The halfway mark in any year is a good time for looking forward and back. My reflections of May are both dark and light, joyous and sad.
The month began with the wonderful Hudson Children's Book Festival, in Hudson Valley, NY, where I met and signed books for some of my readers. As always, I enjoyed catching up with illustrator friends like Elizabeth Zunon, Wendell Minor, and James Ransome, authors like Jane Yolen, Florence Minor, Heidi Stemple, and Torrey Maldonado, and the double-threat author/illustrators, Salina Yoon and Jerry Craft.
I followed the festival with a week-long writing retreat where I worked on a companion to One Last Word, before heading home.
Back in Southern California, I found good things waiting for me. There were copies of the May/June issue of The Horn Book, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Awards. The special issue includes my essay, "Seeing Stars," and many others by past CSK Award winners. The issue's cover painting by Kadir Nelson is worth the price, alone! Hope you grab a copy.
The month continued with sweet surprises. Between the Lines made the Bank Street College Best Books list. Yay! An art piece of Murano glass arrived from Venice. And best of all, I learned that Booklist had given Ordinary Hazards its first review—a star! The review was accompanied by an interview of me. Like I said: sweet!
All of the above go under the heading of light and joy. But, remember, May brought sadness, too. On the second day of my writing retreat, I got a phone call informing me that my good friend, Gina Marie Mammano, author of Camino Divina: Walking the Divine Way, had lost her battle with cancer. I hate that disease! Married to Rick Vander Kam, Gina was the most creative, loving soul imaginable. Tears interrupted my work that week, and I let them. When it was time to return home, the heart I packed was heavier than the one I'd arrived with.
The loss of someone you love is always a reminder to make the most of your days, and to live with intention. With that in mind, I continue to move forward. I'm grateful for the past, and excited about the future. Right now, I'm anticipating the American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C. I look forward to signing my first copies of Ordinary Hazards at the Boyds Mills & Kane booth. Maybe I'll see you there, or at the Poetry Blast, or on the exhibit floor.
From Nikki's Journal
A poet passes
Until next time.