Saturday, November 18, 2017

Writer's advice - P.G. Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse, wrote almost a hundred books of fiction, 16 plays, and composed lyrics for 28 musicals. 
When asked about his technique for writing, he said, "I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The plan for today is

Today is - input revisions done on paper in to the computer day.
So I headed to my computer in my PJs.
Then I remembered I had to drive a teen to an Ice Skating thing with her friends, so I got dressed.
But --
As I was making my salad breakfast/ lunch, she offered to drive herself.
Wow.  I had forgotten that now she can take herself to group events.
So now I'm sitting here, all dressed and no place to go.
Oh right.
This is input revisions done on paper in to the computer day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Read Read READ

Scholastic just posted a terrific article by Evan Robb, Principal of Johnson Williams Middle School. The blog addresses the importance of independent reading with suggestions for making time for students to read self-selected books during the school day. Go to and start reading now! Here's an excerpt from this outstanding piece:
"Many administrators might be thinking that their school does not have time to add independent reading to the instructional piece. While reading this blog, I’m asking you to suspend that belief. Let me be your guide and help you make independent reading an integral part of your school’s curriculum. I have wrestled with the challenges of finding more time for independent reading. Soon after I adopted the goal of creating a school-wide culture that values this type of reading, I reached out to staff and collaborated with them to find solutions."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Muddy Waters

Muddy, the story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters.
by Michael Mahin.
Illustrated by Evan Turk
Available now (as of September, 2017)

This picture book biography is getting a lot of talk and hints about awards.
For example, it's already listed by the New York Times as one of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2017.  And more awards are to come, for sure.

The writing is smooth and lyrical, with the refrain, "But Muddy was never good at during what he was told" coming at turning points in his life.

It's the illustrations that are getting the most attention, even mention of possible Caldecott material - but I have a bone to pick with them.

Nowhere can I discover if Evan Turk is considered "white" or a person of color.  Even the photo on his webpage doesn't clue us in, because it's a black and white photo.

Now, if he is African American, people will overlook the exaggerated body positions and rough cut faces with thick lips.
But if he is 'white'....  Lordy, if he is WHITE, they will burn him alive.
Just like they did to Ezra Jack Keats when he depicted the loving mother in The Snowy Day being heavyset.  (when she certainly looked like lots and lots of the moms who were around me while I was growing up.)
p.s.  I just checked his Facebook page and yes, he is white.    Hmmmmm.

Evan Turk has lots of information about the technical side of how he created the illustrations in this book here.

His Facebook page is here.

To learn about Michael Mahin, click on the link above under the title of this book.
In the interests of honesty, I confess that Michael Mahin is an active member of the San Diego Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and of the PRO group to which I also belong.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Holiday decorations

What's with this jump from Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations?
Don't people realize that there is a Harvest Holiday that comes between?

In fact, I was seeing Christmas decorations for sale in stores by mid October - along with huge sales on Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations.  I know store buyers like to be slightly ahead of the sales season and have their products available the minute you want them -- but I think they're getting too far ahead of themselves these days.

Don't you?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Day of the Dead

November 3.
All Soul's Day is known as the Day of the Dead here in southern California.
Here's a picture of my son-in-law ready to play polo - in Day of the Dead costume!

And here he is again, with his wife.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Uma Krishnaswami

One of the marvelous faculty members of Vermont College of Fine Arts, Writing for Children and Young Adults has been interviewed on Cynsations Blog.

(Yes, I know that's a very long name for my grad school.  We usually write it as: VCFA WCYA.)

Anywho, check out Uma Krishnaswami - On thriving as a long time, actively publishing children's author.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Writer's Quotes

Neil Gaiman quote:

"Google can bring you back 100,000 answers.
A librarian can bring you back the RIGHT ONE!"

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review - Apartment 1986 by Lisa Papademetriou

(with any luck, that picture might be a link to the HarperCollins site where you can read a bit of the book.)
Apartment 1986 by Lisa Papademetriou. HarperCollins, 2017.

Wow, Lisa. You had me on the edge of my seat during the last few chapters of your new book -- Apartment 1986.
I had been reading a few chapters while eating lunch, but at that point I had to carry the book around with me -to sit and read, to lay on my bed and read, etc. until I reached the very satisfying conclusion.
Of course there are questions still to be answered, such as Cassius adjusting to his final handicap (no spoilers), and how Callie's family carries on, and what about Callie's school and that huge test she missed? Whoa - and the school bully.  
Great ending, but lots of threads here if you plan to do a sequel.

If you'd like to listen to a NPR interview of Lisa Papademetriou, click here.   Guess what?  She DOES plan this to be a series.  Yay!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

First Day of School approaches

It's getting close to the beginning of school (happens in 2 weeks) and the teen is suddenly muttering, "I'm going to be a Senior this year. I have to look Good!"
(I see a shopping trip in our future.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Writer's Quotes

Maya Angelou:

We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Writer's Quotes

David Foster Wallace:

I just think that fiction that isn't exploring what it means to be human today isn't art.

Fiction is about what it is to be a human being

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Writer's Quotes

Louisa May Alcott:

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Far away, there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

hmmm, that one reminds me of the motto the class of 1961 at Parkersburg High School which went something like this:  A man's grasp must always exceed his reach.
Actually, I never understood it. These days, I'm only slightly beginning to understand it.
I think Louisa May Alcott's statement makes much more sense.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A little bit about ME

                           (photograph by Roxyanne Young)
I was the oldest of 4 children, so you know who was in charge of the other children - me. Babysitter. Wasn't asked back to babysit for several people which was fine with me because their kid(s) were brats. 
Since I was used to handling my own siblings, I wasn't taking any guff from those brats, so they complained to their parents that I was mean. (It's quite a surprise the first time you see a kid who seemed to be enjoying you babysitting suddenly burst out with -fake- tears them minute the parents come home.) I was quite willing to never go back to those families.   
In high school, although I was on the academic track, I worked in the cafeteria to help out with lunch (free food was always good), and then discovered that others got leave from school in December to go work at stores in the downtown. I joined that group and learned all about working the Christmas rush. fun!
I wrote my first stories those last years of high school.
In college my first year I was student assistant to the Journalism teacher. Every summer during my college years I worked at a photo developing place. Black and white photography. It was quite exciting when color photography was invented and the public began using it. Only the more experienced workers were allowed to work on that side of the building, but every so often I helped there as well.
My Senior year of college I worked at the top of the library building recording and organizing the collection of donated papers and photographs. Worked with some very interesting Civil War letters. (I was a History major)
In 1966, I got married to another history major, Francis Elbert Old III (otherwise known as Chip Old).
My first year of grad school (as a history major, again) I worked as a secretary in another college building. (only was asked to make coffee once. Since I don't drink coffee, I knew not how to make it, and they never asked me again. A new invention was installed in the building and I was nominated to learn how to use it. It was the very first word processor, called the MT/ST (Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter).  
Then we both got accepted to library school in anther state - Kentucky - UK.
We needed jobs as well, so with my store experience (see high school above) and my husband's warehouse experience (and washing machine repairman) we both got jobs at the Stewart's department store in downtown Lexington. Eventually we got a scholarship and an assistantship and completed our Masters in Library Science and both began working for Baltimore County Public Library in Maryland. 
He became a branch manager and I retired to have children.
While they were growing up, I wrote, worked part-time as a librarian, and did some substitute teaching at my daughter's middle school, much to her embarrassment. (evidently what they wanted subs to do was show up and show movies - I could do that.)
I also worked part time as a reporter doing feature writing for the local neighborhood newspaper - the Parkville Reporter.
When our kids wanted to go to college, I went back to full-time work - as a children's librarian in another county to the north - Harford County Public Library. One of the reasons the head of the Children's department hired me was because she knew that I had organized several library and children's literature conventions. (also a National car convention - The New England MG'T' Register.)
Meanwhile, I was being published - first in children's magazines, and in the 1990s, a good many books. (My first books were easy readers for the Reading Roots - Shared Stories program.)
I retired from Harford County Public Library in 2011, but now was raising a second generation. (She's now a teenager - and driving.)
And I earned another degree - I received master's degree in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2015.
So that's me - mom, grandmom, children's librarian, writer, teacher, Girl Scout Leader, secretary, sales clerk, etc., etc., etc.

Writer's Quotes

From Franz Kafka

Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.  (which might explain his use of a insect as a main character)

In the struggle between yourself and the world, second the world.

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back.  That is the point that must be reached.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Writer's Quotes

from Kate DiCamillo:

Everything I write comes from my childhood in one way or another.  I am forever drawing on the sense of mystery and wonder and possibility that pervaded that time of my life.

Every well-written books is a light for me.  When you write, you use other writers and their books as guides in the wilderness.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Author's Quotes

from unknown other writers to me on the occasion of my graduation from Vermont College of Fine Arts with a degree in writing:

Chart New Waters!

Be Kind to Yourself


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Author's Quotes

Quotes from Ray Bradbury:

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.
He also later (earlier?) stated this another way.  I suspect he said this quite often, actually.
Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
I've also heard this --
Jump and build your wings on the way down.

Don't think.
Thinking is the enemy of creativity.  It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things.  You simply must do things.

In my later years, I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.
Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy.  The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


I've always loved to swim.  Which is why we always belonged to a pool so that the family could swim and the kids could be in the swim team.
However, as I grow older, I'm also using swimming as an exercise, keeping the joints in shape.

My favorite stroke is the sidestroke. Lazy swimming on your side with your head almost out of the water.  Next favorite -- backstroke.  (same reason, easy to breath while swimming, lying on your back)  All the other strokes (crawl or freestyle, breast stroke, butterfly) are just controlled drowning, in my opinion.

Then I made an interesting discovery. The sidestroke was great at trimming hips.  Except for one problem.  If you only swam on one side all the time, ONE hip trimmed down, but the other kept its secretary spread.  hmmmmm.
So I began forcing myself to learn to do the sidestroke, lying on the other side.

Ah - problem solved.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Story Spine

I've just been introduced to STORY SPINE, a good and easy way to remember how to plot a story.  Especially useful for picture books:
From theater educator Kenn Adams -- Story Spine exercise to teach the craft of story structure.Kenn is a veteran improviser, a playwright, and the author of How to Improvise a Full-Length Play: The Art of Spontaneous Theater. He’s been doing school theater enrichment programs for 20 years. The Story Spine exercise is one Kenn uses not only with kids, but also with adults in improv classes.
The Story Spine is exactly what it sounds like: a structure that supports a story. It consists of a series of sentence beginnings that you complete:
Once upon a time…
Every day…
But one day…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Until finally…
And ever since then…

    Although the Story Spine seems simple, it’s really an ingenious way to help kids (and adults) learn how to construct a satisfying story.

    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    DMV Ordeal

    I got the notification in the mail that I needed to renew my driver's license. Previously (in another state) all I had to do was go into the small branch office of the DMV, get a new picture and sometimes take an eye exam. Done
    However this notice mentioned that I'd have to take the written exam as well. (gulp) So I spent some time studying the Driver's Handbook, took a deep breath and went to the California DMV. The line was out the door and down the street. So, I went to Costco, instead.
    A few days later, I went to a different (larger) DMV and was happy to see that there were only 4 people ahead of me in line. Goodie. So, I got my number -- G-93 -- and went to sit down. The sitting area was only half full, so I assumed that I'd be called pretty soon.  
    G-54 was being called. And then for a long time other numbers with other parts of the alphabet were called. I got up, walked around, went outside for a while, came back in, sat down, and discovered that they had gotten up to the G-70s.
    After two and a half hours, they got to the G-90s. YAY!
    Finally my number was called.
    Are you living in the same place as on your license? Yes.
    Is your weight the same? Yes. (I didn't go into the fact that I had actually gained 10-15 pounds and then lost them again and was finally back to the same weight.)
    Then over to get my picture taken. Luckily, I had washed my hair. Unluckily, they had to keep taking my picture over and over again. At last the photographer asked me to take off my glasses. By that time she had me giggling so much that it's probably the best driver's license picture I've ever had.
    Finally came the test.
    Not a written test, but on the computer. Touch screen. Three strikes and you've failed.
    Instantly, I got TWO WRONG! Yikes!
    Boy was I petrified throughout the rest of the test. One more wrong and...
    But they were all right.
    And I was all right. Done. Certified to drive for 5 more years.
    I can't wait until my actual driver's license is mailed to me so I can see what my giggling picture looks like.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    Writer's Qotes

    From  M.T. Anderson   --  A reflection on books and writing.  (click for more)
    Two pieces of advice for the aspiring writer:
    "First, actually write, however seductive it might be to just sit around pouting in a special hat. Even if you end up hating the things you write, you’re getting incredibly valuable experience. And as soon as you actually write, you’re a writer.
    Second, the thing we want to hear from you is what makes you unlike any of the rest of us. 
    Lean toward your own eccentricities. 
    Be aware of how they might strike your readers – but remember that it is the very thing that makes you different that will make you stand out and be heard."

    Monday, May 29, 2017

    Writer's Quotes

    G.K. Chesterton quote featured in The Writer's Almanac today:
    "Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. 
    What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." 

    (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)

    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.
    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. 
    After I get out of bed.

    Sunday, January 1, 2017