Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Long Time No Blog

Sometimes life gets in the way.  For the past year and a half, I've been AWOL, no news, no blog.  That's not quite right.  In fact there's been too much going on, so I've been preoccupied, mostly by family concerns.  But as they say on some TV show or another, sheee's baaack!  And just as bad news seems to clump up and overwhelm us from time to time, just now I have lots of good news to share.  So I'm starting the New Year off right, with good news times five.   
First, and most exciting, Bear Season has just been released by Autumn House Press.  It's my first book of nonfiction for adults, a series of braided essays about the American black bear.  Why?  I've had a number of bear encounters, some of them fairly close-up and exciting.  And the book is for adults, as some of the content is X-rated.  Yes, bears do get up to mischief, but sadly, we've behaved badly toward them as well, not such good reading for children.  I've had a couple of reading events and will be promoting the book at the AWP Conference (Associated Writing Programs) in Seattle in late February.
My second bit of news is that an old friend has returned.  Family Tree, my first book, is back in print after being out of print for some time.  The current edition, available on Amazon in both print and electronic versions, has a new cover with my young friend Claire as model and my old friend Susan Abrams as illustrator.  The story has been revised only slightly.  In the first version, Tyler, the main character, discovers and plays some music tapes.  In the newer edition, those tapes have morphed into CDs.  Not a lot of change, but it should feel more up to date for today's readers.

Another book has a new face.  In a few days, Up, Down, and Around will be released by Candlewick Press in a brand new, Spanish Language edition.  This story has traveled widely in English, and now gets to venture forth to Spanish readers as Arriba, Abajo y Alrededor.  Fortunately for the book and for readers, the wonderful illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott remain the same.

For people who know me well, the next bit of news won't come as a surprise.  I do like to tell people what to do.  Some folks might label that as bossiness.  I prefer to think of it as sharing knowledge, which I do on a regular basis as professor of writing.  Now, two articles of professional advice and writing technique will appear in the 2014  collection produced by The Institute for Children's Literature:  "Secret Weapons in Character Development," and "Avoiding the Passive Voice."

All of these projects have been underway for some time, but it's fun when so many lovely things happen at once.    Sometimes, the good news doesn't even come from one's own efforts, as is the case with the last bit of news.  I now have a new title, a new job description--I'm a Great Aunt.  I hope I've been a great aunt for some time now, or at least a good one, with nephews ranging in age from early thirties down to mid-teens.  But with the arrival of the newest member of the Ayres family, it's official.  I'm a Great Aunt--and he's a little sweetie.  Nothing like a new baby to make the New Year truly joyous.  I hope your year is lovely too.