and now it's april

What have I done with the first three months of this year off? So much. And now it is April and book two of the sixties trilogy is once again under my fingertips. So is a little girl named Cambria Bold. She is seven. She loves to cook. She makes me laugh. She has a little sister named Miss Moss and a dog named Old Dreadful No. 7.  Her best friend is Queen Esther Washington who does not love squash.
April is shaping up to be the month I work on two stories. Maybe three. And, just as I allowed myself to find my rhythms in the first three months of the year, I'm allowing these stories to stand up and shout, to wave wildly at me, to occupy my days (and nights), to insist I sit at the page and take care of them -- all at once, sometimes. It's delightfully ridiculous, and sort of like chasing after an active todder. I'm trying to keep up.

March was for family. We celebrate five family birthdays in a two-week time frame in March. For the first time in ten years, I was home to celebrate every one of them.  And now it's April. The characters that have been brewing in my head for months (years) are capturing my heart and asking for attention. I'm right here, I remind them. Start talkin'. One at a time.

My new friend Cambria reminds me a whole lot of a certain one-year-old I've been hanging around with. Her dog reminds me of my new granddog, Wesley. (Or Westley, as I have been calling him, in honor of Buttercup's true love in The Princess Bride...)

When I think of that one-year-old, I itch to get to the page and write a new picture book I'm calling Abby's Kitchen. Maybe I will. This familiar, welcome itch tells me that new ideas are bubbling up, words are coming, and stories are being born. Finally.

It took the time it took. I'm grateful I had the luxury of that time to be home, to be still, and to listen. The list of what I did from January to March is long and was necessary. Some of that list is reflected in the sidebar of this blog where you can see what I was reading (and doing). The entire list is at my bookstore, here.

I've got a long, long reading list going right now, all culled from my public library. (How much do I love being able to find and hold the books I want online, then send my sweet husband to the library to pick them up? I feel rich. I am.) I've got holds in for another long list.

I'm reading memoir because I love that form of personal narrative and I'm going to write one. I'm reading books about food because I'm learning how to take very good care of myself. I'm reading fiction mostly because I love being held captive in a good storyteller's hands, and partly because I'm looking for models.

And I'm writing. Finally writing forward with book two of the sixties trilogy. There's a girl named Sunny Fairchild in Greenwood, Mississippi in the summer of 1964. A boy named Gillette. Another boy named Raymond. A best friend named Polly. A young woman registering black voters in Greenwood during Freedom Summer. Her name is Jo Ellen Chapman -- you know her already; you met her in Countdown.

There's baseball and Willie Mays and missing Civil Rights workers and a World's Fair and a bus named Further and four boys from Liverpool... I'm right there with them, breathless, listening hard, capturing their stories.