Giving Thanks
I woke up with a headache, a sore and stiff neck, and raging allergies. Feeling thankful on this day, in spite of it. There were many mornings not that long ago when I was not sure I would wake up, or wanted to wake up. And now look.

True, all the Best Books of 2009 lists are coming out, and my book isn't on 'em. Hey! I always prided myself on my odd tastes and underground proclivities -- the gals used to complain about how awful my record collection was. Ha ha! And I see now that the books I write that I love are the more obscure ones. How does that work? I'm not sure. But I'm thankful, because I know I have only put out work I am proud of. And every book ends up getting its champions and lovers. INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH has led to amazing days of travel and friendship, lots of mail, good strong sales, and cool swag! Yes! I like presents, y'all.

As you know, this season begins my new phase of the Save the World Perpetual Book Tour. I have been amazed at the strong responses from readers of this blog or Twitter who have been excited by our family policy of changing the world, even in small ways. Because small ways are holy. And here we go!

I have been blessed to have taken aprt in a bunch of small stuff this past year. Raised $ here, sent food there, gave succor to prisoners and beds to wandering writers. It's so good, we're doing it big-time in 2010. Starting now. I won't berate it -- the post is in the archive, below. You know where my heart is. But I will say that tomorrow, we take our kids and our visiting relatives to Feed My Starving Children, where we will pack and ship hundreds of meals for hundreds of hungry third world children. It's a good start.

Soon, I will post a small selection of places you can join us in supporting. Small gifts add up; small efforts, when organized, build a wave. I think we give thanks by giving, period. Sometimes, all you have to give is your soul. That works.

Cinderella came up with a new if we lack projects. It became a bit of a Twitter sensation...for a day. You know how Twitter is. But we were moved by our friend Stephen Elliott's house-to-house guerilla book tour. No publisher support, which is a common thing now. So he has been sleeping over at pals' houses and doing reading for their friends. We thought we'd formalize this and start up the Writer Railroad. Beds and meals and readings/house parties for writers. Cool, eh? Let me know here if you're in. We're organizing our thoughts and plans right now.

Speaking of Stephen--I have to say I am thankful to be in the community of writers. Every eyar I am amazed and humbled that I can visit with heroes and role models, and sometimes I even count them as friends. I know some blog-responders see red when I mention anmes of my colleagues, as if I am accruing points. Screw that. I am giving thanks. Among the many writers I have hung out with, saw again, or met this year were: Chimamanda Adichie, Sherman Alexie, Michael Anania, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Dave Barry, Josh Bazell, Ishmael Beah, Robert Boswell, Chuck Bowden, Ron Carlson, Vikram Chandra, Denise Chavez, Alexander Chee, Ted Conover, Jennine Crucet, Debra Dean, Frank Delaney, David Durham, Stephen Elliott, Debra Magpie Earling, Gary Ferguson, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Jane Hamilton, Ed Hirsch, Craig Johnston, Tayari Jones, Aryn Kyle, Nam Le, Barry Lopez (only on the phone), Thomas Mallon, C.M. Mayo, Colum McCann, Alice McDermott, Ana Menendez, Manuel Munoz, Gina Nahai, Antonya Nelson, Nnedi Okorofor, Daniel Olivas, Sara Paretsky, Francine Prose, Margo Rabb, Richard Russo, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Tom Sleigh, Arthur Sze, Amy Tan, Natasha Tretheway, Calvin Trillin, Scott Turow, Thrity Umrigar, Abe Verghese, Ken Wheaton, Colson Whitehead, C.K. Williams. F'r example. What a blessed, holy year!

Today, I am slugging away with mighty swings to far left field on HUMMINGBIRD'S DAUGHTER II. I am getting my graphic novel out soon w/ Christopher Cardinale, MR. MENDOZA'S PAINTBRUSH. I redid the intro to ACROSS THE WIRE for a 2010 re-issue. Have a young adult novel hiding in my drawer. Two volumes of poetry. Have stories in PHOENIX NOIR and in LONE STATE NOIR (that one written with David Corbett). Finishing the intro to David Taylor's epic volume of Border Patrol photos. And then my top-secret love/war/family epic I am drooling over right now! Along with, God willing, movies and movie money so I can launch my press and more Save the World projects.

See what I'm saying?

As Bono sang in "Mysterious Ways": on your knees, boy!

We are well. We are safe. We are healthy. I get to tour. I get to meet hundreds of people a month. My marriage is sound. My kids are happy. My soul is sullied and full of dirty secrets, just like yours. But I feel washed clean.

It's cold outside, but in here, it's warm and smells like pumpkin pie.

I'm thinking of you, sending you what small blessings I have. But mostly, holding you close when my head hits the restless pillow. Do the same for me, won't you?

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