April 2009, when spring arrived at the usual time of year.

Speaking update: I am so excited! In three weeks, we’ll be in Reno, Nevada, at the Nevada Reading Week Conference ( http://www.nevadareadingweek.com/ ). My sessions (Kids as Critique Partners and So You Want to Write a Novel) happen on Saturday, March 3rd. I’m busy compiling notes, practicing presentations and preparing meaningful handouts. I may even be doing a classroom visit as part of the “Critics in the Classroom” project!

Speaking of “Critics in the Classroom” ( https://www.susandmatley.com/official-blog/critics-in-the-classroom/ ), two of the participating teachers have gone “live” with the project. In Texas, several sixth graders are reading and responding to The Luck of Lily Adams. A group of eighth graders will soon join them. Nineteen sixth graders in Hillsboro, OR, have completed a general reading survey, reviewed information on both critiquing a manuscript and the year 1971, and started reading the book. Their teacher anticipates the project will be done at the end of next week. I’ve been invited to visit the classroom via Skype (with luck, I will learn “how to” this weekend). I can hardly wait!

The house hunting update is not so thrilling. Our last week offer on the house in Walla Walla was declined. This is about 30% disappointing and 70% okay. Our house in Prescott is lovely in the springtime, and spring is, apparently, here. The venerable row of lilacs is budding and the ten-day forecast promises just a hint of freezing overnight temperatures. Fingers crossed that a late, unwelcome polar incursion will not knock it all to heck! We viewed two more houses this week, one built in 1962 and not renovated since. The other dated from the early 20th century and came with a nice chunk of land but the house itself- -extreme deferred maintenance is the kind way to put it. So, back to where we started.

Beyond Big-G City (third in my series that starts with Small-g City and Big-G City) is pending initial edits at WolfSinger Publications. Track the progress here: http://www.wolfsingerpubs.com/Status.html. Release date TBA.

I’ll be back to the querying agents with Mary Benton next month and hope to have The Luck of Lily Adams ready for query shortly after the “Critics in the Classroom” results are in. Speaking of which, most of the students who completed the CIC reading survey strongly prefer print books to e-books! Somehow, that, too, seems like spring.

As you can see, most of my recent work has been administrative. Presentations and outreach are important parts of being a writer and I’m thrilled about the current projects but. . .it makes me batty to forego writing fiction, even for a month. This week I started tinkering with a new story, probably a short story, with paranormal elements. I work on it a few minutes each day and it’s my go-to topic when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. The story is unfolding in “pantster” (as in “seat of the pants”) style. I wonder what it will be when it grows up.

Happy February, and may spring be in your heart regardless of the weather.

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