Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oh yeah. I wrote a column this week.

I almost forgot to post this.  It's about how I used to love spring.  And then how I hated spring.  And now how I love it again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


There are a few things I look forward to every summer--baseball games, a beach vacation, and WIFYR.  You've heard me talk about WIFYR, right?  It's only the best conference IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD for people who want to write for young readers.  And this year my assistant is the fabulous Bruce Luck who comments here and on his own blog.  Read what he has to say about our plans this summer.

Take it away, Bruce!

The writing gods must be smiling on me. Last year I sat in Ann’s WIFYR workshop and this summer I get to be her assistant again. This will be my seventh WIFYR and every conference I’ve attended has been refreshing,  inspiring, and informative.
Ann’s plan for this workshop is to have participants share and critique 20 pages of a manuscript. She will guide her instruction based on what comes out of this. Critique is the heart of the WIFYR morning sessions. In these intense sessions, each writer gets specific input, particular to the project they are working on. In addition to Ann’s recommendations, there are other concerned novelists asking for clarification, making suggestions, and offering opinions. As writers, we develop a tunnel-visioned view of our story. Outside eyes, neutral and unbiased, can see things we, who are so connected to the tale, cannot. Even when the work of others is being critiqued, your knowledge of the craft grows. Participating in critiquing deepens your own understanding of the writing process. Morning workshops at WIFYR truly are amazing.
From the critiques, Ann will custom her instruction. She did this well last summer, covering character, plot, and setting. The thing that has since resonated with me is her thoughts on grounding. As writers, we have a clear vision of our characters and the world they inhabit. Our readers do not and the key to effective writing is in sharing that view with readers. Establishing your setting is the first ingredient to grounding the reader. There must be no mistake about when and where the story is set. With each scene change, we must insure the reader is with us before our people play out the action. The same grounding goes for the characters. Readers can never have the intimacy you have for the characters, but they do need a sense of each person, their inner psychy and rationale for the way they behave.
Though she has written PB to YA, this year Ann will focus on the YA genre. She will also address issues that confront all writers, even the most experienced of authors. Follow this link for a full description of her class.
As always, the agents and editors visit each workshop. They share their contact info and query expectations. Most importantly, they value your participation and commitment to writing. They see you as serious and worthy of consideration. The effort elevates you above the thousands adding to their slush pile.
  Do yourself a favor. Spend a week at WIFYR and be amazed. Ann creates a safe and comfortable environment in which you share, develop, and improve your story. Join ten or twelve other like-minded writers as we cheer each other on and strive to make every story the best it can be. It’s truly, a magical experience.
The writing gods will smile on you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Drawing yourself

Look!  I was a cartoonist in my previous life as an eleven year-old!

I love that the mother is wearing a dress and an apron (also heels!) just like Beaver Cleaver's mom.  Also check out her badass perm.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reading yourself

Okay.  Old diaries and old scrapbooks--especially the ones you kept in junior high school--are just really embarrassing.  I'M CRINGING as I go through these boxes that TRQ unloaded here.  There is absolutely nothing scarier in this life than a fourteen year-old female with a bad case of hypergraphia.

But yeah.  There are definitely laughs to be had.  I found a picture of an old cat of mine with this caption.

"This was Baby.  She was one of my favorite cats ever.  Unfortunately she got hit by a car."

Nobody wrote a better Cat Obit than I did back in the day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Things my brothers said when we were young

TRQ found a couple of boxes full of my old papers, which she delivered to my house last week.  Most of what I found inside of them is worthless.  Who needs my class notes for Anthropology 101?


I did find an old "autograph" book I kept in the fifth and sixth grades.  Autograph books were full of blank pages for friends to write things on--sort of like yearbooks but without the photos.  Anyway, I apparently let my brothers write  in it.  Here's what they said:

Dear Ann

I love you.  You are my funist sister.  I think you are a good skier.  

Love John

What I love about this is that I am John's ONLY sister.  So the competition for "funist" wasn't fierce.  But the sentiment is nice anyway.  The next bit is from my brother Jimmy.

Dear Ann,

I love you.  You are a pretty girl.  You are the best junior high writer.  I hope you grow up to be a model.  You're too pretty to be a dancer.  Here's a joke.  Do you want to hear a dirty joke?  The pig fell in the mud.  Do you want to hear a clean joke?  The pig took a bath.  Here's another joke.  "Say Captain."  "Captain."  "Crunch."  Here's another one:  Why did the guy salute the fridge?  Because it was General Electric.  Your loving brother Jimmy.

There are SO many things I love about this, including the fact that it's in my handwriting, so either I was taking dictation OR making all of it up.  I also like the way Jimmy had standup material before the age of 6.

To this day he's still my favorite comic.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Apparently some of my boys were texting each other this morning about how Mom has turned into the kind of "journalist" who puts words in the mouths of politicians she doesn't like and then lets it rip, to which I can only say this--after all these years, I'm glad those boys are finally reading my column.

(Love you, Boys.  Even though I know you still don't read my blog.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Everybody should have a Denna in their life

Years ago when Ken Cannon and I moved into this neighborhood, I was befriended by a woman closer to my mother's age than to mine.  Denna Hale.  But we took to each other immediately because we like a lot of the same things.  Dogs.  Holidays.  Tea parties.  Miniatures.  Antique dolls.  Gardens.  Picture books.  

A few weeks ago I received an invitation in the mail to an "Irish tea party" to be held at Denna's house. In her kitchen she had two tables with tea cups--but instead of drinking tea, we used those cups to create miniature fairy gardens.    

This is the essence of Denna.  Making magic for the rest of us.

Is that a leprechaun in my tea cup?

To be sure!  And he's ready for his close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Interview with the lovely Jean Reagan!

Jean is a friend and a fellow author.  She has a new picture book coming out this month and so it only made sense to interview her for the paper.  Here we go!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

When cupcakes go rouge

HAHAHAHA!  I meant "rogue," obv, but I LOVE IT WHEN I MISSPELL THAT WORD.  It's just good times all around when I think of cupcakes wearing makeup.

Anyway.  I have been craving cupcakes, so I thought rather than driving all over hell and gone to buy me some, I'd make them.  I found a recipe for coconut cupcakes and I SWEAR I FOLLOWED IT.  It did involve an 8-oz box of cake mix, so I bought a Jiffy mix and maybe that's where things went wrong?  Maybe Jiffy is bad seed?  Maybe Jiffy mixes like to subvert the rules, thus leading to the breakdown of society at large?

Anyway.  There they are--my non-compliant cupcakes.  You know.  The ones wearing leather jackets who skipped out of class and went behind the school to smoke a few cigs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A step-by-step guide to telling a white lie

1.  Make arrangements to meet your friend Lisa B. for breakfast at Bambara's because both of you are in the mood for the fancy.

2.  Wake up and realize that TODAY! IS! THE! DAY!

3.  Use a lot of exclamations points.

4.  Get ready and head on downtown.

5.  Park on the street and tell people walking by that you hate SLC's meter system and that secretly you're glad, glad, glad that the city has lost a lot of money on them because YOU TOLD THEM SO.

6.  Except, of course, that now we're stuck with them.

7.  Hustle into Bambara and get a table for two.

8.  Sit there and talk to your waiter for awhile who tells you he likes your sweater with the seahorses on it because seahorses are awesome BECAUSE the dads have all the babies.

9.  Take a look at your phone and see Lisa B's text apologizing for being late because she overshot Market Street.

10.  Wait.  Market Street?


12.  ANSWER:  Yes.

13.  Quick.  You gotta get outta "Dodge," aka "Bambara."

14.  Now comes the white lie part.

15.  Tell your server you just received a text from your girlfriend who can't come because there's been an emergency.

16.  Under no circumstances mention that the emergency is that her friend (you) is an idiot.

And that, my friends, is how it's done.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A love letter to San Francisco

You know why?  Because after all these years I still love the city by the bay.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Tis the Season

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!  I will be eating one of these every day until Easter.

Meanwhile, I've caused a few of you some distress with that last post.  Seriously, I am just fine.  I have just been feeling my age a bit.  Thanks for your concern, and I will dial down the drama.

Meanwhile, let me know if you find hot cross buns to sample.

Friday, March 7, 2014

An update on the Brain Front and also when did I turn into that person?

So I've never been much of a hypochondriac.  I had my grandfather to take care of that bizness for me.  (He was a fabulous darling man, but he was pretty sure he was dying most of his life--and of course he lived until he was 96 years old.)

Anyway.  I'm essentially lazy on the health front, and I don't have much of an imagination when it comes to germs, so there you are.  Historically I've shrugged everything off.  Even when I shouldn't have.  Ask Phil about the time I didn't believe the gym teacher at West when she called and told me my son needed stitches.


The last few days I've had this pain in the right side of my head--a different kind of pain than migraine pain and stress headache pain.  It isn't bad really.  I just notice it a lot.  Also, I've been really tired.
In the past I would have just assumed I was tired because I go to bed at 11:00 and get up at 5:00.  And I would have barely noticed the head pain because for decades I had a headache every day of my life.

However!  These days I'm going around thinking I have Emergency Cancer of the Brain.  Like, that's the first thing I thought.  I'M TIRED!  MY HEAD HURTS A LITTLE!  I HAVE EMERGENCY CANCER OF THE BRAIN!

I'm not sure why I've reacted like this.  Maybe I'm just more aware of the fragility of everything and that I'm definitely on the downhill side of this life.

Unless, of course, I live to be 116, in which you're all invited to my party.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


UGH.  I really hate to have pictures of me taken.  I am uncomfortable in front of a camera and it shows.  However, I am sometimes asked to provide photos of myself for various events and sometimes I'm supposed to get those photos out RIGHT NOW!  So I just took this picture on the back porch.

I call it "Serious Author Face Still Life.  With Man Hand."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

This day

March 4 is a significant date for me for several reasons.  The first is that this is the anniversary of my friend Becky's death.

A while ago I had a dream that Becky and I were together, and I was surprised that she was irritated with me.  I felt badly done by because haven't I been a true and loyal friend to her memory for all of these years?  But then I realized (in a crazy dream way) that Becky was irritated with me because she felt like I wasn't doing a very good job of expressing my love and appreciation for the fabulous friends of mine that are still here and on whom I rely daily.

Which brings me to March 4th again.  This is the birthday of my other great childhood friend, Gigi Ballif.  Happy birthday, Gigi!  May you continue to live your life in your big, open-hearted fashion.  I am so excited for you to have your first grandchild arrive in the next few months, and it will be a pleasure to watch you do what you do best--love everyone unreservedly.

I never had sisters, but I have something better than sisters.  I have sisters of my own choosing.

Here's to my friends.    Thank you, all.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My garden is waiting for me

The garden looks mostly brown and mostly dead.  But I think of all the green beneath and tell her she's beautiful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Yeah, I'm over at fb. I can't switch around so much.

See you there.

Kerry Washington . . .

is pregnant.  Obv.   Is it the president's?  I'm asking because I really don't know.

Never mind! Ima gonna post here, too.

Because it would feel wrong not to be here at the Writer's Corner.

Not a fan of Harrison Ford's facial hair tonight.


Okay, I usually post here on my blog during the Oscars.  But I think I'll take the party on over to facebook tonight.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Boys and books

Here's my piece.  It appears online today and in the paper tomorrow.  It never occurred to me that I was being sexist by talking about this subject, but I had a little (friendly) feedback suggesting that I was.
Again, it's always interesting to see how people respond to things.