Friday, December 23, 2005

Jeremiah and My Top Ten Christmas Memories

I watched this TV movie called Jeremiah last night because I'm a newly minted Patrick Dempsey fan. He's in Grey's Anatomy. I love this show. Well, I don't always love it, but it records on my TIVO. Into You Like A Train was a great episode. I needed a whole box of tissues. The part I love about this show is that it faces the fact that humans are people of faith, that we are much more complex, wonderful and terrible at the same time. This show also has a wonderful soundtrack.

Well, on to Jeremiah. I'm not going to review the movie, it was better than 95% of most biblical epics. The thing is I connect with this story on so many levels that it doesn't have to be a great retelling. It's like I don't think art has to be what folks call "great" to be great. Well, as this story unfolds, Jeremiah watches his world go up in flames and is treated like a wild man and a criminal for telling the people to surrender to the King of Babylon. That didn't seem to make sense, but I have found the truth doesn't always have to be the logical thing, it's always the right thing. Then as things go from bad to worse, Jeremiah begins to preach about the restoration and regathering of Israel. This was where I felt truth, knew truth. I've lived through the days of the world going up in flames. Many have. The idea that God is going to restore this mess; that's peace on Earth for me. Ah, this is absolute comfort and joy. This is the answer that I should have heard in hard times. Few even alluded to it (Kudos to Tom K.). I've found that there are many Job's comforters out there, not many Jeremiahs.


1. Walking outside my house on icy cold Christmas morning and hearing the calls of tens of thousands of snow geese. They had landed in the cornfield by our house.

2. Waking up with sisters (A and L) on Christmas morning, running into my parents' bedroom, ready to see what Santa Claus brought. None of that wrapped stuff for us. We just got a load of gifts with a personal, hand-signed note from Claus himself. We went down the hall to living room and had 5 minutes of squealing, screaming, dancing girls. It was 3 a.m.

3. The year Santa Claus failed me. I asked for a beanbag chair. I went down on Christmas morning and nada. I started wailing and ran to my room. NO beanbag chair, the inhumanity!
My mother came to me. She said that Santa might not have been able to fit the chair down our cardboard chimney. Yes, we didn't have a real fireplace, but we had this cardboard one to hang our stockings on. She told me to climb up into the attic. The only way up was one of those fold-down rickety wooden ladders. Sure enough, Santa had left the beanbag chair in the attic. My faith in Santa Claus was restored.

4. The year I tried to not celebrate Christmas. I protested it as a pagan holiday that had been cleaned up for Christians and labeled with the name of our Savior to keep us from running outside on the winter solstice and sacrificing to false gods. People came to my house to explain to me the error of my ways. Neighbors, friends. It was like a zoo. My mother came to my house, unwrapped the presents and shouted at me, "It's just stuff I'm giving you". Note to self. NOT celebrating Christmas does not bring out Christian charity in the people around you.

5. The Sears Christmas Book! I remember spending hours pouring over that thing every year, circling all the important stuff - the Chemistry set , Buddy Bear. I always wanted a Barbie doll house, but it was too expensive. I never circled it. There were live animals, too. Once we got the real live quail eggs and the incubator and sure enough we raised quail.

6. My dad burned up all the Christmas presents one year because he tossed a cigarette into the back of the truck on the way to my aunt's house. This led to one of the best Christmas presents ever; my dad never smoked another cigarette.

7. Thankfulness. Seeing my daughter open her first American Girl doll. Her eyes were so big and she screamed so loud my ears hurt.

8. Jack opening a gift from my sister. He went on and on about how cool the box was. So big, so rectangular, perfect. He kept saying it was the best present he had ever had. He shook the box and hugged it. When he opened the box, he tossed out the stuffed animal and continued to play with the box.

9. As a teenager, I would walk through the streets of downtown Waller with my friends and we would sing Christmas carols. We would sing at every church nativity scene. Folks would give us cups of hot chocolate, oranges and candy canes. I held hands with a boy for the first time. A local restaurant gave us dinner for free. We were all so happy and lighthearted. We sang until we were all hoarse. I didn't know at the time that this was some kind of wonderful, rare and precious.

10. Last year, I had surgery for uterine cancer the week before Christmas. On Christmas eve, eve (That's one year ago today, BTW). I learned I was cancer-free and going home for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Music of the Spheres

I love to sing. I just like to turn off my head and sing loud. It just creates this storm of happy in me. There is poetry in the earth and music, too. I always hear it. There is a simplemindedness in me. Singing just connects me to the poetry and music that I feel all the time. My best memories usually involve being with someone playing music. As a writer, I work it out alone mostly. I yearn, ache inside, to share my stories with others. Perhaps it's the music of the spheres within me.

"The heavenly motions... are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, perceived not by the ear but by the intellect, a figured music which sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time." John Banville: Kepler, (Minerva 1990)

I went to a party tonight and there was old fashioned Christmas carol sing-a-long. I just felt joy. The same joy I knew as a little girl with my face pressed to a radio, the same joy I knew as a teenager when all the kids at the high school gathered together and walked the streets singing at all the nativities in my home town, the same joy I knew when I was in college and George played the guitar and Darlene sang, the same joy I know when I pull out my flute and play every hymn I know. I could never name all the events that create this cord of the joyous constancy of music in my life.

"Everyone sing. Together we sing."

My prayer from a song from the 12th century, O come, O Come, Emmanuel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Every year I write a Christmas Poem, so here goes.

I wanted to cry tonight
As I sang an old hymn from a millennia ago,
A voice speaking across the gulf of time,
breaking the barriers of now and then.
"Bind in one the hearts of mankind."

O sweet Savior,
Take the cord of truth.
Wrap it around us all.
Pull it tight and tie a knot.

I dream of peace.
I hunger for it.
I'd die for it.

So help me, Lord,
Make me a peacemaker.
Teach me to teach others
of Christ our peace.

And kindly
help me remember --
We will laugh.
We will sing.
We will all see peace.

My prayer
this Christmas
and forever.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Contracts! Scoring Tests! Retiring at 41! Rewriting!

This has been a way busy month for me. I signed my contract with West Cambridge for my little Harcourt social studies book. My book title is News Travels Fast and it is a quick history of communication for first graders. I also was asked to write 5 more books for PLC. That gives me a grand total of 18 books either published or under contract.

I've started work on my next administration for Pearson. I score the written portion of a certain standardized test. Fun, fun and more fun. I was getting ready for cancer surgery last year at this time, so I have no complaints.

I retired as the RA of SCBWI Western Washington this year. It's been a blast working for SCBWI the last three years, but it's time for me to focus on my writing. I so love the beautiful silver necklace that I received as a parting gift. The turtle crossing a book is oh so cute. I also can not wait to spend my Secret Garden Bookshop certificate.

I'm on the last chapters of the rewrite of Fractals. It has been an odyssey but I can see the end of the tunnel. At this point, creatively, I feel like a watermelon rind that has had every bit of pulp munched and nibbled off of it.

"I see now" said Winnie-the-Pooh.
"I have been Foolish and Deluded," said he,"and I am a Bear of No Brain at All."
"You're the Best Bear in All the World," said Christopher Robin soothingly.
"Am I?" said Pooh hopefully. And then he brightened up suddenly.
"Anyhow," he said, "it is nearly Luncheon Time."
So he went home for it.

from Chapter III of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Idaho, deflation and answered prayers.

I went to Idaho for Thanksgiving break with my family. Three teenagers, one child and two parents in a minivan for eight hours. Can you spell disaster? No, really it was one of our best trips ever.

I had a lovely chat with Amanda Bizeau, my niece. Please note that this girl can write and I'm going to in her shadow someday. I read a partial of her book Jazz in Nightshade. She's already weaving magic. Cool.

I learned that special potatoes are grown in Idaho for curly fries. Who knew?

Writing is deflated right now. Not clipping along at light speed. Not even moving at the speed of sound. I'm losing the race to some fast snails.

I keep praying and answers keep coming in slow but wonderful ways. I do not like the whole waiting part of prayer.

Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I Walk The Line and an Accurate HP3 Reveiw

I saw I Walk the Line with Tim tonight. When the Maybelle Carter was out on the porch with the shotgun scaring the drug dealers away, somehow I felt like I was home. This is good movie. I'm too close to Johnny Cash and his music to really buy Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny. Sometimes Joaquin really does catch a inward bit of the Man in Black. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash; he is definitely one of the voices in my head. I'm recommending this movie but I only give it *** out of *****. I remember pulling my car over the day June Carter Cash died and crying. Growing up in my house, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash felt like real people in the neighborhood. June let us all know what it meant to love somebody until they were real. Johnny let us know what real looked like. Least that's the way it seemed.

My sister called me to tell me that she had gone to the premiere of Harry Potter. She said it felt like it was chopped up. The ticket taker at the move theater said the exact same thing. I'm guessing these two early reviews are more accurate than Ebert and Roeper.

Two days running. A new record?

Peace in the valley. someday.

Friday, November 18, 2005


The rewrite is popping today, so I'm treating myself to some blog time.

My book has a life of its own. I, apparently, am now only around for the ride. I talked to my sister about this. It's like a book is its own thing. When I step back and look at it, its not me. It's the book, like it has an internal intelligence that is not a part of me. I feel this satisfaction within, but also an awe of a power within the human spirit to create something that is wholly outside of itself.

Are books alive? They feel that way to me. My hope is my story will resonate with others. I've let my words go and they have become a kind of truth. I hope they have a chance to slip inside of others and give them what so many books have given me. Friends, companionship, entertainment, questions.

Now randomly:

I think I missed my calling in life. I was supposed to be a librarian. I think librarians have the coolest job in the universe. I mean, they read children's books and then put them into the hands of children. I just think its cool to spend your life on the inside of the action of information.

I love the A&E Horatio Hornblower series. I don't have massive cable so I'm always years behind the times when it comes to TV. It just makes me want to cheer when I watch Horatio. It appeals to the simple things in me. I like the romantic view of the world. Truth and honor have brought me far. Sailing ships are just hot! Hip, hip, hooray! We could use a lot more of this in the world.

An old Weavers song is bumping around in my head again:

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

When I was girl, I loved the Weavers, the Kingston Trio and Jimmy Rodgers among others . I had one of those plastic-cased record players. I'd sit and listen to their records for hours. All of their music is in me, speaking to me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I'm a lame poster.

Yes, it's true. I'm as lame as it gets. Twice a month. Ouch.

I got mail this week -- author copies of 5 new books! The covers are beautiful and I will be posting soon.

I've been diagnosed with asthma this last month. This is apparently why I cough my head-off. I'm now immersed in the new world of inhalers. Very handy things.

My rewrite on my novel was buzzing until Chapter 23. Is 23 one of the numbers? I've written myself into a dark little disturbing corner and I don't know the way out.

I got a rejection from a won't be named house. Apparently my short story has a "heavy handed" message with a twist of awful character development mixed in. They liked the chocolate. Yes, I sent chocolate. Hey, I made them read my manuscript -- the bad news, I don't think I like my manuscript either. It's just a dreary piece of exorcist writing -- me, working out the bad dreams that have really happened. I haven't ever found a good story in the bad stuff. I find good story in the victories. I really don't like stories that are a major downer anyway.

The good news is that it is quasi-official that Archimedes invented calculus long before Newton got hit in the head with that apple. At least that's what tonight's Nova episode was about. I'm a Nova addict.

Other important news: I'm not able to keep up with Surface, Threshold and Invasion. I think I like Invasion is the best, but I like William Fitchner. I also had a poster of Shaun Cassidy (producer) on the inside of my record cabinet when I was in the 8th grade. I was a faithful Hardy Boys fan. Threshold has too much "Star Trek" cheese. Surface is like "the most incomprehensible mess" I've ever seen. Ok, that's the Sci-fi wrap up.

On to book news - the next book I'm going to read is "The Liberation of Gabriel King." I will let the world know if I think it is any good.

I want a sign-off thing. I'll start with this. Peace.

Is the sufficiently random for the universe out there?

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Jane O'Connor spoke at our first SCBWI meeting of the 2005-6 season. What a great look at the mass market children's world! I especially loved her take on process. I think approaching editing with enthusiastic vigor is the way to go.

My carpool is also one of the best parts of the meeting. The dedication and excitement of all the folks is energizing.

I'm doing writing prompts this week.

Here is my ode to green.

Frogs, pollywogs, leaves, grass,
sewer sludge, trees, emeralds,
peridot, alligators, crocodiles,
turtles, my eyes, kiwi, lettuce,
and the thick ropy stuff coming out of my nose.

I really don't understand why I love the gross out stuff, but I do.

Friday, September 30, 2005

More rewrites, my bad cold, hives, homework and other Benadryl induced nonsense

I'm still rewriting and rewriting. I'm not a writer. I'm a rewriter.

Sent in my most recent manuscript and am hoping for the best.

I woke up this morning with a specially drippy cold.
My daughter says, "Thank you for that image, Mom."

My son broke out with hives after a trip to McDonald's.
He said, "Mom, I get hives when I go there."
Mom says, "That was only one time."

He broke out with hives from head to foot. Yikes. Mom, listen to your son.

I really hate homework more now than when I was kid. It's been the lifelong bane of my existence.

Head is exploding. I need chocolate. TG for teenagers who caused those chocolate chip cookies to disappear!

I love lotion Kleenex.

Good night. Don't let the bed bugs bite.
Life is but a dream.
Ashes, ashes we all fall down.

I notice we've been teaching kids stuff that makes me worry forever.

Will someone out there comment on my blog? Please!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

L.A., tea, critique groups, rewrites and the whirlwind

I went to L.A. in early August. The Summer SCBWI Conference was a wonderful time. I connected with old friends -- Chris, Sue, Jo, Mary Ann, Vicky, Nancy . . . , there's not enough cyberspace to finish this. Hmm Kevan, you were always at the bar. BTW, congrats on the cover and inside art with Holt. Jazzy. Kudos to Sally (registration) and Kim (critiques). You worked so hard! Gotta love that bookstore, too! Mega kudos to Steve and Lynn. You were wonderful, gracious, inspiring, the usual right stuff. There was good chocolate, yoga (fire alarm, bad), hot tub (sore neck from yoga), SCBWI IDOL (Verla was my favorite), great conversation (hey, Carla, Vicky!). Oh, did I mention the conference? Sonia Levitin did a fabulous talk on researching historical ficiton. And whoa, Brenda Bowen, I will value the process -- I will! Big hand clap for Tim Travaglini -- I was inspired by your attitude. I love what I do, too.

My alpha critique group

I'm taking a few months sabbatical from my critique group. It's hard, but I've got to slow down a touch. It almost makes my teeth hurt though. I miss the conversation.

Rewrites -- from Patti Gauch -- slant, detail. From GCL -- make sure the details make your characters suffer (great advice!). Mrs. Crabtree (Listen.)

The Silver Tea -- What a golden moment! I gathered with a few writer friends and talked about what we are doing, where we are going, who we are -- just lovely. Loved the cream puffs, PKA.

Whirlwind -- School for all four Js started. I'm so busy!

Another amazing thing I didn't know -- the rotation of the moon = the revolution of the moon-- 29 days. Result, we're always looking at the same side of the moon.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Travelogue 2

I had great moments at Chautauqua. I don't think I can name them all, so I'm going to give this the David Letterman treatment.

Ms. Molly's 10 favorite Chautauqua moments in no particular order:

10. When I realized that my roommate was Agy (yellapalooza) from the blue boards.

9. When Pam Ryan (buy her books!) gave me several bags of yummy chai vanilla tea.

8. Talking to Cindy about everything.

7. David driving me to the hospital after my almost famous moment when I went head over heels off my bike while looking at the lake.

6. Patty Gauch (Philomel). Jerry Spinelli (buy his books). Stephen Roxburgh (Front Street). Ok, you know, who ever is around.

5. Picking blueberries and chatting it up over barbecue.

4. Hanging with Becky. Everyone, check out The Moo Cow Fan Club. It rocks!

3. Seeing the body of an extinct Carolina parakeet at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.

2. The Summer House, my home away from home.

1. The Highlight's Foundation Writers Workshop. Follow the links, really, GO!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I'm back from my cross country adventures. 7 states, 7 airports, one hospital, two hotels, my first limo ride, I can't count how many barbecues, and soooo many new friends, old friends, ooooh and lots of inspiration. I call it all "Ms. Molly's Wild Ride!"

First, I visited the Writer's Workshop in Chautauqua. After a 24 hour cross country journey (can you say thunderstorm and Dallas three times fast?) I landed in the Buffalo airport, and it was as impressive as I expected it to be. My friend Louise warned me that Buffalo doesn't smell very good. She was right. I stumbled out the door into sweltering heat and a waiting shuttle, then to a nameless hotel. I slept for almost four hours and then stumbled out the door of nameless hotel (I still don't know how to turn on the shower and I'm waiting for my bible :( -- left it beside the bed.) I took the shuttle back to the airport and met David Cohn (Hi, David!). He stuffed a handful of tags in my hand and sent me out the door to another shuttle. I was off to see the wizards, the wonderful wizards of Chautauqua. I arrived at the the Hall of Christ and dropped my bags in front of the Summer House sign. I began to look around this strange new world. Everyone was riding bikes up and down the narrow streets. Open forums, stone buildings, stacks of verandas, riotous blooming flowers, playful sculptures, everyone saying hi and smiling, kids running and playing everywhere. There was this lake down the hill and jaunty sailboats bouncing in the water, more kids screaming and playing, a graceful old hotel looking over the water and then the bell tower started to ring. My long held suspicion must be true. I had been taken from my real parents at birth! My real parents were from this place of cute houses, like the one with daylilies blooming in the front yard and the bikes piled on the side with cornflower blue (just like the crayon) gingerbread trim. OK, my parents are from Texas, but that was just a mild oversight of the universe. Honestly I don't know that I have ever been to a place that felt so much like home. My first impression of Chautauqua. More to come.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Writer Seeking Inspiration.

I'm leaving the wilds of Woodinville in a few hours. I'm off to the Chautauqua for a week of inspiration. Thanks to a generous scholarship from the Highlights Foundation.

I'm all moved by the von Karman Vortex Street- I want my writing to reflect the vast power, beauty and complexity of turbulent wind.

Monday, July 04, 2005


I love a good conversation. I always want to hear a good story, a frightening experience, a rip-roaring tale, a tear-jerker! I'm up for it all. I'm glad it's the Fourth. All the storytellers come out of woodwork around now and let the tall tales fly.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Loved Batman Begins

Whoa, I loved this movie. I am not a Batman fan. Don't really read many graphic novels. When the credits started rolling, my first thought, I want to see this movie again. Brooding millionaire who thinks he's got problems, traveling the world searching for ? ? ? -- exactly what the girl next door told him in the first place. He falls in with the wrong side, but doesn't give in. Hooray for good parenting. The supporting cast made this movie for me, Liam Neeson as the evil overlords of the shadows. Rutger H. plays the man into the money. Morgan F. is the genius. Michael C. !!! is Alfred - I hope everyone has someone who believes in them like that. I think that's what moved me the most, the power of believing in a person. Gary O. was just brilliant. He is quite the character actor. He just disappears into whatever part he was playing. And the bats!!!! Wow, I loved the bats. I've liked Christian Bale for forever and he's good in this part and Katie Holmes was properly distressed. I don't know how to give stars, so ' Again' says La la.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Rainbow Promises.

I submitted to the Highlights contest for the 1oth time. I lost for the tenth time. I have seen an inordinate number of rainbows recently. I see rainbows as promises. I keep looking up and seeing all that refracted light, ROY G BIV in living color, and my insides get all hopeful. It's a nice feeling.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cinderella Man

Good morning, Universe! I saw Cinderella Man this past weekend.

I thought, "Oooh, I like Russell Crowe - I'm still breathing -- but boxing??? still, Renee' is from Texas and that Paul guy, he's always interesting."

I loved this movie. I was so wrapped up in it I was ready to light a candle for Jim. This was about destiny, true purpose, staying the course, and risking everything for your chosen profession. It's about believing things will work out. Just wonderful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Stories surround me.

1. A man in a suit riding a unicycle in a supermarket parking lot. He puts the unicycle away and gets out some clubs to juggle. I ask him if he is a clown and he says, "No, it's his lunch break."

2. At a light, two black dogs in the back of a car barking at a laughing man standing on the side walk.

3. An old man who walks to the park every day in his overalls. He is always smiling.

4. My son telling me Dad really wants to help with the homework, and we should stop working so they can work when Dad gets home from work.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Throwing words in the flames.

I always feel like I'm the guy shoveling the coal on a train in one of those old b&w westerns. I don't shovel coal. I shovel words. Lots of words. I keep throwing them into the flames and hoping to purify the essence of what I'm trying to say. I also mine the coal, drag it on to the train with my bare hands and then shovel it into the fire. I'm on a steep hill and the train is at a complete stop. "I think I can. I think I can."Ooh, a children's book is helping me over this hill, too!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I just received the first copies of my books. I really love the watercolors here. I'm just totally jazzed about writing books that will help kids read!  Posted by Hello

My mother's day portrait! Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Kingdom of Heaven

As a writer, I find all media moves me. I saw the Kingdom of Heaven last night directed by Ridley Scott, starring Orlando Bloom (he just not quite rugged enough for me) -- but still I liked this movie. I like the kingdom being within the mind and heart and not in a pile of dusty rocks in the middle of a far away desert. This is the kind of movie that draws story out of me. It makes me ask questions. I don't sleep well. I wake up early thinking about long ago and the horrible things people have faced. I think of the grace that people have found. Something inside me wants to tell stories like that, to stir up people, to not sugar coat our universe and open the doors to good questions.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Catching a zephyr

My writing journey continues to surprise me. I think it's rough seas and then the skies part and my sails have caught a zephyr. I was able to spend some time with wonderful people over the weekend. SCBWI Western Washington's 14th Annual Conference really energized me. I rubbed shoulders with so many great folks -- Janet Lee Carey (she defines ethereal) , Dianne Hess, Jeanette Larson, Katherine Grace Bond (a soul asking all the right questions), Kathryn Galbraith (the heart of language), David Patneaude (knows what kids are about), Justina Chen Headley(hip, heartfelt, wonderful), Kirby Larson (making the world a better place), Janet Stevens (everyone should be having this much fun), Marion Dane Bauer (exploring the resiliency of the human heart), Scott Piehl, Wendy McClure (ROFLOL and sooo saavy and brave), Julie Romeis--there is no way to list out all the wonderful people that I was able to connect with! I guess the deepest thing that hit me was the absolute joy it is to be with people who care as much about children's literature as I do. I love to hear people talk about their lives, their projects, their hopes, tragedies, and, best of all, the stories they love. I feel that I'm on endless adventure -- I always call it -- "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Turn down an empty glass

And when like her, oh, Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One--turn down an empty Glass!

from the Rubaiyat

Omar Khayyam is one of my favorite writers. I've kept a copy of The Rubaiyat by me for over thirty years. This poem was written about a 1000 years ago and yet it speaks to me. The language, the reflection. It's a shifting mirror that I never tire of looking at.

I became a fan of many classics as a teenager. I was definetly an odd bird. At the age of sixteen, I was ROFLOL over the comedies of Shakespeare. It's hard to pick a favorite comedy, but I think it's As You Like It. Mark Twain and O. Henry's short stories were piled up by my bed. I liked tragedies too. I memorized the first scene of Antigone and read the play over and over. I wanted to be like Antigone, to not listen anyone and follow my love and passion. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand was another favorite. Whoa, Roxane and Cyrano, I'm still crying about that. Jack London's short stories haunt me. Jack had a power in his stories that shook me to me core and made question exactly what is humanity anyway.

I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I read it so many times my copy fell apart. I read the complete works of Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Carl Sandberg. These four voices are inside my head and they speak to me in varied ways all the time.

This is just the tip of iceberg of all the stories that have moved me as a teenager.

Still the anchor is Khayyam, and during my most reflective moments, I turn down an empty glass for him.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


So today is Easter for Christians. I'm not much of a holiday sort, dyed in the wool protestant here. I protest holidays. Though some weird creature-- a pink rabbit -- did visit my closet and leave an unhealthy amount of chocolate. My daughter bit the head off her candy bunny and said she didn't want anything to do with a bunny who brought baskets of toys for little kids and lame white chocolate bunnies for teenagers. My son added that chocolate wrapped around caramel wasn't his favorite. Then I had to spend half an hour picking the chocolate out of the carpet. My youngest son wrote "Happy Easter Meal" on his Easter eggs. At dinner, he said at his favorite Indian restaurant he had a glass made out real glass, but at home he only gets plastic. He still toasted everything from the meal we ate to the fine wine were drinking at least 10 times. (We are teetotatlers. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was apple juice.) After the tasty ham, shrimp bites and tiny pickles, we all took a nap -- my favorite part of the celebration.

On writing. I'm fearful my blog is boring. I mean, I'm so provincial. I've never been cool, hip or cutting edge. I really don't see that starting now. So I think I will continue to waddle along with the blog as it stands, but (because I can read) I am now going to start adding cool links to stuff that is cool, hip and cutting edge.

First, Libba Bray. The first time I met her I laughed so hard I almost had to sit down. She activated my Wonder Twin powers, so check out someone who really understands blogging, Libba Bray. Let me take a minute and plug her book. An editor - not her editor - (K. L.) mentioned a while back Great and Terrible Beauty was delicious, something to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. I concur. Now move on to Cynthia Leitich Smith, another blogger extrodinaire. If you wish to laugh until breathing is no longer a skill that you possess, I recommend Wendy McClure and her Weight Watcher Cards.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


It's so hard to just remember to breathe. Hey, I'm stuffing the writing in between carpool, choir concerts, homework help, housecleaning, laundry, yoga, volunteering, yard work, sweeping the roof. Remember, breathe.

I love the earliest part of writing. For me it's when I see something that moves me -- like the old man charging through town with the walking stick hooked behind his arms, or neighbor kids having a tea party under the mailboxes, or four girls with rainbow colored hair singing four part harmony at Dairy Queen. The world is full of stories. Remember, breathe.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Children writer's issues

Is the tooth fairy real? Do leprechauns exist? What about the Easter bunny?

These are very stressful questions for the children's writer because we want to believe. Our imaginations are full of 'real' pretending. We know the truth. They are probably not real, but we can't imagine life without make believe.

Monday, March 14, 2005


I think one of the big mom skills is peacemaker.

I hear a crash in the living room. As an experienced mom, I can tell the "rough-housing and someone got hurt" crash instantly from the "I tripped over that Goodwill box" crash. I can also tell from the intensity of the crash if it will be necessary to intervene, time to dig in my box of hats (cook, housecleaner, laundress, plumber, teacher, chauffeur, nurse, confidant, police, diplomat, trade negotiator, humanitarian, peacemaker, etc.) and swoop into the living room to bring peace.

"Mom, he hit me."
"She kicked me."
"He pushed first."
"I needed the computer."
"I was on first."

This of course is a simple "flaming computer time war." Not a problem for families with one child, but our house has a 2 to 1, kid to computer ratio.

So the peacemaker is at work.

Have jobs been performed and homework completed?

This tactic of making people personally accountable for what they need to do right now solves many skirmishes and often results in the dishes being washed or the nasty stuff on the bathroom floor being scraped up.

If personal accountability questions are answerable, we move to advanced peace talks.

How long has the computer been used? What is the computer going to be used for?
Resources are scarce in this world and need to be used wisely. Conservation is the key tool of the peacemaker. Checking ranks over joining an online fight fest. Iming for a school project shoots over iming about who's hot in the lunch room.

If this tactic is not effective, a hardy peacemaker must move to the rights versus priviledges argument. Rights include food, shelter and piano lessons. Priviledges include computer games, mall trips and, yes, computer time.

"But no, Mom!"

If active negotiations break down. Kids stamp out of the room and doors slam all over the house.
The peacemaker makes a cup of hot calming tea and waits for re-negotiation, usually takes about the time it takes to brew a cup of tea and drink it.

Just remember -- blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

On justice and peace.

Children's writers are in the center of justice and peace. This is our business. I think its about hope and love with a good measure of the mythic questions -- Who are we? What do we want? Where are we going? It's all good.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

FYI: Dialing Cell Phones

FYI I'm just disturbed that we dial cell phones. We don't. We punch numbers. No one has dialed a phone in a million years. I remember those phones. Once I called Austraila by accident because I liked to watch the dial thingy spin.

Monday, March 07, 2005

10 things I have done that you have not.

1. When I was a teenager my parents forgot to pick me up from a 4-H meeting. I fell asleep on the courtyard steps, rolled down the stairs and under the bushes and was arrested for vagrancy.

2. In high school, I was questioned by the police for terrorism. I was staying with my aunt and someone blew up her mail box. I was accused of doing it.

3. On the first day of my first job after college, I hung up my very new suit above a space heater and brushed my teeth. When I opened my eyes, I realized the suit was incinerated and the bathroom was in flames.

4. I was in 70 mile per hour rollover accident on a major freeway with 7 family members. I was driving. All lived.

5. I broke the window of my car because the key wouldn't work in the door. That's when I noticed it wasn't my car.

6. I worked as a journeyman plumber to finance my college education.

7. I was driving a group of kindergartens on a field trip when I was caught in the cross fire between the police and some bank robbers.

8. Once, I was reading a book while crossing a street and was hit by a moped. Ouch.

9. My father gave me permission to go with any aliens that ever wanted to abduct me. I'm still waiting.

10. My parrot was killed accidentally. It involved a net, a water hose, a 911 call and the fire department. There is a group of first graders who will also need therapy for life.

OK, if anyone watches Lost, they are going to think I'm a Hurley clone. And I don't have a clue what those numbers mean. I'm writing them backwards to stay safe -- 42, 23, 16, 15, 8, 4.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Ah, Janet Wong on poetry. Why do I forget the important things? I needed to be reminded again that poetry is about our emotions. No wonder everyone is telling me to get my PB out of rhyme. It's not about emotions. It's about problem solving. I need to seek fun, sparse language, but no rhyme. I feel freer. I love knowledge. It really does set you free.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Write every day

This advices keeps coming again and again. It is true. We must write every day. This is where craft is perfected.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Be Yourself

Hey, they've been telling this to me since I was in kindergarten. I forget sometimes. I keep on trying to be them, and I keep on failing at it. I've got a favorite question, "Are you who you want to be?" Do you remember high school and cliques? What clique did you fit into to? Were you a plastic? Were you a diva? Were you a brain? Were you a jock? Mall rat? Were you an outsider?

We all know in a heartbeat who we were. This is some important info! I was an outsider. I used to hate this, but now I realize I was a rare bird. The saying goes, "birds of a feather flock together." If you are rare, the flocks are few and far between. You will often have to flock with other kinds of birds. They do not understand you. You know you are a different kind of bird.

I remember watching flocks of snow geese as a girl. There would be thousands of snow geese in the flock. They were so loud; it sounded like the fans at a professional baseball game, winning the World Series. I'd sit with my binoculars and watch birds that did not fit. You know the weird ones. The ones that weren't snow geese. You couldn't hear them. You could have only heard them, if they had been alone.

So here it is, from my first teacher -

"Molly, be yourself," said Mrs. Crabtree. "But be still."
"I will try," I said.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Why I write books -- a seven year old perspective.

"Mom, I want to go to Hawaii!" J4 said.
"I want to go too," I said.
"I want to buy Hawaiian shirts and bring them back to people," J4 said.
"I want to sleep on the beach," I said, "and show you burning hot lava."
"You, Dad, me, J1, J2, J3 could all go," J4 said.
"We are not going to Hawaii," I said. "It's too expensive."
"But I actually want to go to Hawaii," J4 said. "I have never been there."
"But we can't afford it," I said.
"I just want to go to Hawaii!" J4 said.
"We don't have the money," I said.
"I mean later, when we have the money," J4 said.
"Where will we get the money?" I asked.
"Save your dollars," J4 said. "Is it called dollars or cents?"
"Dollars," I said. J4 is very picky about the technical details.
"When you get a 100 dollars, save it!" J4 said. Very good advice, yeah for the parent module.
"Who will give me 100 dollars ?" I asked.
"The library will give you a thousand dollars!" J4 replied.
"Libraries loan books not money," I said.
"How have you gotten money before?" J4 asked.
"I've sold books," I said.
"Do that again," J4 said. "Save the money, and then we can go to Hawaii."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Process

I like for my work to get away from me. To find a life of its own. When someone reads my words and says, "Ah, ha," and then gets something I never intended from what I wrote, I feel that I am finding success. My writing is more than I am. It's saying more than I can say. I don't specifically know how this happens, but I do know it happens in the process. Day after day, year after year, word after word, and the hidden meanings rush in and wrap around my stories. I sit back and laugh. My work has gotten away! What will happen now?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

My query letter guru

Read a great query letter article at It's an article by Roger Allen MacBride. I laughed so hard, I spit. I really think the store-brand of aluminum foil makes me safer from alien abduction. That should stop those rejection letters!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

No Time For Losing

Yesterday was a great working day! I was able to churn out 1000 words of my new novel, Prophet. I brought another novel through a full revision. That book is feeling very together.

I love the process of writing, cutting into the rough craziness of a first draft. The form is so free. It feels like processing clay into something you can work with.

I also love most of the revision process, sans grammar. Layering in depth by word choice is a favored job. Adding a phrase that just showcases my protagonist, facets my antagonist, strengthens the plot, reveals my theme -- I feel like I've done something cool like painted the Sistine Chapel or something. I'm putting the final touches on a work of art. The work is bigger than me. I've said more than I can know. Very cool.

"No time for losing, we are champions of world." It's that rush you feel after a great accomplishment.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fox in Sox, Sir.

I read Fox in Sox to my son the night before last.

He said, "We have a lot of Dr. Seuss books."

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." I knew these words before I knew much. It's the same for my kids.

I want to publish humorous picture books. I've even written a rhyming one. I just can't make the project fly. I've been working on it for ten years with no luck. Many editors have commented on the humor of my picture book but feel that the rhyme is uneven. I've done everything I know to make the rhyme work. It's not working. I'm going to a conference with Janet Wong in a week or so. She worked with poetry teacher icon, Myra Cohn Livingston, and is a wonderful poet. Maybe something will wear off and I will be able to close this chapter in my picture book writing. I do feel I have something special going in this story.

"But my tongue is numb, Sir."

Sunday, February 20, 2005


My website is less lame, but I have managed to avoid my stories all day long.
I wonder if I am afraid or just discouraged.

At the NY SCBWI Winter Conference, Jerry Spinelli mentioned that it might be a good idea to write 100 memories that have stuck with you over time. They must be something that will move you emotionally. I'm going to write that today, because I have lost heart for other things.

I'm glad tommorow is another day with no mistakes in it.


I don't wholly understand the writing business. It makes farming look like 'flash in the pan', quick work. I have 3 queries that have been out for more than a year each. I have a picture book that has been out for more than a year. I gave an exclusive to an agent for a month on a book, but it's been two months, and I haven't heard back. She did let me know in early February that she is still looking at my book. Still I don't like the selling piece of the writing business. I'm not a great salesman. I always feel uncomfortable, awkward, and just basically horrible at it. I haven't made a major submission since December. I've been writing a series of educational books, haven't had time for much else. I wish I had a magic wand that would show me the path I should take.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Follow the white rabbit.

I believe that procrastination is a fine art. It must be studied carefully to be wholly understood. It takes hours to perfect procrastination. I think blogging must be one of the tools that I have lacked in my perfection of my craft. With blogging, I can stop working. I can follow every white rabbit I want to.

On writing, going to submit to the Highlights contest again. This is the 10th time. I have lost soundly every time for 10 years. I anticipate losing again. Still I like my story.

Well, off to more profitable use of my time.

Follow the yellow brick road.

That seems like as good a place to start as any. I'm blogging. Honestly I've been doing this my whole life. I've been using the outmoded technology of paper and pen. It's time to step into the new millennium. I've been writing for children for about 10 years. I'm finally going to be published. My first books are coming out next month. I hear from a rather reputable source (big name author) that writing basal readers is really lame, alas I have written 2. I don't know -- it feels good to me. I'm currently taking a breather from my next set of basal readers. Does anyone out there have a clue what basal means? I sold all nine of these books the day I learned that I was cancer free. That was the day before Christmas. It was a very wonderful moment.

Hmm. I keep sending out manuscripts and hoping.

Favorite quotes:

There was never much hope, only a fool's hope. (Tolkien)
I can still hop. (Katherine Paterson)

Lots to say. Will meander through it all over time.