Archive for December, 2010

Also, it never hurts to have a mantra…

Friday, December 31st, 2010

For 2011, my mantra will be:

Just enjoy it– Whatever “it” is.

To do list for 2011…

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

I was just thinking about the upcoming year, and what I hope to accomplish in it, so I thought I’d share my plans:

1. I will finish the book of poems I’m working on, with care.

2. I will exercise for the first time in five years.  Hopefully more than once.  (I joined a dance school, unlike any dance school I’ve ever set foot in, and I’m excited!)

3. I will plant some things in my yard, and not neglect them immediately after.

4. I will take road trips with my entire little family of four, get to know our adopted home state.

5. I will enroll the boys in religious school and be involved with that.

6. I will do some house projects that require me to learn new skills. Maybe learn to tile?

7. I will attend readings that have nothing to do with ME, just because it is very good to listen.

8. I will go on dates with my husband, at least once a month.  We’ll go see some music!

Basically, the deal is that the last five years have been years of BIG CHANGE. My career and my family have gone through major awesome fun and exciting upheaval.  But now we’re pretty nicely settled. I have my book contract for the year, and Chris has his job, and we have our house, and the boys are doing so so well.  So now it is time to focus on the daily, the weekly, the local.  There will never be a better time to get into shape, or save money, or develop a hobby.  So my goal for 2011 is to just live, and live as contentedly as I can.

What do you want from 2011? What do you plan to do differently?

To remember in 2011…

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Poetry does not have to be profound, only precise.

December tidbits…

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

PENNY is a Smithsonian Notable Book for 2010!

She’s also one of HuffPo’s Reader’s Picks for the Holidays! (with great thanks to whatever readers suggested her)

Also, both BAXTER and PENNY are reprinting right now!

And BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX officially (or at least digitally) exists in the world, according to the internets!so does GOOD NIGHT, LAILA TOV!

In other news, Publishing Perspectives picked up my story about going out of print!

But most of all… bigger than any publishing news…

Mose and Lewis have discovered HE-MAN!  And they HAVE THE POWER!

Lord help us all.

On Being Santa…

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I wrote something this week for Killing the Buddha, my favorite website in the universe. About Santa…

“Mommy?” Mose says, “I think I want Santa to bring me a Transformer instead of Playmobil.” He tells me this soberly. He ponders the gravity of his decision and nods, “Yes, I do. I want a Bumblebee Transformer.”

Hmm. Okay.

How do I explain that he’ll be sorely disappointed if he gets his hopes up? Is this the moment I explain that we don’t believe in Santa, that Santa is something other (nicer) parents do for their kids? Or do I let him be angry at Santa on December 25th, instead of pissed at me?

The VERY Best way to Go Out of Print!!!

Monday, December 13th, 2010

This is a story about something that started out sad, but then ended up happy!

The sad thing was a letter I got in the mail, informing me that my first novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, was going out of print in hardcover.  This was awful to read. My little book, which took me 10 years to write, was dying (at least in hardcover) after a short two year run. My poor book!

But the letter went on to explain that before the boxes of books sold to “remainder” at auction (so that they might go to live at Big Lots or somewhere equally magical, if not to a chipper. Eek!), I would be able to buy some copies. As many as I wanted. VERY CHEAPLY!


This got me thinking about all the emails I’ve been getting all fall, about how RIF is having its funding cut, and about how libraries are being closed, and about how some kids have little-to-no books in the home.  So I asked how many books they had in the warehouse.  They told me about 800 copies were left. 800 copies.  Only 800?

So I did something INSANE! I pulled out my credit card and bought every last book. EVERY SINGLE COPY!

Ever wonder what 800 books looks like, in the back of a Honda Oddyssey?  It looks like this!

Indeed, you CAN fit 800 books, 2 small kids, and all your groceries (up front) in a mini-van. But you’ll ride REAL LOW!

So then, once I had the books, I took them to some friends of mine.

First, and most importantly, I took a lot of books to Joe Davich, at the INCREDIBLE Georgia Center for the Book, at the Decatur Library. He offered to help the books find homes in libraries across the state, so that I wouldn’t have to pay shipping costs to get my books into the hands of readers.

YAY, JOE!  Not only did he accept the books, and help them find a home, he put up with my adorable kids taking his picture and “helping” him. Which went something like this:

Don’t worry, I helped too!!!

After we finished “helping” Joe, we headed over to the best bookstore in the universe, Little Shop of Stories, where Diane Capriola (because devoted indie bookstore owners don’t have enough to do) had generously offered to store and deliver another few hundred copies for me, to a wonderful 4th grade class, so that the kids could all have a book to take home for the holidays.  Yay, Glenwood Academy!!! (and yay, Diane!)

(Seriously, I can’t imagine this town without Diane and Dave and Krista and everyone else at LSOS)

Finally, I was down to a few boxes, so I ran by the elementary schools in my own neighborhood, and dropped off copies with some awesome media specialists. They were all about as friendly and nice as they could possibly be. I promised to go back and visit soon, at Toomer Elementary and Parkside Elementary and Burgess Elementary and the Neighborhood Charter school too!

And so now I’m done.  The car is empty, and the money is spent, but the books… the books… the books are where I wanted them to be all along. From the moment I began writing.  The books are with kids.

Because some bookshelves look like this.

And they really don’t need to.

This spring I’m going to sit down and try to think of a way to help other authors do what I’ve done. I have in mind a matching program, to pair donors and authors up, to buy books at hugely reduced rates, and then coordinate the gift through a library system or school that would handle distribution.

This cost me a lot of money, but when I think of 800 books getting into the hands of kids who don’t have enough access to books, it feels like it cost me almost nothing.

And if I can only find a clever accountant to help me write some of this off, I’ll do it all again the NEXT time I go out of print.

I can hardly wait!!!!


Tuesday, December 7th, 2010






And the candles are gleaming and glowing, and dancing too.  Though the house is a mess and the larder in bare and my laundry is in a heap. And the dog needs a walk and the cat needs some food and the bills are in a pile and all the while the kids are saying mommy mommy mommy we need some noodles and lookit what this knight can do and ow i fell down and he hit me and i want a cookie and can we go to the park and… and… and…

You know what?  It’s the nicest thing ever.

Up in the air!!!

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I’m on a plane right now, flying to St Louis, for a Baxter & Half/Life event. Expecting to have an interesting afternoon because this is a new sort of gig for me. I’ll be reading to kids, and then talking to grownups too, about intermarriage/December conundrums.  And there’s music to boot! Yes, I expect it will be awesome…

But the reason it will be most awesome is that today is my LAST reading/event of the fall.

Tonight, when I stumble in the door, bleary-eyed, I’ll be home for good. Or at least for a few months.  I’m happy about that.  I can’t tell you how happy…

This fall has been amazing. And soon, once I’ve caught up with my stack of work-to-do, I’ll post about all the adventures I’ve had.  But most of all, this fall has been an educational experience for me.

It turns out that flying around the country and sleeping in hotels and eating out all the time… is not so glamorous at all.  I’ve loved meeting all the kids, and bookstore people, and teachers, and parents, and the JCCs I’ve visited have been wonderful hots, and the friends I’ve seen… it’s been a joy.  I’ve loved sharing my books with so many people. I’ve been honored by interviews and reviews.

But I’m a mom and a writer. So really, I only want to parent and write.  I have an outline for a new book I need to begin thinking about, a companion to BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX.  I have sketches I need to look at, for a new picture book called GOOD NIGHT, LAILA TOV.  I have edits I need to read, so I can revise another picture book, WALK TO THE WIDE SKY…  I have poems I need to revise and order.  Indeed, I have tons of exciting things to be working on.

But mostly, I miss the daily work of my home and kids.  I want to light a fire, read some books with Lewis and Mose. I want to bake some brownies.  I want to take the boys to Holy Taco for chicken soup. I want to do all the things I haven’t been able to make time for.  The regular stuff.

Mose said to me, as I left the house at 6 am, in the dark, “See you tonight Mom. After the candles gleam and glow.”

I don’t like missing the candles.