In Which I Meet Sinbad, One of My Comedy Heroes!

Last night, I got to meet one of my comedy heroes, Sinbad!

He called me out during his bit on helping ladies with their problems after I shouted, "I cook supper. They don't eat, but later they fill up on ice cream!"

Man, is he quick! Asked me questions, flipped my answers into jokes, and solved my problem: "Don't cook for a week; if they don't notice, everybody have ice cream!"

My favorite new bit in his ninety minute set was how the butt holds it together for the rest of the body. "Your back goes out, you start falling, thinking about what bones in your body are about to break now and then the butt says, 'Hey! I got this!

"You never heard of anyone needing a butt replacement.'"

And there was so much more! He teased late comers, bantered with a very drunk audience member, and gave "advice" to different teens in the audience.

Three times I've seen Sinbad live. This was the first time I got to meet him. What an excellent night!

Alex Gets an A on Violet Raines Book Report!

I love my readers! From Shawntel:

My daughter, Alex, has just finished your book Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. She is ten years old, eleven next month, and new to middle school. The book has helped her cope with changing schools and making new friends by understanding the motivations of the characters in your story. I want to thank you for writing a book that has made her want to read. Alex was able to identify with Violet so well, that she is struggling to find flaws in that character - it's very humorous. We have bought her dozens of chapter books in the past, but this is the first time that she has been excited to read and finish a book, on her own. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you what your writing has meant to my child. We are eager to find more of your work.

Shawntel later sent me a note saying Alex received 100% on her book report. YAY, Alex!

My Darkness Calls


Barking dog
Woke at four

Tried to sleep,
There was no more

To the kitchen I did sneak
Orange muffins I did make

Excitement of smell, so orangey, so good
Limit to one--okay, two--I should

Yet sleep dost call, I hear it nigh
Get ready for school, goodbye, goodbye

My darkness calls
and in it, dreams

They'll wait for me,
or so it seems.



’Twas the night before school and all through the house,
Not a child was Minecrafting or using a mouse.
The cell phones were plugged into chargers with care,
In hopes that new updates soon would appear.

The little ones tossed and they turned in their beds,
While visions of textbooks rattled their heads.
And Daddy with his iPad and I with my cell,
Caused the room to illume in a cool fluorescent spell.

When down through the hall, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to check on the matter.
Away to the staircase I flew like a light,
Feet skipping some stairs and down the first flight.

The glow from a sitcom beamed from the set,
Lending mass and shape to a group who now fret.
When, what did I see—I’m a tired mom grouch,
But my dog and my children, draped on the couch.

With agility of youth, so lively and quick,
They dispersed like birds, not one could I nick.
More rapid than cheetahs, not one of them lame,
I clapped and I shouted and called them by name.

“Now, Brooke! Now, Matt! Now Zach, and you, Casey!
Come on! Upstairs! Right now! Make it hasty!
To the top of the stairs! Hop in your beds!
Or I’ll give you a punishment each of you dreads!

As dry leaves crumple when stomped by a foot,
Crushed into pieces and all is kaput,
So my children were sorry, sorry to be caught.
Sorry that school was, and summer was not.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard high heel clicks,
The clipping and clopping of Old Mrs. Glicks,
My fifth grade teacher, a woman quite stern,
No extra credit, all points you must earn.

She was dressed all in black, from permed hair to gnarled toe,
Even her girdle made the unsightly not show.
A bundle of papers she crooked in her arm,
Red marks and Xs, I saw my name in alarm.

Her eyes how they pierced! Her lines were so deep!
Her cheeks were like stone; her nose was a beak!
Her tight wrinkled lips were pursed in reproof,
But the whisker on her chin stood tall and aloof.

The cap of a pen she held tight in her teeth,
Ready to grade and make children weep.
She had a thin face and veined, ropey hands,
That looked like two claws, getting ready to land.

She was skinny and knotty, a right spiteful marm,
And I shuddered when I saw her and said, “No, no—oh darn!”
A slit of her eye and a twist of her head,
Jolted my heart and turned me to lead.

She spoke not a word but went straight to her work,
Marking up papers and going berserk,
And sliding her pen on top of her ear,
And giving a nod, she then disappeared!

My body deflated, to my kids I did go,
To give them a cuddle, and tell them I know:
School can be scary and some teachers mean,
But when you come home, I’ll give you ice cream!

From Grace regarding Violet Raines

I found a wonderful note from a reader today:

My name is Gracie, and I'm 9. I just read your book Violet Raines
Almost Got Struck By Lightning and I loved it. I love your way with
words! It seemed so real and I was sad when I finished it. I think you
should make a sequel to it or make another book starring Violet. I
can't stop thinking about the book it was so good. When I grow up, I
want to be an author, too, so please tell me how you write so well.
Please write me back, you're an awesome author!!!

Thank you, Gracie! My reply has been sent!

iPod Found Poetry: "Starting at A"

"Starting at A"



An Ode to Lauren Fox for her book Friends Like Us

An Ode to Lauren Fox for her Book Friends Like Us

A pox! A pox!
A pox on Lauren Fox!

I read your book
I read all night
It felt so good
It felt so right.

But then the morning sun
did rise
I could barely ope
my eyes.

So a pox on you
is what I offer,
Lauren Fox
my new favorite author.

Chit Chat, Star Trek Spoilers, and More!

Hello all!

I find I post almost daily on Facebook but rarely here anymore. I think it's because Facebook is a wholesale real-time blog reader, and it's trained me to keep going back by rewarding me with quick likes and comments. I read and comment on a lot of other people's FB posts, but I don't spend much time in the blogosphere anymore.

So I bought Demetri Marin's book, POINT YOUR FACE AT THIS Drawings by Demetri Martin. If you know his comedy, it's impossible to leaf through the pages without hearing his voice narrate the pictures, droll and deadpan. Some pictures are silly, some are the kind that you think "This is amusing," but your mouth is still a straight line, and others are poignant--revealing the author's misgivings about life, fame, and other things. I like it!

My beautiful Casey is being groomed even as we speak. I dropped her off, dropped kids off, walked in the door, and automatically reached down for Casey as I came in. I'm so used to her greeting me, it's become muscle memory. But she'll be home in a couple of hours.

Once, they SHAVED her. She looked like a skeleton dog. I emphasized NO RAZOR TO BE USED ON THIS DOG!

Tiny Little Spoilers Ahead!
Turn Back Now!

Okay, now that the people who haven't seen Star Trek are gone, I can tell you: Yesterday, I was thinking about STAR TREK Into Darkness, and I realized this--everyone cries. Everyone cries! Did you notice tears leaking from the eyes of all main characters? OMG! Pike cries; Kirk cries; Spock cries; Uhura cries; Bones cries; Scotty wells up. Cry babies! Pull up your bootstraps! Kirk 1.0 wouldn't be crying!

Also, I didn't like the scene near the end SPOILER where Kirk is in the radiation tube dying, and he looks at Spock and says, "I'm scared." How much more poignant it would have been had he said nothing; had his eyes and painful/sorrowful grimaces done the talking, with surprise/sorrow/pain registering in response on Spock's face. I would have liked that a lot better.

But still, STAR TREK!

That is all for now. Today I'm starting on the critiques for the upcoming SCBWI Mid-Summer Workshop, a task I truly enjoy. There is something rewarding about spotting the talent in up-and-coming writers.

Have a great day!

Get a Whole Book for less than Half a Sub!

Get a whole book for less than half a sub! A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY is on sale in the Kindle store for $2.99!


My Backyard, Right Now!

Casey, checking out the birdbath, chasing the wind.

In Which LUCKY is Poetic and Delightful!

Nothing buoys an author's spirit more than readers taking the time to post good things about their books. Leslie Santamaria recently reviewed A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:

"This book is so satisfying. Hailee and her friends are realistic characters dealing with the challenges of middle school in a variety of ways. Hailee's voice rings true, and I was pulling for her the whole way, even as she made mistakes. When her family wins the lottery, she thinks her life will become full of luxury, but her parents' choices surprise and stretch her, and she makes some wrong choices that eventually help her find her way home. Haworth's tightly poetic use of language and metaphor is delightful."

Thank you, Leslie!

Skype Visit with Hunting Ridge Elementary, Illinois!

I've just wrapped up an excellent Skype visit with Mr. Jensen and students from Hunting Ridge Elementary in Illinois, where, I'm told, it's thirty-three degrees. I'm always impressed by students like these: attentive, responsive and inquisitive. Hunting Ridge students: You made my day!

They looked all nice and comfy, draped on bean bags and lying on the floor. And they'd decorated the whiteboard for me! Thank you so much, Mr. Jensen and students, for the great session!

Skype Visit with Woodland Elementary in Pennsylvania

I've just ended a Skype visit with Mr. Michaels's class at Woodland Elementary School in Pennsylvania in which we talked about ME & JACK. What an excellent group of students! The class is almost finished with the book, so I had to be careful and not spoil the ending, but we had so much still to talk about!

As an Air Force kid, I lived in Pennsylvania for three years. To this day, Pennsylvania is my favorite Air Force home. My brothers, sister, and I, and our friends spent most of our time outdoors, climbing trees or exploring the mountain. Summer nights, we played Monster--some people call it Manhunt--and winter often iced over our steep mountain road, turning it into a giant slide.

When I wrote Me & Jack, it was important to me to take the reader up the mountain, to see the grandeur of the woods, how a person can be swallowed by its bigness. I also wanted to touch on the complexities of friendships: being an outsider, being an insider, jealousy, loyalty, and the whole mix of feelings involved. Of course, the heart of the book is the relationship between Joshua (the boy) and Jack (the dog). I think even adults connect with pets on a personal level. They're happy to see us; they're our friends when we feel alone; they make us laugh and they make us feel good. My dog, Casey, sits by me as I write, so it was only natural for her to appear a couple times during the visit. (Or maybe I just think she's so cute and I want everyone to see her!)

The students had great questions, and I could tell they'd put some thought into what they had to say. Thank you, Mr. Michaels and class, for a great visit!

Orny Adams at the Improv!

So last night we were second in line to get into the Improv to see comedian Orny Adams. In this big empty room, the server led my sister and me to a table in the back. I've been waiting months for this show, I got here early, and I own all of Orny's CD/DVDs. Clearly this was not going to sit well with me.

Me: Can't we sit up front?
Server: We like to put couples up there.
Me: *Walks over to front and center table.* This is where I want to sit.

Yes, dear reader, this story has a happy ending! We got the table of my dreams and some nice seatmates. The guy across the table from me asked if it would be okay for him to check Facebook during the show. "No," I said. "Don't do it! Orny doesn't like that!" And really, it's rude to do that to anyone who is presenting. Mid-set, a woman a few tables down whipped out her phone and started texting. Orny called her out! In a nice way, of course, but he wondered aloud if she thought he wouldn't see that bright light reflecting off her face. When the show was over, our tablemate thanked us for our astute advice. In any case, Orny was excellent!

Seinfeld, Brian Regan, and other chit chat

What an excellent weekend that just passed! For us, it was four days--four days of relaxing, sleeping in, NOT cooking, and the best part of all--COMEDY!

My sister and I saw Jerry Seinfeld for the first time. If you've seen only his clips as part of the Seinfeld show, you'd be in for a treat; he is so much more animated live. Later, as we  recounted bits to each other, I realized Jerry was all over the stage acting out his stories. He worked the entire place and it seemed so natural. I couldn't believe some of the stuff he said--so trivial and so very true as to make you wonder How did he know I felt like that? For instance, he mentioned how we, the audience members, were finally sitting down after an evening of stress trying to get to the show. Specifically, he said, What am I going to eat when I get there? Will they have food? What if I'm hungry?

That's exactly what I said to my husband before I left!

It's those tiny moments of recognition that make an observational comic humorous.

While we were laughing in O-town, my brother and my cousin sat in front of Brian Regan at Detroit's beautiful Fox theater. Let's compare, shall we:

Here's where I was:

Here's where my brother was:

In any case, an excellent weekend for comedy. And it's not over yet--Chele and I see Orny Adams this Saturday--hooray!

Other chit chat: The season premiere for White Collar is on tonight; set your DVRs. My son came downstairs yesterday afternoon and asked me to watch the front door. Apparently, he'd ordered pizza delivery for himself! He told me the bill was $16 something, and his plan was to tell the guy, Keep the change. And that's what he did! The best part was that he offered some to me, and he'd purchased some pop for my husband. Yay! What a generous boy. Finally, we are having our second week of winter here in O-town--the highs are in the low 70s.

U2 on Saturday Night Live!

Since I love all things U2, I was shocked--shocked, I tell you--when my DVR picked up the September 26, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Megan Fox and featuring U2! I couldn't believe how lucky I was!

U2 played four songs during the original airing, one being performed after the cameras went off. Oh, those lucky audience members! For us TV viewers, the show closed with Bono wearing his laser jacket while singing "Ultraviolet." The newest album is not among my favorites, but I sure do love that laser jacket!

Here's a pic of my cousin* Paul during the 360 tour:

*I'm part Irish, so I figure we're related somewhere down the line.

Librarian Likes A Whole Lot of Lucky!

Confession time! I do sometimes look around the Interwebs for my books. I try not to; you never know when you have to duck a rotten tomato. But tonight I stumbled upon the kind of review that makes any middle-grade writer's day--positive words from an elementary school librarian! From her review: "A Whole Lot of Lucky is a novel I will happily recommend to my middle grade girls. . . . I loved the Florida setting and the fact that Hailee loves reading and refers to the various books she is immersed in. A Whole Lot of Lucky is a perfect realistic fiction novel for the middle grade reader."

Here's the link: Books Are My Thing