THE CURSE

Have you ever waved at someone you recognized, only to realize that you were looking at your own reflection in the mirror?

Have you ever been caught by the Schwan man singing in an off-tune baby voice–while dancing–with your dog?

When you ask your spouse or friend, “What do you think I am, stupid?” does he or she take a long time before replying?

I realized I was doomed to be one brick short of a full load on a childhood excursion with my parents, Mildred and Elmer.

Dad was driving 51/2 mph, the wrong way down a one-way street, with his blinkers still flashing from six blocks before.

Mom, wearing a shower cap over curlers, was raving about how friendly city people were, but how odd it was that they all waved with just one finger.

Then the bombshell hit.

Mom turned to dad, gave me a pat on the head, and exclaimed. “Think of it, Elmer! She will be just like us someday.”

I don’t think she was deliberately being cruel, but I didn’t sleep very well that night.

At that moment, I digested the bleakness of my future. I would be destined to scan the horizon, hoping no witnesses after I climbed into the wrong cars at drive-in theaters, asked department store mannequins for the time, and walked to the front pew of church with my dress tucked into my panty-hose.

Well, I’ve had enough.

MarlysTHECURSE

I’m not a greedy person, but when my parents handed down attributes to their kids, I was kind of hoping for brains, a little coordination, maybe even money. I would have settled for anything–anything but THE CURSE.

But how do you tell someone you love that you think they are responsible for your elevator not reaching the top floor and not the obstetrician who dropped you on your head at birth?

I would have to be delicate.

“Mom. I think i’m starting to take after you and Dad.”

“Oh! You’re starting to burp a lot?”

“Mom, no.”

“You know, I can just look at cabbage and belch.”

“Mom.”

“Oh, I know! Your underpants flew off the clothesline? Mine might not have made the news if your father hadn’t reported the missing weather balloon.”

NincompoopIV

Me, fitting the dizzy blonde stereotype even before I bleached my hair blonde.

“MOM! NO! My husband told me that I’m just like the dizzy blonde stereotype, except I don’t have a big chest or blonde hair. I fell into the toilet this morning. How was I supposed to know the seat was still up? My boss told me that he looked up in the dictionary under “nincompoop” and found MY picture. What’s really troubling is that this been one of my better days, and I owe it all to you and Dad.”

“Oh, Honey. We didn’t leave the toilet seat up.”

“No, Mom. What I’m trying to say is I’m starting to follow in your footsteps. Let’s face it. when was the last time you actually sprayed your armpits with deodorant?”

“Oh, silly! That was your father that used my hairspray for an antiperspirant–oh–and the Nair instead of the Preparation H. It was me that gargled with Pine-sol. Actually your father kind of liked it. You know how he likes the smell of pine trees.”

“Mom, sometimes I wonder what we did to deserve being the way we are.”

“Me, too. We sure are lucky, aren’t we?”

“For CRIPES sake, Mom! Haven’t you heard a word I said? We’re CURSED! Our light are on, but NOBODY’S HOME. There’s so much air between our ears that we’re in danger OF FLOATING AWAY like the Goodyear Blimp! Don’t-you-un-der-stand-what-all-of-this-MEEEEEEEEEEANS?”

“Oh, silly! Of course I do. What do you think I am? Dingy?”

THEGIFTTHATKEEPSONGIVING

 Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being funny, forgiving, and fabulous. I love and miss you. M

Writing Drill Sergeant’s Post-Rejection Motivators

Inside my head and heart reside Writing Drill Sergeant and Writing Saboteur.
They don’t get along. Especially after a manuscript rejection.

Writing Saboteur: “Another rejection . . . This is hard.”

Sniffle.

Writing Drill Sergeant: “Waa. Waa. Waa. How many rejections have you collected? 200? 300?”

“No.”

“100?”

“No.”

“More than 50?”

“Well . . . no.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Still . . . rejection sucks. Can’t I just greet people at Wal-Mart?”

“Get your wimpy, people-pleasing self back in the ring.”

“Don’t make me write today. I’d rather bury my face in a Dairy Queen supersized Capuccino Heath Butterfinger Blizzard and cry.”

“Get. In. The CHAIR!”

“Wait–I need to pee first.”

“Hurry up.”

“And eat just a little chocolate.”

“Don’t test me.”

“Can’t you say something encouraging?”

“Drill sergeants don’t encourage. They motivate. Here’s a list of quotes.”

“You made a list–for me?”

“Anything to get you to stop whining.”

WRITING DRILL SERGEANT’S POST-REJECTION MOTIVATORS

1. ROCKY

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone): “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”

2. ROCKY II

Trainer Micky Goldmill (Burgess Meredith): “For a 45-minute fight, you got to train hard for 45,000 minutes.”

3. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks): “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard … is what makes it great.”

Or: Jimmy Dugan: “Are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying. There’s no crying in writing (baseball)!”

“I know you watch a lot of movies, but do you have any literary motivators–ones who use their inside voice?”

4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Harper Lee)

Atticus Finch: “but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down…”

5. CHARLOTTE’S WEB (E.B. White)

While Wilbur waits for the spiders: “Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.”

6. WINNIE THE POOH (A. A. Milne)

Piglet: “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.

7. THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD (Watty Piper)

Little Engine: “I think I can. I think I can.”

“How about something more recent?”

8. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING (Ashley Spires)

The bad feelings are about to start all over again. Then she (a regular girl) notices something surprising. There are some parts of the WRONG things that are really quite RIGHT. . . . By the time she reaches the end of the trail, she finally knows how to make the thing MAGNIFICENT. She gets to work.

“Writing Drill Sergeant, you’re really kind of a softie.”

“Shut up and type.”

Not Your Hallmark Christmas

AwayInAMangerMy youngest son turns 32 today.  This flashed me back to my favorite Christmas letter of the same age, minus a month:

I HEAR HALLMARK MAKES PRETTY NICE CARDS

There is one time of the year that my family meets with as much breathless anticipation as they might welcome an impacted molar or hemorrhoids.

No, it’s not tax time or the annual Limburger Cheese and Lutefisk Breakfast. It’s Christmas card picture time.

I don’t understand. Don’t you get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the mere mention of Christmas cards?

Not my family. All they can think of is who’s going to get the tar, who’s going to get the feathers, and who’s going to tie me to the telephone pole near the ant hill. You’d think I was Roseanne Barr threatening to sing the national anthem at the World Series.

This unwarranted hostility began with my husband and his preposterous idea: “I hear Hallmark makes pretty nice cards and they’re already made.”

I don’t know what he’s got against creativity. He only had to wear a Santa costume in July once. And it’s not like I collected a big insurance settlement when he fell off the roof.

The rest of the family turned on me in 1983–just when I was about to capture the real meaning of Christmas. Picture this: a nativity scene in the old barn engulfed by the morning rays . . .

My skeptic, Ebenezer, thought this was hysterical, especially since I was considering our two children as the holy couple. I have to admit that I could see his point when I approached the kids at the breakfast table. Five-year-old Mary had two-and-a-half-year-old Joseph in a full nelson because he hid the prize from the Co-Co Puffs.

I wish I would have known some wrestling moves when I tried to wrangle him into his sister’s bathrobe. Our son figured this Joseph guy must have been a pretty big sissy and wanted no part of imitating him–until his sister screeched, “Get out of my clothes!” Then he decided he rather liked dressing funny. Mary had such a conniption, she knocked her grape juice on the floor.

I tried not to cry when I couldn’t get the huge spatter of purple off of my new wallpaper. “It’s okay, Mommy,” Mary consoled me, “People might think it’s part of the design.”

In the meantime Joseph tried to flush an entire toilet paper roll down the commode. He ran to his room before the smoke even cleared from my ears.

When Mary was ready and the flood waters subsided I summoned him out of his sanctuary. He emerged wearing nothing but cowboy boots, a ten-gallon hat, and a red bandana.

By the time I got Joseph dressed the second time, I felt like I had ridden a donkey to Bethlehem and given birth. This was a little discouraging, as I still had to get to the barn with the manger props and camera equipment, a doll to be baby Jesus, the potty chair (just in case), and two cookies for bribery. This was no easy task as I was seven months pregnant and had very little arm room to spare. Mary had to devote every ounce of energy she could muster just to drag a bawling Joseph behind.

We met old Scrooge in the yard. I tried to look like I was having fun.

“Wook, Dad,” our son sobbed, while picking his nose, “I’m Jophes.”

“Jophes. You’re so stupid, Booger King.” Mary disdainfully slapped his finger loose.

“Weave me awone!” wailed an indignant Joseph who hauled off to deck Mary, but missed, falling to the ground, splitting open his lip.

“I hear Hallmark makes pretty nice cards,” (I knew it was coming) “and they’re already made.”

I stomped on my spouse’s instep as I trudged past, pausing only to suggest where he and Mr. Hallmark could go.

I managed to ignore his annoying cackle until we reached the barn where flies, cobwebs, and bird droppings overwhelmed us. Joseph stuck his finger in a fresh deposit and asked, “What’th thith white thtuff?”

“Frosting,” said Mary. “Taste it.”

Joseph and I put the frosting on Mary’s cookie.

I was able to snap only four shots before the sunlight moved from my makeshift manger.

Away in a Manger

The resulting photograph of Jessica and Joshua and doll (Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus), captioned, “Blessed are they who see Christmas through the eyes of a child.”

I addressed our Christmas letter from the hospital after having a baby boy (Seth) on December 12th, 1983. He was due January 12th, 1984. (The doctor maintains that photography will not induce labor.)

Our unexpected Christmas present added a special significance to our handmade greetings, in which I had inscribed, “Blessed are they who see Christmas through the eyes of a child.” (Amazing how we can turn from sarcastic to serene in an infant heartbeat.)

Card recipients raved about how angelic our little darlings photographed and asked what I had planned for the next year as an encore. I always made sure my husband was out of earshot when I replied: “I hear Hallmark makes pretty nice cards–and they’re already made.”

Missed Opportunity

My husband and I caught our breath at the bottom of the sidewalk. Before us loomed our last and toughest hill of this bike ride and we knew we needed to peddle fast and build up speed to make it to the crest. Plus, we didn’t want to run over the couple coming toward us, especially since the woman was clearly expecting and their two dogs on leashes zigged and zagged across the path.

They moved to a lawn and waved, so my husband took off. I raced to catch up, peddling faster and faster, then slower and slower and slower. Any slower and I’d start rolling backwards. I stood up on my peddles as I passed the couple.

“Hello,” I said, pretending to be as fit as my athletic husband. Really, I was quoting The Little Engine That Could in my head. I think I can. I think I can. I think I–“WHOA!” CRASH!

My left foot slipped off the pedal and I fell with a clatter.

While his sympathetic wife gasped, the man ran to me. “Are you okay?”

Embarrassed, I stood without checking my wounds. “Yeah, I’m okay. Thank you.” I hastily pushed my bike the rest of the way up the hill and rode past my husband. “Let’s go home.”

Once there, we assessed my bruises and cuts and my husband said. “I’ve seen that couple before.”

That couple? Oh, yeah. They were such a blur. Would I know them if I saw them again?

That’s when I realized that I acted like a jerk. Not because I fell off the bike, but because I missed an opportunity to express humility and gratitude. My bike acrobatics offered the perfect chance to allow others to be the best version of their heroic selves–and for me to be the best version of my thankful self.

One day we could’ve reminisced, “Remember how we first became friends? You fell off your bike and did that cool, slow-motion fall, with the quirky, high-pitched scream?”MyBike

“Yeah! And you let your dogs lick my scrapes clean while YOU went into labor and we helped deliver your baby right then and there. That was so nice of you to name her ‘Grace,’ after me.”

“It was the least we could do. You were bleeding and all.”

Sigh . . .

Sometimes we miss opportunities, when pride goeths AFTER the fall.

My BATTLE BUNNY Regret

MacBarnettFan

A few Mac Barnett favorites that aren’t pictured here: SAM AND DAVE DIG A BIG HOLE, MUSTACHE, OH NO!, OH NO! NOT AGAIN!, GUESS AGAIN, and EXTRA YARN

If you get the opportunity to meet Mac Barnett, read Battle Bunny first.  Take it from me. I blew it. When Barnett visited  the Red Balloon bookstore in my neighborhood I hadn’t read it yet. MacBarnett Sept2014MacBarnettSept2014KEM friend, Elise, even pulled the  book out of a Barnes and Noble book shelf and told me I’d like it. But  I figured I’d look at it later.

Now I’m thinking the only thing I would have liked better is an autographed copy of Battle Bunny and a chance to gush about it. Dang it.

BATTLEBUNNYBOOKThe strange-looking treasure is two books in one.

 

 

It began as Birthday Bunny, written by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett in the style of a syrupy, grandma-friendly Golden Book.

Then it was given to  protagonist Alex (Scieszka and Barnett’s alter ego) by who else, but his doting Gran Gran. “Alex”  transforms it into a disturbingly entertaining, testosterone-ridden, hare-raising tale of doom and destruction.  (Alex’s artistic side comes compliments of Matthew Myers).

ToAlexanderLook closely.
The raw beauty of this book lurks in the details.  For instance, check out Gran Gran’s sentiments.

 

This note looks so real, I first assumed the library had a used book on their shelves. I can picture Alex gagging, choking, then gritting his teeth in response to his grandma’s  saccharine birthday endearments.

I’d type excerpts, but half the brilliance comes from “Alex’s” illustrations.AlexCredits

PluckedChicken

AlexToTheRescueAlexToTheRescueII

BackCoverBattleBunnyOur son wrote and drew BATTLE  stories in grade school. We know this because of the calls to the principal’s office.
CRACKLINOATBRANDThe principal would run his hand over his face and  suggest Ritalin. We’d try to look concerned, then save the confiscated manuscripts in scrapbooks.

Luckily, Josh had a revolutionary teacher with revolutionary ideas about letting kids be kids.

THE BEST STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETTEL Personally, I think the wrong family member creates children’s books.

 THE BEST STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETTEL

Text and spelling copyright 1991, Joshua Honeyman,
5th grade

T’was a time when sheep smoked cigars and elephants had cars and there lived a gangster group called the devils. In that group was two of the baddest, the leader Hansel and his evil side kick Grettel. Hansel and Grettel went into the woods in their nuclear tank while they redecorated it with spray paint. When they were nearly done they saw a house full of candy. They spray painted it with black, green, and purple paint. Then they knocked it down with a silver battle axe. hen I glanced at brats wrecking her  house, I got out my ninja stuff. Sharp like a knife I knocked the axes out of there hands. Suddenly Hansel kicked me into the microwave. I kicked the door down.

“You SKUM!” I yelled “NO ONE MESSES WITH ME!”

“Except us,” chuckled Gretel.

“HI-YA!” I yelled while kicking Gretel to the ground. Hansel took a missile lancher from the tank so I threw a sword it nocked it away from him.

“DIE DANDREFF DOG!” I yelled kicking them both to the TV set. I chained them to the couch and switched the channel to PBS.

“NO!” yelled Hansel and Gretel. Mr. Rogers was on. “AAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!”

(Incidentally, this valiant superhero is now an Army Captain.)

BattleDuckiesWhile reading Battle Bunny to children, one must read it first as originally written, then reread it Alex’s way. Our grandkids’ faces light up as they notice each detail and witness the unleashing of an imagination (Technically, three imaginations: Scieszka, Barnett, and Myer’s).

During a recent overnight stay, our youngest granddaughter forced me (Okay, she said, “Please.”)  BattleDuckiesIIto read Battle Bunny to her twice–which, technically, means four times. The next morning she asked if she could play with the bath toys. I thought her request was unusual, because A.) she wasn’t taking a bath, and B.) we have way cooler toys than bath toys. Later, as I cooked breakfast, I overheard her, deeply immersed in her play world. “Take that! Evil Battle Bunny! You’re no match for my Superhero Duckies!”

When I looked under the coffee table, her request made perfect sense. A rebel  squeeze toy rabbit peered through his transparent plastic cup prison at an intimidating fleet of rubber ducky wardens.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m so proud of my bunny-trapping granddaughter. (Sheer genius, like her Gretel-kicking uncle.)

Gran Grans, Nanas, Grandmas–whatever you call yourself–UNITE! We owe it to our grandkids to supply each one of them with a copy of Battle Bunny (for inspiration), a box of markers,  and a mushy Golden Book with a title page note from us urging them to go wild and re-create.

I do hope their parents (and their school principals) will forgive us.BATTLEBUNNYMEETSBATTLEDUCKIES

BUSYTOWN THE MUSICAL

BUSYTOWNIIAny children’s book writer or illustrator would think they’d gone to Heaven if their work was brought to life in a musical. That’s why Richard Scarry is probably smiling right now. His awesome picture books have  achieved that prestigious honor with Busytown The Musicaladapted by playwright Kevin Kling and composer Michael Koerner.

Yesterday, my daughter, three granddaughters, and I attended this lively, pickle-car, chug-a-wug-a-choo-choo show at the Children’s Theater in Minneapolis.  I’ll be honest. I enjoyed it as much as anyone. My cheeks still hurt from ginning.
BUSYTOWNSET
The caliber of acting, singing, and performing far exceeded my expectations. The show was almost over before I realized only six actors played the bazillion busy parts. The most phenomenal multitasker, however, was the one-woman organist/flutist/kazooist/percussionist/every-instrumentalist who played the musical accompaniment. (Sorry, I don’t know her name.)

Reed Sigmund, the  actor who played Huckle the Cat (and a back-up singing nurse and various other characters) had the  voice and endearing presence of Chris Farley. I kept hoping he would break into lame ninja moves or warn the kids about living in a van down by the river.

Meghan Kreidler played a brassy mail carrier so well, she reminded me of Rosie O’Donnell in A League of Her Own. And she had no problem seamlessly transitioning into a lovesick nurse, Grocer Cat, a train car, or a busy commuter.

Dean Holt had the perfect voice and feathered hat-wearing head for heart-throb Lowly Worm.

I’d mention all the cast members and behind-the-scenes stars, but you need to  experience the colorful set, funny costumes, energetic choreography and happy audience yourself. Busytown the Musical is playing until October 26, so get your tickets now.

CHILDRENSTHEATERCheck out other Children’s Theater Company productions. We’re bringing in the holiday spirit with The Grinch Stole Christmas. (I can’t wait to meet Cindy Lou Who. Can you?)

And, remember, there’s no better way to get your children’s book creations in shape for future musicals than the 2014 MN Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Annual Conference. It’s not too late to register!

California Dreamin’

Beloved author/illustrator sightings of Aaron Becker, Tomie dePaola, Judy Blume, and more; favored agent schmoozing, preferred publisher swooning . . . I’m living vicariously through my creative friends as they message me from the 43rd Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference in Los Angeles.

Through technology, I can be a little birdie in the corner as Elise Parsley, represented by Steven Malk, debuts as the one of Writers House’s newest authors/illustrators; Alicia Schwab meets fellow authors/illustrators represented by her new agent, Jodell Sadler, of Sadler Children’s Literary; and Kristi Herro networks to find the perfect advocates to promote her work. They generously share their experience, so I can experience it, too. I’m so happy and lucky to be welcomed along in spirit. Thanks, friends!

My best wishes and support goes to them and all who work so diligently to bring joy, learning, and growth to the world through children’s literature.  For all seeking to be discovered and all seeking to discover them, here’s rooting for an extra-fruitful conference.

Distance

Sometimes we can see more clearly from a distance.

When my daughter was in her early twenties, she handed me a photo of twelve dashing young men. She contemplated dating one of them and asked me to pick “the one”.

“Him?” I pointed.

“No.”

“Him?”

“No.”

“Him?”

“Sigh. No.”

Finally there was only one guy left.

“Never mind.” She snatched the photo and marched to her room.

In hindsight, the young man she picked turned out to be a great catch, but not for my daughter. They just weren’t right for each other. Even in a photograph, my mother’s intuition told me he wasn’t “the one”. Luckily, they never dated. And she found her true love.

This is how it is with my writers’ groups. I can become enamored with weak characters, silly gags, lame story lines, and superfluous sentences, but my writing friends aren’t so blinded by infatuation. From a distance, they can see what’s not right for me and my story.

I wouldn’t trade my critique partners for anything. They will save me from settling for the wrong manuscript.

Now if they could just help me choose broccoli over chocolate.

One More Moment, Please

“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
~A.A. Milne, WINNIE-THE-POOH

FIXMEUP600Piglet and Pooh’s thoughtful exchange opens the “Fix Me Up” music video featuring Zach Sobiech, Sammy Brown, and Reed Redmond of A Firm Handshake.

The “Fix Me Up” soundtrack sprouted from the trio’s resolve to bring beauty and goodness out of 18-year-old Zach’s terminal diagnosis and impending death from osteosarcoma. In “Fix Me Up” Sammy pleads, “One more moment, please.” The Piglet/Pooh dialog fittingly echoes Sammy and Zach’s heartache, love, dread, and hope. By communicating their conflicting emotions with such urgent truth and transparency, the life-long friends remind us that sooner is better. Their message has hit a universal cord, as proven by Zach’s #1 hit single “Clouds”.

Bestselling children’s book author Kate DiCamillo uses music to create a specific mood in her books. In 2006, a New York Public Library Author Chat participant asked,”Which music would be the best soundtracks to accompany your books?”

DiCamillo answered,  “I wrote Despereaux to Bach, Winn-Dixie to Van Morrison, Edward to Rachmaninoff. Does that help?”

I’ve toiled to find the perfect songs for my work.  For children’s books, I’ve found that Veggietales Radio produces better results than Etta James. For my family memoir, baroque keeps me serious, but too stuffy. Buddy Holly helps me remember, but I find myself dancing instead of writing and regressing to an age nobody else remembers.  Colbie Callait helps me forget, but that’s not good when you’re writing a memoir.

I could waste a lot of time selecting songs and never do the work. My distracted mind needs music of focused urgency. Tuesday, my craft received a defribulating jolt when I won the “Fix Me Up” Deluxe Edition CD and music video DVD in a door prize drawing.

I’d already received a what-are-you-waiting-for kick in the pants while laughing, crying, and crying some more through Zach’s mother Laura Sobiech’s memoir, Fly a Little Higher.

Laura wrote Fly a Little Higher  in only twelve weeks, just months after her son’s death–with no lack of professionalism or clarity. I hadn’t been so inspired by a family story since Atticus raised Scout and Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird. And I’d never experienced such a graceful, life-giving death in someone so young–or old–ever. The Sobiech experience spoke to me. It said, “What are you waiting for?”

I bought extras for gifts. Shhhh.

I bought extras for gifts. Shhhh.

 

Zach (and Laura) raised the bar to billowy heights, but Zach’s short life reminds us to share our talents, not hide or waste them. And now we have his music to encourage and inspire us to reach higher in whatever we’re doing.

Now my favorite ear candy while writing for children: “Sandcastles” and “Star Hopping”. For living, breathing, memoir writing, and everything else: the “Fix Me Up” soundtrack set to repeat.

A Firm Handshake‘s melodies soar; their words stir, yet fill you with hope. By baring and sharing the fruit of their young, wise souls, the trio challenges others to be real, to step into the unknown despite our fears, and to live while dying.

“Because, let’s face it–we’re all dying.” ~ Laura Sobiech.

To experience more of this story, go to Zach Sobiech’s Page on the Children’s Cancer Research Fund website, especially SoulPancake’s  documentaries preceding and one year after Zach’s death.

Other links for you

I’ll leave you with KS95’s Largest Choir’s singing “Clouds” .

Zach Sobiech-RIP
May 3, 1995 – May 20, 2013

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”
~A.A. Milne, WINNIE-THE-POOH

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

2014MayEliseIIOur vowel is moving. Elise Parsley, the “E” in KEM and our dear friend and critique partner, will ride off into the sunset with her husband, Jarrod, to experience new adventures in the far-off land of eastern Minnesota.

She’s become like family to us, so it’s painful to let her go.

Elise started preparing me and Kristi and her other critique comrades months in advance. “This isn’t good-bye,” she assured. “We’ll see each other again soon.”

I wasn’t so sure.

Her consoling words came to  mind last night while I babysat my grandchildren. After story time, prayers, and last-minute water refills, I slipped downstairs to quietly pick up the house. As I washed the kitchen counters, huge five-year-old eyes peered around the stairwell.

I’m accustomed to at least one bed-time rebel. This one excelled in the charm department. She hugged my neck and sniffled as I carried her to her bed. “I can’t sleep. I’m afraid I won’t see you again.”

Little one still hadn’t succumbed to sleep when her parents arrived home. Instead, big tears welled up in her eyes. “I want Grandma to stay.”

“Oh, silly,” I said, as I kissed her soft, salty cheeks. “Wherever I go, I’ll be right here, in your heart. And, besides–this isn’t good-bye. We’ll see each other again soon.”

Then we planned picnics and play dates and parties. Just like Elise had promised me–picnics and play dates and parties–and so much more.

Today, I came across some photographs from a recent family excursion. This artwork adorned the walls of the Fort Meyers airport. The creative masterpieces put this moving business all in perspective.

OhThePlacesYouWillGoIIOhThePlacesYouWillGoWe’ll remain in each others’ hearts. And our work will keep us close. We are aunties to each other’s book characters. And Elise has promised to keep in touch–no matter how famous she becomes And there’s social networking and the old-fashioned cell phone and conferences and work shops and book signings and tours . . .OhThePlacesYouWillGoIII

Thanks to Dr. Seuss, I, too, can go to sleep now.

Oh, the places we’ll go.
Oh, the stories we’ll tell.

We love you, Elise!

Photos of our farewell SCBWI-MN meet-up

An interview with Elise about her three-book deal