Friday, May 26, 2017

Writing on a computer

I wrote my first stuff on paper, then revised as I put it into the computer. It was a scary day when I sat down to put original thoughts directly into the computer.
My husband said to save everything on the computer. Why are you printing out paper copies?
Now I'm sad, because so much of my earlier writing is lost. On 5 inch floppies. On 3 inch floppies. On files in my computer that no longer can be read by any word processing programing on my current computer. (I lost some of my favorite recipes that way as well.)
Yes, we've had computers in our family ever since 1989. It was a big deal in 2009 when we bought computers for each and everyone in our family. Now I worry that they'll die and I'll lose everything that I've saved on them.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Writer's Quotes

"The writer has the gift of time and the plasticity of her tools. 
Hate a sentence, a character, a plot device? The delete button is your friend!

There's great joy in being able to erase/delete mistakes in a piece of writing. 

Aren't we writers lucky to have such a malleable art form!"
                           Jane Yolen

It's like knitting. 
You have to go back and forth, building the thing up. 
But if you don't like it, it's easy enough to drop down and fix something, or even disassemble the whole thing and reuse the parts.
                             Brenda Clough


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When you first retire

My husband retired September 2010, before I did. (I retired January 2012)
But his first month was a bit difficult:

Here's what I wrote to a friend a few weeks later:

His record so far this month --
2 broken lawn mowers  (actually the attachments , grass cutter and the bricks sweeper)
1 computer e-mail system wrecked and rebuilt
1 eye stopped working, which meant he needed lasor eye surgery a couple of days ago.
1 idiot at Social Security who went on vacation for a month (we thought she was fired for giving everyone a 'blessed day' right as she hung up after calling the caller an idiot, didn't move his case file to anyone else, which means that his social security won't begin on time, will be about a month late in beginning.  irk.
1 week of total joy and rubbing it in that HE didn't have to get to work
and 1 week of semi-depression.  
(we'll see what next week brings)

Plus several times of him being a jerk and being surprised when I didn't quietly take it, but told him I didn't like him treating me like an idiot.  
Tonight he called my working at the computer a computer addiction.  I was so flabergasted that It was only later that I realized I should have pointed out that HE spends twice the time on the computer than I do.

We'll see how he is when he finally gets adjusted.

So - how did YOUR husband take retirement?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's May!

May - the time of flowers and sun.

It's also time for housecleaning.  If your house is okay, then computer files cleaning up is also good.

Here's one of my favorite flowers - that shows up in MAY!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Egg Hunt Disasters


The news of how Trump's White House Easter Egg fiasco (He won't be there.  He had no idea this was a National thing and expected. He ordered a tiny amount of eggs and did NOT invite the usual crowd of kids.)
reminded me of some of the Easter Egg hunt disasters that I've been involved in.

A long time ago my boss ordered me to get eggs for a library Easter Egg Hunt.  She wanted chocolate eggs.  So I tracked down a company that produced them and ordered a thousand.  Surely that should be enough.

Was I surprised that they arrived in a small box.  One Thousand eggs in there?  Well, it was what she wanted.  And it was too late to get anything else.

On the day of the hunt, she didn't even allow me to come to the event.  She went to the large grassy space near our satellite library, discovered hundreds of children ready to go, threw out those one-inch solid chocolate eggs which immediately disappeared into the grass.

The kids couldn't find them.

Who got blamed for this mess?
Me, of course.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April First

There's a saying that if March comes in like a lamb, it'll leave like a lion.  And that's what happened.  Huge snowstorms, hail, rain, tornados, and the like all over the midwest and eastern parts of the USA.  (Here in Sandigo (not to brag but), it's sunny and 70 degrees.

To cheer you up, I'm trying to put an April jigsaw puzzle here.
If it doesn't show up - here's a link to it.

Darn.  We used to be able to post jigsaw puzzles right into our blogs.  I've done it several times.  Oh well, click on the link and enjoy an April puzzle.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Guest author at Literary luncheon adventures

If you are invited to an author's luncheon as guest author and you find your table because of your name perched on a display holder, Do not remove the sign. Even it it gets in the way of people seeing who you are and you seeing other people. 
I once sat at 'my' table at a conference and removed the sign so that I could talk to everyone -- and everyone assumed I was a rude conference goer taking the author's place. (but they didn't say anything, just were a little cold to me.)
It wasn't until the end of the luncheon (after I had had nice conversations with the people from either side of me) and the head table read our names and asked us to stand up, that the table realized that they really did have an author at their table. hmmmm.
I still did the 'whose birthday is closest to mine" contest to determine the winner of the books I had brought as table gifts.
Which reminds me - one time they asked us to put our gift books on display on the table. As soon as I did, four people left the table. (one was a halloween book and the others had people of color on the cover) After our shock, I simply told the remaining three people that it looked as if they each got one of my books. (lemonade out of lemons.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Who should run this country? Children's book authors and illustrators!

Why children's authors and illustrators should be running the country:
1) Empathy is one of our job requirements. Every book, every character we write or draw requires us to walk in another's shoes. We don't always do it perfectly, but we often know when we're not succeeding. And then we try harder.
2) We understand kids' widely varying circumstances. One day we might visit a school that charges $20,000 tuition for kindergartners. The next, a broken-down school where a kid goes to the office because her outgrown shoes are making her feet hurt. (And we see the secretary who goes into the back to try to find bigger shoes for that kid. We know about unsung heroes.) We visit schools where, if not for subsidized school meals, the kids would go hungry. We know you can't learn when you're hungry.
3) Money is not our first priority. (If it is, we're in the wrong field.) We do what we do because we love it, and because we know kids deserve the very best.
4) We see connections. We know a single act of kindness can change the course of a child's life. We know a single caring adult can be a lifeline. We've written these things. We've lived them. We remember.
5) We know art and music and dance and theater are not expendable. They save lives. Indeed, they have saved some of ours.
6) We're good at waiting. The book we're working on now may not sell for five years. It may not come out for ten. That doesn't mean it's not worth doing. We're not looking for quick payoffs. Quick payoffs often come at the expense of one's soul. (Congress, please note.)
7) We take the long view. It's great when a child says she loves our books. But it's even better if the child, through reading our books, develops her own empathy and grows up to walk through life understanding others' points of view, looking beyond stereotypes, and treating others with kindness and compassion. And thus makes the world better.
8) We understand cooperation. We understand synergy. We know we're stronger together.
9) We live in a world of imagination and magic and possibilities. Hate and fear exist, but they're obstacles to be overcome, not operating instructions.
10) We're nice.

Friday, March 17, 2017

No Snow here in Southern California

Did I ever mention how much I LOVE my little condo in southern California? 
Minuses - close enough to the 5 ( I-5 for the east coasters) so that the traffic sound is always there. But when I close my double-pane windows, I pretend the waves of sound are the sound of the ocean. 
Positives: I love seeing gre
en all the time even if it's palm trees and bamboo, ice plant and other strange growth (instead of grass). 
Flowers all the time - different ones for every season but always there. (no snow to shovel. I've had enough of snow shoveling for a lifetime. If I want to see snow, I can see snow on the 6,000 feet high mountains just an hour away.) 
I love being near my grown children and able to see them and their spouses (spice?) often. 
I love my one-level condo with no stairs and its walk-in shower.
Hurricanes (Cyclones over here in the west) never hit this area.
Of course we also don't have much rain, and when we do the inhabitants panic because all the oil deposited on the roads during the dry weather lifts and causes hydroplaning.
My oldest daughter kept encouraging us to move here and we're glad we did.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Maryland was actually a Confederate State

A bit of history that you might not know:
Maryland was a Confederate state that wasn't not allowed to join the Confederacy because of Federal Military occupation. Very much needed because of Washington, DC being SOUTH of Maryland.

The famous Federal Hill looking over Baltimore's Harbor used to have a federal fort on it with its guns aimed right across the harbor at the Maryland Club - a hotbed of Confederate sympathizers. 


Federal troops taking trains from the north could not travel straight through Baltimore (because the trains and train tracks didn't match) They had to march a mile or two from the end of the northern tracks to reach the beginning of the southern tracks. These troops were often fired upon by the citizens of Baltimore.
(Things my father-in-law told me about his home town.)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nonfiction Monday - garbled library searches

Today's Google doodle is all about Komodo dragons. It's a quiz. (which I failed. How did you do?)
It reminded me of one library I worked at in the 1990s. A library where parents did the homework for their kids because their kids were "too busy to do it." A mom came in and demanded books on dragons. I took her to the Fairy tale section and showed her some dragon books.
"No, not that one. No not that one. Dragons! Can't you understand?"
So I dragged out some picture books about dragons. She was furious. Tongue lashed me up one side and down the other.
(Did I tell you that these homework-doing parents treated the library staff like very dumb servants? The men were often even worse because they thought they had the power to fire us.)
Eventually, through much discussion, I figured out that the lady was 1) doing a child's homework assignment that she herself didn't quite understand. And 2) that what she actually wanted was a nonfiction book on Komodo dragons. At that point the library didn't own any books all about that particular reptile but you can be sure that I immediately requested that we purchase some.
She was 'barely' satisfied when I found her subject in a general book about types of lizards.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When your preschool child wants to write a book

What do you do when you are at your computer, writing, and your preschooler wants to 'write' on 'your' computer.  Let her pound away?
What we did when my preschool granddaughter wanted to do this was to get a used keyboard. Just the keyboard.
 Then she would sit on the floor by my desk and type away, clickity-click-click-click, happy as a clam, while I did my writing. We were together. and we both were busy.
My youngest child (before computers) saw me writing on notepads and then typing on my typewriter, so one day she wrote a story on her notepad and illustrated it. (small notepad. one page. one illustration.) Gave it to me and asked me to read HER story. 

Well, it was the usual preschool scribbles, carefully staying on the lines of the small notepad. I took a guess from the picture (It looked like a jack-o-lantern) and quickly made up a story about a pumpkin who wanted to be a jack-o-lantern. 
I was totally surprised when it turned out to completely satisfy her.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Things you might not know about me

Some things you might not know about me:


1. my age. I've never looked my age. When I turned 21, my family took me out to dinner - and I was CARDED and the restaurant refused to serve me drinks. On the other hand, at this same dinner, my younger sister was served without question! This kept happening to me until I reached my 30s. When I reached the age when everyone younger than me had hair turning white while my hair stayed brown, I decided that maybe this looking younger than I actually am is a GOOD thing. 
2. Mrs. Schroeder, the English teacher in my Junior year of high school was the first person who thought I was a good writer. I only wish I could have shown her my published books, the first of which happened 30 years later. 
3. I often say that I was a 10-year overnight success - between the time I began writing seriously and the publication of my first book. Which proves that you have to be stubborn and keep on writing. This obviously overlooks the fact that I was writing for magazines and the local newspaper during those 10 years.
4. Everyone in my family loves seafood - except me. So who married a guy who lived by the ocean? me. (My parents and my sister did manage to move close to the Gulf later, joining my brother who was stationed there. But my baby sister has always lived in the middle of the country, far from the ocean. Which is probably why she vacations at the ocean. My poor brother, however, now lives in the desert where everything is brown.)
5. I used to sew most of my children's clothes, up until they began school. Couldn't manage to sew jeans, though, so limited myself to tops and swimsuits after that.
6. I have no dining room in my house. The condo I bought only has 2 bedrooms and no extra rooms, so I took over the "dining room" space in the condo and turned it into my writing office.
7. I am not fond of dogs. Or spiders. (hmmm. people who really know me, already know this last fact.)

8. Although I wrote a book about the celebration and history (and riddles and a party plan) about Groundhog Day, I never managed to get to Punxsutawney to meed Punxsutawney Phill.  Nor did I meet the other famous groundhogs mentioned in that book.  But I did get great pleasure whenever people walked up to me at conventions where I was signing copies of this book who were convinced that I didn't have their groundhog in the book to be able to open the book and show them the page where their special groundhog was mentioned.   Oh, the benefits of doing extensive research when writing a book.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Harbingers of Spring

Okay. It's 45 degrees out (cold for southern California) and I'm hearing the song of birds that usually announce the arrival of Spring in Maryland (in March or April). It's a sound that always made me happy when I lived there. So, my initial reaction is -- Maybe they are announcing that it will finally get warmer here?
(of course my first reaction was, What are they doing being so cheerful in January?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Un decorating the house

Time to take the 'artificial' tree down.
It's undecorated.
All the decorations are put away.
But we can't get the tree apart so that we can put it back into its box.
I tried.
Teen tried.
I think it will take a strong man to do it.
Great!
I bought artificial so that I could do everything myself without straining my back. But NO. It's not gonna happen.
Welcome to The Tree that Stayed up all Year.
(For you non-children's librarians -- that's the name of a book.)

Actually, my little tree is only 4 feet tall, nothing like the tree shown here on the blog.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Writer's Quotes

Advice from the best writers around:
"Patience. Persistence. Passion. Publication."
Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple

Monday, January 2, 2017

What I did on Christmas Vacation

I had plans, I tell you. 
I had plans.
The teen was going snowmobiling and I would have a whole week to myself before the new year. To do self-things. I was going to see movies. I had tickets to a Mannheim Steamroller concert. I was going to walk the beach and maybe even take the train up the coast and back.
But it turned out that I had pneumonia, instead.
Mostly in bed.  
Taking medicine.
When I felt somewhat better, I did manage to visit the after Christmas sale at Macy's (bought nothing) right before seeing Dr. Strange. (it was wonderful)
Took more medicine.
I saw half of the Mannheim Steamroller concert.
Went back to bed. 
The car needed work, so I spent some time sitting at the car dealer.
Never did get up the road to the BBQ place to get the trip-trip dinner I had wanted. (but did find some nice pea soup at the local grocery store.)
Now the teen is back. (she had a wonderful time) And school begins tomorrow.
But I learned today that one of the car's headlights is out. So I've got to get to the car dealer, again, to get that fixed. 
Soon.
After I get out of bed.

Sunday, January 1, 2017