Archive for November, 2013

Gratitude Attitude

The ancient Egyptians believed in the magic of the written word–so a cartouche (that rope symbol) around the the hieroglyphs that spell out the name of a king or queen is there as protection from evil-doers who might mess with that name and thus do damage to the person in this world or the next.  We often sound more like ancient Egyptians than we might think–when we talk about what Anna calls Gratitude Attitude, for example.

Beside the Nile, Hathor–a queenly figure with sun and horns on her head–gave the gift of gratitude, and when a farmer dipped his hand in the river, he saw his five fingers and remembered the five things he was most grateful for in life.

Five things?

Family silliness.  The gentleness that comes when we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

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dressup035Jesse and AnyaStories.  Being born into a family that has told them and acted them out and passed them on.

spidermenMy own backyard.  Lanie taught me something I had forgotten, a little bit, since that time I was a girl in Ethiopia: how absorbed I could be in plants and dirt and worms and roots.  Today the rain let up and I wandered around and looked at things still green and at bare earth where brown smudgy things I planted last year will knit themselves into daffodils next spring.

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Reading.  The deliciousness of it every day.  Getting to see reading ripple on.

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Something steadfast in the hardest times.  This month, the brother-in-law that I’ve known ever since high school–because his father was a doctor in Ethiopia and thus Mark was a teenager when and where I was–is quite suddenly gone.  In the melancholy, though, the tenderness of family and conversation and words and connection shapes a hammock of light.

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01378Someone remembers you.  Someone was there from the beginning.  Someone knows.

Thanksgiving.

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Crawling out from under the bed now

I never intended to crawl under the bed and stay there.

Yes, it’s scary and hard and unnerving to take pieces of your innards and put them out for everyone to see.  But I’ve survived a lot of scary things in my life.

maji520Once, I watched my dad in a wild windstorm clinging to the grass roof of the first house we lived in when we moved to Maji.  He was trying to pin a tarp or something, and I thought he was going to lift up and sail into the valley below.  That was scary.

And mostly good things happened when my book popped into the world.

I liked the way the reviewer at Publisher’s Weekly called my new book, “An appealing mix of humor and substance.”

I liked the reviewer for School Library Journal, who said, “Anna’s safety tips on everything from rattlesnakes to clouds are sure to entertain readers….this is a sweet book with a lot of heart.”

But I especially liked the Kirkus starred review.  “Anna’s internal voice is pitch-perfect, and her pithy safety rules and ability to connect the dots between religion and life are often hilarious.”  I often find my writing hilarious.  Nothing feels better than someone else thinking so, too.  The reviewer wrote, “An amusing and richly rewarding tale that features a very likable, one-of-kind protagonist.”

The problem with reviews, though, is that lots of librarians have lost their jobs and lots of the ones who are left are stretched and pummeled and don’t have time to read reviews (and sometimes don’t have money to buy books).  So reviews don’t have the power they once did.  And I worried about whether my book would find its way into the hands of readers.

Then came an email from my editor that had a subject line called WAHOO.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/books/review/anna-was-here-by-jane-kurtz.html?_r=0

Wowee zowee.  DSC04796I feel the fairy dust sprinkling around me and I’m dancing with the lions.  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee.