Playfulness offers relief from the stresses of…well…I needn’t enumerate them…so I wasn’t surprised when Charles insisted that he come to the launch of Seven Stitches this Thursday at Another Read Through. After all, Charles and I go back more than a year, when I decided to do some fact checking for the story.

In the Seven Stitches of my imagination, a stuffed blue giraffe is the beloved companion of a homeless girl who lives in Portland. Problem? I’d never seen a stuffed blue giraffe. To find out whether one existed, I went to the purveyor of virtually all things material: Amazon.

The result? Many, many, many, and even many more stuffed giraffes live in cybermarket world, and an amazing number of them are blue. Who knew? The choices were so vast and I was so intrigued that I bought three. Yes, I auditioned three stuffed blue giraffes for the position of Charles. […]

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Back in January of 2014, I started a race with the construction crew that was building the Janey II, an apartment complex about a block from my place. A sign that eventually went up on the site noted that the building would be ready in Spring 2015. Spring turned into summer, and now it’s fall. The building looks to be nearly finished on the outside, except for work on the eco-roof. Still, I don’t think the building is yet ready for its first tenants.

And Book Three? Well, first off, the title of Book Three has morphed into Untitled Companion to Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. I guess that means I’m not quite done either. The manuscript has been written and revised and revised and rewritten. About the only bits of material that haven’t changed since the winter of 2014 are the names of the three chickens: Yetta, Tillie, and Louise. […]

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We interrupt the epic saga of Book Three vs. Janey II to bring this public service announcement to all of you readers and writers in Oregon. Starting in September, more than two dozen authors divided into teams of eight are speaking for eight minutes per author to support independent bookstores in eight locations across the state. For free (we don’t get paid and you don’t pay to attend). Hence the name Crazy8s Author Tour.

This is the brainchild of Oregon writer George Wright, who put together the original tour in 2012. I was on that tour with George, and I’m delighted to be part of his one. On September 18, I’ll be in Cottage Grove, along with Bill Cameron, Lisa Ohlen Harris, Lindsay Hall, Karen Karbo, Gina Ochsner, Alexis M. Smith, and Ellen Waterston. On September 24, Lindsay, Alexis, and I will join up with Dana Hayes, Susan Hill Long, Cari Luna, Ismet (Izzy) Prcic, and Jody Seay in Salem. […]

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Welcome to another stop on the blog tour for the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, presented annually by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Pull up a chair and let’s hear from author Loïc Dauvallier, illustrator Marc Lizano, and colorist Greg Salsedo about Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, the gold medal winner in the Older Readers category. Originally published in 2012 by Le Lombard in French as L’Enfant Cachée, the book was translated by Alexis Siegel and published in the U.S. in 2014 by First Second. Hidden is a graphic novel about a grandmother who shares her memories of 1942 Paris in a story she’s hidden for decades. It’s a recent collaboration between Loïc and Marc, whose previous projects include La Petite Famille, a story about grief and the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and Hugo et Cagoule, a humorous comic without words. This is their first collaboration with Greg. […]

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Back in another part of my life, I once asked a friend named Jack about what he and his family did to celebrate Christmas. I was curious. Growing up Jewish in America, I knew plenty about the sort of Christmas they offered up on TV or sang about in holiday concerts. But the real Christmas? Everybody did it a little differently, right?

So I asked Jack, who was then a well-respected attorney, a Vietnam War veteran, a dad, and, I might add, my boss.  “Do you do anything special every year?”

Turns out, he did, and one of his traditions has stuck with me all these years. Yes, Jack’s family exchanged gifts on Christmas Day, like a gazillion other folks I assume. But they also gave books to each other on Christmas Eve. Books. Oh, the wonder! They gave one another a piece of the stories of the world as told by us all, to entertain or to contemplate, and to engage with before the gadgets and gizmos, the handmade doodads and the store-bought duds. […]

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