Orphaned in the Post-Soviet Union era, the Lebedev siblings are alone in the underbelly of the most beautiful city in the world, St. Petersburg. Fedya is nearly thirteen and tries his best to keep his family together but fails. He surrenders his two sisters to the orphanage system and joins a ring of thieves. It’s not long before the gang has a run-in with the Russian mafia and Fedya becomes the focal point of a madman’s revenge, and a desperate race ensues for his life across Russia into Latvija. His sister, Elena, is brutally bullied at the orphanage and almost loses her life, while their youngest sister, Irina, is illegally adopted out of the country after a severe bout with whooping cough. Despite their circumstances, the siblings hold on to a quixotic hope to reunite. Whom can they trust? Possibly, no one. SEE REVIEWS
Baby It's Cold Outside
Last week, a friend introduced me to a wonderful book, All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss who wrote this book with her own children in mind to make the Advent season, those four weeks prior to Christmas, more meaningful than the typical chocolate coin calendars. Boss has since adapted the book for adults. Her short animal essays (twenty-five of them) beautifully capture the hours, days, and weeks prior to the numbing cold of winter each animal must endure and ultimately adapt, from turtle to chipmunk to fox and even bear. These animal stories have much to teach us about our own relationship with darkness and cold and self-preservation.
All I Want for Christmas...
...is my book to sell. Or, that an elusive influencer out there would read my book and post a picture of it along with a kudo or two. Or, a producer’s friend would send him the next great idea for a film adaptation of my book! Is it too much to ask?
What is it about this time of year that has us all dreaming of sugarplums? Oh, I don’t mean real sugarplums. Look them up, they are somewhere between fruitcake and plum pudding. No doubt, it’s an acquired taste. Back in 2008, Chef Peter Greweling told NPR Host Linda Wertheimer that he thought sugarplums might wander back into popularity like they were in the 19th century. Sorry, Peter, that hasn’t happened. But I digress.
What a Day for a Daydream
For those who don’t remember, "Daydreamin” is a song by the Lovin’ Spoonful back in 1966. That really dates me, I know, so I might as well confess that I was still in high school. But what is odd to me is how an old tune like this one can suddenly land in my mind and not let go. It’s become a mantra of sorts.
The main verse I sing is this one, but of course, I change the word “boy” to “girl” and my “bundle of joy” is usually an event coming up.
What a day for a daydream
What a day for a daydreamin' boy girl.
And now I'm lost in a daydream
Dreamin' 'bout my bundle of joy.
Here’s a surprise: I’ve started writing the sequel to Children in the City of Czars. That sounds crazy and I agree 100%. But when the story started rolling out of my head, I knew I had to hold on to the Muse as she floated by, or I might lose her.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a good bit about the Muse in Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. Funny, it wasn’t that many weeks ago that I wrote about Gilbert in a different vein, when she delayed the publication of her Russian book which, at the time, felt like it might impact mine. But talking about the reality of a Muse, I’m right with her. ...
While working through all the “best practices” and advice for a successful book launch, one of the recommendations is to post a countdown. As I think about countdowns, I realize the very act of creating a countdown has layers of emotional significance. (I have to thank my AI intern for some of these ideas.)
Anticipation: Undoubtedly, this is the most indicative of how I am feeling about my new book coming out. As each day draws me closer, I can feel my insides start to murmur. It’s not a full rolling boil yet, but a kind of trembling of the waters. Most people might recognize this feeling of anticipation for a personal event in their lives, like a wedding, the birth of a child, a graduation, or a big vacation. But I can attest, a new book coming out is very much like the wait for a new baby, both in planning and in wondering how it will “come out.” God forbid someone calls my baby ugly.