Monday, April 9, 2012

Up On Amazon!

It's up on Amazon (under pen name JP Meads), the book I've been working on a llllllooooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg time, Power Forward: a fast-paced story about the pressures of being a basketball blue chip in a small California town.

Here's the description:

“It wasn’t about the money. It was never about the money…”

Basketball Blue Chip Josh Lockett is a big deal in a small town.

He's headed to the University of North Carolina on a full-ride—if he can handle the ball, and the pressure.

Because being the hero of Oakvale, California, isn’t easy.

If J-Lock wants everyone off his back, he has to raise his scoring average, keep his 4.74 GPA, make the All-American Team… and stay abstinent.

Survival is anybody’s game.

An important story that ends with three small words, Power Forward will captivate teens, parents, coaches, and communities who live for sports—and those who don’t—by taking a hard look at the other side of high school athletics, and calculating its cost.

Here's where you can check out the cool cover and the first few pages.

Please! Email, text, tweet, Facebook: Share with all your friends! And tell me what you think of the story.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This Revision and Me...

We spent Christmas together.

We go on long walks.

We do yoga.

We research.

We add.

We delete.

We go to coffee.

We watch movies, every once in a while.

We have dinner with each other and the rest of the family every night.

We share the same house, the same bed.

Soon, we will be parting ways, this revision and me.

I wonder, will I miss her?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

See Through

Me (to my kids): Guess what? I'm going to do a puppet show for you guys!

Daney (12): Mom. Is it the kind of puppet show where you're having a problem revising your book, so you act it out, then ask our advice about it?

Me: Um.

Daney: MOM!

Me: Come on, help me out here. This book is hard for me.

Daney: Yes, Mom, we know this book is hard for you. You know how we know? Because it's hard for us, too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fish(nets) Out Of Water

A couple of years ago, my friend Leslie invited me to her birthday party. It was at the local kids' museum, with lemon cake frosted with chocolate. And the theme was "Circus."

The day before the party, I asked Leslie's husband, Alan, if this, like all their former fantastic parties, was dress-up. Alan said it was.

So, I decorated myself. I went as a tightrope walker, with a red sequined headpiece, a feather boa, fishnet stockings and tall boots, thick fake-lashes. I thought I looked quite smashing.

It was only upon entering the party--late, from having had lash-glue trouble--that I noticed that everyone was in normal clothes. Everyone except Alan and me. He was the ring master. I was mortified.

To add salt to the wound, there were real tightrope walkers at this party. They were doing all kinds of tricky aerial stuff. And they were dressed normal, too.

When Alan and Leslie had a Mad Men Holiday Bash the other night, I didn't call first for the dress code. I just put on something that could go either way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Year of "Cerebral" Work

Holy hiatus, bloggers! It's been ages since I've posted.

And the reason for that is that lately, I've been working on an enormous revision. This is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian political story. And it's not YA -- it's adult!

Genius Agent Holly has given me lots to think about. Big things. Scope. Stakes. Character.

These things are so hard, I had to think about them for a few weeks before even pulling the draft back up. And after I thought and thought and talked to a lot of people about really weird stuff, I am now writing. Writing!

My goal is to finish mid-February.

Because I want to stay in this all-out flow. And at the end of February, I'm teaching Oregon's first-ever Firefighting Composition Class!

In 2011, I did a ton of writing. I revised a YA literary story, scribbled essays for the NEH Institute in Oahu, designed the firefighting class, penned the dystopian novel, was accepted for publication by the American Journal of Nursing, and took two notebooks of notes on Southeast Asia in Honolulu.

I've read, too. I figure that over the last year, I've graded 600,000 words of student work. That's 2,400 pages!

Also, I've got a new curriculum for my winter research writing class: "Beyond Super-Sized; What Food Does For--And To--Us."

Still to come, in 2012, is an article in a State University of New York anthology on Southeast Asia.

Whew! It was a big year for my brain.

But when I put a sponge in the microwave, or miss the exit to get home, when I check myself in the school parking lot for pants or a skirt, or something, on my bottom half, I know that not much has changed.

Yep. I'm still me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food on Oahu

While I was in Oahu this summer, I swam and snorkeled and studied and hiked. I walked, wrote, did yoga. I read, visited art museums, watched foreign films.

But, I did not eat.

The trouble was that food was hard to get. I know; it sounds crazy, I mean, Waikiki has tons of restaurants. But Waikiki was also an hour away--by foot--and who wants to show up to PF Chang's all sweaty, then walk back with a stomach full of Kung Pao chicken?

We all had little fridges in our rooms. And down in the basement, with the mosquitoes, there was a microwave. But getting food was tricky. Mostly, we would walk along the foot of the Manoa mountains, past avocado and orange trees, by a little stream, and after 20 minutes, we'd end up at Safeway.

But then, there was the carrying back of the groceries. They had to fit in a backpack, and hopefully not spoil in the humidity on the way back to our rooms.

There was an empty chair one day in class, because the otherwise resourceful professor of a respected university was trying to find food.

One night, I craved all these things, all together: corn bread, papaya, butternut squash. When it was all piled up on my plate, I thought how funny that everything was orange -- and high in potassium. Potassium is key, because you're sweating all the time on Oahu, even when the afternoon monsoons are pouring down.

Another night, my friend shared her green meal with me: spinach pasta with pesto, and green beans on the side. I found that friend a mango.

I stole a ladle of soup off a stove, but it was for someone else, and that is another story.

Everything we craved on the island grew right there. We wanted starchy root (taro), and whether or not we liked them, we ate a banana a day. Papaya and avocado were also biological staples. Water, water, water, water. We drank gallons and gallons and gallons. The coffee was not yummy. And in 35 nights, I had beef only two times.

Twice, I was poisoned from Vietnamese food, but I recovered from each in a day.

And once, we got these little fried cinnamon dough things from a famous place called Leonard's, and those dough things were divine.

The best meal I had was with Dave, on the west side: incredible plate lunch from a little hole-in-the-wall. And there was a good breakfast on the beach at Duke's, during a big canoe tournament. My favorite snack was a Bird Bar--full of seeds and nuts and honey--from Down-to-Earth, a vegan market.

In all, though, I didn't eat much.

When I got off the plane, I was tired and sunburned, and my hair had grown long and blonde and stringy. But the first thing my daughter noticed was that I was holding my pants up.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Future of The Future of Us

"It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

"Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

"Josh is her best friend.they power up and log on -- and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future."

I loved it, The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler.

I love that the plot is driven by high school junior Emma's obsession to have a good marriage fifteen years ahead. Emma's motivation is clear: her own parents are divorced and remarried, with lots of complications.

The effects of divorce is just one of the social issues Future explores. There's also homosexuality; stereotypes; teen sex, drinking, drugs.

Who will Emma end up marrying? Will she be happy? What will Emma and Josh do about the future they can see? The six-day mystery unfolds in 65 short chapters, through alternating narrators Emma and Josh. Each chapter is so compelling and fluid that moving through the book is smooth and fast. I never found a good time or place to put it down -- wanted to keep going, had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy each word.

I can see Mackler's call for respecting individuality and complex family dynamics (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things). And there are threads of Asher's theme of how one small "ripple" affects a lot of other people (13 Reasons Why).

While I might have traded out a couple characters for a little more 1996 -- what everyone was wearing/eating/drinking/watching/doing -- I cherished the details, like the songs that "played" in the story, and the "Wayne's World" part, and the problem with Pluto.

The Future of Us
is tight and real, funny and sad. These talented writers marry wit and philosophy, delivering a thought-provoking tale of two teens trying to thrive in a quickly-changing world:

"No matter how small the ripple, the most vulnerable part of the future is going to be our children."