I just tried to answer an email from a ninth-grade student, and my reply was rejected (an official notice saying something like "You can't send email to this address") so a girl working on a research paper tried to get some info from me....which i tried to provide...but won't succeed. Hers was a school address. I'm not sure how that works, whether schools block email from strangers, or what. But it is probably a good idea to use your personal email address when contacting me (which you would do by clicking on the "email me" window to the right of my website page.)
Lois Lowry's Blog
Those of you—often students—who have questions about books or writing, please EMAIL me. ON the right side of my website is the place you click on. It says EMAIL ME and there is a cartoon of me at my computer.
If you send those questions to my blog, they will be deleted. If you send them by email, they'll be answered. Simple as that.
When my younger daughter was quite young—five perhaps, or six—she had an imaginary friend named October. No one was allowed to scoff at that, or to make jokes; October was a very serous presence in our lives for a time. I think we sometimes even set a place at the table for her.
October was the month of my daughter's birthday so perhaps that gave the word special import in her imagination and in the naming of that unseen companion.
And no question: October is a very special month, more so in New England.
I'm in Maine at the moment. I drove up here yesterday and will be here for a few days tending to pre-winter chores. And in the month since I was last here, things have changed. It is quieter now. Tourists are gone. Colors are fading (soon to erupt in foliage, but not yet); the reeds in swampy areas along the lake have turned brown. No chirping birds in the early morning. My meadow has been mowed by Dave, who does it each fall, and so the tall grass and wildflowers are gone for another season.
But one thing has burst into its end-of-season magnificence. My son Ben begins morning glories every summer from seed, then plants the seedlings beside the porch at the farm;and all summer we watch the spindly plants move slowly upward, entwining themselves along the strings that Ben has placed, framing the hummingbird feeder eventually....but never quite bursting into luxurious growth and bloom until the very end of their season. Here they are now—in this picture the blossoms folded because of rain—at their height, when almost everything else is withdrawing and fading....
The lion indeed lies down with the lamb, and here they both are, on my TV room rug.
But Alfie (the lion) is off at the kennel...I will soon go to pick him up...because I was gone all day at a workshop sponsored jointly by PEN NE and the NE chapter of SCBWI. Other authors and illustrators were Bill Thomson, Kathryn Lasky, and Jacqueline Davies.
OKay, the email function on the new website is now up and running and I have spent a number of hours replying to the accumulated emails, and all is well. Alfie has been at the doggie spa all day and is home with a shampoo smell and a nice haircut. A friend is due soon to have dinner and watch the Sox game tonight, an important one, so hand-holding is necessary.
I have just received the first copies of the illustrated gift edition of THE GIVER....here's a sample. The illustrations are by the incredible Bagram Ibatoulline and I could not be happier. This book, with its gorgeous jacket, (and some additional material inside), would be a perfect Christmas gift. It will be available in late October.
Most of you are aware that my old (and obsolete) website has been replaced with the new one, which is still a work in progress. Some glitch yet to be diagnosed means that email sent to me through the new website is not getting through. It is out there in cyberspace but has yet to arrive on my computer screen. So there are many of you whose emails have gone unanswered.
This will be fixed by my oh-so-competent Website Guy---I hope very soon. In the meantime my apologies to many of you who must be wondering why you have not received a reply. Soon. Soon!
This You Tube video is a promotional trailer for the very-soon-to-be-available The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
The Shelburne, VT bookstore called The Flying Pig has a nice upstairs event space (and they hold many events!) and here are the kids coming in and getting settled before my visit with them. What a nice time! Thank you, store owners Josie and Elizabeth. Thank you, Shelburne. Thank you, Flying Pig.
And thank you, Bearded Frog, for a wonderful dinner later!
What is it, incidentally, with the airborne mammal and the hirsute amphibian? Store and restaurant names seem, in that town, to combine creatures and descriptive adjectives in interesting ways....
Last night I stayed in the lovely Inn in Manchester Center, VT
in order to do a book event at the nearby Northshire Bookstore. This morning I was picked up by a driver and taken two hours north to Shelburne, VT, and to my surprise it is sunny and hot..in the 80's. The past two days have been chilly and damp and in anticipation of that I came clothed in a sweater...with a different sweater in my bag for a change of clothes...but when I went for a walk, to get lunch, wearing my dark blue cashmere, I almost melted.
So I looked for a store that could sell me a tee shirt and of course found one, and bought one. But...this being Vermont...my new shirt comes with a lengthy message about peace and composting and loving the earth in all its forms....
This is the very fine crowd last night at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, NH. Wonderful to see a thriving and cheerful bookstore! And such a nice auidiece of people out on a Monday evening.
And now I head off today to Vermont, where this evening at 5 I will be at the Northshire Bookstore.
I’ve recently been alerted to this:
Hugo Award-winning novelist Harlan Ellison has come out of obscurity and is suing the makers of a new sci-fi thriller film starring Justin Timberlake, claiming that the film is a total ripoff of a prize-winning short story he published in 1965. The copyright suit, which was filed Wednesday, claims that In Time, which is written and directed by Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show, Gattaca) borrows a substantial amount of material from Repent, Harlequin!
...San Francisco, of course. That's where I am, visiting my daughter for a few days, then some close friends.
Here I am at the Rodin sculpture garden on the Stanford campus yesterday
Just last fall I was at the Rodin Mueum in Paris so this felt very familiar. Kind of sad, remembering being there wiht Martin such a short time ago....but also nice to reecall the many wonderful trips we had together. That day, we had lunch in a small cafe near the Rodin Museum, and were seated next to an elderly French couple whose Englsh was as bad as our French. The two men concentrated on their beer. But the woman and I got to talking, or trying to talk, and she told me (in poor English) that they had a daughter in Phoneix. I saud (in horrible French) that Phoenix is very hot. She agreed. Then I told her that we lived in Boston. She said (in horrible English) that Boston is very cold, and I agreed. We both beamed at each other as if we were accomplished linguists. Actually we sounded like Lesson #1 in a 6th grade French book.
And next month I will be in Paris again, with my granddaughter. She DOES speak beautiul French so I will be careful not to humiliate her in such a way....
Today is still bright and clear but I'll be bringing in the bird feeders tonight, preparing for the storm. One friend who was visiting left this morning instead of tomorrow, fearing she wouldn't be able to get out...and she has tickets to the US Open on Tuesday. My other guest is still here...he has a flight out late in the day Monday so shuld be okay.
We will likely lose power so are well-stocked with alternative lighting, water stored for when the pump goes off, etc. But I don't anticipate huge problems here in Maine.
I went out and picked apples...the trees are well laden this year...and then sent this photo to my brother, titled "Pie tonight"
In reply his wife sent this, titled "cake tonight"
The score is 9-1, Red Sox over Texas, in the 6th inning so I felt that it was safe for me to turn it off and head to bed with a book. (If the score is close, they need me to sit here rooting for them)
But before I did, Alfie let me know that he despeately wanted to go outside. Barking, running to the back door, looking at me imploringly. Usually he is in for the night after dark...this time of year, 8 PM. There is too much Out There, at night, as I learned the hard way when he met with a porcupine one night.
But he was really, really wanting to go out so I put a leash on him, donned a jacket (it is chilly at night now) and grabbed a flashlight because it is a moonless cloudy night, very dark outside. We had barely rounded the corner of the house when I saw why he had been so agitated: a large deer on the lawn, looking back at us, a deer-in-the-headlights look....(make that flashlight). A deer, even a large one, is not frightening..they all look like Bambi's mother. But Alfie was beside himself; and the deer bounded away and disappeared into the trees. We continued our walk, Alfie's nose to the ground...there was apparently much deer aroma to check out...and then when we rounded the back of the barn, there was something else in the nearby woods: a growly/hissing sound and a lot of heavy rustling in the underbrush. ..coyote, maybe? THAT was scary, and reminded me why I don't let my 26-pound dog out alone at night.
I am leaving here next week because of commitments back home, and a trip to California coming up; but I'll be back briefly in October and then again in November. That's when the kitten...soon, I suppose, to be called cat...will be put to the test; because fall is when the mice come in, looking for a winter home. I am planning on Lulu feasting on mouse often. Oh dear: I recently wrote a book in which all the characters were very appealing mice. There is a discrepency here.
My book revisions (human characters, not rodents) are done and sent off to the editor and by changing font size I got it down from 465 pages to 404, whihc seems slightly less daunting.
Yesterday I left the cat and dog both in good hands and went to Yarmouth, Maine, about 45 miles from here, to have lunch with a group of old, old friends in order to celebrate the birthday of one of them. Gorgeous day; gorgeous house on the ocean; good lunch; good conversation; a nice time all around.
Heading home, I took a different route and found myself on Shaker Road, outside of Gray, Maine, and on an impulse stopped at The Shaker Village at Sabbathday Lake. I had done a lot of research there for my book LIKE THE WILLOW TREE which is set in that village in 1918, but I hadn't been back since the book was published. I pulled in and parked and watched a group headed out for a tour with one of the volunteer guides. I had begun my research by taking that tour, and then taking it a second time a few days later (and after that had worked in the library there, using the original documents and diaries).
I stopped in the gift shop, saw that the book is for sale there, and introduced myself to the two women running the shop...also volunteers. The village has a passionate and loyal and hard-working group of supporters and volunteers.
To ny great joy they told me that they loved the book...but more importantly, that I got it right, that the details were accurate and conveyed the history and feeling of this place that they love. And: here is the good part: that little girls arrive clutching their copy of LIKE THE WILLOW TREE, and want to know just where each little incident took place. Not everything in the book is availble for the public to see, unfortunately, but I was told that one little girl wanted to see the room where Daniel, the brother of the protaganist slept...and was shown there. They can walk up the hill, as Lydia did in the book, and look down at the village; they can see the schoolhouse where she attended school, and some tours include the laundry room where she took her turn at helping with the laundry and learned (and hated) to iron. They can see where Lydia would have learned to weave, and the tiny cemetery with its single headstone SHAKERS, where some of the "real" characters in the book...including Sister Jennie, who was caretaker of the little girls, are buried....
I have been spending the past two days at work on book revisions, making my way page by page through, so far, two-thirds of a lengthy manuscript, guided by insightful comments from a fine editor, and also by having been away from it for a bit, so that I see (and hear it) with fresh eyes and ears. The repetitive phrase...SLASH. The cliché description...DELETE. The murky parargraph...CLARIFY.
I love this process. It is not exhilirating the way the first blast of creativity can be. But it has its own satisfaction to it.
I am not...my guess is that few writers are...aware of the eventual reader of a book when I am at this stage of working on it. That is another, remarkable kind of satisfaction that comes much later. And keeps coming, again and again. Today, for example, I got a very moving letter from a 12-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with clinical depression. She said that in my book "Gathering Blue" she was struck by the phrase "Pain makes you strong" and she was going to try to start thinking that way instead of feeling sorry for her own incapacity.
Another letter, in the same batch of mail, was from a man. He didn't say where he was, but he said this:
Thank you for your wonderful characters and stories. They remind me that even though the world at times can be a scary place, and people don't always treat each other as well as they should, there is always beauty and love to be found. I have found a piece of that love and beauty in your wonderful books....
The weekly newspaper came out today, and my favorite section, the police blotter, included the item that a large group of geese followed the mailman down Main Street. It is unclear why the police were notified.
When I went to the PO to mail a few things, the woman ahead of me in line was receiving a very noisy package, which turned out to be a dozen baby guinea hens. Guinea chicks, I guess they would be called. Much chirping from the box, so she opened it and showed them to me and the postal lady.
Much chirping at this moment from my studio, and Alfie is beside himself, investigating. There is a chipmunk, it turns out, behind a row of books on a shelf. Maybe I should call the local police?
My last guest has gone home, after a nice lunch at Ebenezer's Pub, and with a big supply of freshly-picked blueberries. I will have to go out in the morning and pick some myself.
Much excitement...and company...over the weekend to celebrate grandson Grey's 13th birthday here at the farm. His Uncle Jon, an MD, gave him a skeleton. Now what boy wouldn't love to have that?! Bucky, as he is named, is currently sitting in a chair, legs crossed in a yoga position, in my studio.
But here he is on a rainy weekend afternoon:
Here in a very small Maine town in the summer, one of my favorite bits of reading each week is the Police Blotter in the local paper. This is also true in reading the Cambridge Chronicle the rest of the year, but Cambridge is a city and real crime abounds. Not so much here in Maine. There are the usual domestic abuse calls, the "fox stealing chickens" (yes, really, not a nursery rhyme), and the perpetrator-left-convenience-store-without-paying-for-gas. But always there is one report that stands out as truly unique.
Two weeks ago it was this: man in town calls police and tells them that someone has dropped human excrement from a plane onto his roof. Police officer goes to check it out and reports back that actually, it was vomit.
That was my favorite so far this summer.
This week: maraudng teenagers rearranged the letters of a church sign, and spelled, instead of the religious message, "something foul." Since the police report didn't repeat either the pious phrase or its foul anagram, this caused me to waste an entire afternoon on speculation. I had very little luck. Best I could come up with is that "only begotten son" can be rearranged to spell "teeny oblong snot." I don't think this is what the teenage vandals spelled out.
But it did lead my thinking next about combining the two criminal events, and wondering what would happen if an airplane dropped teeny oblong snot on someone's roof....
My daughter is in the middle of moving and she just sent me this snapshot of something she unearthed in the process. This is a collage I made from torn paper back in 1978, and it shows my daughter with her/our cat ... long dead (cat, not daughter) ... I had forgotten this cat. But my new kitten, Lulu, is almost identical. Not that it couldn't be argued that if you seen one black cat you've seen 'em all.
Here's Lulu yesterday, on a hot day, lying on her back on a wicker couch on the porch
Actually, of course, I see now that Lulu has a white beard and feet; and the earlier cat...whose name was Sebastian...was completely black....