Sunday, April 20, 2008

Great Reads

I've read some excellent books lately -- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Heaven Lake by John Dalton. The Book Thief is incredibly sad but oh so well-written. It's just beautiful.

But it's Heaven Lake (another gorgeous book that I was sad to have end) that I want to talk about, because I have an interesting story about how I came to read it.

A long time ago, when I still lived in St. Louis (my hometown!), I participated in a small writing workshop at the local YMCA. At the time, I had just become a stay-at-home mom after having my second daughter, and I took the workshop to get myself back into the creative writing mode. Writing was a lifelong love -- I still have journals I wrote in as a kid -- but I had pretty much abandoned it for a while once I started practicing law.

Fast forward a few years -- I was reading Publishers Weekly and saw a blurb about a book that sounded very familiar. I looked at the author's name, John Dalton, and recognized it as the name of my YMCA workshop leader. I knew it had to be the same person because I remembered him talking about the novel he was writing, and the PW blurb matched his description. I held on to the issue for months, intending to look him up and also to search out the novel once it was released, but life got in the way and it never happened.

Fast forward a few more years (to this past fall). I recently remodeled my home office and in the course of sorting through many of my old notes from various writing workshops I've taken over the years, I came across a folder from the YMCA workshop. It reminded me again to look John up, so I got online, contacted him, and ordered the book from Amazon. The book has been sitting on my nightstand for some time (I always have a 'line' of books waiting to be read) and I finally got the chance to delve into it over spring break.

Let me just say this: the year Heaven Lake was released (2004), John won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and for good reason. I couldn't put it down, and I was sad when it ended because I enjoyed the reading of it so much. The writing is gorgeous, the plot and the characters are fresh and interesting, and it's chock full of issues (it's a great book club book). Here's the Amazon link with the summary, etc.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Motorcycle Mama

This is what happens when I wait too long to blog -- I end up with a list of things I've been wanting to write about and then I consider cramming them all into one post. But I won't. Instead, in the next few days, I'll try to cover motorcycles, kayaking, great reads, and probably a few other things I thought of recently but have now forgot . . .

For today, motorcycles . . .

I still have to head over to the DMV office to get the endorsement added to my drivers' license, but other than that -- I'm now legal to ride a motorcycle! I took a course this past weekend at the local Harley dealership and yesterday I passed my test with almost flying colors. (Seems I forgot to brake going into a curve and that cost me some points -- my instructor told me otherwise I would have aced it . . .).

I've been wanting to learn for a long time. As a kid, my brothers rode, and I spent some time as a passenger and loved the thrill of it. The desire has grown since living in Florida, where we're surrounded by bikers. But what finally compelled me to get out there and take the course is the current novel I'm working on. ("The one that was supposed to be turned into the publisher on March 31," she says with a guilty look on her face . . . Luckily, my editor is very understanding and patient.) As the members of my writing workshop know, my main character rides. So I thought now would be the time to make sure I get the finer points of riding right, before I turn the manuscript in. I'd hate to think readers might later see something I'd written and think to themselves, "she got that all wrong!"

Of course, now I'm itching to get a motorcycle, and Rick says, "Wait a minute, I thought you just wanted to do this for your novel." My poor husband. He's even more patient than my editor.

They don't have pink, but I like this yellow one. :-)