Friday, December 4, 2009

Trips to new places

By Heather Justesen

November was supposed to be given over to NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month, though I had more editing than fresh writing planned. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case every November, other things intruded, keeping me away from my story file, and keeping my word count from climbing. This year that thing was my book publicity, school visits, a blog tour, and other fun book stuff. I'm hoping now the biggest part of the rush is over I'll be able to spend a little more quality time with my laptop again.

However, I thought I'd share some thoughts and experiences I had this week. As part of my trips to visit students, I spent two days in San Juan County this week. Now for people who are as unfamiliar with where this is located (I had no idea how far off it was when I contacted the school back in October.), it's down in the Four Corners area--the place where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.

Yes, that's a long drive.

Just a few notes from the trip:

There's a big scrub evergreen (I really ought to know what kind of trees they are, but I don't. If anyone else does, I'd be happy to be educated) on the East side of the road near Moab that is covered in tinsel and Christmas decorations. It even has a huge star posted on top. It was cool. I hoped I would see if on the way back so I could stop and take a picture, but it was dark and I totally missed it.

The tree gave me something to think about, though. It reminded me of the shoe tree in Park City (which I blogged about here). I can't help but wonder whose idea it was to begin with, why they picked that tree, and what they were thinking about when they did it. Could one of them have wondered if someone would see the tree and blog about it? Did they want to encourage holiday cheer to spread and hope the idea would catch on so others would do the same with random trees in their areas?

Actually, that's not a half bad idea....

Anyway, Tuesday evening I spoke to a small group at the CEU San Juan Campus library about writing and what I've learned over the years. Then we had some tasty cookies and talked for a bit before my new friends, the Razors, took me home and fed me some seriously tasty homemade pizza. Many thanks to them and their mom for putting up signs and feeding and housing me for the night.

The next day I went to Mexican Hat Elementary school where I spoke to the kids all day with each grade coming in for half an hour. I did two presentations to kindergartners. We'll just say that I got a bit hoarse by lunchtime. Thankfully there was a bit more break time between the afternoon sessions. It was fun, but my voice box was ready to have a break when I turned my car back north.

The red mesas and rock formations near the Navajo reservation at Mexican Hat are so cool. I took a number of pictures--mostly while I was driving back to Blanding. I couldn't stop because school got out a bit later than I planned on, and the drive was a good 20 miles further than I remembered from my early research, so I had to rush back so I wouldn't be late.

This formation is near the reservation. I remember when I drove near it in the morning I thought it looked like fingers coming out of the ground. It's more gray than the reddish dirt and rocks around it--the picture doesn't do it justice.

This one is called "Hat Rock" and ask you can see, it kind of looks like a Mexican Hat. I'm assuming that's where the town gets its name.

One day I'll have to drag my husband down that direction and we'll have to spend a few days going through Arches and Canyonlands national parks, then see some of the other sights that I didn't have time for on this trip.

In the evening I did a signing at the main grocery store in Blanding and sold several copies. Considering there was almost no advertising of my signing and I'm a nobody, it was still really decent.

My blog tour has ended now too, and it was a lot of fun. You can check out a full list of the blogs where my book was reviewed here. Jennie Hansen also reviewed it (along with Rebecca Talley's book, Altared Plans) this week for Meridian Magazine here. Also, there are a few hours before I draw the last few winners in my big giveaway tomorrow morning. You can learn more about that here.

Tomorrow I'll be signing with six other authors at the Barnes & Noble in Orem from 2-4. If you're in the area, pop on by and say hello! And if you have Wednesday evening available, Cindy and Nichole's book, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief is now out, and they are having their book launch at the same place Wednesday evening from 6 to 9 pm. It's going to be fun!


Stephanie Black said...

Gorgeous pictures! Thanks, Heather. And congrats on your new book!