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80: Emmajin license plate

Emmajin licenseIf you see this license plate on the street . . .

. . . you'll know I'm officially nuts. Obsessed.  Possessed.

This specialty license plate arrived in the mail yesterday, and now it is on my car.

Only an author who is really wacky would get a license plate with a fictional person's name on it.

Do you think anyone in Seattle will have any idea who Emmajin is?  Honk if you see me!

- October 23, 2010 -

81: Do you love maps?

VIEWS: Do you love maps?Mongol Empire map

I'm crazy about them. When I was a kid, I used to draw maps of make-believe lands, just for fun.  I pored over the maps of Lord of the Rings so often, I felt as though I was growing up in Hobbiton and not in Ohio.

So when it came time to include a map of the Mongol Empire, I remembered the appeal of such images. The map in Daughter of Xanadu was designed by the talented Steven Yang. He was very patient with me as I asked for revisions on the exact location of Xanadu and other vital details.

Maps feed the imagination, especially exotic place names. Mongolia. Cathay. Carajan. Khanbalik. Xanadu.

Hope you'll come on a journey with me - and with Emmajin - to explore this faraway, long-ago world.

- October 22, 2010 -

86: Seattle boostore events, Jan-March 2011

NEWS: Seattle bookstore events lined up!

I have a weakness for all bookstores, but especially independently owned ones, since my dad owned and ran a bookstore in Ohio.

After Daughter of Xanadu's publication on January 11, I have scheduled four events, spread out over three months, at my favorite local bookstores in the hope that YOU can come to at least one! Thanks for your support.

Here are the big events:

Saturday, January 15          Parkplace Books, Kirkland, WA - Book Launch Party, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 16            Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle  - Talk & Reading, 2 p.m.

Saturday, February 12        Island Books, Mercer Island, WA - Celebration, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 23      Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA - Talk & Reading, 7 p.m.

In addition, I will appear with 21 other new authors of children's and young-adult books at:

Inside Story, Parkplace Books, Kirkland, WA, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Remember: Tuesday, January 11, 2011  is    PUBLICATION DATE!

- October 21, 2010 - 

87: Author sightings in Seattle

NEWS: Author sightings

This past week, I enjoyed a cornucopia of inspiring writing-related events in the Seattle area.

On Wednesday, I heard Jamie Ford speak at Parkplace Books about his bestseller, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The bookstore was packed with nearly 200 fans, their biggest event yet. Jamie has a great speaking style, open and direct, honest and humble. He made us laugh a lot and feel as though we really knew him – when, of course, we don’t!

On Thursday, I attended a reading celebrating Night Lights, “a collection of luminous short stories and essays by treasured Northwest authors.” The book is published by Humanities Washington, which provides cultural and education programs. One featured author was one of my favorites, Brenda Peterson, who writes memoir, fiction, and nature essays.  She mentored me for years in her morning class, guiding me in the basics of fiction writing and psychological depth. She continues to guide me on the path to publication and is a frequent contributor to Huffington Post.

On Friday, I had a long chat with popular author T. A. Barron, a college friend. He came through town to promote his latest book, Merlin’s Dragon: Book III, Ultimate Magic.  Tom Barron is awesome: a successful, prolific writer, a warm and supportive person, and a man who cares about the

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What is Xanadu?

Good question. And how to pronounce it?   Sounds like “Zanna-doo.”

Many people think Xanadu is a mythical place – like Shangri-La. Other people think Xanadu is just a movie and a song by Olivia Newton-John, about a nightclub!

In fact, Xanadu was a real place, site of the summer palace of Khubilai Khan. In Chinese, it’s called Yuan Shangdu, which means “the Upper Capital of the Yuan Dynasty.” Marco Polo called it Chandu, Shandu, or Xandu, depending on which version of his book you’re reading.

A famous English poet named Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a dream about it and wrote a poem in which he called it Xanadu, and that’s the spelling that stuck.

Let me tell you, Xanadu is not easy to locate.

In 2007, I set out

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