Tuesday, July 12, 2011

FISH Wins Carol Otis Hurst Book Prize

A few weeks ago I learned that FISH is going to receive this year's Carol Otis Hurst Book Prize, awarded to the best in children's writing by a New England author. Hurst, who died in 2007, was a renowned librarian, teacher, storyteller and author. The award started out with a focus on books that centered on the New England experience, but it has since been broadened; which makes sense, given that Fish never visits America. Needless to say, I'm honored and excited.

The Westfield Athenaeum, an amazing library out in western Massachusetts, runs the process, and I'm looking forward to heading out there in September for a reading and talk.

In other news, my next novel, DANGEROUS WATERS, has moved on to the proofreading phase, all set for a March 2012 publication, and I'm working hard to make sure there aren't any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors for my parents to find.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Black Grease, Orange Shoes

Recently I had my car inspected at a local gas station. The owner/manager looked like he should be manning an espresso machine, not examining automobiles. He had a perfectly trimmed little beard and fancy glasses. He was tan, maybe sixty years old, wearing expensive, twenty-something jeans.

He was also sporting a pair of bright orange leather loafers.

-I like your shoes, I said.

-Oh, these?


He leaned in, poised to tell me a secret.

-They cost $1,800.


He shrugged and gave me a look: What a crazy world; he didn't set the price.

-Real Italian leather, he adds, absolved of guilt. The best in the world.

As he finished the inspection I watched his shoes. The orange really was perfect, neither too bright, nor too dull, and the leather looked comfortable. Soft and marbled. What did he mean when he said "real" Italian leather? Are there orange cows in Italy? I wondered. No, of course not, but I pictured them anyway, and decided that there should be, even if they'd clash a little, color-wise, with the rest of the Italian field palette.

The garage was hot and it was hot outside. Wasn't he hot in those shoes? I decided my feet would be sweating.

Plus the floor was spattered with grease and dirt and grime. It really wasn't a place for expensive orange shoes.

He put the inspection sticker on my windshield. This month's color was orange. Maybe he matched his shoes to the color of the month.

-Hey, the sticker matches your shoes.

-Huh? Oh, right.

He gave me the keys and I started to leave.

-You know, I only tell you the price because you asked.

-Thank you.

Did I ask?