A slug fest!

I have lived in and around Santa Cruz for most of my life. I started school here in the fifties, I went to university here, I raised my kids here.View_of_Santa_Cruz_from_UCSC

As I said to the nice lady from the Good Times:

“Santa Cruz is like a first draft: a shorthand sort of tale understood by, and comfortable to, a very limited audience. Explaining Santa Cruz to outsiders is like the rewrite process, when the writer considers how the story looks to the reader,” she says. “Living in an alternative universe, where banana slugs are school mascots and bakeries mull over gluten, lactose and animal products, is good practice for someone whose novels are based on the premise that Sherlock Holmes is not only real, but still alive.”

She wrote an article about some of the literary figures of Santa Cruz, here.

This weekend, UCSC turns 50, and it’s going to be a very grand party, with Farm & Garden tours, walks that focus on campus history, a Kid Zone, the rededication of Merrill College, a bonfire—and my panel: True Originals: The Santa Cruz Stairway—Today’s Writing and Publishing Strategies from Fiction to Memoir to Hand-Made Books.Porter Squiggle photo

Go, Slugs!

Fiddleheads!

A while ago I was at San Francisco’s Ferry Building on a Saturday morning, when the place just explodes into the Bay Area’s most fantastic farmer’s market.  And so I bought…stuff.  Berries and Chinese broccoli and hot sauces and things I knew.  But the fun part of a market like this is the produce you don’t know.  So I bought a little punnet of fiddleheads–fern shoots. Aren’t these just the cutest thing in the world?IMG_0850

The seller told me that, being Western fiddleheads, they needed two trips through the blanching pan, so I did that, and then sautéd them in some butter.  They taste vaguely artichoke-ish, and they’re firmer than I expected.  Whenever I cook something new I make it very basic, so I taste what it is rather than the flavorings.  Next time I might use garlic, and a flavored oil.

Have you tried fiddleheads?  Any other odd veggies you love?

Alma Mater

The University of California Santa Cruz (“The original authority on questioning authority”) is my alma mater, and has continued to nourish me long after she handed me my degree.  Five years ago, I was tremendously honored to be named one of this relatively new university’s “45+5″ alumni.  And coming up on the 25th, I will be participating in the 50th anniversary celebration weekend.

ALC Author's panel_final

This is open to the public, as is the evening event downtown at Bookshop Santa Cruz.  Come out, explore this flabbergastingly beautiful campus through one of the many walks, join in on one of the lectures offered, bring the kids to explore one of the events for them, and just come to celebrate a True Original of a university.

Details of my panel on writing and publishing are here, with a list of all the other events here.

Go, slugs!th

Library Love, from Laurie

I’ve written a love letter, for National Library Week, here.

Libraries are my home and my joy. Libraries were where I lived, when I was a kid. (We moved. A lot.) Now, libraries make my work possible, since I write historical novels and do a ton of research.

It’s Library Week!

Happy National Library Week!

Here at LRK Central, every year we celebrate Library Week, often asking you, gentle Reader, to write something about your relationship with libraries: “A Love Letter to My Library” was in 2009, then “My Fantasy Library”, followed by a dose of Piratical Booty. 2012 was “Thrills in the Stacks”, after which Twenty Years of LRK posed the question: “If a Martian asked you what a ‘library’ was, what would you tell him?” Last year came, “How the Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Or, as it says in The Moor:

To the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

For 2015, we’re doing things a little differently—because the hard work is already done.

It started last fall when an 8th grade teacher from Tennessee asked if I would mind (mind?!) if he and a partner built a Common Core program around The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Now, I’d always thought that Beekeeper could be a useful introduction to the Twentieth Century: World War One, the women’s movement, roots of conflict in Europe and the Middle East, the huge social and technological changes—all that plus Sherlock Holmes & villains & hansom cabs &—220px-HansomCab

well, let’s just say this is a book that I would have loved to study in school.

Now, thanks to Mr. Wilson and Ms. Russell (yes!), a generation of young Laurie R. Kings can study it—and, their teachers won’t have to reinvent this particular wheel, because these two fabulous individuals have built a unit with guided comprehension & discussion questions, vocabulary lists & worksheets, supplemental research materials, even chapter quizzes & tests, all in a ready-to-print format. (Yes, with a separate teachers’ answer packet, as well!)

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What’s more, they’ve generously donated their hard labor to the world, lodging this superb study unit on my web site (where it joins the Beekeeper book discussion guide and my suggested background reading.)

I just can’t tell you how grateful and excited this makes me. Not only will it bring a lot of vulnerable young minds into contact with the Russell & Holmes gateway drug—er, book (to be fair, Beekeeper is both an ALA Notable Young Adult Book and an ALA Outstanding Book for the College Bound), it also creates another community around Mary Russell and her world: teachers eager for an excuse to teach a rousing good tale in the classroom.

So this year, to celebrate Library Week and the launch of our Common Core Beekeeper unit, we’ll focus on middle schools. I invite you and your friends to nominate any US middle school library to win a carton (28) of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Beginning Tuesday, I’ll draw the names of four of these libraries. The winners are free to hand the books out to their students, put them on the shelves, or turn them over to their teachers to accompany the Common Core guide. They can even sell them on eBay, if they’d rather have the cash.

I am truly thrilled about this whole Common Core project, and I hope you will be too, especially if you have anything to do with middle schools. Go to my web site before Friday to nominate your favorite library, and while you’re there, take a look at the Common Core unit. And as I said, please tell all your friends, especially those with middle school kids.

The nomination form is here.

The Common Core unit is here.

At LRK,

We Love Libraries!