The sweet, sour, salty year

Taking a tip from Lisa Schreoder, I thought I would do a look back at this crazy year.


(Laura Veirs)

January
When 2011 began, I was in the Laurelthirst Bar listening to Laura Veirs. Or rather, not listening to her, and googling “Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer” on my phone.


Two days earlier I had picked up Lisa Madigan at the hospital and learned her terrible news. It is a very strange thing to have this knowledge hovering in the air between you. I’ll never forget how, just before I took the I-84 exit, she asked in a small voice, “This is terminal, right?”

Later in the month, Girl, Stolen got picked by YALSA for Best Books and Quick Picks.

February
February 23 was one of the worst days of my life. In an odd way, that turned out to be a blessing.

First was word that a project that had already been turned down by a bunch of houses had just received its final rejection. (Yes, even authors who have published a bunch of books get rejected.)

Shortly after getting that news, I got even worse news. Another publisher had rejected a book under contract, flat out, no holds barred rejected it. There was the possibility it could be salvaged if I could come up with a new concept, get it approved, and write it so cleanly that it could go to copy edit as soon as I turned it in. Oh, and I had less than six months to do this. Too dispirited to call my agent, I emailed her instead.

Around 9:30, the phone rang. I didn’t even look at the caller ID. I figured it was my agent. But it was Lisa’s husband, with the news that she had slipped away a couple of hours before.

The only good thing about that day was that all the news was so bad I could focus on none of it. 

March
Scholastic Book Clubs bought rights to Girl, Stolen.

I was also selected by Educurious, an organization affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to be featured in a video. I had a camera crew at my house for two days. You can watch a snippet of the video they made here: http://educurious.org/learners.php . It’s being used to help get 9th graders interested in reading.


(A still from apart of the video that animated by by Kendal Tull-Esterbrook. You can see more at her website, www.lubdubart.com)

April
I celebrated my birthday and later in the month spoke at the Oregon Book Awards about Lisa the day before her birthday,

Heart of Ice, the fourth in my adult mystery series with Lis Wiehl came out.

I managed to track down the real blind girl who inspired Girl, Stolen, and we met for the first time on the set of a TV show. You can see the video here: http://aprilhenrymysteries.com/teen_books/girlstolen.php

May
German rights to The Night She Disappeared were sold.


Bridget Zinn, another beautiful YA writer and friend, died from her cancer.

June
I got a note from a teacher who had used the Educurious videos saying I had changed the life of a former dropout, a 17-year-old with a baby who had never liked reading before and now wanted to be a writer.

British rights to The Night She Disappeared were sold.

July
This year has been an interesting and challenging one, parenting-wise. That’s all I’m going to say.

August
Somehow made the deadline and turned in a brand new book and everyone loved it. Loved it as much as they had hated the previous book.

Many a movie nibble for Girl, Stolen. So far, no one has taken a deep breath and sunk their teeth into it.

September
My mom had a heart attack, but it was treated early enough that she went on a cruise a few days later. That cruise turned out to be good for her, because she hated it. She felt like everyone on the cruise (all old folks) was just marking time and waiting to die. My mom developed a new will to live.

Started meeting with a critique group to work on a YA I’m working on on spec. I wasn’t sure about it - the last time I was in a critique group with a bunch of other unpublished writers it imploded in a very ugly way - It has turned out to be super useful.

October
Girl, Stolen was the number one YA bestseller for Scholastic Book Clubs for October.

Got asked by Olney, Illinois to take part in a One Book, One Community event featuring Girl, Stolen. In an odd twist of fate, Olney is about 30 minutes from where my great-grand parents lived.

November
Spent four whirlwind days in NYC. Took my daughter and her friend, spent time with my agent, met with my editor and folks at Henry Holt. This was money I spent out of my own pocket, but it was definitely worth it.

December
Signed a contract for Finish Her Off, a YA thriller due in 2013.

Back on a sucky deadline, with a book that is due ASAP. And tonight I’ll go full circle. We are going to the Laurelthirst to see Laura Veirs (and friends, which includes people from the Decemberists, the Jack Mormons, Blind Pilot, and Richmond Fontaine.)
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I wish you many, many good things in 2012 in all areas of your life. Especially parenting. (I'd say "especially writing," but I have faith that good things will happen there & that if the parenting front is calm, the writing front will be stupendous. We had a similar year here with my teen son, but all is well now. I think.)
I wish you a happy and safe new year, April. Focus forward.