Monday, August 3, 2015

A Year in Pictures

I had noble goals as we packed up and headed to Paris for the long-awaited sabbatical year. When I wasn't dragging my younger son to museums ("too many museums"), I revised a novel (accomplished), submitted a few opera libretti pieces to composers (check), began a middle-grade novel, and wrote a jazz opera summary for an upcoming project. When I returned to Texas, I was seized by another wave of Do-It-Yourself mania (a form of writer's procrastination) and made a sliding door. What I didn't do was this: blog. Nor did I update my website.

Thus: A Year in Pictures. With subtitles.

I went to a writer's retreat in the French countryside:
said hello to this peacock every morning
trekked through these grounds at the retreat
saw his lady
slept and wrote in this glorious room
visited this grand cathedral
And took part in this book singing for my Young Adult novel Some Act of Vision, at American Library in Paris:
I'm surrounded by cool people.
the toast afterward

We moved into in a cute apartment:

And I dragged Julien to museums with weird art:

Madonna's clothes (by Gaultier)

this odd fellow
gagged at these earth tumors

My libretto, Lingerer, a collaboration with composer Max Perryment, premiered at Meadows School of the Arts in September 2014. (No pics. Sad face.)

I geeked out at a special opera exhibition at the Grand Palais:

I ate too much food:

I watched Julien begin middle school in Paris (eek):

a brave soul, this one. 

And walked home from his school on this street:

visited castles and a cave with Mother:

wine tasting at this cave

I said "so long" to my sweet friend, Amy, who made Paris feel like home:

And then, in February, my son re-enrolled in a Texas school for 3 months and I watched his first performance on the violin:
The kid is in there somewhere

My libretto, EVARISTE, a collaboration with composer Helgi Ingvarsson, premiered in London at two venues in July ( pics for this either because I was not in London).

And recently, I gave in to my DIY cravings and made a sliding barn door for my laundry room entrance:

And I baked this year, too:

Now everyone is all caught up and I don't feel as though I've completely abandoned my blog.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

On discovering cool opera cartoons

AH! I've just stumbled on Opera in Brief, a cartoon-like summary of operas that is finally (finally!) entertaining.

I have to admit, when I go to the opera and I'm waiting for the curtain to rise, the thing I want most to do is read the summary. Two sentences into the summary, I realize that, oh yeah, this is the thing I least like to do. Because opera summaries are, by nature, just incredibly boring. They manage to confuse the heck out of me, too.

Not anymore. I watched this little clip posted by the Dallas Opera, and I'm going to the opera because of this video. I kid you not. Watch it for yourself and tell me you don't want to go, too.

Thanks, Dallas Opera! Make these for all your operas for infinity, please?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Special Guest: How I (Accidentally) Learned How Cool it is to Write About Things You Love

I belong to a lovely critique group in North Texas. We operate like the ocean. Most of the time, we're like the waters at Galveston beach, a manuscript chapter gently flowing in here, a critique ebbing out there. Sometimes we're more like Hawaii, with enormous waves of work drowning our database, our productivity taking us all by surprise.

I had the pleasure of meeting children's book author Murray Richter through SCBWI, and when he joined our critique group, his manuscript delighted me. To our great joy, Lucky Rocks was recently published by Ten Story Books. I enjoyed the book so much, I blurbed it! Murray's book reminded me of the ones I'd curl up with in elementary school, forget time, live someone else's adventure, and then run outside to recreate one just like it.

And because I think it's a fun read-aloud for parents and kids, I'm sharing the book jacket information with you:

Led by a one-legged World War II vet, Kevin, Preech and Rudy face a summer they'll never forget. From fishing to endless pranks that would make the most seasoned trickster jealous, they think they have the answer to all of life's mysteries. But as the steamy Texas days of summer roll by, Kevin and Preech discover Rudy's secret - a secret that could change their lives forever.

(Now, go buy a copy.) I asked Murray to write a guest post about his experience as a debut author. Enjoy~

How I (Accidentally) Learned How Cool it is to Write About Things You Love
Do you recall the super-smart things you were told as a kid? Things you said “sure, whatever" about at the time? And later in life, they turned out to be the best advice ever? For years, those tidbits came back to me one by one. I wrote them on shreds of paper, bar napkins, and matchbooks, then threw them in a file. I wanted to write a book for my kids so they could learn “the smart stuff” through a story. When I realized the story could also help give hospitalized kids an escape from their challenges for a bit, I found my "need" to write.

So I did.

LUCKY ROCKS was published late last year, and an entirely new, unexpected universe has opened up in front me. Fishing is something I've loved ever since I could hold a pole, and as such, it became the glue that holds LUCKY ROCKS together. Since publication, I've had the immense pleasure of connecting with people I never knew existed: organized groups that take inner-city kids out to teach them to fish and appreciate nature, and groups that find kids passionate about fishing and help them create fishing teams for their high schools. And now I get to be a part of awesome is that?

Figure out why you need to write, and your book will get written. Write about what you know and love, and to quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you'll go!”
Keep writing and have fun,

Congrats to Murray! Lucky Rocks can be purchased at independent bookstores and other fine booksellers online.