He's toddling now and recognizes many words, but he hadn't really verbalized much that definitely signified something or someone until my trip. I'm pleased to report that his very first word with definite meaning was "book."
[I must digress here and relate a conversation that took place about four days into my trip between Richard, who was holding down the fort, and me:
Richard: "I couldn't find Bella [one of our cats] this morning. I thought maybe she ran away. Then I discovered the cats didn't have any food."
Me: "You have to feed the cats." (Pause while thinking) "Did you change the litter box?"
Richard: (Pause while thinking) "I have to change the litter box?"]
Now for news: I've had a new book (and most likely a series) in the works for some time. It is a fantasy adventure, but quite a departure from the Bruce series, as its hero is a fourteen-year-old boy named Tom. It begins when he and his sister, Jessie, and their parents are at the zoo for a family night on Halloween evening. As Tom watches Jessie walk toward the carousel, she simply vanishes, leaving behind only a crystal necklace. The usual investigation ensues, but Tom knows she wasn't abducted, as the authorities believe. He saw Jessie disappear. He begins researching other disappearances, and he learns that other children gone missing from that same area over the years. When one child's father steps forward with clues to his daughter's disappearance, Tom finds himself caught up in a plan to transport himself to the world where Jessie now resides---a realm of magic, where the mages of that world vie for control over the "hybrids" (centaurs, satyrs, harpies, etc.) and battle with each other for dominance. The consequences of this battle will have far-reaching effects, because if they close the "rift" separating their world from ours, nothing will ever be the same.
This book will probably take some time, and I'm at a point where I've stalled a bit, needing to make sure of my next steps before committing more words to the page. Meanwhile, I've got an idea for a new Bruce novel. I didn't think I'd write another (how many times have I said that??), but I like the characters too much to stop, I guess. I won't let on what this one is yet, as the idea is too new. As I am more certain, I'll give you hints and excerpts to whet your appetite.
I hope to set up more visits to elementary schools this year. I've traveled as far as San Diego for visits, and I'm willing to go farther, as it's always one of my great pleasures to speak with children about my books, what it's like to be an author, and about writing in general. If you have fourth- or fifth-graders in your (extended) family, and you think their school would enjoy an author's visit, please let me know. Schools in my local area (Phoenix, AZ) would be great, of course, as I can visit there more often.
I hope the new year is treating you well and that your resolutions (if any) are holding up!
My best to you,