Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Gift Idea for the Teens You Love (and for your inner-teen)

The holidays are upon us, and since I'm hiding out in Paris and haven't done a book promotion for SOME ACT OF VISION, my Young Adult novel that won the RWA NATIONAL READERS' CHOICE AWARD FOR YA this year, I think it's time to let these events collide and throw in some holiday fun!

From now until December 26 (yes, the day AFTER Christmas), if you buy a brand new copy of SOME ACT OF VISION (either hardback or digital), I'll mail a sturdy bookmark and bookplate, dedicated to your gift recipient, all the way from Paris. Here's what they look like:





If you order THREE new copies of the book, in addition to the signed swag for each of your gift recipients, I'll mail YOU (or one gift recipient) something lavender from Paris—an important smell and color in the book, but also a drool-worthy specialty of France. Just scan and email me your receipt, and your gifts will be in the mail for your gift recipient (and perhaps for you!). I'll be sure to write a message on the envelope that says the book swag is an extra gift from you, since it will arrive anytime before January 2. And, if you're interested in literary fiction for adults, you can still pick up a digital copy of SONG OF THE ORANGE MOONS for a "song."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Makes my heart break every time

For some time, I've been holding on to this clip of the opera performance at Southern Methodist University earlier this year. These singers kill me. So talented.

I wrote the storyline/libretto, and the talented Charlie McCarron (Minneapolis) composed the score. We are currently working on the rest of the opera.



Here's the libretto:
Scene:

A MOBILE HOME ON CINDER BLOCKS WITH A TARP PERCHED ON TWO POLES TO FUNCTION AS A SHADED PORCH. ON THE CINDER BLOCK STAIRS, RUBIE (MID-THIRTIES) SITS WITH HER SWADDLED INFANT CLUTCHED AGAINST HER CHEST. MAMMA, A PORTLY WOMAN IN A CHEAP HOUSEDRESS IS HANGING WET CLOTHES ON A LINE, OUT OF RUBIE’S LINE OF SIGHT.

AFTER RUNNING AWAY FROM A BAD MARRIAGE, RUBIE IS STILL A DREAMER AND YEARNS FOR SOME KIND OF ESCAPE FROM POVERTY AND HER MOTHER.  

(RUBIE’s aria.)

RUBIE:
It’d be nice to have a man
A good man.
Would it, baby? 
Wouldn’t it?

It’d be nice to have a hand,
A warm hand.
Wouldn’t it?
Wouldn’t it?

A simple man, a gentle man
Not a rough one, not a tough one
Just enough one…

(to the sleeping baby)
Don’t be happy.
Don’t be calm.
This place is poison
For dreamers who stay too 
long.

How to get away…
One day?

With a good man—

(Having finished hanging the wet laundry, and with a full basket of line-dry clothes, MAMMA hears RUBIE and interrupts.)


MAMMA:
What man?

RUBIE: (embarrassed)
Nothing.

MAMMA:
Another man?
(RUBIE doesn’t answer)
Rubie, look at yourself. Look at where we at.

You’d best better not be fallin’
You’d best better not be fooled.
Cause there ain’t no love, ain’t no man,
Who’d want to take on you.

You’d best better not waste your time,
Cause time don’t waste on you.
Where you gonna run to? Ain’t no life
You’d best better learn to pay the price
A man ain’t happy with a sometime wife.

MAMMA takes the laundry into the mobile home (exit), but can still be seen through the window, folding the laundry.

RUBIE:
(to her baby )
Quiet, why are you so 
Quiet? If you’d only 
cry, I could see my 
heart in you.
Maybe I’d know what to do.

Mamma don’t know how
She don’t have no dreams
But I seen it happen…
In stories, on screens.
Love could happen…
And if it don’t, it should.

RUBIE: AND MAMMA:
It’d be nice to have a man
A good man
Couldn’t it happen?
Couldn’t it? 
Who ain’t afraid of times
‘Cause there’s hard times.

He ain’t likely to be here

He ain’t likely to be near
It’d be nice to have a man

Who won’t disappear. 
It’d be nice to win the lottery.

It’d be nice to have warm hand. 
Why not me? Why not me?
(to herself) Come to reality.
Still, it’d be nice.

Still, it’d be nice.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Live Opera, Thunder, and Lightning

Thursday night, "The Lingerer," my collaboration with London composer Max Perryment, was performed by SYZYGY in Dallas, Texas. Its world premiere! Outside, there was thunder, lightning, wind uprooting 40-year-old oak trees, mayhem and chaos. Inside the theatre, only music was stirring things up.



Congratulations to all the performers! What lush strings. What an emotional performance. Although I couldn't cross the Atlantic to attend, I did get to see the video sent to me through the magic of Dropbox. What a thrill!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hooray for unbanned books (and other happiness)

Excellent news!
Highland Park High School has reversed its decision and placed the previously banned books back into the English Department's reading lists again.
Whew! I was nervous for a bit there that the cruel irony of 1) banning a whole list of books on Banned Books Week, and 2) including the keynote speaker of their annual Literary Festival, was too much lunacy for the logic of this universe to handle without imploding.

But really. It had me perspiring all right.



This morning, as I walked from my metro stop to our apartment, I was suddenly assaulted by a nostalgia for Paris, as though my time were up here and I'd be returning to Texas within days. I love the blue-bowl sky and the wonk-wonk horns of the passing police cars. The itty-bitty French kids with their gigantic backpacks, walking to school alone because apparently kidnapping is not a thing here in Paris. The pissy stairs of the metro, the noisy upstairs neighbor who scrapes furniture across the floor at 3 in the morning without fail, and even the nasty ashtray odor of the brasseries down my street. I love it all. And I'm so glad that I have many more months to call Paris home.





To make tarte aux pommes with my little chef.


To write.
To play violin when I can't write.
Paris, I love you.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

on Things I've Discovered this Week

I'm writing! In my favorite city! The world is a beautiful place and the words are flowing freely.

Because I'm the kind of person who can log onto Facebook and ten seconds later an hour has passed, I'm on a self-imposed Facebook diet. It's freed up time for creative things and life in general. Good decision!

I'll post a few pictures of my new (temporary) home, but first:

I've run across a few things that are noteworthy enough to share.

First: the literary-political
Oh my god. Censorship, homophobia, and racism are alive and well back in the old hometown. (Sigh.) If you don't have time to listen to the broadcast, it's yet another group of parents who are concerned about the summer reading list for English class. The books on the list aren't even mandatory--they're optional, a list from which students can choose which to read. Kind of like a LIBRARY. But some parents in Highland Park are not happy enough to censor their own children's cultural education; they'd rather police the library books of the entire young population, including your kids and mine! Jiminy Cricket.
As soon as I heard about it, I wrote a few emails, including one to the principal of the school in support of the English teachers. 

Parents, if you want to join the curriculum committee, get a d*%mned teaching certificate and join the faculty. Be qualified to voice your opinions. If you choose not to do that, then leave education in hands of your kids'  capable, devoted teachers, who, by the way, are some of the finest in Texas.

Sheesh. 

Second: happy, happy news

I just found out that "The Lingerer," a mini-opera collaboration between London composer Max Perryment and me, will be performed live at Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas on October 2. I blogged about how a tweet from Neil Gaiman changed my life here.  The performances by the Meadows artists are incredible and inspiring, and I can't encourage Dallas/Ft. Worth people enough to go gO GO to their shows.

I'm sad (really sad. really.) that I'll still be in Paris during the performance, which means, of course, that I'll miss it. But I'm hoping that it will be recorded and I'll get to post it on the internet for everyone to see. 

Third: This. My new favorite website.

Finally: pictures...of castles and skulls and other interesting things that have been part of my life this past month


With Mother and Jules, about to enter the Catacombs



In the Catacombs under Paris



It was, overall, a beautiful vacation with Mother



I want this castle.




Saturday, August 30, 2014

How is it even POSSIBLE to be bluesy in Paris? But it is. And then whammo--a surprise.

Here's the scoop.

This morning, my mom packed up her bags and kissed me goodbye and flew back to Texas.

Officially off vacation, I speed around the house like Rosie the Jetson maid, whipping everything into pristine-clean writing condition (because who can write with a messy house staring at you?). And then I hear the "ping" of my Google notifications. I look at my phone: "Some Act of Vision." Could it be a new review? My heart thunks in delight. But then I open gmail and click on the link, and this is what I get:

source: http://observatoriodearte.com/gb/?id=/5-17299-Some_Act_of_Vision.html
Great.
Thanks, "impact0r." If you couldn't read that tiny writing here's a close-up:


I'm not clueless. I know that there are a lot of people out there who are tight on money and don't have easy access to a local library or inter-library loan, or perhaps their moral compass got out of whack by standing next to some magnetically-charged, morally bereft cheapskate. Or perhaps they are truly on a heartfelt mission to make all information free to the masses, which I get. I really do.

Really.

But here's the problem. I don't get paid a cent when people share pdfs or pirated copies. Some Act of Vision just won the National Readers' Choice Award (Young Adult 2013 fiction) by the OK-Romance Writers of America, so I think that it must be a decent book. I have a very small publisher who can't chase every piracy site and send a cease-and-desist warning. And so, while I'm grateful that people want to read my books, my heart gets wrinkled or kerfluffled...and sometimes irate...when I think about the fact that neither my publisher nor I are getting our one or two bucks profit because someone wants to read my books--which take years to write and publish, folks, years--for free. Come on, Readers.

Here's a whole conversation about the difficulties writers are experiencing with piracy.

Dang. I'm sitting here, all Down and Out in Paris, and now everything's changed.

Not five minutes ago, I logged on Goodreads, and saw an unread message in my box. I rarely log on to Goodreads because, as most writers will tell you, it's not emotionally healthy to get wrapped up in reading reviews of your work. But this email got me right in the heart. I had to sit back from the computer and cover my eyes for a minute. Tears. It was a beautiful letter from someone who'd read my first novel, Song of the Orange Moons, last month. He wrote to thank me and said some very kind words. Those words just melted all the anger away. So now I'm sitting here, not angry anymore.

I'm not happy.
But I'm not longer angry. I'm grateful.
I'm deeply grateful that my story (written so long ago) has found its way into someone's heart, and that my version of human experience enriched someone else's soul for a short while.

That's a powerful thing. I don't even care if that gentleman paid for the book or not.
It's a complex thing to understand, and clearly I'm trying to wrap my head around it.

Back to writing...
I'm in Paris, after all.

Any folks (especially writers) who want to weigh in are welcome...

Friday, August 22, 2014

On Being Home in Paris

I'm home.

In Paris.

I'm here for a little over five months to get some creative projects completed and to immerse Julien in a French public school. Thanks to my brilliant, compassionate man with the kajillion frequent flyer miles, Mother has joined us for the first two weeks. Here we are walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg.




I've brought along an electric violin to keep up my progress, but mostly in the evening Mother and I play Scrabble. Our bellies full of wine and cheese and pain campagne and other delightful French food.

Here is my agenda for this extended trip, which frankly will be a magnificent feat if I can swing it:
1. Write an opera libretto built upon the previous aria I wrote for Charlie McCarron (Rubie's Aria).
2. Write a sequel for SOME ACT OF VISION.
3. Revise a mess of a manuscript--an adult literary novel.
4. Write the sequel for my middle-grade manuscript, based on Julien's experiences here in Paris.

You guys: four genres. I'm insane. It's a good thing I'm in Paris. The scenery alone will give me strength, right?

I have one more week of vacation with Mother until things get serious.

bisoux from Paris!


Friday, July 25, 2014

On Jumping-Up-and-Down News!

AHHHHHHH!

I'm in the middle of heavy manuscript revisions, but I have to poke my head into the internet-zone and say "WOOOO-HOOOOOO!"

I'm thrilled to announce--and I've just gotten this news--that Some Act of Vision has WON the OK Romance Writers of America NATIONAL READERS 'CHOICE AWARD!

I'm dancing in my chair and making typos. I'm so honored!

Wow.

And now let me pout for a few seconds because I had to cancel my trip to San Antonio for the RWA awards ceremony because I had to arrange a last-minute French Consulate Visa appointment in Houston for our 5-month trip to Paris.

I so wish I could have been in San Antonio today. Thank you, OK RWA!

Thank you, thank you! I hope Jordan's adventures made you smile!




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Announcement!

Between teaching summer classes and preparing for the big move to Paris, I've hardly had time to make a big announcement about my dear friend, Samantha Mabry.

Are you ready?

Here's her celebratory dance:


And here's the news: Algonquin Press has acquired Samantha's debut Young Adult novel, LEAVES (release 2016).

I'm thrilled for her. So thrilled. How many glasses of wine did we drink, talking about writing and the business, and trying not to talk about writing and the business in order not to jinx things? Because I think we both believe a little bit in omens and jinxes and other ghostly things that play tricks on us.

Anyway, Samantha, my dear Samantha: congratulations on this huge accomplishment! I believe in your storytelling, and I'm so happy that an excellent press has recognized your talent for the word.
Let's drink and toast and gab and talk.

If you'd like to hop over to her website or twitter accounts and congratulate her, please do! And keep a lookout for her book.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On Moody Artists

As much as I hate to admit it, the old adage is true. Artists are moody. 
We're up. 
We're down.
One minute we're geniuses, the next we suck. We just know we suck.
Because we didn't win that thing. (Whatever it is.)
Or get the approval of that person.
Because we’re not Sherman Alexie or Leonard Bernstein or Banksy.
Damn, if we’d only thought of being Banksy before Banksy...

As much as I try to be thankful all the time,
to be grateful for all the good in my life—and there is so much goodness, folks—I slip and start evaluating my life’s work, and nothing is more damning than that Critical Eye.

I think I understand how easily artists slip into depression. I’m not depressed—far from it—but I do spend a hell of a lot of time in front of the computer, crafting words and worlds in my head.
I think, hey, this is important stuff.
Or hey, this is funny stuff.
Or hey, this is pretty original.
And the really sad thing about art is that if it’s not shared and appreciated fairly consistently, you begin to wonder if you’re wasting your life on words/music/painting/fillintheblank.

I know: aren't artists supposed to write and compose and paint for the sake of art? They don’t really need an audience because Art is a personal and higher calling!
Yeah yeah yeah. Bullocks.
A painter can only support herself as an artist if there are buyers.
A writer can only support herself as an artist if there are readers... who are buyers.
A composer can only support himself as an artist...you get the picture.

I am fortunate. I’ve gotten the attention of a traditional press. I’ve won awards—international awards—for writing. I love the quietness and solitude of writing.

But in spite of my happiness, in spite of being surrounded by love and support, I doubt myself. And it’s a damning doubt.

I was lingering in that state of doubt yesterday—and folks, this is the crazy part: I recently found out my new manuscript chapter won this, so I had no excuse for self-flagellation. And then I opened an email by a composer in London, Helgi Ingvarsson, with whom I’ve been collaborating. I wrote the libretto for √Čvariste, an opera about an 18th c mathematician, and Helgi is composing the score. We began doing some back-and-forth brainstorming about the piece, and quite suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t sad or doubtful or critical. I was exhilarated.

photo by Helgi Ingvarsson
There’s something regenerative about collaboration in the creative process. Learning from other artists, feeding each other inspiration. You have to trust each other completely—trust in their talent, their independence, their respect for art—and that doesn’t happen among all artists. But when it does, man! An injection of Inspirado right in the heart.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jordan likes the Sierra Club, too

Hop over to Sierra Magazine, where the wonderful Maren Hunsberger wrote an article about teen reads with an environmental twist. She describes Some Act of Vision as full of "political and environmental intrigue, teen drama, vivid characters, and a splash of romance."

Mayah's Lot, also covered in the article, was a nice discovery, too. It's described as an "environmental justice comic book," and not only is the pdf available for download, but there's a video for kids on the website. What a great inspiration for other middle-school classes.


Monday, May 19, 2014

EcoWatch suggests you fracking read!

This review on Some Act of Vision this morning on Ecowatch.com!

What is EcoWatch? From their website:

"EcoWatch is a leading environmental website reporting on environmental news, green living and sustainable business. We educate and motivate people to protect human health and the environment through our NewsLivingBusiness, University and Insights verticals, and online store of thousands of green products.
EcoWatch is a dedicated platform for environmental news that helps transform the ability of individuals to learn about environmental issues and take action. EcoWatch provides timely access to relevant information that motivates individuals to become engaged in their community, adopt sustainable practices and support strong environmental policy."
If you've read the novel, you'll remember the pivotal role fracking plays in the story...and even though there's a very small chance that fracking will cause you to turn invisible (really quite small, people), there are significant reasons why you should find out the real dangers related to hydraulic fracturing.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Finalist!

I'm dazed and amazed to announce that my first Young Adult novel, SOME ACT OF VISION, has been named a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards, sponsored by the OK-RWA (Romance Writers of America). Whaaaaat?!

Here's my book:
























Here's me all day Sunday:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Actually, I was outside in the back garden, hanging gutters for my patio cover. Glistening with sweat and telling myself that yes, I did get that email. I wasn't dreaming.

I think of SOME ACT OF VISION as "the little book that could." It still has a long hill to climb, but it has a lot of heart. And a bit of sweet romance.

What should I do to celebrate? Perhaps my publisher will arrange a sale in celebration of the news?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Under the spell


I just got home, and I'm still feeling a little ker-fluffled.
My heart's all a-twitter, and everything--the sky, the trees, the pavement--has a glittery sheen.

I've just returned from watching the opera singers at SMU, and I probably shouldn't even be writing because I'm all discombobulated still. One of the performances was "Mobile Home," my collaboration with composer Charlie McCarron. It was magic--the entire hour.

I don't have pictures of the performance--not a one.
I didn't use my iPhone to record the performance, but that's okay, too. I think I would have wrecked the unadulterated joy of watching the spectacle.

But the performances were videotaped by professionals who know about those things, and "pictures were taken"--I'll get my hand on those and post them here soon.

I suppose I just want to record this moment. How do I describe it? Translate it? To hear my story, my words, my characters who once lived only on my head, there on the stage...sung so perfectly by Kristen and Arielle. It's breathtaking. It made me cry.

Thank you, Hank Hammet, for giving breathe to our creation. Amazing.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Charlie Does Dallas

Nothing kinky here. Just a cool Minneapolis composer named Charlie McCarron who asked me to write a libretto last year for an Opera on Tap performance. I fell in love with his sweet-little anniversary song here. Our collaboration produced a lovely mini-opera called "Mobile Home."

This Friday, SMU's Opera folks will have another Opera Free For All, and my collaboration with Charlie will breathe again, this time in my home state of Texas. Yay!
Last November's Opera Free For All


"Mobile Home" is a scene of a young mother, trapped by poverty and dreaming of love. She sings a lullaby to her infant and tries to ignore her own mother's warning about the bittersweet temptations of hope.

Looking forward to the talented singers and poets on Friday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

On teaching, the web, and internal seething

It's been a while. During the fall and spring semesters, I often find it hard to blog, much less write creatively. I had a rather startling experience a few days ago, and would like your comments, either here or on Facebook. I'm still trying to figure this all out.

I teach at private university in Dallas. You may know this campus. Its buildings demand your gaze. Its landscaping conjures fantasies of outdoor classes on the stretch of perpetually green grass. When you walk through campus, you smile at the aesthetic richness that surrounds you. Inside, students bustle to class, pull out their notebooks and laptops, and chat about the mountain of homework that they somehow (defying sleep and sanity) managed to complete (or not). The professor clears her throat, and class begins.

I know what happens in classes because I not only teach them, I observe them. I also take them.  Yes, I'm incognito: I'm taking an intermediate French class to brush up for my upcoming semester in Paris. Here's what I've noticed in every single class: surfing the web.

No matter how experienced or engaging the professor is, a few students are surfing the web, physically present, but mentally checked out. Some of the surfing seems innocuous: they're emailing someone, texting, registering for the next semester, browsing photos. Other surfing is (to me) shocking: shopping for clothes or watching videos.

It never fails. I'm sitting in class, observing another teacher lecture. The students know why I'm there. I've got my business-face on, and I've got a frickin' notepad in my hand. And instead of taking notes or engaging in the conversation, the girl to my right is browsing the latest pant styles. Hundreds of pants, it seems, judging from the speed of her swiping fingers. A guy in the row in front of me is distracted too. He's shopping for the hippest shoes. It's pledging season, after all. I look back to the instructor, who is giving some important information about the big research paper due in a few short weeks. I look back at the pink iPad next to me. The girl is bored with pants, it seems. Someone has sent her a message. She reads is quickly, then closes her iPad. Finally, I can concentrate on the instructor.

The first few times this scene played out, I left class wondering, "What the hell is going on?" Who taught these silent hellions manners? But I've seen this kind of browsing before. At faculty meetings.
So I can't point the finger solely at college students.

I asked my own class their thoughts on the new classroom etiquette. Does it bother them when the person next to them is doing some online shopping or Facebooking? Do they make silent value judgements on the girl shopping for Easter stripy sandals during Middle-East History? Is she failing or lazy or stupid?
This is what they said:

Yes, whenever laptops and tablets are allowed in class, students are surfing the web instead of taking notes. In some classes, they told me, most of the class will be Facebooking while the professor lectures. It's annoying, they all agree, and distracting. But, as one student said dolefully, "What can we do? We're not going to say, 'hey, can you stop doing that?'" Everyone in class nodded. A few students talked about the decline in attention spans, and that, according to recent stats, students can only focus for about 14 minutes on one topic before mentally checking out. Several students admitted that they needed to check email or social network sites to give them a jolt in the middle of a long class. The distraction helped them re-focus on the lecture.

I'm not sure what to think of all this yet. I do know that multi-tasking (the hallmark of the new generation) leads to lower quality of the individual tasks in the end. I like using the internet in class. My students post their work on Blackboard and we project the work on a large screen to critique. They provide comments to their peers' drafts during class. But I'd be an idiot to think that a few aren't checking emails or browsing other websites.

Here's what I know about the issue:
  1. As a student, it's hard to concentrate on anything but those freaking screens. Pants. Pants. More pants. 
  2. I feel sorry for the professor. (I hate that feeling.)
  3. I make a moral judgment on the student. (Sorry--can't help but think that student is stupid or lazy or both)
  4. I seethe a little, but suppress it because...
  5. It wouldn't do any good to say anything to the offending person. (This last one is the students' perspective. Although I always stop the browsing as a professor, I'm actually completely passive as a student.)
By the way, the students in my class voiced similar conclusions. So I wonder if a wired classroom is contributing to a decline in performance, a decline in thinking, a decline in respect for one another. Do the benefits of convenience and efficiency outweigh the declinations?

I'll be searching for more research on this topic. If you have links, please do share.




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Just call me Dame Lori

That's right. Look what happens when you support artists in America: you get all sorts of appreciation. And titles. Damn straight. I mean, Dame Straight.

Composer Quest is a great little podcast worth supporting. If you like learning about music, supporting artists who are trying to keep doing what they love to do, and being an all around friend of the humanities, you can help Charlie keep interviewing composers. For the price of one cup of Starbucks each month.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Call for Submissions: Very Short Stories

For all you Texas writers and art lovers, here's a fun short story "contest" that I wish I had time to enter.
It's sponsored by Arts & Letters Live, which selected my short story a few years ago, and they're doing this little shindig with the Dallas Museum of Art.

I've copied here some of the details, but follow the link for the fine print.

Arts & Letters Live, the literary series at the Dallas Museum of Art, invites you to write a very short story(400 words; due Saturday, February 15) inspired by one of four objects currently in DMA art storage. Four people will be selected to read their stories aloud and compete during our Fresh Ink event on the Friday, February 21 Late Night as part of an "Object Slam." Prizes will be awarded! 

You have one week. Go!




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cover Contest

The cover of SOME ACT OF VISION is in a cover contest over here.

When I saw my book's cover, I fell in love with it. The designer, Timothy Pryor, did such a phenomenal job. If you love it, too, please hope over an vote on the design. The winner will get a bit of free advertising. (Authors love free advertising.)

And vote on the other sci-fi books, too. I like the fact that my book's cover stands out a bit, don't you?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Operas and Agents and French, oh my!

After years of taking advantage of the tuition benefits at SMU (free tuition for my son), I decided to take an intermediate French class myself. I need an intense course to help me brush up on my rusty French and prepare me for a gorgeous semester in Paris. So I'm spending about four hours a day on homework and general studying--a sign that I've become obsessed with the French language.

I've just spent four solid hours doing French grammar exercises online.












The only thing I could do to drag my eyes away from that French online program was to tell myself I needed to blog.

Because I have to announce a definite date for the live opera performance of my libretti. Yes, libretti, as in two of those little things. I found a beautiful little brochure in my mailbox at the university and opened it to find this staring back at me:

On May 2, 2014 at Southern Methodist University, the opera singers in Meadows School of the Arts will perform the opera libretto that Neil Gaiman and Jeremy Sams chose as the winning libretto for the English National Opera contest: The Lingerer. Max Perryment, the composer, has created an arrangement for a small live orchestra. AND my other miniopera, Mobile Home, will be performed, too! Charlie McCarron is the composer of that little gem. Best of all, it's free! Bring your lunches and come picnic with me in the Bob Hope Lobby of Owen Arts Center.

All this excitement should distract me from my jitters as I search for a super, dedicated agent for my new humorous novel for children. The entire novel is inspired by my son, Julien, and his year in fifth grade. He practically wrote the thing. More on that later. : )



Friday, January 17, 2014

The Good Five

It is January. And there is happiness in this house.

I'm going to talk like an old person now: (ready?)
I spent my youth and young adult life chasing things. Dreams. Lovers. Degrees. Jobs. Kids--yes, we all chase our kids. I chased things because I thought they would deliver the most essential, intangible goods:
Happiness. Stability. Admiration. Respect. Love (the deep, real kind).

Shall we call them the Good Five? Somewhere along the way, I realized that all these intangible goods could not be captured like some flag waving beyond our fingertips. Of course, they are only born within oneself. And they only survive with a certain stubbornness that flies in the face of Trials and that other face, Tribulations.

The fourth decade is a marvelous time, at least it has been for me. I am one of the lucky ones. My parents are still alive and healthy and adorable and kind. My children make me laugh every day, even the grown son who is off in New York, experiencing his own sort of rebirth. I write something new and challenging every year. And I'm no longer chasing flags and getting tackled along the way.

There are still moments when, in spite of working my ass off, I feel the metal blade of inadequacy slice through me. I think I'm never going to be good enough. I've got everyone fooled. But after a while, I have a quite comical realization (the sun's rays shining down in a shower of illumination) about those depressing thoughts: I'm just silly, thinking that I'm living in the shadow of the Approval of Others. I know the important people and the important things in my life, and only I can treasure them by giving them the Good Five.

This morning, our younger son had a talkative morning. He talked and talked and talked. My husband and I gave each other knowing glances and blamed each other's genetics. Then we laughed. And our son jumped between us because he wanted to share in the laughter. We laughed so much, we had to hold each other for stability. It was a morning full of happiness and stability and admiration and respect and love.

Welcome, January.