I haven't been here in over three months. But I'm still here. I've been there, too. Somewhere over the rainbow on the island of Kauai on a much needed and long over-due vacation where I finally learned to snorkel without drinking copious amounts of sea water, and I swam with reef fish of all colors, tribes, nationalities, circling me as if I was the new aquarium attraction.
I tried to remember how to relax, even though I wrote a new picture book text on the flight over the Pacific, flying on the same exact day that Malaysian Flight 370 disappeared, flying into oblivion. I followed the news while on vacation, filled with anxiety about the return trip home. Life is so fragile. This time on Kauai, unlike our trip there over two years ago, we heard sirens every day. A man drowned as we drove past the beach where first responders gathered. We were going to get sushi rolls at a food cart at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and he was revived by the medics, only to then die of a heart attack immediately afterwards. He was 79 and his granddaughter had to witness this.
Our world can be so beautiful, yet sometimes so deadly. We left for Kauai after a huge snowstorm blanketed little Lummi Island, followed by winds that snapped branches and took down trees, and left us powerless for days. There was joy in the simplicity of life without conveniences, but after a day or two of cooking with headlamps on the propane stove and moving the contents of the refrigerator to the snowy deck, we were ready to rejoin the modern world. We are lucky to have all of these connections, and it is interesting to imagine where we would be without electricity. Perhaps this is why I prefer to write in my journals with pens.
I may have been away from this blog, but I have not been away from the one thing I count on to take me places, and ground me simultaneously: my imagination. I've been writing. Four picture books to be exact. Two are completely new and two are older ideas that I finally figured out after years of revising and stewing. I have learned that time is an essential element in some stories, and timing is sometimes even more critical. My agent has been submitting my novel, "Jacked" after a hiatus, hoping that the timing is right for it now. I continue to hope that it will find a place on some editors' list and eventually it will find a place in readers' hearts.
I also have two new books that came out on March 4th, 2014:
"Peek-A Zoo!" is the follow-up to my 2000 release, "Peek-A Who?" which has now sold a million copies. I explained in an interview with Publishers Weekly why it took me fourteen years to do the next book. "Peek-A Zoo!" went into a second printing before it came out and already has 65,000 copies in print. My publisher, Chronicle Books also did an adorable "book trailer" for it that you can watch here. You can buy my new books through all of the standard book sellers, including great Indie stores, who I support with my heart and my wallet.
My other new book, "Daddy Wrong Legs" also came out on March 4th, 2014. (It was a great day to "March Forth.") I love this book; it splits in half and you can mix and match tops and bottoms of assorted "daddies" of all kinds. There is a poem that I wrote to go with it, of course. I hope that kids and adults will enjoy not only reading, but playing with this book.
There is still great news for my book, "Once Upon A Memory" which published on December 3rd, 2013 with the incredible Renata Liwska as illustrator: we just found out today that The Bank Street College Children's Book Committee selected it as a 2014 Best Book of the Year! Also, both Renata and I will be giving a master workshop together at the SCBWI-WA Spring Conference in Redmond, WA April 12 and 13, 2014.
So I have been here. And not here. I will also be here on April 5th at 11am, (at Village Books in Bellingham, WA) reading and signing all of my new books. I will be at some schools, too. And I hope to be in my studio. I have a lot of sketching to do; new dummies to create, sample illustrations to bring to life, and a new board book to paint, too.
If you don't see me, know that I'm still around, and I hope you are around, as well.
Thanks for not forgetting me.