In the previous entry, I wrote ‘Heidi’s boyfriend Brett” when in fact it’s Maddison’s boyfriend Brett. And I then published it and have spent ten minutes trying to fix it and can’t. So fair warning. Big boo-boo, bigger apology to Heidi, Maddison, and Brett, all of whom I love.

March 23-31, 2011:

Busy week workwise, not a whole lot of fun things, but I did manage to get to an Arabic music concert in which my editor Michel (of Interlink) played, went to some panels at the Smith College sf con called ConBust, had lunch with editor Sharyn November, and watched Maddison dance with the Pioneer Valley Symphony. Since it was Maddison and Glendon’s  birthday week, I gave them presents and then took Heidi and her girls and their boyfriends to dinner for the girls’ birthday (and Glendon’s boyfriend Jason Messier’s birthday as well). Also Heidi, Maddison, Maddison’s boyfriend Brett, and I went for an outing in Brattleboro. I went to hear Maxine Kumin give a reading at Smith. She is 86 and except for some aging body issues, is marvelously at the top of her poetic genius.

But the difficult week had deeper significance because of the deaths (reported below as R. I. P.) and the fifth anniversary of David’s passing. So I threw myself into my writing.

I have kept up with my poem a day regimen since January 1st, and one of those poems was taken by Asimov’s magazine, and one by Pirene’s Fountain (an online journal.) I received the first copy of Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters, with its delicious pictures by Kelly Murphy; as well as Lee Bennett Hopkin’s latest anthology I Am the Book which features as poem of mine about how to write a poem. Sharyn November and I discussed the trilogy she’s buying from Adam and me. And Steve Meltzer called about one last (smaller) revision on B.U.G. needed but liked most of what we’d done. I did a pretty thorough revision on Bug Off, a new book of poems with Jason’s photographs. But mostly I worked on the new fairy tale novel, The Thirteenth Fey, adding some 5-7,000 words and heading towards the ending.

So it goes. Things will begin getting crazy with travel and work beginning April 5 and not ending till I go off near the end of May to Scotland for four months. But you know, it’s an exciting life in its own way. A bit lonely, a bit frantic, at times even frenetic, with precious little time for careful contemplation. And I really miss companionship of the let’s-sit-quietly and read books together days of  yore.  Still, a good life all in all. I have been blessed.

R.I.P 2:

This week I heard of three friends who have died, two in the last couple of days, and one I just learned had died Feb 18.

Diana Wynne Jones, the astonishing British author of many books, my favorites of which are Archer’s Good, the Dalemark books, the Crestomanci books, Fire and Hemlock, Dogsbody… oh I could go on and on. She’d been sick off and on for years, but two years ago (after years of smoking) she got lung cancer. Almost a year ago, she stopped the treatment.

I wrote this on my FaceBook page:

Diana Wynne Jones was a friend, an influence, a star in my firmament. She made me laugh, she made me think. And now she is making me weep.

This news of her death is not unexpected, but as those of us who knew her personally, the unexpected in her life was always the norm. She was supposed to have died two years ago and kept on living so we mere mortals expected her to live forever.

And because of her books, she will.

The other woman who died this week was Judy Waring, a wonderful St Andrews friend and my gardener, who was sturdy, active, went on hill walking trips with her sister every year, outdoors rain or sun, amusing, engaged with the world, in singing groups and painting groups. She suddenly went ill four weeks ago, they diagnosed a brain tumor, and three weeks later she was dead, waiting for an operation.

The third–well I heard about it by opening up the Pioneer Valley Symphony programme booklet when Maddison and her Amherst Ballet friends were dancing with the Symphony and there was memorial page for Helen Stott Spencer and dear old friend of mine from the 1960s when we lived in Conway, Mass. She and her husband Chaloner (Spence) Spencer ran Bouquet Garni,  small igh end catering service for a number of years and she was the gourmet cook. She was also professionally as well as a singing teacher and choir master, and a Smith College grad, some fifteen years before me.

As this week was also the anniversary of David’s death, you can imagne how gutted I am feeling.

R.I.P. you amazing trio of women. I shall miss you all.


This is what I wrote on FaceBook and it serves here as well.

Difficult day. Fifth year anniversary of David’s death. Feels like yesterday. Feels like a door closing, a door opening. Will light some candles. Have bought some roses. Will thank him for the good marriage, the great children, the laughter and love. The poetry of our lives together. Crossing the desert has its own beauty.

I did the candles and roses. Spoke to his picture on the wall. Felt at peace. Sent notes to the children. Heidi posted a picture on FB of David with her girls. My agent sent me a note. We have not forgotten. But the world is still turning. And so are we.

R. I. P. my love.

March 17-22, 2011:

A very busy six days, much of it taken up a two and a half day visit to Springfield, Illinois for the Illinois Reading Council (annoying plane rides both ways, this time on United–or Untied as I now call it). At the conference I did a short reading with ten other authors and then signed. . .and signed. . .and signed. Other authors (including a Newbery winner, Caldecott winner, and National Book Award winner) all finished by 10:30 at night. I finally cut off my line at 11:30, promising to sign everything the next day.

Next day I signed and signed and gave three separate presentations. Last one earned me a Standing O. My goodness, was my head swelled up by that point!

Home in time to watch two performances of Maddison’s ballets.

And fall into bed.

Along the way I managed to write another 2500 words on the novel. Several poems. Read a friend’s manuscript to blurb it. Went over the copyedited Snow in Summer. Much of this was done on planes or waiting at airports.

And for real fun, I went to see “Limitless” with friend Bob, a Faustian plot with a happy ending. Go figure.

March 10-16, 2011:

Much of the week can be summed up in a word: taxes. I spent days working on getting my tax materials ready for the CPA, Beverly. As I have said year after year–I must find a better way to do this. But organizing and figuring this out (especially after having spent so much time on the organization of the numbers) seems overwhelming.

However, I did manage to get some writing done–my daily poems, of course, and more work on the novel. Up over 32,00 words now and heading into the big double climax, probably another 10,000 words. It reminds me of what I love most and do best–write.

Fun stuff? A Matt Damon movie with Movie Bob. A 60th birthday party for an old friend. Another Hillside Salon at the UMass Chancellor’s House. Read a couple of forgettable mystery novels. Watched some interesting Netflicks. And greeted the first signs of spring: the ever-increasing dawn chorus of birds, patches of clear lawn emerging from snowbanks, gifting a new neighbor with a bottle of wine, and my first walk of the (almost) new season.

Of course today (March 17) I am soon off to present three speeches at the Illinois Reading Conference. But right now it is quiet in the house and I have everything before me.

March 4-9:

Friday-Sunday, I flew off to Indiana, a trip fraught with bad plane karma. I was to fly to Cincinnati and then Evansville, Indiana, not a  very long trip. But the first plane had mechanical problems and was either going to be docked for much longer than any connection in Cincinnati could be maintained or canceled altogether. So they rerouted me through 1. D.C. 2. Detroit, then 3. Evansville which got me into Indiana five hours later than planned. But everything else they offered was even worse. So I took it. Because the plane was so late into Detroit (though I’d been upgraded to first class), I had to do a huge OJ run across three concourses before my next plane took off. Otherwise I would have had to stay overnight in Detroit. Somewhere.

Dear Reader, I made it. Just.

Once in Indiana I had a lovely time. The hotel room was large and had a gorgeous view of the river. The people at my two talks were enthusiastic–children as well as adults–and we sold and I signed a LOT of books. Plus my minders were lovely. The library where the Young Author conference was held was huge and very impressive. And the dinner party after was fun.

The trip home the next day was not. Again, problems with planes. The plane out of Cincinnati was late and then my suitcase arrived soaking wet and the handle was missing. I finally shamed the baggage handler into looking for the handle which he found and it was even wetter. But I got home, checked email, and then went off to a friend’s party in honor of the birthday of Silly Putty!

Along the way, I managed to add about 1,000 words to the novel (by backfilling, in order to incorporate the thickening plot). And read two mystery novels.

Then writing got seriously sidetracked as I had taxes to do, a tooth to get filled, the money manager to confer with, and an interview.

Still writing a poem a day, though. It keeps things sharp. My mind. My focus. My belief that I can still write.

March 1-3:

Coming home from a New York trip gave me three hours on the train with my computer plugged in, trying to cope with the 13th Fey’s plot rapidly descending into incomprehension. But I began to beat it into submission, with help from my friend Marcel and my son Adam, who came up with some stuff I can use, though at the same time it will mean a lot of back-filling to go before I can reasonably move forward. Since the next few days were involved in playing catch-up back home and yet another business trip, I have saved the real back-fill for the  plane trips and hotels ahead. On the 4th I go off to Indiana to give a speech to a mob of children and teachers. I hope the time will be sufficient to get some work done.

Meanwhile, I drafted a longish poem (for me) of seven sections called Objectifying Faerie. The first draft done on the train didn’t have the final section, but later at home I finished several more drafts AND the last poem over the next two days. Sent it on its first round to editor #1 with my fingers crossed.

I also did some very rough drafts of two How Do Dinosaur novelty books.

And once home I blasted through the stuff that needed doing (groceries, gas, laundry, cleaners, insurance stuff, etc., as well as watching seven (count ’em) episodes of the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix and now I need to find the rest of the seasons.

Waiting for me at home was the German edition of Briar Rose, very elegant.

And I also managed lunch with friend Jody Shapiro, dinners with friends Ann Wheelock, and then friends Laurie and Lee, none of whom I see enough of.

Ice remained dangerously evident on my driveway so I have been wearing my ugly but serviceable yak tracks on my shoes, and looked terribly silly but safe.

February 14-28:

I have been busy, busy, busy. Some of that busy-ness has included writing–more on the novel, 13th Fey; revisions for B.U.G., the golem novel with son Adam; and revisions on the poems in Grumbles from the Forest (which may or may not remain the title) which poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich and I have done. I’ve also been writing a poem a day and have not missed one since January 1.

Copies of Birds of a Feather arrived, Mike Cavallero has sent along some first drawings for Curses Foiled Again, a poem, “Wishes” is out in a book raising money for Darfur, the German edition of Briar Rose came.

My quiet free time has been taken up with Netflix movies, dinners and lunches with friends.

My business travel time has included: a trip to Boston for Boskone (the sf convention) and the next weekend to New York to give a speech at the Jewish Holocaust Museum, see my agent and several Scholastic editors, and then having dinners and lunches with friends, walking the Highline with one friend, and frequenting a bizarre bar on the 18th floor of a hotel for drinks with toilets that had floor to ceiling windows that allow one to look out while peeing and–presumably–anyone with field glasses to look in!

Along the way, I may have sold a new How Do Dinosaurs book, got to check out the scratch-and-sniff smells for How Do Dinosaurs Bake Cookies? and write on the long train trip there and back.

Not a bad two weeks. Not earthshaking, but comforting. And without any painful experiences. Can’t really ask for more!



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