Friday, December 23, 2011

I didn't mean . . .

to take an early holiday vay-cay from the internet. But it's been kinda busy here, partly because I've been picking up a few shifts at the bookstore--which brings me to today's observation.

I think December 23rd is the worst day of the year to work retail. People are panicked, of course. HELLO! IT'S THE 23RD! But they're also hopeful enough to believe in Christmas miracles, as in you can get them what they want by the 25th. Even though it's the 23rd.

The 24th, actually, is a a more pleasant day to work. By then shoppers realize they've blown it, and they're just grateful for anything you do to help them out.

Anyhoo. I'm going to officially go on internet vay-cay as of tonight. I'll check in with you again on Monday, January 2. Meanwhile, thank you for making my blogging year so satisfying. Merry Christmas, guys. I pretty much love you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Night's Concert

So in the end we all thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Lovely music. Lovely lighting. Lovely set design. TRQ behaved herself when the bell ringers showed up. She did have a tiny bone to pick, however, with some of the medieval costuming. Basically TRQ felt like she went to a Mo Tab concert and a production of "Spamelot" with dancing knights broke out.

But as I say it was a wee small (practically invisible!) bone, because you know what? Nothing says "Happy Christmas" like great Mormon Tabernacle Choir music.

And also dancing knights.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Reason I Heart The Rodeo Queen

This is the phone conversation I just had with my mother, hereafter referred to as TRQ.

TRQ: So I guess we're all going to the Tabernacle Choir concert tonight.

ME: Yes. It appears so.

TRQ: What time is it again?

ME: The tickets say we have to be in our seats by 7:30 or else our tickets are invalid. But I misread it, of course, and thought they said if we're not all in our seats by 7:30, they'll turn us into invalids. You know. People who can't walk and stuff.

TRQ: Ugh. That's so late.

ME: Yes. You're right.

TRQ: Well. I just hope they don't have any of those damn bell ringers this time.

I have known that woman for 55 years, people, and this is the first time I've learned that she apparently has issues with bell ringers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The rumors are true . . .

I am, in fact, losing my mind due to seasonal overload.

I offer this as evidence: yesterday morning I decided to put my running clothes on over my pajamas, but wait! That's not the weirdest part. In fact, that was the brilliant part. I didn't have to expend a single valuable calorie getting undressed and re-dressed, for one thing. And for another! Layers! I was all toasty warm at 5:30 in the a.m. when I stepped outside.

Here's the weird part. When I came home, I took off my outerwear and then went about my beeswax--gathering up the recycling, watering the Christmas tree, feeding the dogs. Anyhoo. THANKFULLY at some point I noticed that I was still wearing a certain crucial foundation garment on the OUTSIDE of my pajama top, not unlike Wonder Woman.

I was v. glad indeed that none of the kids was around to take a picture and post it on Facebook with a caption like, "When Elderly Mothers Go Around the Bend."

I can't believe I just blogged about this.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Unexpected gifts

This morning when I look out of my back window, I can see lights on the trees on "N" Street. A few of my neighbors load up their massive evergreens with nests of a thousand little lights, and the result leaves me breathless.

Thank you, "N" Street neighbors!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seriously, how tender is this?

My mom (aka "The Rodeo Queen) always gave my kids books for Christmas. And on the inside cover she always wrote a little message. Here's what she wrote inside of THE ESCAPE OF MARVIN THE APE by Cara and Mark Buehner.

"Dear Geoffrey,

"Love you to pieces. You are such a lively little boy. You love all types of gadgets: the phone, the T.V., computers, and any machine seems to challenge you.

"This year you have learned to talk. We love the way you say 'Grandpa LaVell and Grandma Pat.

"We sure had fun at the beach!

Love Grandpa LaVell and Grandma Pat"

She did this for years--wrote a little message about that year's highlights. Such a gift!

Monday, December 5, 2011

R.I.P Jimmer

Remember how I had that fish Jimmer? And remember how I used to give periodic updates here because no one in my family thought a fish could survive for more than a week at this house what with cats and lackadaisical feeding schedules? And remember how that fish just kept on living? And living and living and etc. living? And how I stopped chronicling all that living because it got boring and I got all cocky?

"Yeah, this fish is gonna live for-freaking-ever," I said to myself. Cockily.

Well. I just walked into the kitchen and saw that poor Jimmer has gone belly-up. He's dead. Dead as a goldfish. At least the kind of goldfish we usually get. Oh, Jimmer, we hardly knew ye. It's true that you lived with us for ten months, which is a long time. It's like maybe a 100 years in Human Time. But still. It's hard to know what fish are thinking when you get right down to it. Also feeling.

Anyway. I wish him well in his next life, whatever that life looks like. Meanwhile, please feel free to sign his guestbook.

R.I.P., Jimmer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Writing the same book other people are writing

Have you ever had that experience?

I've had it a few times. I start a manuscript (sometimes even finish a manuscript) only to discover that someone has barely beaten me to the punch. When I was in grad school, I wrote a picture book about a truly terrible cat whose soft-hearted owner still loves him. Little, Brown asked to see it and then passed. A few years later ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos appeared on the scene. I am not ashamed to say RALPH was much better than my manuscript.

Yesterday I just read a new middle-grade novel called BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX about a girl who has her wishes granted by a magic breadbox (this sounds dopey, but it's actually a VERY good book). A few years ago I finished a manuscript about a girl whose wishes are granted by a magic diary. My agent didn't like it much and never sent it out, and again I am not ashamed to say BREADBOX is a much better novel.


I remember Nancy Griffith once said that every morning when she got out of bed, she went to the window to capture whatever song was there before it floated on down to Lyle Lovett's house. At least I think she said Lyle Lovett. But that's not the point. The point is that ideas seem to be OUT THERE, just swirling around, waiting for someone to channel them.

I dibs to be the first published channeler!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another new goal for 2012

I've decided I want to be a badass like all those female cops you see on TV these days. It looks kind of fun. Also empowering!

Discuss amongst yourself and then please offer how-to-be-a-badass tips so I can fake it until I make it. Thank you and have a good day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Adult Children are Good For

So I went in for my second post-op visit, all AGOG at how well I can see. Dr. Miller told me that the lenses in my eyeballs are the same lenses used in the Hubble Telescope so then I said, "No wonder I can see Mars from my house."


I was so proud of myself for making this little joke that I relived the moment by telling it some more. Here. There. Here again. There again. It's like I was my own highlight film. Yay, me!

Anyhoo, when my dad called last night I did my "I can see Mars" shtick, to which Geoffrey, who was taking a bath in the next room, shouted, "DID YOU TELL YOUR DAD THAT'S THE TWENTIETH TIME YOU'VE TOLD THAT JOKE TODAY?"

Okay. Please refer to today's title. I assume you know the answer now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Depress Yourself

. . . in case you need lessons.

Ken broke out the home movies over the weekend, and here's the thing I noticed most this time around: how badly I've dressed over the years. Of course we always think that about ourselves--look at the hair! look at those shoes!--but at least most of you can take comfort in the fact that everyone else looked the same way and that even though it was the 80's, you were actually pretty cute.

The same cannot be said about me. The unvarnished truth is that at best I was indifferently dressed. At worst, I was aggressively appalling. Part of it, I realized, is that I've always felt HUGE--like a Winnebago in an parking lot full of Mini Coopers. And my response to that was to dress myself in tents--big flow-y flappy shirts and jumpers--apparently in the hopes of camouflaging myself. Also, apparently I was color blind.

But looking back I realize I was never as big as I thought I was. And even if I had been, fitted (nay, even STRETCHY) clothes, would have looked so, so mUCH better than the camping gear I called clothing.

Watching the last 15 minutes of the first SEX AND THE CITY movie on TV yesterday while recovering from eye surgery didn't help. Why didn't I get that gene that made me want to wear expensive shoes and birds on my head, she laments. My mom had it in spades. Did she hog the shoe gene and not leave any of it for me?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A goal for 2012

I don't know why but I've already been making some goals for the New Year. One of my main goals? To stop overfeeding my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

When Holmes came to live with us, there's no denying he was already a little stout. But now he looks like a footstool. A footstool that also sheds.

I am solely to blame for this because when he starts begging, I always cave and go FINE! YOU CAN SHARE MY KFC MASH POTATO BOWL WITH ME. JUST PLEASE PLEAE PLEASE STOP GIVING ME THE BUG EYES.

I have to be strong like Jake and AnnMarie who are very firm with their Cav. That's because Jake and AnnMarie are grownups. And also, apparently, because they don't like to share mash potato bowls.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The last time I remember seeing stars so bright they burned your eyes was the night we drove home across the Mojave Desert after a disastrous bowl game against Texas A & M. It was a glum little trip, saved only by the vision of a low-slung pearly-pink moon roosting over a nest of brilliant stars (good extended metaphor there, Ann). It was a stunning sight.

That's what I've missed the most, I think. Not being able to see the stars first thing in the morning when I walk with Kathy. And I wondered if after I had the Dread Cataract Surgery, the stars would reappear.

This morning was the first morning I've been out since having my left eye done and guess what. They were there. This is a cause for celebration, people. I HAVE SEEN THE STARS AGAIN and now I can die happy. Although hopefully not soon.

I have the other eye done on Monday. Dr. Miller says Tuesday will be the best day of my life, and I am almost inclined to believe him now. Meanwhile, it's hard to do much reading or writing with just one good eye, so I'm taking off the rest of the week. I'll reappear on Tuesday or so. Until then, be well and well-fed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wherein I pitch a possible movie idea

I told Dylan and Julie they should make a Christmas card that looks like the movie poster EAT! PRAY! LOVE! STARRING JULIA ROBERTS! Only their poster should say EAT! SLEEP! POOP! STARRING ELOISE CANNON!

Really, that's all newborns do. And yet when you're taking care of one, there isn't time for anything else.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stranger in a strange land

Over at Good Letters Sara Zarr recently posted a terrific essay about how SCARY nature seemed to her, a city girl, when she first moved to Utah. Although I've historically been a little more outdoorsy than Miss Sara (or "outsidesy" as Alec calls me), I've experienced a taste of what she felt while I've been here in Greenville.

It's . . . different here. The air is thicker, the light hazier, the smells stronger and more exotic. Overhead large birds--are they crows? Because if they are crows they're freakin' HUGE crows--circle and wheel. Meanwhile all the grasses shimmer with movement and unexpected life. What's in there, I wonder. Snakes? Roaches? Things we don't have in Salt Lake? I find myself treading carefully.

But, it must be said, with wonder.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When carrying an umbrella will get you in trouble

When people think you're carrying an assault weapon instead . . .

Lockdown lifted. Police news conference underway. Gunman actually guilty of carrying an umbrella.


(BTW it's good to see ECU has a good emergency response system in place. Props to ECU.)

Lockdown lifted!

What the header said.

Meanwhile, Dylan will have another good story, right?

Well now here's something you don't expect when you go visit a baby

Julie and I turned on the TV, only to discover that ECU's campus is on lockdown because a gunman was spotted. Dylan, of course, is on campus. I'm guessing he hasn't gotten a chance to give his presentation yet . . .

Dude moves to North Carolina just in time for a hurricane, an earthquake, and now this. Good times in Greenville.

I'm sure he'll be fine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Carolina sights

A milky moon rising from the top of pine trees.
A silvery pond glittering beneath that milky moon.
Cotton balls harvested in the dark.
A baby girl with elfin ears and big wide eyes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Obviously, I'm thinking about that new baby!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sitting in a McDonald's

. . . here in St. George, availing myself of the free internet. Ken and I are on our way to our niece's wedding in Vegas, which sounds all Elvis-y, doesn't it? We're very happy for this girl. Watching her grow up has been a true joy.

Meanwhile, I had something to say, but I got distracted by the conversation going on in the booth next to me--five old men in baseball caps, drinking coffee and talking passionately about sports. It looks fun, actually. I have the sense they've known each other forever. Played golf together. Lost money to each other.

So in lieu of anything else to say let's all toast old friendships, shall we? And give our best to the bride while we're at it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An awesome strategy for getting more blog views

Yesterday I noticed that I had more page views than usual. Like A LOT more. Hundreds more, even. HELLO! Did people think I had suddenly turned into the Pioneer Woman taking pictures of my cows and so forth? So I looked at the traffic sources and discovered that somehow my blog has been linked to a couple of porn sites, which is way funny when you think about it. I can only imagine the shattering disappointment guys trolling for porn must feel when they land here.

Sorry about that, Porn Guys!

The Internet Gods have a very black sense of humor, do they not?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some thoughts on running

This morning in Liberty Park I ran REALLY slowly. How slowly did I run? Dude, if I had stood completely still in one place, I would have been running faster than I was this morning.

It was kind of depressing, actually, because NOT TO BRAG but there was a day when I sometimes placed in local road races. The smaller ones, obviously. But still.

Now, though? I am slow. And old. And I seriously did ask myself why I keep at it, now that my chances of ever winning anything have dried up (like a raisin in the sun and so forth). This is not nothing for me. When it comes to sports crap, I am actually pretty competitive and un-easy going. I WANT TROPHIES, DAMMIT!

I guess I'm still running because at some level I must want to. Duh, I know. But in a weird kind of way I own it more for myself now that I'm the only one giving me snaps for getting out there. That's the surprising gift of diminishing capacity, I guess--you value what you have that much more.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Isn't funny

. . . how you have nothing to do? And then suddenly you have everything to do?

Before Thursday I need to

1. write a column
2. write two chapters for a spec project
3. review a number of picture books for the Inkslinger
4. keep up my Trib fb page
5. judge some Reflections entries for a local elementary school
6. I'm pretty sure I've forgotten something else
7. yeah, I'm certain I have

It's all good stuff. Just wish it didn't all hit at the same time, you know?

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Apparently, I didn't link to the column. So let's try it again, shall we?

A column and a thank you

Here's yesterday's column!

Meanwhile, I want to say THANK YOU to everybody who made yesterday's re-launch event at TKE such a genuinely nice experience. I didn't count on feeling so . . . moved. The atmosphere was charged with kindness and good will. I won't forget that.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hey, did you know?

November, apparently, is National Picture Book Month. So yay for picture books! Over on my fb page for the Trib, I'm gonna be discussing some of my faves, old and new. Please feel free to list some of your favorites here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Now here's a surprising change in my behavior

For years I've written about my mother with enthusiastic abandon. My Mother the Rodeo Queen! My Mother the Extreme Worrier! My Mother the College Student! My Mother the Poodle Lover! My Mother the Barber! My Mother the Queen of the Every Changing Hairdo! My Mother the Queen Mother!

And in all those years, it never ONCE occurred to me to check with her, to see if she felt okay about me sharing that story about the time she told me to find my own way down Sardine Canyon after a disastrous game in Logan because I'd criticized her for losing her cool.

I know. The pot calling the kettle an exquisite shade of black there.

I've written about my mother so much because, of course, she's been so central in my life and plus she has this BIG personality, which makes her a great source of material. And in my mind at least, I've always written about her with affection.

So I did (another) column about her this week. And suddenly FOR APPARENTLY THE FIRST TIME EVER, I wondered if she would be okay with it. I even sent her the column to see what she thought. And she was all what? You're asking my permission after decades of this?

Not sure why I've changed on this front. But I have. I am suddenly consumed with guilt for having written about her. Which won't stop me, I'm sure. But there you have it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy happy happy

Ha! Another granddaughter!

Little Eloise Cannon was born in North Carolina, exactly 2 minutes after midnight, thus ignoring our hopes she would be born on Uncle Phil's November 1 birthday. A mind of her own, apparently. WONDER WHERE SHE GETS THAT FROM!

Congratulations to parents, Dylan and Julie. And also congratulations to Life, for being so awesome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Funny how . . .

something that's NOT supposed to be a compliment sometimes turns out to be HA-YOOGE compliment.

Case in point. Two weeks ago I wrote a column about our fabulous Utah authors, and a reader told me that I'm nothing more than an overly enthusiastic eighth-grade reading teacher. I think he meant that to sting (?), but all I could say was THANK YOU, because I love eighth-grade reading teachers. Especially the enthusiastic ones.

Reading (not for children) IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS today. It's told in real time, so you feel like you're watching Berlin slipping toward its destruction, only Berlin doesn't know it yet. True life horror story.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A stroll down that street known as Halloween Memory Lane

I had my folks over to celebrate Phil's birthday (Happy Birthday, Phil!), and because Halloween was nigh upon us, I asked what they did for the holiday when they were kids. My mom was vague. "Oh, you know," was pretty much all she said. But my dad told us they used to roam around the Orem bench, knocking over outhouses.

I was intrigued because knocking over outhouses seems like a mythic American activity, something Mark Twain created when he wrote about Huck and Tom. But apparently not. Also, I was a little surprised to learn that there were still outhouses to knock over in Orem in the 30's. Sometime between then and when I was born, people got busy and called the plumber, because I don't remember outhouses in Orem.

"Were you dressed up?" I asked.

The man looked at me like I was an idiot. "No. We just knocked over outhouses."

Meanwhile, I have a Halloween memory of my own in re to him. When we'd come home from trick-or-treating, he checked our bags to "make sure everything was okay." Then he'd steal all our Tootsie Rolls.

Feel free to post a few memories of your own. And have a spook-tacular day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just in time for Halloween!

And meanwhile I promise to blog more faithfully this week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Re-launch for CHARLOTTE'S ROSE

Hey, guys, first thanks for your feedback about NaNoWriMo. I very much appreciate it. Not quite sure what I'm gonna do. I did remember that in the middle of the month, I will be blissfully visiting a new granddaughter in North Carolina, so that may influence my decision this year.

(MEMO TO JULIE AND DYLAN: hurry up and have that baby, okay?)

Meanwhile, I'd love to see you at the launch for CHARLOTTE'S ROSE if you're in the area--TKE (15h East and 15th South) on Saturday November 5 at 2:00.

Should be fun. The women at TKE know how to make a party happen!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just curious

Have any of you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience?

I'm seriously thinking of doing it this year, mostly so I won't feel like this year has been a writing wasteland. I think this is the first year in a long, long, LONG time that I haven't completed anything--the first draft of a novel or even a picture book. I was always getting started. Like a car with a failing battery. A little noise. A little energy. And then . . . nothing.

Maybe NaNoWriMo will help me salvage what has been a discouraging year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Saturday, another column

Can't believe I've been writing Salt Lake Tribune columns for almost a year now!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Because I always complain about the fall and winter months

. . . I just want to say what an astonishingly beautiful day it has been today. Light like honey everywhere. Kathy, Sally and I walked down City Creek Canyon and marveled at the layers of color and texture and the way sun crowned the hills all around us.

A golden day, people. One for the journal.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Football, the long view, aging, and life

So a few yeas ago, my dad was given access to a loge at the stadium, which means after decades of sitting outside, we now watch games from the relative comfort of a crow's nest. And let me tell you, people, it's interesting to watch football from that perspective. When you're sitting in the clouds, you can watch everything unfold, and mostly--even when plays break up and coverages are blown--you're still struck by the precision and the plan of it all.

Last week in Oregon we sat on a second row bleacher where you mostly have a view of a) the guy's head in front of you, b) the cheerleaders, and c) an occasional shot of players' beefy butts and thighs. What strikes you from the second row is how chaotic it all looks. No precision. Just scrambling and grunting and fumbling.

And for some reason this morning, I thought how much aging is like sitting in a loge. You have this broader view about the stuff that's happened. You've seen a lot and you've detached a little, and therefore you can spot patterns, right? On the other hand, when you're in the middle of a thing--a financial crisis, a problem with a child, whatever--it's a lot like sitting on the second row. It all feels like chaos.

I have no idea why I wrote all that just now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And perhaps I should mention

. . . the name of the novel is HOW TO SAVE A LIFE.

Launch Party Thursday night at TKE (7:00).

Hooray for Sara Zarr!

Today is the Official Launch Date for Sara's awesome new young adult novel. I read the ARC of this book a few months ago. It totally blew me away. Loved the story, loved the characters, loved the gorgeous assured writing.

Let's hear it for Sara.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Charlotte's Rose

I came home from Eugene to discover my contractual copies of CHARLOTTE'S ROSE awaiting me. So, kids, the book will be on shelves soon! And may I say I love the new cover. When Geoff gets back from Eugene, I'll make him throw a graphic up, so you can see what it looks like.

I am truly grateful to the University of Utah Press and Margaret Neville at TKE for making this happen. It's nice to have a book come back, not unlike Lazarus from the tomb.

Meanwhile I think I should mention that Randi gave me a bag of chocolate covered potato chips while we were in Oregon and that they're actually pretty good. It's the whole salt-tastes-surprisingly-good-with-chocolate thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh, Eugene

Eugene is the ultimate contrarian, anti-establishment, stick-it-to-the-man city in the country. Case in point. It's the only town I've visited where the dogs ignore you while the cats run up to you and say PET ME PET ME PET ME PET and also HI!!!!

Had a nice run and met several lovely cats this morning. Off to Corvallis soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello from Eugene!

I'm here to see the fabulous granddaughter and also to watch the game in Corvallis where BYU will hopefully not suck.

I also want to mention that today is the 103rd anniversary of the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Like Alec's computer decal says: "Anyone can have an off-century."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bulb planting considered

So after the rain earlier this week, I got busy and planted some bulbs (tulip, crocus, grape hyacinth) and the WHOLE TIME I planted I thought to myself, "These won't bloom. How can they possibly bloom? They're so little and you plant them so deep and those shoots have to work REALLY hard to push through the ground, which is like concrete and yeah. These won't bloom."

This is the way I think about things a lot. I used to be optimistic, but now I'm always waiting for things to go south. BECAUSE THEY DO. Or not. But I always think they will. I don't have much faith, as it turns out. I am a surprisingly faith-less human being.

And yet every spring my garden is full of glistening tulips.

Awesome, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the words of Pappy O'Daniel


Anyway. The character-building exercise at Snow Springs Elementary in Lehi yesterday went very well. Jody Kyburz and her fellow teachers did an awesome job of preparing the students (who were wonderfully attentive and eager to participate) for an author visit, and consequently, we all got something out of it. I can't remember a better school visit.

Actually, maybe I'll address the topic of school visits today, although I started out thinking about something else, morally fiberally speaking. So here goes.

When I first started making school visits, I didn't demand much because I didn't want to look like a Raging Egomaniac (egomaniac--my grandma used to use that word!) Writer Diva Person. I also felt like it was wrong at some level to take money from a public school. So I was all whatever is fine. Don't pay me. Don't read my books. I'll just show up, do my thing, and turn the lights out for you afterwards.

Then one day the luminous Ivy Ruckman (wonderful Utah writer who paved the way for many other Utah writers) called and said, "Listen, doll. If you charge for your visit, you'll be amazed at how much BETTER the whole thing will be for everybody. Suddenly they'll have a slide projector that works and suddenly the students will have been prepped and suddenly everyone is much more engaged because AN AUTHOR IS VISITING!"

Well. I didn't believe Ivy. I was committed to being a "good person"--the kind who does everything for free. Until one day I showed up to do an event at a junior high school where the teacher wasn't even there. She'd just left me directions in the main office and oh btw would I take roll and could I stay a couple more periods? In other words, I was an unpaid substitute teacher for kids who had no idea who I was and who didn't care.

And so I started to make a few simple demands after that. 1) ask teachers to read or make my books familiar to students, 2) ask teachers to publicize the visit, and 3) ask for a fee, even if it's pretty nominal.

The take-away here? I don't like to fuss much. But it turns out that sometimes people want to fuss. Sometimes people need to fuss. And sometimes all that fussing can be nourishing for all involved.

Who knew?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Off to . . .

an elementary school in Lehi (yay! Snow Springs!) to talk about my writing process. I think we'll do a character-building exercise. Okay, now that I look at that, I realize it sounds like I'm going out there to help those kids with their characters. You know. Whip 'em into shape. Fill 'em full of moral fiber and so forth.

That's not what I meant. Obviously. Can't remember the last time anyone wanted me to fill 'em full of moral fiber.

However, when I return, I may post the (other) character-building exercise here. It's kind of fun, actually.

Meanwhile, Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday's column

This column was especially fun to write!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here's one of those posts in which I really don't have anything to say

. . . but nonetheless I have something I want to share because it makes me smile.

My dad's birthday is next week, so he's on my mind. Geoff and I were talking about him last night, and both of us agreed you gotta love a guy who always calls cities by their nicknames. Philly. Vegas. L.A. Frisco. Cincy.

Dude is an honorary member of the Rat Pack, apparently.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More TV Talk

So we're into the fall season a few weeks now, and I'm still trying on a few new shows to see if they fit. So far . . . I don't know. Watched THE NEW GIRL last night for the first time and think Zooey Deschanel is pretty cute, although she does make me hold my breath for fear that she'll morph into Meg Ryan right before my very eyes. I'm also a person who's interested in PERSON OF INTEREST (hahaha!) although I never really know what's going on due to knitting and eating and talking on the phone while watching.

I think the one I like the best so far is (guilty pleasure time!) REVENGE. Because you know what? It's fun watching rich, good-looking people suffer for their crime of being both richer and better looking than I am. Awesome!

Your thoughts on shows new and old?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trade show musings

Good thing I don't write my own headlines, because who would want to read a piece called "Trade Show Musings"? But whatever.

I'm glad I went to the Denver show for all kinds of reasons, one of which is that I had a really nice time with Anne and Jenny from TKE. And Shannon Hale was beyond entertaining at the literacy banquet. Thanks for that, you guys!

Here's another reason I'm happy I went. I had a chance to readjust my perspective. See, writing is a really solitary experience. You're alone a lot. And when you're alone a lot you start thinking you're the center of the universe (a little) and therefore (you start thinking) it's just not FAIR that your manuscript WHICH IS YOUR BABY isn't getting published or that your book isn't getting all kinds of crazy attention.

However when you go to a booksellers' trade show, what you realize is that there are a LOT of books out there. Tables and tables and tables and miles and tables of them. Not only that, but they're all fall books. Most of them will have been sent back to the publisher by spring to be replaced by more tables and tables and tables and miles and tables.

Does this depress you? Curiously, it has the opposite effect on me. What it makes me realize is that a lot of us have the same dream, a lot of us are working hard, a lot of us are good at what we do. We're in it together. Not getting noticed all the time does not equate with sucking.

Don't you feel better now? Because I do.

Well, they just keep showing up

Columns that is!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I did love

. . . your responses to the Gratitude Journal post. Thank you, thank you, and also I love you.

I'm off to Denver tomorrow morning for a few days to participate in the Mountains and Plains booksellers trade show. The University of Utah Press is republishing CHARLOTTE'S ROSE, and so I'll be at the booth, doing a little promotion dance. I'll also be hanging out with Anne and Jenny from TKE, and it will be good times.

Truthfully, I'm so glad Charlotte gets a second chance. It's a book I'm really proud of, probably because it was just soooooo hard to write. Historical fiction is hard to write, you guys. YOU HAVE TO DO RESEARCH AND STUFF, which is v. exhausting for a lazy writer like me.

I'll be back on Monday. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gratitude Journal

My son Geoff has been feeling kind of down lately, so I told him that as cheesy as it sounds, keeping a gratitude journal can be helpful, because the act of noticing the good things in your life helps rewire your outlook. So I bought him a notebook--a small one, though. And I told him I bought him a small one on purpose, because actually he doesn't have that much to be grateful for.

But whatever.

I'm a little down in the mouth, too, so I thought I'd start off my morning by listing a few of the things I'm grateful for. Thanks for indulging me.

1. Indians summers
2. Fresh peaches
3. Late roses
4. Neighbors who go to late night movies with us
5. Dogs
6. Even though the big one drools
7. The knowledge that there's always another good mystery to read
8. Warm days
9. My boys
10. Their father

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

A phone thang

I noticed today that whenever the phone rings I start shouting I'LL GET IT! I'LL GET IT! I'LL GET IT! I immediately go into this crazy five-alarm-I'm-gonna-save-that-damn-house-from-burning-down-to-the-ground mode because you know how it is. That phone call is JUST SO IMPORTANT!

And besides I'm doing everyone a favor. I'm answering the phone so no one else in this house has to.

But here's the deal, which deal I just realized today when I nearly broke my neck getting to the phone whilst tripping over dogs and pillows. Here goes: I'm not doing anyone a favor because absolutely no one else who lives here bothers with the phone now. They're just all hey call me on my cell if you really want to chat.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


Well, GAME ON is all I can say when it comes to Television Viewing right now. It's good to have TV friends back in the house.

In review--

Castle was okay. Obviously we all knew Kate wasn't going to die. We also knew Castle would declare his lurve. We probably also knew this would drive Kate to do a runner--which, okay. I get that a series thrives on sexual tension. I get that it's hard to make it last for SEASON AFTER SEASON AFTER SEASON. I get we're usually disappointed in the end when "it" happens (to wit: Sam and Diane, Maddie and David, Remington Steele and what's her name, Daphne and Niles).

Well, okay. Maybe not Daphne and Niles. Actually, I think we all had a hard time buying Daphne and Niles EVEN THOUGH I LOVED THEM BOTH.

But whatever. I'm starting to find Kate's inner wall thing kind of tedioso.

Didn't get to watch HAWAII 5-0, which is one of those shows where the actors bring more to the roles than the writing deserves. But whatever. The theme music is awesome. The scenery isn't half- bad.

Didn't get to watch any of the NCISs.

Did watch both Modern Family episodes last night and was not disappointed. (I'm waiting for it to turn into The Office, which I loved. Until I didn't.)

ALSO. Did watch Revenge by accident and oh people. I will be watching it again.

Tonight? I'll be turning into the Mentalist and Person of Interest starring that creepy guy from LOST and also the not creepy guy who played Jesus. Am popping the popcorn now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Now there's a thought

So Ken and I always buy this knock-off Cetaphil product for skin-washing purposes, and right there on the front it says it's "non-comedogenic." WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN REAL LIFE? Because, of course, in that fake life I'm always having in my head, it means "this skin cleanser is NOT hilarious." Which is sad. You should have plenty of stuff lying around the bathroom that makes you laugh, right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fun with tunes

So my kids load up my iPod with stuff, and it's always fun to get little listening surprises because of it. Q loaded some James Brown on there, and I have fun predicting what the next line of a song will be, even if I've never heard it before. Like this morning, I heard this line:

I don't care about your past
I just want . . . .

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! How do you think that line is gonna end?

Monday, September 19, 2011

That game

Anyway my parents, my brothers, our spouses and I got together for the game Saturday.

I know.

Sometime during the third quarter I finally said, "Well, the good news is that my neighbor is dead." This was met with a second big helping of stunned silence--the first helping, of course, being the epic implosion of the boys in blue. So I had to explain that while I loved this neighbor and still miss him, especially at Christmas when he dressed up like Santa Claus and delivered jolly gifts to everyone, he totally brought the crazy when it came to loving the Utes. And when they beat us, he let me have it. Over and over and over. So it was like getting beat up twice by the Utes.

Oh, Old Neighbor. I wish with all my heart you still lived around the corner from me. But okay. I'm so so happy you weren't in church yesterday.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

So far

It's only 8:10 in the morning but so far it has been an awesome day. I offer this list as evidence.

1. The moon made the pond in Liberty Park all sparkly
2. It was good times on our morning walk
3. I still have fresh peaches to eat
4. I stopped and viewed gardens belonging to Heather, Maja, Gisela and AnnMarie
5. A partial rainbow showed up over the west desert just for the hell of it
6. I am already on my second Dr. Pepper

It'll probably all go down hill from here as life often does. BUT! Wow. What a beautiful day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sales clerks who intimidate

My mother told a funny story over lunch today about how she went to a yarn store recently to buy a stitch counter. She knew what she wanted, but she allowed the clerk to talk her into one she didn't want. So she waited until a day when he wasn't working so she could return it, because dude. She was kind of afraid of him and his forceful opinions about stitch counters.

My sister-in-law and I grabbed the table edges and GASPED because we have both been there--intimidated, nay BULLIED by sales clerks.

How can this be? Grownup, independent women cowed by clerks. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Celebrity Peaches

Well, the peaches are on, and you know how much I LOVE fresh peaches. Or maybe you don't. But I do! So so so so much.

About the only person in the entire world who likes peaches as much as I do is my funny friend Sally, who went looking for peaches at the Bountiful Farmers' Market the other day. She met a vendor there who told her his peaches were so good that actual celebrities buy them.

Which celebrities, Sally asked him. She was hoping the answer would be "Jude Law." But it turned out the answer was "President Monson."

Okay. This story made me laugh.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Item to Add to the List

Now that I'm old, I have a list called "Behaviors to Avoid When I Get Even Older." I added another item yesterday.

I was taking Zora to the vet to get groomed (she looks like a poodle now btw--a big massive mutant poodle capable of invading Earth's major cities in a 50's Japanese horror movie) when I saw an elderly man standing on the street corner with his wife, flossing his teeth.

Okay. I am a MAJOR fan of excellent oral hygiene. Oral hygiene for all, I say! It's sort of a rallying cry for me--so much so that for years the only thing our parrot said whenever one of our boys walked through the kitchen was DID YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH YET? But flossing in public is a big old NICHT.

Even if it's sweet the way you and your wife were standing there together on the street corner, being 85 years old.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Speaking of TV . . .

Son and I just had a Modern Family moment. Remember that episode where Claire goes nuts because Phil listens to everybody's suggestions (wedge salad! The Book Thief!) except for Claire's who also recommended wedge salad! The Book Thief!?

Well . . .

Son just called to say HE recommended Castle to me a long, long, long time ago, but perhaps I didn't pay attention until Mystery girl recommended it. And OF COURSE I would listen to Mystery Girl before I listened to him, because that's how families are--engaged in all kinds of non-listening.

Dear Son, I listen to you. Example: when it comes to shortcut advice, I listen to you. Not your father.

Case closed.

TV watching

Last week Lisa B. posted a nice bit about her TV watching regimen over at HTMS, and I now feel inspired to do the same. With the approaching TWILIGHT OF THE GODS WHEREIN EVERYBODY INCLUDING THOR AND ODIN DIE (otherwise known as the winter months), I need something to look forward to. Like programs! Here goes.

Monday: Thanks to Mystery Girl, I now watch Castle regularly and I like it. And then when it's fall I watch football until I kind of slump over in my seat and drool. Yay for slumping and drooling!

Tuesday: While I don't LOVE these shows, I watch the NCISs. I like the real one better than the fake L.A. one, but whatever. And then it's all about The Good Wife, which SADLY is moving to Sunday night. Dear Good Wife, first you leave your low-down cheating husband (who, nonetheless, is kind of sexy) and then you leave your Tuesday night slot. I can't take it. This will seriously interfere with my Sunday night football-related slumping and drooling. And no. I don't do DVR.

Wednesday: Modern Family. Love it so much. Especially Gloria. I hope the show stays good. Sometimes shows you love enough to marry don't stay good, I've noticed. And then you have to get a divorce.

Thursday: Really a great night, right? Among other things I watch Community, a little Parks and Recreation, some 30 Rock and The Mentalist because Ken likes it. I don't know how they're going to move forward with THAT one, however, as Jane pretty much gunned down Red John in a food court in last season's finale, thereby ruining lunch for a lot of innocent people.

Friday: Well. By Friday I don't watch TV unless there's a game on.

Saturday and Sunday: Guess what I'm doing.

Okay. I feel like I have something to look forward to, which is awesome. Thanks for listening.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Actually, I've been trying hard not to watch/read anything about 9/11 because after all these years I still find the images and stories far too searing. However, I didn't feel like I could just give the subject a miss in my column this week. So here's what I wrote.

The paper decided to throw it up online early in order not to inundate readers with too many 9/11 stories all at once. So here we go.

The column.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jupiter in the sky with diamonds

This morning as Kathy and I were walking up South Temple (in the dark), we passed our friend Dave walking his dog Molly. Dave pointed at the sky and said, "Look! It's Jupiter!" And there it was--hanging like a fat star on the inky horizon. So the three of us (and also Molly) stood and marveled for a moment in silence.

I don't know why things like this touch me so, but they do--to think you can stand on a city sidewalk and see another planet shining! It makes you feel like a part of something bigger.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten Things I Hate to Do

1. Go to Costco.
2. Go to Costco.
3. Go to Costco.
4. Go to Costco.
5. Go to Costco.
6. Go to Costco.
7. Go to Costco.
8. Go to Costco.
9. Go to Costco.
10.Go to Costco.

Obviously, I went to Costco today. Hopefully Q. appreciates that six-pack of soy milk I bought for him . . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Anxiety Dream #1011

So last night I dreamed I was sitting in Sacrament meeting, listening to one of my kids (it wasn't clear which one) (also, he was young again) give a talk I'd written out for him. Halfway through the talk, my kid says from the pulpit, "Mom, I can't read your handwriting any more."

At that point I stand up and explain to the congregation what I'd written--something about how I'd been a cheerleader once, because don't you know that's relevant spiritual information. And then, since I had the floor, I decided to tell a little joke.

Only no one laughed.

And even though I have been awake for nearly two hours now, I am still mortified for having bombed at church.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Activity!

Early this morning Ken, Q, and I hiked up to Doughnut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was a nice hike--v. refreshing and lovely. But mostly it made me want to spend the rest of the day . . . eating doughnuts.

So that's what I have on my Labor Day agenda.

Hope your holiday is a pleasant one.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Let's try it again, shall we?



Wow. I've just been a big ole blogging fool today. But I want to get this up before I give myself over to the Labor Day Festivities.

As if.

Have a good weekend, guys.

Why I Don't Delete My FB Account

Sometimes I think about deleting my FB account so I won't get sucked into the ether vortex any more than I already do. But frankly I like to stalk my children there, and sometimes I am rewarded for my efforts. To wit: a former neighbor--very lovely man with unfortunate taste in teams--posted that he was happy about the U's victory last night. Well! Low and behold! Look what he let himself in for!

Geoff Cannon ‎27-10 against an FCS team is grounds for a nice game these days? I thought the U was a Pac 12 team?
16 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

Alec Cannon I thought Utah's fake punt while up 24-0 against an FCS team was really well executed.
14 hours ago · Unlike · 1 person

Dylan Cannon Hey, Utah did what only 3 FCS teams did last year! Give them some credit. And, Ted, I'll take the Phil Dunphy quote, so I give thumbs down to Utah but thumbs up to you
7 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

Geoff Cannon Face it, Holt. You'll be taking abuse for Cannons all. day. long.
6 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

Ann Cannon I'd like to point out I'M the one who made the above comment. I didn't realize I was on Geoff's fb account. Although I think I'll push the like button on my own brilliant comment.
6 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

Ann Cannon Yeah. I meant FROM Cannons.
5 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

(Name of neighbor redacted to protect his privacy and also to shield him from the consequences of the above-mentioned unfortunate tastes): I should have known I was opening up a can of Cannons with my comment. You're all just racist...or Uteist...I can't figure out which one. I, on the other hand don't see color, just BCS bowl wins and championships after 1984.
4 hours ago · Like

Alec Cannon I sometimes forget about those BCS wins. They get lost in all of those 3rd and 4th place finishes in the MWC. But I am sure you'll get tons of PAC-12 championships.
4 hours ago · Like

Alec Cannon Because Air Force and New Mexico aren't in the PAC-12 to beat you guys.
3 hours ago · Like · 1 person

Everyone Sing

Happy Birthday to Queen Donna.

Whenever I start thinking the internet has ruined civilization as we know it, I remember Donna and how we would have never met without it.

Thank you, Al Gore.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A food post

So Sara Z and I met today for a work meeting at a little chez on First. But instead of working she drank coffee and I drank Dr. Pepper. Then we talked about the chocolate covered Oreos (in milk or dark!) at Hatch's on Eighth. And then, because we were tired from all that talking about Oreos, we decided to call it a day and take naps, so she drove to her house and I drove to mine where I had a nap.

But not until I went to Hatch's and ate Oreos first.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Now that's a sentence (or two)

Do you ever run across a sentence or a passage that makes you sit up in your seat and go damn! I wish I'd written that!

That's how I felt tonight at the bookstore when I read a New York Times Book Review piece written by Stephen King about a new novel called THE LEFTOVERS. The novel, which I haven't read, is set in a post-Rapture world, which gave rise to this riff by King: "For those of you who wasted the spring of 2011 following less substantive stories--tornadoes, nuclear meltdowns, unrest in the Mideast, the further adventures of Snooki--[Harold] Camping is a preacher with an apocalyptic worldview, moderately hilarious dentures and strong ideas about the biblical prophecy known as the rapture."

The phrase "moderately hilarious dentures"? It is genius, people.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Park sightings

This morning while I was running, I saw a man I often see--a short, square (actually stocky is a better word) Latino man wearing a pair of tight jeans, a zip-up windbreaker and an adjustable golf hat which seems like a sensible outfit if you're going to a football game in November. But here's the deal, this guy runs in that outfit. And he doesn't just run. Dude totally books it. Like, he has little clouds of speediness trailing him as he roars around the park. He's my favorite sighting.

Of course it must be said that I've turned into a sighting, too, because sometimes I rip off my shoes and run barefoot. I know. This information makes some people want to throw up in their mouths a little. Running barefoot? In a public park? But you guys, it feels awesome.

It feels like being a kid again.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Falling trees and other hazards

Dylan was going into the second grade when we moved to Tuxedo Park, New York, a place populated with huge trees and old stone houses. I mention the part about huge trees and old stone houses, because both of them figure into this little story.

I was inside our OLD STONE HOUSE (see? I told you) when Dylan rushed inside to say A HUGE TREE had almost fallen on top of him. I kind of said yeah, yeah, yeah. That's what huge trees do--they just jump out of the ground and purposely fall on second graders who CLEARLY FEEL LIKE THEY'RE NOT GETTING ATTENTION FROM FRAZZLED MOMS WHO JUST UNPACKED A BIG OLD U-HAUL AFTER DRIVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH FIVE KIDS AND THREE DOGS.

So I ignored him and went about my business, and later when I went outside, I realized I couldn't back out of the driveway because there was a 100-foot tree that had fallen (TIMBER!) across the road and landed squarely on our property. Where, apparently, my little boy had been standing, all slack-jawed with amazement.

That's why I was interested in a picture he and Julie sent me after Hurricane Irene. Guess what fell down near their house?

I know. My son the Tree Magnet.

Friday, August 26, 2011

And now for another column


Weight Watchers

So Phil and I have been going to Weight Watchers. He wants to lose some, and while I would also like to lose some, I mostly don't want to gain some. Psychologically I'm in that place right now where I just want to go BRING ME A TROUGH OF MEXICAN FOOD RIGHT NOW SO I CAN PLANT MY FACE IN IT AND EAT UNTIL I'M DEAD.

You know how it goes.

Anyway. We had weigh-in this morning, and I was worried I would be over my limit, which means I'd have to pay money--even if I was like an ounce and a small breath of air over my target weight. So before I left the house, I honestly took off all the clothes I could w/o being absolutely nude. I tried to be as lean as possible. Like, I would have cut all my hair off and pulled out some molars and amputated a limb, too, if I'd had time. Also, I didn't eat or drink anything, even though I ran four miles before weigh-in, which meant I was so weak I had to crawl through the Weight Watchers door on my belly. Like G.I. Joe.

But! It worked! I was RIGHT ON THE FREAKING MONEY. So yeah. I'm glad I didn't cut a leg off this morning. That would have sucked.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yeah, I'm old like that

You know how old people always go, "Well, back in MY day"? I had that kind of moment when Al was out here visiting this summer. We were talking about how the Obama campaign has decided to go after Romney by making him look weird (I heard this on MSNBC so it must true, okay?). Specifically, they're gonna bring up the fact that the Romneys used to put the dog carrier (with the dog inside) on top of the family car whenever they went on trips. (Discuss amongst yourselves--on a Weirdness Scale from 1-10, how weird is this really? I will say when I was a kid I would have much rather been in a dog carrier on top of the car then in the back seat with my brother, John, who put his scary bare feet all over me for torture purposes.)

Anyway. Al and I--animal lovers both--discussed how some people are a leetle crazy when it comes to their pets. Then I went on to say and YEAH, some people are also a leetle crazy when it comes to their kids, too. Like, they don't let their kids go outside unless they're wearing goggles and helmets and have 911 on speed dial and so forth. What's wrong with parents these days?

What I didn't notice is that I was the only one having this conversation. Finally, Al said, something like oh RIGHT, Mom, it's a really bad idea for parents to protect their children, isn't it?

Okay. Point well-taken.

Meanwhile, Al and his adorable wife Randi write a very funny blogthemselves. I especially love the Skymall post, and I sprayed Dr. Pepper through my nose when I read about "Wunchiesville."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wherein I prove that I'm really kind of a crappy person at heart

So I often give money to panhandlers even though they say you shouldn't because really. Why not? It ain't much and it's not my business what they do with it.

Anyway. As I was driving out of the Smith's Parking Lot today I saw a guy standing there at the entrance, so I got out a dollar. But when I got closer I noticed he was wearing a Utah Utes hat. And suddenly I went never mind.

It's almost fall, people. Fall as in football. Old memories die hard.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And so we say good-bye to Q

Well, it's certainly been a time of transition at la Casa de Cannon. Everyone is moving on. Today I followed Quinton up to Logan to help him move in, which is where our story begins.

When we arrived, I realized Q had basically tossed stuff into his car rather than into boxes or suitcases. He just had a car full of posters and clothes and incense and bike crap all jumbled up like a big old freshman boy tossed salad. And so I went, "Q! WHAT? Didn't you know this is why boxes were invented? So tired moms with no stomach muscles due to giving birth repeatedly don't have to walk up four flights of boy dorm stairs 1,000 times instead of just 5 or 6 times?"

But also I was having this thought: where THE HELL was that boy's mother when he needed her? For sure she wasn't overseeing the packing part. And why was that? Because in many ways Q. has been an adult from Day One. Like, I'm pretty sure he had facial hair when he was born. As a result, sometimes I've just forgotten that he's only 18. Eighteen and fabulous. Even if he doesn't know about boxes.

Man, I am gonna miss him.

Monday, August 22, 2011


So I had two unexpected reactions to my funeral music column. The first one was from my bishop, a wonderful man who's a therapist by trade. Anyway, he wanted to know if I'm doing . . . okay. And I said yes, because the truth is I'm thinking a lot less about death and so forth than I used to. The second one was from my neighbor Kathy who is now anxiously worrying about writing her talk for my funeral.

Anyway. Sorry! I didn't mean to throw my bishop and Kathy for a loop. They don't need loops! That's why I won't turn this blog post into a column anytime soon.

Okay, so my brother is a surgeon, right? And the good thing about having surgeons in the family is that they can hook you up with other surgeons when you fall down and break your wrist. And the other good thing is that they're always good for a useful graphic medical metaphor. For example, my brother, who is a buoyant, natural born optimist, has been known to say in mordant moments, "Well, one way or the other, all bleeding eventually stops."

I find this sentiment oddly comforting. In fact, I think we should all cross-stitch it on little pillows. It's a reminder that there's an end to things--pain, problems, disappointments, crap situations, whatever. And here's the good news, most of the time you're still alive once the bleeding, in fact, stops. I think this is awesome. Don't you agree?

(You can see, however, why I might not turn this into a column right away.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Just another column

I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if my columns are getting a little too melancholy. The experience of writing them for me personally is always more satisfying if I write about what's truly on my mind. Anyway.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

When KBYU comes a-callin' . . .

and asks if you'll do an interview with Marcus Smith on "Thinking Aloud," of course you say oui!

I spent the morning with the delightful Mark Pulham (teacher, storyteller, librarian extraordinaire) discussing the subject of boys and books and how to get the two to go out on a date now and then. The program airs today at 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Thanks for your responses, guys, (and, Radagast, thanks for the question that took us all down this road).

I came to the whole blogging thing kind of late, actually--which is my usual m.o. when technology is involved. In fact, Lisa B. was the one who inspired me to start one of my own. And I'm glad I did. I use my blog as a sketchbook--capturing ideas and impressions as they flit past my brain. Occasionally I've taken these posts and turned them into columns. Mostly it's just been fun to get stuff down and to hear your responses.

Here's what else I've enjoyed--visiting YOUR blogs. I feel like we're engaging in "morning talk"--the kind of funny, chatty, intimate, nothing's-off-limits conversations you have when you're out walking with a best friend at the crack of dawn. A blog is a natural venue for this kind of fresh,off-the-cuff writing, right?

I do think fb and Twitter have siphoned off some of the energy that has gone into blogging. And who knows? Maybe in ten years blogs will have disappeared from our popular cultural landscape, not unlike eight-track tapes. I hope not, though. Truly.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wherein Radagast asks a question and I contemplate

Over at htms Radagast asked if blogging is dead yet. Then he asked us to discuss amongst ourselves.

I would like to hear your thoughts, observations, whatever on the matter first while I consider . . .

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to induce immediate self-loathing

Open up a large package of Funyuns and eat every last one of them. By yourself.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

le voila

Well, look at this! The second week in a row!

Click here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August Writing Goals

But first a word. Two words. Thank you. Thank you for your nice comments about the column. Y'all gave me a lift, and I appreciate that. The column runs on Saturdays, so I'll (try to remember) to post on that day.

And now! GOALS! I lay on my bed this morning trying to figure out my day and I had this realization. The rest of my August is C.R.A.Z.Y. Now I am a big, large advocate of writing no matter how nuts your life is because life is always nuts. On the other hand, I think my goals this month should reflect the choppy weeks and the ins and outs of family and guests. So with this in mind, here are my goals, which are more modest than they would have been had I posted yesterday.

1. Write 250 words M-F on the mystery.
2. Get the column in every week.
3. Bang out one or possibly two picture book manuscripts. Definitely one.
4. Desultorily (now THERE'S an adverb you don't see every day!) outline the YA mystery with plans (and hopes!) to get really busy on the thing in September.

Time to put my feet up now, after that perspiration-inducing goal-setting session.

Monday, August 8, 2011

As per Emily's request!


Click here.

Writing goals: a tiny retrospective

These were my writing goals for the month of July.

1. Write one picture book rough draft every week.
2. Write at least 250 words daily on the mystery M-F.
3. Free-write (bad) poetry as a way to access possible YA mystery M-F. (Sounds weird, but I do have a plan here.)
4. Write a query letter for a magazine article.
5. Write the column once a week.

Here's my assessment of how I did.

1. I have three picture book rough (really, really rough) drafts.
2. I didn't write 250 words daily on the mystery M-F, although I did, in fact, write that much more often than not.
3. Yeah, that was a good idea. Too bad I didn't do it.
4. I wrote that query! I gotta find it, though.
5. I did write the column!

Speaking of the column, I have some little frustrations, which I list below.

1. For whatever reasons, the Trib hasn't been very good about posting my most recent columns online in the place where most people would look for them (i.e., under my name). This has been a source of frustration to both me and my fab editor, Lisa. Hopefully, we've gotten this ironed out.
2. Ken spent a day down in Provo with a group of newspaper-reading people who told him how sad they are that I don't write a column anymore. They were surprised to hear about the Trib thing. I knew I was taking a risk of losing readers when I made the switch, but that was kind of discouraging news because these folks had been long-time readers.

But. Oh well.

On to goals for August. Which I will post tomorrow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Home again

I hope I didn't snore on the airplane.

We picked up

Julie at the airport last night, and now we're all set to finish the last leg of our journey into Greenville.

Meanwhile, I passed up an opportunity to try a maple syrup/bacon/mocha milkshake. And I cannot remember a time when I have felt more truly disappointed in myself. AND I CALL MYSELF A BACON LOVER. So, I am making Dylan drive pst the diner this morning in hopes that it will be open, and I can buy one for the road.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And now we're even

Because Dylan snored last night. So we're even on that front.

But meanwhile I must say he is one of the world's greatest guys--funny, kind-hearted, thoughtful, a natural born story-teller. So now we're even on the compliment front, too.

Thanks, D., for an awesome trip.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And here's what the swimming pool sign said

So there was a sign on the pool gate at our motel in Missouri that said NO GASOLINE ALLOWED IN POOL AREA. Which I found disturbing, because I didn't understand. At all.

Hello! I know they do things differently in this part of the country, like deep-fat fry Thanksgiving turkeys out in the garage, for instance. And I am very accepting of regional differences such as Thanksgiving turkeys you fry in your garage. In fact, I embrace these kinds of differences, even if people accidentally blow up their garages and so forth, because I am way, way tolerant.

BUT. Gasoline at swimming pools? WHAT? Apparently it's a problem, though, because I saw the sign right there and everything this morning. Except as I got a little closer, I realized the sign actually said NO GLASSWARE ALLOWED IN POOL AREA.

So. Never mind. Obviously.

And this is what Dylan says about me

That I snore.

I find this v. disturbing information, because it does NOT coincide with my view about myself, i.e. that I am a non-snorer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And this is what we ate and drank today

1. Bits of the 1 pound dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe's that Jamie left in my box at TKE (thanks, Jamie!)
2. Sesame nut mix
3. Three Muskateers bar
4. Caramel Milky Way bar
5. Potato chips
6. Frosties from Wendy's
7. Can you see why I gain a lot of weight on road trips?
8. Chicken nuggets from Wendy's
9. A lot of Dr. Peppers

AND an awesome Thai meal at the Blue Orchid in Lincoln, NB. Dylan met up with an old page friend who took us to the Blue Orchid, and the people it was fabulous. Then we drove past Ken's old home on Orchard Street and took pictures.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!

My boy Dylan and I are taking off first thing in the morning for a cross country trip to North Carolina. He's on his way to graduate school at East Carolina, so I'm helping him drive his car down there. You guys, it'll be awesome.

Wish us bon voyage. And if we eat anything interesting, I'll for sure let you know.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Some thoughts on tomorrow's nuptials

I've been thinking about my friend Becky this week, partly because I always think about her, but mostly because her second daughter, the lovely and talented Alexandra ANN, is getting married tomorrow.

Here's the deal. When Becky was alive we talked almost every single day, and so we both had the sense that we lived doubly--I had my own life and I had her life, too. She felt the same about me and mine, as well. So when she died, I lost my friend AND I lost my second life. There were parts of myself that shut down that day, and frankly I've just never recovered them, although in my own defense, I have tried.

I can't help but think how frustrated Becky would be with me about this state of affairs. She and I were alike in many ways, but there were differences, and one of them is that Becky had a talent for inhabiting the present with a fierce, delighted energy. When I spoke at her funeral, I quoted C.S. Lewis who said his mother was one of those people who took to happiness the way some people always find the best seat on the train. I, on the other hand, am always looking for ways to keep my past alive, to make it present long after I should let a thing go. I can practically hear Becky scold me. ANN! DARLIN'! I LOVE YOU BUT YOU GOTTA MOVE ON, BECAUSE I HAVE.

On the other hand, she would be thrilled with her girls who are beautiful and smart and emotionally healthy and very much engaged with the present. They are truly their mother's daughters. Awesome cannot begin to describe them. And their father, too. I do love them all dearly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It's been a week since I've posted? Apparently I took an unscheduled, unplanned blogging vacay.

I subbed for Margaret at TKE today and read a lot of new picture books, which leads me to make this observation. One of the cardinal rules of writing picture books is this: EDITORS DO NOT ACQUIRE PICTURE BOOK TEXTS THAT RHYME. Rhyme = Satan. Or so the axiom (which you hear at every writers conference in the world) goes.

But here's the deal. Over half the new books I read today were in verse. And they were fun to read, too!

Yes. I know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Things Right Here, Right Now

Over at High Touch Megastore, Lisa B. shared a lovely list of good things, and I was so taken with her post, I've decided to do the same thing. Here goes.

Daily walks in the first light of morning.

Warm apricots.

A flood of daisies in my front yard.

Phone calls from my boys. From my husband, too.



Happy news. Niece Kelli is engaged.

Cold Dr. Pepper in a can. Nachos!

The view of the mountains from 11th Avenue.

Family and friends who inspire. Thanks, Lisa B!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A novel experience

Over the years my dad has been interviewed by all kinds of people under all kinds of circumstances. But I stumped him last night when I called to ask if he'd ever been interviewed by a puppet. (ANSWER: No.)

I, on the other, spent part of the evening being interviewed on videotape at the downtown library by a puppet named Earl E. Literacy. I know! AWESOME!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feeling very, very blessed

Have I mentioned that another granddaughter is on the way? Dylan and Julie are having a baby girl in October, and I've been floating with happiness. This is a good time of life, folks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

An open letter to my bed

Dear My Bed,

Just want you to know that I like you. I really, really like you. I've been worried you might think otherwise because I haven't crawled inside you much lately what with trips to SF! the beach! Wyoming! And now I'm going to St. George for the weekend, because my parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and we have plans for eating and play-going down south to celebrate.

But I'll return. Eventually.


That person who used to sleep in you

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And then we went to the cemetery

. . . to say hello to our dead. So my mom points at a tombstone and goes, "He was my really good friend. He used to tell me that I had horse legs."

And that's how they do really good friendship in my mother's homeland.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And it has been good times

I sat around this afternoon, listening to Mom and Ava swap stories, some of which began like this: "You remember how Sophie just had that one eye?"

Happy times, people.

Here's what I like about going to Wyoming with my mother

We'll see cousin Ava who's 91 but still interested enough to read books with shirtless guys on the covers. AWESOME. Maybe we'll eat lunch with her at the Senior Citizen's Center where she'll talk circles around people half her age. I'll ask if she has another trip to Wendover planned any time soon.

Ava makes turning 90 look fun.

Monday, July 11, 2011

As per Lisa B's suggestions

I will give a goal update. Today I did, in fact, work on the picture book AND the mystery. A little bit anyway. Then I had to write a talk which I delivered this evening. Hopefully I'll get to the YA thing tomorrow.

Also tomorrow! My mom (aka "the Rodeo Queen") and I are driving to Wyoming to see her people in Big Piney. Then we'll stay overnight in an awesome cabinette in Pinedale and drive home on Wednesday. Looking forward to the conversation.

Friday, July 8, 2011

For your consideration--a few goals for the month of July

1. Write one picture book rough draft every week.
2. Write at least 250 words daily on the mystery M-F.
3. Free-write (bad) poetry as a way to access possible YA mystery M-F. (Sounds weird, but I do have a plan here.)
4. Write a query letter for a magazine article.
5. Write the column once a week.

Okay. We'll see where that takes us.

And btw it's such a pleasure to read your responses. You inspire me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thinking about Radagast's question yesterday

Which was, if you'll recall, why do I want to write.

And here's the deal. I had to think about it. Which surprises me. It seems like I should have a ready answer for that.


If you were to ask my mother why I write, she'd say, "Because my daughter has to." I love it when she says that, because it's kind of cinematic. Like, I could be in a Gene Kelly movie shouting GOTTA SING! GOTTA DANCE! ALSO, GOTTA WRITE WHILE I'M AT IT! (One of the things I love best about my mother, incidentally, is her flair for the dramatic.)

But really I don't feel that way about myself. After spending hours (and hours) (and more hours) writing a piece about Emma Lou Thayne for the Trib, I feel like she's one of those people. Pen and paper are always nearby for her. She really HAS to write in the same way she has to breathe or eat. Me, on the other hand? I can easily go for weeks w/o writing. But not eating. As we all know.

I always make my way back to the writing thing, though. I feel . . . obligated to do it somehow.

In the end, I think I write because when I write I understand how I experience the world. I also write because I like to connect with an audience. And finally I like the feel of words and how you can make something out of them the same way you turn yarn into socks.

BTW Radagast is an awesome poet. I thought I should just tell you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whatcha whatcha whatcha want?

I (and the Beastie Boys) have been busy asking myself that question lately. Hey, thanks for your interest, Beastie Boys! You guys are awesome!

Anyway. I've especially asked this question in regards to my writing life lately, and of course there are some things that immediately jump to mind. A lovely three-book contract with lots of money involved and also a movie deal on the side. NOT TOO SHABBY.

But that's just dreaming. And the truth is all that might not make me as happy as I think it would, although I would love to buy a new dress for opening night. So what do I really want? That I have actual control over?

The writing part, probably. I can do that. I think I'll use the next few days to set some goals, and that will feel fine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Letdown City

Well, we're back from it all. SF. The beach. The Fourth. And I'm trying to battle the inevitable letdown that happens after holidays. What's the solution? Banning holidays? Right now I'm almost tempted. NO MORE FUN, PEOPLE. Because when the fun stops, it's just not . . . fun.

Sorry. Give me an hour or two, a Dr. Pepper or two, and I'll snap out of it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rogue Waves

It's our last full day on the beach, so I woke up in a melancholy mood. This can't go on. I probably wouldn't like it if it did. But somehow I still want it to.

I've been thinking a lot of my grandmother this morning. She used to sit on the deck here wearing her floppy yellow hat and watch the waves. "They say the seventh wave is the dangerous wave," she'd say. I'd roll my eyes because my grandmother was given to odd pronouncements at times. "If you eat beets, you'll have rosy cheeks like Jackie Kennedy," for example. Or "If you put vinegar on your food, it'll melt the calories." So of course when she'd start up with the rogue wave thing, I'd always say, "Yes, but how do you know when to start counting . . . "

Still, this morning as I took my solitary stroll on the shoreline, watching the brown pelicans dive bomb into the water, I found myself looking for that seventh wave. And for the shades of our old selves left behind here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beach Stuff

My nephew Adam just wandered into the room, his luxurious locks spilling down his back. (Be jealous, girls! Be very, very jealous!) He asked what I was doing and I said I'm writing a column. So then he said did you give me a shout out? And I said no. But I'll give you one in my blog.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Bird watching

So occasionally I do a little bird watching, thanks to Gigi who always gives me tickets to the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in May. Right now I'm checking out the brown pelicans who make their home here. Love it when they glide low over breaking waves like surfers shooting the curl. And I especially love it when they go all kamikaze while fishing. They sweep through the air in wide circles, then wheel out and dive bomb--BOOM--headfirst into the glittering water.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

And now . . .

. . . we're at the beach. And, once again, it's Reality TV show time. The family next door is all Jersey Shore with the fist-pumping and the chest muscles and the big hair and gold jewelry to match. Meanwhile, they look at our license plates and me crocheting an afghan in my little lawn chair and go, "Yep. Sister Wives."

Friday, June 24, 2011

What We Did Today, Pt. 3

Rented bikes. Rode them over the Golden Gate Bridge. Swooned from the sheer awesomeness of it all.

Finished off the day with more Chinese food. Now watching the Indians beat the Giants. On TV this time--we definitely went to the better game in person.

Leaving our hearts in San Francisco tomorrow. On our way to the beach. Heaven!

Dogs and Mimes

This is for Donna.

I've been looking for the dog with glasses but haven't found him. On the other hand, I've seen more mimes than is good for a person's mental health. They're all spray-painted silver and gold, and they perform robotic-like routines to funk. Technically I guess they're more like psuedo-mimes.

But still disturbing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What We Did Today, Pt. 2

1. Started the day off with Nutella crepes
2. Also a Dr. Pepper!
3. Headed on over to AT & T Park
4. Had one of those spontaneous heart-to-hearts you sometimes have with strangers on a train--this stranger's name was Jasper, he's 74, his parents were born in Sicily, he was born in Cheyenne, and most of his aunts and uncles are dead now
5. Watched Tim Lincecum strike out twelve players
7. (We were the ones eating Gilroy Garlic Fries) (Not Tim)
8. Went to the Wharf
9. Watched seals lolling about on Pier 39
10. Those seals reminded us of our big brown newfie, Zora
11. Went to Scoma's and had GREAT food--chowder and halibut for me, pasta for the vegetarian person
12. Caught the cable car and rode to Lombard Street
13. But first listened to a guy playing Led Zeppelin tunes on a banjo
14. Walked down curvy Lombard Street and marveled at the hydrangea shrubs in bloom
15. Eventually made our way back to the hotel
16. Where we are now watching TV

Such a great day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What We Did Today

1. Flew into Oakland
2. Passed the Coliseum on the way into town and went really? The Raiders play THERE?
3. Found our adorable little hotel which feels very European
4. Strolled through Chinatown
5. Ate a good lunch at the Nanking Restaurant
6. Quinton said he's never had better tofu
7. Dude would know about tofu
8. I bought a lavender jade bangle and Q bought flamboyant hippie beads
9. Looked at the Hungry I from the outside as I mentioned to Q that Barbra Streisand used to sing there
10. And actually I have no idea if this is true or not, but my parents used to tell us this whenever we drove through San Francisco
11. Speaking of which, I am sometimes kind of amazed at how uninterested my parents were in censoring what we saw as we drove through San Francisco. Hello! I was nine!
12. But I truly don't say this as a criticism
13. Meanwhile, Q and I took the cable car to the wharf
14. Were thrilled to know that the bush guy is still there, terrorizing unsuspecting tourists
15. Also saw a herd of segways, which is always good for a laugh
16. Returned via a street car
17. Ate pizza (Q) and chicken (Not Q)
18. Went to a fancy mall on Powell and determined that no matter how inspired the architecture, all malls feel depressingly the same
19. In for the night . . . phew! We're beat!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Soliciting suggestions for SF

Q. and I are headed to San Francisco for a few days, after which we will meet the others of our tribe on the beach in So Cal where hopefully no one will get stung by stingrays this year.

ANYWAY. Any suggestions of things to do or eat while we're in the city by the bay?

Friday, June 17, 2011

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good bye

Today was the last day of WIFYR. Although I was completely exhausted I still felt . . . sad to see it end. It's been wonderful to spend so much time with people as bright and fabulous and funny as Lucinda, Dale, Neysa, Karen, Rebekah, Shar, Ernest, Christian, Andria, Renae, and Amy. They made me smarter.

Thanks, guys. Catch you later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Making A Writer's Life

So last night at the WIFYR mingle at The King's English (I love you, The King's English), Claudia Mills and I had a conversation that inspired me. (Not unusual to have that type of conversation with Claudia. She IS inspiring.) Here's what we decided.

1. While publishing is very nice, of course, you can have a satisfying writer's life w/o it. You can go on writing retreats with writer friends. You can join and enjoy critique groups. You can host a reading. In other words, you can introduce those parts of a writer's life you think would be fun into your own life.

2. And speaking of fun, what's the point if it isn't? There are published authors (with a LOT of titles even) who can still grumble with great bitterness, "Look at everything I've done and what did it get me?" Where's the joy in that?

Let's have fun, you guys.

Monday, June 13, 2011

WIFYR time!

It's hard to believe this conference is in its twelfth year. Way to go, Carol Williams and other Conference Founders! Did you think your dream would still be alive after all these years?

Anyway. It was a happy day. I loved seeing old students and meeting new ones. I would like to write more, but the Tylenol P.M. has started to kick in.


P.S. Julie, if you're in the cyber neighborhood, guess who's in my class? Remember Ernest Robertson? It's fantastic to see him again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A first!

In tomorrow's column I use the word "urinate." I think I use it tastefully but I could be kidding myself. You'll have to let me know.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shock/Retail Therapy

So I stopped at Smiths on the way home from UVU today to buy crap for dinner. Because what could be yummier than crap for dinner?

Anyhoo, as I was strolling up and down the aisles (wondering WHY OH WHY OH WHY the Avenues Smiths keeps moving stuff around) I noticed that little jolts of electrical currents were running up my fingers and into my arms. But how could that be? It's not like I was rubbing my feet on my family's old shag "candy stripe" carpet in the basement so I could shock myself on purpose. (See what fun we had growing up in Provo? DUDE! LET'S PUT ON OUR CARPET SLIPPERS, DRAG OUR FEET AROUND THE SHAG CARPET AND SHOCK OURSELVES ON PURPOSE!)

But there I was at Smiths, getting shocked all the same. And it totally HURT. I felt exactly like that hapless male student in Bill Murray's bogus ESP experiment at the first of GHOSTBUSTERS. And like that student I wanted to yell, "Hey! You're pissing me off!" Because after all I went to Smiths to buy pasta, NOT to have a rogue shopping cart mess with my body's already challenged electrical systems.

Turns out that the cart was all haywire. It thought I was trying to remove it from the parking lot even though we were just standing there in the produce aisle by the organic vegetables. So I just turned to that cart and said, "Really? If I were gonna steal a cart, trust me. I'd steal one that was nice to me."

It's been a long, long, loooooooooooooooong day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Physical Graffiti

No. This isn't a Led Zeppelin post, although I love Led Zeppelin.

This is about how Kathy and I have been seeing Graffiti-with-a-Twist on our walks early in the morning. Someone has taken to writing haiku-length poems in colored chalk on the sidewalks of the Lower Avenues. When I pointed at one yesterday, Kathy said she'd already noticed. She was especially interested in what nice handwriting the vandal has.

My Kathy. Always the first-grade teacher!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chillin' like a villain (in Utah County)

Through a combination of circumstances, I find myself in Provo for the day. I’ve spent most of it preparing for next week's WIFYR boot camp at the fabulous city library (I loves it so much!) (and I always feel proud when I see my parents' names on the donors' list as you walk through the south door!) (way to be awesome, Parents o' mine!).

Anyhoo! Here’s what I have to say. When I was growing up here, the locals (at least the kid locals) REALLY resented it when people assumed Provo and BYU were one of the same. But a funny thing has happened since I moved to Salt Lake 30 years ago. I’ve started making the exact same assumption.

Here’s the deal. Watching the patrons drift in and out of the library has reminded me that yes, Provo is predominantly white. And yes most of its citizens probably espouse some degree of Mormonism. But the population here is by no means monolithic. At all. For the record, it is possible to live in Provo and have big tattoos, crazyass multiple piercings, and inventive facial hair. And also for the record, BYU's student body (and faculty) isn't completely monolithic either

What's the lesson I'm taking away from this today? Apparently I've turned into a certain type of snotty Salt Lake East Bencher and that is SO NOT GOOD. Time to lose the stereotypes, she said to herself as she stereotyped a segment of Salt Lake residents, aka "snotty Salt Lake East Benchers."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A thought

So I have this big sprawling hairy dopey orange oriental poppy that is taking over my front yard. I've tried pulling it up year after year, but it always comes back, so I've just said FINE. Whatever. YOU WIN, BIG SPRAWLING HAIRY DOPEY ORANGE ORIENTAL POPPY! Because you know what? If something wants to BE that badly, then I probably oughta just let that thing be.

It's a tricky life act--trying to figure out when to do battle and when to surrender.

Friday, June 3, 2011

R.I.P. James Arness

Just heard from my brother Jimmy that James Arness (aka Matt Dillon) passed away. Jimmy says he hopes our grandfather, Skinny, was there to say hey, pardner. It's been awhile.

James Arness was Peter Graves' older brother, and I think they looked alike. I also think Arness looked a LOT like my dad, although curiously my dad and Peter Graves look nothing alike. So there you have it. Life. In all its complexity.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New YA novel alert!

First, snaps to Lisa B. for introducing me to the hysterically funny website Day in and day out, creators Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan bring the crazy and make me happy to be alive. Thanks for that, ladies!

And second, their debut YA novel SPOILED appears on bookstore shelves everywhere today. It's a mighty fun read--sort of what you would expect (in fuggirl talk) if CLUELESS and PARENT TRAP got together and had a baby.

Meanwhile I am reading manuscripts for the upcoming WIFYR conference, and I am impressed. I hope with all my heart that I'll be announcing the publication births of those books one day, too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So I posted this already on facebook but maybe not here? We have a new dog! A two year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel who's already housebroken and knows which fork to use at fancy dinners. He came with the name Roland, which we changed to Holmes.

Here's the thing. He may be the most genuinely sweet-natured dog I've ever met. Example. Ken always gives Zora a bowl of milk after he eats his cereal, but since Holmes needs to drop an lb. or two, Ken's decided not to share the milk love with him just yet.

Anyhoo. When Holmes sees the milk, he wags his tail and goes, "Yay! Milk!" And then when he realizes he's not getting any, he wags his tail and goes, "Yay! Not milk!"

See what I mean about sweet?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

This is a holiday I really love, but I will say that the rain and the cold kind of did me in this year. Thankfully we stopped in Provo on the way home from St. George yesterday to lay flowers on our family graves. Usually I make traditional arrangements of cut irises, peonies and snowball blossoms and stuff them in mason jars, but this year I went to the grocery store and bought some mums.

I apologized profusely about the mums to Becky when I put them on her grave.

Hope your day was a good one.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

(Wind) breaking news!

So I'm here at a convention with Ken where a) there's wi-fi! yay! and b) the average attendee's age is older. I'm not being age-ist here. This bit of information is important for the story I'm about to tell.

There's a woman sitting in front of me with her husband who just bent over to pick up her purse. When she did, the people, she broke wind. MASSIVE, wall-shaking, earth-rumbling, legendary, homerically epic wind. Which okay. That right there was noticeable and also amazing.

But here's the most amazing thing. She appeared not to notice. At all! Neither did her husband. They just . . . carried on, leaving me and my nephew Chris (he's sitting next to me) in awe. Also, slightly in fear because we are directly downwind.

Thank you for listening.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Help me, Obi wan Kenobe

Okay. First. Let me just say this is the second time today that I have hightailed it to a Starbucks for the wifi connection. I am . . . so addicted to the internet.

But I have a legitimate reason to post right now! I'm preparing for the upcoming WIFYR conference, and I would like you as fabulous readers to tell me what specifically makes you a) stick with and/or b) abandon a book after 50 pages. I want to develop a rubric (is that the fancy teacher word I want?) for responding to manuscripts.

Thank you, Obi wan Kenobe. I love you so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Down south

I'm down south for a few days and may I say it feels JUST GREAT to step outside, even at night, and feel warm air on my skin?

Anyway, as I left town I made it a point to drive past the hawthorne trees in bloom around Reservoir Park right now. The blossoms are scarlet--my favorite. I have such a fondness for hawthornes. We had a huge tree in our side yard when I was growing up. Oh, people, it was just a gorgeous blowsy bloomy girl when she was in all a flower. And then! Tragedy! My dad hired a yard crew to take out some old shrubs. But they got mixed up and took out the hawthorne, too.

We were in such shock that we sat shiva. I still mourn that tree every May.

I just . . .

re-read that U2 post and WOW! I'm so just sad now that I had temporary hardening of the let's-get-out-and-party! arteries. Here's my new vow. I WILL see U2 some time before I die. (But maybe indoors. When it's warm. So I won't have to take my little lap afghan with me.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have a long tradition of barely missing epic concerts--Led Zeppelin here in SLC in 1973 and U2 here shortly after 9/11. I swore then that before I died I'd make it to a U2 concert.

And I could have. They were here at Rice-Eccles last night. Ken even asked if I wanted to go and I said . . . no. Because I didn't care that much anymore. I figured they'd just play a bunch of new crap anyway, and who's interested in that?

As it turned out, they played a lot of their classic stuff. I know this because I could stand out on my front porch in the Aves and listen, which I did for awhile. But then I went inside because I got bored. And then I went to bed wishing the concert was over already because it was just so loud.

Did you hear that? I was whining about how the loudness of a concert would affect my sleep. Oh, people. When did I get to be such a freaking old lady?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dynamite shoes

This weekend we celebrated our daughter-in-law's graduation from medical school, WHICH WAS AWESOME. We're sooooo proud of her. Med school is not for the faint of heart, and to see her walk across the stage because she's a doctor now was truly moving.

Also, I have to say that my daughter-in-law had on a great pair of shoes, as did many of the other women graduates. We are talking serious strappy, stilty, sexy skyscraper heels and guess what! NO ONE TRIPPED. Or wobbled, really. Maybe they teach you how to do that in medical school, too?

Dear Female Graduates, I call you master.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Some thoughts on this season's finales

Oy! I can't believe what a TV-watcher I've turned into. But whatever. That's what it's there for.

Anyhoo, I feel the need to comment on how my fave shows with my BTVFFs are wrapping up, so here goes.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT CASTLE: Sometimes this show's alternating jokey/serious tone doesn't work for me, so I felt like the decision to go for full-broke intensity this time was a good one.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT CASTLE: I hate it when (Spoiler Alert!) a character we've grown to respect and count on turns out to be the bad guy. Not that the chief was a true bad guy, but still. His criminal involvement felt like a cheap plot trick. AND NOW HE'S DEAD.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT NSIC: Well, Mark Harmon, of course. I know he's getting older but so am I, which is why we suit. Also, I'm glad we've seen the last of that other team that was getting in the way the last few episodes.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: No complaints, actually, although I wish Ziva would use contractions when she talks sometimes. Lady! Your speech is so stilted! I know you're an Israeli and all, but COME ON! It's not against your religion to say can't instead of cannot!

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GOOD WIFE: This is just a smart, well-written and well-acted show. The courtroom drama about a dirty judge was just great.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I know I'm supposed to want Will and Alicia to do it. But . . . I don't know. Also, I just want her and Kalinda to be friends again.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT MODERN FAMILY: Every. Last. Little. Detail. It's always a good thing when Phil breaks out his old cheerleading moves, don't you think?


WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE OFFICE: I don't even care about The Office anymore. I hope that doesn't happen to me with MF, you know?

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE MENTALIST: That Grace's scumbag fiance got killed.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THE MENTALIST: Jane shot Red John? In the food court? At the mall? Will he have to dial in his appearances from prison next season? Aargh.

That's it. Those are my shows. I don't watch much on the weekends except for baseball and true crime stories wherein, as Alec noted on fb, the husband always did it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have I mentioned lately . . .

. . . that Jimmer the fish is still alive? He's alive, I tell you. HE'S ALIVE!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

500 words a day

I'm trying to do that word count thing again. Writing to a word count, you know. Sometimes I've shot for 1000 words a day, but lately I figure I'm good if I get 500. In fact, I am a FLAMING GENIUS if I can wrangle 500 of those difficult critters and corral them on a sheet of paper. SNAP! EXCELLENT EXTENDED METAPHOR!

Anyway. I've said this before and I'll say it again. If you're consistent about this, it's kind of amazing how many pages you wind up with in a few weeks time.

Okay. Now I feel better about calling this blog "The Writer's Corner."

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I'm on my way up to Davis county for the UELMA conference where I will be talking about boys and books. I've spent the week getting in touch with my inner ten year-old boy, who (as it turns out) is a lot like Luke on MODERN FAMILY. Like Luke, I'm the kind of ten year-old boy who likes to pull my arms back in my sleeves so it looks like I have T-Rex arms and then make I'm-going-to-eat-you-and-your-family noises. Good times!

I've found some good books reading that way this week. I'll post a few titles when I get home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stories are all around us

Here's my favorite opening paragraph from a news story in recent memory. It's from today's Salt Lake Tribune.

"A Salt Lake City man allegedly violated a protective order by showing up at a woman’s house dressed as a clown and leaving some banana bread at her door."

I'm thinking this would make one hell of a writing prompt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As you know, I pay attention to my dreams and, in fact, work hard to retrieve them--something that's gotten harder, frankly, with aging. DEAR AGING, WHY YOU GOTTA BE SO HARSH?

Anyway, this morning I woke up wondering why I bother to remember, because truthfully most of my dreams are mildly to hugely unpleasant. Like last night I dreamed this.

Random Dream Person who I Don't Know in Real Life: I've been meaning to tell you this for awhile, but you smell bad.

Me: I do?

Random Dream Person: Yes, you do.

Me: (with growing horror) Have I always smelled bad?

Random Dream Person: Bingo.

Really? These are the dreams I'm so desperate to remember? I think I'll get a new hobby.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


My dad's brother Lamar died this weekend. His funeral was today, and it was as perfect as a funeral can be. There were only three speakers--my cousin Billy, my dad, and the bishop. In between there was the most beautiful a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace" (sung by my uncle's granddaughters) that I have ever heard.

There were stories, of course, funny and sweet. All of them brought Lamar roaring back to life--seriously, he was just the best kind of badass uncle (everyone needs one, right?). Billy talked about how Lamar bought his kids a pony so wild that it took "six men and one boy" most of the day to catch him. Finally, Lamar traded the pony in and bought a sewing machine instead. Then my dad told about how Lamar convinced him and the other little brothers that a bear lived in the root cellar near the room where the boys slept. To this day my dad is afraid of the dark. Also bears. Also root cellars.

But here was the most amazing part of the service. At the end of his extremely affectionate talk, Biilly said that ten years ago they could not have had this kind of funeral--a funeral saturated with love. Lamar was an alcoholic and that reality was responsible for much hurt, much sadness. And then ten years ago Lamar quit drinking. Boom. Just like that. And everything changed. Billy thanked the Lord for the tender mercies of these past few years.

Lamar was buried in East Lawn Memorial Hills--the cemetery where we used to ride bikes when I was kid. All the people I love best in the world are buried there--my grandparents, my father-in-law, my friend Becky. After years of not talking about his years in the military, Lamar apparently asked in the end for a military burial, and he got it. A lone soldier stood in the distance and played taps, after which the flag which covered my uncle's coffin was folded in precise military fashion, then presented to Lamar's oldest son, Richard.

I am still overwhelmed by the memory of that moment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wherein I give an example of irony

So yesterday I discovered one of my parakeets had gotten her talon wedged between a cage bar and the water dish. In a frantic effort to free herself, she broke her leg . . . poor thing. I managed to set the bird free (it wasn't easy! there was blood! mine!) and immediately rushed her to the vet to see if he could do something for her.

Anyway, on my trip to the vet's where I would possibly spend a billion dollars to save a parakeet, I made a mental list of all the crap I had to do yesterday, including meal preparation and I decided to make . . . you know . . . a chicken dish for dinner.

Oh, America. What a country you are!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh, ugh!

I realized that it's Mothers' Day on Sunday, which means I am morally obligated to address that fact in Saturday's column. I'm not really a fan of the holiday, but when I once wrote a column for the D-News confessing that, you would have thought I'd said HEY! LET'S GO CLUB SOME BABY SEALS!

Gotta think of something to write . . .

Monday, May 2, 2011


I heard from a reader today that celebrating Osama bin Laden's death lowers us to his level. And, actually, I think he's sort of right. But I will say this. I am happy the bastard is dead. And there it is.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh, I am so tired

I just posted that last bit, read it through, and noticed I said that I liked that Kate wore her hair today. Good call, Princess! Wearing hair to your own wedding is seriously recommended.

So I added the word "down" as in she wore her hair down.

Time to stop blogging today. Past time, even.