As I was saying ...


One of the million amazing things that happens when the NEA pulls your book out of the pile and puts it on the BIG READS shelf is you get an official NEA caricature. How cool is that? I love what they did with me and Into the Beautiful North: you can see the Cine Pedro Infante and The Magnificent Seven, the trek to Kankakee, the border fence. My giant forehead.

Though my heart is up in my writing space where I am working on my next novel, I am heading out on the road again starting this week. It's really hard for me to pull way right now because this novel is SCREAMING out of me. Feels like my first real adult novel. High stakes in this story. I'm responsible for a largely forgotten and unknown epic of WWII. I know when I'm hitting it because eerie things happen to me as I write. For example, one of the characters in this novel dreads hearing Debussy's Clair de Lune. She has an irrational fear that the spirits of the dead travel within that melody and come to her. As soon as I typed that passage, my Ipod began to play ... Clair de Lune. Time for a coffee break ...

This week, I head to New Jersey and a visit to Montclair State University where The Devil's Highway is the Montclair Book 2013. A ton of students wrote to me, asking questions and giving me feedback. It was great to hear from them and I tried to respond to everyone. Even the one who said she didn't like the book and thought it was boring. Oh well,can't please everybody ... Looking forward to visiting with the folks at Montclair and spending some time with my editor, Geoff, since these are his home stomping grounds.

Several communties have embraced Into the Beautiful North and the Big Reads program and I couldn't be more excited. New York City will have several events through the Center for Fiction, I'll be in Waukesha WI, San Angelo TX, my beloved Yakima Valley (WA), Aurora IL and Greensboro NC for Big Read gatherings, for starters. I think that's a pretty good coast-to-coast representation and I am really looking forward to discussing some of the issues I hoped to illustrate with Into the Beautiful North.

A lot of book clubs have written lately looking for Skype or phone visits and I apologize that my schedule hasn't really had much room. Thank you for your graciousness and understanding. A couple of weeks ago, I did a Skype session with a group of 8th graders in my old neighborhood in Logan Heights. They sent me a huge packet of thank you notes, which all went right into my magic box of wonders. Those notes mean more to me than I could possibly tell you.

It was a great and busy summer and you caught most of it if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook: Tin House workshops, driving cross-country, helping with the start-up of Narrative 4, judging the Center for Fiction first novel prize, writing, writing, writing. I think the fall is shaping up to be just as busy. Better keep up with my cardio!




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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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