Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happiness is . . .

So for my birthday, Lisa B. and I had a nice lunch at the Green Papaya in the WVC yo, where she presented me with three fancy little notebooks. And I did think to myself how much I love the blank notebook--how much I love having a pristine little pile of them on my shelf.


Because they're hopeful. They're just all HEY! YOU'RE A WRITER! AND YOU'RE GONNA FILL ME UP WITH AWESOME WRITING STUFF! Blank notebooks are the spring of paper products. I say that as I look out my office window and see the flowering pear in our backyard just starting to open.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers: the 2012 Edition

Okay, guys, time to start spreading the word. WIFYR is a really good conference, so if you and anyone you know is interested in writing for kids, refer one and all to this website.

I'm teaching a beginning, beginning class. Not a lot of people have signed up yet, because you know how I am. SUCH A SCARY INSTRUCTOR. There are still spaces in a number of the sessions, so come join us.

Peace out.

I cannot believe I just said peace out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Words of Wisdom

So when I taught the Boot Camp session of WIFYR last summer, I asked the students to each share a great piece of writing advice, presented in a memorable way. One of the students, Awesome Shar, gave us each a little blank notebook with these two bits written in the front.

"Put it on paper and save it for later. You might be surprised." (Mike Birbiglia)

"A bad something is better than a good nothing." (Somebody) (Who knew what he/she was talking about)

Good advice last summer. Good advice today. I'm gonna get busy now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Summoning forth

I took a walk with my friend Kimberly the other day, and she made a comment that I loved so much. She said she wishes she could summon back to herself all the naps and avocados she rejected as a child.

Naps and avocados. That should be the title of something. A poem. A short story. A song. SOMETHING.

Anyway. I've been wondering what things I've rejected in the past that I would now happily welcome into my life. Here are a few:

--my grandmother's offers to clean stuff
--piano lessons
--my father's parking sticker (I didn't want special privileges back in the day when I had scruples)
--wardrobe advice
--china when I got married
--same goes for silver
--same goes for crystal

Why did I reject the china, silver and crystal? Because I got married in the seventies when we registered for handmade hippie pottery instead. Dude. The seventies were so stupid.

Tell me what you would summon back into your life . . .

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doppelgangers and so forth

When I lived in London as a 20 year-old student, I went into a local chemist's to pick up some photos I'd had developed, and the shop clerk (who was my same age, height and build, although she did have red hair) gasped when she saw my name and said, "That's my name, too!"

We were delighted with ourselves about this, so we had a nice cheery chat about our lives, which further delighted us because she thought it was cool that a girl named Ann Edwards came from America, and I thought it was awesome that a girl named Ann Edwards came from Ireland. We said good-bye and never saw each other again.

But I think about her sometimes. Did she go back to Ireland? Stay in London? Did she marry? Have children? Get an education? Did she ever wonder if Ann Edwards from America was still alive and possibly having the life she would have had if she were Ann Edwards from America?

Now and then I wonder about the other lives I might have had. Do you? I even envision those other lives running like parallel shadows to my real life here and now, and sometimes I wish I'd get a postcard to update me on the everything that happened instead.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coming home

So I was born in Salt Lake. I lived in Salt Lake until I was six. I visited Salt Lake regularly until I was in the fifth grade because my maternal grandparents lived in our old Salt Lake house. I moved back to Salt Lake when I was 26. And yet I have always thought of Provo as home.

It's because I was a bike-riding, barefoot-running, foothill-hiking, high dive-diving, slumber party-sleeping, ghost story-telling, MAD Magazine-reading, Sears Christmas catalog-loving, cookie dough-eating, cartwheel-turning kid there. Later, of course, I was a book-reading, downtown-visiting, boy-loving, car-cruising teenager. And all the time I was flanked by mountains and lake and river and fields and peach orchards.

I had a good childhood.

Anyway. Yesterday, I had to spend some time in downtown Provo, and when I looked around I really saw for the first time how all my landmarks--the library, the tabernacle, my old high school, the campus, the department stores like Penney's and Clark's and Firmage's, El Azteca--have all changed or disappeared completely. Completely. Same with the old houses I used to love--Algie Ballif's home on University where Gigi and I used to watch the parade has been replaced with apartments. The river bottoms where Ken used to ride his dirt bike to get away from the cops is filled with shops and mansions now. NuSkin looms over Center Street like the Evil Empire (nothing personal, NuSkin! It's just that your building looks like it's into world domination.) Except for a few places (Heindselman's knit shop), my old downtown is gone.

Later, as I headed north around the point of the Mountain and entered the Salt Lake Valley, I thought to myself, "I'm home now. After all these years."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I am curious, you writers

How does an idea come to you?

For instance, if you're a poet (Lisa B., Radagast) how does the poem start? With an image? A word? An impulse? Or if you write short stories, how does that happen? And why a story and not a personal essay? Or novel? And if it is, in fact, a novel, when and how do you know it's a novel?

In other words, I want to know what your harvesting/beginning process is like. Discuss, please.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm pretty sure I'm not succeeding at this

Dear Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs,

I decided not to buy a bag of you this year, although I have been buying bags of you at Easter time for years, because I love you so much. You're my Easter guilty pleasure, but only if you are made by Brach's ("since 1904"). Leaf won't do. Leaf, in fact, is a limp pretender on the Malted Milk Egg front. Leaf Malted Milk Eggs, you are dead to me.


I eat you, Brach's Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs, and suddenly I gain those 5 pounds I was way proud of not gaining in January. So this year I said no to you and your siren egg song. Just like every year. No no no no no no no. And then I went to the grocery store not to buy you and somehow I bought you. Like twenty bags of you. And then I made my son and his wife go back to buy some more.

And I am opening a bag right now as I type this, filled with shame and remorse. But also eagerness.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Unreasonable Disliking

I'm not sure where or how or why this all started, but I kinda hate Denver. Maybe it's because Denver is always portrayed as looking like what Salt Lake actually looks like or maybe it's because Denver thinks it's way more awesome than Salt Lake is or maybe it's because I hate the way Fox Idiot Sports always assumes I want to watch The Rockies in the summer.

Which I don't.

But the deal is this: I'm just not a Denver fan. So you can probably understand why I'm not happy with my boy Peyton Manning's decision to pack his bags and give Tim ("let's have another freaking public word of prayer in front of the whole world")Tebow a holy run for his money.

Oh, Peyton. Why?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Because we've been celebrating TRQ this week . . .

Here's a copy of the column I sent in for tomorrow's paper. I hope she likes it.

When she’s in a certain mood, my mother will tell you that I never listen to her. She’ll say this with exasperated affection and then shrug her shoulders because seriously now--what are you gonna do with a daughter like that?
Anyway, this amazing woman to whom I never ever listen is having herself a birthday tomorrow. A milestone birthday (although I won’t tell you which milestone), so I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned by NOT LISTENING to my mother over the years. Here goes.
Get a dog. Sure, you can live without one, but where’s the fun in that?
In fact, get a poodle. And then spoil him rotten.
Take up knitting. It’s great therapy.
Advocate for children. Advocate for people who can’t do it for themselves.
Root for the underdog. Unless, of course, your team is playing the underdog.
Remember that loyalty is the supreme virtue, while recognizing that loyalty can turn you stupid at times.
Make casseroles and take them in when neighbors are sick.
Never forget that while men are good with the text, you can’t count on them to get the subtext.
When in need of an excuse, feel free to chalk it up to hormones.
End each meal—even breakfast—with a bite of chocolate.
Be a parent to your young children. Be a friend to your adult children.
Reside in the present moment. The past is overrated anyway.
On the other hand, you should write a personal history as a way to honor your roots.
Love your in-laws.
Keep putting up a Christmas tree, even after the kids leave.
Don’t hesitate to take on a wealthy corporation if you think that wealthy corporation is busy polluting your backyard. Or state.
Open the doors of your life and make room there for people who aren’t like you.
Take care of your friends.
Keep your partner guessing.
Throw a well-timed fit now and then just to get people’s attention.
Respect Wyoming and the fearsome mighty women who hail from there.
Go back to college and graduate if you feel like it. Even if you’re in your sixties and other people tell you not to bother.
Let the dishes wait.
Never be without a book or two. Or three. Or twenty.
Appreciate art.
Learn how to text your grandchildren.
Remember that while clothes come and go, jewelry is forever.
Take a brisk walk every morning of your life.
Take the poodle with you, even if he protests.
Worry about your kids, no matter how old they are.
Grow houseplants, because houseplants help a person survive the winter months.
Invest in a good haircut. A good haircut won’t solve your problems, but at least you can earn style points while dealing with them.
Laugh. And then laugh some more. Especially at yourself.
Well, I could go on and on. But I think I’ve made my point. I’ve been listening, even if I don’t always follow my mother’s advice—although I’d probably be a better person if I did.
Thanks, Mom. Happy birthday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Coming-Out-of-My-Cave Day Yo!

As I have VERY TEDIOUSLY AND FREQUENTLY noted I have a hard time during the winter months. I wish I didn't. Winter is beautiful, and besides I don't like being depressed. Imagine!

Anyway, my niece Kelli inadvertently helped me a few years ago when she explained that as a biology major, she and other BYU students went around dragging sleeping bears out of their caves by their hairy ankles to do . . . I can't remember what. Count them? Tag them? On facebook? But whatever. She explained that the bears weren't dangerous when they hibernate and that also they don't really sleep. They just go semi-comatose for awhile: drool, watch a lot of bad TV, eat too many carbs, etc. But when spring hits? Dude! Those mothers are outta the caves!

That's when I just decided to embrace hibernation instead of fighting it like I always do in Jan/Feb. And then when March 15th rolls around, I and my hairy ankles would just POP out of the cave.

So it's March 15th today.

Time to wake up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ferrying TRQ about Salt Lake City today

I know. I've been writing a lot about my mother lately, but she's on my mind right now because she's turning 80 on us this Sunday. WOULD YOU BELIEVE? And gf is still bringing it on the looks front. Also, she makes me laugh. Like, here's what happened today.

She came up to Salt Lake to get her hair cut by my old friend Kim Bradley, who is awesome. And after the hair stuff, she came over to my house where we made luncheon plans involving the Himalayan Kitchen. And after the Himalayan Kitchen stuff we went to Cummings where we bought candies involving penuche. Also rum. And after the penuche and rum stuff we drove back to my house where she turned to me and said, "Well! You certainly do drive like your father!"

And I said to her, "Somehow I don't feel a compliment coming on . . . "

And I was right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Let's launch us a book, shall we?

Okay, thanks for your happy words yesterday about SOPHIE. And now for the party news!

My home-away-from-home (aka THE KING'S ENGLISH) is holding an event for the book on Saturday, March 24 at 4:00. Fish will be involved. Come say hello!

And now I'm off to write today's words.

Monday, March 12, 2012


But first, this. Thank you for all your princess comments. Loved reading them. Felt like we were in a room together, all of us having a chat.

Okay, so my new picture book SOPHIE'S FISH debuts on the (OMINOUS!) 15th of March. This week! I like the way my friend Sara Zarr always celebrates her release dates, so I think I will do the same. If you don't make a party out of your own life, who will?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Princesses and so forth

NOT A NEWS FLASH! A lot of little girls today sure like to do the princess thing, right? And there's lots of princess stuff for them to enjoy--books, coloring books, games, dolls, dress-up clothes.

Anyway, I know there's a conversation going on about this phenom among parents, educators, psychologists, and possibly real-live princesses who are pissed that their turf has been hijacked.


I haven't paid much attention because I didn't have daughters, but I might now that I have myself a couple of grandgirls. What do you think about this? Why is it happening? Is it healthy? A problem? A little of both? Should I write a princess book myself?

I will say this. I never ONCE pretended I was a princess when I was a kid. I was more interested in being an orphan because orphans are awesome and no one tells them when to go to bed.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And yet again my blog saves my bacon

And you all know how I love me some bacon!

I kind of dashed off that letter to Emma earlier this week about her grandfather's VW. And after I read through it, I thought hey! I could turn this one into a column! So I did. Just ripped myself off and lifted whole meaty word chunks straight from one page to another.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: one of the useful things about keeping a blog if you're a writer is that it can act as "an artist's sketchbook" for the other writing you have to do.

I know! Awesome-ness!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TRQ and the tattoo

And the story continues.

Apparently after I forwarded my kids the picture of me standing in front of the tattoo parlor, my third son called my dad and told him---hahahahahahahaha--that his mom just had some ink done. By then my brother was at a lacrosse game with my parents who'd made the drive down from St. George to watch a couple of their grandsons play. Apparently my dad thought it would be fun to share the joke with TRQ.

Dad: Yo. Our middle-aged daughter just got a tattoo.

Only TRQ didn't laugh. She went white. She turned to my brother, panic-stricken, and said, "Really? She did that? At the Precious S?"

And my awesome brother went, "Yes. She has a tattoo of everyone's initials now. Except for Quinton's. By the time they got to the "Q," she ran out of arm."

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'd like to show you a picture

But no one is home to help me upload the image. So yeah. I'm lame.

Anyhoo! Here's a description. Me. In front of a place called "The Precious Slut Tattoo Parlor" in Vegas. (I was only in town mere moments, Donna, otherwise I would have called you!) It was next to a Cuban cafe where my brother took me to eat pork, rice and black beans. He snapped my picture with his iPhone and sent it to my phone. I then proceeded to send it to all my kids just to scare 'em.

Dude. Brothers do not come any better than that. Thanks for the good times, Jimmy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tom Brown's VW

Dear Emma,

You asked me to tell the story of the day I ran into your grandfather's VW. And because I love you, here goes.

To begin with, I myself was in a VW. And now that I think about it, I'm not sure Tom was, although I have always remembered it that way, because what could be a more irresistible image? Two bugs colliding!

Anyway, I was HAULING down the sloping part of 1400 East, because I was late for Mutual. And when Ann is late, you should NOT get in her way, even if she has the yield sign and you don't. Apparently, however, no one gave your grandfather the memo. So as I was hauling and planning to take a right turn, suddenly your grandfather innocently appeared in the intersection, also on his way to MIA with a car crammed full of kids.

Seriously, Emma, it was like a clown car. EVERYONE was in there. Your mom. John. Allison. Maybe Elizabeth. The mayor. A few Osmonds. Several foreign dignitaries, including the president of France and also his mistress. Also the Pope. So you get the picture. The car was REALLY full. And it didn't stop, because it had the right of way. And I didn't stop because (I don't know) I just kind of forgot to.

I'll always remember the look on everybody's faces as I hurtled toward them. Their eyes were wide and their mouths were open and it was clear the president of France was shouting "Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!" Meanwhile, your grandfather, the kindest man in the world, was all "I can't believe this is going to happen. But I'm pretty sure it is."

And it did.

Everybody was okay.

And nobody spoke of it again. Not even that night at Mutual. Meanwhile both cars got magically fixed by the VW fairies, aka Tom and LaVell.

See how many memories I have of you and your family, Emma?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hey, hey Davy Jones

A little tribute to the music of my youth!

Friday, March 2, 2012

And actually

. . . that previous post was about TRQ. Not TQR. You know how it is. Mothers always make you dyslexic.

Right now Ken and I are at his law conference retreat deal, and we have already embarked upon the heater wars. We have this issue worked out (more or less) in our own home. But when we're in a motel room there's always a fight because I want. it. warm. and. he. wants. it. cold.

It's bad when you wait for your partner to go to bed so you can adjust the thermostat without him seeing you. STILL! LAST MAN STANDING, RIGHT?