Wednesday, October 31, 2012


This year no one at my house is dressing up or trick-or-treating. It will be quiet, which is how we all like it. And it's got me reminiscing about all those Halloweens when the boys were wee, and the night was sugar-crazy -- before costumes turned into rubber masks and makeup, or disappeared altogether.

We had critters:
Dinosaur Daniel

Isty Bitsy Spider Eric
Bumblebee Andrew

We had TV characters:

Andrew "Bob the Builder"

Daniel "Thomas the Tank Engine"

We had possible future careers:

Pirate Andrew

Firefighter Daniel

Policeman Andrew

Explorer "Davy Crockett" Eric

We also had some homegrown costumes that were by far the most fun:

Daniel & Andrew as skeletons (costumes made by Grandma Mary!)

Robot Daniel (costume made by me & Daniel)

But of all the costumes, it's the Lil Pumpkin costume that I remember most fondly, perhaps because it went through all three boys:

Daniel (with Andrew)

Eric (with Andrew)

Wishing each and every one of you a happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012


This past weekend I traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Louisiana Book Festival.

I've traveled to a number of book festivals over the years, but none of them was quite like this one.

That's because I wasn't alone, or with one of my favorite kid-assistants... this time I was with my sweet husband!

Here he is changing a flat tire after lunch but before Mississippi.

Here's the table he got for us at Emeril's Delmonico Restaurant:

Here we are before feasting on barbeque shrimp with grit cakes and oyster bisque and trout.

Here's the beignets we got at Cafe du Monde after he walked with me for blocks and blocks.

Here's  picture of me he took without me even knowing it.

And here he is with the Best Banana Split Ever, just waiting to share it with me. (Can you tell we like to eat?)

As my grandmother would say, we had a BIG TIME! It was really wonderful. And more to come....

Monday, October 22, 2012


I'm really difficult to surprise. It's one of the drawbacks of having a very active, imaginative brain -- or not a drawback at all, depending on the situation.

It DOES make it tough on a husband.

So, when that sweet husband o' mine miraculously pulls off a surprise, my thrill is indeed elephant-sized!

Which is why I'm telling you about this perfect, precious Alex Woo pendant Paul gave me as a celebratory gift upon the release of DON'T FEED THE BOY (which, you can tell right from the cover, features an elephant):

The chain is all sparkly, and the elephant is just the right size for me and I absolutely love what it means:

(from the website)

"When an elephant makes its way into your dream, it’s a message meaning that you are able to conquer any of life’s obstacles. As a symbol of pure happiness, elephants also signify the strength needed to overcome any of life's obstacles. Said to carry everlasting luck in their trunk, one facing up means you will maintain good luck forever. So, grab the world by its tusks and ride yourself into great fortune."

Love love LOVE love LOVE!

Look for it around my neck this week at school visits and a poetry reading in Florence, AL, as well as this coming weekend in New Orleans and at Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, LA! 

Also, pictures from recent events coming very soon! Thank you, friends, for sharing this exciting time with me. xo

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Happy Poetry Friday, and welcome to Roundup! To celebrate Tuesday's release of my new novel DON'T FEED THE BOY, which is set at a zoo, I invited 2012 Kidlit Progressive Poem participants to help create a group zoo poem!

The instructions were simple: choose a favorite zoo animal and write a rhyming couplet about that animal.

All I did was collect the couplets and do the slightest bit of arranging and editing.... for instance, I chose Linda Baie's couplet to start the poem because she's the only one who included the word "zoo" and that places our poem. I added some punctuation. I changed a couple of couplets from past tense to present, as the vast majority of couplets were written in present tense and that should be consistent throughout a poem. 

For the ending couplet, I chose Mary Lee's, because she brought us back to "one," which gives the poems something of a narrative arc. I selected the title that I am sure can be improved upon... and that's it! Enjoy these lovely couplets with all their originality and fun. 

And THANK YOU, friends, for playing. (I hope I didn't miss anyone... I changed email after I made the request, so if I did happen to miss yours, please post in comments and I will add it!) Y'all inspire me!

Animal Encounter

Arriving at the giraffes, I stretch my neck high at the zoo.
Meeting face to face as friends, however, proves difficult to do.     Linda Baie

Seals slip into their watery home
sail like an arrow, smooth as stone.     Caroline Starr Rose

The anteater announces, “I am one
who’ll eat an army just for fun."          Penny Klostermann

Watch your pockets! The goats
eat not just food, but coats!                Jeannine Atkins

On llama duty? Do not sit!
(These camel-cousins love to spit.)     Miranda Paul

Koala sleeps the day away,
but at night he likes to play.               Anastasia Suen

Ring-tailed lemur climbs a tree;
tail for balance, not trapeze.              Pat Weaver

He cannot fly, but he sure can run;
watching Emu is a lot of fun!                 Linda Kulp

Smooth and graceful, polar bear
glides then floats, nose in the air.         Sheri Doyle

Few creatures have the knack
of climbing mountains like the Yak.   Doraine Bennett

In Golden Marmoset City,
vine highways are always busy.          Tabatha Yeatts

Tamarins all wear
an abundance of hair.                     Dian Mayr

Elephant waves good-bye with her trunk.
Will she forget me? Oh no, I thunk.                Marjorie at Paper Tigers

Capybara goes to tea,
Wears a tiara designed by me.       Jone MacCulloch

Up periscope in a green, green sea--
giraffe turns his head to nibble leaves.             Kate Coombs

This python wrapped around my hand
will one day  s - t - r - e  -t - c - h  the length I stand.         Robyn Hood Black

Peacock spreads his tail.  Surprise!
A feather-ocean....full of eyes.                 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

The rhino is my talisman.
We're brave; we're each a herd of one.      Mary Lee Hahn

- Poetry Friday Friends

Please leave your link with Mr. Linky! Thank you.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Let's Talk!
 (pic taken at Birmingham Zoo)
DON'T FEED THE BOY releases October 16, which is (holy madness!), next week. And you know what that means: blog tour time!

Here's the schedule:

Monday, October 8: "How to Help Kids Find Their Passions" at Media Darlings

Tuesday, October 9: "Behind the Book: Research for DON'T FEED THE BOY" at Sharpread

Wednesday, October 10: "My Life in Zoos" at I Read Banned Books and Interview at Check it Out

Thursday, October 11: "Education: NOT One Size Fits All" at Bermuda Onion

Friday, October 12: Interview at The OWL for YA and poem about a poem "Window" at Check it Out

Monday, October 15: Review at Mother Daughter Book Club

Tuesday, October 16: Interview at Mother Daughter Book Club
 and Review & "The Summer a Library Saved my Life" at GreenBean TeenQueen

Wednesday, October 17: Review & Interview at There's a Book and Former Debut post at Roots in Myth

Thursday, October 18: post about the Unexpected Gifts of Friendship at The Children's Book Review and a post about illustrator Stephanie Graegin at Smack Dab in the Middle

Friday, October 19: an interview at The Book Monsters and a very special Poetry Friday Roundup post right here, at LIVE YOUR POEM!

So, that's where I'll be the next two weeks! Big thanks to Barb & Sarah for setting up most of these, and even bigger thanks to all you wonderful bloggers for having me! xo

Friday, October 5, 2012


Ever heard of a nonet?

Me neither.

At least not until my Writers' Digest magazine arrived. In the "Poetic Asides" column by Robert Lee Brewer, he offered a description (9-line poem in which the first line has 9 syllables and the last line has 1 syllable and all the lines in between have one less syllable than the line before). AND Mr. Brewer offered a challenge.

Well. I do like a challenge.

Plus, I've been reading (listening to) this really good book called THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers. It's set during the war in Iraq. I've probably listened to the opening paragraphs of this book ten times. The way he writes about war? Heartbreaking and beautiful.

So here's my nonet, completely inspired by THE YELLOW BIRDS. And if you read or listen to it yourself, you might just recognize a phrase or two!

Al Tafar, Iraq, 2004

By winter the war feasted on fear:
It chewed through dusty, low-slung hills,
gobbled apricot orchards,
rubbed its ribs against scrub.
Eyes, red and searing,
it was patient,
not picky;

If you try one, send it to me. I'd love to read it! And don't forget the lovely Laura Purdie Salas has Roundup!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

At the Scarecrow Show

Our local elementary school, Inverness Elementary, where all three of my sons attended, hosts a Scarecrow Show every year. (Not what they call it, but doesn't that sound good?! It's a fundraiser for the school.)

Here's some of the my favorites of this year's crop:

Alien Scarecrow

Johnny Appleseed

A Scarecrow Divided (so clever! If you live here you know that football allegiance is serious business... if you marry out of your team, you often fly a flag or sport a bumper sticker that claims your "divided" status. All in good fun!)

Ma & Pa Scarecrow

Scarecrow, Jr.
Now if that doesn't put you in the fall spirit, I don't know what does!

Monday, October 1, 2012


Doraine & me

What a lovely time we had in Columbus this past weekend! Big thanks to my hostess Doraine and all the fine folks associated with Chattahoochie Valley Writers' Conference.

On Friday night I opened the poetry reading, and the amazing Ayodele Heath closed. (These conference organizers were kind enough not to ask me to follow Ayo... wow!) Find out for yourself in the video below where Ayo performs his piece "Etymology of Ain't":

And then, Saturday morning, Georgia author Terry Kay gave the keynote address. Terry said so many things that resonated with me. Here's a few that are sticking with me:

me & Terry Kay
1. Art is something on the outside that you take in. (as opposed to the idea that art is inside us waiting to come out)

2. If you are experience writer's block, add a character and see what happens!

3. A variation of "I Am Third" -- at Camp Cosby, they teach God is first, others are second, I am third. Terry says, Character is first, Reader is second and Writer is third.

4.  Don't tell me how you feel; tell me what makes you feel. (allow reader to experience the feelings)

Terry also said mine was the first poetry workshop he'd ever attended. Afterward, he asked me, "Do you really like writing fiction?" I didn't get a chance to find out why he was asking... but the answer is yes, yes I do!

Thanks to everyone who made this wonderful event possible.