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

Monday, November 29, 2021

A New Resource

 Yes, it's still MONDAY and you may be asking WHAT AM I READING?

 It's been a while since I posted for #IMWAYR.

But that doesn't mean I'm not reading like crazy!

Today I'll share a new resource you teachers and librarians out there might not know about. But it's fun to play around with.  Booklists on all sorts of topics.

This is my contribution: 

Baseball books!

So, what else am I reading?

I just finished my friend Susan Hill Long's latest, THE CARE AND KEEPING OF FREDDY.



Oh what fun this brand new middle-grade novel is. But fun with heart. So much heart.

It made me smile but it also made me think. There is so much to discuss with kids in this story.

What would a young girl do in a family like Georgia's? 

How do friends help us make important life decisions when we're young?   

And for those writers among us: How do you develop a character like Georgia's mother and make her believable?

Sue is brilliant at craft and characters. I love this book.

Monday, September 20, 2021


 It's time!

The new Motto Calendars are in production. I'm proud of our family for carrying on this tradition for so many years. Hats off to our daughter who continues to work on keeping the Quaker Motto Calendar going for another year when we all thought the long-standing tradition had ended. 

If you missed getting yours last year and don't have an order form, here it is.



Want to know more about the history of the calendars?

CLICK HERE for one of my earliest posts!

If you aren't familiar with these little gems, here's a sample page, with quotes ranging from Buddha to Disney. (AND they're small enough to tuck into a holiday card.)



Monday, May 31, 2021

What I'm Reading and Recommending

I've been sadly lacking in my reading of kids' books lately. Haven't read a middle-grade novel or even a picture book in a while.

Ah, life, right?

But we have a family birthday coming up- with party!- and the Birthday Boy loves books. When I saw this one, I had to have it. 


I'm only a little bit into it but I LOVE THIS BOOK.

First of all, Pompeii. Then a strong man who literally lifted heavy objects and moved them to safety. Or at least to where they could be looted more easily. 

I'm sure all my librarian friends already know this and other cool-sounding titles by Sarah Albee. But for those of us who don't read a lot of kids' non-fiction (anymore! I read a lot of it when I was a school librarian), this would be a fun place to start. Her turns of phrase (turn of phrases?), her sense of humor, her deep digs - pun intended!-have kept me glued to the book.

Okay, glued may be too strong. I'd be glued if I could.

But I do dip into it every day and often find myself reading more than I'd planned. Plus, deadline- Birthday Boy needs the book!

I'm reading a lot of thriller/ detective/ mystery books still. My escape into the world of adults. 

 This book is getting rave reviews and I'd love to know if anyone else has read it. 


 It was a page-turner all right. Great writing, good story. BUT...

(not exactly a spoiler alert coming up, but you can avert your eyes if you're reading or about to read)

Did anybody else see the plot twist coming?  Maybe it's because I've been reading waaaay too many "thrillers" during the past year. Maybe it's the writer in me. But the breadcrumbs were there for the following and that's all I'm saying. Feel free to comment!

Even so, the excellent writing made it worth reading. I appreciate NetGalley for giving me an early read. It's just out and available for purchase.

My friend Shannon Hitchcock- who's written a few books herself!- posted a picture of a book she'd found in a vacation rental that she said was a perfect distraction, or at least a very good beach read. This is not a genre I read much of but if you're looking for short and funny and even surprising in its own way, check out this series. 


I think there about a zillion books by this author listed at my library.

Speaking of my library. Thank you, Libby App

I would not have survived the past year + without you, my friend.

Funny aside: One summer I worked as a library intern for the Mississippi Library Commission. Wow, talk about eyes opening! But one thing I learned is that these "Regency Romances" were  very, very popular. Took up a huge bookcase and they traveled in and out of the library with great speed. All the little old ladies loved them. 

Oh dear.

Have I become a little old lady?



Friday, May 21, 2021

Iowa and Other Stops Along the Road

Do you play the "map" game where you count up all the states you've visited?

Do you think about how different places might have influenced the way you talk, what you like to eat, what you think even? I've lived so many place I'd have to stop and re-count them!

Possibly the first faraway place I ever visited was in high school when our Mississippi school sponsored an Exchange Trip with a town in Iowa. There were all sorts of reasons they chose Spencer, Iowa for us to visit. Weather, demographics, etc etc. We went there in February, they came to us in the early spring.

It was a trip I haven't forgotten. According to a now-destroyed diary, we stayed at the U-Smile Motor Hotel along the way. (Must file that name away but it sounds slightly risque, doesn't it?)

First blizzard.

First kids who talked differently from everybody I knew.

First visit to a packing plant. Eeew. How have I ever eaten beef again.

It was the only time I ever set foot in Iowa. 

But the world has shrunk since those days. Now you can visit almost anywhere, in person or virtually. You can have friends who are nothing like you, yet everything like you.

You can have a refrigerator magnet, a special gift from a friend- complete with his #truefriend heart- and be transported back to high school, and a blizzard!



In case you're wondering, here's a photo. Note: not too many of us had real snow boots. 

(I'm not in this picture so I assume I was behind the camera.)

The snow got a lot deeper. We were stranded there a few extra days but nobody complained!


 What places do you remember that were so different they made your eyes open wider or your attitude change or your idea of where you could live flipflop?

Monday, May 3, 2021

Things I Love

This used to be a THING. 

I shared "Things I Love," blatantly copied from my buddy Barbara O'Connor's blog. 

I think she calls hers Things I Love Thursdays.

It was a thing I did with some regularity. 

But when you move, many things go by the wayside, including some things I love(d).

(and writing in my blog kind of took a nose-dive, too!)

But I kept this.


Because it has a story.

My husband brought three of these from a Navy deployment in Rota, Spain. They are olive jars. I filled two with flour and sugar, back in the day. I filled the third with shells we'd collected from beaches everywhere! And he turned it into a lamp.

Then we moved to Florida. All three became shell jars. One held a large conch shell, a gift from my first-born granddaughter's Great Godmother on her baptism!

When we moved again, I gave her the jar and the shell.

I brought one with me to our new home, the one filled with shells from beaches everywhere.

The stories our THINGS tell, right?


Linda Sue Park has a new book I haven't read but keep reading about. 

I bet it would make a great writing activity, for young and old.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Year in my Journal, and Facebook...

I know, I know. Some of you are not fans of Facebook. And I get that. 

But I love the memories I get every day. Today Facebook reminded me that on this date in 2016, my friend Eileen Harrell, artist and designer extraordinaire, re-did my blog title and graphic. 

Maybe I should pay more attention to that blog.

Even though the posts have been few and far between this Quarantine Year, I have kept a journal. Call it my Covid Journal.

It's a very special book. A gift at NCTE 2016, from our panel's moderator, the brilliant and great and all-around fun guy, Patrick Allen. 


He presented blank journals to all the #TrueFriends, Sue Long, Kirby Larson, Barbara O'Connor and me. 


                (Here we all are! In Atlanta! Having a great time talking about books.)


I loved my journal. I'm bad about saving things I love. Saving them for "someday."

Why? I asked myself as I searched my box of journals for the blank pages to remember this year with, March 2020. Someday is now!

Don't you think I chose the perfect book?

 Page ONE- My sticker from Sarah Frances Hardy. She designed a whole packet of these. She's such a fun illustrator!

        A very recent entry. Though many of my days featured HAIR as an issue...)

My best friend forever had so many fascinating fun things she learned and did during Covid. We formed a group of three, called ourselves The Quarantiners, and we texted almost daily. She sent me this, from one of her many projects.


And then, a vaccine at last.

Did anybody else keep a journal during Quarantine? Did your kids? Your students? 

I don't know if anybody but me will ever see this. It's not exactly filled with earthshaking nuggets of brilliance. But for now, almost every page is full, and I may just keep it forever.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Time to Read!


But that's way too long.

Happy February, everybody!

Mondays always remind me that there's a whole group of you out there carefully documenting your week's reading.  #IMWAYR days are fun!

And what I've been reading is fun, too. 

Although I'd read the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) and I'd heard earlier versions as Barbara worked on this one, in honor of its true launch date, I reread Barbara O'Connor's latest middle-grade novel, HALFWAY TO HARMONY

Oh, those characters!

And her writing. Such a perfect ear. Such an economy of words. Every little detail belongs exactly where she's put it.

I dare you to open the first chapter, meet Walter, then his new neighbor Posey, and not be hooked.


When I watched the launch party interview with Amy Cherrix from Malaprops in Asheville, I remembered so many great writing tips! 

I've heard Barbara say it before but the next time I sat at my desk, I tried hard to put one into practice:


Many years and many critique groups ago, my friend Leslie Guccione created a little note, beautifully drawn and decorated, for my bulletin board. 


Way back when, Barbara's blog did a series of Writing Tip Tuesdays. If you're a new writer, or heck, even if you've written forever, they're great reminders. 

Here's one:

And another:

 (On the subject of repetition, Barbara reports, Sol Stein says, "One plus one equals a half."
If you think the reader won't "get" something unless you repeat it, then maybe you haven't written it right the first time.)

So I've always known this important bit of writing advice. Barbara's the champ at doing it and at explaining it. Read her novels and you'll see!

The other middle-grade novel, JUST LIKE THAT, skews to the upper end of MG and had me slowing down, re-reading, putting sticky notes on pages, and marveling at Gary Schmidt's skill in storytelling. I always pick up BookPage at my local library and I almost always agree with their reviews.

Forewarned, somebody dies at the very beginning. Somebody, if you know and love Schmidt's books like I do, you'll grieve right along with his friend. But the book is such great storytelling, such amazing writing, so gripping in many places, that grieving didn't detract from my loving this book.

If I'm honest and attempting to read like a kid, or even like a school librarian, my prior self, I did have a couple of issues. One, I wondered if it would have been a better book if there weren't two narrators whose stories, though often intersecting, were very different. But I think stronger readers will just go with that flow.

And some very minor plot points- like would a middle-grader, even back in the 60s and even at boarding school, be allowed to come back to school before it begins? And, yes,   she's staying with the headmistress (though she kind of bailed on the two kids in her care.)

<side note for copyeditors: >



Other good grownups books I've loved since last posting for #IMWYR :

1. Hamnet (five stars! *****)

2. Another (I've read several during this too-long pandemic)  Laura Lippman novel- my warm-glass-of-milk at bedtime books

3. The Keeper of Lost Dreams, which I mostly enjoyed though I'm not a fan of ghosts/ spirits, even when they take a minor role.