Drain–oh!

drainThis month I’ve been enjoying a challenge on Instagram entitled “Inktober.” Participants create art each day based on a list of prompts. Some people are very strict about guidelines for themselves such as only using one medium or size in their work. I have created a variety of drawings and paintings, and I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with the challenge for 21 days so far. I love the incentive to create daily–something that’s crucial for artists or anyone who wants to hone a skill.

Yesterday’s prompt was “drain.” The watercolor work I painted is 9 x 12 inches.

My first thought when considering the word drain was “down the drain” in the most negative sense of the phrase. We’ve all heard about things–often money–going down the drain.

As I stared at the bold, bright colors of my abstract “drain,” I began to think of the opposite viewpoint. What if things going down the drain was positive? I mean sure, nobody wants to drop their diamond ring down the drain. But think about it differently. We WANT drains to work. When we first fill a tub with hot water, it’s great. Maybe a relaxing hot bath is just what we need. It’s calming and comfortable. But then, the water cools off. After a while, you want out and you want the water out. Empty bathtub. Thanks, drain!

The same goes for our circumstances. Sometimes, we’re fortunate enough to sit in some pretty pleasant circumstances. We are warm and comfortable. It’s just what we need. But then, something changes. It starts to get–well–less pleasant. It’s time to let the drain do it’s job.

Sometimes letting the lukewarm stuff go down the drain can be an opportunity to start again. Clean. Empty. Ready. Often we cannot control the speed at which things “cool down,” but we can control our attitudes and actions when they do. So enjoy those warm, comfy circumstances, and when they change–which they ALWAYS do–let them go down the drain and get ready to start again.

drainpic

 

The Waiting Room

“Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait”.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  — “A Psalm of Life”

I’m writing this from an actual waiting room. My too-big-for-me-to-go-in-with kid has an appointment, and I find myself waiting.

waiting

 

I wonder how much time the average person spends waiting. According to a survey by Timex, people spend around 6 months of their lives waiting in line, and they spend about 43 days waiting on hold with customer service. Excruciating. Especially the customer service part.

 

cupcakesketch

 

These days, I’m also waiting to hear from a literary agent. The great news from my late September writer’s conference is that more than one agent showed interest in Justin’s Cupcakes! The experience of pitching my picture book was exciting, and I felt brave speaking confidently about my work. For now, I’ve submitted my manuscript exclusively to one agent, and I’m eager to hear back. It takes time. Literary agents spend time working for the clients they already have, working on reading piles of manuscripts, and meeting authors and illustrators face to face. So for now, I feel patient.

Sitting in this waiting room, though, is giving me time to think about all the things we do while we’re waiting for stuff–little or big stuff.
We WONDER. I wonder what will happen next? I wonder what they’ll think? I wonder if I did all that I could? I wonder if my work was good enough? I wonder if it’s gonna be ok? This last question transitions nicely to another favorite waiting activity…

We WORRY. I’m worried how this will turn out. I’m worried she didn’t understand. What if the results are bad? What if they’re good? I’m worried about what they thought. I’m worried about someone I love. The worrying can go on and on if we let it.

We WISH. I wish they would hurry up! I wish this had never happened. I wish I’d done this sooner. I wish I knew how this will turn out. I wish I knew everything would go the way I want. Where’s a genie when you need one? My mom always said, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all take a swim.” I always rolled my eyes, but I get it, Mom.

We WAFFLE. I changed my mind. What was I thinking? Was I crazy to try that? I shouldn’t have listened to that doctor! Should I have said yes to that interview? Did I say something stupid? I did. I definitely did. Maybe not that stupid…When we’re waiting, our wishy-washy minds can go crazy.

I’m trying to lecture myself about waiting. It comes with life. There’s no avoiding it. We can’t choose to never wait. We can choose to wait differently, though. And nope, it’s not easy to change–not for me anyway.

*steps up to pulpit to deliver sermon to self*

Instead of wondering, DELIGHT in the opportunity you’ve had. Find a way to be grateful for your current, albeit waiting, status. Example: I’m grateful I was able to go to the doctor. I’m proud that I took a brave step in my career. If the results aren’t what I hope for, I’ve got someone beside me. If nothing else, delight in making it this far. Plenty of people haven’t.

Instead of worrying, DEBRIEF. Make a list of what went well. I know–it’s not always what I think of first, either. Force yourself to focus on the PROS side of your pros and cons for a while. It’s fine to think about what could’ve gone differently, but don’t let yourself do it until you’ve visited the positive side of the situation.

Instead of wishing, DELIBERATE. The definition of this one is worth noting: engage in long and careful consideration. Think about it. Consider all the who, what, where, why, when, and what if of the situation. I know that my mind does a lot of rabbit chasing and that “careful consideration” of things is a rare commodity. Slow down and think things through. Some people do it with prayer or meditation. Be deliberate about deliberating.

Instead of waffling, DECIDE what you will do–no matter what happens. Imagine the best-case scenario and play out all the steps you’ll take if that happens. You can also spend time deciding what you’ll do if things don’t go the way you want. Make a plan. Make a plan B. Also make plans C-M, because you never know what life’s gonna throw your way.

I know of two children’s books about waiting (incidentally by two authors I love):

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t come across adult books about waiting–not very quickly anyway. You’d think that people would get better at waiting as they grow older. I’m not convinced it’s true.

No amount of reading or wisdom or alliteration will change the amount of time I have to wait. It’s out of my control.

Funny how “time waits for no man,” but man is always waiting around for time to do something. Hmm.

If you’re “in the waiting room,” remember you’re not alone, and while you often can’t choose how long you’re there, you can choose what you do while you wait.

Edited.

“the table is set and our glasses are full

though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole

we’ll build new traditions in place of the old

‘cause life without revision will silence our souls”

–lyrics from song by Sleeping at Last, “Snow”

backspace.jpg

 

I’m in love with these beautifully wise lyrics. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m all about souls. I think a lot about the deepest parts of people–their souls. When a young person recently asked me how I could know that God exists, it didn’t take me long to answer. “It’s the souls. I believe in science–it is amazing. But for me, science cannot explain the beauty and individuality of souls. Souls are God’s house.”

All of this is to explain that it pains me to think of a life (without revision) that would “silence our souls.” I actually believe that a lot of the pain in our world is caused when someone tries to silence their own soul–or someone else’s.

So we must revise. We must edit. We must not only endure, but also INVITE change.

Revised.

Abridged. Adjusted. Re-framed. Corrected. Condensed.

Improved. Polished. Modified. Reworked.

CHANGED.

It has happened. Things have changed. They have changed again and again and again. It is said that the only things that you can count on in life are death, taxes, and CHANGE.

Now you may be thinking: Wait. Just. One. Minute.

I like things the way they are.

I hear you. Me too. Alas, here is a message for you and for me:

Get over it.

A big amount of change is happening right now with editing my manuscript. Editing is a gigantic part of writing. I remembered reading this quote somewhere:

“There is no such thing as writing, only good rewriting.”

The funny thing is, when I went to look up the source of this wise advice, I found that it has been attributed to more than one person. So far, I’ve found Hemingway, Capote, Dahl, Graves, King, Brandeis, and White. It’s pretty clear that revising is the only way to write and, I must add, to live.

It is not easy. When I first have an idea for a book, poem, or essay, it spills out onto the page in a rush. It just has to get out. In my mind, it’s fantastic. I scribble thoughts down on paper (old school) or rush to the keyboard so that my 46-year-old brain won’t forget.

When I get the draft out and read it for myself, maybe I’ll change a few things–gently though–so as not to hurt my own feelings. Change is fine when it’s what we WANT, right? It’s like saying, “Sure. I’ll go on a diet. As long as I can have potatoes. And candy. And bread. Also, I don’t really care for salad. Or vegetables. But other than that…I’m in!”

The thing about breaking into the “business” of writing is this: other people are gonna read your stuff. I first got a taste of this in a writing class I took at the Mark Twain House a couple of years ago. I learned a ton of useful information in the class about genres of children’s books, industry standards, working with words, and most importantly for me–accepting feedback. We would bring several copies of our manuscripts to class and take turns receiving the input of our classmates.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s a little bit of a naked-on-stage or was-that-my-pants-I-heard-ripping? feeling when you read the words aloud to others for the first time. You just don’t know what’s going to happen next. It was all well and good when people made small suggestions. That I liked. And agreed with.

But then there was the really useful stuff that makes a writer itchy:

–I can’t tell what’s happening in this paragraph.

–You lost me on page 5.

–This is too wordy. It get’s boring.

–Something’s gotta change at the end.

Silence.

*Cracks knuckles, hitches up britches, slowly draws pistol as whistling western shoot-out music plays in the background*

humbleBut most of the time, they were right. And when I allowed forced myself to be humble and pay attention, the changes turned out to be what made the story so much better. Richer. More readable.

So I’m working with an editor as I prepare to share my manuscript with agents and publishers. I expected her to suggest changes, and boy, does she. I’m ok with it. I welcome it. My ideas are good, but I’m learning the truth about revision. In my writing, and in my life, it is essential.

Therefore, bring it on, benevolent Backspace! Deliver me, Delete key!

Detour me, Destiny!

Let the editing begin.

Countdown to Cupcakes: The Writer’s Conference

19 days. That’s how much time is left until the Boston Writing Workshop.

It will be my first writer’s conference. I’ve been to teacher training conferences, church conferences, parent conferences, writing classes, painting classes, computer classes, college classes, Sunday School classes–just no writer’s conferences. Yet. But now I’ve signed up and there’s no turning back.

On top of that, I’ve signed up to pitch my children’s book, Justin’s Cupcakes, to three different agents at that conference. For those of you not familiar with the publishing business (which, let’s face it, pretty much includes me, too), an author often needs an agent to get a book published through a publishing house. Of course, some people succeed with self-publishing, but I’ve decided to try this route first.

The conference offers a variety of informative sessions such as

–Everything You Need to Know about Query Letters

–Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book

–A Writer’s Guide to a Successful Book Launch

That’s just a few of the choices, and I’m really excited about all I’ll be able to learn. In addition to the structured courses, I’m looking forward to spending time with other writers and learning more about “the business.”

As far as the pitch appointments I’ve scheduled, each one is just ten minutes long. Ten minutes seems short, right?

Right.

In that 10 minutes, I am expected to:

  • Introduce myself
  • Give a synopsis of my book
  • Convince an agent why they want to sell my book to a publisher
  • Be ready to hand over or send a completed manuscript
  • Present a business card
  • Be ready to describe other projects I have in the works
  • Confidently say “I have other completed manuscripts available upon request”
  • And man, I have no idea what else

And none of the above includes anything that the agent might say or ask. I have researched for these meetings more than my 10th grade research paper on Silas Marner. OK, fine. I didn’t research at all for that. What? I got an A.

Anyway, learning the business of writing is almost definitely harder than writing.

Right now, my pitch includes some of the following:

cropped-cake.jpg

 

The town of Butterville might be known for its traditional cupcake, vanilla with pink frosting, but Justin, tired of all that sameness, is determined to bake his own extraordinary ones. Just when it seems no one will even taste his different-looking desserts, he convinces his friend Ruby, who is visually impaired, to try a limeberry dazzle cupcake. The verdict: delicious! Word spreads that doing things your own special way makes for some spectacular, prize-winning pastries. Ruby’s brave taste test proves the truth about cupcakes and people — it’s the inside that counts!

Incidentally, I did paint this pink frosted cupcake, but the book won’t include my illustrations. Unless you’re an illustrator (an experienced one), publishers would rather match your manuscript with an illustrator they represent. Fine by me–it’s all I can do to get the words going for now.

No matter how much I prepare, it’s the first writing conference, so it feels like this:

bandaid

It is little bit scary, but so is pretty much every awesome thing that’s ever happened to me. So in just 19 days, the bandage comes off.

deep

 

 

I feel like I’m climbing up the giant ladder toward the high dive–and I’ve only had a couple of swimming lessons.

 

 

So if you’re willing, wish me luck, or cross your fingers, or pray, or send positive vibes, or whatever you’ve got. I’ll take it.

Here goes nothin’–or everything!

The Pink Mile: A Valentine Story for People of a Certain Age

It was the mid-seventies, and I was a student at Maude Trevvett Elementary School. I have some pretty good memories about elementary school including, but not limited to:

–Mrs. Hargrove, my kindergarten teacher, letting me sit atop a table and count aloud to 100. I remember feeling smart and proud, and she acted like I was the only one in the world who could do it.

–The bus stop at the end of Leslie Lane, which always hosted an assortment of neighborhood nice kids and not-so-nice kids. As the youngest of five, I mostly felt protected, but there was always an element of surprise.

–Alice in Wonderland, the play we put on in fifth grade. I was the white rabbit, and I got to sing “I’m Late, I’m Late, for a very important date…” in what was definitely a snowman costume borrowed from a smaller kid. Read: pudgy hare. Also, my dad made me an awesome giant clock on a chain to hold during my solo. I remember that Kathy Davis was Alice, because man, could she sing.

–In third grade, me and Lisa and Thomas made a phonograph for a social studies project. It was constructed from a cardboard box, a lot of foil, and probably some super toxic spray paint. We were celebrities, because my name was in the paper and the two of them got their picture in the paper “listening” to the phonograph.

–Fourth grade. Mean teacher who shall remain nameless commented aloud about my weight when I came back from the nurse with it written on a piece of paper. Not cool, mean lady. *jots note for therapist appointment*

Anyway….overall it was a pretty good experience, and there is one memory that stands out among them all:

The Pink Mile

**Names have been changed to protect the awesome.

It was Valentine’s Day in the third grade. 1980.animal valentine

It’s important to know that schools handled holidays a lot differently back then. We had full on parties with mountains of delicious, sugary, gluteny, trans-fatty, processed treats. They were made by moms, and I never remember a single hesitation about food that came from other people’s houses. We drank giant cups of Red Dye #40 while snorting Pixie Stix, and there was a high fructose corn syrup fountain to dip stuff into. We had no regrets.

The other important consideration is that kids (at least in my neighborhood) did not get treats like that all the time–only special occasions. There was no driving through for chicken nuggets or random cupcakes on a Tuesday. No if-you’re-good-in-the-grocery-store candy. Only holidays. Even school lunches had rules; the good stuff (hohos, candy, Hostess cupcakes, Doritos) were only for field trips. The brown bag standards were ham with mustard and maybe some fruit or an oatmeal cream pie. All of this meant that school holiday parties were a big deal. You did not get sick. You did not misbehave. You had to make it to the party–which was at the end of the day, always, because the teachers weren’t idiots. They loaded us up with enthusiasm and colorful toxins and then gratefully crammed us onto the bus to go home. Good luck, suckahs!

skunk valentineWe’d all made it to lunchtime, and the excitement was growing, because the Valentine party was shortly after lunch. Now remember, in addition to the anticipation of the Sugar Showdown, was the ever important SELECTION OF THE VALENTINES. Our parents bought us (from K-Mart, probably) one box of Valentines that included various sizes of cards and a teacher card (not like today where every single card is tiny and exactly the same–lame). Filling out Valentines was serious business. One had to consider the message on each card. Who would receive the sheep with hearts asking “Will EWE be my Valentine?” And which boy or girl would receive the biggest one in the box? And if the card had the word LOVE on it, well…crucial decisions.

Never mind the construction of a valentine box big enough to hold what was sure to be the mother lode of enormous valentine cards and treats. Seriously, I remember thinking, Curse you, tiny shoe box that housed those Buster Browns purchased in the Sears Husky kids’ department! If only Magic Johnson’s shoe boxes were lying around–HE had some big feet. Maybe your box was shaped like an animal or a rocket, or maybe it was covered in stickers or had wheels like a race car. And on this holiday, there was serious potential for every third grade girl’s best friend… GLITTER!

So anyhow, lunch was wrapping up. During lunch on this particular day, my table mate, Jerry, was fortunate enough to have a box of Red Hots (tiny, spicy cinnamon candies) in his lunch. Who knows why. Maybe his parents had given him a Valentine present after breakfast. Maybe his Meemaw had mailed a package. Whatever the reason…HE HAD CANDY. This elevated him to a lunch table status of at least Prince. It would’ve been King if he’d shared, which I don’t recall him doing. None of us cared, because we knew that we were minutes away from the pink frosting smorgasbord. 

Maybe Jerry ate some of his lunch–I can’t remember. But boy howdy did he eat those Red Hots like they were going out of style. It was a regular-sized box, which means it was probably enough for six or seven people, which means that most kids would definitely wolf down the whole thing all by themselves in one sitting. That’s what he did, and again, who could blame him? CANDY.

While we waited with peanut-buttery breath for our table to be called, Jerry started to look…funny. His brow furrowed and his mouth turned down. He clasped his lunchbox, adorned with the logo of Some Cool Show from the seventies, tightly in his hands until his knuckles turned white. He was sweating profusely. 

“What’s wrong, Jerry?” I asked, which was a risk, because we were supposed to wait quietly. He didn’t answer.

Another friend questioned him, “Are you OK? You look kinda sick.”

Jerry’s eyes grew large, and a wave of panic painted his round face. PEOPLE WHO GET SICK AT SCHOOL CAN’T GO TO THE VALENTINE PARTY. Jerry quickly shook his head at us as if to say, “SHUT UP.”

No cupcakes.

No red drink.

No giant Valentine from that prettiest girl who has definitely chosen him this year.

No candy.

No skipping math.

the fonzWe stayed silent. Tables near the front of the cafeteria were standing up and making the walk to empty their trays and lunchboxes into the big green trash barrels near the door. And then it happened. 

Jerry barfed into his lunchbox. 

Wide eyes all around. Jerry threw up quickly, and somehow silently, into his plastic lunchbox. And then he closed it. He said nothing. We said nothing. It was almost our table’s turn to get up. 

The exhausted looking cafeteria monitor arrived at the end of our table, and we all stood. Jerry rose bravely from his plastic chair. He was stoic. I know for a fact that he was right in front of me in line because just as Jerry started to pass the teachers’ table, it happened. A thin, bright pink, line of red hot cinnamon vomit trailed behind him as he walked toward the door.

lunchking

The amazing thing–aside from incredible, now King status, Jerry, who had so far survived this debacle–was that not a single kid said a single word about the barf trail. Not the older kids, not the tattle tails or brown-nosers, and certainly not Jerry’s friends. We knew the truth–Jerry MUST get to go to that Valentine party.

In a magnanimous display of solidarity, we all zipped our lips as Jerry’s lunchbarf trailed down the aisle of teal-green tile into line, and then out into the tan tile hallway that headed to a veritable treasure trove of Valentine Delights. We were quiet, but in our third-grade hearts we slow-clapped and chanted, “JER-RY! JER-RY! JER-RY!”

By the time we made it to our seats, Jerry seemed more like himself, due to the barf-and-better rule. God only knows what he did with that lunchbox, or what his poor mother encountered after school. Was there a bus barf trail? Did he keep that lunchbox? So many questions.

The Valentine’s Day party was all we hoped for; cheesy games, corny love puns, an irritated teacher, and a stomach ache’s worth of goodies. Mission accomplished.

As for King Jerry of the Red Hots, his Pink Mile tale will go down in history as the greatest of elementary school Valentine feats.

Consider this remarkable yet cautionary tale when you find yourself alone with a box of candy. And if you just can’t help yourself…

Happy Trails!

Happy Trails

Leaf it Like it Is

So say what you want about politics and global warming and all, but it is freakin’ hot in Connecticut, and it doesn’t matter why. Sweaty. Steamy. Why-does-anyone-have-to-even-wear-pants hot. Sleep like a starfish hot.

Hot.

This extended season of steaminess is a great reason to think toward fall, which is without a doubt the most delicious of New England seasons. After living in the south for years, I still can’t get over the beauty of fall in this part of the country. Breathtaking.

leaves

I was inspired by DearAnnArt, who is currently having an autumn watercolor challenge, during which participants work on nine different watercolor projects. This one, appropriately, features leaves, and I particularly enjoyed blending colors as I thought about the gorgeous canvas of foliage that’s about to be full of color all around me.

As you may have surmised by now, my artistic style is illustrative, meaning I don’t really expect objects to be realistic-looking. I’m always picturing how objects will look on a greeting card and especially, in a children’s picture book.

After years as an educator and a parent, reading stories to kids of different ages, I can’t help but picture the stories that might accompany artwork. For example, as I painted more leaves, I thought of a children’s poem that would go with them:

leaf poem

Juliette loved to rake leaves

The rustle and crunch gave her glee

She’d pile crackly heaps

In waiting for leaps

Into autumn she’d go….YIPPEE!!

Here’s the thing. I have no idea why my brain thinks in rhymes. It just does. When I write for children, my stories often come out rhyming. Maybe it’s the musical quality or the rhythm of the words–not sure. I’ve tried, quite intentionally, to write stories that don’t rhyme, but so far, they just seem forced.

It is what it is.

I am what I am.

The words lose their fizz

When I try to cram

the meaning in sentences without a beat.

My mind does repentance, and can’t keep it neat.

The story–it wanders. The characters–lost.

The fun goes away, and the plot lines are crossed.

 

See? Rhymes. I could try to change it, but why? I have to leave it alone.

This doesn’t mean I’m not open to edits–I am. I’m working with an editor this month on my current picture book, and I’m more than willing to take advantage of her knowledge and experience to make my manuscript the best it can be. But if I tried to make it un-rhyme-y, I just don’t know what would happen to the characters and the story line.

For now, I’ll “leaf” it like it is.

The countdown is on. 16 days ’till fall begins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly.

 

This morning I painted this happy butterfly. One of my favorite teachers is Anna Koliadych DearAnnArt. I first found her on Instagram, where she shares watercolor tutorials suitable for painters of all levels–especially kind to beginners like me. She breaks each project into steps, even explaining whether to add paint when the paper is wet or dry. Anna has a great variety of subjects including plants, foods, animals, and objects. I appreciate her willingness to share her art while encouraging others. Thanks, Anna!

Now about the butterfly; I know it’s a cliche, but whatever. This creature is one of my favorite symbols of accomplishment and purpose. As you know, a butterfly starts out all wormy and gravity bound–a caterpillar. Don’t get me wrong, caterpillars are cool–they’re furry and interesting and they tickle the palm of your hand if you’re brave enough to let them. But those butterflies!

On a recent trip to Montreal, Canada, my husband and I visited the botanical gardens, which included admission to the insectarium. I was skeptical, because most insects make me want to scream, flail my arms, and start stomping stuff. But they had butterflies. TONS of them! Talk about WONDER. We marveled at the variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. I found myself overwhelmed by the beauty, and I felt right at home next to tiny children–gasping and pointing and exclaiming. I love how children are notice-ers, and we could all learn a lot from them about paying attention.

The Butterfly Site is where I went to learn more about butterflies, and here’s my favorite fact: Most butterflies only live about a year–many of them less. Just think of all the hard work and beauty-making these creatures do in such a short time. Surely I have enough time to try a little beauty-making myself.

So I will.

agloriousfreedom

I’m inspired by butterflies today, but I’m also encouraged (and amazed) by the work of an author and artist I’ve recently discovered, Lisa Congdon. Her book, A Glorious Freedom shares not only her own story–how she didn’t really get going on the career she loves until after she turned 40–but also the stories of many women (all over 40–some WAY over) who found their passion , and the freedom that goes with it, a little bit later in life. If you’re a woman, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, I highly recommend it. The words are uplifting and the artwork is a colorful reminder that if “over the hill” is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!

“And so here I go–here we all go–leaning toward our 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, hair graying, wrinkles gathering, experiences accruing, insights accumulating, joy abounding.” – Lisa Congdon, A Glorious Freedom

Fly!

 

 

A Thousand Words…or so.

Even though there’s only one picture in this post, this is the beginning of a lot more than one thousand words. I thought it was only fair that I tell you that. 

Wisdom begins in wonder.  –Socrates

Sometimes, big changes motivate us to do big things. 

paints

My youngest child started high school this week, and it feels pretty big to me–big isn’t really the right word. Gigantic. Enormous. Harrowing? Celebratory. Monumental. Curious. Terrifying. Gratifying. Pensive. Unfamiliar. Wonderful.

There’s a lot of wondering involved when something new begins. I wonder how it will go? I wonder how I will feel? I wonder what the end result will be? Certainly this is a wonder-full season in my life. 

Like many parents, as my kids get older, I’ve started dusting off my dreams and trying to remember what I did before I had kids and, more importantly, what I might do when they’re out on their own. It’s just really not that far off, so there’s no more procrastinating.

This site is all about wonder–both the verb and the noun–as practiced through writing and art. I want to encourage both children and adults to seek and to celebrate wonder in the world.

won·der

ˈwəndər
noun
  1. a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
verb
  1. desire or be curious to know something.
  2. feel admiration and amazement; marvel.

When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher, Elaenor DeMeritt was an inspiration to me. She had very high expectations, and it was clear she cared for her students. It was Ms. Demeritt who helped me first long to be a writer and a teacher. I’ll always be grateful for the impact she made in my life.

I worked in preschool and elementary school for about 15 years, and I’m currently working as an administrator at a church. My “day job” has rewards and meaningful experiences for sure, but it’s the moonlighting (does it actually count as moonlighting if you haven’t quite made any money yet?) that makes my life full. I work at writing and painting in the early mornings (my favorite time of day), and someday, I’d like to work at it all day long.

Here are a few things to know about me:

  • I write children’s books as well as humorous and inspirational essays. To read my first blog about how I learned to make pie (hint: it’s not all about the pie) click here: fortyandtwentyblackbirds.com.

 

  • Every day, I experience wonder (yes, even on the crappy and sad days), and I want other people to experience it, too. It only means opening your heart and your senses. The world’s a smorgasbord of marvels.

 

  • I paint, but I’m not a fine artist, so if you’re looking for Picasso or O’Keefe, you’ve taken a wrong turn. I’m an illustrator who is still always learning how the paint and the brush work together. For me, painting is my peaceful practice, and I’ll do it–because I must–whether anyone knows or reads about it or not. 

 

  • I’m not a whippersnapper anymore, so while I welcome and encourage your comments, know that you’re not gonna hurt my feelings. My art is my art–I gave up worrying about what other people think in my twenties. What a load off…

 

I’ve written a couple of children’s picture books, and the one I’m hoping to publish first is all about a baker named Justin, who is determined to do things in new and creative ways–no matter how everyone else is doing it. I’m looking forward to sharing Justin’s important message with children everywhere. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. The publishing business is a big one, and currently I’m a little bitty fish in a big pond, but hey–you gotta swim somewhere!

Thanks for reading. Here we go!