Wax Paper Kazoo

One of the top keywords by which people find my blog is "wax paper kazoo," due to this post. I'm thinking about working wax paper kazoo into all of my posts.

Book Signing at Urban Think!

Last week, Bruce and Medea Harris hosted my first book signing at their bookstore, Urban Think!, an eclectic bookstore in the cool part of town. To get there, you drive over brick roads that wind around small lakes; oaks line the road, draped in Spanish moss.

When I arrived, Jim Crescitelli, the manager, welcomed me with a hug and a stack of my books. I like this bookstore because it smelled like coffee and made me feel all literary and stuff. Lots of friends and family dropped in, and even people I didn't know bought books and talked with me! By the end of the day, Violet Raines had SOLD OUT!

Here's how the day went (courtesy of my mom, the photographer):

This is Jim.
I got him to come outside during one of the rare moments
he wasn't busy with customers or helping someone on the phone.

My sister constructed this board
using photos I took at the Econlockhatchee River.

Serendipity! Julie Compton, author of the legal thriller, Tell No Lies, ran out of books at a book signing and came to Urban Think! for more copies. That's her below on the left. I also met her husband, Eric Compton (on the right), who just happens to work at Scholastic! He recognized my book and introduced himself right away. It was a thrill to meet him, and more thrilling yet to know he was familiar with Violet Raines!

All in all, a great day! Thanks Urban Think! and thank you to all the wonderful people who visited that day!

Hello Lake Highland Preparatory School!

Bruce and Medea Harris, owners of Orlando's Urban Think! Bookstore, invited me to participate in their book fair hosted at beautiful Lake Highland Preparatory School. Boy, am I glad I said yes! I've never seen the halls so decked out at a book fair. The event took place inside LHPS's Black Box theater, the perfect backdrop for the fantastical decorations that must have taken days to put up.

On top of that, I got to talk one-on-one with so many students, boys and girls, and I once again discovered how bright and optimistic our children are. One thing I loved hearing was that almost every student said reading or playing outside was their favorite pastime.

Thank you, Urban Think! and Lake Highland Prep--I had a wonderful time!

Free Books!

Donna Gephart is giving away free copies of her book, as if being 12 3/4 isn't bad enough, my mother is running for president!

Check it out here!

Hello Stone Lakes Elementary School!

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking about writing and Violet Raines to more than a hundred students at Stone Lakes Elementary School in Orlando. The students impressed me with their excellent behavior. I'm always amazed by the reception of children; they're ready to accept you--they want to accept you--and they're so open.

As I spoke, cute little faces smiled back at me. Talk about feeling welcome! And their questions were insightful: Are you like Violet? Is Eddie based on anyone? How long does it take to write a book? Did you make the cover? These students were engaged, and that made my visit all the more wonderful.

Here are some of Stone Lakes' finest. Go Eagles!

Fiery Beauty

Winter in Florida brings sunsets that are overwhelmingly beautiful. This is the scene in my backyard tonight.

A Visit From Scholastic!

A crew from Scholastic came to my house and filmed me for their author DVD! My editor mentioned the request to me a few weeks ago and I was like Tell them yes! I am ready for my close-up!

A few emails and phone calls later, these guys showed up:Scott Bennett, Larry Decker, Juan Cruz, and me!

We filmed in my house, my gazebo (which my husband built with his own hands!), and at the Econlockhatchee River. Altogether, there must be about four or five hours of tape; I sure hope they get two excellent minutes out of it--that's about my slot on the CD.

Larry, Scott, and Juan were all nice guys and very professional. Larry liked the banana bread I made (all right, Larry!). Speaking to a camera was a little challenging, but Scott and Larry provided good prompts for me to cover on film.

My mom served as my personal photographer that day, except when I snatched the camera from her and snapped one of her. Here's how the day went:

Lots of good things have been happening for Violet Raines recently: chosen as a Children's Book of the Month Club Selection; good reviews in Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Orlando Magazine, and TeensReadToo; picked up by Scholastic Book Clubs and Scholastic Book Fairs; and I'm lined up for appearances at Stone Lakes Elementary, Lake Highland Preparatory School Book Fair, Urban Think! Bookstore book signing (my first!), First Books Panel at SCBWI Miami, and Trout Books book signing.

I bought one of those plasma balls to sit on my book table, the kind that emit electricity and little lightning bolts. I think students will love it! Also, I searched the world over and found these alligator trinkets to give away at my book signings.

All of this is a first for me--wish me luck!

Thank You

First off, thank you to everyone for your kind emails and posts regarding my brother Chris. Your words of encouragement and hope mean a lot to me; I hold onto them as things are not quite settled around here. Because my brother was single, my sister, my mom, and I are settling his house, going through his things, and deciding what to do with his furniture. This is very hard.

I know a lot of you have lost somebody and it was hard on you, too. I am sorry for your loss. I wonder how it is for a husband or wife to live in the same house after their spouse died. I can only think it was hard at first but comforting later.

A long time ago, I bought this cheap little picture in a green frame for my brother. It showed a cartoon man in a bathtub, and the caption at the bottom read Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. Chris hung that stupid picture in every apartment he ever lived in, and he last hung it in a prominent corner of the kitchen in his new house.

It makes me smile just to think of it.

It's Been A While

It's been a while since I've posted or spent any time on the Internet.

My brother Chris died suddenly and terribly in September, and I am still making my way back from the grief and the shock. Chris and I talked about three or four times a week on the phone and I saw him about once a week or so. He was a sweet and gentle person, smart and funny. When I was single, all my single friends wanted an introduction to him.

"Uncle Chris was my favorite uncle," my son said yesterday. "And I told him that when he was still alive."

How grateful I am for that. Also, for some reason, I hugged my brother twice the last time I left his house--I didn't remember hugging him the first time. I am grateful for that too. I am grateful for my brother.

He was a big supporter of me--my writing, my kids, my worries and hopes. He was very proud of me and Violet Raines and hoped for big writing success and more books for me.

I loved him. That's really all there is to say. I loved him.

I am working to get back to a normal schedule with writing and blogging. Though I may not post or comment too much for a while, I will be around, reading your blogs and thinking good thoughts of you.

Depressions, Storms, and Hurricanes

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? Tis the absence of the stormy Fay.

Hooray! Tropical Storm Fay has left the building! Though I will not be quick to celebrate--what was Tropical Depression Seven last night has this morning become Hurricane Gustav.

For those who aren't familiar with the cycle, storms that we call hurricanes start in the Atlantic Ocean, far away from Florida. A concentration of thunderstorms is called a Tropical Depression; should it become more organized with sustained winds of 39-73 mph, it is promoted to a Tropical Storm and given a name. The same storm, with just one mile faster wind speed, is a hurricane.

We are in the hurricane season.

One has only to watch NASA's satellite videos to see how massive and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms are (even TS Fay encompassed Florida as she lollygagged over it). Though weather forecasters predict many more named storms (meaning organized cyclones with sustained winds of 39-73 mph), I pray the season will be gentle to all of us and the small islands south of here.

Violet Raines is in Bookstores!

Even Tropical Storm Fay could not stop me from driving to Barnes & Noble to see Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning on official bookstore shelves!

Here's the "Where's Waldo?" version:

and a close-up (face-out service provided by moi).

I was so proud of Violet, sitting there quietly with her peers--I had to take her home. My first sale! Hooray!

Bad News, Good News

Tori Spelling has dropped out of the Beverly Hills 90210 spinoff. When, oh, when will they stop toying with us like this?

In other news, Violet Raines will be released tomorrow! YAY!

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

And the Winner Is . . . Wait, Three Winners?

First off, thank you to everyone who entered the contest and to Rena, the brave soul who posted first and Travis, who expressed interest in the gator jerky. The poems were marvelous!

I wrote the names down, cut them up, and put them in a bowl, whereupon my beloved and handsome son pulled out the name of the winner. Except he pulled out two. So then we had to have a tie-breaker, which involved putting the names through all sorts of obstacle courses.

The winner of the Violet Raines goodie bag is BRENDA!

Brenda, come on down! Behind door number one is a bobble alligator, a strip of gator jerky, and a hardcover copy of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. You are the winner! Email your address to me so you can start enjoying your prizes as soon as possible. (My email is listed at the bottom of this post.) Let us know how you enjoy that gator tail!

We didn't think it was fair that two names got pulled out at the same time, so we have a second winner: JUDY, come on down! A hardcover copy of Violet Raines awaits you behind door number two. Send me your address and the book will be on its way.

And my small assistant wanted a boy to win. TRAVIS, come on down! My assistant liked your poem and your picture and the fact that you are male. Behind door number three, a copy of Violet Raines has been hand-selected just for you. Just email me your address. (My assistant says he hopes you are happy that you've won a book.)

Congratulations to the winners! And thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Your encouragement and interest means a lot to me. Here's my email address: danette at danettehaworth dot com. If you have trouble with that, contact me through my website or PM me through Verla Kay's.


Free Copy of Violet Raines and Some Other Stuff!

Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning comes out next week! YAY!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a Violet Raines goodie bag: a copy of Violet Raines, a bobble alligator, and one packaged strip of gator tail (this ain't chicken, folks).

Please enter my giveaway! Just leave me a comment with Violet's name in it. This contest ends Friday, August 15th at midnight or whenever I wake up on Saturday and say so. Check in Saturday to see if you need to email me your address!


I'm enjoying a nice day at the springs, trying to look nonchalant while all the time scanning the river for alligators when S yells, "Look!" I don't see anything at first, but then I notice a slight wake and its lizardy source.

"Get the camera!" I shout. "Run!"

He runs one direction and I run across the bridge to the floating dock. That stubborn gator is paddling out of a corner where I'd just been sitting looking for him. Lucky for me, a guy on the floating deck is fishing. Mr. Gator appears to have some interest in the lure.

S walks over (not following orders) and shoves the camera into my hands. I'm poised, ready. I've been waiting a long time for this shot.

"NOW!" S yells. "Take it NOW!"

"I'm trying," I say.


I put the motor drive on and try to follow Mr. Gator. Word's gotten out, and a bunch of kids and adults pound down the dock, causing it to bob in the water. Since I'm standing on the edge with my eye against the camera, the dock feels like a ship in high seas and I'm almost woman overboard.

Mr. Gator slips under some weeds. Ha! As if we'd forget. Some people canoe right over him. "There's an alligator under you!" we yell.

"Where? Where?" They lose their rhythm for a moment, paddle in circles. When they don't see anything, they seem to decide we're joking and they dip their oars lazily, slowly floating away.

After a few minutes, the gator emerges in all of his crocodilian glory, spiky back and all.

"Now! NOW!"

I fire off a bunch of shots; I got him good now. Like a submarine, he slips underwater and disappears. We leave the dock. I am happy, because the first picture I took when I got here was this:

The Countdown Begins!

Violet Raines will be on bookshelves two weeks from today!


I Got a Two Book Deal!

Awesome news and I am bursting! I landed a two-book deal with Walker Books! Here's the blurb from PM:

Author of the forthcoming debut VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING Danette Haworth's THE HOTEL OF BLUEBERRY GOODNESS and ME AND JACK, again to Stacy Cantor at Walker, by Ted Malawer at Firebrand Literary.

I feel so excited! Thank you Ted and Stacy for your hard work and belief in my writing. Thank you to all my friends on Verla Kay who've already sent heaps of congratulations and you go, girl! and thanks to LindaBudz, who told me about the PM blurb, and thank you to Kim Kasch and her sons who sang a song of celebration for me! I keep clicking into Kim's blog to watch it--it's awesome! Click here to watch the video. *Spoiler alert* These guys are gorgeous!

I'm going on a little vacay, but I'll post more details next week!

Summer Friend's Birthday Party!

Summer Friend is one-year-old today!

Thanks for all your visits and your comments, gosh, and I can't believe you drove through the rain to get to the party. Coming down, isn't it! Well, don't just stand there with your umbrella dripping, come on in!

Chocolate cake awaits you in the comments section, along with a sundae bar (endless trips). Pop, bottled water, and select cordials are on the island. (Don't overindulge!)

Before you go, here are a few of my favorite Summer Friend memories:

Queries and the Artist Formerly Known as Danette Haworth
America's Next Top Writer
The Man With Dirty Hands
Signs from the Road
Wildlife Week In Which I Encounter Wildlife Where It's Not Supposed to Be: You Won't Believe Your Eyes!
Walker BFYR Bought My Book!
Let the Games Begin

Now let's go have cake!

Calling All Children's Debut Authors

Alice Pope, editor of CWIM, is looking for debut authors of children's books to feature in the 2010 CWIM. Click here for the details on her blog. Get those emails rolling, people--the deadline is August 8th!

Jimmy, Brenda, and Give Me the Money

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I discover that Jimmy Fallon is slated to take over Conan's spot as the host of NBC's Late Nite. And Shannen Doherty has signed on for the new 90210 series. I ask you, could life get any better?

I was never a member of the "I Hate Brenda Club." For me, she was neither here nor there; it was handsome Jason Priestly I liked. I can't believe he hasn't signed on yet! What is he holding out for? A free sundae at the Peach Pit? Maybe he doesn't want to be a teen idol again, but Jase--we're older now, you won't be a teen idol--you'll be a thirtysomething idol!

As for the money, well, don't be jealous, but I found a five dollar bill crumpled up on the path around alligator pond, and someone in front me had just walked right by it! Talk about luck! Nothing makes you feel luckier than finding money, especially the paper kind. But don't worry, I won't spend it all in one place.


Me, after a rotten night's sleep!

Almost Live From Daytona Beach!

We spent the weekend at The World's Most Famous Beach--Daytona Beach!
The first image is the historic Daytona Beach Pier, which has been washed out and rebuilt more than once. In its heyday, the building has housed a ballroom and a casino. The skylift is absolutely terrifying--it thrusts you out over the pier, high and away from any feeling of safety; I felt as though I would slip out of the seat and plummet into the ocean. I highly recommend this ride!

The sixteenth floor oceanview room was the best place to see everything: people, dolphins, the boardwalk;I'll never get over the mystery and the endlessness of the ocean, especially in the evening. The night was especially dark because a squall settled over the beach, but that didn't stop some partygoers, who stopped at the bandshell to catch some local acts.

The boardwalk never sleeps. People stroll beachside, stopping at vendors for ice cream and trinkets. I saw a man get down on one knee in front of a woman. She squealed, hugged him, and then whipped out her cell phone.

Here's the pier at night. .....................................................................

Saturday night fireworks! I like the triplets, but my favorite photo is the grand finale below because you can see people running away from the water!

Daytona Beach--it was wonderful.

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

The phone's been ringing off the hook and I've had all kinds of delivery men dropping off boxes for my husband (the gadget man) and just now, UPS pulls up and I'm like What else has he ordered? but when I pick up the package I see it's for me. But I already got my Brian Regan DVD the other day and I'm tired, so I don't remember what I ordered, and I can't make out the return address and why am I standing here, I'll just open it and see.

I rip it open.

I gasp.

My little boy yells "Are you okay?"

I cannot answer.

It's my book. It's my book! I feel like crying just looking at it. I can't wait for my mom to see it and all my family and friends.

I am so moved receiving this copy Violet Raines. Feeling the heft of it--a HARDBACK!

My neighbor is home. I imagine her opening the door and me pushing my book at her. I know she'll be happy for me. But my vision does not stop there--why not go door-to-door and show all of them? They like me! They smile and wave when we check our mailboxes. But it's thundering and lightning! If I go door-to-door right now, I'll almost get struck by lightning. Of course, a slight graze might be good for sales, you know, the lightning and all.

I decide against this sort of publicity and instead repeatedly dial my mom who does not answer. BMZ are all excited for me. One of them wants to know if we're famous now. No, no, I say, as I secretly envision the movie. I wonder if I can appear as an extra in the crowd scenes.

No matter, when Hollywood calls, I will be ready. For now my book is here--MY BOOK IS HERE!

Crafty Cat

July 4th!

Interviewed by Cynthea Liu

Cynthia Liu interviewed me for her site Writing for Children and Teens. This site is chock full of information, interviews, tips, and quips from Cynthea's sidekick, Snoop. Click here to read the interview.

Book Roast--It's What's for Supper

Chris Eldin and friends are serving up books and more on their new blog Book Roast. Posts will include short book excerpts, silly questions, and stuff you can win! Check it out!

I Ran into an Old Friend

I knew I recognized that voice. I was throwing darts in this restaurant when I heard him, and I looked around. Gosh . . . was that . . .

I looked at him openly, but he didn't seem to know me. I swore it was him. I thought about doing the usual procedure in this case--yelling out his name and watching to see if he responded. Or I could just pretend I didn't see him.

Instead, I walked by his table and said, "Excuse me, are you T?"

T looked up, curious. "Yes"

"It's me, Danette!"

A smile and affection washed over his face. I slid into his booth and caught up with him and his dinner companion, his boy who is now a man.

T is doing something new with his photography. As I listened to him, I got caught up in his enthusiasm. When someone is passionate about something, they exude excitement and it's contagious. It's inspiring to listen to another artist talk about their work, what they're trying to do, and how it's going. I love that type of conversation.

Then my Reuben got served and it was time for me to go. But it was wonderful running into an old friend and remembering the work we used to produce together, and even better, sharing the new work we're both doing now.

Friday the 13th

It's Friday the 13th! (Cue ominous music.) Have you had any bad luck today?

Tidbits from the Newspaper

The local paper's editors are so smart. Look at these nuggets:

Don't exercise too much too soon.
Don't worry. I am already fulfilling this advice.

Dine out for Father's Day.
HA! Like you had to tell me.

A few other bits I found interesting:

Though the high today will be 90, it will feel like 97. This perceived difference is called the heat index; it's the Floridian equivalent of what you up north call the wind chill factor. The Almanac tells me that today, the sun will damage my skin after I am outside for ten minutes. I will combat this effect with my number 50 SPF.

Someone's selling a size ten wedding gown. It's beautiful, she says, and never worn.

I see ads like that all the time--huge diamond rings going for a fraction of their value, "divorce" garage sales, infant car seats for sale. These items represent huge events or the passage of time in the lives of people I don't know. I linger on these ads, wondering about the stories behind them. It's weird being privy to what you think might have happened, yet quite intriguing.

Hmm. Time to get the notebook out.

Happy Birthday, Stephen Parrish

Happy birthday, Stephen!

Surprise, surprise! A little birdie came and whispered in my ear. Stephen is one of my blogging buddies and if you've never checked out his blog, do visit. Don't be fooled by those tear-jerking Hallmark commercials Stephen posts--he also tears into politics and other controversial subjects and he does not back away from being specific! You might be uncomfortable; you might disagree; but you will definitely be made to think!

Plus, he plays with Barbies!

Notes from the SCBWI Florida Mid-Year Workshop

Me: I'm a little nervous about the workshop. I want to talk with other writers, but I don't know them and I don't know what to say.

Him: Here's how I do it--if I see a kid outside on a Ripstik, I say, "Can you do tricks on that?" and then I say, "Can I have a turn?" Then we start talking about Ripstiks and stuff and then we're friends. You should just ask people what book they're writing now. That's what you should do.

Me: You are a very smart boy.

* * *
First off, thank you and congrats to Linda Bernfeld and a host of others who pulled off another fantastic workshop in O-town. Linda called me last week and asked me if I wouldn't mind picking up an editor from the airport and driving her to the hotel. Ha! An hour alone with an editor. Yes, Linda, yes, I would be more than happy to help, mwahahaha.

So that's how I got to meet Nancy Siscoe, Associate Publishing Director and Executive Editor for Knopf & Crown Books for Young Readers. You will be proud to know that I did not ply Nancy with possible stories, not even once! But I did play an endless loop of my middle-grade ideas, recorded on CD at a pitch so high, only the subconscious could hear it. Nancy should be writing out that six-figure contract even as we speak.

People I met (as in, I actually spoke with):

Michael Stearns, Firebrand Literary--Michael sported the best accessory in the house--a cast. I was so happy to meet him, I forgot to ask him what happened to his foot. I shook Michael's hand, so now if he goes back to New York and shakes my agent's hand, well, you know, six degrees of separation and all that. In any case, Michael was witty and informative and very approachable.

Andrea Tompa, Associate Editor, Candlewick Press--Andrea was cool and funny, and I caught her as we were all packing up. More on what Andrea likes later.

Lots of other writers. I asked them what books they were writing and now we are friends.

What Happened in the Middle-Grade Track:

Bruce Hale, author of the popular Chet Gecko series, Michael Stearns, and Andrea Tompa sat at the head table for the Middle-Grade Track. One thing that always surprises me at conferences is how well the speakers work together and how they play off each other.

For me, the first page critiques provided an excellent education. Humorous pieces elicited the best comments from the judges. (At this point, I was thinking of them as Paula, Randy, and another Randy (two Randys because no one was snarky enough to be Simon).) They advised us to avoid frontloading--making an info dump in the beginning so your reader has the whole thing right away. Instead, feed in the necessary information through dialogue and other bits and pieces.

Bruce told us to let the manuscript cool off between revisions, a month if you can do it. I must say my cooling off periods have been much shorter, but I like the idea of leaving the manuscript long enough to stop editing it in my sleep.

Michael showed us how to pace a novel by outlining a YA chicklit novel in which a guy named Bruce was the loser in a romantic triangle.

Andrea reminded us to make sure to bring into play things you introduce. Everything should serve a purpose. Although Candlewick is a closed house, she reads manuscripts from conference attendees for a specified period of time. If you know me from somewhere, like this conference, she said, open [your query] with that. Andrea likes literary science fiction and stories that feature an outdoor challenge.

The mood at the workshop was one of camaraderie and excitement. Writers were buying books and signing books and everyone looked happy. Even the lunch was good. What can I say? I had a great time. Now I'm looking forward to Miami!

I Went to College and it was okay

I Went to College and it was okay is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. I first discovered it in a used bookstore and gave it to my brother, but I liked it so much, I ordered one for myself. Using black and white stick figures, Scott Dikkers captures the sense of being on your own for the first time--that sort of lost, sort of curious, sort of I-know-what-I'm-doing feeling. Much of the book depicts non-events, which it what gives it that familiar feeling, the feeling of trying to put shape to shapeless days. A very pleasant excursion through "Jim's" first two years at college.

In Which I Bypass a Bad Driver and Receive Prizes

It's going to be a great day!

First off, I was stuck behind a guy who apparently drives while talking on his cell phone and using his console as a desk. His car floated left and right, crossing over the lines and those bumpy reflector lights. There was a mile of empty blacktop in front of him, but this was a single, no-passing road.

After watching him weeble-wobble down the road, I pined after that long, free stretch in front of him. Then I passed him using the acceleration ramp on the right! Ha! I am a rebel today! My music was loud and I drove fast. Then I received a phone call that something I was concerned about is hundred percent okay, and if that wasn't good enough, I found prizes from WOW! on my doorstep!

Look at the bounty! A shout out to WOW! Women on Writing and Angela Mackintosh for their support, encouragement, and for their wonderful website. And a shout out to God because I am grateful for the health of my kids.

It's a beautiful day!

It's Already Wednesday

When you have Monday off, all the other days are off too. I had to put the timer on to remind myself to leave on time, but when it started beeping, I was eating my lunch and thought it had something to do with my food. I turned it off. It wasn't until twenty minutes later that I realized I had to leave. Do you think that was the holiday effect or was that due to my insomnia-induced short circuitry? Or perhaps the newspaper I was reading was so scintillating I couldn't tear myself away, you know, For Better or Worse, Zits, and LuAnn. We also get Ann Landers, but I really like Carolyn Hax's advice column, "Tell Me About It."

* * * * *

By the way, don't forget to stop by Ello's blog. She's interviewed Dr. Gigi Durham, author of The Lolita Effect, The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What we can Do About It. Interesting conversation going on over there.

Two Old Ladies Go Into the Woods

I was visiting Big Tree Park* and as the path narrowed, I found myself behind two old ladies going into the woods. It seemed rude to pass them, so I stayed a distance behind--a distance I closed up when their hoary heads bent together and they began to speak.

What do old ladies speak of? I imagined it would be like those commercials, Herb died. Poor Stella, their insurance didn't cover the coffin. She buried him in a pine box without his teeth. I picked up my step, sneaky-like, so they wouldn't notice me. Here's what I heard:

Old Lady #1: What would you do if he had a gun?

Old Lady #2: I don't know.

Old Lady #1: If a guy with a gun came up to me and said, "Your money or your life!" I'd say "Then take my life--I'm saving my money!"

Much laughter ensued, and I walked behind, delighted in the secret life of old ladies.

*Yes, there is a big tree in Big Tree Park. In fact, there are two. "The Senator" is a 3500-year-old bald cypress standing 118 feet. It used to be taller, but a hurricane cracked off the top. Standing nearby at 89 feet is "Lady Liberty," a 2000-year-old bald cypress. Want to see pictures? Click here and scroll.

Miss Snark Day

Today we gather at Patricia Wood's blog to pay homage to Miss Snark, who retired a year ago. Rumor has it she'll be making appearances ala Elvis, so check it out--you may glimpse the infamous stilettos.

The Cover for Violet Raines is Here

Hooray! It's here! This is the cover for Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Hooray! The designer, Daniel Roode, really captured the spirit of the book. I can't wait to post this everywhere!

Interviewed by WOW Magazine

This weekend, I was interviewed by WOW! Magazine's warm and wonderful Angela Mackintosh. Angela is the editor and CEO of WOW! and just an all-around great person. I've enjoyed reading her interviews with other writers because they seem so natural and conversational, and I felt the same way as I answered her questions. Click here to read the interview.

If you've never visited WOW! Magazine, let me say it's a good site to add to your favorites. Every month, new articles on the craft and business of writing are added, and the site hosts a quarterly flash fiction contest, which is judged by qualified readers: the last contest was judged by literary agent Kristin Nelson; this quarter's contest will be judged by literary agent Wendy Sherman. Want to get acquainted with an agent? This is a good way to do it. There's even an option for critique.

I've enjoyed this website for more than a year, so it was an honor to break in.

Query Shark

Thanks to Editorial Anonymous, I've discovered a blog that critiques queries--Query Shark, a blog featuring query critiques by literary agent Janet Reid. (More than one commenter has wondered about the Snark connection.) Lots of insight in these critiques, check it out.

Jacquelyn Mitchard Featured in Parade Magazine

Author Jacquelyn Mitchard was featured in yesterday's Parade Magazine.

I didn't know much about this author until I read her article. Then I tracked down her website and read her bio. Quick recap: She wrote her first book, The Deep End of the Ocean, while in her 30s and sold it after she turned 40. First book. Here's the part that amazes me: The copyright date of that first book is 1996. JM's website now boasts thirteen books, spanning genres from picture book to adult. And she has seven children. And she mends their clothing--yes, that's right--with a needle and thread.

And she blogs, travels, and writes articles.

She sews . . . oh my gosh, how does she do it all?

Funny, Weird, or Scary Signs #5

I'm trying to capture an alligator for you,
but all I spot are these signs.