Friday, April 30, 2010

Poetry Friday: Blue Skies

Blue Skies

If it were hard to grow dandelions,

my showpiece of a yard would be overrun
by gardeners and gawkers.

The general hubbub,
the flash photography,
and the ensuing interview requests

would interfere mightily
with my ability
to sit on my porch
and watch them grow.

Thank goodness
that the spring sunshine

makes everything easy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If You Live In the Kalamazoo Area...

Those of you in the Kalamazoo area, don't miss a great opportunity next week!

As part of Preservation Month, there will be a local showing of Craftsman Style - The Movie Wednesday, May 5th at 7:00 pm in the Vine Neighborhood Community Room at 511 W. Vine.  The event is free and open to the public.

And Dave Muylle himself will be there to introduce the movie and to answer questions after. Plus there'll be popcorn. What more could you ask for?

The film runs about an hour and weaves together the threads of craftsmanship, restoration, and community.  It is by turns informative, inspiring, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny.  From the official description:
"Craftsman Style tells the story of Dave Muylle, a veteran contractor turned citizen-filmmaker, and his two-year journey to restore a former drug house into a new home for his family. Best described as “This Old House” for regular people, this documentary provides a detailed account of the rebuilding work done by Dave and his fellow craftsmen. The film also explores how this type of renovation provides a new model for home construction in urban America, one in which wonderful old houses are not simply torn down and replaced but are restored to their former glory, a practice that saves valuable natural resources while also honoring the past.”

Go see this film!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I haven't blogged much lately.  The usual excuses apply (too much on my schedule, too much travel, busy catching up, etc. etc.).  I've had a fair number of events lately (a library and a preschool last week Tuesday; a school last week Thursday; a bookstore Saturday; a preschool Tuesday; and tomorrow, another school), combined with my usual regular work schedule and my various family happenings.  The stacks on my desk in my home office, not to mention the clutter in my car, attest to not quite keeping up.  And hence the blog neglect.  And, more significantly, general writing and creativity neglect.  It's hard to keep one's self-identification as a writer when one isn't writing much!

But I'm hoping tomorrow afternoon to snag a few hours to work on a revision of a story.  It's a short picture book story (190 words), one that has potential but still needs work.  I'm grateful for several critiques I've received on the story that help shine light on the work to be done -- but it still takes time, and commitment, to do the revision.

Some writers love revision.  I for one will admit that I don't.  But it's a necessary part of the process.

And so I'm (sort of) looking forward to getting down to work!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Adorable romping and stomping crowd of babies"

I don't know if other authors are prone to this, but I'll admit freely that at least once a week I take a stroll through the various pages on the Internet that list my book titles.  (This is relatively easy to do using Google alerts and searches.)  While it's possible to become too concerned about these things, I do find it helpful to take a pulse on whether my books are finding their way into library and bookstore story times and into the lives of families with young children.  In the process, I've discovered some neat things (the Pout-Pout Fish Halloween pumpkin comes to mind!) and made connections to folks I would have never met otherwise.  So I've carried on with my weekly searches with only a little self-consciousness about it.

All of this is by way of saying that I was nosing around today and discovered that my and Tracy Dockray's book The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade has received its first customer review on Amazon.  And I was very pleased to see that it's a positive customer review!  Love the headline of it:  "This adorable romping and stomping crowd of babies will make everyone from the youngest to the oldest people smile."

Reading that sure made me smile.  Yay!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's National Bookmobile Day!

Not only is this week National Library Week, but today's National Bookmobile Day!  National Bookmobile Day is "an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities."

So join the celebration:  Thank a Librarian, and then Go Read!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back From the Mountains!

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, but my family and I were at Shenandoah National Park for the week.  Beautiful!  If you've never gone, I highly recommend it (though I can't promise you'll have as wonderful weather as we had - it was flawless!).

Now, off to tackle the laundry mountain and the email mountain. But while I'm busy with that, here are a few sights and scenes from Shenandoah 2010:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Extra Winners!

As promised, I have drawn two additional winners in my Fake Book News contest!  The winners are...




Contact me at with your mailing address, and I'll get your signed copy off to you!

(No rush on contacting me -- I have a busy week ahead of me and probably won't make it to the post office until the following week.)

Thanks, all, for the great contest!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Poetry Friday


“Had my dance class last night.”

The woman’s voice carried in from the hall

over the steady, irregular beeping

of the monitors and machines

hooked up to my father.

With my body parked

in the discomfort of a vinyl chair

and running after sleep

like a blind woman chasing butterflies,

I couldn’t help but listen in.

“We did the tango,” said the voice. A nurse, perhaps,

but not one I’d met. Maybe a student?

An intern? A visitor? No face, no clue –

just the sudden image of the drama

of the tango. The dance that in the back

of our minds we can’t help believing, someday,

we will try. Rose and all.

“How’d it go?” came another voice.

I closed my eyes. Tried to find a rhythm

in the erratic beeping. Breathe, I whispered.


“It was actually kind of…


My own breath gave way and I nearly

laughed out loud. Could it truly be so?

The tango –


“The world’s a surprising and mysterious place,”

I said aloud to the butterflies,

with an amused shake of my head.  At least I think

that's what I said.  But maybe it wasn't that.

Maybe it was,

“I love my Dad.

Don’t let him die.”

Hard to say at this point. The crisis

has passed. The sparkle

is back in his eyes. My fears

are duller now,

all but befriended.

Yet for that moment,

that spotlit moment when all my beliefs

suddenly faded,

the part of me that doesn’t dance,

and never will,

was glad to be heard.

For more Poetry Friday poems and discussion, head over to Book Aunt for the round-up.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Hello, Everybodeee!" Sesame Street's Grover Turns A New Page

Sesame Workshop today announced plans to update the classic Sesame Street book The Monster At The End Of This Book. The wildly popular title, starring lovable, furry old Grover, will be reissued in a sturdy board book format as The Mobster At The End Of This Book.

Sesame Street officials cited the shifting childhood media environment as the impetus behind the change. “Sesame Street no longer has a lock on the viewing habits of the toddler set,” said Sesame Workshop’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Today’s preschooler has a pacifier in one hand and a remote in the other. She’s a multitasker who’s channel-surfing between our shows and Sopranos reruns. The book’s new title and content are simply an acknowledgement of that.”

Sesame Street officials also pointed to the benefits for schools of Monster’s makeover. “The Monster At The End Of This Book has always had great applicability in home and preschool settings,” says Sesame Workshop’s Director of Education and Research. “But the Mobster version can move beyond the preschool carpet circle and into the upper elementary anti-bullying curriculum. When a muppet with obvious self-esteem issues can find the strength to stand up to such profound fear – wow! Talk about a message of empowerment!”

Sesame Workshop also plans an ebook version of The Mobster At The End Of This Book, called simply At The End of This Book. “In the digital version of the story," says Sesame Workshop’s Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Media Distribution, “anything can be at the end of the book, whether it’s something the child fears, or… something the child loves! This change gives full authorship of the story to the child. We anticipate a lot of books called The Puppy At The End Of This Book or The Ice Cream at the End Of This Book. Sure, it’s a radical change – but we think Grover would approve.”

During PBS pledge week, a special limited edition of the ebook will be made available as a bonus item. The Pledge At The End Of This Book will contain all of the content of the Mobster board book, but will allow readers to substitute images of other popular PBS characters in place of Grover, including Caillou, Clifford, and Suze Orman.

For further details, read Sesame Workshop’s entire press release here.