Tuesday, April 29, 2008

sooooo nervous!

I’m so nervous! My first novel, Life on the Move, is out today.

This is a story that’s dear to my heart, for a lot of reasons. For me, a move across country when I was in high school changed my entire life. For Casey, in Life on the Move, it’s the prospect of staying in one place that sets her on a new journey, one that leads her to discover who she really is.

Here’s a tiny excerpt:

When I came home from school and saw the boxes, I knew. We were moving again. My dad stood there, looking for some reaction from me, waiting for me to say something, but I put my head down and stared at my sneakers. A hole was wearing through the toe. I couldn’t face him.

In my room, I slung my book bag onto my bed. The books in it made the secondhand mattress sag a little. The books were new, for me. I thought I’d try it. Something different this time. I’d be a nerd, a grind. Study, do homework. It was working. School was easy if you gave it any effort, even if you’d jumped around as much as I had. There was nothing else to set me apart—brown hair, brown eyes, average build. I could blend in anywhere, and I liked it. It made things easier if no one noticed me.

Two brown cardboard boxes rested against the closet door. How thoughtful of my dad to put them in here for me. I stared at them through narrowed eyes. They mocked me in my father’s voice. “Better get started,” they said. “It won’t be long now.”

Life on the Move

Monday, April 14, 2008


I'm a little bit obsessed with rereading Noel Streatfeild's books right now.

I had all the Shoes books when I was young, but along the way I thought I was "too old" and let them go. (Although I have an email out to my mom to see if by some strange twist of fate she still has them, but it's doubtful.)

I picked up Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes at a library sale, and the pile got down to Ballet Shoes, and reading it again was wonderful! It's the story of three orphan sisters who live in London and train to work on the stage. One is an actress, one is a dancer, and one is more interested in airplanes, but participates in the classes as well. The descriptions of theater life in England are fascinating, like having to wait until you can get a stage license at age 12. Maybe I'm in love with the world of it more than anything -- books that transport me to an unfamiliar world tend to be the ones I love the best.

My cat also picked up a new nickname from the book -- "Posy Pretty Toes." The two older sisters mock the younger when she's showing off her ballet-perfect feet. And my cat has little white toes -- not socks, not mittens, just the toes. It's adorable when she bats at things.

Dancing Shoes was written about twenty years after Ballet Shoes, but much of the world is the same, as it follows two sisters who enter the world of dance. I thought it had characterization of the girls that was a lot less simplistic than Ballet Shoes. Also, where Ballet Shoes is more a collection of episodes, Dancing Shoes has more of a throughline to the plot, involving the girls' competition with their spoiled cousin. This sort of storyline was one that played out over and over again in my made-up stories of childhood: there was always a girl (or sisters) unfairly tormented by another girl who was spoiled and bratty. I think the simplicity of it made it an easy one to recreate in different settings.

This weekend I went on a local quest to see if I could find any other Streatfeild books, which are largely out of print. I found two at the library, and Theater Shoes (along with Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes) is in print. Most of the good used bookstores were closed because I was shopping on Sunday, and while I found treasures like All of a Kind Family and From the Mixed Up Files... at the thrift stores, there was no Streatfeild to be had.

I think next weekend I might expand my radius and scout some new bookstores. :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

addicted to books

Like a lot of people, I've come to adore trade paperbacks. They're the perfect size, easy to read, lighter than hardcovers.

The other day I picked up a mass market paperback and it felt so odd and yet so familiar at the same time. It made me smile because the first word that came to mind when I opened it was "grown-up."

When I was young, kids' books were oversized, about the size of a trade paperback, actually. Moving on to mass market sized paperbacks was an exciting sign of growing up. Being more sophisticated. One I'd forgotten all about.

It's part of the physical pleasure of reading. It goes along with the way books smell and how that's different whether they're new or old or from the library. There's the way the type from a new book sometimes rubs off on your thumb as you turn the pages, leaving a dark smudge on your thumb. The way a book grows heavy and threatens to land on your nose as your eyes begin to close, telling you it's bedtime.

I recently moved into a larger living space, and one of the things I'm most excited about is finally having the space for my books to live. In anticipation of getting new bookshelves, enough to hold my collection, I've sorted through my boxes of books, arranging them by size, by genre, alphabetically by author. There's something soothing about that, too, categorizing and rearranging.

Books make me happy.