The Someday Birds is now available in Spanish!

Libros de Seda, the Barcelona-based publisher, is to be congratulated. Isn’t it beautiful?

Mail from a special reader / aspiring writer

I was lucky enough to get a note the other day from a special twelve-year-old I taught in a writing workshop locally.

She wrote:

“I have lots of story ideas that I think I would enjoy to write as an adult and more for that crowd, but sometimes I worry I will forget them. How long have you had the plot of The Someday Birds in your head? Do you think I will still remember my story ideas when I’m ready to write them?”

It was such an interesting question. How do any of us know when we are “ready to write” something that’s clearly important to us? I wrote her back:

“I think that if certain stories are meant to be written, you will not forget them. Stories that come from what really matters to your heart — that have an importance to you as a person — will stay with you until it’s the right time for you write them down…and somehow you will know when that time is. You’ll just know. Each of us has different themes and issues in our lives that fascinate us and affect us. Our writing inevitably reflects this. In a way, we can’t *not* write our stories — our true heart-stories!

I thought about The Someday Birds for years before writing it. I didn’t know the exact form, or plot it would finally take, but I knew I wanted to write about an autistic boy and help him learn how to grow into himself and be more at ease in the world. The details of the story changed and morphed. But the seed of the purpose of the story was there for years, waiting, while I raised my family and worked other jobs… Finally I just couldn’t ignore it anymore — I knew it was time and I had to write it!

That said, it is a nice idea to keep a “story-idea journal,” or a story-idea folder on your computer, in which you jot down all your ideas — You had a wonderful idea about a man in search of a home — maybe you came up with it because lately, you’ve been turning the notion of ‘home’ around in your mind lately for some reason…and if so, maybe it would help to ask yourself why, and write about that a little, and see where it brings you…

Something tells me you WILL write that story, and it’s going to be great!

Thank you for reading The Someday Birds! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Someday I hope I will read a book written by YOU!

All my best,

Sally

Houston, we have a problem. (Hurricane Harvey.)

Thinking and praying on the folks down in the Houston area these days. What can I do to help? I’ll donate to Red Cross and the Salvation Army, etc., but what else?

I started to wonder what books for kids are out there that talk about floods/surviving natural disasters. There are several good ones that explain the science, or spell out the history of Sandy or Katrina. But the most poignant story I happened on was written by an amazing 8 year old named De’ante Webster who was so moved to empathy and compassion by the events of Hurrican Katrina, he wrote a story called “The Flood of Kindness.” An artist-family-friend illustrated it. (Here’s the link)

Bravo, De’ante.

Let’s envelop the people of Houston in a flood of kindness after these waters recede.

Actually, let’s envelop everyone, everywhere in a flood of kindness. Let’s keep trying to make kindness be the one type of flood that never recedes.

“People.”

I’m a big fan of Erin Human’s blog about living a neurodiverse life. I’ve gotten a lot out of reading her thoughtful entries. (you can find her blog HERE) Below is a graphic she has created and shared, as an illustrative ‘way in’ to talking to children about their autism. I think it’s a lovely visual depiction of diversity – in the natural world; in people; in brains.

In a sense, her drawing is an extension of one of my favorite vintage children’s books, PEOPLE, by Peter Spier. He drew a giant catalog of noses, mouths, ears, eyes, skin tones, dress styles, hands, fingers – you name it – all to visually represent that we’re all, all of us, just millions of variations on the human theme. There is no one particular “right” way to be.

Mere anarchy.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at a busy gate for a Delta flight out of Salt Lake City. Parents calmed antsy toddlers; business travelers checked their phones. Folks exchanged pleasantries about the weather, kids. We were of many ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, and languages, in a few rows of hard plastic airport seating. A fairly normal scene.

Then the overhead TV announced some breaking news. Together, we looked up. Together, we listened as our president basically defended white supremacists.

Footage replayed of those angry white men chanting KKK slogans and brandishing torches. Hundreds of rifles in the hands of a camouflage-clad militia, shoulder to shoulder. A wall. A barrier. An army, at a beautiful university, threatening dominion.

We blinked. We people in the airport, we didn’t know how to react.

Because we couldn’t be sure of the politics of the person next to us, we became, collectively, afraid. Hesitant. A few of us murmured. Sighed. Looked furtively around at each other.

But basically, the area around the gate was now silent.

It was the strangest thing. As if we’d all been suddenly lifted into a different plane (pun intended), and now, we couldn’t make eye contact.

Something in the air had grown very, very heavy.

I keep thinking of Yeats: “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” I’d never understood the use of “mere” in connection with “anarchy” in that line. Evil as something mundane, everyday, normalized.

I get it now.

New Book in the house!

Hello friends!

A very cool package just arrived at my front door: some bound galleys (reviewers’ copies) of my second book!

(NOTE: THE TITLE OF THIS BOOK HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM JOHN LOCKDOWN TO ‘STANLEY WILL PROBABLY BE FINE’)

SO EXCITED to see Stanley Fortinbras and Liberty Silverberg (my main characters) venturing forth on their big adventure!

This story is greatly influenced by the joy and excitement of San Diego Comic Con – which is going on here now – and by the love I have for the famous landmarks of my home city.

It is also influenced by my heart-connection to kids who grapple with anxiety and sensory issues. For them, every day of venturing out into the world can redefine the meaning of “brave.”

Algún Día Volaremos

“No tengo las manos limpias completamente hasta que me las he lavado doce veces, una por cada año de mi vida…”

So begins the Spanish translation of The Someday Birds. It launches in November, in a special gift edition with new, original illustrations created just for this version.

Deepest thanks to Libros de Seda, Barcelona. Ofrezco mis más profundas gracias for the care and attention they have given la historia de Charlie. I cannot wait until November!

Globalism v Nationalism

My husband is French. Soon-to-be daughter-in-law is Australian. Sister-in-law Korean. Other son’s love, from the Philippines. Each connection has cast beautiful threads out across the map of the world for me.

A radio commentator just said: “Globalism vs nationalism. That’s the struggle of our time.”

I don’t pretend to know the answers to anything. But I do think the world needs more beautiful threads.

School’s out… but I’m thinking about school.

The cover reveal of JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING! (see previous blog post, below this one) has got me thinking. What do I want people to know about this book? How do I describe it?

For extremely sensitive students, school emergency and active-shooter drills can become a source of stress. For some kids, they lead to a feeling that the worst possible thing can happen at any moment at all. At any moment at all.

I was the kind of kid who lived with that sort of fear. There was no such thing as a school shooting when I was young — I managed to squeeze my childhood in between the Cold War “duck and cover” drills and the Columbine active-shooter ones. But still. I know the low-level hum of fear and anxiety all too well.

This new book treads lightly, but the depth of it touches upon childhood anxiety from living in this flawed, violent, bully-ridden modern age. I’m sort of trying to bring the dread up into the sunlight, for examination and demystification. To try and acknowledge, then calm down, that low-level hum.

By the way, there have been 270 shootings at schools since Columbine, according to ABC News.

What on earth is wrong with us, as a society, that this type of problem is allowed to persist?
I will never be able to understand it.

John Lockdown Cover Reveal!

The cover reveal of JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING happened today!

You can read a little bit about it here, on Mr Schu’s amazing blog:

Cover Reveal on Mr Schu Reads

The book will hit the shelves on Feb 6 2018. It’s about Stanley Fortinbras, an extremely anxious kid who totally hates the scary, over-the-top safety drills in his giant new middle school. Stanley’s also a comics fanatic, and he enters this wild comics trivia treasure-hunt, thinking it will make him appear cooler to his drifting-away best friend Joon… But things don’t exactly turn out as expected. I mean, do they ever?

Anyhow, here’s the cover of Stanley’s book. Illustrations on cover – and of some comics, inside! – by the amazing Steve Wolfhard, who is also a storyboard artist on Adventure Time on Cartoon Network.

Can’t wait for Feb 6, 2018!

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