Well, I guess the answer to that is pretty much yes. But do I enjoy making the travel arrangements?? Grrrr. I have been sitting at my desk, on my phone, on a very hot day, getting literally hot under the collar. And here's why.
Lois Lowry's Blog
I got an email from my friend Tom the other day. Tom lives in Richmond, Virginia and he and I have been buddies for 40+ years. He emailed to ask advice about NY hotels because he's going there in late September to see The Marriage of Figaro at the Met. (This is, incidentally, the kind of guy friend every woman values---one who loves opera)
Anyway, we had the hotel conversation, he got a hotel, and in the course of the discussion I mentioned that I will be in NYC twice this fall, and also SF, and at Thanksgiving I head to Paris briefly.
His reply: S.F, Paris, NYCX2....God, Lois, how do you do it?
It exhausts me to think of your constant coming and going!
People often ask me what I am reading. Lately I've been doing a lot of non-fiction reading for a book I'm working on (and am not able to talk about yet) but I also mentioned in a previous post the new biography of Agatha Christie (fairly interesting) ---and I should tell everyone who doesn't already know, about Stieg Larsson. He has, sadly, died (heart attack, age 50) so we are not going to see many more books by him---but oh my, his first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is soooo good; and recently I stopped into Bridgton Books and there was the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Justin Ward, who owns BB and reads everything, told me it was better than the first---hard to believe---but it is true. There will be a third coming, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. But right now I am in the middle of the second and savoring every page. These books are translated from the Swedish, and set in Sweden, but very different from the Henning Mankell books, the Kurt Wallender series, which I have also enjoyed.
After his death, Larsson left the manuscripts of three completed but unpublished novels in a series. He wrote them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, making no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. The first of these novels was published in Sweden in 2005 as Män som hatar kvinnor, published in English as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was awarded the prestigious Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006. At his death, as well as the third completed novel, he left the unfinished manuscript of part of the fourth novel as well as synopses of the fifth and sixth in the series which was intended to contain an eventual total of ten books.
A television series based on the three completed books is in production by Yellow Bird Films of Ystad. Each book will be covered in two episodes (making a total of six 90-minute episodes). The first two episodes were released as a motion picture in February 2009, while the subsequent episodes will be released directly on DVD in December 2009. The series will be broadcast on Swedish television in 2010.
It may be in part because I just read the new biography of Agatha Christie. More likely it is because I am a nut about houses...not big fancy ones, but in particular small ones, the kind of little village houses that I think Miss Marple must have lived in.
Here are a couple that I found on the internet simply by googling "quaint cottages":
And neither of these looks at all like the (real) one that I am somewhat obsessed by. I pass it whenever I go to the library, which I do often. I don't know who lives in it, and I certainly can't photograph it and put it out here on the internet, where someone would inevitably call the owner or resident and say: Guess what....
I can't do it justice with my camera but this—a two-page spread in the center of the book—is my very favorite of the illustrations by Bagram Ibatouilline. He has just sent it to me, and I will take it tomorrow to be framed.
The text, which I'll quote below the photo, runs across the bottom of these two pages, in white against the darkness of the painting, and doesn't detract from the painting at all. They go together so well.
It's not far to the place he has chosen, not long until he pulls the car to the side of the empty road and stops.
Grass, frozen after its summer softness, crunches under our feet; the air is sharp and supremely clear, free from the floating pollens of summer, and our words seem etched and breakable on the brittle stillness. I feel the smooth wood of the crow call in my pocket, moving my fingers against it for warmth, memorizing its ridges and shape. I stamp my feet hard against the ground now and then as my father does. I want to scamper ahead of him like a puppy, kicking the dead leaves and reaching the unknown places first, but there is an uneasy feeling along the edge of my back at the thought of walking in front of someone who is a hunter. The word makes me uneasy. Carefully I stay by his side.
The passage seems ominous. And therefore so does the painting...fraught with uncertainty but at the same time with this amazing, eerie beauty.
All ends happily, of course. But I love this moment, when you aren't certain that it will.
I am killing a little time this morning before leaving to drop the dog off at doggie-day-care and then to head out for a day's research on a new book which will be set in Maine.
I don't know if other people enjoy, as I do, peeking into the lives of others (now THERE'S a movie title!*) but I recently was taking photos for insurance purposes so I'll just plop some down here. If you came to visit me in Maine, this is where we would sit to have a cup of tea or glass of wine (unless we were on the porch, which is where we mostly are, in summer):
and across the room you would see these two paintings, the first by my friend Andy Newman:...
Well, I was taking a little time from my computer to go outside and weed a little. But then I had to go in and get my camera. It is the height of daylily season, and I have so many varieties...mostly thanks to Beverly Hendricks at Deerwood Farm & Gardens in Waterford, Maine (not far away) ---- http://www.deerwoodgarden.com if you want to take a look at this amazing place where Bev and her husband are raising 200+ varieties of daylilies. I go there every summer and always come home with a new treasure. (And it was Bev who taught me that you can add daylily petals to salads!)
Okay! Feast your eyes!
After the angst of having to have a new well drilled in Maine, last January, I was delighted that everything went smoothly and we ended up with water---plenty of it---but dismayed, after the snow melted in late spring, to find we were left with an ugly well head....GREEN, METALLIC, LARGE ....poking up in the front yard. So I set about to disguise it, commissioning local genius Matt to create something. And this is what he has done:
Well, here I am in Paradise, or what Paradise would look like if it were very expensive---but I have decided to pretend it is all Monopoly money, instead of wringing my hands when the children order meals. The two grandsons I have brought here are 8 and 10. I have a memory of traveling by train across the country when I was 14, and then earlier, when I was perhaps 5, to Indiana to visit my father before he went overseas. Both times, of course, we ate in the dining car; and both times we children were ordered (well, sternly advised) to select the least expensive things on the menu. Dining car fare was very expensive! But I realize that both trips...which should have been memorable for other reasons...remain in my memory with an image of me staring at a menu and hating the cheapest thing: Welsh Rarebit. Omelet was the other option.
These are my two grandsons. I have another grandson, but he is 26 years old, sensible and self-supporting. These, 8 and 10, are the two that I am taking off tomorrow, by plane, on an adventure.
Are we going to have fun? You betcha.
When my oldest grandson, James---now known as Jay---was ten, I told him that I would take him on a trip the next summer during his school vacation. He could choose the place. I gave him plenty of time to think about and research places. He chose, after much thought, New Zealand. I would have been willing to take him there---I had been to New Zealand and knew how appealing it is---but I dreaded the hideously long trip, with a kid.
Needn't have worried, though. When I pointed out to him that summer in New England would be winter in New Zealand, he changed his mind. And so we went to Choice #2: Hawaii. It was great. He had just turned eleven, and eleven is a wonderful age. No adolescent angst, yet. We enjoyed oursleves, and we enjoyed each other.
Now grandson Grey is about to turn eleven, and so we are doing the trip thing again. But this time I am including his younger brother, and this time I chose the destination....because I didn't relish re-doing the 9-hour flight to Honolulu....
I was just out with the dog----at 5:30 AM, for some reason his preferred time to go out in the AM----and had put a pot of coffee on first, so it was waiting for me in the house, when I discovered that the wild raspberries behind my barn were at their absolute peak. So I feasted on raspberries while Alfie puttered around.
Blueberries are not yet ripe, and I am going to be off on a trip next week, until July 27th. So maybe my housesitters will get the benefit of the blueberries. But a raspberry breakfast was lovely.
Back here at my desk, re-reading a half-finished book manuscript, I have just made a note to myself: Introduce Harvey and Augustus sooner. Yesterday, while working on this book, these two characters suddenly appeared out of nowhere, with particular personalities that I like (one whines, one pontificates)...so there they are. But I realize that they were always there, and now I have to go back and introduce them sooner, instead of having them pop up unexpectedly....
These are my two grandsons, Sunday, when the sun FINALLY came out and they got to enjoy a day-long excursion on their dad's boat.
The interesting thing (to me) is that this photo was taken the day after they watched a rented movie that we had been a little reluctant to show them. A lot of adult conversation---and then finally it was decided that okay, as long as we explained in advance that it was very scary but only a movie with special effects. etc.
Then they watched Jaws.
I watched with them, remembering back to 1975 when we were all terrified by it. Didn't want to go into the ocean afterward. And now? YAWN....
Okay. This is a room in my old house. It is the (only) access to the basement. You can glimpse, slightly, the old stone steps and the granite wall as you descend. This would once have been outdoors, but at sometime in the past (who knows when? The house was built in 1768) a room was added that incorporated this cellar access.
The furnace, as we all know, is in the basement. Every year I have the furnace cleaned and serviced in the fall. Last fall they told me that I would be needing a new oil tank in the not-too-distant future because the old one was rusting, and of course you don't want to wait till it rusts through and dumps hundreds of gallons of oil into the basement.. So this spring I called them and told them to install a new oil tank when I arrived in early June, for the summer.
They came to look over the situation, measured, and ascertained that they could not get a new oil tank down there because the opening was not large enough.
There are these moments---last winter, when my well collapsed and I was told that I needed a new well
drilled, was another---when I think: Oh the hell with it. I'll burn the house down.
The following was received as a comment to a recent post:
I'm reading "Planet Google" and came across the chapter on Google's 'book digitizing project." Out of curiosity I went into Google's book search and found most of your published books there. Wow! So does an author get any royalties? I wondered. The process of publishing, as you describe here, involves so much labor, of muscle and love, how does an author feel about seeing her work being given away so....freely?
I reprint it here because it may be of interest to others.
I am not particularly knowledgable about the details, but The Authors Guild brought suit against Google and the lawsuit has been making lawyers rich for a while. They have reached a settlement which The Authors Guild (professional organization which acts as advocate and lobbyist for published writers) deems an equitable one. To participate in the settlement, authors like myself must file a claim by Sepember. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Nearly every day for the past two months I have gone to the website where such a claim may be made, thinking TODAY I WILL DO THIS. But after a few minutes I find myself whimpering and having a stomachache.
Filing requires listing every published book and its ISBN number. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It used to be a 10-digit number but starting 2007 it became a 13-digit number. For example, the ISBN for my newest Gooney Bird book is 978-0-547-11967-0. (see below)...
It rain and rains, and there is no end in sight. Alfie wakes up as usual at 5:30 or 6:00 and as usual I get up and head out for a walk with him, but he balks at the door when he sees the weather, and says No thanks, think I'll pass.
Today I have two guys in the basement installing a new oil tank, and a guy in the garage installing a new garage door. So instead of a quiet rainy day --- conducive to work --- it is a noisy rainy day: drills and power tools of all sorts.
I got an email from my editor, Margaret, at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt a little while ago, saying the copy editor had raised some questions regarding timing in my to-be-published-in-Fall book. "Timing" meaning...if the character said this on Saturday, and then she did this on Sunday, but at some point she said "six days till.." wouldn't that mean that on Friday she... etc. etc. I am not quoting exactly because I don't want to describe the plot of the book this early. But it is why we are grateful to copy editors. Neither Margaret nor I had noticed the discrepancies that the CE caught.
And when those things are not caught, and slip past, and are published, there are always young readers out there who catch them and write to me demanding an explanation---which I don't have, except for my own stupidity and inattentiveness. (I sometimes also plead old age)...
It looks like things are on the definite upswing for Greensboro, North Carolina band Jonas Sees In Color. They have just signed to indie label Glassnote Records. The label was behind the recent huge success of the single "Fall for You" by Secondhand Serenade. In addition, the band is working in the studio with producer Aaron Johnson who worked with The Fray on their first two albums. Johnson says of the band, "Jonas Sees In Color is a strong edgy rock band with a soft melodic feel. The juxtaposition creates an awesome sound that is as unique as it is familiar."
Jonas Sees In Color was formed in 2005 and have gained a strong following through touring in the East, Midwest and South. The band's name comes from the 1993 Newbery Award winning novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. Lead vocalist Ryan Downing says, ""Our name is basically a metaphor. In The Giver, the main character (Jonas) lives in a black and white world. When he is chosen to take on the responsibility of the hopes, thoughts, and feelings of his entire village, he finally begins to see in color. One of the most important goals of our music is to create a connection with the listener by accurately connecting the stories and ideas contained in our music in a way that allows the listener to take and interpret the songs as their own."...
...a Tibetan Terrier to play with?
My goodness. Alfie had never met a mouse before, and suddenly there one was...in our living room, looking like a kids book illustration. A storybook mouse. Cute, unafraid.
I took him outside and put him in the grass:
Alfie followed me, then positioned himself beside the mouse, ready to play. He poked the mouse with a paw, then waited. Poked again gently, waited. Watched....
I just received a large number of "comments" to this blog, all from students asking questions. I don't publish comments of that sort here. This is a reminder to students that if you have comments or questions about books I've written----go to the place on my website that says "e-mail me" (upper right corner)---click on that and it will allow you to send me a personal e-mail. Happy to reply to those! But not on the blog.
These are my grandsons, Grey and Rhys, 10 and 8, playing together in the barn over this past weekend when they were visiting here at the farm. The weather was iffy, boating excursions were curtailed, the beach wasn't an option. But a barn? Yes! A barn is always intriguing. And there is STUFF in a barn. (Actually, to the left, you can see a corner of a hammock; to the right, an end of a canoe).
And here, come to think of it, from several years ago, is another grandchild---with her best friend--also in the barn: the other end, where a stall was turned into a special theater where a lot of puppet shows have taken place.
All of this makes me remember summers of my small-town childhood, where when school ended, I kicked off my shoes and entered summer barefoot and carefree. Out the door in the morning, sometimes back home for lunch---other times ignoring lunch altogether---off on (bare) feet or bike, and knowing all the favorite familiar places: a stream to be waded; an abandoned building to be explored; a wall to be walked on; an overgrown vacant lot to be explored---even the college football field, which was unused in summer, and we could actually climb into the scoreboard and hang out there, peering out of the window where, during the season, score numbers appeared....