The Gift that Keeps on Giving

If you were ever on the fence concerning the power of books and stories . . .

So thankful others feel the same way as I – and share such lovely videos with me!

The Imaginative World of Words

Free App: Poetry from the Poetry Foundation.


It’s National Poetry Month.  Woo Hoo!  Hang sonnets from the sashes and couplets from the cupolas.  Let a ballad be your banner flapping in the brisk April breeze.

I would join in your revelry and pen my own poetic masterpiece, alas, I got distracted playing with this fabulous app.  It doesn’t have flappy fins or diced fruit, but you can spin TWO wheels and garner a fortune of carefully crafted verse.  It is a goldmine for logophiles like me, for it brings merit to the world of technophilia.

Which brings me to the book I just finished reading (and shows just how distracted I am today): Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  Though at times in the plot there are contentious arguments about the merits of print vs. technology, Sloan, for the most part, has created a loving universe where both coexist in meaningful and appreciative ways.  The last lines, though, do give a good ol’ what what to my beloved book:

“A man walking fast down a dark lonely street.  Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need.  A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes.  A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”


May you always find exactly the right book, at exactly the right time.  And may the spinning poetry wheel of fortune be ever in your favor.  Happy reading!

Kenneth Josephson, Chicago (blurred book pages) 1988


** Big shout-out to iGameMom for tipping me off to this app!

The Next Big Thing

* LATE BREAKING NEWS!  I am pleased to announce a last minute addition to The Next Big Thing Blog Tour.  Annie Cardi, a fellow New Englander writing young adult novels, has joined us.  Please follow the link to her blog as well as the links for the two other writers at the end of this entry.  Thank you!

2013 is off to an auspicious start.

As last year came to a close, the lovely and talented Heather Rigney invited me to join her on The Next Big Thing Blog Tour.  Heather and I met in our first lives as middle school teachers (though our school was having an identity crisis as one of the few named junior highs remaining in the state).  We reconnected in our second lives as writers, attending an institute together at Rhode Island College.  Her work is witty, quirky, and entertaining, involving zombies, mermaids, and, yes, junior highs.  Her blog, Mermaids Love Sushi, showcases her wit and joie de vivre.

Before I could even digest the questions I’d be responding to as part of the tour, RK Bentley – friend, blogger, writer extraordinaire – hit me with another invite.  Rob’s comics have graced my personal library for decades.  Within the last year or so I’ve been fortunate enough to see his scifi novel, Where Weavers Dare, take shape in the writers’ group he organized.  Rob is an integral part of the local writing scene and he shares his “ramblin’s” about that and his other passions on his blog, RKB Writes.

As part of The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, Heather and Rob answered questions about their current work, much like a published author would do to garner support for their latest book.  I think I speak for all the authors taking part in this tour that we do so in the hopes that our writing will, in fact, be the NEXT BIG THING!

So here goes:

1) What is the working title of your book?

Next in Line

2) Where did the idea come from for your book?

Ironically enough, a kitchen remodel.  We totally gutted the kitchen in our previous home and a plasterer came in to patch things up.  He was so knowledgeable and kind that we learned a lot about his personal background, which got me thinking about family businesses and legacies.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

young adult/realistic fiction

4) Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

I’m really fighting the urge right now to call on the cast from My Big Fat Greek Wedding; my main character’s name is Dmitri Tslakas!

  • Maybe Zachary Gordon from Diary of a Wimpy Kid could play him.
  • Camilla Belle for the lovely yet unassuming Francesca.
  • Olympia Dukakis for Gram?  Sorry, couldn’t resist.
  • Mandy Patinkin with a beard for Spiro, Dmitri’s dad.
  • Isabella Rossalini for Maria, Dmitri’s mother.
  • Can I get Max Cascella from his Doogie Howser, MD days for Dmitri’s friend, Anthony?  This whole thing is wishful thinking, right?maxcasella-now2

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Dmitri, a seventeen year-old sculptor, is trying to build his skills and his strength – to hone his craft and stand up to his father.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Any takers?  I’d like to see what an agent could do for me.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

~ two years, in fits and starts.

8) What other books would you compare this story to?

  • Takeoffs and Landings by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Lord of the Deep by Graham Salisbury

9) Who or what inspired you to write the book?

  • My plasterer and his teenage son on the brink of adulthood
  • any kid who’s trying to get out from the shadow of his or her parent(s) and stand on his or her own.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

  • Dmitri has undiscovered family history that ties him to the past as well as his father’s expectations pushing him toward the future.
  • He is an amazing, naturally talented artist.

I’m so honored to be part of this blog phenomenon!  A big thank you to Heather and Rob.  I’d like to share the love with two very talented writers both of whose work I highly enjoy and which you should check out, too (They’ll have their posts up in about a week).

Julie Robertson Dixon

Kelly Kittel

Annie Cardi


Next Stop: Transition Town

Ironically, the section of the book I’m reading right now is all about transitions.

To ease the transition of moving for our children, I gathered a thematic collection of books to borrow from the library:

  • Fred Rogers’ Moving (classic – right down to the 80s fashion in the photos!)
  • Mo Willems’ City Dog, Country Frog (we are going from city to country – though I didn’t expect the heartbreaking twist!)
  • Our House by Emma and Paul Rogers (inspired my daughter to suggest leaving a time capsule; guess it translated my idea of legacy and different chapters in life)
  • Moving by Michael Rosen (the cat giving his family the cold shoulder b/c of the move didn’t quite get across the positive vibe I was going for, but I guess it shows that even ambivalence can be won over with food!)

As I sifted through the on-line card catalog, I extended my search to books for me.  I think originally I was looking for books on the logistics of moving, tips and tricks.  Maybe.  Who knows?  I’m all over the road lately.  But in any event, I found two titles that sounded interesting.  The first, Moving On by Sarah Ban Breathnach, caught my eye because I’ve had Simple Abundance on my shelf for years.  I figured the universe might be giving me a nudge if I was seeking books on moving and here was one by the woman who first introduced the idea of a gratitude journal to me.  Though I know her other title to be more of a self-help, for some reason I expected a memoir on the rigors and epiphanies of moving.  There are personal anecdotes, but it’s also about finding one’s true home regardless of physicality; being comfortable with one’s space in the world regardless of where she calls home.  The idea of home and making the space within those four walls enjoyable is tackled, but it’s really more about letting go of excess baggage to make room for that enjoyment.

Ha, ha, ha.  So funny as my days are filled with purging and packing.  I am totally in limbo.  This home no longer looks like my own as the boxes begin to outnumber the intentional home décor.  My new home is still occupied by someone else.  So I’m hanging out somewhere in the ‘twain’.  I can’t do any of those exercises she suggests for finding what works about your home because I don’t know which one to focus on!  I know the chaos that surrounds me right now certainly isn’t working.

So I get about halfway through this book and reach the section on transitions.  A major thrust of it is that we actually make these difficult times even harder for ourselves by refusing to let go, go with the new flow of things, honor the past and appreciate the future.  Who, me?  I hate change.  There are some people who have wondered if I want to move.  Yes, of course.  And another scared, change-hating part of me, says, this is so freakin’ hard.  I lay in bed one night and realized I’d have to leave the blades of grass I’d stenciled onto the walls of our first nursery (affectionately known as the grassy knoll).  So between the stress of actually making the move a reality and the mental and emotional preparation, I probably do come across as a little ambivalent at times.

But not because I’m not looking forward to settling in our great new house and setting up shop, exploring the community, meeting people.  It’s just because I’m apparently really good at setting up roadblocks on the way to transition town.

And so this is where another highly appropriate quote from Moving On comes into play.  Ban Breathnach shares the words of Mary McCarthy, who says,

“There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing.”

Ha!  If that does not describe me in nearly every aspect of my life, I don’t know what does.  How often have I relearned something I’d already known?  How often have I ignored what needed to be done though the answer was staring me in the face?  Human frailty, I suppose.  That damn weak free will.  We know what’s best and yet take the easier, more convenient, if insanely repetitive and possibly destructive, path.

I know I need to focus on the amazing truths on my doorstep.  A rich life lived in this beautiful little house with many pleasant memories to pack.  A lovely, airy, hope-filled home waiting for us to fill it with sights and sounds and silliness.  I know I can be my authentic self there.  I know this transition will make me stronger and truer.  It’s just a hell of a lot easier to feel it when you’re at the other end of the journey.


In a somewhat related vein, the other book I chose to read is a memoir: On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again by Louise DeSalvo.  I have yet to read it.  I’ll let you know what epiphanies that unveils ☺

What books have helped you and your children make a successful transition when moving?

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