Wednesday, September 28, 2011


You've got to read these three books:

If you are in the mood for a decades long love affair, THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER by Jojo Moyes

If you want to feel dark and sensual and magical, THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

and if you want to stir up the brain juices and be a little bit creeped out while being in awe of the writing, THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott

And if you've read any of these, I would lovelovelove to hear your thoughts! And big thanks to the amazing and effervescent Ashley Parsons for steering me in good book directions. Again. You rock!

Monday, September 26, 2011


We visited Charles Lindbergh's home in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Ludelphia rode a buffalo.

We saw a delightful and unexpected "apron" exhibit at Hubbard County Historical Museum.

We visited Lake Itasca State Park in Minnesota (gorgeous!) and walked across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. (bonus sentence and a promise: I'm using this as a metaphor in a poem about the importance/unimportance and slippery nature of the "beginning" of things.)

We were t-boned in Detroit Lakes, Michigan, and had to leave my father's probably-totalled car behind (which caused all kinds of chaos, I mean new adventures).

I got to meet the Book Club and wonderful children's librarian Traci Juhala at Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.

Eric got to spend some quality time at the shooting range with a gun collector and expert who happens to be a good friend of my father's.

We admired the prehistoric life at the Bismarck airport to distract us from being sad about saying goodbye. (Bonus sentence #2 and #3: But oh my, we were SAD. Sigh.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Oh, North Dakota, how I love thee!

We are here in the land of wind and grass and good people (via Minnesota where we visited Charles Lindbergh's home and the headwaters of the Mississippi River) visiting my father, who lives in Bismarck.

This afternoon and evening I will be sharing about my adventures with Ludelphia and LEAVING GEE'S BEND to kids and adults at Bismarck Public Library. And I will probably slip in a couple of my Dakota-inspired poems like "How the Sacagawea River Got Its Name" and "After One Thousand Miles the Road Rises" (from my book THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS).

I'll be back with a full report (and pictures!) early next week. Oh, and perhaps I'll say a few words about the excellent books I've been reading: THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER by Jojo Moyes, THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott, CLEOPATRA'S MOON by Vicki Alvear Schecter and THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern. Good stuff! I hope your week has brought you lots of goodness too. xo

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011


How else is a person to grow, if not for blisters and throbbing and that feeling of I can't go on--- and yet still finding a way to go on?

How can one learn just how fast she can actually run or what it feels like to be warm and loved and wanted if she has never had to run, if she has never been cold and wet and hungry?

Consider John Irving's epigraph at the beginning of A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR, which is one of my favorite epigraphs EVER:

" for this little lady
the best thing I can wish for her is
a little misfortune."

- William Makepeace Thackeray

And this NYT article entitled "What is the Secret to Success is Failure?"

As hard as it is to let our fledglings fall, we need to let them. It's the only way they'll learn to fly. (Writers: this goes for characters too!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


So it's September, and I have officially completed 11 quilts for 2011! Which means I have my 2011 Quilt A Month Challenge well in hand.

These three are all gifts for friends, each of them lap-sized cuddle quilts.

This one I've been calling the "shoe" quilt, because it uses lots of shoe pattern prints. Isn't it FUN?

I love this one because who isn't happy when they see yellow and blue? It's very old-fashioned with the 9 patch pattern, and I used an old super-soft bed sheet as backing, so it even FEELS old. Love!

And this one has a horse theme, although it is hard to tell in this picture. One of the prints is white with tiny blue horses. It's also backed in an old super-soft be sheet and feels old-fashioned and warm to me.

I've got two more tops already pieced, which will put my count to 13 for the year... one is for ME, and I'll tell you why when I can share a pic of it all quilted and everything. And the other has orange and red tones, and I am completely in love with it! It's a gift-quilt. Will share very soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


When I think about what relationships matter most in childhood, I think about:

1. family, as in parents, siblings and grandparents

2. pets

3. friends

These are the primary relationships that set the stage for all other relationships in a person's life. It is through loving - and losing- these people and animals that we first learn about love.

Which is why I was really excited when I heard about Bobbie Pyron's A DOG'S WAY HOME.

It is definitely a love story between a girl and her dog (or a dog and her girl). But don't be afraid to put this book into the non-dog lover's hand as well. It's really about a girl learning to fit into a new life, and it's got that Appalachian flair I particularly enjoy. Give it to your readers who like books by Kerry Madden, Kathryn Erskine and Deborah Wiles.

Here's the first two chapters to whet your appetite.

My homeschooler and I are also on a dog kick. We just completed CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London and we're currently listening to DOG SONG by Gary Paulsen. Next up is DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson.

If you have a dog book recommendation, I'd love to hear about it! And for more book talks, don't forget to visit Kelly at the Lemme Library for Book Talk Tuesday.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Happy Birthday, sweet boy! Can't believe you are SEVENTEEN today. We are SO LUCKY to know and love you. Now go clean out your car. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011


1. I finished copyedits for DON'T FEED THE BOY. Although "finished" is not quite the right word -- yesterday I stewed for HOURS over one little word and first thing this morning sent my dear editor another tiny tweak. (It's a word in the very first sentence, so pretty darn important.)

2. After two weeks of reconstruction, the inspector comes TODAY to sign off on repair work required after Formosan termites made a meal of our home. I cannot tell you what a relief this will be. The workers have been great, but it's still PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE. All day. Looking forward to some quiet!

3. Ruby had her spay surgery this week and tomorrow I will take her to The Dog Whisperer Pat who will keep her until October 1. We've got a big trip to North Dakota later this month, and Ruby needs a little help with socialization and learning not to jump. Pat is just the gal to whip that sweet girl into line!

4. I got a new van. I pretty much drove the wheels off the last van -- nearly 200,000 miles! So now we're enjoying that new car smell and I'm obsessing over every speck and smudge. This, too, shall pass.

5. It's Poetry Friday today, so don't forget to visit Katie at Secrets and Sharing Soda. And if you happen to have written any poetry inspired by storms (recent or otherwise), please send 'em to me for consideration for publication in or April 2012 "Storm" issue of Birmingham Arts Journal. Deadline is December 31.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!