Janis is a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist!

Hi all, It’s late but I don’t want to neglect those who peek in on my blog. I promise, promise, promise to post a more coherent blog when I have time, but for now I want you all to know that Janis Joplin Rise Up Singing is one of five finalist books for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. I’m so totally thrilled that my feet haven’t touched the ground all week. I told someone that I think I get what Paul Simon meant when he sang about the woman who walked with diamonds on the soles of her shoes. I think it was me. Really. Okay, well, sort of. He couldn’t have been writing about me because we don’t know each other. Never met in fact. Never even crossed paths on a city street. But, before I forget, here’s the image of Janis Joplin Rise Up Singing with that sweet silver finalist sticker on the cover:Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing

I have no idea why all this wonderful stuff is happening although I have suspicions that Janis and her friend Myra have conspired up there in heaven together.  And how knows, maybe they had the spirit help of my mom and sister Lulu who’ve been hanging out up there for a long time. Oh, dear, am I getting sort of Whoopie Goldberb in that movie GHoST? That’s not my intent but I don’t think I did this on my own. I had to have a whole team of people at my publisher’s —  Amulet Books for Young Readers – working in the background as well as some sort of holy help, don’t you think?  If you don’t, I’d love to hear your own theories.  

Anyhow, forgive my overtired musings and let’s get back to the topic at hand…Janis.

When I was steeped in heavy revisions of Janis, I dreamed she showed up in my kitchen. There she was in a poncho and jeans with her hair all wild and lovely and that amazing smile and Texas twang, just standing in my doorway. She said, “I heard you gave me a do-over.”

I stood there at the counter where I tend to cook and proofread even though it’s a fire hazard and stared star-struck dumb while I clutched the manuscript to my chest. I think I said something clever like, “Uh, yeah.”

“Cool,” she said. Then she asked, “Does the ending come out the same?”

I flipped through pages even though I knew the answer, hesitated, looked around, finally mumbled out, “I’m sorry.”

She was okay with it though. She just sat down, kicked her heels up on my kitchen table and rocked her chair back, laughed that trademark cackle and said, “Oh well, Those are the breaks!” But she laughed like she knew something. And then there’s her friend Myra rooting for the book. Myra, loved her so dearly and couldn’t stand the way people misunderstood her and who died this past October, forty years after Janis and in the same month that the Janis book came out and the same month that David Getz produced a song relying upon Janis’s lyrics. In an email to me, he called it Karmadelic (a word he made up that fits so beautifully the way Janis might have expected things to fall out on this earth). Going back to my dream – I think Janis laughed at the outcome because she knew her life doesn’t end quite the same way in the book because, as long as her voice is alive, we can keep her alive. I wonder if she knew Myra was about to join her when I was dreaming. Janis was my hero, flaws and all when I was growing up; she was my cautionary tale. I think many of us need to hear her again and again so we know we’re okay — flaws and all. Her friend Myra became my most recent hero. I’ve never talked to a wiser, more loving woman.  Anyhow, I think of both women and all the friends in my life these days. What great magical connections!

And now I need to go to bed because I’ve wandered and wondered way too much tonight on little sleep all week. I’ve been burning the candle morning, noon and night between teaching, talking up this book and the book of essays daughter Amanda and I edited (Silent Embrace, Perspectives on Birth and Adoption) … which I said is my activist book until I realized that the way Janis is speaking to young adults who don’t feel they measure up or have have been bullied for being different…

… I’ve also been steeped in thesis defenses at Mount Mary College and now I need to write a graduation speech and a short speech about Janis for ALA…OMG! I need sleep now so I can do those speeches. And I’m rambling. And I’ve got diamonds on the souls (an unintentional misspelling although karmic?) of my shoes and I’m really, really, really tired and going to bed now……..before my mind wanders even further.

Here I go, walking up to bed with diamonds on the soles of my toes because I’m not wearing shoes…………