Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buena Vista University

Has anybody reading this been to Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa? The campus is beautiful! It feels so collegiate.   I had great visits with two classes: an upper level Composition Class, and a Creative Writing class. Then I was more than slightly overwhelmed by the packed auditorium for my evening reading--well over 100 people, sitting on stairs and standing in back when all 96 (I counted the chairs) filled. Gwen Hart and Roger were spectacular hosts, of course. We had much fun together, and we  were exhausted at the end of the day! I also got to spend time rubbing and smooching Freya's buddy Newfie, Buster Brown. She was very jealous when I got home and she could smell him on my clothes and bags!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BVU and American Association of School Librarians

It's going to be a busy week. I feel a tiny bit guilty for missing Thursday classes again, but it can't be helped. I'll be at Buena Vista University Thursday, in Storm Lake, Iowa. I get to visit a couple classes, and I'm doing a reading there that night.

Friday, I'll be at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the AASL Conference. I get to sign copies of Chasing AllieCat at the FLUX/Llewellyn booth from 11:15-12:15.  I'll be part of the Author Showcase from 1-2. Should be FUN!

Oh, and Saturday morning, I'll be the witch reading scary Halloween stories at the Mapleton Public Library. Hopefully, photos will be forthcoming!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slider's Son

So, finally, finally, finally, with weddings and all the other stuff going on in life (oh, and there's full-time teaching and paper-grading, too), I FINISHED editing Slider's Son. It's as good as I can make it until some editor tells me what he/she wants me to do with it.
I like the story. A lot. I sure hope some editor snatches it up fast, so I can have a book coming out in 2013.

This is the story of a 12-year-old boy growing up in North Dakota on the tail end of the depression. All he wants is to be a major league pitcher. His dad is the county sheriff, and there's a murder in town... Lots of things get in the way of his dream...
I'll keep you posted on how this manuscript does.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Harvest and Cycling, my autumn treasures

Autumn has a way of making us pensive, don't you think? Of course, it makes us aware of the passing of time. This year, it's all the more true: my son is getting married in a week, and my grandson turned one year old this past week. But I don't feel old. I just feel as if I'm gathering more information about the world inside. I can only, only hope that makes me a better writer.

I get up a little slower when I've been sitting on the floor, but otherwise, I still feel as physically capable as ever. Maybe I'm fooling myself. But then again...I had a happy realization while cycling last week. I love watching the long shadows during an evening ride in the fall. What I don't love is that dark comes so quickly. Twice this year, I've squeaked home on my bike in the throes of darkness. A couple near misses. Time to mount my light for safety--just in case.

But watching my own shadow, I snapped this self-portrait.  I remember how when I started riding fifteen (!!?) years ago, the guys' long shadows were so smooth; their long shadow legs looked like smooth, fast pistons stretching out, up and down the ditches as we passed. Mine looked awkward and certainly not smooth by comparison. Last week, I watched my shadow and made this happy discovery: lo and behold, somewhere, somehow in the last decade and a half of riding, my own cadence has become smoother. My legs looked like pistons, too. I'm going to relish that realization.
Then again, there's the beauty of harvest. It's sad to me because it means soon the fields will be bare and brown-black although there's a certain beauty of bounty in that, too. It also means the long Minnesota winter is too soon upon is.

The harvest itself fills my heart so full that sometimes I think it will burst (to embrace a cliche). Riding my bike alongside tractors, golden beanfields, or a combine like the one in this picture I took last week reminds me of the richness our soil still holds (IF we take care of it). The smells and sounds wash over me with memories: walking out to Dad's combine in my Halloween costume to show him my ghostly self before we went trick-or-treating; riding rounds in the combine with him, working aloud on my Confirmation memory work; just riding, my forehead pressed against the glass window (exactly as Lainey does in Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged), watching the grain or corn wash like a wave up into the combine header.  And those glorious last autumns at home, when both my brother Bill and Dad were out in the field and they trusted me to do the chores all by myself. I felt so useful. What a good thing to feel.

There was the night when I was probably sixteen when I drove the Cub Cadet into the hog lot with a cart full of 5-gallon buckets of feed, and realized I couldn't back it out without the cart twisting sideways.  I was utterly stuck. What did I do? I emptied the buckets, fed the pigs, and then straightened the cart behind the little tractor by  herking it around by hand so I could back out. I don't think I ever told Dad or Bill about that and here I am, publishing it for the world. I still can't back a wagon or a cart to save my neck.

But I can ride my bike down county highways, flanked on both sides by golden, browning fields of grain and corn, and breathe it in, and be glad to be this tiny part of the plenty of the earth.