Mourning

Tuesday we said goodbye to relatives after a wonderful four day weekend. A short time after the airport drops, I made my last pilgrimage to The Yellow Book Road.

A sad, sad sight. But there's still gold inside.

I wanted to cry both times.

The goodbyes to the relatives will last until we can all gather again. The goodbye to The Yellow Book Road is forever. There are so many memories around that very special book store.

The store started small atop a doctor’s office. I held my toddler’s hand as we climbed the outside steps and first discovered this book lovers’ dream.

Years later, when a parent couldn’t remember how to spell my last name (few can) on a gift certificate for classroom books, a staff member assured her, “That’s okay, we know how to spell it.” Earned me serious parent points.

Ann and David have been very supportive of readers of all ages including parents learning how to read to active toddlers, teachers and schools, and local authors.

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

When I returned to writing, Ann answered questions. I learned that pigs can sell, but poultry not so much. In my search for the best way to communicate “polar bear” without using the word “bear” or resorting to “the large arctic mammal who hunts seals on ice floes”, Ann suggested “polar cousin.” (The Grizzly’s Christmas explains why I couldn’t use the word “bear”.)

Miranda Marks' first illustration for The Grizzly's Christmas.

Miranda Marks’ first illustration for The Grizzly’s Christmas.

Tuesday was my last chance to see them and look through the books. As you might imagine, they were using a fraction of their shelves. As you might not imagine, there were still plenty of wonderful books to discover. I believe that reflects their ability to choose the worthwhile from an overwhelming range of available titles.

Wednesday the doors closed. Now San Diego has no children’s bookstore.

Tuesday’s goodbyes leave an ache too deep for chocolate. Where to turn for consolation?

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

 

 

I’m looking for my copy of The Relatives Came so I can reread the lines about all the breathing together in the house and missing family until next year.

While I might be too old for a teddy bear, I’m not too old to find comfort in bear books. So right here, right now you can read about two of my last purchases at the Best Little Bookstore in California.

Old Bear & His CubOld Bear and His Cub was written and illustrated by Oliver Dunrea (wish I could do both) and published by Philomel Books in 2010. I’d read this book once before but didn’t buy it because I was sort of being a purist about bears, and male bears are actually a danger to cubs.

Then I saw The Bear, a film from the late 80’s that stars Bart. (Netflix lists the three human actors, but I couldn’t find them in the credits at the end of the film–just Bart and the cub.)

When a cub’s mother is killed in a rock slide, the cub searches for protection. The old male doesn’t volunteer, but the cub persists and the bear finally allows the cub to tag along. The movie showed some natural bear behaviors that I had read about but hadn’t seen–including how a cub elicits help.

I tried Old Bear and His Cub again. Once I’d lost my previous bias, I found an endearing story about the reciprocity of caring. It’s a book you might want to check out for Father’s Day. I know who my copy is going to once I can loosen my grip.

Sister Bear: A Norse Tale was adapted by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Linda Graves, and Sister Bearpublished by Marshall Cavendish in 2011. One of the old beliefs about bears, found in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, was bears are very close to humans and perhaps humans really are inside those fur coats.

Halva finds a cub and raises her as Sister Bear. After Sister Bear grows, Halva and her bear set off to show Sister’s talents to the King of Norway. Along the way, they encounter trolls with breath strong enough to fell an ox.

And life goes on. Relatives from the other side of the family will be arriving starting this week. I have the rest of my stack of books to read and stories to write.

A visit to my favorite trees in Balboa Park

A visit to my favorite trees in Balboa Park

To Read and To Visit

Two Books to Read

StuckStuck, written by Oliver Jeffers and published by Penguin Young Readers Group in 2011, is a great example of ridiculousness that works.

When you were a kid and got something stuck in a tree, what was the first thing you did? You threw something at it, right?

Floyd just does what any kid (and most adults?) would do. When his kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws something else. Did that always work for you? Doesn’t for Floyd either. But does he give up?

Lucky for readers, no, he doesn’t. And we get to laugh. Jeffers also wrote The Day the Crayons Quit, another hilarious story.

Sarah Tomp spoke at a recent SCBWI meeting. Great presentation on a day I wasn’t Best Everyplanning on spending any money. Then she read the first page in her new YA novel, My Best Everything, published by Little, Brown, and Company in 2015.

I rushed out of the lecture hall after her talk and bought Tomp’s book in hardcover!

Lulu’s plan to escape her small town is torpedoed when her father reveals they don’t have the money she needs for college.

Like Floyd, Lulu doesn’t give up, but she finds danger, love, and consequences in the pursuit of her dream.

The book is written first person in Lulu’s voice and is addressed to the boy she falls in love with—the boy who, because of his love for Lulu, is pulled back into the life where he had been stuck. Moonshine is involved.

The book left me with a haunting bittersweet ache. One line that really struck me reads:

A tree grows in Liberty Station. Do you know what kind it is?

A tree grows in Liberty Station. Do you know what kind it is?

“Easy makes a good sell for meant-to-be.” Good words to remember in times of temptation.

Two Places to Visit in San Diego (one involving future reading)

San Diego, which has been dubbed by some as “America’s finest city,” is just about to be a little less fine. We are losing our last children’s bookstore as another independent folds. The Yellow Book Road has been in my family’s life since my son was a toddler.

When I went to Liberty Station this week, the “Store closing” signs broke my heart. Even though I got some really wonderful books at great prices, I’d rather pay more and have them stay. The owners, Ann and David, and their staff members have become friends over the years. I will truly miss them and their treasure chest of a store.

A sad, sad sight. But there's still gold inside.

A sad, sad sight. But there’s still gold inside.

When I went two days ago, I thought everything might be too picked-over. Even though the inventory is obviously shrinking, they still have many wonderful titles. I will definitely get in a couple more visits before the end of the month. If you live in the San Diego area, go before The Yellow Book Road is only a memory.

Overcast, moisture in the air (even if very little made it to the ground). This is what last Friday and Saturday were like--my favorite kinds of days.

Overcast, moisture in the air (even if very little made it to the ground). This is what last Friday and Saturday were like–my favorite kinds of days.

A week ago, it was overcast with the prediction of spotty rain. It was a beautiful day to take a walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. (Did I ever tell you Seattle is my dream city?) A winding trail crosses bridges and leads down into recently opened parts of the garden.

The walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden.

The walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden.

 

 

My husband and I were able to enter the new Inamori Pavilion. I felt a peaceful calm as soon as we walked inside to view the exhibit of Ichiyo Yamamoto’s ceramics. They are amazingly detailed. For those of us who were taught to simply dip our pots into buckets of glaze, the exhibit is jaw-dropping. Yamamoto uses platinum in his intricate and delicate designs. The exhibit will be there until July 5th.

A small bowl by Ichiyo Yamamoto.

A small bowl by Ichiyo Yamamoto.

How the weather turned on Sunday. It is beautiful ,but I want my May Gray back!

How the weather turned on Sunday. It is beautiful ,but I want my May Gray back!

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road. Will tell you about them next time!

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road. Will tell you about them next time!

Diversity Continued

But first a word from our sponsors:

Encinitas Street Fair on 4/26/15—I’ll be with the Read Local group from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I’d love to see you and talk books. I’ll have copies of Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect for purchase at a discount.

The amaryllis are spectacular this year. It's been so dry, there are no ravenous snails to eat them before they fully bloom.

The amaryllis are spectacular this year. It’s been so dry, there are no ravenous snails to eat them before they fully bloom.

Earth Day is coming! And doesn’t Earth sponsor us all? In that spirit, you are encouraged to view a fascinating Ted Talk by Allan Savory titled: How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change. It’s about 25 minutes long and has been on my mind ever since I saw it. I’m also wondering if a few goats or llamas in our suburban yard will help.

On Sunday, 4/19/15, I’ll be with the St. Paul’s booth at Balboa Park’s Earth Day celebration (sans books).

Links to the Encinitas Street Fair and the Ted Talk are at the bottom of the post.

A moment before brother and sister were bathing each other. Then something outside caught their attention.

A moment before brother and sister were bathing each other. Then something outside caught their attention.

And now for our regularly scheduled program:

In my last post, I wrote about a few of the children’s books that support diversity. I also promised to write about two books for adults that I purchased at Bookfaire.

Nina Revoyr and Eduardo Santiago, authors and compelling speakers, are bridges. Many people are open to finding and crossing bridges to bring people together. Other people are bridges themselves. They straddle what divides groups of people and stand with one foot in one culture and one foot in another.

I don’t think that’s an easy place to live. When I was a kid, I had a frequent image of myself trying to balance with one foot on one ball and the other foot on a different ball.

And the two balls rolled away from each other.

To this day, I don’t know what those two balls represented to me.

Riff-Raff and Frankie follow the trail of a feline invader

Riff-Raff and Frankie follow the trail of a feline invader.

I only know how unsafe it felt.

Nina Revoyr was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white American father. She lived in Japan for five years, until her family moved to the United States—back to her father’s small Wisconsin town. She knows what it’s like to be the outsider in two places when she should belong in both.

Her story isn’t mine to tell. But Wingshooters (published by Akashic Books in 2011) is her novel with elements of her own story. I bought two of her books but didn’t read Wingshooters yet. I’m looking forward to it.

The novel I did read is Southland (Akashic Books in 2003). Jackie is a young Japanese-American woman whose grandfather owned a grocery story in the LA district of Crenshaw. The book moves between 1945, when her grandfather served in WWII;1965, when four young black men were killed during the Watts Riots; and 1994, when Jackie is drawn into the mystery of their deaths.Southland

Revoyr has won a number of awards, and Southland was on the Los Angeles Times “Best Books of 2003” list.

Midnight RumbaEduardo Santiago’s family left Cuba for the United States when he was ten years old. He is a child of both countries and longs for his estranged “parents” to mend their fight. He’s a writer who pens such lovely lines, you sometimes have to stop, reread and savor.

In Midnight Rumba, published by Cuban Heel Press in 2013, Estalita travels around Cuba with her father and his troupe as they go from village to village performing. We follow Estalita and other not-so-ordinary ordinary people as their paths diverge and criss-cross before and during the Cuban Revolution.

Santiago is also an award-winning author.my wine glass

Since I usually write about books for kids, I think I should repeat that these are adult books with some sex scenes and an occasional hangover within the context of a larger story.

It occurs to me that both Nina Revoyr and Eduardo Santiago not only add to our shared diversity, they are individually diverse. I’m grateful to the people willing to share their sometimes painful journey. Probably all of us have some version of those two balls to stand on. And, if we examine ourselves, we can empathize with the struggle to find and keep one’s balance. And maybe learn more about doing it ourselves.

Hummingbird rescue. It later flew off. A hummingbird in the hand is worth . . . well, it's priceless.

Hummingbird rescue. It later flew off. A hummingbird in the hand is worth . . . well, it’s priceless.

And now a reminder from the sponsors:

Info about the Encinitas Street Fair: http://www.encinitas101.com/events/annual-aprilstreetfair-2/

Ted Talk for Planet Earth: https://youtu.be/vpTHi7O66pI

Diversity

Sandstone lookout at Torrey Pines State Reserve. According to the San Diego Wildfire Education Project, San Diego is the most biodiverse county in North America, and California is in the top ten biodiverse regions in the world.

Sandstone lookout at Torrey Pines State Reserve. According to the San Diego Wildfire Education Project, San Diego is the most biodiverse county in North America, and California is in the top ten biodiverse regions in the world.

A recent tweet from Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Chains and others) quoted Jackie Woodson, “I saw lots & lots of windows and not a whole lot of mirrors. So I said ‘let me write some mirrors.”

The right metaphor is more than a pretty way to say something. It increases understanding.

We hiked at Torrey Pines last week and saw lots of wild blooms from these tiny treasures on the trail to . . .

We hiked at Torrey Pines last week and saw lots of wild blooms from these tiny treasures on the trail to . . .

We need books that mirror ourselves in enough ways to help us see our strengths, weaknesses, and potential. If our gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or some other facet of our personhood is never presented in any but a stereotyped way, our images of ourselves or others may be stunted.

Books that are mirrors for some are windows for others. Some of us live in a world of too many windows and very few mirrors. Others of us, in the same world, have so many mirrors no additional light can enter.

large cactus flowers along the road and the trails.

large cactus flowers along the road and the trails.

We all need both mirrors and windows. We all need diverse books. For too long, the majority has lived in literary houses with mirrors in the places there should be windows. Those of us who have had too many mirrors need to replace some of them with windows.

If we’re going to have those choices for literary diversity, we need to support the authors who give us different world views. I encourage everyone to buy and read books written by people of many backgrounds.

The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine in our country. It only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island.

The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine in our country. It only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island.

My shortest stack of most recently purchased books consists of ten picture books. A couple of days ago, I realized that four of them fit in this discussion.

Lincoln & DouglasLincoln and Douglas: An American Friendship, written by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier, and published by Square Fish in 2008, is a picture book for second through sixth graders. It’s the history of the friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

The book opens with Lincoln waiting for the arrival of Douglas at a White House reception. Then the book compares and contrasts their early lives and the paths that brought them together. These two great men forged a relationship on shared values and mutual respect. This book taught me things I’m glad I now know.

As a side note, Douglas is one of the “contestants” for the Golden Halo this year in Lent Madness. He’s won two rounds in what is described as the “saintly smack-down.”

These HandsThese Hands, written by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children in 2010, is also a picture book gem. It’s a poetic telling of historical events as told to the author by an old friend. Children younger than second grade will also learn from this story.

A grandfather tells his young grandson all the things the grandfather’s hands can and have done, but how those hands were not allowed to help bake the bread at the Wonder Bread factory until after the Civil Rights Act in the mid-1960’s.

Workers banded together to end the discrimination. “Now any hands can mix the bread dough, no matter the color.”

The story ends on what the grandson’s hands can do. Don’t miss the author’s note.

Beatrice's DreamBeatrice’s Dream: A Story of Kibera Slum, written by Karen Lynn Williams, photographed by Wendy Stone, and published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books in 2011, is the story of Beatrice, who lives in Kibera (Kenya), one of the largest slums in Africa.

The book uses Beatrice’s words at age thirteen. She’s an orphan who lives with her older brother. She has worries and a dream shared by many.

While this story is less lyrical than the first two books, it’s inspiring as a portrait of a life in another place under more difficult circumstances than most of us know. With this book also, check out the author’s note at the end. You’ll smile.

Last Stop on MSAnd now for my favorite: my husband’s Valentine’s Day gift to me—Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt De La Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson, and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2015.

CJ’s nana helps him learn to find “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” The language creates beautiful images and conveys an important message. And make sure you see the author and illustrator photos on the back flap.

The plan for the next post is to review two adult novels from authors who spoke at Bookfaire last Saturday and add to the diversity discussion . . . just as soon as I read them.

The books I purchased at Bookfaire including the ones for the next post.

The books I purchased at Bookfaire including the ones for the next post.

I can’t believe it! Two kids’ books in Spanish just showed up in our Little Free Library!

Since one of them is the Spanish version of Walter the Farting Dog, I’m not sure it counts as a diverse book. But the other is An Illustrated Treasury of Latino Read-Aloud Stories, both in English and Spanish. The book was edited by Maite Suarez-Rivas, translated by Alma Mora, has multiple authors and illustrators, and was published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers in 2004.

View of the ocean from Razor Point Trail.

View of the ocean from Razor Point Trail.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go . . . “

Who did you think of when you read that? Need another hint? We just celebrated his birthday this week with Read Across America.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

It’s Dr. Seuss, of course!

You might need to read this if

. . . you live in or will visit San Diego this year.

The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has an exhibit of Seuss’ work during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The exhibit will be up until the endof the year.

This is the sticker you get for the History Center. It's a bit of history itself.

This is the sticker you get for the History Center. It’s a bit of history itself.

It’s got lots of appeal for kids and adults. There’s a wall of Seussian taxidermy, statues of famous characters, several semi-circle nooks with kid activities, and a room of some of Dr. Seuss’ paintings for adults.

 

 

Heads of some of Dr. Seuss' creatures.

Heads of some of Dr. Seuss’ creatures.

Theodore Geisel’s goal was to write books that would help children learn to read.

It's Yertles all the way down!

It’s Yertles all the way down!

Where Dick and Jane plodded, Yertle the Turtle hollered, “Come on, let’s go!” His rhymes carry a young reader from one line to the next and into the rest of the world of books.

And, even as adults, who can forget lines like, “A person’s a person no matter how small,” or “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham”?

It was very moving to read the story about his refusal to let his work be used in advertising, even when he was offered an amount to get him the world record as the highest paid writer per word. You can read his agent’s take on that.

We even had a great time in the gift shop. I got a book of his stories that had been in magazines years ago, but never made into books. They don’t have the same early reading pull as books such as The Cat in the Hat, but if you want more Horton or Mulberry Street or the Grinch, look for Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories.

New Seuss

Grandparent Alert: We found these cool bibs and dishes.

Grandparent Alert: We found these cool bibs and dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing about this exhibit that left me dissatisfied was the photo of Dr. Seuss in his studio. I’m dissatisfied because it’s not mine.

Gate in the Japanese Friendship Garden not his studio.

Gate in the Japanese Friendship Garden not his studio.

Remember: Bookfaire next Saturday at Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at Whittier College, Whittier,

San Diego History CenterSecrets, pub cover

and, while we’re at it, Secrets of the Flame.

Secrets of the Flame: Jane Yolen and Finding Yourself in the Story

Sleeping BeautyJane Yolen, one of my favorite authors, once spoke about finding which of her characters represented herself and how that sometimes changes over time.

At a point, I realized Gwendolyn’s the mother I wished to be—openhearted; nurturing; pushing herself into bravery; and trying to be the best mother she can.

But I also had to face her flaws. She’s naive, oblivious even; wants to do it all herself; wants her children to stay her children; and sometimes gets stuff, even important stuff, wrong.Gwen to L

I’m sure you’ve figured out that Strange One, the dragon, represents my son. In the first draft of the book, he was young enough that I could fool myself that the story could have my happy ever after ending.Clay baby dragon

Then: adolescence!my clay dragon

So maybe John Sanford had a point—a bucket of water over the head didn’t sound so shocking.

New perspectives demand change. I rewrote and rewrote . . . and rewrote.

Hubris alert!http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Flame-Protect-Cindy-Schuricht/dp/0989658023/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421705373&sr=1-2

Every author has to answer the question of who is the audience?

My original hope for the story’s audience focused on parents and children who had read together for years.

Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect would be the grand-finale joint bedtime story—a story that helps a parent let go and a child claim his or her independence with grace rather than teenage rage at parental “stupidity.”

See what I mean about hubris?

Hubris confronted.

With all the bookmarks I put in for things I want to remember

With all the bookmarks I put in for things I want to remember

After rethinking Joseph Campbell’s jewel story, my hope is that Secrets of the Flame is an entertaining and exciting practice step for the journey to independence that parents and children take—a journey that starts with the first wobbly cruise around the coffee table.

Joseph Campbell also gave me a way to think about the family story arc. Parents and children bond. To become adults, children must claim their independence, sometimes painful for both kids and parents.

Eventually, something new has to go beyond or transcend the opposites of bonding and breaking apart. This something new has to include both—sacrificing neither the bond nor the independence to the other. Expect a certain degree of backsliding in one or the other, however.

I don’t feel comfortable until I acknowledge that I can’t promise you’ll fall in love with The Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect.

Some people do love it—they’ve told me they read it in one sitting, couldn’t put it down, or it made them laugh and cry. After reading it, some people have purchased more copies for gifts.

Cairns along Shelter Island and San Diego Harbor

Cairns along Shelter Island and San Diego Harbor

Other people have said it’s well-written, but not their cup of tea.

Which will it be for you? Beats me.

So my hope is that the book will find its way to the right people. I hope some of you will try the book and then leave an Amazon review that will help others make a decision about it.

Night blooming epiphyllum

Night blooming epiphyte

Thank you.

Secrets of the Flame: Joseph Campbell and the Jewel

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Flame-Protect-Cindy-Schuricht/dp/0989658023/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421705373&sr=1-2
Today I’m writing a bit about the process of parent and child separation, especially in the presence of strong bonds. Here are some random memories that served as road signs in the writing of Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect.

BTW, Secrets of the Flame is a parable of bonding with an other, in this case a dragon raised by a pig, with all that entails, and then the letting-go as a child grows into  independence.

Memory: Years ago I read a passage from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth.

In India, a guru might ask a mother to give him something precious, maybe a jewel, as practice in releasing her child when the time came.

With all the bookmarks I put in for things I want to remember

With all the bookmarks I put in for things I want to remember

Did I make that up??? I looked.

Yep. That’s what I thought he said.

Stinks.

Bird walk: This is what I think I understand about memories. They’re not very reliable—especially over the passage of time and with hearing other people’s experience of the same event. A spider on your leg is much larger than that same spider in its web (unless you run into the web). This is to warn you that the snippets below are my memories only.

Visitor at lily pond, Balboa Park

Visitor at lily pond, Balboa Park

Memory: John Sanford referred to a culture where a boy, at age twelve, dumped a bucket of water on his mother’s head and moved to the men’s house. Sanford told us it’s better than the way we separate in our culture.

Surely not.

Memory: The witch, who kept Rapunzel in the tower in “Into the Woods,” asked why her love isn’t enough for Rapunzel. She sings, “The child you love only grows into the child you lose.”

What?

Think back to telling the story you want to hear. Confession: I wanted an “and they lived* happily ever after—together” ending to my story.

Detail from quilt made by the author

Detail from quilt made by the author

I couldn’t have the ending I wanted. Joseph Campbell said so. John Sanford, Steven Sondheim, and the dragon agreed. Watch the movie Boyhood if you don’t believe us.

I would have to let my character live his own life. “We’ll always be together” wasn’t realistic. Neither was any sort of “ever after.”

The story arc for Gwendolyn was going to be something of a map for myself.

Detail from quilt made by the author

Detail from quilt made by the author

And isn’t an ending just another new beginning?

Into the woods and a new, unknown beginning

Into the woods and a new, unknown beginning

*Did you catch the * up there?

When I proofed my phrase “ . . . ‘they lived* happily ever after,” I had actually typed “they lied happily ever after.”

Simple typo or the unconscious bubbling to the top? You decide.

P.S. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (copyright 1988) is extraordinary. Since I didn’t find my story until page 257, I had the opportunity to reread the whole book. It’s a necklace of treasured jewels collected by the guru Campbell.

Secrets of the Flame: Pigs and Dragons

The first step of writing the picture book I wanted to hear should have been simple. Pick the characters. Easy as jelly on a soda cracker, right?

Sand sculpture at Weston super mace of The Lion and the Mouse by Rachael Stubbs, courtesy of Wikimedia

Sand sculpture at Weston super mace of The Lion and the Mouse by Rachael Stubbs, courtesy of Wikimedia

What weak, small animal will save and care for its natural predator?

I must have tried a hundred combinations, and I’m embarrassed to tell you how long this step took—so I won’t.

A mouse and a lion? Been done.

A cat and a dog? Too everyday.

"Black Kitten" by Revital Salomon, also Public Domain courtesy of Wikimedia

“Black Kitten” by Revital Salomon, also Public Domain courtesy of Wikimedia

A hedgehog and a . . .? I don’t have a clue what animal preys on hedgehogs.

Perhaps it was the hedgehog that sent up the lightbulb with the word “pig.”

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

Hey, I like pigs! My grandad raised some on his farm. My aunt kept a motherless piglet in a box in the kitchen. She named it Fritz. He followed us around like a puppy. (That my grandad called the same pig Porkchop is another story.)

Detail from quilt made by the author

Detail from quilt made by the author

Once I had my pig, the dragon lightbulb switched on. As long as I can remember, I’ve wished dragons weren’t always the bad guys in old tales. I want them tamed, not slain.

I knew the beginning and the ending of the story I wanted to hear. Just needed to travel from Point A to Point B.

But the characters had their own ideas about the route. They definitely wanted to take the scenic drive and had no sympathy for my desire to reach a particular destination.

More about Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect

Detail from quilt made by the author

Detail from quilt made by the author

Secrets of the Flame: Tell the Story You Want to Hear

Ocean view a bit south of the book store.

Ocean view a bit south of the book store.

Scene: Independent bookstore in old craftsman-style house—old craftsman on a bluff, bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean—perfect browsing from room to room.

I pick up a picture book.

Junge Maus, Harry 20, public domain courtesy of Wikimedia

Junge Maus, Harry 20, public domain courtesy of Wikimedia

 

Subject: A family of small rodents care for an orphaned kitten. The story exemplified love for an “other.” Beautiful illustrations.

I remove wallet from purse.

 

 

Problem: How will the mice care for the kitten when he grows up?

"Black Kitten" by Revital Salomon, also Public Domain courtesy of Wikimedia

“Black Kitten” by Revital Salomon, also Public Domain courtesy of Wikimedia

I race to the end of the story certain this is a book to reread and share with other people, small and large.

Resolution: The people in the house adopt the cat who will purge (the book didn’t use that word) all the small rodents, except his adoptive family, from the house.

I return wallet to purse and book to its stack.

Issue: I can’t buy the theme.

Sometimes if you want something done your way, you just have to do it yourself. So I set out to write the story I wanted to hear. It took a loooong time and I learned something valuable:

Tell the story you think you want to hear to find out where it takes you.

intoMore about Secrets of the Flame: The Power to Protect

Back on Track

I’d like to quote a literary character and a face often seen on what used to be called “the small screen.”

Sometimes life's demands just seem to be right on your heels.

Sometimes life’s demands just seem to be right on your heels.

                                                                                    “Oh, I am so embarrassed.”
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The Monster at the End of This Book

 

 

 

I last posted in August, and I apologize for the absence. Here are my excu . . . reasons:

Work on our 100 year-old house turned a two to

The house on the day of a surprising summer downpour

The house on the day of a surprising summer downpour

three week job into seven weeks and culminated in taking possession of 20 cubic yards of the finest mulch a wheelbarrow can tote.

I actually wanted to keep the scaffolding. Think of the possibilities--Shakespeare in the Backyard, Christmas lights . . .

I actually wanted to keep the scaffolding. Think of the possibilities–Shakespeare in the Backyard, Christmas lights . . .

New full-time (but temporary) jobs for my husband and me that were more intense than we had anticipated.

Mulch--lovely, fluffy mulch

Mulch–lovely, fluffy mulch

 

 

 

Rain, lovely rain for our drought-dry state, followed by happy plants and the evil oxalis.

Are you a good oxalis or a bad oxalis? This is a benevolent oxalis that co-exists in peace with other plants.

Are you a good oxalis or a bad oxalis? This is a benevolent oxalis that co-exists in peace with other plants.

Evil oxalis brutally overrunning an unpaved walkway and invading a planting bed.

Evil oxalis brutally overrunning an unpaved walkway and invading a planting bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, most significantly, family issues—a death, a 95th birthday celebration, an engagement, a pregnancy, more birthdays, and regular life.

No DogThe good news is that I read the books from the last post. The bad news is that it’s been so Sleepytimelong, I need to reread them before I can write about them. (If you read them before I get back to them, let me know what you think.)

 

But here are a couple recently-read books until I get back to that August list.

Have you read The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak? It was published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2014. Sometimes, we struggling-writer types are a teensy crabby when a celerity is able to get something not-so-good published.

Book w: no picsThe previous sentence does not apply to The Book With No Pictures, which stuck me the same way the first reading of Press Here did (the “Wow!-I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that” way.) There wasn’t even an author photo—an indication to me of a real commitment to the concept since I’m sure a photo of Novak would have also made marketing points.

Near the beginning, Novak writes,“Here is how books work: Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.”

Imagine the grownup saying silly, silly things while also reading words about how he doesn’t want to have to say things that don’t even make sense. Know any kids that would get a kick out of that situation?

I asked my neighbors to read it with their young children and report back to me.

Dad got into the spirit and the kids had a great time. When they returned the book, the kids did want to know why there weren’t any pictures. They also proposed a solution and volunteered to add illustrations.part-time Indian

For 7th graders and above, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, written by Sherman Alexie, with art by Ellen Forney, and published by Little, Brown, and Company in 2007, was a National Book Award winner and has been one of the books some people tried to ban. I’m squarely in the National Book Award winner camp. I think it’s so good that I even gave it to my hard-to-please adult son for Christmas. (Not my copy!)

I don’t know how directly autobiographical the novel is, but it is based on Alexie’s experiences growing up on a reservation. In it Junior has medical and bully problems. He wants to be an artist—a rich and well-know cartoonist, but is considered a traitor when he decides he’ll get a better education going to a school off the reservation. It’s a funny and heart-breaking book. I can think of very few people who wouldn’t learn something important.

Feels good to be back on track.

Feels good to be back on track.