Books Bandwagon

The new year started and I noticed a trend I’ll call the Books Bandwagon. It’s a listing of all the books someone’s read in the past year, and I decided to hop on. Looking back at the books I read in 2019, I realized I enjoy a variety of genres: middle grade, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and self-help. Not listed, but even more important to me, are the picture books I read and studied.

Hon, have you read any of these books? Do you have any favorites?

Planet Earth is Blue by  Nicole Panteleakos

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Tatooist of Auschwitz:  A Novel by Heather Morris

Dopesick by Beth Macy

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Educated:  A Memoir  by Tara Westover

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

The Joke Machine by Theresa Julian

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine:  A Novel by Gail Honeyman

Eat, Pray, Love:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro

The Path Made Clear:  Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Inspirational (and Funny) Poem for Picture Book Writers

Shout out to Derick Wilder, founder of Fit Lit Kids (Its mission is to “provide the highest quality in educational programs that are focused on Fitness and ​Literacy… and sometimes both at the same time!”) for allowing me to post his inspirational  poem for picture book writers. He shared it on KIDLIT411, a Facebook group/website with sources for Kidlit people.

Favorite line: “umm…giant anteater!” 


May there always be time

to write and revise.

May you learn from the lows,

and rejoice in the highs.


May your stories be stuffed

with laughter and smiles.

May then end up on top

of all the slush piles.


May the right words emerge

and flow like sunshowers.

May your plotlines engage

and sprout like sunflowers.


May your narrative soar,

in verse or in prose.

May your “yesses” outweigh

your “maybes” or “nos.”


May your characters teem

with humor and heart.

May you never forget–

leave room for the art.


May your rhymes (unlike this)

be perfect in meter.

May your couplets make sense

umm…giant anteater.


May your journey be long,

response times be short.

May critique groups provide

advice and support.


May your misses be few,

your hits be plenty.

May your kidlit dreams bloom

in 2020!


Suburban Watering Hole

Midnight at the Suburban Watering Hole.

One water bowl. So many sippers!

Who knew Midnight’s water bowl would attract so many animals? On any given day, I expect one, two, or even three stray cats to stop by. And sure, Lucy our barking, rambunctious beast (Midnight’s view of her), laps Midnight’s water, but why does she have to inhale the cat kibble, grab the dish, take a bite out of it, and scatter it willy nilly in the yard? Hon, I digress.

Back to the bowl.

I suspected extra visitors when the water in the bowl started, mysteriously, appearing dirty every morning. Who was washing paws or taking a bath in the bowl? Not the blue jays, who squawked and fought for a nibble of kibble during the day. Could it be mice? Chipmunks? Groundhogs? Foxes? Wild turkeys? Our neighborhood coyote?

Then, one morning, footprints were imprinted in the planks! “Aha!” I said, “Raccoons! So, I turned to authorities on the subject–umm, I mean the KidLit Twitter community–and asked,

“Are those footprints more than circumstantial evidence?”

“That raccoon was framed! If the pawprints don’t fit, you must acquit!” answered @BrobergMatthew.

(Hmm…much chin scratching.)

Later that night, I attempted to catch the culprits by flicking on the outdoor light. Who did I see but two opossums circling the food dish?! Not just any two opossums, but one enormous opossum mommy and her joey. The mommy was about the size of a twenty pound dog! Looking up the size of female opossums, I found out females aren’t that big. So, now I wonder…

…Do daddy oppossums take their joeys out for a midnight snack?!

Peace in Waves, “The Sea To Me – The Lewis Sisters”

2020 is brand new and I already need sorbet for my mind. The onslaught of bad news domestically and internationally leaves me searching for peacefulness. I came across “The Sea To Me – The Lewis Sisters,” a short video on Vimeo with lovely images and music, which speaks to my love of the beach and ocean.

I hope it gives you a moment’s peace, too.

Happy watching, hon.

Vimeo’s description of the video:

Three sisters, born and raised in Cornwall, Lottie, Monica and Bryony each enjoy their own connection with the water; writing about it, surfing on it, and swimming beneath it. They have travelled far and wide to feed their deep personal relationships with the sea and together, they continue push each other to take on ever greater challenges.

Click here to watch the video. 


The Sea To Me – The Lewis Sisters (Subtitled Version) from Finisterre on Vimeo.

A Dose of Happy! Dear Sense by Louis the Child Music Video

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2020! I’m re-posting this music video, directed and animated by my daughter, Morgan for Louis the Child’s song, Dear Sense because its get-up-and-dance-music, pop color, cool animation, and Warhol-esque graphics are a dose of happy energy.

Thanks for watching, hon!

Fabulous Flooring, Published in Elegant Lifestyles Magazine

How are flooring and a throat on fire related?

I learned enough researching finishes for “Fabulous Flooring, Timeless and Trending,” published in the December issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, that when Hubby and I were in London, I could tell the type of distressing done on our hotel’s wide wood plank floors. I highly recommend the St. Ermin’s Hotel, which is in walking distance to Westminster Abbey, not just for the wood floors and stylish rooms, but for the service.

When I woke up in the middle of the night with my throat on fire, I knew I had strep throat. We were supposed to be touring the city that day and taking an overnight ferry to France the next, so I needed to see a doctor asap! What to do? 

The concierge was as helpful as could be! He called doctor’s offices, found one nearby, and scheduled an appointment. I was in and out with an antibiotic in hand. Amazing!

Hon, have you ever gotten sick on vacation? What did you do?


Little Women, Lovely and Moving

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.

The newest movie version of Little Women, based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel featuring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen as the four March sisters, left me weeping. So beautiful! So emotional! It wasn’t just the costumes, setting and lighting that made this version lovely; the character development and story ensured I root for each sister.

Jo March’s need to put words to paper touched me deeply, and witnessing the creation of her book mirrored my own desire to bring my stories to life. I wept as the pages were printed, paper folded, spine sewn, cover glued, and title embossed. Though the time period is different, her dream is my dream and, in wanting to be more than what society expects, a wish for the ages.

Hon, have you seen it? What did you think?

Alcott’s novel was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, with the first volume following the March sisters—Jo, Mary, Beth, and Amy—throughout their childhood growing up in Massachusetts and the second volume picking up with the characters in adulthood. Instead of presenting the story in two halves, [Greta] Gerwig’s film layers the past and the present throughout the entire movie, flashing back and forth in an attempt to compare and contrast the characters in these two different periods of their lives.

The result is a wildly emotional and deeply impactful piece of storytelling, as the naiveté and endless possibilities of childhood stand in stark contrast to the harsh realities of navigating the world as an adult—and as an adult woman in the 1860s at that. by  for