Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Things kids used to do by themselves

 Things I did as a kid that kids probably don't do now because they might be dangerous:  

Riding a bike without a helmet and riding for miles. Drinking from the hose. Going sledding down a steep hill that ended onto a busy street. Was tricky to stop in time, but we managed it. Walking home from a friends alone at late at night. Staying outside until dark, playing with the neighborhood kids. Climbing a mountain just outside of town by myself. Mom gave me a paper bag lunch, told me to eat it when the sun was directly overhead and then immediately come back home. I never made it to the top of that mountain, but I met a lot of sheep and picked lots of buttercups to take home to share with my brother and sisters to see if they liked butter. Visiting Farmer Brown's barn when the baby lambs were born and getting to pick them up and hug them. Walking on Railroad tracks to the river and back. (there was only one train using the track and it ran at 5 pm.) Putting pennies on the track so the train would flatten them.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Dear Red States

Found this on Facebook and found it to be funny, but leaning toward truth:


We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country that includes Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Washington D.C.
We also get the vast majority of the major shipping ports. So good luck with getting goods in or out of the country affordably.
We also get Costco, Starbucks and Boeing. You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Branson, Missouri.
We get Intel, Apple and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Mississippi.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happier, intact families.
Please be aware that California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.
With the Blue States unified, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at your state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools -- Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Penn, Princeton, and Yale; and Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and Radcliffe colleges; plus UCLA, UCB, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and Rand Paul.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.
Additionally, 62 percent of you believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties. (See that part about divorces. ...)
Oh, and you can have all the new COVID-19 cases since you're too dumb and self-centered to wear masks.
Peace out.
We are the people of the
Blue States
*Cut and pasted.
Copied from a friend, who copied from a friend, who copied from...etc! 
Original author unknown!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Drive in restaurants in the 1950s

 Remember when you could sit in your car and order food and they'd bring it out to the car and attach that tray to your side window?  (There was even a place where the waitress were on roller skates)  Well A& W was one of those places. 

My sister and I used to exercise horses and there was an A&W nearby. So we rode over to get root beer floats. For some reason they didn't want to deliver to us on horseback. They made us hitch the horses to the side of the building and walk to the ordering window.  

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Getting ready for a zoom meeting

 I have a zoom meeting at 2:00.

It's a lecture, so I keep my video and audio turned off. The only thing that shows up to represent me is a black cube.
So why did I take a shower and wash my hair and get dressed?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Reading problems

 The first reader at school was a boring book called Fun with Dick and Jane.  I thought it was such a boring book, so I read it straight through to the back and then when the teacher called on me to read, I didn't know where the student next to me had left off, so she thought I couldn't read.  

Once we had finished that book, she let us choose books from her classroom collection to take home to read. (it was a 2 room school with first, second, and third grade in one room) So, I chose Black Beauty. Because it was about a horse. It took me a month or two to read it at home, with help from my parents with the hard words.  

Meanwhile, because I was dyslexic and transposed letters in writing class, the teacher thought I still couldn't read - because I kept spelling the as teh - even when I could look at the word before writing it.  Despite my spelling problems, I have written 45 books which were published. (wrote more that haven't been published - yet.) Plus I worked for years a library where I had to memorize the Dewey Decimal system because when I read the number on the computer screen, the numbers transposed themselves when I wrote them down to go to the shelf to get the book people wanted.

Because I was often late to school (it was a block away, but I often got involved watching caterpillars or other bits of nature or building materials), she tried to use a paper clock face to show me what time I should leave home in order to get to school on time. She was confused why I couldn't read the clock in the schoolroom. It was because the Grandfather clock in my house used Roman Letters. My mom and the teacher had a good laugh about that.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Plague - then and now

 The plague in the middle ages supposedly killed half the population. Well, the world population was much much much smaller then. On the upside, with the smaller working force afterwards, peasants demanded more rights and higher pay (well anything more than no pay would be good) In fact, most historians trace the rise of the middle class from the ravages the plague caused.  

Secondly, I remember world population being 3 billion in the 1950s and people were worried then about running out of food. Intensive strides in forcing more foodstuffs to grow, plus the reduction in deaths due to the fight against disease has now resulted in world population growing to 7.7 billion -- a number that this planet really can't sustain. 

I've been suspecting that another plague would hit -- and now it has. 

(not that I had planned to be around when it did - but here we are.)

Friday, August 28, 2020

The cost of houses in 1946 compared to today

 I'm reading a biography of the mystery writer, Raymond Chandler and have reached the point where he buys a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, California not far from where I live. It's 1946 and he pays $40,000 for it. The bio then states that "today it is worth three times that amount." Really? That low? So I looked at when the bio had been published -- 1979. Ah. That explains it. Today (2020) it's probably worth several million dollars.

My own house, further north up the coast, cost half a million. And it's a tiny house, but it's ten minutes from the beach. And suits me just fine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


 Do you save your manuscripts in the "cloud?"

The cloud isn't in the clouds. It's in a huge room with huge computers saving all our stuff. If that area is zapped with a problem -- there goes the stuff in our 'cloud.' That's why I hate that Apple has now taken all the stuff that previously had only been in my computer memory and put it into the 'cloud' which means I can't access it if I'm not on Internet. Making it useless for me when I'm in the deep woods on a writing retreat.  
Luckily Dropbox lets you work on your manuscripts already on your computer when you have no internet and then will update their cloud base whenever you get to a place with internet and turn your computer on.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The cost of living goes up u p up

 I just re-read Zenna Henderson's Pilgrimage: the book of the People.  Published as a paperback and sold for 75 cents!!!  Paperbacks now sell at about nine dollars.   

Minimum wage has also gone up. And every time that goes up, corporations jack up the prices of everything.  Meaning that no matter the raise in income, the equivalent cost of living remains the same.

How are we going to stop this constant spiraling upwards?

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Where have I lived? Let me count...

When I say that my father was a traveling salesman, people giggle. But yes, he did keep changing jobs. When I was born in 1943 (i'm the oldest) he quit his job and ran all over the state looking for a better one. He ended up at Sylvania during WWII working with something hush hush, so he didn't have to join the military like his brothers did. My first years were in Towanda, Pa, then he moved us to a larger house in a little town over the mountain called Monroeton. First through the beginning of fourth grade. A two room schoolhouse. The fourth grade teacher pushed and pushed me once she learned I was moving down state. She pushed so hard that I was put in the higher groups at the school in Trooper, Pa and again in a few months later in Pottstown, PA. Fourth through 7th grade. While there my father got a Chemical engineering degree at Drexel in Philadelphia and he got a job in one of the first companies to make plastic. So we moved to Oak Park Ill. end of 7th grade and then bought a house in Glen Ellyn, Ill. 8th and 9th grade. He got another job at Marbon Chemical Company so we moved to Vienna, WVa. 10th-12th grade. The family remained there while I went on to college. two years at Keyser, WVa and then on to Morgantown, WVa. (West Virginia University. I married and the two of us moved to Lexington, KY to grad school at UK. Got a job with Baltimore County Public Library and moved to Cub Hill, Maryland where we raised children. Now I'm retired and living in California near my two daughters and granddaughter and grandson. Whew!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pony Express

 I was amazed when I learned that the pony express only existed for short while.

In operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, the Pony Express nevertheless has become synonymous with the Old West.

The Pony Express was forced to close after the opening of the transcontinental telegraph. Telegraphs could be sent much faster and with less expense. In the end, the business venture that was the Pony Express lost a lot of money and became outdated fairly quickly.

Monday, August 10, 2020

A surprise in my back yard

 I live in a condo area. It does have a fence around it, but no gate (with secret code). The road behind me comes straight toward my house, then curves sharply to parallel the fence before reaching the condo entrance.

Last night I stayed up late watching TV, so it was only when I went to bed and noticed that the background noise I had thought was coming from the TV - just kept on going. and going. and going.
Finally I noticed flashing lights behind my house. Looked out the patio door and -- there was a SUV in my back yard being towed away. It had misjudged the curve and crashed through the iron fence. (so that's what that crash sound had been, not on the TV after all.) Two fence sections lay on the grass. No, it didn't get close to my house, but what a surprise.
This morning they're working to clean up the mess. They just now carted away the fence sections, but I don't know when they'll replace the fencing. I hope it's soon.
On the other hand, I've always wanted to leap over the fence as a shortcut to my house when coming back from my walk around the neighborhood, instead of having to walk all the way to the entrance of my condo area, and then back to my house.
Now I have that shortcut.
At least - until they mend the fence.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Carrying a weapon

I was the assistant Fencing Coach in grad school. One day while walking from class to the gym for practice with my fencing gear in its special carry bag,, I was stopped by police in a car. "Are you carrying a weapon?" they asked. "Yes," I replied. "Would you please show it to us?" (This was in Kentucky and they were very polite, but I could see they were on edge because of all the protests around the country in the 1960s) So I pulled out my fencing foils. One of them wanted a fencing lesson right there and then. 🙂  
Oh, and walking after fencing practice I had to go through a park to get to my bus stop. Other college women had warned me about danger in that park, but for some reason, I was never accosted. Might be because I was carrying a 'weapon?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Jack London

A quote from an article about this writer:
"In 1898, Jack London was trapped in an Alaskan cabin while, outside, winter froze everything to icy stillness. “Nothing stirred,” he wrote later. “The Yukon slept under a coat of ice three feet thick.” London, then 22, had come to Alaska to make his fortune in the gold rush, but all he’d found was a small amount of dust worth $4.50. A diet of bacon, beans, and bread had given him scurvy. His gums bled, his joints ached, and his teeth were loose. London decided that, if he lived, he would no longer try to rise above poverty through physical labor. Instead, he would become a writer. So he carved into the cabin wall the words “Jack London Miner Author Jan 27, 1898 . . .
When London returned from the Klondike, he dove into writing, churning out thousands of words. For months, he got nothing for his efforts but rejection letters—over 600 of them. “Everything I possessed was in pawn, and I did not have enough to eat,” he wrote of that time. “I was at the end of my tether, beaten out, starved, ready to go back to coal-shoveling or ahead to suicide.” Then he sold two short stories, one for $5 and another for $40. Slowly, he began publishing, and in 1903 he wrote three books, including The Call of the Wild. He followed up with more hits—White Fang, The Sea-Wolf, and Martin Eden, among others. By his late 20s, he was the highest-paid writer in the United States. . . "
The rest of the article is here: The first and last lives of Jack London

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thoughts about writers and writing

Why are writers so insecure?
It's because we KNOW we can writer better. That vision in our head, those voices we hear in our mind dictating the story just can't be matched by the paltry words we manage to get down on the page. (or typed into the computer file) We feel we can't measure up to those who've gone on before - even though we're pretty sure they also went through revision hell and fought the muddy, muddy middle.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Do you have a 'mind's eye?'

Do you have a 'mind's eye?' Can you see objects clearly when you imagine them? Artists can. What about writers?
I'm very face blind (can't remember what people look like and therefore don't recognize them again), but when I write, I 'see' the action played out in my mind and I write what I'm seeing. (no, I don't see faces) Also I hear it. Otherwise how could I, a soft-spoken, slow speaker be able to write a character who chatters all the time, who is occasionally funny, too , whereas I'm very seldom 'funny.' (not like clever David L.)  
I also dream clearly, but again, the people in my dreams (except for family faces) have very vague faces.  
I can draw, but not as well as some in my talented family.  
On the other hand, I've created floor plans for the children's area in two separate libraries and saw them set up exactly as I had planned them. There was some conflict about the second plan. The person in administration threw out my floor plan and tried to create her own. She finally told me that she couldn't set up the children's room with the book (etc.) collection that we had. That's when I learned she had thrown mine out. So I sent mine again, pointing out how this and that fit the space available. After a few questions (and revisions), the room was set up using my floor plan, which I enjoyed working in for over 10 years before I retired.
So, I guess I have a partial 'mind's eye,' but not for faces.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Dark Ages really were DARK

You've heard of the Dark Ages when you studied history in school.
Now you know why -- the whole Northern hemisphere was dark, crops couldn't grow causing starvation and plague.
The Worst Year in History?
This will surprise you
2020 has already been immortalized. It is a year that nobody will forget.
However, when speaking of the worst year recorded in human history there are many to choose from:
The year 1349 saw the Black Death kill half the population of Europe.
In 1520 smallpox ravaged the Americas and killed between 60 and 90 per cent of the continents’ original inhabitants.
In 1918 the Spanish Flu led to the deaths of over 50 million people.
The rise of Hitler in 1933 is often claimed to be the turning point in modern history.
However, many scholars, are unanimous in their choice. The title of the worst year in history is easily held by the year 536 AD.
Medieval historian, Michael McCormick has stated that “it was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year.” (Interview with Science Magazine). The year began with an inexplicable, dense fog that stretched across the world which plunged Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia into darkness 24 hours a day, for nearly 2 years.
Consequently, global temperatures plummeted which resulted in the coldest decade in over 2,000 years. Famine was rampant and crops failed all across Europe, Africa and Asia. 
Unfortunately, 536 AD seemed to only be a prelude to further misery. This period of cold and starvation caused economic stagnation in Europe and in 541 A.D. an outbreak of "bubonic plague" led to the death of nearly 100 million people and almost half of the Byzantine Empire.
Historians have often referred this part of the sixth century as the Dark Ages, but the true source of this darkness had previously been unknown. Recently, researchers led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski, have discovered that a volcanic eruption in Iceland in early 536 led to the to huge amounts of ash being spread across the Northern Hemisphere. Creating the fog that cast the world into darkness. 
This eruption was so immense that it altered global climate patterns and adversely effected weather patterns and crop cultivation for years to come (Antiquity).
Labeling each new year as ‘the worst year in history’ has become something of a fad these days. We should look back to the year 536 A.D. and cherish how fortunate we are not to have lived in a time when the world was truly in darkness.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Quarantine computer activity

I sit down at computer to enter the title of the latest book I've read into this year's list.
-Activate computer.
-Open Safari to check weather, then get involved in FaceBook conversations.
-Check the online calendar. (nothing happening. I'm in quarantine)
-Close computer and begin to get up.
-oops, there's the book that I need to record.
-Sit back down at computer to enter the title into this year's list of books read.

Monday, June 8, 2020

I put out seed for the birds

I think the birds are on to me.  
In my housecleaning I discovered a jar of seeds from who knows when, so I filled the seed dispenser and put it outside for the birds. They are ignoring it. I guess the seeds are too old.  
Two birds are sitting on my patio wall right now - with their backs to my seed dispenser - in distain.
Oh. Look!  
One of them just flew up to the seed sock and sampled it. Will s/he go spread the word about it? Will the report be good or will s/he tell everyone to not bother?
Oh the suspense.
(note to self -- buy new seed)

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Quarantine Reading of favorite books

I'm working my way through my set of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey during quarantine and go to the set of teen books that show the life of harpers while referring to happenings in the first three books. When I took the third one off my shelves - Dragondrums - I realized that this was a book my sister gave to me which she had gotten Anne McCaffrey to autograph. Wonderful!  
Not so wonderful is the fact that this book was produced during the time when publishers were experimenting with other types of glue and this one was one of their failures. The pages are falling out.  I remember this happening to lots of library books when I was a librarian. We had to replace so many books during this time.
I wonder if there's a bindery here in San Diego? Or have they all gone out of business? I'm usually not fond of re-bound books because they usually make the pages tight and difficult to lay flat for reading. But for a favorite book, I might make an exception. Maybe they've managed to improve their system.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Do you like ebooks? I don't/

I'm not a fan of ebooks, especially if an author or publisher wants me to read and review a picture book sent as an ebook.  Elizabeth Bird writes about this on her blog, and it explains exactly how I feel about this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

My typewriter history

Ah typewriters. Let me count the ways. 
One at home. (a Royal?) 
One Smith Corona portable at college. 
Had a job at college working on a MTST machine (first word processor, Selectric typewriter attached to a basic floor unit computer). 
Still using the portable Smith Corona in grad school. 
Got an electric one one with replaceable ribbon/ white out ribbon in cartridges for home use and first journalism job. (husband used it to write long antique MG T series articles) 
Bought another one when husband destroyed the first because his article wasn't working out and he had to retype pages and pages of it. 
Then our first computer -- Comodore 64 with dot matrix printer. Wrote many stories and my first published book on it.
Then the First Apple computer. (my husband would carry it back and forth to work) 
Then the first iMac (green) with the first laser printer and after that it's been iMacs all the way. 
Okay, that's the history of typing/ computing.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Why I love Fantasy

Mercedes Lackey says:
To write or enjoy fantasy requires an open mind and heart, and the ability to believe that things are not always what they seem.
There are fantasy romances, fantasy mysteries, heroic fantasy, modern-urban fantasy, historical fantasy, dark or horror fantasy, alternative-history fantasy, political fantasy and even Western fantasy.
Fantasy is one of the last bastions of 'moral fiction.'
Good triumphs over evil, the wrongdoers get their just deserts, and all ends well.
(Can you tell that fantasy books are one of my favorites to read? And she is one of my favorite authors.)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Back to baking again - Banana Bread

Yesterday I made quarantine banana bread.
This may not seem like an achievement to you, but I haven't done much baking for a long time. (with a kid who has celiac disease who can't eat gluten, you just don't bake much)
I got out my old recipe for banana cake which I used when I was first married.
Threw out the 4-5 year old flour in my flour canister and filled it up with brand new flour.
And began to mix.
Oops, the shortening in my cabinet had expired in 2015 and looked funny, so I threw it out and substituted butter.
Creamed the butter and sugar.  Added the egg. (was only doing half a recipe)
Then noticed the next ingredient was bananas and MILK!  Well, with the kid off to college, I hadn't bought milk for ages.  What could I substitute?  Then I remembered you could substitute fruit for the liquid in recipes.  Usually applesauce.  Thought that applesauce would give it a different flavor so I simply added an extra banana.
Threw in the flower and baking soda. (the recipe suggested adding baking powder, too, so threw in a bit of that too because the extra banana might make the finished product a bit heavy.)
And some chopped up almonds, because I didn't have any pecans or walnuts on hand.


It turned out delicious!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Quarantine thoughts

Good morning it’s April (whatever), 2020 and folks are going crazy about being in lockdown.
I’ve been talking about this with the microwave and toaster while drinking coffee. We all agreed things are not looking good
I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she puts a different spin on things and certainly not to the fridge as he is acting cold and distant.
I did discuss it with the Hoover he said the whole thing sucks.
Meanwhile, the blender has mixed feelings and the taps kept running hot and cold about the idea. The whisk refused to talk about it because she didn’t want to whip things into a frenzy. The eggs kept quiet, they didn’t want to get a beating.
I didn’t check with the oven because she’s far too hot headed.
The trash bin just spouted a whole load of rubbish about the situation and the freezer just gave me a frosty reception.
In the end, the iron calmed me down: she said everything will be fine - no situation is too pressing.
The tin at the back of the cupboard with no label on thinks it’s a total mystery.
The knife made some very cutting remarks.
The squash was very cordial about it all. Unlike the lemon who was very bitter

( borrowed from a friend who stole it from another friend) 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Adventures with famous people

We got to talking on FB about famous people we've met and this was my story:
I was waiting in a small airport a few years ago and realized that Garrison Keillor was going to be on the same plane! So when I passed him, I ever so casually said, "Hi."   This was after I had spent a week at a writer's retreat with Bruce Coville and lots of other well-known writers. I had been sitting with Bruce at the airport and he pointed Garrison out to me.  
In the 1990s one of my co-workers was a huge Moody Blues fan and she won some backstage tickets and we got photographs with the band. It was run very quickly. group of four. stand by one of the four band members. picture taken. move along please for the next four. Well, since I also was a local newspaper journalist, I tried to come up with one comment or question for each member as I passed him. And they graciously responded.  
(and one summer we went on a Moody Blues field trip and attended four or five concerts, following them from near Washington, DC, to the Taj Mahal casino (where we exited the venue behind Trump's wife, her daughter Tiffany) and on to the venue near Philadelphia. At which point I had to go back home and go back to work. The others followed the band to some other venues.  
That was a fun time being groupies.)

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Adventures as a Children's Librarian

Insects in the library.
One day I brought a praying mantis cocoon into the library and left it - in a jar- on the Information Desk for patrons to observe. But when I arrived one afternoon for my evening shift, I found it gone and the staff in hysterics. Bugs! Bugs! all over the library. Hmmmm. evidently it had hatched and the babies were small enough to crawl out of the holes I had punched in the lid. oops.
And then there was the ant farm I put on display -- also a failure -- I used wild ants from around the library and they crawled out the holes. Should have tried to find larger ants.
Trials of a children's librarian.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Adventures with Hummingbirds

I finally set up my hummingbird feeder.
After a few days, one hummingbird discovered it and seemed to like it.
Then her spouse showed up.
Gradually other hummingbirds discovered it and suddenly there was a big hummingbird fight. Much spreading of tail feathers and slowing down of their wings so they can be seen, in order to seem larger than the others. Much ducking in and out.  The first hummingbirds tried to defend the feeder doing the same.
Much twittering.
Much shaking of my head.  Stupid birds.  There are four feeding access points.  You all could share.  But NO.  Duck. Twitter. Defend.
Nowadays, the usual hummingbirds come, settle down on the perch and feed, occasionally backing up to check for danger around them.
I can tell when it's not a 'usual' hummingbird because that bird doesn't perch and take its time. It will keep its wings fluttering almost invisible, ducking in and out of the feeding area, keeping lookout for other hummingbirds and other danger.
This feeder is right outside my kitchen window and I can watch them while I eat in the dining nook.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


I voted.
Did you?

Friday, February 28, 2020

11 kittens and two moms

In our old house with leaky walls, mice would come visit during the winter months to keep warm. (besides, there was food in our kitchen, so...)  Therefore, we always had cats.  They were working cats as well as cuddle cats.
We once had two mama cats and 11 kittens.  Now That was fun.  We set up two nursing boxes for them after the kittens were born.  Came downstairs the next morning and discovered them all jammed together in One box with no idea which kittens belonged to which mom.  So we set up one huge box for the families and both moms shared the nursing chores.
The vet called them - Dolly Parton Cats, because their teats developed so very large.
Once the kittens became teenage cats, it was up to our kids to find homes for them -- which they actually managed to do.  Naturally we kept a few for ourselves.
Because -- kittens.  (love)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Will I come do a free presentation about writing books? Probably not.

People say to me - This couldn't have taken very long to write.  
It's true.  
It only took me a half hour to write this 200 word picture book.
But it took 3-5 years to revise/ submit/ revise/ submit/ revise/ etc. etc. etc. (and some picture books take even longer to "write.")  
And then there's the 5-year wait for the illustrator and art director to polish up the book.Plus revisions to support the art.  
And now books are being delayed because most picture books are printed in China and there's an epidemic over there.  
Eventually, after the Advance has been paid off, the writer begins to get royalties from each book sold. (I get 2% for two of my books because I share the royalties with a co-writer, 4% on all of the others. Famous writers get 5% to 10%.)
(don't get me started about requests for free school visits or lecture for adults with no compensation except sometimes they buy ONE of my books for their library, which means eventually I'll get about $0.87 [cents] six months later when my royalties arrive. For that all day/ 4 or more group sessions, plus that 40 miles away drive to get there - and to get back, exhausted.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Minor characters in your story

What do you do with a walk on (walk off. probably never seen again) character?
Patricia Wrede has a good discussion about creating various characters at her blog.
Click on over and learn lots.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Thought for the times

WILL ROGERS FAMOUSLY once said this: "I'm not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat." 

HE WAS A HUMORIST, so he was joking. 
But his words ring pretty true today." --Politico Playbook LOL!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Remembering my 5-year-old

Memories, Memories

One day, long ago, I overheard my 5 year old daughter playing house/ family with the neighborhood kids.  She was the mom.  She hopped onto her tricycle, waved goodbye to her 'husband' and kids, yelling -- "Good-bye.  I'm off to work."  And down the sidewalk she went.
I guess she had noticed that I was a working mother.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Fun research expeditions

In a discussion on FB about writing techniques, I brought up research.
I often leave holes in my manuscript with notes to do more research about this or that.  
One day I abandoned my family, got into my car and drove down to Williamsburg, VA and spent the weekend there taking pictures and doing research. Yes, I found the answer to one of my editor's burning questions and to my relief was able to state it in one paragraph, not a whole chapter.
I took a day trip in December to Washington Crossing, PA to watch the reenactment of the crossing and take photographs for my biography of George Washington. In 10 degree weather. Taking photographs with insulated thin leather gloves. (They turned out great)  
I actually took THREE trips to Washington, DC to wander the Air and Space Museum so that I could explain flight so that everyone (including me) could understand the physics behind it.  
I got a lot of praise from readers and reviewers for that one point (plus a lot of awards for that book, so it was worth all the research.

Friday, January 17, 2020


I just completed reading Blacklisted by Larry Dane Brimner
Amazing background to an event that I witnessed on TV in the black and white days. Some of the hearings were telecast. 
It also explains why my mother could no longer keep in contact with our German relatives -- because they were unfortunately situated in the half of Germany that the Russians took over and put up a wall. 
I wasn't even to talk about them because my parents were afraid they'd be arrested and my father fired from his job because the authorities were still scouting to dig out anyone connected to Communists. (even though our relatives were not communists. They were just unfortunate about where they lived during and after WW2) So now I don't even know who they are or where exactly they live.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Our Canadian Adventure

Once, after attending an antique car convention in New England, we decided to go home by way of Canada.  In those days you could go in and out on the spur of the moment, because the US government had very open borders in those days. (1960s)
Quebec was 'interesting' because neither of us knew any (or much) French and all the signs were in French. Also, their toll booths were different. We were just passing through Quebec (having entered Canada through New Hampshire) trying to get to Niagara Falls by the upper route.  
First toll booth, we handed in a Canadian dollar and got some change back. And drove on.  
Second toll booth we tossed one quarter into the change bin and drove on. We were aware of flashing lights at the toll booth behind us, but didn't think they had anything to do with us.  
At the third booth, there were officers of the law lined up to stop us.  
Evidently, the first toll booth had given us FOUR quarters and we had been supposed to toss one of them into the change bin. And so on. Therefore, we owed the turnpike authorities One Quarter.
Very embarrassed, we explained what we had done and they let us go when we had paid the missing quarter.
I miss that old VW bug we drove then. It was packed full of camping equipment and food to sustain us.
Of course we had no problem getting back into the United States at Niagara. Just had to show our Maryland driver's licenses.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Bowling for Dragons

Another Patricia Wrede book writing story:

The published title on my own books was never the one I began with, so I consider 'my' original title as I write - a Draft title.  
Author Patricia Wrede titled the first drafts of each one of her 4 dragon books -- Bowling for Dragons.  
(Bowling for Dollars was a popular tv show during that time.) 
The actual published title wasn't finalized until very close to publication.  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Patricia Wrede had a writing problem

Well known author, Patricia Wrede hates to send book synopsis to her editors.
(Editors want to know what the next book will be about)
 So she'll make up something like. --The group gathers one by one in the city and are pursued so they escape the city and have various adventures in the countryside until they reach their goal. --  
Okay. No, not okay. 
She wrote and wrote and couldn't get out of the city. They'd be almost to the gate and suddenly one of the characters would suggest spending the night in an uncle's empty warehouse. They'd try again for the gate the next day, but it's guarded, so they go to ground elsewhere. etc. 
Now, I've read all of her books and one day I was reading one and This Book was the story where she had had so much trouble with her characters not wanting to leave the city. (can't remember the title right now, but I enjoyed it very much.)
I'd surmise that she's not a plotter; she's actually a pantser.
Do go to her link above and find more about her.
(she also has a good book about writing)

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Adult books read in 2019

In addition to the previous Children's books, I've read these adult books in 2019

Allingham, Margery.  The Tiger in the Smoke. The 14th Albert Campion Mystery. NY:
             Doubleday, 1952.  (old fashioned British mystery)
Beverley Jo.  Devilish. NY: Signet/ Penguin, 2000. 
   (I’m re-reading her Malloren series, from last to first.)
    ….     Secrets of the Night. NY: Signet/ Penguin, 1999.
    ….     Something Wicked. NY: Signet/ Penguin, 1997.
    ….     Tempting Fortune. NY: Signet/ Penguin, 1995.
    ….     My Lady Notorious(The first Malloren book)   NY:  Signet/ Penguin, 1993.
    ….     Winter Fire.  (Malloren)  NY: Signet; New American Library, 2003.
    ….     A most unsuitable man.  (Malloren)  NY: Signet; New American Library, 2005.
    ….     A Lady’s Secret.  (Malloren- three friends)  NY: Signet; New American Library, 2008.
    ….     The Secret Wedding.   (Malloren- three friends)  NY: Signet; New American Library,
    ….     The Secret Duke. (Malloren-three friends)  NY: Signet; New American Library, 2010.
    ….     An Unlikely Countess. (a novel of the Malloren World) NY: Signet; New American
             Library, 2011.
    ….     Seduction in Silk (a novel of the Malloren World) NY: Signet; New American Library,
(and her Rogues series)
    ….     An Arranged Marriage (Company of Rogues – 1) NY: Zebra/ Kensington, 1991.
                        (The beginning of another series. This time I’m reading them first to last.)
    ….     An Unwilling Bride(Company of Rogues – 2) NY: Zebra/ Kensington, 1992.
    ….     Christmas Angel(Company of Rogues – 3) NY: Zebra/ Kensington, 1992.
    ….     Three Heroes.  (Company of Rogues – collection) NY: New American Library, 2004.
            Containing – The Demon’s Mistress
                        The Dragon’s Bride (Company of Rogues – 6)
                        The Devil’s Heiress. (Company of Rogues – 7)
    ….     Forbidden.  (Company of Rogues – 4) NY: Zebra books/ Kensington, 1994.
    ….     Dangerous Joy.  (Company of Rogues – 5) NY: Zebra books/ Kensington, 1995.
    ….     Skylark. (Company of Rogues – 10)  NY: New American Library, 2004.
    ….     To rescue a rogue  (Company of Rogues – 12)  NY: New American Library, 2006.
    ….     Lady Beware (Company of Rogues 13 – sequel to To Rescue a Rogue)  NY: New
             American Library, 2007.
    ….     The Rogue’s Return(Company of Rogues – 11  NY: New American Library, 2006.
    ….     Hazard. (Company of Rogues – 8 ) NY: New American Library, 2002.
    ….     St. Raven(Company of Rogues – 9)  NY: Signet; New American Library, 2003.
    ….     A Shocking Delight(Company of Rogues – 14) NY:  Signet; New American Library,
    ….     The Viscount needs a wife(Company of Rogues – 16)   NY:  Signet; New American
             Library,  2016.
    ….     Merely a Marriage(Company of Rogues – 17) NY:  Signet; New American Library,
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Cordella’s Honor. NY:  Baen, 1996.  (Includes two novels – Shards of
             Honor plus Barrayar -  and one short story,  plus an author’s Afterword which
             describes various versions of the two novels.)  
    ….     Young Miles.  NY:  Baen, 1996.   (Includes two noveles – The Warrior’s apprentice and
             The Vor game. Plus a short story – The Mountains of mourning and an author’s 
    …     Cetaganda. NY: Baen, 1996.
    ….     Borders of Infinity. Framingham, MA: The NESFA Press, 1989, 2007.  
            (A collection of three stories published by a Science Fiction group bound 
            together by Miles recollecting them while in a hospital recovering from 
            having his arm bones replaced. Includes The mountains of mourningLabyrinth, and
             The Borders of Infinity.)
    ….     Brothers in Arms. NY: Baen Books, 1989.
    ….     Mirror Dance.  NY:  Baen Books, 1994.
Deveraux, Jude. A willing murder, a Medlar mystery. NY: Mira, 2018.
            (although many of her romance books also include a mystery, it looks like she’s now
 writing true mysteries with a touch of romance, but no sex. Nicely done.)  
    ….     A Justified Murder, a Medlar mystery. NY: Mira, 2019.
    ….     Met Her Match.  (Summer Hill) NY:  Mira, 2019.
Kerstan, Lynn. Marry in Haste and Francesca’s Rake. NY: Signet, 2005. (double novel)
Kwan, Kevin.  Crazy Rich Asians, a novel.  NY: Random House, 2013.  (movie made of this)
    ….     China Rich Girlfriend, a novel. (2) NY: Random House, 2016. 
    ….     Rich People Problems, a novel. (3) NY:  Doubleday/Penguin Random House, 2017. 
Lackey, Mercedes.                   
    ….     Beauty and the Werewolf. NY: Luna/ Harlequin, 2011.
    ….     The Bartered Brides.  NY: Daw Books, 2018.
                        Collegium Chronicles list of books
    ….     Foundation, a Novel of Valdemar (book 1).  NY:  Daw Books, 2008.
    ….     Intrigues. Volume 2 of the Collegium Chronicles, a Novel of Valdemar. NY:  
            Daw Books, 2010.
    ….     Changes. Volume 3 of the Collegium Chronicles, a Novel of Valdemar. NY:  
            Daw Books, 2011.
    ….     Redoubt. Volume 4 of the Collegium Chronicles, a Novel of Valdemar. NY:  
            Daw Books, 2012.
    ….     Bastion.  Volume 5 of the Collegium Chronicles, a Novel of Valdemar. NY:  
            Daw Books, 2013.
    ….     Closer to Home. Book 1 of the Herald Spy.  NY:  Daw Books, 2014.
    ….     Closer to the Heart. Book 2 of the Herald Spy.  NY:  Daw Books, 2015.
    ….     Closer to the Chest.  Book 3 of the Herald Spy.  NY:  Daw Books, 2016.
    ….     The Hills Have Spies, Book one of Family Spies, a novel of Valdemar.  NY: Daw
             Books, 2018. 
            (continuation of the adventures of Herald Mags in Valdemar except this series will 
            feature his children.  Book one = Perry.  Too bad the jacket copy talks about an 
            entirely different story with an entirely different child’s name – not one of the three 
            mentioned in this story. Mercedes says, “P.s. if you own a copy with this mistake 
            keep it, it’ll be valuable some day.”) (unfortunately for me- this is a library book)
    ….     Eye Spy. Book two of Family Spies, a novel of Valdemar.  NY: Daw Books, 2019.  
                        (Diana Tregarde books)
    ….     Burning  Water. NY:  Tor Books, 1989.
    ….     Children of the Night.  NY:  Tor Books, 1990.
    ….     Jinx High.  NY:  Tor Books, 1991.
    ….     Sacred Ground.  NY:  Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1994.
Lipman, Laura. Lady in the Lake, a novel. NY: HarperCollins, 2019.  
            (Baltimore author using many Baltimore settings, most of which I remember.)
Novik, Naomi.  Spinning Silver. NY: Del Ray, 2018. 
(Uses multiple folk tale and Greek motifs.)
    ….     Uprooted. NY: Del Ray, 2015.
O’Brian, Patrick.  Master and commander.  NY: WW Norton &Co., 1970.
            (I was disappointed at how poorly it was written.  Kept getting confused as to 
            whose head were were in now.)
Quick, Amanda. The other lady vanishes. NY: Jove/ Berkley/ Penquin Random House, 2018.
                                    Beyond the Bridgerton family stories by Quinn
Quinn, Julia. Just like heaven. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2011.
    ….     A Night like this.  NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2012.
    ….     The Sum of all kisses. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2013.
    ….     Because of Miss Bridgerton.  NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2016.
    ….     The girl with the make-believe husband. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2017.
    ….     The Other Miss Bridgerton. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2018.
Smith, Alexander McCall.  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  NY:  Random House, 1998.
    ….     Tears of the GiraffeThe No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.   NY: Random House, 2000.
    ….     Morality for Beautiful GirlsThe No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  NY:  Random House, 
    ….     The Kalahari typing school for men. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  NY:  Random
 House, 2002.
    ….     The colors of all the cattleThe No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  NY:  Pantheon Books/
 Penguin Random House, 2018.
Taylor, Jodi.  Just one damned thing after another – the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 1.  
            NY: Night Shade books, 2013.  (Time Travel !) 
    ….     A symphony of echoes - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 2.  NY: Night Shade books,
    ….     A second chance - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 3.  NY: Night Shade books,
    ….     A trail through time - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 4.  NY: Night Shade books,
    ….     No time like the past - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 5.  NY: Night Shade books,
    ….     What could possibly go wrong? - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 6.  NY: Night Shade 
            books, 2017.  
    ….     Lies, damned lies, and History  - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 7.  NY: Night Shade 
            books, 2017.  
   ….      And the rest is history - - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 8.  NY: Night Shade 
            books, 2017.  
    ….     The long and short of it – Stories from the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 8.  
            NY: Night Shade books, 2017.   
            (This one is short stories that fill out and extend the tales in her books.)
    ….     Taylor, Jodi.  An argumentation of historians - the Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 9.
.  NY: Night Shade books, 2017.  
Yolen, Jane. How to fracture a fairy tale.  San Francisco: Tachyon, 2018.
            (a collection of previously published tales and poems)
Winspear, Jacqueline. Maisie Dobbs, a novel. NY:  Soho Press, 2003.
            (female detective, ex- WWI nurse, solves mysteries – this one involving injured soldiers.)


B Andrews.  Andrews, Julie. (with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton) Home Work, a
             memoir of my Hollywood years.  NY: Hachette books, 2019.
B Buttigieg     Buttigieg, Pete. Shortest way home, one mayor’s challenge and a model for
             America’s Future.  NY:  Liveright publishing/ WW Norton, 2019. 
            (Democratic candidate for president 2019 writes about being a mayor and gay)         
B Field            Field, Sally.  In Pieces, a memoir. NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2018. 
B Idle.              Idle, Eric. Always look on the bright side of life, a sortabiography.  NY: Crown 
            Archetype, 2018.  (In case you don’t recognize him – he’s an important part of the
             Monty Python group who wrote and performed in SpamaLot.)
B Israel           Israel, Lee.  Can you ever forgive me?  Memoirs of a Literary forger.  
            NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008.    
B Key  Leepson, Marc. What so proudly we hailed. NY: Macmillan, 2014. 
B Krosoczka   Krosoczka, Jarrett. Hey Kiddo. NY: Graphix/Scholastic, 2018. (drug addict
             mom/ no father/ raised by grandparents/ developed into an artist)
B Mulgrew     Mulgrew, Kate.  Born with Teeth, a memoir.  NY: Little Brown and Company, 
2015.  (Autobiography of the actress who became my favorite Star Trek character, 
Captain Janeway.)
B Mulgrew     Mulgrew, Kate.  How to forget, a daughter’s memoir.  NY: Wiliam Morrow/
             HarperCollins, 2019.   (both death of father and later mother Alzheimer’s, sad) 
B Noah            Noah, Trevor. Born a crime, stories from a South African childhood.  NY:  
            Spiegel & Grau/ Random House, 2016.  
            (childhood adventures of famous nighttime comedian.)
B Obama         Obama, Michelle.  Becoming.  NY:  Crown, 2018. (FLOTUS)
B Rice             Rice, Susan. Tough Love – My story of the things worth fighting for.   
            NY: Simon and Schuster, 2019.  
            (Ambassador to the UN, Assistant Secretary of State,  and Head of National Security)


302.302          McNamee, Roger. Zucked – waking up to the facebook catastrophe
            NY: Penguin Press, 2019. (very repetitive. Must be duplicates of various articles)
362.88             De Becker, Gavin. The Gift of Fear – survival signals that protect us from
             violence.  NY:  Little Brown and company, 1997.
800     Paul, Ann Whitford.  Writing picture books, a hands-on guide from story creation to
             publication.   IL: Writer’s Digest Books, 2018.
808.3  Cron, Lisa.  Story Genius, how to use brain science to go beyond outlining and write
a riveting novel (before you waste three years writing 327 pages that go nowhere) 
 Berkeley, CA:  Ten Speed Press, 2016. 
818.602.   Guisewite, Cathy. Fifty things that aren’t My Fault, essays from the grown-up years.
              NY: G.P. Putnam & sons, 2019.  (The creator of the CATHY comic strip)
909.825    Hoffman, David. The dead hand – the untold story of the cold war arms race and its
 dangerous legacy.  NY:Doubleday, 2009.  (Biological agents as well as nuclear bombs!)
973.933 Leamer, Laurence. Mar-a-Lago, inside the gates of power at Donald Trump’s 
            presidential palace.  NY:  Flatiron books, 2019. 
            (shows that Trump has always been the awful person he has proven himself to be.)
973.933   Reid, Joy-Ann.  The Man who sold America. NY: William Morrow/HarperCollins,
             2019.   (more info about the criminal who is the president.)
973.933   Reilly, Rick.  Commander in Cheat, how golf explains Trump.  NY: Hachette 
            Books, 2019.  (the guy who cheats at golf, cheats at everything else because it’s all 
            about winning and he must be the winner. & his caddies cheat for him, too.)
973.933  Sims, Cliff.  Team of Vipers, my 500 extraordinary days in the Trump white house
 NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2019. (written by a ‘Christian” member of Trump’s first year
 in the White House.  Interesting to see his viewpoint, although he completely
 ignores the appalling things that T said and did that we have video proof of. He 
brags about the speeches and tweets he wrote for T to present and tries to present T as a reasonable person, while admitting that T is NOT reasonable.) 
973.933  Ward, Vicky. Kushner, Inc.  Greed. Ambition. Corruption. – the Extraordinary story of
 Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2019. 
973.933  Wilson, Rick.  Everything Trump touches dies, a Republican strategist gets real
 about the worst president ever.  NY: Free press/ Simon & Schuster, 2018.
(again – it’s a Republican writing about how Trump has failed as a president)