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This blog chronicles the ups and down of a writer's life.
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1. Too cute

Two of our youngest family members, feeling the love (?) at Christmas.

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2. Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and heart-happy holiday season!

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3. For all my writer friends with a sense of humor...


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4. December booksignings

Stop by and say hello!

Saturday, Dec. 4th:

8-12 am - Freight House Farmer's Market, Davenport
1-3 pm - Barnes & Noble, NorthPark Mall

Sunday, Dec. 5th:

12-2:30 pm - Freight House Farmer's Market Churches United event

Sunday, Dec. 12th

1-3 pm - Borders Books & Music, Davenport

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5. Freight House Farmer's Market

Booksigning tomorrow!

I'll be at the Farmer's Market from 8-12 tomorrow. Y'all come!

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6. Attention, librarians!

First things first. Today's the official release day for my newest National Geographic Kids title, Winter Wonderland:

Now, a question for librarians/media specialists: Any particular holes on your shelves when it comes to good read aloud nonfiction for younger kids? Have a topic that might (loosely) fit into the "seasonal" category? If so, please e-mail me privately. Thanks!

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7. Friday 5

1. Good news! As reported in Publisher's Marketplace:

Jill Esbaum's IT'S ME! IT'S ME!, in which a baby chick bursts from his egg and into the world with endearing enthusiasm, awe, and I-can't-help-myself energy, perfectly capturing babies' delight in new discovery, to Jessica Garrison at Dial, by Rosemary Stimola at Stimola Literary Studio.

2. Lightning zapped us Wednesday morning at 4 a.m. and took out our internet and a TV. Didn't know how antsy I would get being incommunicado for two days. Ack!

3. It is hot, hot, hot here in eastern Iowa and has been ALL SUMMER. Listen up, Mother Nature: Enough already.

4. Lunch with writing friends today, dinner with church friends. In between, I may just have to do some shopping. However . . .

5. Note to self: Do not, in a moment of weakness, bring home another box of brown sugar/cinnamon Pop Tarts from the grocery store. No children live with you.

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8. Ooh, prettttty.

I ordered this print recently. It's big, 30" x 40". Not sure where I'll put it, but I couldn't resist:

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9. Oh, deer!

On my way to bed last night, I was passing through the dark house, and I was brought up short (don't think I've ever used that phrase before) to see two big bucks bedded down in our front yard. We've been watching for them, as they did the same thing a week ago. Both times, we had just mowed the lawn. Is the smell of freshly cut grass drawing them in?
Wish I could have taken a pic, but assumed the flash would have freaked them out. So this isn't my pic, but this was about the size of them...except one rack has 12 points and the other has 10:

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10. Winter Wonderland

Wow. The longer you put off blogging, the harder it is to come back. But I got author copies this week, so I couldn't resist posting about the cuteness that is Winter Wonderland. First of all, here's the cover (again):

Now, a sneak peek at a couple of inside pics:

Can you imagine the work/satisfaction involved in searching for pics to go with these texts? I want that job! :)

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11. Wonky Cardinal

Same cardinal as in my last post (wow, last month?!). He hasn't found a mate. Since early this morning, however, the poor guy has been flitting repeatedly to the rear view mirror of my son's SUV. He thinks he's found The One, apparently. He lands on the mirror, then hops down to cling to the door and talk to himself in the mirror. Poor little lonely guy.

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12. Friday 5

1. This guy, back this spring for the second year, sits outside my office and sings constantly. Nice.

2. Makes we want to go outside and enjoy the lilacs, which smell amazingly sweet this year:

3. And the bleeding heart:

4. And the cheerful tulips:

5. Off to a writing conf this weekend. This one's close to home, luckily. Always fun reconnecting with friends! I'm doing something at Saturday night's banquet I've never done before - at a conference, anyway - which is incorporate a song parody into a presentation. Yikes! Fingers crossed.... Read the rest of this post

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13. New kittens in the barn

I'll try to catch them AWAKE today or tomorrow and repost.

Have a great weekend!

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14. Friday 5

1. Sunshine, blue skies, warm temps here in Iowa.

2. Which means road construction season is upon us. *sigh* They're going at it pretty hard around here, esp on the highways between me and civilization.

3. I'll be hitting the road later next week, to Kirksville, Missouri, for a children's lit festival. http://library.truman.edu/Children'sLiteratureFestival.asp
(Sorry the link isn't coming through correctly. Copy/paste the entire thing if you want to check it out.) Love meeting/speaking with so many kids, but I also love connecting with other authors. Looking forward to meeting Mary Amato, author of one of my favorite funny pbs, Chicken of the Family, and reconnecting with others.

4. Pop culture fantasy: American Idol goes Ryan-free and commercial-free. Each contestant sings. Each judge gets 10 seconds to speak. Boom. Show's over.

5. Have a Hoppy Easter! (Bunnies from my nat geo book, Everything Spring.)

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15. Good week

1. Got caught up in a local history website yesterday morning. The photos alone had me mesmerized. I'm feeling the itch to visit ancestry.com, but am trying to hold off until my mom has time to join me.

2. Plotted a chapter book I'm excited about starting today. Wanted to get two more rhyming pbs going, but this chap book idea is too good to hold off on, so...let the games begin.

3. Speaking of games, last weekend's fundraiser trivia night was a smashing success. We were one of ONE HUNDRED THREE tables! All to benefit a friend with Lou Gehrig's. Besides being fun, we finished in the top ten. Amazing what you know that you don't KNOW you know. You know?

4. A first on my morning walk earlier this week: Saw a mink at our creek. Trying to remember to carry my camera from now on.

5. My Pop Culture Fantasy: Brad and Angelina fly me in to read to the kids. While I'm there, I forget myself and run with scissors. Oops! I trip and accidentally do the world a favor by hacking off Brad's goatee.

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16. Happy Friday!

1. Actual robins. Green grass in the yard. Warmer temps. Mother Nature, I ♥ you. (Of course she's supposed to throw snow at us this weekend, but it won't hang around. Right?)

2. Last Saturday's signing at the Farmer's Market was a blast, as usual. I took some quick pics when we were about to close. Otherwise, it was too crowded (and I was too busy blabbing with visitors).

3. And then, last Sunday, three other Iowa authors with new books - Eileen Boggess, Rebecca Janni, and Linda Skeers - joined me for a B&N signing. Group signings are ALWAYS more fun.

4. Making caramel corn today for friends. Yum. Keeping my own mitts out of it will be a challenge.

5. Anybody been watching Who Do You Think You Are? Fascinating. Makes me want to delve into my ancestry. One side has been tracked to my great-great-great-greats, who came from Ireland. But the rest? Not so much. Coincidentally, my mom was out last night and brought a newspaper clipping for me to copy . It's the obit of my great-great grandmother (born in 1867). And her parent's names are listed, along with the fact that they moved to Iowa from New York. Intriguing.... Read the rest of this post

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17. It's Friday

Intended to post early, but got busy...

1. Big signing tomorrow morning at the downtown Davenport farmer's market. That's ALWAYS a good time, and tomorrow is the St. Patrick's Parade right outside, so it'll be even more crazy. I'll take pics.

2. Big signing Sunday with my Iowa author friends Linda Skeers, Eileen Boggess, and Becky Janni. We all have new books out, so...fingers crossed. That one's from 1-3 at Barnes & Noble at NorthPark. Again, I'll take pics.

3. Got my new postcards. I ordered 1,000, so I'll be generously handing them out this spring and summer.

4. Diet is working...

5. Happy dance.

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18. The Friday Five

1. Had to miss The Office last night. Making myself exercise first, then I'll watch. Thank you, NCB.com.

2. Also missed elimination night on Idol, but this season is so lackluster, I find myself not caring in the least. Well, there's a girl from W. Des Moines to root for, so I'll check in occasionally to see how she's doing.

3. KUDOS to my writing friends Lisa Albert (novel sale!) and Julia Durango (Golden Kite award!). BIG WOOT!!!

4. Since Amazon has the cover up for my next nat geo book, guess I can share it here. Serious cuteness, eh?

5. One of my favorite people in the world had a home accident Tuesday and is stuck in a halo for the next 6-12 weeks. As horrible as that is, it could have been SO much worse. Hang in there, Sherry! We ♥ you.

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19. New book!

Received my author copies of EVERYTHING SPRING, from National Geographic Kids. SO cute!

That's my yippee for this week.

I've been a journal slacker because I received a post-Christmas flurry of private critiques. Now, those are finished. Also, I've written a new presentation, given another, sent author packets to numerous schools, talked about new books ideas with my agent and an editor, exercised daily, and gained a pound. Amazing how much writing business has nothing to do with working on a story.

However, I HAVE begun work on a new rhyming picture book. Two, actually. When I get stuck on one I move to the other. Probably not the best process, but it's working for me.

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20. February restart

1. The rhyming pb story I focused on all through January isn't working.

2. So I'm trashing it.

3. Le sigh.

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21. 5 Things on a Friday

1. Can't wait to see what Ellen brings to Idol judging. Should be fun.

2. I heart the Andy Griffith Show. Always have. Always will. The characters never get old. Last night was the one where Opie has his heart (temporarily) broken by Mary Alice, when she suddenly remembers that Fred asked her to the dance first. *sigh* I think the writers messed up, though. Instead of having Opie end up with the fickle Mary Alice, I'd have Opie tell her to take a hike, then go dance with her less pretty but very sweet sidekick.

3. Just read a YA that had me laughing out loud. It's AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway. It's about a girl who breaks up with her guitar-playing boyfriend, who promptly writes a song about her that goes straight to the top of the charts. She's vaulted to celebrity status, which totally screws up her life at home, at school, at work. VERY fun.

4. I'm giving my rhyming pb story another week. As soon as I decided to dump it, I thought of a way to fix it. That's usually how it works.

5. Couldn't resist posting this pic. It's my great-niece, Abby, in the fairy wings I got her for Christmas. (One of my better gift ideas, I have to say.)

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22. A few moments of "Ahhhhh...."

Thanks to my friend Lindsey for the link.

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23. An interview

Sarah Gilbert interviewed me for her blog:


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24. The Friday Five

1. Daughter K's coming home for the weekend. I talk with her most days, but we haven't seen her since CHRISTMAS, so HALLELUJAH!!!

2. The Husband's been in a really good mood since Wednesday, when we took his new toy, a 12-year-old grain-hauling truck, to get decals (Esbaum Farms, if you can't read it):

3. Okay, I can't resist adding this. Serious cuteness from our 3-month-old great-niece (whose daddy is making faces at her off camera):

4. Evan Lysacek = awesomeness. Watching some of those guys was ... well, sometimes those long programs FELT like lonnnng programs. But the top few were outstanding, weren't they?

5. My pop culture fantasy of the day: Tiger Woods calls a press conference and nobody shows up.

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25. The Friday Five

1. Daughter didn't make it home last weekend (curse you, snow!), so she's coming home TODAY. Yay! Better late than never.

2. Having a blast with my rhyming pb story. Can't talk about it any more, lest I jinx something. Yes, this is the story I had decided to trash a couple of weeks ago. It's always darkest before the dawn.

3. I have now designated this to be Cliché Day.

4. More story ideas have been pelting me. Some feel extremely weak, but you never know....I'm taking notes. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

5. Hung out at a bookstore yesterday to check out some of the new(ish) pbs. I have to say, Kevin Henkes' MY GARDEN is truly adorable - and coming to live at my house soon. It's the cream of the crop.

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