Sunday, October 30, 2011


Look what I got in the mail:    BOOKS  &  CHRISTMAS FABRIC!!!
Thanks to the talented, generous Terry Lynn Johnson, author of DOGSLED DREAMS and dear, faithful, I-don't-know-what-I'd-do-without-her Pat.

I seriously don't know what to do first, read or quilt. Hmmmmmm........

Friday, October 28, 2011


Welcome! This is my attempt to make Blogger's new Dynamic views work for me-- no sidebar means the pertinent info must be included here, in the flip cards. We'll see how it works out.

Meanwhile, here's the basics:

I am a poet and novelist who writes heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure. I've just finished work on my next middle grade novel DON'T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, Fall 2012), which is about a boy who lives at the zoo.

My other books are THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS, LEAVING GEE'S BEND and WHAT CAME BEFORE. I especially love characters (in books and real life) who have the courage to go their own way. And I believe there are no wiser words than these: "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

You can also find me at my website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

For Poetry Friday, the lovely, talented, generous Robyn Hood Black posted an interview of me. (blush) She asked some great questions! And there's a Halloweenie pic too. Check it out! And don't forget to visit Diane at Random Noodling for Roundup. Happy weekend, All. xo

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


1. It's a mystery!

2. The mystery centers around a veena.

Don't know what a veena is?

Well, I didn't either. Until I read Sheela's book. (For the impatient: it's a very large stringed musical instrument from India that sings of magic.)

3. It's transcontinental. Yep, by the end of the book you feel like you've traveled to India. And I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to go to India. And now I have.

BONUS REASON: Sheela's a lovely, giving author you'll be glad to get better acquainted with! Visit her website, the Elevensies and From the Mixed Up Files blog.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Yesterday I put over a hundred envelopes in my mailbox for the mail carrier to deliver.

As I was flipping up that red flag, I thought, hmmm, I'm not sure my mail carrier is going to be as happy about all these letters as I am. So I real quick jotted her a note -- "thank you" with a smiley.

Later, when I noticed the red flag had been flipped back down, I checked my box to find a reply from my mail carrier:

Love that attitude! Totally makes me smile.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Yippee, it's Poetry Friday again! Jama the Delicious has Roundup, so don't forget to drop by.

Now I give you 5, all poetry-related:

1. My book THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS won the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Prize for poetry!

It will be announced in the 2012 March/April issue. (How's that for advanced notice?) To find out why this is extra-special to me, check this out.

2. I sold my first poem in the children's market!!! It's a persona poem, in the voice of a shipwreck. The fabulous publication? Scholastic's Storyworks, which is one of those distributed-in-the-classroom magazines. Awesome editor Lauren Tarshis is also the author of the Emma Jean Lazarus books, which I adore, and a whole bunch of other great titles. I'm so honored she selected my poem!

3. We had an overwhelming response to our call for submissions to the 'storm' issue of Birmingham Arts Journal-- and they're still coming in. It broke my heart to reject so many good poems... we just don't have enough space in our magazine. But oh, the ones that did make the cut! Lovely, wonderful, inspired! Thank you for writing them. Keep it up.

4. I just read HIDDEN by Helen Frost. It's a novel-in-verse that has gotten a bit of Newbery buzz. And isn't the cover gorgeous??!

5. I'm also reading BEAUTIFUL & POINTLESS by David Orr.

The author makes an argument in there about how one should approach poetry as one does travel to a foreign country. Which means you've got to expect a little confusion. You've got to be patient with yourself (and others) as you learn the language. And oh the rewards that await if you do! (If I wasn't so snug under my quilt I'd jump up and give the specific quote. I'm sure I don't do it justice. Sorry, Mr. Orr!)

Wishing everyone a fantastic fall weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011


This week I read UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand.

It's an excellent book, and as is often the case with excellent books, I found poetry in those pages -- starting with the epigraph that opens the book, which is taken from an actual poem:

What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?

- Walt Whitman, “The Wound-Dresser”

(complete poem here)

It's a great question, isn't it?

I think every poem we write should answer that question.

For more poetic thoughts and verse, visit Poetry Friday Roundup with David at FOMOGRAMS.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


For Book Talk Tuesday, I want to talk about this wonderful picture book BELLE, THE LAST MULE AT GEE'S BEND by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, with illustrations by John Holyfield.

Being a Gee's Bend groupie, I'm completely biased and knew before I read it that I would love this one. While it is not set during the Depression as is my novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND, it still captures many of the Gee's Bend characteristics that I fell in love with: quilts, of course. People who are strong and inspiring. And yes, a mule.

In LEAVING GEE'S BEND, there is also a mule. Her name is Delilah. She and Belle must have been related. But actually, the character in LEAVING GEE'S BEND that Belle has the most in common with is Ludelphia.

Strong, I tell you. Stubborn. With hearts that bulge that goodness.

Please add this lovely little book to your shelves and pull it out any time, but particularly during February. Pair it with STITCHIN' AND PULLIN' by Patricia McKissack with illustrations by Cozbi A Cabrera.

For a more complete review, see The Examiner's review.

Happy Reading, and don't forget to visit Kelly at the Lemme Library for other Book Talks!

Friday, October 7, 2011


1. I have quilts to share:

This one I am completely in love with. And these are not colors I would typically choose. They aren't in my fashion palette. But for some reason they feel like ME right now. So I'm using this one on my side of the bed. :)

That centerpiece in this one? It's from a pillow my mom made for me when I was 13 years old. When I found it in my basement, it was all slobber-stained and butter-smooth from lots of use. And now it's in a cute little quilt I use to cover my legs while I write in the recliner by the window.

2. I'm training for the 2012 Mercedes Marathon. No, I am not a runner. But I love having goals. And I don't have great aspirations -- as long as I come in before the balloon lady (she sets the ending pace of 6 hours), I will be one happy gal.

3. I got some really good poetry news this week. Will share as soon as I am able! Meanwhile, don't miss Poetry Friday Roundup with Mary Ann at Great Kids Books.

4. I'm retreating this weekend with some dear writer friends, and man, do I have some work to do on the wip. I'm ready!

5. It's family picture time, and when I asked the boys what color we should wear, two of them said, at the very same time, "purple." Jinx!! They were shocked when I actually came home later from Kohl's with a bag full of purple shirts! Will post. :)

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011


...check out my post over at Smack Dab in the Middle, a blog written by a band of authors who write for the middle-grade audience.

Prepare to be inspired (to be inspired)!
(Read it. You'll see.)

Happy Monday!