Monday, January 30, 2012


Home from Tennessee, where my sister and I had a wonderful time. Our baby brother joined us on Saturday:

I still marvel at all the ways the three of us are so very different from one another -- yet we have the most important things in common. I am so grateful my parents kept having babies!

Tomorrow, youngest son and I are off to Mobile, where I have a poetry reading. We are also making stops in historic Monroeville (home of Harper Lee and Beehive Coffee & Books) and Wilcox County (Black Belt Treasures! Gee's Bend!) as we meander along central and south Alabama. I'll post pictures!

Meanwhile, I hope all of you have a great end of January/beginning of February. Spring is coming!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I'm super-excited because I get to hang out (starting tomorrow!) with one of my most favorite people:

I can't remember a day in my life that I didn't adore my baby sis. And while I know conflict is the at the heart of every good book, I get a little put-out by all the sister books that feature a relationship of opposites and competition and often out-n-out hatred.

If I ever write a book that contains sisters, it will not contain this type conflict. It will be a Sisters-Against-the- World kind of thing, where the sisters are the evil-fighting duo. Sure there will be problems and differences, but their devotion to each other will not be called into question EVER.

Dear readers: do you know of any existing sister books like this? Hit me with some titles, if you've got 'em. Thanks!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Wow, I sorta can't believe I'm writing my third Movie Monday in a row. After what seems like months of ho-hum, three really good films!

Today, I want to tell you about THE ARTIST. It's a throwback film in black & white that begins in 1927 and progresses through the transition in Hollywood from silent film to talkies. And it manages to do a lot without ever saying a word. Here's what I got of out it:

1. Fear of change can ruin you life.
2. You CAN reinvent yourself. At any time, at any age, at any point in history.
3. Pride is just stupid. Let. People. Help. You.

Beautiful to watch -- I love all that exaggerated movement and facial expression required of actors during the silent era. And I love how the musical score is nearly like another actor on the set. And this film features Uggie! What a charmer.

Go see it! You won't be disappointed. And be looking for it to carry off a few nominations when they announce the Oscar contenders Tuesday morning!

Friday, January 20, 2012


In a week when the 'net has been full of shipwreck news, it seems sort of appropriate that I am finally able to share my poem "Ship Spies a Light" as it appears in Scholastic's Storyworks magazine! It's the first poem I sold in the children's market (though not the first to appear in print), so it's a wee bit special to me. :) Thanks so much to editor/author Lauren Tarshis for selecting it!

For more poetry visit Elaine at Wild Rose Reader for Roundup!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


...trying to remember this fact as I teach Middle Son to drive.

I'm not sure if it's the difference in his personality, our different way of interacting with one another, or the fact that I have a new van I really don't want to get messed up.... but this has been a whole lot more stressful than it was with Oldest Son!

He's doing great. And he's so cute the way he narrates what he's doing. And yes, some prickly "STOP" "OMG" "LOOK BEHIND YOU" moments too....
teaching is 90% encouragement, teaching is 90% encouragement, teaching is 90% encouragement, teaching is 90% encouragement...

Monday, January 16, 2012


What to say about THE IRON LADY?

1. It's a history lesson.

2. It's a girl-power film.

3. And what I wasn't expecting:  it's a love story.

And that's why I loved it. What an inspiration M.T. was/is. I loved learning about her childhood as daughter of a grocer -- and how it was her father's experience as a small businessman that informed her politics.

Whatever your political opinions, I don't think anyone can argue with M.T.'s go-get 'em, fighting spirit. She was a leader who didn't just talk about things, she was a woman of action. And that is something to admire and aspire to.

Something I learned: leadership didn't exactly come naturally to M.T. She had to develop traits in herself -- and be open to "playing the game" and to improving herself. (See the movie!) 

And yes, Meryl Streep is brilliant. Nothing new there. She totally deserved the Golden Globe award she won last night. Keep the good roles coming!

Fingers crossed the awards THE ARTIST won will bring that film to a Birmingham theater. Must see!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Last week the lovely Jeannine Atkins wrote a post I adore about white space and courage. She included in her post an image of an ice skater.

I've been thinking about that ice skater and how she is a metaphor for writing.

And so I put it in a poem:

Writing in Winter
        -for Jeannine

Blades slice
easy 8s
across ice pond

You breathe

arms tight
flung w i d e
tight again

Just you
with your tingly

your deliberate

and a whirl
of white

--Irene Latham 

Wishing all of you easy 8s and the happiest of Poetry Fridays! Don't forget to visit Tara at A Teaching Life has Roundup.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

JOIN ME FOR 12 x 12 in 2012!

In 2011 I took the Quilt A Month Challenge -- and completed a total of 15 quilts!

This year I'm an official participant of 12 x 12 in '12, in which I'll be drafting one picture book per month.
And you can join, too! For more information -- and to sign up!-- visit Julie Hedlund's blog. Big thanks to Beth Stillborn for talking about it on her blog... and thanks to Mother Reader's Comment Challenge for getting me to Beth's blog in the first place!

Yep. They don't call it the WEB for nothing....

Monday, January 9, 2012


For the past almost-22 years, my husband and I have had a standing Saturday night date. On our first date (which was also a blind date), we saw DRIVING MISS DAISY. We've seen so many since then, and often make it our goal to see all the Academy Award nominees before Oscar night. We love watching the Golden Globes and for years subscribed to Entertainment Weekly magazine.

So we're movie buffs. In an age when good movies are harder and harder to find. We prefer the smaller, indie films, foreign stuff and documentaries over the big commercial jobs that usually cleanup at the Box Office. Some Saturdays we don't go to the movies at all because there is nothing we want to see. (It's just like books: lots of hype over certain films that aren't even original when we crave original.) Which saddens me greatly.

And now for the good news: this past Saturday we saw MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. And I loved it! Sure it is cliche-ridden, and really, what does it add to the canon of Marilyn Monroe mystique? But it's a lovely movie. I loved the focus on Marilyn's insecurities, her struggle to be a "real" actress, and how others were frustrated by her bad behavior (ALWAYS late to the set, always some drama) yet folks were also completely fascinated and eventually, forgiving.

As an artist/writer/creator, I relate to those insecurities. I understand her need to escape her own life -- but only for a little while. I left that theater smiling. I haven't enjoyed a movie that much in quite a while.

Next time I do, I'll write about it here for Movie Monday.

Any good movies you've seen lately?

Friday, January 6, 2012


1. Big thanks for all the online love this week! I only put out my newsletter 2-3 times a year (when I actually have news!), and I always love hearing from folks afterwards. I feel all caught up now. (Well, almost. Lunch with the gals today ought to REALLY fix me up.)

2. If you are not a subscriber to my newsletter, you can fix that here. This is what you missed:

That's right, my next middle grade novel (coming in October!) has a cover!

3. And here's the back: (don't you just love wraparound art? We have illustrator Stephanie Graegin to thank for this one.)

4. This week I've read Shel Silverstein's EVERY THING ON IT a number of times.(I have a few favorites. Will share next week.) I've also been reading SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell. It kind of gives you a behind-the-scenes look at a Florida theme park in the same way DON'T FEED THE BOY shows you a zoo. (Which is why my father gave me the book. He's cool like that.)

5. I've been writing poems this week! AND making a special pillow slipcover for my mama who is recovering from surgery. Oh, and it's Poetry Friday Roundup over at the Teaching Authors blog. Check it out.