Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Elizabeth Strout

Loved Olive Kitteridge. The book and the TV series.
Just finished Abide With Me.
I am now reading The Burgess Boys

Perfect airplane, packing, distracting novels for my life right now.

Here's what Strout says in her Reader's Guide to the Trade Paperback edition of Abide With Me.  Something to remember, for sure.

"A book, once finished, belongs to the reader, and each reader will bring to it his or her own life's experiences... it should be a different book for each person who reads it."

And this.

"Through the telling of stories and the reading of stories, we have a chance to see something about ourselves and others that maybe we knew, but didn't know we knew. We can wonder for a moment if, for all our separate histories, we are not more alike than different after all."

 Perfect, right? 

And guess what- she has a new book, coming January, 2016. Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I am stuck without my own Photo File. On a computer I don't use often. Desperately needing a photo.

I google my own books, hoping what I need will pop up.

Voila! Thanks to the blog MATH IS ELEMENTARY, I found a great photo of the cover image of THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY's Book Fair version.

I actually like this cover a lot. Though, I know, it confuses some young readers. I had a boy at a Book Fair tell me "I've read both your books! In one day!"  He held the hardcover and the bookfair books. I assured him the words inside were all the same. He seemed happy to have read the book twice.

As long as I was on a roll, I searched for the other book jacket. And this image from what The Chicago Tribune calls "an aspiring book critic" has made me smile.

My day is made! Success!-  and lots of smiling going on here.

Aren't kids the greatest? Bloggers, too. Thank you, one and all.

Friday, November 13, 2015


My week was filled with bright kids asking great questions.
Four Skype sessions later, I'm still pondering what they said about THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY.
For example:
Are any of your characters based on real people or named after real people? How do you figure out what a character would say?

What does "Oh my stars!" mean? Are you from the south, or something?
(This always cracks me up because it never occurs to me that kids don't know some of the totally normal sounding things I say/write...)

And mixed together with all the writing questions I regularly get asked (and never mind answering) was a new one:

"Do you know any other authors and what do you talk about when you get together?"
(Totally not answering this one. My lips are sealed.

Another question made me wonder. This is only the second time it's been asked, and both times I could tell the student had thought hard about it. It wasn't one of those "How much money do you make?" off-the-cuff questions that teachers and librarians caution kids not to ask.
(But they sometimes do.)

This young reader asked why Theo, a boy, was friends with Anabel, a girl, and what made me write about friendship and friends and especially boys and girls being friends. 

I have the answer to that. Or at least an answer.
One is because purely from a writing sense, it's nice to work in both girls and boys in a novel, especially those who don't exactly fit the mold. Theo plays the piano AND baseball. His new friend Anabel wants no part of her dance class but is possibly a sports fanatic. 

In THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, Theo was adrift. He was someplace he'd never been before. He felt like an outsider. Every single time I talk about my new book and ask students what helps you fit in when you are brand new to a place, they know the answer: Find a friend.

Been there, done that, right? Haven't we all felt like we didn't know the ropes until we had one person to show us the way?

I grew up in the kind of small southern town where everybody knew each other. I had friends whose grandparents were my own grandparents' friends. That's me in the corsage and my best friend since (before!) birth next to me. We were college roommates, bridesmaids for each other, and we're still best of friends. But I've also been that newcomer, so I know how it feels not to fit in. 

(In fact, I still know every person in this photo, including the too-cool-for-school boy on the trike)

A friend, yes. That's what a good book can be. But also a way to figure out how to make a friend. How to be a friend.  

Frankie and Glory? Anabel and Theo? And in my forthcoming book, there's a girl who befriends a boy, and the two attempt to figure out the world together.

Makes perfect sense to me.

(Here's a link to a blogpost by one of the terrific librarians who invited me into her class via Skype)

And one more photo. 

My friend and I still talk a lot about our shoes.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Top Ten

(Actually Fourteen) Things I just this minute learned about blogging.
From my writer friend Irene Latham.

Her anniversary blogpost is a MUST READ.   (click there!)

You know when somebody announces "I couldn't have said it better myself" and then goes on to attempt to to it anyhow? I'm not doing that.

I truly can't think of another thing I could add to her list of
14 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Blogging. (Go ahead, click her link!)

Except Happy Blog-i-versary, Irene.

Since Irene knows pictures are worth a thousand words...

And please,

Friday, November 6, 2015


Thank you, super librarian Dorcas Hand, and also to my friend and former teaching colleague Patti Kiley for arranging such a fun visit with Annunciation Orthodox School in Houston.

I was there for their amazing annual BOOK FAIR, with two other authors, Linda Leblanc and Keith Graves. That's a whole lot of organizing and arranging and book sharing going on. Hats off, Dorcas!

Did I mention the FOOD? Which I'm sorry to say, I didn't document nearly enough! (I'm usually much better with sharing food pictures, and we did eat well.)

My two days, in pictures. Wish I'd taken more!

A Scholastic Book Fair like no other.

Student art work, everywhere I looked.

 It's such fun seeing special books and thinking about their authors!

The parent volunteers worked so hard to make that space eye-catching. In one corner was a reading nook. Sorry I didn't capture in a photo. Every time I turned around, I saw something else I loved!


Forgive me for a little librarian nostalgia (for me). 
I got to help move books on a book cart. Hadn't done that in a while, though it used to be an everyday occurrence!

(There was a special table for books to donate to the libraries. Great idea!)

 Always happy to sign books...

Dinner out with teachers at PICOS-- 
Delicious! And so many connections made around this table!  


I haven't spent a lot of time in Houston. It was very special to connect with old friends. Especially friends who'll take me to see the most fantastic Mark Rothko exhibit at their Museum of Fine Arts.

Thanks, Bobby and Jeannie Moon!

And a trip to Houston wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of my all-time favorite bookstores, just to say hello and check out funny author messages covering their walls! Thanks, Blue Willow Bookshop, for inviting me. Or letting me invite myself. I signed a few books and caught up with old friends.

I'm already excited about a possible trip to San Antonio in the fall. Texas teachers and librarians truly rock!

(only in Texas, right?)