Since moving back to Oregon in the summer of '06, my first book, Not in Room 204, was published and then won the 2007 Oregon Book Award for children's literature. This means I'll get to spend '08 touring around the state doing readings and signings. Talk about a warm welcome home!
My husband and I wanted to come back to Oregon ever since we left Oregon State University in 1992, but my husband was in the Navy, and there's not much Navy here in Oregon. So instead, we moved 15 times and lived just about everywhere else in North America: NY, RI, VA, FL, WA, HI, CA (for a few weeks), and Victoria, BC, Canada--some of those places more than once. Finally, after 20 years of military service, Rich retired and decided to go to law school. So, here we are, in beautiful Salem, Oregon.
When we moved to Salem in June of '06, I told Rich that I sure hope he can find work here in town once he graduates, because if he gets a job somewhere else, I sure will miss him. We have been together a long time, but I am not moving again. He assures me that he'll do his best. I'm not worried.
Last night was my first appearance as part of the Oregon Book Award Author Tour. A panel of finalists gathered and spoke about our experiences writing and being published for the Portland chapter of Willamette Writers. What a fascinating evening it was. I shared a story about how the aquarium page came to be in my book, and about creating illustration opportunities in picture book manuscripts. Poet Tom Blood spoke about how walking affects his poetry, both in content and in its rhythm. Monica Drake, author of Clown Girl, shared her perception that her first three novel manuscripts were too "quiet." In Clown Girl, she felt as though she wanted to make her voice louder, so she used what she called "broad strokes" to create her character and story. As someone with two "quiet" novel manuscripts in my drawer and a third one I've been trying to make bolder for the better part of the last year, this insight really spoke to me. I'll be taking Clown Girl along with me as the tour continues later this month.
Nothing beats spending an evening hanging around with fellow writers.