun to read.
Maybe this is a good time to see if VeloNews my be willing to sell Chasing AllieCat in their VeloGear catalog. Maybe I'll have to buy an ad in the mag, but anything would be terrific.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH! The legendary warning to Julius Caesar always sends bristles up my spine on this day. Speaking of Rome, my humanities classes are both taking their mid-terms this week. Nothing would make me happier than my entire Intro to Humanities class Acing their exams.

Foggy again. "They"--the weatherpeople--say that we won't see the sun 'til late in the week. First, it's dark from Daylight savings time change, and then it barely gets light when the sun is up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ghost tea

So....yesterday, my writing group went to a "Ghost Tea" at a haunted house. The resident (living, human) has written two books about her and her family's experiences with spirits and in her house. Delightfully fun afternoon, though no ghost appearances by the other residents (deceased, ghostly)while we were there.

If you're fascinated, or slightly interested, check out Annie's blog or webpage...and her books.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mud, mud, mud...

Who could love mud as much as Minnesotans?

Freya is snoozing on the bed. It's raining sheets, but the snow on vast stretches of fields has been reduced to less than a foot. The promise of spring is thick, heavy mud, black as my dad's plowed fields in Iowa.

The mud is heavy on my cast-boot, too, heavier because I wear Tom's two-buckle overshoe rubber so I can go out in the wet at all.

But spring is coming.

As soon as Freya wakes up, she'll forget that it's raining and go out again...sleep, wake, repeat. Maybe I'll take her swimming...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I wrote a novel...

My editor emailed that the "launch" meeting for Chasing AllieCat went well today. YAH!
The committee isn't asking me to change the title, which is both a relief and somewhat unusual, I guess.
Cover art is the next step. It's finally starting to feel real, like yeah, maybe I am a real author and it wasn't a fluke to get one book published. Here comes another one. WHEEEEE.

Rachael shared this blog, and it's so, so, so true, I had to pass it on:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rest and Restoration

I finished the last little edits FLUX requested on Chasing AllieCat.

This morning I woke up realizing that I would redo one little piece of the manuscript. As it is, the reader can figure out one little subplot before Sadie can. Sadie's too smart for that, so I'm going to redo it, so we as readers figure it out when Sadie does. That will be in line with what FLUX requested and what I know needs to be done in the story.

I LOVE the last edits on a story. This might be my favorite part of writing...polishing so it's as perfect as it can be. I'm so happy with this book. It's sort of complex--with various twists, thought it's a pretty traditional storyline--but I feel as if I've woven all the little tiny details together so they work seamlessly.

Crazy when I think how much I've changed since my first drafts, how many notes for revision I've made, and how many drafts are saved in my computer. I'm sure I've thrown out over 120 pages now, but what's left works. WHEW.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flickr: Organize your photos & videos

So I worked on my photo page on Flickr. I'm trying to figure out how to make Flickr my photo page for Facebook. Steve sent me instructions. Will see if I can find them!
Even with a "broken dewclaw" as Tom says--my little toe surgically repaired after being broken too many times--it's heaven to have spring break and do some stuff I haven't had time to do since Christmas. I'm on the bed, toe propped and iced, with my laptop. It feels like vacation. Ha!
Flickr: Organize your photos & videos

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring break and an interesting article about high school sex

Spring break really beginning...feels good.

Got my minor toe surgery out of the way this morning. I can already walk in the boot, so the challenge will be staying off and elevating as much as I should. The doctor even told me I can ride my trainer in the boot with a platform pedal by the end of next week.

In the mean time, thinking about my next novel--want to have ideas galore when I'm done with Slider's Son. These stats are giving me food for thought:

Abstinence? Yeah, right — students reveal shockers online

Thursday, March 4, 2010

from a letter...from a school visit...

I just submitted a grant proposal to the Loft for publicity money for promoting Chasing AllieCat. Among other things, I asked for money to do free school visits if schools would purchase three class sets of books. I was looking for material to support the cause, and why it was worthy of grant money, and I found this letter than had been forwarded to me after a school visit last spring. This wasn inter-faculty, but it's something I'd better read regularly to keep me going!

"Last week we were incredibly fortunate to have author Rebecca Fjelland Davis visit our campus. This visit was incredibly potent on a number of levels. Our kids heard how much work and thought writing actually requires. When Ms. Davis said she often threw away ten pages at a time and wrote an entire novel over again, jaws dropped around the room, and a few kids actually started to believing what we say about revision. We couldn’t help but wonder: How do we create more opportunities for our kids to hear from people who are this passionate about their work?

Ms. Davis’s visit also brought together (thanks to Russell and Dobell’s planning) a group of young women from grades 6-11 into the same room. I am frequently saddened by the fact that many kids and teachers only know older students from the hectic moments of dismissal. In a seminar style format, sixth grade girls were able to hear ninth and tenth graders discussing literature instead of the mess they hear on the bus. They were able to see and be strong young women talking with a real author about social stereotypes and the challenges of changing friendships."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chuck's writing advice

Seth sent this link. I'm not the biggest Chuck fan, but he has some good advice:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Going and coming

Doug Huff's play--"Emil's Enemies"--the reasons my friends and I went to Sante Fe in the first place--was nothing short of spectacular. It's the story of Diettrich Bonhoeffer's involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and it's all based in the facts of Bonhoeffer's life. In the play, he struggles with the morality of killing--which, of course, is murder and wrong--in order to do the greater good and stop Hitler and the SS's maniacal slaughter of 1200 Jews a day.
I went to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum two times. I can never get enough of looking at her work. The two videos playing about her and her life made me want to do nothing but write. I understand how this Midwesterner woman fell entirely in love with the New Mexico landscape. I did, too.
I also went to a HUGE farmer's market--and it's winter, so nobody's growing much. But there was a plethora of homemade goat cheese and salsa and jam. I bought goat cheese. So now my dream would be to raise goats and write. I think I could do it. If I had any money. Ha.
Leaving a beautiful and relaxing place like Sante Fe is tough. However, coming home to a dog who is beyond ecstatic to see me is a delight. She circled me and each leg a few dozen times before she resorted to licking my face.

Now, she won't leave me alone. I have to get a few things done before school today--am brainstorming ways to promote Chasing AllieCat as well as trying to do school work. So I gave her a new rawhide. She promptly ran outside with it and plopped down on the -2 degree snow, chewing contentedly. We'll go for a longer walk in a bit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Field trip today!! Yippeee!!

Field trip TODAY! (After we survive in-service).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Books on T-shirts. Shirts with a cause.

Out-of-Print Books on t-shirts. How cool is this?
Books for Africa.

Tuesday: inservice all day (gag), but THEN, Amy and I are taking 18 students and guests to St. Cloud State for a play--a version of Don Juan/Don'll be a blast.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Leadville for me

So, I did not get into the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. I didn't make the lottery cut. Maybe, somewhere inside, I'm relieved because any mountain bike race, even a non-technical one, scares me a little due to terrain.

THEREFORE, I need a new physical goal for the year. Gotta write my ass off, but need a cycling goal, too. Ride and Write; ride and write.

Maybe the Minnesota mountain bike races. Maybe. But I'm old to break a bone on one of those switchbacks.
Maybe Sadie and Allie, my characters could still do Leadville if I went and volunteered.
Maybe do a 24-Hr road race again. Maybe a team, as Matt Busch suggests, for the 24-hrs of Afton.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nothing original in talking about snow

I love snow. I may be the only Minnesotan left who still feels this way after all the piles we've gotten. But I just got back from an hour walk with Freya in the woods, and who couldn't love that? Crystal white piles on gray trees, a bouncing black Newfy with floppy paws, fur, jowls, ears, and even eyes.

Then there's plowing the driveway. With my trusty garden tractor, I love that. For about the first hour. Then it gets really old and tiresome, but I don't want to complain 'cause I love snow, right? However, I have an awesome neighbor who saves me when the going gets tough. Greg bailed me out yesterday--my garden tractor wouldn't even start. I took out the battery (rather proud of myself for that) and am gettin' it checked out.

Let it snow!
Oh, wait. Snow is to blame for the fact that in five weeks of class, I've only seen my Monday night class TWO TIMES. Good lord. Maybe it's not so great. But what can do? Might as well enjoy it while we've got it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination | Harvard Magazine

JK Rowling talks to Harvard grads about Failure. Her words are astute.
The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination Harvard Magazine: "You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another movie to recommend

Just watched "After the Wedding." It didn't sound all that intriguing, but it sort of blew me away. Great story, great characters. Love, death, parenting, sadness, honesty. Set in India and Denmark. Highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

J.D. Salinger's safe contains....

Salinger's safe. How crazy would it be to open that and read the contents?
(Thanks for sending this, Josh).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can't wait to take students to Paris...

I'm prepping to teach about Gothic Architecture tomorrow and in doing so, looking through photos I took when I got to go to Paris. Here's Sacre Coeur,
or Sacred Heart--atop the Hill of Mon Martre. Gorgeous.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Remembering, in some sort of awe...

John Belushi, if he were still alive, would be 61 years old today. He's not the kind of personality that could ever age...but then he didn't have a chance, did he? He's been dead 28 years, which is so unblievable, that I first counted it to be 18 years. He'll be forever the counter-mainstream, on the edge young-adult character, uber-quick-witted and hilarious.

So that brings to mind: would you rather live short, live furiously and brightly, perhaps burning out young? Or live long and perhaps less brightly? A little more moderately?
(Are the two mutually exculsive? Can you live long and passionately? That's my intention. We'll see how it goes).

I'm getting old enough that the option of short and bright has sort of evaporated...but I still refuse to rust out or fade away. Charge on.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Identifying my errors relieves me of the awful burden of omniscience.

Identifying my errors relieves me of the awful burden of omniscience. I stole that form John McIntyre's blog, which I read with relish:

Thursday in Humanities class, my attentive students pointed out a couple errors on hand-outs, etc. I beg fallibility. I'm not God. I'm just tryin' to teach some of what I've learned.

I love this attitude...can you imagine the awful burden of omniscience? I suppose when we start teaching, we think we have to know all. It's so nice to be old enough not to worry about that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Freya saves the day

"Just plowed snow with the mighty little John Deere for the third time in 24 hours. The driveway appears clear. For the moment. This morning, the garden tractor got stuck in such a way that it blocked in my Durango, so I couldn't use that to pull it out. I put it in neutral, and got off and started pulling with armstrong power. (Good thing I lift weights?) I was making a little progress. Freya came bouncing up, grabbed my arm and started pulling and we got it out immediately! How crazy is that??? Good Girl."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday, January 4

I FINISHED the edits on Chasing AllieCat. What a relief, to get done before school starts up again next week. It's a better book. Brian, my editor at FLUX, was right. He suggested some cuts to ramp up the speed toward the end, when the mystery is getting solved, and he was right. Yippee!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday, January 3: Communion Bumper

Yesterday, Tom and I took the rusty bumper off the front of my Durango. (I know it's a gas hog and environmental baggage, but I need it!--I couldn't get in and out of my farmhouse without it in this weather; I've pulled more cars than I can count out of the snow with it, including the guy who plowed out my driveway last week; and what other vehicle can haul a 147-lb dog and a road bike at once?)

We sanded the bumper and are painting it. Result: I now have holes in the bumper; the rust went all the way through! So I'll have a lovely white holey thing. Let's make that holy, and it'll be my communion bumper. That's appropriate for the first Sunday of the new year, right?

It's still -20 degrees out. Freya is unfazed. She still goes outside to take naps in the snow. Yesterday after the dog park, we both had white faces. Her icy breath made crystals all the way around her neck.

AllieCat: in progress. I'm happy with how it's going. I think tightening it is smart. There was a lot of flabby skin toward the end of the book.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Freya and editing AllieCat

Freya loves the snow. LOVES the snow. We went to the dog park this morning (very cold), and I came home and edited/revised for over five hours. Then when Freya got antsy, we went outside and played keep-away with her new green fuzzy Christmas stuffed bone for half an hour. Now we're back at it: she's pacing and chewing on things like toys and bones, and I'm back at the computer. Oops--now she's back outside. Maybe I can get another hour of work done. Maybe. And since I hit "save," she came back in with the fuzzy bone. Snoozing on the bed (the human bed). She's like a little kid: when she gets tired, she's all fussy 'til she settles down to sleep.
What a goofy Newfy.
Back to AllieCat. I'm editing the big mountain bike race day right now.