Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Ally of Process

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
~ Samuel Beckett

Writing is craft, a skill, requiring practice and patience. Like all skills, it takes time to master. We must learn to recognize and celebrate ANY sign of progress on our journey closer to mastery. According to Jim Burke, insecure and confident writers possess particular characteristics.
Insecure Writers

* rigid in approach
* may still be deciding if they want to do/be this
* may not know what to do to improve performance
* tend not to take risks

Confident Writers

* extremely flexible
* innovative
* able and willing to improvise
* take risks
* self-assess constantly
* rarely satisfied with own performance
* know what to do to improve

Regardless of which category we fit into, there is a path we can follow to better writing - it's called Process. The writing process is a friend of good stories. Tom Romano puts it beautifully when he says, "We don't have to remain alone in trying to sustain faith and remain fearless. An ally stands ready to help us, an ally who will never desert us if we keep faith. That ally is process."

Which category usually feels the most like you?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Play it All

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.
~ Annie Dillard

Many of us hesitate, procrastinate (that's my specialty; I own it), worry, and berate ourselves when it comes to our writing. We can't do that. We must be brave. Tom Romano says writing is an act of faith and that our nerve must not fail.

We write because we love to write. Most of us are also dreamers, hoping to become "authors" (like Shannon and Beth!) with agents and book deals and validation for what we do. For that, we must be passionate. We have to believe the impossible can and will be made possible through our efforts and talents and tenacity.

So what's my point? Harness your passion for writing and put it to work. Don't avoid your WIP or your revisions. Pour yourself into them. Like Annie said, "spend it all, shoot it, play it..." Buy books to help strengthen your areas of weakness, like Stephen King's On Writing, Les Edgerton's Hooked, Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, or Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel.

And then what? Send out those query letters!

What helps you harness your passion and face your fears?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tahereh @ Grab a Pen is having a fun Rhyming Query contest! This looks like a don't miss contest, folks! Here's the info, straight from her blog - go enter! I have spoken.

UPDATE: no twitter account, besites?? NO WORRIES. solution: mention the contest twice on
your blog! or if you have facebook, post it on facebook! :D

Friday, March 26, 2010

Working Visions

Beautiful artwork found at Artnlight Blog

A plot is a thousand times more unsettling than an argument, which may be answered. It is not a pattern imposed; it is inward emotion acted out. It is arbitrary, indeed, but not artificial. It is possibly so odd that it might be called a vision, but it is organic to its material: it is a working vision, then.

~ Eudora Welty

Some food for thought to get you through your weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jewelry Box Journals

How many of you keep a writing journal? I know that most of us keep a pad and pencil near the bed (we're all weird like that) and some carry a notepad in a purse or pocket. But what about a full-fledged writing journal? I have so many pretty ones, and promise myself I will use them. But I don't. So, I went looking for journal inspiration and found Dorothy Lambert.

Dorothy Lambert's definition of a writing journal (taken from Writing to be Read) is the best I've ever seen. Better than anyone else, she catalogs the myriad uses and benefits of keeping a journal. Her rationale is convincing.
Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue, a religious exercise, a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, but not necessarily daily...inspiration settles on one at the most awkward moments, not necessarily as one sits down to write with a clean page, sharpened pencil, and open mind.
She tells us that "it is not only a record for oneself, but of oneself." My favorite, though, is her description of a journal as "a place to fail." I love that. A place to fail.
That is, a place to try, experiment, test one's wings. For the moment, judgment, criticism, evaluation are suspended; What matters is the attempt, not the success of the attempt. In a journal one practices the lines before going onstage.
Now, re-read that last paragraph. *sigh* I don't know about you, but Dorothy Lambert makes me want to start a journal yesterday! And this time, I will see it differently. This time, I will see it as jewelry box of experiments.

Do you keep a journal?
How do you think Dorothy Lambert would describe it?

Image and jewelry box available a

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Iceberg Principal

...I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn't show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story.
~ Ernest Hemingway

How can we give our writing power?

Ken Macrorie provides nine strategies used by good writers for more powerful writing:
1. They do not waste words.

2. They speak in an authentic voice.

3. They put the reader there, make him believe.

4. They cause things to happen for the reader as they happened for the writer (or narrator).

5. They create oppositions which pay off in surprise.

6. They build.

7. They ask something of the reader.

8. They reward the reader with meaning.

9. They present ideas, actions, or details that are solid, like an apple with its core and flesh, and however small or momentary, are rounded and complete in themselves.

In addition, he encourages (and we all know this) strong metaphors, adjectives, full verbs, repetition, powerful rhythms and surprise.

Most good writing is: clear, vigorous, honest, alive, sensuous, appropriate, unsentimental, rhythmic, without pretension, fresh, metaphorical, evocative in sound, economical, authoritative, surprising, memorable, and light.

And there you have it. UGH! This writing business is nothing if not hard work. But that's why we love it, right?!

How do you make your writing more powerful?

P.S. Les Edgerton, the author of Hooked, stopped by and left us his blog address. Go follow him! (

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


In his book, Hooked, Les Edgerton helps us understand the importance of our opening scenes. The book is subtitled, "write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go". What struck me, early on, was the number of different beginnings that need to be great.

Mr. Edgerton lists:

the opening line
the opening paragraph
the opening scene
the opening page
and the opening chapter itself.

He says all of these, except the entire first chapter, are included in a proper opening.

Having worked as an editor for a variety of sources, he knows what is required to keep people reading. He tells us,

What is really neat about all this is that starting stories off where they should begin and in a way that makes agents and editors and readers sit up and take notice isn't a difficult thing to master at all. What's even cooler about all this is that once you learn what constitutes the proper beginning to your stories, you're going to be leagues ahead of your competition, and your manuscripts are going to start getting published.

Hooked is an invaluable resource for learning how to craft powerful beginnings. If beginnings are an area of weakness for you, you should definitely check out this book.

What area of story writing do you struggle with most?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gardeners and Cooks

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook: his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish.

~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Contests and Contests and Awards...Oh My!

Beth Revis is having a contest to celebrate her phenomenal book deal. She has two, OMG! fabulous prize packages that she has spent way too much time putting together for two lucky winners. Go enter!


In a moment of total insanity, Shannon Messenger is giving away an autographed copy of Hush, Hush to celebrate 400 followers! Yes, you read that right - 400 followers!

Check out her blog for the list of entry rules.


Courtney, our lovely Southern Princess, is having a mega-monsteriffic giveaway to celebrate 100 followers. The prizes are too many and too grand to list here, so you will have to bop over to her blog for the full revelation. If you choose not to enter this one, that's okay. 'Cause I REALLY want to win!! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Valerie @ I Should Be Writing is giving away a brand new, hardback copy of Guardian of the Dead. Go check it out!


And now for the awards. GunDiva was sweet enough to brighten my day with the Sunshine Award (which I've been wanting forever, because my favorite color is yellow!). This award is to be shared with faithful and supportive commenters. I think I'm supposed to share it with 10 bloggers, but that's too many. I'm going to pass it to 6, no-fail, always-dependable faces - ones I KNOW I will see when I check my comments. Thanks for your support!

Elana Johnson
Kimberly Franklin
Carolyn V.
Robyn Campbell
Valerie Geary
Shelley Sly

And Felicia, from Little Secret of Me, gave me the Your Blog is a Treasure Award. I haven't seen this one around, so I'm pretty excited. It didn't come with any rules, so I will just pass it along to 5 blogs I treasure.

Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel
Putting Pen to Paper
The Bookshelf Muse
The Write Worship
The Sound of rain

I would love to give this award to so many others, but I know it will find its way to all of you. I think they mean more when we limit the numbers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Little Silliness

I wrote this silly alphabet book as a distraction a while ago. It was something to keep my mind busy while I hid from the re-writes of my chapter book (which I've finished again now - yay!). Here's a little silliness, from me to you - enjoy!

The Techno A B C’s

The A B C’s… they used to be just apples, cats and bows.
Not today, ‘cause kids all know the alphabet’s gone techno!

Now, A is still for Apple, but not the sweet, red fruit.
Today it’s for the company that makes computer loot.

B is what begins such words as Bluetooth, blog and bling,
And B is for your Blackberry – the newest, coolest thing!

C is for the cell phone you just can’t seem to put down,
And for a world called cyberspace, where all things can be found.

D performs the downloads to your database and more.
It’s DVD’s and desktops and digitals galore.

E begins so many things like emails and e-books,
Ezines, ear buds, and eBay (where shoppers go to look).

F is for the flat screen we all beg our parents for
The flash drive for our file folders, the Facebook we adore.

G brings Dad the GPS that helps him find his way
It’s Google and the Guitar Hero we play every day.

H today is for HD, which means High Definition
HTML computer talk and handhelds with precision.

Ipods, Iphones, Ipets, Itunes … they all start with I.
And now there’s Instant Messaging for telling friends goodbye.

J is for the Jpegs that become graphics or pictures
And for the JavaScript that’s used to program website features.

K is for the keyboard used for typing words and numbers
And those “Kajeet for Kids” cell phones we use for calling mothers.

L always lets us login to our laptops and accounts
And links us to more places than we ever dreamed about.

M is for our favorites, like MySpace and MP3’s
It’s all those megapixels and the media we receive.

N is for Nintendo – both the GameCube and DS
It’s also for the networking we now do “wireless”.

O takes each of us online to surf the internet
And runs our operating systems for our benefit.

Without P there’d be no Podcasts, PDA’s or PSP’s
And how could we survive today without our own PC’s?

Q is rather quirky, but begins the word QuickTime
Quicktime is used with software and fun Disney games online.

R stands for the roaming and the ringtones of cell phones
For the memories of RAM and ROM; for Refresh and Reload.

We use S to surf the internet for smartboards and smartphones
And S is for the songs we hear on satellite radios.

The technology of touchscreens and of texting start with T
So does the TiVo we all want on our big screen TV’s.

U is for the ultrasound to see inside our bodies
And the ports on our computers that we call USB’s.

V is for the viruses that make computers crash
For virtual reality and video that lasts.

W is the Worldwide Web, wireless and Wii
Webcams, Wikipedia, and Windows technology.

X of course is XBOX, a favorite gaming system
Don’t forget it’s also Xerox and the XM music system.

Y today is Yahoo! for news and entertainment.
It’s online and all those YouTube segments.

Z is for the zip drive that stores your information,
The zoom on your new camera and the Zune for your vacation.

While Mommy reads, you just might wonder, “What are all of these?”
Listen closely and you’ll learn your Techno A B C’s.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I recently finished Janeology by fellow blogger, Karen Harrington. You may have seen it on my "Currently Reading" sidebar for a while. I don't write many reviews of current reads, but this one deserves some special treatment. Here's my review: You MUST read it. See, that was easy. The richness of the writing holds lessons for us all. I was drawn in immediately by her mastery of detail and characterization. So much so, in fact, that I plan to read it again - this time as a learning tool!

As writers, we often wrestle with concerns that there are no new ideas left. We've read (or written) blog posts about it. We try to say things in "new" ways . Here's the coolest thing about Janeology: Karen Harrington found a new idea. This book is mind-bogglingly original and utterly fascinating. Seriously.

This description can be found at Goodreads:
Jane, a loving mother of two, has drowned her infant son and is charged with his murder in this powerful examination of love, loss, and family legacy. When a prosecutor decides Jane's husband Tom is partially to blame for the death and charges him with "failure to protect," Tom's attorney proposes a radical defense. He plans to create reasonable doubt about his client's alleged guilt by showing that Jane's genealogy is the cause of her violence, and that she inherited her latent violence in the same way she might inherit a talent for music or a predisposition to disease. He argues that no one could predict or prevent the tragedy, and that Tom cannot be held responsible. With the help of a woman gifted with the power of retrocognition—the ability to see past events through objects once owned by the deceased—the defense theory of dark biology takes form. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of Jane's ancestors, spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman's life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.

So often we read books that are like comfortable chairs - they feel good, familiar, comfortable. This book is not like that. It's unlike anything else I have ever read - and it reeled me in and left me awed. While courtroom drama is familiar territory, Karen twists it and ties it in genetic knots that will leave you dying to trace your own family geneolgy. Trust me - READ THIS BOOK.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

After yesterday's post about the
Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, I thought this quote was a fitting post for today. I think writers understand, better than most, the power of the written (and spoken) word.

What words would you consider to be among the most powerful?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Semantic Time Travel

A New York Times article by Caleb Crain, posted online January 8, 2010, introduces a new reference tool which has the potential to be invaluable to writers. It's called the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. It provides not only outdated words and their meanings, but also the history of when they came into and fell out of use. According to Mr. Crain,
Whereas a dictionary makes it possible to follow the history of a word, a historical thesaurus — the H.T.O.E.D. claims to be the world’s first, in any language — makes it possible to follow the history of a meaning. It’s like watching an actor try on new costumes and shed old ones, or like cruising down a river that in one stretch narrows to a rapids and at another broadens to a marsh. With a little effort, a historical thesaurus can even serve as a vehicle for a kind of linguistic time travel. “For any given period in the past,” the editors write, “the user should be able to ascertain the exact state of the vocabulary (i.e., the ‘lexical system’) which existed at that time.”
For those of us writing in different time periods or searching for unusual words, this could become an oh-my-gosh-how-did-I-ever-live-without-this kind of resource. To read more of Mr. Crain's article, click here.

Would you use a tool like this in your writing?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Graffiti Leads

William Zinsser
is well-known by most of us as a fantastic source of writing knowledge. Here is one of my favorite passages from On Writing Well:

Photo source: (

...look for your material everywhere, not just by reading the obvious sources and interviewing the obvious people. Look at signs and at billboards and at all the junk written along the American roadside. Read the labels on our packages and the instructions on our toys, the claims on our medicines and the graffiti on our walls.

Read the fillers, so rich in self-esteem, that come spilling out of your monthly statement from the electric company and the telephone company and the bank. Read menus and catalogues and second-class mail. Nose about in obscure crannies of the newspaper, like the Sunday real estate section - you can tell the temper of a society by what patio accessories it wants. Our daily landscape is thick with absurd messages and portents. Notice them. They not only have a certain social significance; they are often just quirky enough to make a lead that is different from everybody else's.

Wow. Not only do I love what he says here, but I also love how he says it.

How do you feel about leads?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Only as Much as I dream Can I Be

You Can Be Whatever You Want to Be
~Donna Levine

There is inside you
All of the potential
To be whatever you want to be;
All of the energy
To do whatever you want to do.
Imagine yourself as you would like to be,
Doing what you want to do,
And each day, take one step
Towards your dream.
And though at times it may seem too
difficult to continue,
Hold on to your dream.
One morning you will awake to find
That you are the person you dreamed of,
Doing what you wanted to do,
Simply because you had the courage
To believe in your potential
And to hold on to your dream.

Lately, I have been in need of this reminder. Today, I share it with you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Truth or Dare?

Okay, folks! Today I have to come clean with my 5 outrageous lies and 1 outrageous truth. I'm surprised by how many actually guessed right!

1. I was a ski instructor in college. LIE
I have only been on skis twice in my life, and let's just say it didn't go well.

2. My father was a Seattle policeman and guarded three different presidents and two rock stars while they visited Seattle. LIE (with some truth)
My father really was a Seattle Police Officer, and he really did help guard two presidents. But that's all, folks!

3. My favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees. HUGE, UGLY LIE
I am soooooo NOT a Yankees fan. There is a reason people say "Damn Yankees!" ya know. :-)

4. I once sat next to Hall of Fame, wide receiver Steve Largent in church. TRUTH
Steve Largent was my childhood hero. You all know I'm a sports fan, and I adore Steve Largent. Sitting next to him in church was OMG! awesome for an elementary kid fan!

5. I write YA historical fiction. LIE
I write picture books and chapter books, none of which have been historical (so far).

6. My family took a trip to Ireland when I was twelve to visit the area where my grandpa was born. LIE
I really wish this one were true. I am 50% Irish and dream of visiting there someday.

Thanks for reading them and for guessing. It was fun to see what your guesses were!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Say what?!

I was given the Creative Writer (aka, Bald-Faced Liar) Award by Susan Fields, who is one super-sweetheart of a blogger and from Natalie Murphy, my favorite Canadian, and from the fabulously fun Jay @ Jay Eckert's Sharpened Pen! For this, I am required to share 5 lies + 1 truth, and you are required to guess the truth. Good luck!

1. I was a ski instructor in college.

2. My father was a Seattle policeman and guarded three different presidents and two rock stars while they visited Seattle.

3. My favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees.

4. I once sat next to Hall of Fame, wide receiver Steve Largent in church.

5. I write YA historical fiction.

6. My family took a trip to Ireland when I was twelve to visit the area where my grandpa was born.

I'm going to share this award with:

Tracy @ A Blissful Life
Jennie Englund
Nisa @ Wordplay, Swordplay

Let me know what your guesses are, and check back tomorrow for the truth!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Passing the Torch

I've received several more awards recently and need to pass along the love. I posted this over the weekend, but so few of my darling recipients saw it, that I'm leaving it up another day.

From Shelley @ Stories in the Ordinary and Laurel @ Laurel's Leaves, I received the Sugar Doll Award.

Shelley is a more recent follower of my blog and a loyal commenter, therefore I adore her. You should too!

I think most of my followers also follow Laurel (if you aren't, you should be), and we all know that Laurel is brilliant. Seriously. I wish I had half of Laurel's intellect!

The rules for this award require the receiver to share 10 things nobody knows and to pass it along. For my list of 10 things, click here.

I share this award with:

* Lisa Schroeder (Her new book, It's Raining Cupcakes, is a sweet one!)
* Sharon @ Random Thoughts
* Charmaine @ Wagging Tales (She's been posting more lately and I love it!)
* Stephanie Damore
* Sara @ The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler


From Pamela @ From Barbies to Words, I received the Humane Award. Pamela is one of my new friends and as sweet as one of Lisa's cupcakes! Ha ha (I think I'm funny). My job is to nominate 10 bloggers I think are kindhearted and wonderful.

Will the following 10 kindhearted bloggers come on down... some of you may already have this award. I didn't check first - I just chose 10 people well known for their sunny warmth and goodness.

* ROXANE @ PEACE GARDEN MAMA - I know you are watching, and you are the kindest, warmest blogger I know. Miss ya! :-)

* Mary @ Play Off the Page - Mary has a heart that expands in proportion to the needs of others. I love her.
* Robyn @ Putting Pen to Paper - Robyn is the queen of prayer gathering and contest alerts. I love the way she shares the prayer needs of children and fellow bloggers. If you are having a cool contest or have a prayer request, go visit Robyn. She is a good friend to everyone.
* Tamika @ The Write Worship - When I need a dose of "happy thoughts" or a touch of peace, I can count on Tamika to provide it. Her blog is professional, spiritual, and beautiful.
* Sherrie @ Write About Now - Sherrie is so much like Tamika (or Tamika is like Sherrie) that in my mind the two should be sisters. Thanks for the quality of your messages, Sherrie.
* Elana Johnson - Elana is one of the most generous, helpful people I know. But I promise there is no pressure in that, Elana. We just really love ya! :-)
* Lisa and Laura - These two sisters are the head cheerleaders of the blogosphere! I would be lost without my daily dose of LiLa humor.
* Jenn Johansson - Jenn scored me a personalized, autographed copy of The Maze Runner. For that, she is a goddess and my hero! Beyond that, her blog is fabulous and so is she. :-)
* Jody Hedlund - Jody's blog is an unagented writer's dream come true. The content of her posts is invaluable - every single day. I don't know how she maintains such consistent, high quality posts. A-maze-ing!
* Kristen Torres-Toro @ Write in the Way - If you follow Kristen's blog, you know what a selfless person she is - her mission work is amazing. Go check out her posts of the Amazon and see her PINK dolphins!!
* Elizabeth Mueller - I love her spiritual personality. She is warm and positive and creative. She is an artist and mama extraordinaire. Visit her and you'll see what I mean.


From Tamika @ The Write Worship I received the Butterfly Award, which is meant to be shared with the coolest blogs you know. I think it is absolutely beautiful!

* Frankie and * Shannon M. - pretty much a no-brainer, but I'm still counting them as one blog!
* Suzette and Bethany @ Shooting Stars - I love this blog and I love these ladies!
* Stephanie @ Hatshepsut - how cool is a blog about an ancient Egyptian FEMALE Pharoah?!
* Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse - an amazing writing resource
* Roni @ Fiction Groupie - also an amazing writing resource

Tomorrow I will pass along the Creative Liar Award! Good times...good times...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Attacked, I Mean Tagged, by a Meme!

I've been tagged by a meme, courtesy of Natalie @ The Sound of Rain. I love that girl! It's my first meme attack, so humor me and pretend you read the whole thing, okay?!

The rules are easy. All I have to do is fill in the blanks after each bold word and tag 3 of my friends.

I like
my coffee extra hot
I like my furry, ultra-soft, brown blanket
I like my matching furry, ultra-soft, brown pillows
I like the smell of fresh-cut grass
I like watching my favorite baseball team kick butt!
I like re-reading something and being proud that I wrote it
I like vacations with my hubby and 3 kids
I like listening to my children laugh
I like K-Love on the radio
I like anything yellow, especially daffodils
I like baby animals!
I like staying indoors and being lazy on rainy days

I love BOOKS

Today was another day the Lord has made

I hate inappropriate language and gestures
I hate the Lord's name taken in vain
I hate onions!!
I hate it that my house won't sell
I hate dirty floors
I hate mean people
I hate having my sister so far away
I hate society's dependence on television and video games

I (secretly) like airport layovers

I love summertime - flowers in bloom, sunny days, green grass, and cool drinks

Okay... To the following three people, tag! You're it!

* Karen(Scobberlotch)
* Jennie
* Wendy/Quillfeather

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Butterflies of the Moment

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~ Vita Sackville-West

I love that. We catch the changes of our minds on the hop. *sigh*

I think I need to take the beautiful journal I got from Shannon M., which has a butterfly on the front cover, and use it to collect my butterflies of the moment. I don't think I could come up with any more beautiful way to say "ideas" than that - butterflies of the moment.

How do you catch your butterflies of the moment - on the hop?
Ha ha. That is just too fun!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Three Questions Review

Nikolai is a boy who believes that if he can find the answers to his three questions, he will always know how to be a good person. His friends--a heron, a monkey, and a dog--try to help, but to no avail, so he asks Leo, the wise old turtle. "When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?" Leo doesn't answer directly, but by the end of Nikolai's visit, the boy has discovered the answers himself.

This is one of my favorite picture books. The three questions asked by Nikolai are a wonderful way to get kids and adults thinking about right and wrong. According to the story, the questions are answered like this:

1. When is the best time to do things? Now.

2. Who is the most important one? The one you are with.

3. What is the right thing to do? To do good for the person by your side.

I have had wonderful, hour-long discussions with my students based on this short but powerful story. I recommend it for ALL ages!

What is your favorite picture book with a lesson?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.
~Burton Rascoe

Clearly, the same is true of husbands. Ha ha ha.
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