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1. Mr. Men and Little Miss Headed To Big Screen

Fox Animation, makers of the "Ice Age" and "Rio" franchises, has acquired the motion picture rights to the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters.

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2. If This Had Happened This Week, We Wouldn't Have Been Dancing In The Road

John Rocco has a picture book out called Blizzard that's been getting a lot of attention the last couple of months. It would have been terrific if I read that this past week and could write about it now after the events of the last couple of days here in New England. Yeah, well, that didn't happen.

I did pick up Rocco's earlier book, Blackout, from the library a while back. It would have been terrific if we'd had a power outage this week, a threat that was hanging over our heads this past weekend, and could write about it after reading Blackout. Yeah, well, that didn't happen, either.

But I'm still going to tell you about Blackout because it is beautiful. I am not the only person who thinks so, because it was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2012. It is beautiful looking with a lovely, simple story of people having a great time when the lights go out. That simple story is told without a lot of text, something that doesn't happen as often as you'd think with picture books.

By the way, Rocco also illustrated How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, which happens to be a big hit with a member of my family.

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3. Package design/illustration for a new gourmet ice cream brand...

Package design/illustration for a new gourmet ice cream brand emerging in LA soon…better hope they can airlift their products, if you don’t live within driving distance. 

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4. Publishing Jobs: Penguin Random House, Zest Books

This week, Penguin Random House is hiring a senior editor of Harmony, as well as a designer for its advertising and promotions department. Zest Books is seeking a marketing and publicity manager, and Trident Media Group is on the hunt for a digital coordinator. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great publishing jobs on the GalleyCat job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented GalleyCat pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

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5. Me! A Podcast! And Alley Cats Strike!

Did you know that there is a podcast called the DCOM Podcast, all about the Disney Channel Original Movies (specifically the ones that hosts Eve and Matt remember and are now re-watching and analyzing)? Well, it's true! Why am I mentioning this, you ask?

It just so happens that I wrote the movie Alley Cats Strike for the Disney Channel, and I had a great conversation with Eve about it. It's now available and worth a listen (if, that is, you have any interest in Alley Cats Strike, the old Disney Channel movies, and how many writing decisions get made for different projects, and, very specifically, how I came up with "Delia's shot" towards the end of the film. Or if you're my mom or a relative, of course!).

It was great fun to revisit an project from the past and think about what I might do differently now and, honestly, what still works well. Thanks, Eve, for finding me. And I hope y'all will check out the podcast in general and its tumblr.

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6. 50 States Against Bullying: NEVADA

Stop number thirty-four on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to Nevada. The last time I visited Reno was a little over twelve years ago. A few weeks after my wife and I got married, we hopped in a car and drove to Wyoming, where we would live for the next six months (and where I began writing Thirteen Reasons Why). On our way, we stayed the night in Reno. But I don't remember the glittery stars dangling over their welcome sign.

YA author Naomi Canale joined me at Wooster High School and snapped this photo before I began to speak.

Yes, the pic was posed. Yesterday, you saw what I really look when I get nervous as students begin piling in. You could see the fear in my eyes, but I otherwise looked composed. So this was an interpretation of how I feel inside.

But once again, the students were wonderful.

There were more students than expected, so I even had some sitting on stage with me! That was a first.

After speaking, I signed books and took a lot of pics with students.

I even took one selfie. I mean, there were plenty of pics where a student took a selfie of me with him or her, but one student wanted me to take a pic of just myself with her phone. She didn't want to be in it! So that was... I don't know. But it was whatever it was!

A beautiful moment, for me, occurred when I heard a student who didn't know I was listening thank the teacher responsible for bringing me to Wooster. It takes a lot of work to organize an author visit, and it's nice when the faculty members who think outside the box for new ways to reach students are appreciated for that work.

The past few days, I've been noticing my shoes slowly falling apart. Even though I only have one more state to go before I head home (for less that 48 hours), I didn't want to risk needing to give a speech in my socks. So, with a short amount of time before my flight to Washington, I zipped over to the mall and bought a new pair of shoes.

You may wonder how in the world I went shoe shopping in such a short amount of time. Well, it helps if you're only looking for a pair that looks very similar to your last pair.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if it is broke, throw it away and get something that makes it look like it was never broken in the first place.

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7. Not a Landscape but...3/5 Art Challenge on PBAA

Okay, so I'll post some work from old to new.  Day 1 - Some work from early in my career.

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8. Kickstarter Events For Writers

Crowdfunding is becoming a popular way for writers to raise money to make books. In fact, Kickstarter funded 2,064 publishing projects and 158 journalism endeavors in 2014.

To help guide writers learn more about how to use Kickstarter, the crowdfunding company is hosting a series of educational events at their headquarters in Brooklyn, NY next month.

Events include: Kickstarter for Journalists 101 on February 3rd; Talking Shop: How to Pay Your Writers on February 17th; and Talking Shop: Getting Started in Podcasting on February 24th. Follow this link for more details.

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9. Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

Continuing on my quest to find books for my soon to be nine-year old niece, I read Karen Harrington's Sure Signs of Crazy last week. While I enjoyed the book a lot and recommend it for the over ten crowd, I think I'm going to hold off my girl until she's a wee bit older.

Protagonist Sarah is 12 and new in town. She and her father move around a lot as Sarah's mother was the object of a notorious trial and is now committed to a mental hospital. Her father was also tried but found innocent; he still struggles a decade later to cope and while a loving father, definitely self-medicates with alcohol.

In the course of one summer, Sarah fulfills an English assignment by writing letters to Atticus Finch, crushes on the college boy across the street (we've all been there) and builds up her courage to challenge the family secrets. She's smart and funny and determined which makes for a great protagonist. Most interestingly though, considering her family drama, Sarah is also very easy to identify with and I'm sure many young readers will like her a lot.

For my purposes though, I think the alcohol and the reasons behind her mother's trial, are just too much for my particular nine-year old. At least a year, maybe two and she will be ready. I'll be keeping Sure Signs of Crazy for the future.

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10. On Submission

What actually happens when your agent says your book is "on submission."


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11. Year of the Sheep calendar….check! My all-time favorite...

Year of the Sheep calendar….check! My all-time favorite holiday. Somehow end of February is a time when I’m actually able to process the previous year & to think about what themes reflect things that actually matter to me in the new year to come. (I think I’m selling them locally, but email me if you insist on having one & are far from Portland - I could stick ‘em on my webstore if there’s a screaming demand?)

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12. Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of the (Australian) Victorian Premier's Literary Awards: Alan Atkinson's The Europeans in Australia: Volume Three: Nation was both the non-fiction category winner, as well as the Victorian Prize for Literature (i.e. overall/grand prize) winner; see, for example, The Australian's report, Alan Atkinson main winner at Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.

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13. New CAF: the New South Festival 2015 in Austin

NewSouthColor New CAF: the New South Festival 2015 in Austin

There’s a CAF (comic arts festival) born every minute! Here’s a new one, the New South Fest in Austin. They have a tumblr and a FB page, and some art…and exhibitor applications are now open. The plan is an outdoor books and comics event to be held June 6th, 2015 at the French Legation Museum in Austin, Texas. “Our goal is to celebrate independent literature, alternative comics, small presses, and print culture. New South will be highly curated, focused, fresh, and irreverent.”

UPDATE: Oops should have dug a little more. This event seems to be run by Danithan Mejia of the Foxing Review, website under construction. And more information is available in this Kickstarter that didn’t make it.

Here’s the three Ws:

WHAT: New South Festival of Literary Arts & Cartooning is seeking exhibitors for its inaugural year. Its goal is to celebrate the best in independent literature, alternative comics, small presses, and print culture. New South is seeking individual illustrators/cartoonists, writers, indie book publishers, alternative comics publishers, literary magazines, and more! To apply, please visit newsouthfest.tumblr.com/apply

New South is a curated event. Due to space limitations, New South’s 2015 exhibitor list will be decided by a committee of organizers. More information for potential exhibitors:

  • Exhibitor applications will be open from February 2, 2015 – March 2, 2015.

  • Accepted exhibitors will be notified no later than March 16, 2015.

  • Remaining applicants will be put on a waiting list for possible dropouts.

  • Exhibitor Tables are $80 for a half-table (3’) and $120 for a full table (6’).

WHEN: Exhibitor applications will be open from February 2, 2015 – March 2, 2015.

WHERE: Applications can be submitted at newsouthfest.tumblr.com/apply

The website doesn’t indicate who’se behind this fest, but the logo indicates a little bit of a SXSW feel, and the art by Jim Rugg and someone whose style i don’t recognize suggest that it is already well on its way.

Austin is currently the home of a Wizard World in October and STAPLE, which is coming up on March 6-8.  Staple has good indie cred, and hopefully Austin’s strong maker and literary scene can support two shows.

More to come!

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14. Our first house

I’ve been thinking all day about what I wanted to write about. Nothing much came to mind. But, as I kissed my handsome man good bye for him to go help somebody move in, I realized I probably haven’t recorded my memories and thoughts about our first house. I started our family blog when my 7-year-old was about 9 months. We bought our first house when I was 7 months pregnant with him. In other words, it wasn’t on the blog, and I probably didn’t write about it in my journal.

So. Here we go. I remember feeling a bit shocked and spoiled that we were buying a house so early in our marriage. We were married August 22, 2006 and closed on our first house August 1, 2007- less than one year later. I did insist that we live in a nice little crumby apartment when we were first married, because “everybody has to have that experience as newlyweds!” And it was lovely. Located on 2nd East in Rexburg, just 2 blocks from campus; 300 square feet on the back of a house. It had a tiny hallway of a kitchen, and the smallest bathroom I’ve seen. The main room was wide open, but we tried to create a little bedroom privacy with the stand alone closet that was provided. It was perfect for us! I remember many nights after I got pregnant being so exhausted that I would go to bed at 7:00 while Brant watched sports. That was the only time we’ve ever had Cable TV because it was provided by our landlords. They were a nice old couple that lived in the main part of the house.

When Brant graduated from BYU-Idaho in May, 2007, he got a job in Idaho Falls. We were encouraged to buy a house because of the first-time home buyers incentive. We didn’t have any money for a down payment. But, we decided instead of throwing our money away to rent, we would buy and start to build equity. Looking back now, it might not have been the best move. But, that might be largely due to the recession and housing slump that hit shortly after we bought.

We drove around the area where Brant would teach, and decided against living there. It was scary, run down and not for us!

My dad wanted us to buy a house over on the West side of Idaho Falls, because he thought it had better resale value. (My parents came to look at a few houses with us. My dad owns many homes, and knew what he was doing… and happens to now be a real estate agent in St. George, UT.) But, we had found the right house for us!


title for blog smaller

It was a beautiful little white house with a white picket fence on one side of the yard. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. A nice living room, small kitchen, and a wood stove. Built on 1/4 acre with a great backyard and big trees, including fruit trees, chokecherry bushes, grapes, strawberries and gooseberries. It also had beautiful pink roses in the front yard.



I LOVED the kitchen when we first looked at the house! These pictures are from when we were trying to sell the house, and so they don’t show how small it really was. It was perfect when we moved in. But, by the time we moved out, we had three kids and had definitely outgrown the kitchen!


We LOVED the wood stove. The first winter we lived there, our baby wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled pretty tight. But, we were new at burning wood in the stove to heat the house, so it often got SO hot that we had to open many windows to cool it down enough for all of us to sleep. :)

February 09 036

I won’t go into too many details about the basement remodel. Brant finished the rest of the basement while we lived there. It became a 5 bedroom, 2 bath home. He did a great job! (I think he made a blog about it on our family blog when he finished.) Here are pictures of each of the rooms. Not exactly the way I remember them, since we actually lived in the house. But, There are pictures on our family blog, of us living in the house, because I did blog for most of those years.

Basement 006Basement 007Basement 008IMG_5022IMG_5975IMG_5978

The owners we bought from had a $1000 carpet allowance as part of their selling point. We decided to offer a bit less and take that out. That was a mistake. This is the pictures of the new carpet that we bought, just before we moved out! :( We dealt with the nasty “white” carpet the whole time we lived there. We paid $124,000 for the house, which included closing costs and everything.


I painted this bedroom a couple months before Caleb was born!


The day we moved in, like I said, I was 7 months pregnant. The only thing I was allowed to carry was a pillow. ;) Brant moved almost everything by himself, and had help only for the washer and dryer. We didn’t own a couch. I think all we had was our queen sized bed, a glider rocking chair and a few boxes, really. It’s funny how quickly you fill up the space you have though!

All in all. I loved this house. We still own it and rent it out. This summer we had to go through and really clean it and it was so sad to see the way the renters had left it. Disgusting!

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15. New S&S Imprint for Bill Clegg’s Debut Novel

Literary superagent Bill Clegg labored over his debut novel Did You Ever Have a Family for seven years, unsure anyone would bid on or buy it.

As he told the New York Times, he’s secured mega-deals on behalf of other writers, but gauging reaction to his own novel was difficult.

\"It doesn’t make you any more confident — if anything, it makes you less confident. I represent great writers, and I couldn’t carry their glove on the field. When the bar is set that high, it’s daunting.\"

According to Alexandra Alter at the Times, four publishers bid on his book, and one–Gallery Books’ Jennifer Bergstrom–was so sold on it she offered a two-book deal. She also approached Carolyn Reidy, who is president and chief executive of Gallery’s parent company, Simon & Schuster, asking to create a new literary fiction imprint. Reidy agreed and Clegg’s will be the lead fall title for the imprint, Scout Press.

Bergstrom said, \"Because Bill’s book was the impetus for the imprint, it’s also the epitome of what we want to publish. It’s literary but very accessible, not precious, not fussy, not esoteric.\"

Clegg’s novel centers on a woman whose family was killed and home destroyed in an accidental explosion.

\"So much of my day job is occupying the ambitions of other people’s writing,\" Clegg told the Times. \"To just occupy my own feels almost brazenly selfish.\"

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16. A little painting.

A little painting.

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17. Secret Wars: Miles Morales and The Ultimate Universe Enter Battleworld

By Davey Nieves

Ultimate End 1 Cover 198x300 Secret Wars: Miles Morales and The Ultimate Universe Enter Battleworld

The hour glass containing the remaining days of the Marvel Universe as we know it continued to drip grains of information today as the company announced the first of the books to be under the Secret Wars : Battleworld tie-in banner. Ultimate End #1 with the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley will be the first to enter the fray. It’s only fitting that the duo who began the Ultimate universe way back in Ultimate Spider-Man #1 would be there for the end.

Miles Morales Ultimate Spider Man 12 Cover 198x300 Secret Wars: Miles Morales and The Ultimate Universe Enter Battleworld

In additon to the Battleworld news, it was also revealed that April’s Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man 12 would be branded under the current Time Runs Out and Secret Wars Banners. The issue was solicited as the end of the series and many speculated that it would be a lead in to Secret Wars.

This lovely David Marquez variant cover for Ultimate End #1 was also shown off today.

Ultimate End 1 Marquez Variant Dressed 198x300 Secret Wars: Miles Morales and The Ultimate Universe Enter Battleworld


We’ll have more info as it comes out of today’s call…


Here’s what we know from today’s call with the creative team:

  • It’s definitely coming in May.
  • While Ultimate End will be the definitive end of the Ultimate Universe the series will see crossover with Marvel 616 characters.
  • The events currently talking place in Bendis MM: Ultimate Spider-Man series will lead the character into Secret Wars. If you pay close attention then you’ve already seen some hints to the upcoming event and post Marvel U.
  • The Marquez variant cover featuring the Ultimates and Miles gives you a clue as to who will play prominent roles in the book. Yes, Ultimate Captain America will be in the series.
  • Bendis when asked who he’d like to have in the series from any universe replied “Batman, Bagley does an excellent Batman”
  • More books featuring the Battleworld banner will be announced in the coming weeks, no word on what universe they’ll come from.

Marvel as usual kept everything as close to the chest as they could, so no major story details about the series were revealed. We’ll talk later today about the reflections Bendis, Bagley, current editor Mark Paniccia, and former Ultimate editor Ralph Macchio had on the coming end and the legacy of the Ultimate universe.


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18. 'Revisiting Raja Rao's fiction'

       Kanishk Tharoor's piece on 'Revisiting Raja Rao's fiction', India As Metaphysic ?, is now finally freely accessible at The Caravan.
       The focus is on the recently republished by Penguin India titles -- with Tharoor not equally enthusiastic about all of them: "How to describe the monumental tedium of The Serpent and the Rope ?" he wonders ..... Read the rest of this post

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19. Happy 2015!

Hello and Happy New Year! I took a much needed two-week vacation at the beginning of the month. Yay! I went horseback riding, diving, and even did some cave exploration. It was an inspiring trip, just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing for the New Year. I'm happy to be back in Brooklyn though. I'm gearing up for an AMAZING year full exciting creative projects, which may require me to step outside of my comfort zone.... kinda scary and awesome at the same time!

Here's a little gift for you... My illustration group, We Love To Illustrate Studio, is starting the year with some FREE Greeting Card Downloads in honor of Valentine's Day. Here's my design. Enjoy!

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20. Aim Higher: Some Tools For Mid Year Assessments

At the end of this week, the  second marking period will officially come to an end for many of us, and so will the first half of our school year.  This is the… Continue reading

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21. Waiting on Wednesday: Beastkeeper

So in my renewed determination to keep up with my blogging, I am back today with a Waiting on Wednesday post.  Yay!

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
About the Book (copy from Goodreads.com): "Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah's mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast...unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever."
So unless you couldn't tell from the description, I'm pretty sure this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  And you know I love fairy tale retellings.  But I like the way this one has scrambled it around a bit with the girl turning into the beast.  Sounds like it will be good.  :)

You don't have to wait too long to read Beastkeeper, since it will be released on February 3, 2015.

Currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com in Hardcover and Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on Paperbackswap.com

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22. 'Why translate ?'

       It's an old piece ("first published in Books from Finland 1/1982") but now available online -- and always an interesting question: translator Herbert Lomas (e.g. Arto Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare) tries to explain: Why translate ?
       Among the questions he tries to answer: "Why this lack of interest ?" (in literature in translation) -- a situation that has perhaps improved since (there seems more intense interest -- even if not yet exactly a widespread one).

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23. Emma Watson to star as Belle in Disney’s Live-Action “Beauty and the Beast”

Rumors have been flying around for the past couple of years–is Emma going to play a princess on screen, or is she not? The question has been up in the air for quite a while. Yesterday, the question was answered. Emma Watson tweeted a couple of lyrics from from the opening song to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as the news broke: Emma Watson will be playing the role of Belle in Disney’s new live-action movie of it’s hit cartoon classic. The studio announced yesterday that filming is anticipated to begin later this year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal wrote:


Watson has been cast as Belle, the studio announced yesterday, the book-loving prisoner of the titular Beast’s castle in the tale as old as time. Production on the film is anticipated to begin later this year, and it is set to be directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2?).

Disney’s original 1991 animated version of the French fairy tale, which was first spun off into a Broadway musical in 1994, featured three Academy Award-nominated songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (“Beauty and the Beast” took home the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1992). Upon posting the news of her casting on her Facebook page, Watson said she couldn’t wait to start singing Menken and Ashman’s famous tunes.

Emma Watson wrote:

I’m finally able to tell you… that I will be playing Belle in Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast! It was such a big part of my growing up, it almost feels surreal that I’ll get to dance to ‘Be Our Guest’ and sing ‘Something There’. My six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons. I can’t wait for you to see it. Emma xx

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24. No Tomorrow review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vivant Denon's small eighteenth century classic (in Lydia Davis' translation), No Tomorrow, which New York Review Books brought out a couple of years ago.

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25. Book Review: Small Victories by Anne Lamott

From Goodreads:
Anne Lamott writes about faith, family, and community in essays that are both wise and irreverent. It’s an approach that has become her trademark. Now in Small Victories, Lamott offers a new message of hope that celebrates the triumph of light over the darkness in our lives. Our victories over hardship and pain may seem small, she writes, but they change us—our perceptions, our perspectives, and our lives. Lamott writes of forgiveness, restoration, and transformation, how we can turn toward love even in the most hopeless situations, how we find the joy in getting lost and our amazement in finally being found.

Profound and hilarious, honest and unexpected, the stories in Small Victories are proof that the human spirit is irrepressible.
It's Anne Lamott, so I'm not sure that a whole lot needs to be said about the quality of her writing.  Her reputation as a brilliant author is completely deserved.  She's one of a very few who can write about universal truths in a way that feels new and refreshing.  Thoughts that may be cliched when coming from other authors or that aren't entirely original become new and exciting and inspiring when Lamott writes them.

Entertainment Value
Again, the novelty she brings to classic truths and the openness she has about her own life make this an exceptionally fun book to read.  I rarely cry while reading, but this one had me tearing up in a few places, particularly the essays where she talks about forgiveness and how her sibling relationships have changed as an adult.  I couldn't stop reading and devoured it in two sittings, but it would also be a great book to read slowly here and there.

It's definitely a must-read and I can only imagine it'll have a place on my end of the year best of lists.  Just a delight to read, and, although Lamott is a Christian and many of these thoughts revolve around God and her relationship to Him, I think it's broad enough to encompass a wide range of spiritualities and denominations.  The only thing I can think of that might prevent you from reading is that several of these essays have appeared in other places.  I hadn't read them, so it was all new to me, but if you follow her writing you may have already read some of them.

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