Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small Things

On the kitchen counter, small things gather in their own odd world. The figures above are metal, less than two inches high and probably part of an old train set landscape. I love this pair, but it is hard to say why–because they are patiently waiting? That space between them? The way they sit and what they hold?

The frog (or toad?) is also metal and sits on a plaster leaf. The frog is slightly bigger than the couple above and could possibly eat them.

The couple and the frog live among greenery in this four-inch pottery vase made by a Southport, NC, artist.  The vase is soft blue swirled with cream; the greenery is from a winter bush by the back door.

I am partial to small vases and small things. Some day I'd like to do a very small book with small words and small illustrations and big beauty.  

Do you know the Mole Sisters books? Like those, but smaller still, and hardback.

What collects on your kitchen counter?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Round nearly every turn here in NC, you come across these enchanted scenes, trees and bushes exploding in blooms, petals sailing through the air and carpeting the ground, pollen infiltrating your eyes and nose and painting every surface.

Because we are here in NC in April and then return to western New York state at the end of the month, we are able to experience two springs--ba-bloom! There is nothing quite like the surge of spring . . . except perhaps for the red and gold trees of autumn or the first quiet snowfalls of winter.

Do you have a favorite season?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reflections on Reflections

Is the person in the mirror you or a reflection of you? Is the character in the book a reflection of the author? And which is more 'real': the person/character or the reflection?

Well. I've been thinking about reflections lately.

Maybe those musings will be reflected in the upcoming book (in 2012.)

You are real . . .aren't you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thinking Time

Every writer's office needs a comfy sofa, don't you think? Sometimes you just have to lie back and read or close your eyes and think or maybe . . .nap.

I'm a big believer in the nap as precursor-to-great-ideas.  The first page of Walk Two Moons surfaced from a nap; most other books of mine have leaped into life following a nap or a good night's sleep.

Sometimes the mind is most creative when you leave it alone.

As productive as naps, ordinary rhythmic pursuits like walking,  running, kayaking, skiing, cycling, ironing, and knitting also free the mind of clutter, allowing new insights and new connections to reveal themselves.

You do need to sit down and write in order to get a story down, and many ideas come while you are writing, but much also surfaces when you're not writing.

Take a walk. Take a nap. Leave the mind alone for a while.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bigga Moon

It's nine p.m. on this Friday evening in North Carolina, and that moon at perigee is spec-tac-u-lar. Are you gazing at it, too?

This may not be the best or clearest photo, but I like the fuzzed light--this reminds me of paintings by . . .by. . .well, the name escapes me. Perhaps you know?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revision Done (Maybe)

This is the latest revision (post editorial comments), ready to go back to my editor. Many pages have small changes; the yellow pages are new scenes.  Most of the changes came in the second half of the book, tweaking characters and plot points, uncovering new connections. Revisions could go on endlessly--no matter how many times you read something, you can always find something to tweak, but at some point you have to let go of it.

On Sunday, I loved it. On Monday, I hated it. On Tuesday, I kissed it.

And now, a reward--off to empty my brain:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Basketball Poets

Today I made my annual visit to the Basketball Poets of Supply, NC. These are student basketball players who write poetry--and poets who play basketball. This is about my seventh visit to the Bball Poets and their teacher/coach and surfing queen, Marty Mentzer, a remarkable woman with contagious energy, enthusiasm and optimism.

The group changes from year to year, but they always entertain me by reading their own poetry--and that's a very nice change for me--to be able to listen instead of being 'on' for an hour.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Comfort Dolls

I first heard about making comfort dolls–to go to African AIDS orphans–from writer and friend Karen Hesse.  Although I'm not a skilled knitter, I can follow this pattern with ease; above is part of my bundle which I'll send off soon.

They are soft and squishy, between 4-6 inches tall, easily held in the hand.  More information and pattern at:

If you're interested, you might also want to google 'comfort dolls' and/or check locally. Some community organizations and churches collect the dolls to send on in bundles, and some focus on sending to other nations, especially post-disaster.

One unexpected by-product of making these dolls is seeing that each one takes on its own character; no two come out exactly alike. I like that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Climbing Tree

I love this tree with its smooth, mottled 'skin.' When I was young I would have been up in this tree in a minute--it begs for a child to roost in it. Now it's my grandchildren and my characters who climb trees.

This one is a crape myrtle--or so we've been told. We've never been here when it blooms–we're usually up north then, where the climbing trees are the maples.

And where you are: any climbing trees?  And did you climb when you were young (or old)?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Looka, Looka

Looka, looka:  trees are budding:  spring! Always astounding. So much renewal and energy and force–especially welcome to my northern friends this year, I think. This is in NC, but soon it will creep northward . . .

And speaking of creeping and renewal: While I'm wrapping up final revisions on one book, buds for a new one are preparing to emerge. I've learned to trust this process. Yesterday, I woke with the opening to the next story, the first paragraph intact, like a flower opened overnight:

There is a larger lesson here, one not so mushy, but the words today are still stuck in the muck. Alas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Writer fuel, carefully spaced:  dark chocolate . . . cinnamon candy. . .

Also carefully spaced:  walnuts, almonds, and clementines . . .

Can't work without 'em . . .