Thursday, December 31, 2009

This is for Brent Smith

I totally know your talented daughter-in-law, Emily Wing Smith. And I think everybody else should, too.

Here's a good resolution for you readers out there--pick up THE WAY HE LIVED and be impressed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Just finished reading an ARC of a new transitional reader called "Magical Ms. Plum," and I really admired it. Go buy it for your kids! Right now! At the same time it made me feel depressed because I figured something I wrote in the same vein could never be as good. BUT I'M NOT JEALOUS. (Because I'm a big person these days.)

Here's what the author, Bonny Becker, does--she has more than one thing going on. Each chapter has its own story arc, but then there's an over reaching story arc running throughout the whole narrative about a smartypants boy named Carlos. And it's that over reaching story arc I would have failed to provide. I would have just stopped with the clever individual chapters.

Lesson for today: having more than one something going on is a good idea.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My year in review

Over at, Tiffany has a great post about her year in review. So with a grateful nod to a fabulous fellow writer, I'm doing the same thing.

January: Read Scandinavian mysteries (Karin Fossum is divine) and discovered LIFE ON MARS, both of which helped me to survive the month.

February: Helped Carma Wadley judge Sterling Scholars for the D-News, an experience which made me wonder what it would feel like to have a kid who didn't sleep in and miss math finals.

March: Came out of hibernation on March 15, just like always. And yes! There were daffodils blooming in my front yard!

April: Mostly rejoiced that I didn't have to go to soccer games and freeze to death at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings because my kids are old now. I'm always surprised by how crappy the weather is in the spring.

May: Broke my wrist and got a new plate and seven screws to celebrate.

June: Made important new friendships at the BYU conference. And then I sat on my big old behind on a So Cal beach and soaked up the sun.

July: Went to my high school reunion and discovered they can be fun after all.

August: Lived for the first peaches. Peaches never disappoint. Oh yeah and I went to France.

September: Watched football games, of course. Re-discovered how much fun it is to watch them with my dad. Graduated from physical therapy and have (seriously) a diploma to prove it.

October: Went all out for Halloween this year. At times I almost think I like Halloween better than Christmas because there are fewer dishes to wash.

November: Speaking of dishes, I did Thanksgiving at my house and loved it. Had a little come-to-Jesus with my mom and mother-in-law, in an effort to convince them THAT I'M A MATRIARCH NOW, TOO. Which means I shouldn't have to split up my holiday running between both of their places.

December: Seriously, people. The tree in my house puts the tree in the governor's house to shame.

And meanwhile the year was filled with good things to eat.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009


I'll be going to bed with thoughts of my grandmother who always wrapped me up in her arms on Christmas Eve and told me she heard reindeer on the roof. When she heard them, I heard them, too.

Just wanted to wish those of you who read this blog a Merry Christmas and to express my affection for you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments.

Hope your day is filled with food and light.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas books

The first year we were married, Ken gave me a Christmas picture book as a gift and I've been collecting ever since. I have to say this year hasn't been super strong on the holiday story front. I finally came home today with THE CHRISTMAS MAGIC by Lauren Thompson with pictures by Jon J. Muth.

It's a quiet book--frankly, I'm not sure kids will love it. But I think the language is lovely: "Every year, just when the nights re longest and the stars shine brightest, Santa feels a tingling in his whiskers. Then he knows that the Christmas magic will soon be here. . . " Muth's blue-hued paintings are a visual treat. So I'm happy with my selection. On Christmas Eve I'll have everyone write a message on the end papers (a la yearbook style) and all will be well.

And now on to food! My daughter-in-law had a fabulous Christmas tea party at her house yesterday with fancy china and an excellent spread. There were scones, cookies, strawberries, and a perfect quiche. Talk about Christmas magic!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I love the way my friend Lisa B. always says "the people." So I'm stealing her phrase and here I go.

I got nothin' on the writing front to say, but THE PEOPLE I made an excellent "Sticky Toffee Pudding" today for a leetle luncheon and wow was it ever good. It was just a gooey, date-y, moist-y, thick-y, rich-y slice of Christmas dessert heaven.

Yes. I know. It's good to be me at the moment because I have some "Sticky Toffee Pudding" in the house.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


So I'm fond of epiphanies in fiction. You know that moment where the character realizes something IMPORTANT like Charlie Brown does when suddenly he gets why Linus is standing there with a blanket wrapped around his head. Dude! Christmas isn't just about the presents! It's also about Linus standing there with a blanket wrapped around his head.

Only epiphanies in real life are often less . . . uplifting. Take the one I had the other day. For a long time I've wondered why when people find out I have a kid who's almost 30 they don't say, "But you don't look like you could have a kid who's almost 30."

Then I caught an accidental glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror and I'm all WOW. YOU TOTALLY LOOK LIKE YOU COULD HAVE A KID WHO'S ALMOST 30!

I had sushi today. That made me feel better although not younger.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday foods

The other day I was talking with my friend Nancy about how her family always has green onions dipped in mayo and covered with cheddar cheese because that's what their grandmother served as a special leetle holiday treat. And THIS reminded me of my sister-in-law Becky, whose grandmother used to stuff Bugle crackers with Cheez Whiz--a pretty darn labor intensive project. To this day, however, one of her sisters always shows up at a family holiday gathering with a little tray of Bugles.

Of course Sara Zarr did have to remind me of pigs-in-a-blanket. And I myself still remember the hot Dr. Pepper (garnished with lemon slices) my mom used to serve on Christmas Eve.

What about you? Any bad food items you remember with fondness? And even replicate this time of year?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Thief

Today at work, Annie and I started true confessing about books we've stolen--or wish we'd stolen (she once found a signed first edition of a classic kids book in her sister's hometown library and was sorely tempted).

I myself once took an old paperback edition of THE TWO TOWERS from the shelves of the beach house my family rents for a week each summer. Yeah and here's the worst part. The house belongs to nuns. So I am the kind of person who steals from nuns.

I have to live with that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A different breed

So today I spoke to a group of kids at Bryant Intermediate and afterwards two adorable, enthusiastic girls talked to me about the fantasy novels they're writing. They described characters and plot twists at length--already they've both written more than I've written in my whole life.

Which led me, of course, to wonder (not for the first time) why people who write fantasy have SOOOO much more verbal energy than the rest of us.

Fair? I think not.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thinking about my dad tonight

This has nothing to do with anything, but I've just been thinking about my father tonight and how he has always called cities by their nicknames. L.A., Vegas, Philly, Cincy, Frisco. Dude's clearly an honorary member of the Rat Pack. Another thing to love about him.