Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Catch you all on the flip side!

Hey hey, loyal Novel Girl Readers!
Everyone here at TNG is up to their stylish hip-waders in writing projects (that's a GOOD thing!) and so we've decided to take a collective hiatus for the summer!
But don't worry - we'll be back in the fall! With bells on and a bucket of large mouth bass! :-)
Or maybe just more fun posts about life, writing, and the writing life. And maybe some fabulous swag and giveaways... but only if you promise to behave and not torment your little brother in the backseat of the car on the way back from the lake. Deal?
Tracy, Maureen, Lisa, Jillian and Lesley

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Crazy Few Weeks

We don't have an official topic for this week (unless I missed something), but I've skipped blogging the past two weeks due to being ridiculously busy and overwhelmed, so I definitely wanted to pop in today with some type of a post.

I hate when I miss posting, and I hate even more that I haven't stayed up to date with all of the other Novel Girls, but time has been scarce as of late. My eldest son graduated from high school, I had book signings and other promo-related time-consuming details to deal with, and a book (By Magic Alone) that needed my attention.

I turned in By Magic Alone last Monday, so things are sort of beginning to ease timewise. Thank goodness! But I'm also behind on a bunch of other stuff, and once I get caught up on all of that, I have other books to write. That's right...more books! I can't announce anything officially just yet, but I should be able to by next week or the following. When I can, I'll share all of the details!

But here it is mid-June and my brain is back a few months, somewhere in April, I think. It will probably take me a few more weeks to actually be ready for summer. How's your summer going so far? I'd love to hear!

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm totally cheating...

That's right. I'm cheating. But it's an open mic this week, so I'm allowed! Ha!

I'm totally cross-posting from my own sadly-neglected-over-the-past-few-weeks blog because I'm just too burnt out to write a whole new post for TNG - and I did want to let you guys know a little of why I've been so scarce and scattered of late (note that it is again Sunday night when I'm posting but that's because I was in Edmonton to receive the CLA YA Book of the Year Award for WONDROUS STRANGE!! Whee!). More on that at another time.

For now, this blog entry will hopefully give you a fun little taste of what's been going down in LesleyLand of late. I hope you enjoy!


Well... the last few weeks have been all sorts of cool.

All sorts of exhausting cool.

And, yes, I know... I haven't blogged a stitch about it. Because the coolness was all-encompassing and ate up all my time and most of my higher brain functions! So to make up for that, I promise a series of posts wherein I get you all caught up. With pictures!

First of all, there was the the White Pine Festival down at Harbourfront. I know I mentioned awhile ago that I was shortlisted for this award and, let me tell you, the students and teachers in schools across Ontario take this thing pretty darn seriously! It's amazing. The award is student-voted on and at the two-day Festival of Trees celebration, the authors get treated like rock stars. The festivities are held outside and there's always a huge turn-out of students and teachers and librarians! And much insane cheering and hooting during the ceremony...

A view of the crowd and the author nominees on the stage.
(I'm at the very far left)

I had the opportunity to hang out with some really fabulous authors - Tim Wynne Jones was particularly entertaining to sit next to on the stage - but the best thing, as always, was meeting the fans and readers. These kids were outstanding. They are passionate readers and not shy about letting you know it.

That's me signing autographs in a very chilly tent for some very awesome students!

One of whom could totally be a leprechaun in my universe - check the awesome green 'hawk!

The award ceremony itself, with all the authors lined up on the stage.
WONDROUS STRANGE won "Honour Book"!

Aside from the awards themselves, there were weeks of school-visit shenanigans leading up to that. I went to Peterborough, North York, Etobicoke, Oshawa, Scarborough, Bayfield, and Belleville, among others.

Here are some shots from one of my school visits - in Scarborough, at L'Amoreaux Collegiate:

They put my name on the sign!

And created a cool display with a beaded horse-tail and a horn to call the Wild Hunt!

My hosts, Dianne and Officer Reeve and another WONDROUS STRANGE
display, complete with a 4-leaf clover pendant!

This particular visit was a lot of fun (who am I kidding - they're ALL fun!) because Officer Reeve is the School Resource Officer - a real live policeman who is stationed at the school as a community liason and he runs a reading club for the boys at L'amoreaux. Which is very cool, because there often isn't enough encouragement these days for boys to read. He was my escort for the day and picked me up from the subway to drive me to the school... in the cruiser! :-D

Okay, sure. Maybe I did wind up in handcuffs.

But I didn't actually try to steal his cruiser...

I only thought about it!

Anyway, he had to let me go - otherwise I never would have made it to the festival!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Question of Fame

Since we're just having a free for all this week, I thought I'd write about something I was just thinking about this morning and that's famous people and why we're so fascinated with their lives, or more aptly, their deaths. Yesterday, I heard lots of talk about Al and Tipper Gore's divorce and I thought it was interesting that so many people found it shocking. Admittedly, I too was shocked. And then today, I watched Rue McClanahan's death ripple through Twitter, and I also had that sad moment where I remembered how much I used to love to watch the Golden Girls. And this is just the last two days -- last week I read with morbid curiosity and sadness about the death of Brittany Murphy's husband and also of Gary Coleman. But that brings me to my question: People get divorced all the time, and sadly, strangers (which is really what famous people are to most of us) die all the time. So why are we so saddened/shocked/impressioned by it when it concerns famous people?

Is it because we feel we know them, that through movies and TV shows, People magazine and Us Weekly, we feel like they're somehow distantly connected to us? Maybe. I think for me, whenever something bad happens to a famous person, it serves as a reminder that bad things can happen to *anyone* no matter how rich, privelaged, or famous they are. And things like death, illness, divorce, are scary to think about. These are the kinds of things we always want to think won't happen to us or our families, and so when they happen to famous people, who look and seem vastly shinier, wealthier, and more privelaged than the rest of us, maybe we suddenly realize we're a little less immune?

This morning, I found myself in a cemetary visiting someone's grave with my husband. As we walked around looking for the right place, I pointed out the very, very obvious to my husband that cemetaries are vastly depressing. They're huge, there are dead people everywhere, dead people you don't know, and names you don't recognize. And yet somehow, almost shockingly, that didn't feel as sad to me as reading about Rue McClanahan's death when I got home. Like all those graves I saw, she was just a stranger to me, so I have to wonder, what makes us feel more for celebrities?

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Ryman, Neil Young, Will and Me

Today I'll chat about my son, Neil Young and the infamous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The three converged last night as I escorted my youngest boy, Will, to the first of two concerts in Nashville for Mr. Young on his "Twisted Road" tour.

Here's the best. Will and I were lying on the couch at 6:30 p.m. when we looked at each other and wondered, "Exactly why aren't we going to see the show?" A ticket price of $127.50, maybe? Hmmm. Could that be the reason? I told Will that if he could get two for the price of one, I'd take him. "I'll find them, Mom. I swear," he says. So we jumped in the car, flew down to the Ryman, and ended up on the main floor - great seats - for half price!! It's amazing how well the scalpers will deal a few minutes after the opening act starts!

For those of you who don't know, I'm a rock and roll lover. Well, freak may be more like it. And naturally, so is my son. The beautiful part about last night is that Will loves Neil Young because of me!! I used to dream about the day I could take my kids to concerts. Now, he even knows more about the legendary rock star than I do.

The concert was, well there isn't really a good enough word that hasn't already been used to describe Neil's shows. But for clarification sake I'll just say the concert was everything we hoped it would be. Neil carried the show solo but had all of his different instruments set around the stage. Both his acoustic and electric guitars were in the middle, his grand piano on stage right. His pump organ was in the rear of the stage and his upright piano was off to stage left. And of course, his harmonica was usually in the holder around his neck. He spent the evening rotating around each instrument sharing the depth of his talent with the audience. Mr. Young didn't say much, but if you've been following his career at all you know that's his way - quintessentially Neil.

Each time he sang an old song my son jabbed me in the arm and I got to watch a huge smile spread across his face.

That was heaven for me. So was getting to spend an entire evening sitting next to my twenty-year-old son.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pardon Our Dust!

We're doing a bit of housekeeping around here on the blog, so excuse our dust! This week, we're doing a Free-For-All topic, so we can talk about whatever we choose. I spent last night with one of my college roommates, so I'm feeling nostalgic. Thus, I'm going to talk about my favorite movies when I was a kid.

1. The Goonies
I honestly didn't think there was a man or woman my age who didn't like this movie. Until my friend's husband ratted her out last night that she didn't share our love for this movie. I shrunk back in horror, hand clenched to my chest. My eyes slowly narrowed as I pressed myself against the couch. Who was this person? How did she deceive me for four year in college? Today, I'm still baffled.

2. Stand By Me
My parents' wouldn't let me watch this movie, thanks to the R-rating, but thankfully I had babysitters who cared more about teasing their bangs than censoring my television. After a couple of viewings, it was my favorite movie, not only because it was forbidden. I recently re-watched it, and it definitely holds up--especially the soundtrack.

3. The Neverending Story
I would follow along with Atreyu as he tried to battle and find the Princess. My couch became the giant mud hill where the enormous turtle-man lived (Forgive me if I can't remember Giant Turtle Man Who Lived in A Dirt Mountain's name...) and my poor aging beagle was the killer wolf I had to fight at the end. Let's just say that I'm very glad my parents didn't really use their video camera much during this time period.

4. Halloween
I really don't think I've seen a scary movie--to this day--that I've loved as much as Halloween. With none of the gore and torture found in many modern-day horror films, Halloween is simple and brilliant in its chills. I force my husband to watch all of the Halloween movies each year in October. Even the really crappy ones that are supposed to be set in Illinois, but have very clear mountain peaks in the horizon of each scene.

So that's it! Did I forget any of your favorites?

Sunday, May 30, 2010


First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to Maureen on the launch of NOT READY FOR MOM JEANS! I seriously cannot wait to read this. I love her voice and I'm really looking forward to seeing what kinds of knots Clare can tie herself into this time! Sartorially or otherwise.

As for me? My fashion faux pas usually happen above my neck.

Here's the thing about being shortsighted. When I go to the salon, and take off my glasses for the duration of the procedure, I have absolutely NO idea what's going on with my head until the thing's done and there's no turning back. This has led to some... interesting coifs.

Some years ago I let an obviously deranged stylist have a go at the ol' locks. He cut my bangs asymmetrically, in two layers, dyed the underside black and the rest of my hair bright red. The end result looked as if I was a French femme fatale spy in disguise whose wig had slipped.

My mother said I looked like Biff Naked. I don't even want to know how she knew who that was.

Then there was the spiral perm. The end result of which was that, in high school, one of my numerous nicknames was Fluffy the Wonder Poodle. That's the kind of a name that sticks with a girl.

Once I came away from the rinse station with the hair at the back of my head showing a muddy shade of green. I was in the salon until ten that night as my stylist had to perform a rather extensive color correction due to something the previous stylist had used. I think it might have been toxic.

I stick with straight now. And blonde. And a hairdresser who seems as though they haven't been in the back room sipping cough syrup all afternoon. And I have a team on standby to do an intervention the next time I say: "I'm thinking of having something different done with my hair this time..."