December 22-24, 2009:

Book News: And the good book news continues with the wonderful cover by Brian Karas for Switching on the Moon, the new poetry anthology that British poet Andrew Fusek Peters and I have put together for WalkerUK and Candlewick in the US. All goodnight poems, lullabies, from Tennyson up to the latest poets writing in both our countries. The cover arrived in an envelope the day that all publishers shut down for a ten day holiday. Andy Peters is a dream to work with, Brian Karas is an under-sung genius illustrator, and I am very happy with the project.

Also I heard that Lost Boy, my picture book for Dutton about the life of Peter Pan author, J. M. Barrie (and a strange life it was!) will also be a Junior Library Guild book.

Though with the holidays fast upon us, I haven’t actually gotten any significant new writing done.

Other stuff: I did go to see Avatar, the new James Cameron movie, with friend Bob Marstall. We agreed we would go back and see it again in a heartbeat.

Visited my back doctor and he is signing me up for another round of physical therapy since this last round has helped quite a bit, though we still have a ways to go.

Family news: Adam, Betsy, and the grandlings arrived on Christmas Eve, having driven from Minneapolis, just one step ahead of the bad weather, through Chicago, then to Syracuse, and here in time for dinner at Heidi’s house.

Holidays are both exhilarating and exhausting, the rollercoastered emotions sometimes overcoming everyone. And of course memories of earlier holidays–both good and bad–surround us. Our very houses are papered with them. Old arguments. The best of meals. Repeated jokes. Family stories. And of course the very real presence of the departed: father/husband/grandfather. It’s a wonder people get through the holidays with any semblance of good will,  not just to “all men” but to our families, those nearest, dearest, whose every wart we know all to well. Camera smile. Don’t let outsiders in on what we know, what we remember, what we cannot forget. I adore my family, but am not blind to their faults–or my own. But we do enjoy seeing one another, something I can’t say for a lot of other families I know.

And me, I am obsessed right now with two speeches I need to write in the next ten days, one for the MFA graduating class at Hamline University, one for the final hour at SCBWI in New York. I have been thinking about what I want to say. Not self-indulgent I hope, but written for those listening in. I certainly hope that once written, the speeches once written, the speeches actually get presented. The New England weather does not always cooperate for a safe winter passage to the places I have to go to give said speeches. So think good thoughts for me, both for finishing the talks in time for massive revisions and a cooperative weather pattern in January.

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