One thing that makes all the hard work of writing, editing, revising, and submitting my stories is when I hear excitement from readers I meet. At the recent CCIRA conference, I met a wonderful book seller from Bookies/The Book Bar, Marilyn, who recognized my title with excitement. She had just begun reading The Netahs. She admitted it was on the long-list for the Reading the West award for Young Adult fiction. I had not yet heard that it had made the list. She thoughtfully emailed me the link with the announcement. I don’t think my feet touched the ground for the rest of that conference. Thank you, Marilyn!
I also had the pleasure of meeting the young woman at Next Page books in Frisco, CO who is reading my book for the same reason. She also recognized the title, as it had just arrived and was on her nightstand.
Curious? Check out their list of nominees at: https://readingthewest.com/32nd-annual-longlist.
Colorado inspired my story. I’ve always loved walking in the woods, even growing up in the Midwest, where our woods are mixes of deciduous and pines. The smells in our pine and aspen forests here are so fresh and complex and they change with the seasons. The birds in Colorado are less varied, I miss the red cardinals and blue jays. Still, you can't beat the occasional wildlife sightings, always from afar! I’ve seen pronghorns, mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, foxes. Luckily, I’ve never met a bear or mountain lion on my walks. There’s a thrill at seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitats, and I wanted to bring that into my story. I also wanted to honor the history and ways of the first peoples who lived here. That led me to conceive of my secret society of Netahs who can turn into animals, which I propose as predating even the known native populations, while also influencing their sensibilities to care for the land and its bounty. Human/animal combinations and transformations have been a part of human mythology for as far back as we've been able to record our stories, and they can be found all over the planet. Mine is merely a variation on a theme!
Keep your eyes out for Book 2! I'm calling it The Netahs, Down in the Valley
I’ve been reading articles about friendships and the pandemic. Many of us went through a friend reset after isolation, then were able to come out of our caves because of vaccines or low case numbers. During the darkest days, we zoomed with those we couldn’t visit in other states. We made our regular friend dates like book clubs into video chats. We worked at home. We dined in heated tents or grabbed a beer outside on sunny days, wearing hats, boots, mittens. Being outside last summer allowed us to reconnect with even more friends as infection rates fell.
It’s January, 2022. We’re back inside in the thick of winter, if we’re lucky. All the alarms are going off again: high infection rates, hospitals overwhelmed, pandemic fatigue. In the bright light of day, who do you call?
I resolve to keep in touch with my nearest and dearest in every way I can. It feels harder to do that than it used to. I will forgive myself for quiet days reading a book instead of planning a dinner party. It will get easier. I understand Danish hygge is so last year, and Swedish mys is in strong competition. Either way, now is the time to embrace warm sweaters, handmade socks, hot cocoa, good books, and friends.