Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter Reincarnated

We went out of town for a few days to visit family and, while away, happened upon a little girl with dark hair and round glasses, age three. No, she's not British. No, she's not living with some horrible Dursley-esque family. And, no, she clearly isn't anything (physically) like the scarred, young male hero J.K. Rowling made famous. But I watched her playing outside on slides and such for nearly an hour, and I wouldn't be surprised if she were a bit magical.


Well, perhaps I'm a bit sensitive to the big-eyed-child-lost-in-a-confusing-and-often-hostile-world theme these days. I am, after all, rereading Harry Potter from Book One onward to my son (although I'll confess to not yet having finished the entire series myself--a result of too much required reading, not lack of interest). And, as I try to use voices to charm my little boy into the story, I find myself being enchanted yet again, right along with him. Feeling the curse of mismatch between a person's spirit and his environment. The sting of human cruelty. The unparalleled amazement of eventually finding a truer sense of "home" than the one previously known.

Many of us have experienced these things and have lived long enough to tell the tale. (Or several tales, for those of us who are novelists. :) But the little girl I saw playing outside was just beginning on this journey--one that I sensed wouldn't always be kind to her. Nevertheless, she approached the playground "monsters" with eager eyes and a willing heart. It was as if she believed magic were somewhere to be found to help her--behind a tree, underneath a piece of play equipment, alongside another child, within herself... As if she believed her hopefulness and openness would be enough to inspire the same in others and to combat anything that turned its evil eye on those she loved.

And the wondrous, magical part for me is that she reminded me in an instant of how much I wish the same, how much I want to believe it, too, right along with her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Golden Evening

This past Saturday--July 14th--was the annual Awards Ceremony for the Romance Writers of America at which the 2007 finalists for the RITA (RWA's version of the Oscar for published novels) and the Golden Heart (the award for unpublished manuscripts) were honored and the winners announced.

It was fantastically fun.

And, okay, kind of stressful--in an exciting, nervous-energy kind of way. Because it took place in Dallas, it was a fairly long way from home for me and for most of the other attendees...which created its own kind of community, one that had vibrations of giddiness paired with exhaustion, of chaos amidst strict timetables, of introductions to strangers and reunions with old friends.

As a GH finalist this year for my manuscript According To Jane, I was privileged to meet some outstanding writers, a number of whom were fellow finalists in my category--Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. Here's a shout out to a few of those wonderful women: Maureen McGowan (http://www.maureenmcgowan.com/ and http://www.drunkwritertalk.blogspot.com/), Laura Martello (http://www.la-mitchell.com/), Beth Watson, and Kimberley Howe (http://www.kjhowe.com/ and http://www.romancebandits.blogspot.com/)! Check out their websites/blogs when you have a chance :-).

Despite my good friends from the Chicago-North Chapter of RWA insisting that I write an acceptance speech, I'll confess to not taking this task at all seriously until two days before the conference, when I typed a few notes on an index card. I didn't practice it until, well, an hour before getting dressed for the Ceremony (just ask my mystified but very supportive roommate!) because I have a tendency to turn an unhealthy shade of chartreuse when even thinking about being onstage...let alone being onstage in front of an audience of 2,000 writers, literary agents and editors. So, hearing my name called as the winner that night was a shock, a delight, an honor and a moment of sheer terror all rolled into one. It was also a humbling and joyous experience impossible to forget. Thanks to everyone who shared this event with me!

Bestselling author, fellow Cherry writer and past-RITA winner, Alesia Holliday (aka Alyssa Day), posted photos of the Dessert Reception, which followed the Awards Ceremony, on her blog. Take a look at her pics, which are at: http://warriorsofposeidon.blogspot.com/ .(I'm the one on the right, dressed in blue, still looking dazed.)

There are additional photos and mini recaps of the speeches that were live-blogged by the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels at: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/C39/ under their RWA National--Dallas 2007 archives.

Finally, The Knight Agency has a couple of pictures up on the agency blog as well. They're at: http://knightagency.blogspot.com/. My picture was taken by my friend Julie (who has her own great blog: http://strategerie.wordpress.com/2007/07/17/dallas-its-a-wrap-people/#respond) and it features my good friends Erica, Karen and Simone.

Fun, fun, fun...but now it's back to writing and to my regularly scheduled "normal" life...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lucky Day

Due to a mild touch of superstition (an odd personality quirk, according to my logical husband), I find myself irrationally believing in things like the wisdom of fortune cookies, the judicious avoidance of walking beneath ladders and the positive cosmic alignment of "auspicious days"...which is why I waited until today (07-07-07) to do my first blog of the month and my first ever about the RWA National Conference.

Hey, it's the week before the big event--a conference that boasts 2,000 romance/women's fiction writers from around the globe, literary agents from N.Y. to L.A. and editors from publishing houses large and small. I need all the good luck I can get. And if the conference were held in Las Vegas or Atlantic City this year instead of Dallas, I'd consider the date an especially good sign and might even try my hand at a few slot machines. (Who else is betting that gambling reaches an all-time high today?)

Nevertheless, today's the day I've chosen to begin the serious prep for my conference--by blogging about it, by finalizing travel plans, by packing. The unofficial prep, of course, began months ago on a date not nearly so numerically balanced. I booked hotel rooms and airline tickets, found out that my 5th novel was a finalist in the Golden Heart (RWA highest award for not-yet-published manuscripts), bought long dresses and small index cards...all on days that were positively ordinary in the numeric sense.

Yet, good things still happened.

So, I'm sure everything would turn out just fine if I decided to lounge around today watching old episodes of The X-Files and, instead, do all of my trip finalizing and organizational packing stuff tomorrow or the next day. Right?

Right... But why chance it?