Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I've heard and seen several discussions about whether or not regifting is okay and I can give a definite answer; it depends.
To some people (like me) gifts are one of the primary ways they express love to other people, so not keeping something they give you is like rejecting their love. If they ever found out that had happened, they would be extremely hurt. Exchanging a gift for something else if it didn't fit or duplicated something else is probably okay, but that would depend on the giver's personality and relationship with the receiver.
Even people who use gifts to express love sometimes give things to others as a matter of politeness or social necessity. A gift from a co-worker or casual acquaintance could certainly be passed on to someone else without causing a problem.
And if it's obvious that the giver wouldn't care if something is passed on to somebody else, then it's okay to do that.
But many gifts should be treasured even if they aren't what the receiver would have chosen because they show the importance of the relationship with the person who gave them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taking a Break

I'm not planning to blog this week because I'll be busy celebrating the holiday. I hope you have a wonderful, Merry Christmas. (Even people who don't celebrate that holiday, are allowed to be happy on December 25th and I hope you will be.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist

My internet friend, Mayra Calvani, sent me a pdf of her newest book, Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, and I love it!
Frederico is a mouse who watches the famous Stradivari make the finest violins in the world and longs to play one himself. Although a mouse is far too small to play a violin, Frederico keeps trying and one day.... well, I won't give away the ending.
The illustrator, K.C. Snyder, combines cute mouse and realistic violin pictures to convey both the fictional story and factual information perfectly.
This book contains just enough about violins and how they work to be both informative and entertaining for kids. It would make a great gift for children from four to eight years old, especially if they're interested in music.
The book is available at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/frederico.htm

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This may be a bit controversial but I highly recommend the methods suggested in the free, downloadable books at www.bullies2buddies.com for handling problems with bullies. Although no method works 100 percent of the time, I've seen this one work on several occasions. It applies to both kids and adults (all bullying isn't physical) and I hope anyone who is a victim or knows kids who are will consider trying it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Cards

Yes, I know people say Christmas cards will soon be replaced by e-cards. Yes, I admit I sometimes send e-cards to people myself. Yes, addressing a lot of envelopes does take some time. And, yes, buying the cards and paying for postage can cost quite a bit.
I don't believe Christmas cards will become extinct, at least not in the near future.
There's something about opening the envelopes and holding greetings from close friends and family, especially people we haven't seen in a while, that means more than clicking on an electronic message. And displaying Christmas cards helps decorate homes for the holidays in a way that reminds us of people we love and the history we have with them.
So I may send e-cards to internet friends, people whose snail-mail addresses I don't have, and some acquaintances, but I'll be sure to send at least a few traditional cards to people who share my memories and are close to my heart.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Once and Future King

I hadn't read The Once and Future King in many years, but recently got it off my shelf and have been enjoying it again. I was surprised to see that the original copyright date was 1939 (Now that I'm an author I check things like that) because I probably got this edition around 1960. Since the book is fantasy, when it was written probably doesn't make much difference.
T.H. White did an excellent job of capturing the feeling of England during the time of King Arthur and, with a little willing suspension of disbelief, the book could be considered historical fiction. It makes me feel like I'm actually meeting the characters, real and fictional, and watching the exciting events in their everyday lives.
The book has quite a bit of romance and some violence, so it's not appropriate for younger readers but lots of kids old enough to read over 600 pages will enjoy it.
It's easy to see why this version of the classical Knights of the Round Table stories has become a classic itself.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Can I Tell Kids The Truth About Santa?

When I was three years old my mother took me Christmas shopping in New York City and at each of the big department stores I waited in line and told Santa Claus what I wanted him to bring me for Christmas.
As we hurried up the busy sidewalk between stores I asked my mother how Santa could get from one store to another so quickly. She explained, "Those are just Santa's representatives. Santa Claus is really the Spirit of Christmas."
I wasn't sure what that meant but was satisfied with the answer.
As an adult of course I understand that Christmas is about far more than gifts and carols. While there are many books for children about the Nativity story, there aren't many that can help children understand what the religious aspect of Christmas has to do with Santa Claus.
My picture book, Secret Service Saint, helps kids understand the truth about Santa Claus and discover the joy of secret giving. In this time of economic problems I hope it will help children realize that there is more to Christmas than getting presents.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be There Bedtime Stories

As a grandmother who lives over a hundred miles from her kids I'm excited to hear about Be There Bedtime Stories, a new way to read to your children or grandchildren when you aren't physically with them. This will also be a great way for people in the military service or who must travel a lot to be an active part of their children's lives. And it will probably be a comfort to children in hospitals, too.
I'm please that some of my own books will be available in this format, although they aren't there yet.
If you're interested in learning more, here's the link:

Signs of Trouble

A review of my newest book, Signs of Trouble, appeared on Children's and Teens Book Connections today. Here's the link:

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I don't have time to write much today because I'm off to an event where I'll be signing books. You can learn more about that here:
In case some of my followers don't know about it, I also want to mention that I've started a Facebook group for people who care for or about kids with special needs and would love to have you join if you're one of them. The group is called Special Kid Carers and you can find it by searching for that phrase under Groups. My newest book is about kids with learning disabilities, but the group isn't there just to try to sell copies. It's intended as a supportive community and I hope it will be helpful to parents, teachers, and other people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


In the Sierra foothills where I live we get a moderate amount of snow; usually enough for kids to enjoy, but not enough for people to get snowed in.
But sometimes we get a kind of weather that doesn't really have a name when several kinds of precipitation happen at the same time or alternate quickly. Slush is a combination of water and ice like slushies, but that doesn't really describe what I'm talking about.
If it snows and rains at the same time that could be called snain. If it rains and hails at the same time we might call it rail. And a logical name for the combination of snow and hail might be snail? No, those last two words wouldn't work because they're already taken to mean other things.
And what word could we use when all three happen at once? Snorail? Raihanow? Haisnain?
Come on, there has to be a better word to use than slush.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Books That Change Lives

Someone in a Yahoo group I belong to recently posted something about a book she read at a difficult time in her life changing her attitude. Looking back, I can remember many books that made a difference in my life in similar ways, and I hope the things I write will do the same for others.
For example, my newly published book, Signs of Trouble, is an exciting story (I hope) but the included educational activities are intended to help kids learn safety and reading skills and to understand others with special needs.
However writers often never know how things they've written have influenced others. Sometimes even the readers themselves don't realize that something in a book or article has made a tiny difference that will ultimately combine with other influences to make a big change in their attitude or behavior.
When we are aware that something we read has helped us, if only in a small way, letting whoever wrote it know would make a positive difference in that author's own life.
Since this is the season of Thanksgiving why not send an e-mail message or even an old-fashioned letter to someone whose writing has been helpful to you?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heart Cord

When a baby is born the umbilical cord is cut, but an invisible cord that stretches between the baby and the mother's heart is created. That cord lasts as long as the mother and child live.
If they are close together the cord is loose, but whenever the mother and child are separated, either physically or emotionally, it stretches tight and pulls on the mother's heart. Things like the mother returning to work and leaving her baby in child care, the child's first day of school, or when he or she goes to visit a relative or to summer camp without the mother, pull the cord tight. And if the child is hurt, sick, or in trouble it pulls tighter still.
When the baby becomes a teenager he or she might try to reject the tie to the mother's heart, but that only pulls the cord tight since it can't be cut.
When the child becomes an adult and moves out into the world away from the mother the cord continues to stretch between them, although it has become longer. As long as the grown child stays in frequent contact and on good terms with the mother, it can be relaxed, but if there is conflict between generations or the child and parent don't stay in touch, the cord again tightens and pulls on the mother's heart.
Eventually when the mother becomes old the child might become the caregiver and when she dies it's the child's heart that feels the painful pull.
But the cord connecting the hearts of a mother and child cannot be cut.
The name of the cord is Love.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hot and Cool

Back in the 1920s the term, "Hot" became slang for something - or someone - fashionable and attractive. It may have originally been derived from the phrase, "Hot off the presses," shouted by newsboys on the streets. People in the generation that was young then continued to use it for many years.
But the next generation didn't want to be like their parents, so they developed the opposite term, "cool," to be used with the same meaning.
Over the years both terms have become accepted parts of the English language and are both still currently used, with slight changes in meaning. "Hot" is now used mostly with regard to physical attractiveness or things that are extreme. "Cool" is so common that the meaning has become mild and it's often a synonym for "okay."
I wonder if a different word regarding temperature will someday become the new slang for things that were once called hot or cool. "Cold" already has a different connotation so that probably won't do.
Maybe the new term will be "luke."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Purple Pencil Adventures

Today I have another interesting person to introduce: Debra Eckerling is a writing coach and social media expert. She created Write On! Online (www.WriteOnOnline.com), which is a website and community for writers, as well as a coaching site with the philosophy that writing is exercise: Write On Track LA (www.WriteOnTrackLA.com).

Debra also has a site for young writers: Purple Pencil Adventures (www.PurplePencilAdventures.com). Since writing is a skill that can and should be developed at a young age, every Friday there’s a new Purple Pencil Adventure – a writing exercise for kids of all ages, designed to inspire creativity.

Sample Purple Pencil Adventures:

Restaurant Adventure: Going out to eat this weekend? Why not try writing a Restaurant Review! It can be fast food, a picnic, or fine dining. Eat, enjoy, and then write about it. Be sure to include what you did or did not like about your dining experience: the food, the location, and the service.

Speaking Adventure: Write a short speech - just two to five minutes long - about something you that makes you happy. Remember, it should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. After you practice it a few times, give the speech to a friend or a parent. Even better, find a friend interested in writing a speech too, and then you can present to each other. The ability to communicate well, whether it is on paper or verbally, is a skill you will be able to use in school, at work, and throughout your life.

You Adventure: There are many things successful writers need: talent, opportunity, and an understanding of the craft. Something else all writers need is a bio. I realize it may be difficult to write about yourself. But try. You can always revise. A bio is something you will need to promote and sell yourself, so you may as well get started now.

Write a 300 word bio. Remember to include your background, education, and writing experience. Don't have experience yet? You can always include a success story from a book report or creative writing assignment for school. Everything counts. And you are not going to be graded, so have fun!

* * *

For more writing adventures, go to www.PurplePencilAdventures.com. Become a fan on Facebook: Facebook.com/PurplePencilAdventures.

Also, Write On! Online (WriteOnOnline.com and Facebook.com/WriteOnOnline) has Author interviews, Reviews, Expert Columns, Contests, and more.

(If you're interested in books you might want to visit http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com tomorrow to learn about another author.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sofia's Dream

An internet friend sent me a PDF copy of a delightful picture book called Sofia's Dream. It's about a little girl who makes friends with the moon and gets carried away to visit him in a dream. There she learns about Mother Earth's suffering because of pollution and other environmental damage and wakes up determined to do something about that important problem.
In spite of the important message, the book isn't teachy-preachy. It is told in rhyme, which works well without being forced, and the beautiful illustrations by Sue Cornelison capture the dreamlike mood of the book perfectly.
Sofia's Dream would make a wonderful bedtime story that children will probably want to hear over and over again. Perhaps some of them, like Sofia, will visit the moon in their dreams.
I assume the author, Land Wilson, chose the main character's name because Sofia means 'wise one' or 'wisdom' and hearing her story will inspire children to care about our planet.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Halloween used to be just a fun holiday. Kids could safely trick or treat without adult supervision and almost nobody except little ones believed that witches or ghosts were real.
When Wicca became known as a religion members complained that traditional fairy tales portraying witches as wicked were discriminatory, so public schools stopped sharing them. Does that mean Halloween is a religious holiday? Should public schools stop letting kids celebrate it? If so, what holidays will be left for children to enjoy in school?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Signs of Trouble

I'm so excited! This morning my editor notified me that my newest book is ready to go to the printer.
Although I've already had two books published and my work has appeared in lots of periodicals, I still get excited about seeing something I've written in print for the first time.
The newest book, Signs of Trouble, is about kids who get separated from their Special Education class on a field trip to a shopping mall. It also contains some educational activities that can be used to help children learn about safety rules, creative writing, basic reading skills, and to understand people who are different from themselves.
That last part is very important to me and I hope the book will be helpful to lots of kids.
It will be a while before I actually get copies of the book. When that happens I'll announce it here, although that probably won't be necessary. My shout of joy will probably be heard all over the world. ;-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Craft Fair

As you read this I'm probably in a booth at a local craft fair (hopefully) selling lots of my books.
Secret Service Saint is a Christmas picture book about Nicholas, who discovers the joy of secret giving and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus. I'm hoping it will help children realize Christmas isn't just about getting presents.
The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is a book for older kids based on the question, what would Jesus do in Middle School. It's about an imaginative kid who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who worked on that experiment twelve years ago is stalking him.
I'll also offer some books I wrote and self-published years ago.
It's too bad my next book, Signs of Trouble, hasn't been published yet. It will be out soon. That book is about kids with learning disabilities who get separated from their class on a field trip and is written at a second grade reading level. It includes some educational activities at the end of the story.
It's always fun to participate in events like this because I get to meet lots of nice people.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My name is Janet Ann Collins and I'm a bookaholic with no intention of recovering.
I've spent a big part of my life in libraries, and especially enjoy the sections with books for kids. Recently I've been checking out some of the newly acquired books. The librarians say that's fine even though kids can't read the books while I have them because I read and return them quickly. Lots of the new books are excellent and here's one I can't resist telling you about: Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Cosmic is about a boy named Liam who is so tall for his age he's often mistaken for an adult. Like most kids, he loves to play video games. His life is pretty normal, or seems to be until he finds himself involved with evil villains who may destroy everything he cares about. And Liam is the only one who can help. I don't want to give away too much, but can't resist mentioning the realistic and scary scenes in outer space.
The book has a creative and unusual plot, characters I cared about, and is full of action and adventure. I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dallas Woodburn

I can't resist sharing about an amazing young woman. Although only in her early 20s, Dallas Woodburn has accomplished more than many people do in their entire lives.
When she was ten years old, with encouragement from her columnist father, she wrote a book, There's a Huge Pimple on My Nose, and had it printed at Kinkos. It sold so well she went on to have it redone by a publishing company and has sold thousands of copies.
Since then she has won many awards and scholarships, and had her work published in dozens of well-known periodicals. She's a columnist, a public speaker, and all those things hardly make a dent in the list of her accomplishments.
But I'm most impressed by what Dallas Woodburn does to help others, especially kids.
Besides organizing a holiday book drive that has donated thousands of new books to underprivileged kids, she's founder and president of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that helps young people enjoy reading. Here's the website, http://writeonbooks.org.
Woodburn founded a publishing company, Write On! Books,which publishes work by young writers. That website, http://writeonbooks.org/ features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. She has also been Program Coordinator for the Young Writers Program of the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference, awards scholarships so kids can attend, and has a summer camp where kids from eight to 18 years old can learn to write.
To learn more about this remarkable person, please visit her blog, http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/
By the way, Kevin McNamee, another author I know will be featured tomorrow on this blog:http://marismorningroom.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Missing in Action

If you read my posts often you know I read a lot of books for kids. Here's one I enjoyed a lot: Missing in Action by Dean Hughes.
This original work of historical fiction that takes place during World War Two and will appeal to boys.
Jay, the main character, is part American Indian and has recently moved to a town near the Japanese internment camp, Topaz. He must cope with memories of his abusive father, who is missing in action, improve his baseball skills, and deal with the usual social problems of a kid in a new community. While trying to fit in and make new friends, he gets to know a young Japanese man who works for his grandfather. When other people in the community discover that Jay associates with a Jap, things become difficult.
Besides being an exciting book with well-drawn characters, the book will help readers think about prejudice in a new way.
I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Green Button

How many times have you been in a checkout line and heard the phrase, "green button?" Even if we pay for our purchases with cash, we probably hear the cashier say it to the people ahead of us in line.
The other day I commented to a checker on the amount of exercise she must get by moving thousands of things from one side of the cash register to the other. "Yes," she replied, "it is a lot of exercise, but not where it's needed."
"Don't you also do a lot of bending and squatting when you do things like stock shelves?" I asked.
She patted her tummy and told me that was the place where she needed the exercise. As I paid for the things I'd bought I suggested that if she did one tummy squeeze every time she said the words, "green button," she'd get plenty of exercise in that part of her anatomy.
While unloading the groceries at home it occurred to me that I could do the same thing. While I don't say, "green button" hundreds of times every working day, I do hear it often and can use it as a reminder to exercise my own abdominal muscles, which certainly need it. And that sort of exercise can easily be done whenever I'm standing in a line, waiting for something to load on my computer, or in any situation where I must wait for something. From now on, I'll try to remember to do that.
I hope my belly button doesn't turn green. ;-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good Idea for Kids

When parents can't be with their kids, here's a way they can read them bedtime stories. I think it would be a great resource for parents in the military or grandparents who don't live near their grandkids.

I'm pleased that my publisher is participating in it and, while my books aren't available there yet, they should be soon. Here's the press release about it:

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. teams with Be There Bedtime Stories’ new technology to bring families together from around the globe.

St. Louis, MO, USA: In a time where families are spread further apart than ever before ‘Be There Bedtime Stories’ is a technology that puts video of a Storyteller onto the page of a children’s book, to be displayed on a computer and read to your children. http://www.betherebedtimestories.com

“We are very excited with this new adventure,” said GAP President and CEO Lynda Burch. “Our partnership with Be There Bedtime Stories will allow for an unprecedented availability of family sharing reading time with kids and grandkids around the globe. What a wonderful way to “Be There” for your kids whether on assignment out of the country, traveling for work, or just wanting to participate daily in your children’s reading habits; encouraging reading skills that will last a lifetime. It increases literacy awareness and wellness and strengthens family bonds.”

The Sedona International Film Festival, Tuesday night cinema film series displayed the concept, with 5 local leaders, including the Mayor of Sedona. They recorded a bedtime story for presentation that was made to the audience of nearly 500 patrons, right on the big screen of a movie theatre! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jcBuWI2qo8


For more information on Guardian Angel Publishing or to schedule an interview with the publisher, email Lynda S. Burch at publisher@guardianangelpublishing.com.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Animal Sound Mix-up

Another internet friend sent me a PDF of her book to review. I guess the word is getting out that I review books for kids. However even if I know the authors, I try always to be honest.
There are countless books for young children about the sounds animals make. I remember my brother enjoying books like that back in the 1940s and as a mother, preschool teacher, and grandmother I've seen dozens more advising kids that "Cows say 'Moo'" and "Dogs say 'Bow-Wow.' " However I've never seen one like Connie Arnold's Animal Sound Mix-up, which asks children to imagine what would happen if animals made the wrong sounds. Children will probably laugh at the crazy possibilities.
Unlike many rhyming picture books, the rhythm and meter flow naturally and the message that God made animals the way they really are is a positive one.
As you can see from the cover, Illustrator Kit Grady did an excellent job of capturing the amusing feeling of the book.
In my humble opinion, little kids will love this book.
Here are some interesting facts about animal sounds that Connie gave me to share:
Roosters can't crow if they can't fully extend their necks. A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why. A lion's roar can be heard from five miles away. Giraffes have no vocal cords. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten. Many hamsters only blink one eye at a time. An ostrich's eye is bigger than it's brain. Elephants and camels both have four knees. It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


You are growing sleeeepy. Very sleeepy. You are in their power. You can't live without those products. They will make you healthy, happy and admired. You neeed them. You must give them your money now!
Okay, so advertising isn't actually hypnotism, but it comes close. Ads are everywhere we go and everywhere we look. TV, the internet, billboards, radio, newspapers, magazines, labels, and many other places bombard us with them at home, at work, and out in public places. The advertisers really do try to sneak their brand names into our subconscious minds and make us believe we can't do without whatever they want to sell us.
And they start targeting babies and young children with commercials and cute insignias long before the little ones can read and don't stop trying to influence people for the rest of their lives. Even though we may think we resist them, they're in our memories. Even the most irritating commercials make us remember and be more likely to buy the products they advertise simply because the names are familiar.
So, how can we resist?
Following a budget and making choices based on what is truly important to us can help a lot.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing

Because I often review books for or about kids on this blog I was happy to have Mayra Calvani give me a copy of her book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing to review.
But, wait! Do I really dare write a review of that book? What if I don't do it right?
Okay, I'll be brave and tell you about the book anyway, because it might be helpful to a lot of people.
The book, co-written by Calvani and Anne K Edwards, begins with basic information that would be familiar to most writers, but soon moves on to explain less obvious things. Some of the topics covered are various types of reviews, legal and moral aspects of publishing them, and the influence of reviews on book purchases. There are also lists of places to get reviews published and information about using them on the internet.
Anyone interested in becoming a professional reviewer would find the sections dealing with that especially helpful, but the book is also a good resource for amateurs. (I wish some of the people who reviewed my book, The Peril of the Sinister Scientist, had read the part about not giving away endings.)
I'll keep The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing near my desk and refer to it often in the future. Anyone who writes, or would like to write book reviews will probably find this book helpful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stop That Pudding!

My internet friend, Andi Houdek sent me a PDF of her new picture book, Stop That Pudding!
The book is about a boy who tries to defy his mother by eating chocolate pudding instead of a healthy snack, but the pudding comes to life and gets away, leading him on a merry chase through town.
In some ways the book reminds me of the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man, but it's quite original and different from the familiar story in many ways. Of course I won't give away the ending.
Kids will enjoy the amusing chase and I hope parents don't spoil the fun by using the book to lecture children about the importance of healthy eating and obedience. As with many classical tales, the moral is clear enough in the story without being preachy.
My only complaint is that sometimes the meter of the rhymes spoken by the pudding is slightly off unless read with certain emphasis, but those things are few and far between. Besides, who expects chocolate pudding to create classical poetry?
The illustrations by Kevin Collier are as energetic and funny as the text. Since the boy in the story is also named Kevin I wonder if he'll grow up to be an artist. I hope Houdek writes more books about him in the future because I have a feeling a mischievous kid like Kevin will have plenty of adventures.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Margaret Fieland

Today I'm interviewing a guest writer, Margaret Fieland.

Margaret, Thanks for being here. Have you had anything published?

Quite a lot of poetry – see press kit on my website – http://www.margaretfieland.com/ a couple of children's stories, one or two stories for adults. My first book, a chapter book, will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2012 http://4rvpublishingllc.com/

My first book , which is about a boy who loses his mother in a fire, grew out of an incident many years ago where an acquaintance lost his wife and four children in a fire. The present book was pretty much because I'm an amateur musician and I wanted to write about that.

I have a file of story ideas I'd like to work on. A lot of them grow out of my reading fiction, where I find myself saying, “But what happens AFTER the end of the book? Just suppose that ...”

You've written some middle grade fiction. How did you make the decision to write for that audience?

{Grin} As a poet I'm pretty terse .. I started writing for kids initially because, first, it seemed less intimidating that writing for adults, and second, it seemed to require fewer words. Little did I know. In a lot of ways, writing for kids is more demanding than writing for an adult audience. But I fell into writing MG fiction and it somehow feels right.

Can you tell the readers a little bit about your story?

It's about a girl whose parents are divorcing and who wants to go to music camp. She starts out playing the flute, but ends up taking up the bassoon. This was at the suggestion of a friend of mine who is a middle school music director .. bassoons are in demand and get scholarships.

Unlike fantasy, your story deals with divorce, a very real drama. What, if any, are the challenges of writing about something that so many readers will have had personal experience with?

You know, I started writing about the “real-life trauma” stuff in order to deal with my own feelings around a real-life incident. In the process, I discovered that this kind of fiction for the MG group is rather under-represented. It felt like a golden opportunity to me.

But I do feel that I need to tread a delicate line between glossing over the real-life problems that the kids in my story face and presenting too bleak a view.

Who’s your favorite author and/or book?

My all-time favorite book is “Alice in Wonderland”/”Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. I used to reread it every exam time when I was in college, as I would forgo trips to the library and would begin to suffer from book deprivation.

Do you have any writing related thoughts you’d like to share?

When I consider my fiction writing, I'm struck by the serendipity that led me to it in the first place. At the time I started writing fiction, I wasn't really “interested” in it, but the opportunity presented itself, so I took the plunge.

Then, too, getting my writing organized and accessible in the first place was a huge piece of what started me down the road to taking myself seriously as a writer. If I were still scribbling in notebooks I tossed in a corner, I'd have no perspective on my writing and I'd never have taken myself seriously as a writer. Yes, I've worked hard on my craft as a writer, but none of it would have happened if I hadn't started getting organized.

Thanks for the interview, Margaret. I hope your book does well.

(If you're interested in books and writing, here's another writer whose blog you might want to visit tomorrow http://katiehines.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning to Love Language

It's probably because of two things that happened when I was a little kid that I became fascinated with the science of Linguistics.
When my brother was born I was two-and-a-half years old. As he began learning to speak I could understand him when the grown-ups couldn't. Looking back I realize that was because the adults were trying to decipher his attempted words, but I tuned in to his intonation patterns and body language.
Not long afterwards we moved from New Jersey to California and I was amazed at the differences in the way people talked. Instead of pushing baby carriages they used baby buggies. Instead of sitting on sofas people in CA sat on couches.
One day we were visiting some of my mother's friends when the older kids told me there was a whale on the kitchen table for me. I assumed they were teasing me, especially since they were all eating ice cream and didn't offer me any. Later an adult asked me why I'd let the whale melt instead of eating it and I discovered it was a chocolate-covered ice cream popsicle. "Whale" was the brand name. In the neighborhood where I'd lived before we called that kind of treat winter popsicles because the little neighborhood grocery store only had them for sale during the cold part of the year. In the warmer months they sold summer popsicles, the kind made of fruit-flavored ice.
The difference in names was so interesting it almost made up for my disappointment in not getting to eat the delicious thing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reading to Kids

I've kept many of the books I had as a child and recently looked through some of the old picture books. Among my favorites were Cheeky Chipmunk and Chatterduck by Helen and Alf Evers, The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, and Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. How I loved hearing those books read over and over by my parents at bedtime.
It's a good thing I kept them because later I shared them with my preschool and Kindergarten classes as a teacher and read them aloud again as a grandmother.
Years ago I read about a scientific study intended to discover which method of reading instruction worked best. It showed the only thing the highest achieving college students had in common was that they had all been read to frequently as kids. Of course it might also be that those students had been read to a lot because their parents were smart and they had inherited that intelligence, but it certainly can't hurt to read to children.
When I was a child parents were discouraged from trying to teach kids to read because they might do it "wrong" and their children would have to unlearn what the parents had taught them when they reached first grade. My parents followed that recommendation, but I was among a group of kids that entered second grade reading at fifth grade level. All of us had been read to a lot by our parents.
When my daughter was young I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so I operated a preschool family daycare home. I only spent a few minutes a day doing things like singing The Alphabet Song and showing them how to write their names, and didn't try to teach reading. However I read to the kids a lot and several of them spontaneously began reading on their own.
Reading to young children is a wonderful way for parents and kids to share time together and it can make a big difference in the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writers' Groups

I'm currently active in two critique groups and another group for writers where we hear speakers and do other related-to-writing things at our monthly meetings. I've also remained a distance member of a critique group I belonged to before moving, although we don't do any critiques by e-mail. At least this lets me stay in touch. And I'm in several Yahoo discussion groups for writers, most of which include quite a few members I've met at conferences and other events.
Because writing is a solitary job, but writers are communicators, when we get together it's easy for us to become friends.
Of course the groups help us improve our craft and learn about professional opportunities. But, to be honest, I confess the main reason I participate in those groups is for the relationships. Even when we work in totally different genres and may not all agree with each others' points of view, we can still relate to each other and share one of the most important things in our lives.
In my opinion, anyone who is or wants to be a professional writer needs to get involved in at least one such group.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Published, Oh, No!

My senior year in High School the English teacher, Mr. Kuehnl, asked to keep something I'd written for an assignment because he liked it. I was pleased to be asked and said, Yes."
Months later the school was going to put out a magazine and I submitted something for it. Mr Kuehnl asked if it would be okay if they used something else I'd written for his class instead and I told him that was fine with me.
I'd completely forgotten about the assignment he had kept, and when the magazine was published I was embarrassed to see that was in it. Thinking nobody but the teacher would ever read it, I'd shared some embarrassing personal information.
Fortunately the publication came out near the end of the school year and I wouldn't have to see most of the other kids much longer.
It was the first thing I ever had published and, while even then I wanted to become a professional writer, it certainly wasn't a completely positive experience. Yes, it was well written, but I would never have consented for it to be published where my fellow students could read it if I'd realized it was what the teacher had asked about.
Since he was in charge of the school magazine every year, I suspect he'd kept it specifically to be used there. He probably knew I wouldn't give permission for publication if I remembered what he had kept.
In spite of the way he tricked me, I still consider Mr. Kuehnl one of the best teachers I ever had.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reading Books for Kids

When I was a kid I read voraciously, and that hasn't changed. In fact I still often read books written for kids because:
A. That's what I write.
B. They're usually short enough so I don't have to put them down in the middle of an exciting plot.
C. They aren't depressing or sordid, and
D. I'm still a kid at heart.
To tell the truth, the first reason is really just an excuse. I'd read that kind of book even if I didn't write them. Or maybe I'm confusing cause and effect; I write books for kids because I read them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooking With Kids

Lots of children love to cook.
With little ones that may mean simply stirring the ingredients an adult puts in a mixing bowl and licking the spoon afterwards. Older kids may be able to handle sharp knives and hot stoves, and kids in between can help in many ways such as getting out foods and equipment, measuring and adding ingredients, and cleaning up afterwards.
Besides providing some together time with a parent in the kitchen, letting kids help with cooking has many benefits. It helps them appreciate the work that goes into preparing meals, and gives them experience following directions.
Measuring ingredients helps with math skills, and recipes are short opportunities to practice reading. If more than one child is involved, cooking provides the opportunity and motivation to share responsibilities and take turns.
For reluctant eaters, helping to prepare a meal can motivate them to at least taste foods they might otherwise refuse.
And the pleasure of sharing foods they cooked or helped to prepare helps kids learn the value of hard work.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been given the Versatile Blogger Award, which is a great honor. However it's also a responsibility since I'm supposed to pass it on to 14 other newly-discovered blogs that I think deserve it. Unfortunately I couldn't think of that many, but here are the ones I've chosen to get the award:
There are many other helpful blogs out there, but either I discovered the others long ago, haven't discovered them yet, or can't think of them at the moment. I hope you enjoy reading these.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

Last week Virginia Grenier posted a comment on this blog saying she was giving me the Versatile Blogger Award. What an amazing honor! Thank you, Virginia.
Now I'm supposed to mention seven things about myself and, if possible, pass the award on to 15 other newly discovered bloggers. I've been struggling with that last part and will have to contact and list as many other bloggers worthy of recognition as I can in my next post, which will be on Wednesday. While there are lots of helpful blogs out there, I haven't discovered many recently so I may need to cheat a little and either choose fewer than 15 or include some I've been reading for quite a while.
But I can and will mention seven things about myself here.
1. I attended my 50th high school reunion a couple of weeks ago, so that means I'm old.
2. When I was a kid I had such bad asthma I was sometimes hospitalized and put on oxygen.
3. I once climbed Mount Whitney.
4. I can still remember my grandmother, who died when I was two years and three months old.
5. I belong to a big extended family and consider people like my second cousin's cousin and my cousin's cousin's granddaughter to be my relatives.
6. I used to be a freelance feature writer for a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area.
7. My favorite color is blue.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I usually post things to my blog on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but this week I didn't post anything on Saturday because a lot has been happening. I attended a high school reunion a week ago, had my grandson stay with us for a week, took him home, and attended a relative's 102nd birthday party last Sunday. I should have planned better and written a post in advance, but didn't realize I wouldn't have time to blog on that day. Sorry

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sentimental Stuff

Okay, I admit it; I'm a packrat. When we moved away from a house where we'd lived for thirty years I was amazed at the amount of stuff we got rid of. But there are some impractical things I expect to keep for the rest of my life. Those are the sentimental reminders of my kids.
When my mother died and my brother and I went through her stuff we were both extremely touched by what she found. Of course we expected the family photos, which brought back warm memories, but I was surprised to see the artwork and writing I'd done as a child, some of which was actually quite good. The fact that my mother had kept it showed that she had been proud of my accomplishments and finding it reminded me of her love.
Someday when my own kids and grandkids discover the treasures I've kept I hope it will remind them of my love for them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Low Tech Travel

What would we do without all the modern electronic devices that help us keep in touch with each other? In many ways, those modern inventions have improved our lives. But I think it's important for people, especially children, to have breaks from technology once in a while.
My grandson recently attended a summer camp that forbade all of them, including cellphones, DSIs, etc. and I think that's a great idea. While things like that can keep kids occupied while getting to their destinations, why not have family vacations in natural environments and forbid all tech devices, even to adults? Sure, we'll have zillions of messages waiting when we get home, but once in a while it's good for us to experience what life used to be like, especially in beautiful, natural environments.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old Friends

Remember that song, "Make new friends, but keep the old...?"
Families tend to move a lot, especially now when some loose their homes and must move and many parents get transferred or need to find jobs in other areas. Moving can be difficult for children because, even if they've only lived in the same place for a few years, that's a big part of their lives.
We have an advantage in our time. Unlike people in past centuries who wrote letters that might take months to be delivered, we can keep in touch through the internet and cellphones. But little kids can't use electronic devices very well. Even for older children and adults who can, video conversations like those on Skype are not really the same as face-to-face, real world contact.
It's helpful if sometimes families can travel to places where they used to live or invite people they knew in the past to vacation with them. And parents should encourage kids to keep in touch with old friends at least once in a while even after they make new ones. Although they may not appreciate doing that now, someday they'll realize the value of knowing people who share some of their memories.
Old friends really are the golden ones.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Do you iron clothes?
Back before perma-press, wrinkle-free, and other synthetic fabrics were available nearly all clothing that wasn't sent to the dry cleaners had to be ironed. Housewives often set aside one day every week to iron all the clothes their family needed. Before steam irons, clothing would be sprinkled with water and rolled up for a few hours or overnight so the moisture spread through all the fabric before it was ironed. It was a lot of work and we were glad when the newer fabrics came along.
Now we still wear some clothes made from those traditional fabrics, and even the newer ones often need touching up, but ironing isn't nearly as difficult a chore as it was years ago.
Recently I had bought an outfit made from crinkle-cotton that came with instructions saying it shouldn't be ironed at all, but it was badly wrinkled even when washed according to the directions. I also had another crinkle-cotton outfit made by a different company that said it was okay to use a low iron and no steam. Since I couldn't wear the first outfit as it was, I decided to be brave and iron it the way the instructions on the second outfit said to do. It worked!
Years ago I never thought I'd be grateful that something could be ironed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On Saturday I'll be at the Northern California Storybook and Literature Festival signing copies of my book, The Peril of the Sinister Scientist, and reading from it. I'll be one of over fifty authors and illustrators present and there will also be interesting talks and fun activities for kids.
Here's more information about it:
The festival will be in Roseville, California.
If you happen to be there, please look for me. I'd love to see you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Books for Kids

I love to read books for kids, especially middle grade (also called Tweener) ones. I do that partly because they're usually short enough to be read in an hour or two so I don't have to put them down in the middle of an exciting scene. Another reason is that I know they probably won't be sordid or have depressing endings. Of course an important reason to read them is that I write books for kids myself. Reading others helps me do that better because I can see what does and doesn't work well.
Lately I've re-read some of the old classics I enjoyed when I was a child myself. Most of those wouldn't have a chance of getting published today. They don't start in the middle of the action and include far too much description. In some of them the main characters don't even have a strong goal.
Modern kids are so accustomed to the fast pace of TV and electronic entertainment that many of them wouldn't have the patience to read some of the old faithful books, but those still have the ability to carry the readers into a different world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Classic Picture Books

In all the years I worked with preschoolers every single child (except for one little girl who was afraid of the wild things) loved Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I'd often read that book to my classes several times in a single day because the kids would beg to hear it again and again.
While they weren't quite as popular as that book, Here are some others the children always enjoyed:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle,
Noisy Nora, and Morris's Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells,
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats,
and Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.
Books about the Berenstain Bears or written by Dr. Seuss were also always popular.
What do you think these books had in common that made them become classics, loved by generations of children?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Last night I watched a children's theater performance. A kid I knew was in it, but it was so well done I'd have enjoyed it even if I hadn't known any cast members.
That reminded me of my own experiences acting in plays when I was a child. Our community had a Junior Theater and dozens of kids spent several days a week every Summer preparing for two nights of performances. We also did some plays at school and church and the neighborhood kids sometimes put on shows we made up ourselves for our parents.
Performing was fun, did a lot to increase my self esteem, and has given me many happy memories.
Later my own kids did some performing and as a teacher I wrote and directed some plays for students. (One of those eventually became a picture book, Secret Service Saint, which was published last year.) I've also seen many performances by kids I know.
And over the years I've seen many children overcome their fear, increase their self esteem, develop their talents, and grow in many other ways as a result of performing in public. When kids participate in dramatic productions it can have a positive effect that will last for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ingredient Lists

I read ingredient lists all the time because of allergies and sensitivities in my family and sometimes they drive me crazy. (I mean the lists, not my family.)
For example, there might be a few people allergic to sugar cane who can eat beet sugar, but listing "concentrated cane juice" on foods that are supposed to be healthy instead of calling it sugar seems deceptive to me. The same foods may also contain dextrose, which is corn sugar, and if they combined them the amount of sugar would have to be listed at the top of the ingredient list.
The problems on cosmetics and cleaning products are even worse. Often things labeled as "fragrance free" are loaded with smells from various plants and flowers and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Hello? My dictionary defines a fragrance as "a sweet smell or pleasant odor" but, for some reason, "botanical" fragrances don't seem to count. And "fragrance free" products may also have strong chemical odors that certainly aren't pleasant, but may bother sensitive people and those smells don't need to be mentioned on labels.
On the other hand, some of the legal requirements on food labels are a bit extreme. It seems stupid to me to see the warning on a package of wheat flour that it "may contain wheat," or on cheese that it contains "dairy." How stupid do they think customers are?
I wish ingredient lists were required to be accurate and sensible.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Memory of Love

How do parents show love to their children?
Some people seem to think spending money on them is the best way to do that, but if earning the money interferes with spending quality time together it may do more harm than good. Having fun together, hugs, words of praise, and listening are all wonderful ways to show affection.
My mother showed her love to us in all those ways, but when I remember things that showed her affection the ones that stand out are sacrifices she made; one in particular.
Mom was never especially fond of animals, but I had a soft heart for all living creatures. One day my best friend and I found a nest with two baby birds in it and we each took one home. My friend's mother made her return the bird to the nest and an hour later we found it had been pecked to death.
When my mother got home from work she wanted me to return my bird to the nest, but relented when, crying, I told her what had happened to the other one.
The baby bird was obviously hungry. I knew birds ate worms, but couldn't bring myself to harm an earthworm, so I gathered some from the yard. My mother, who was extremely squeamish and couldn't bear to touch anything slimy, cut them into pieces and helped me put them into the bird's mouth.
The bird only lived for a few days, but the memory of my mother doing something that difficult for her because she loved me still lives on in my mind.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Storybook and Literature Festival

I usually only blog on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but here's something I couldn't wait to share. I'll be reading and signing copies from one of my books at the Northern California Storybook and Literature Festival in Roseville on July 31st. This is a huge event and both adults and kids who enjoy books should find it well worth attending. Here's more information about it:

Northern California Storybook & Literature Festival

Saturday, July 31, 2010

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Free admission & parking


Maidu Library & Community Center

1530 Maidu Drive, Roseville 95661

Enjoy author panels, writing workshops, how to get published information, children’s entertainment and arts & crafts. Books & food available for purchase. Visit the festival website for a complete list of authors and the event schedule.

This project is supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Babies Don't Eat Pizza

My last post was about sibling rivalry and the next day I was surprised to get a book in the mail on that very topic. I'd forgotten that author Dianne Danzig had said she'd send me a copy for review.
Babies Don't Eat Pizza is a cute and informative book for kids who have or will soon have new babies in their families. Danzig has years of experience working with newborns and babies and teaching little kids how to be good big brothers and sisters so she knew what was needed in a book like this.
The book does a great job of letting children know what to expect in ways they can identify with, and the tips at the back will be helpful for parents, too.
The illustrations by Debbie Tilley are also cute. I like the way she included families of various ethnicities even though the main family is white. I do wish the pictures of newborns had been a bit more red and wrinkled, but that's a minor thing.
This book would be a great gift for a child who has a pregnant mother or newborn sibling. It will help lots of children understand why babies act the way they do.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Brothers and sisters are prone to have problems getting along with each other. Like pack animals, they compete for the attention and favor of the pack leaders, aka parents. This competition can cause constant conflicts between the siblings and drive their parents crazy.
So, what can be done about it?
It helps if parents schedule the same amount of special time alone with each child every week. However that isn't always possible, and doesn't completely solve the problem. It also helps to praise each child for the things that make them unique and avoid comparing them with each other.
There are lots of books about sibling rivalry and sharing them with the kids and discussing the topic can also help. Sharing family activities that everyone enjoys and emphasizing the concept of family unity can also make a difference. Reading books aloud together even with older kids is a good example of that.
Nothing will solve the problem of sibling rivalry completely, but after the children are grown they are likely to get along well together. Time doesn't heal all emotional wounds, but maturity does heal a lot of them. My brother and I quarreled a lot as kids, but now we are close friends and appreciate the memories we share.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Some time ago I blogged about the unintentional plagiarism thousands of people do by forwarding things on the internet. As I mentioned, twice I was reading books written by authors I knew personally and, each time, I found chapters from those books in my inbox with no mention of who had written them on the same day.
If writers' material is sent for free all over the internet they can never sell it again, and that's partly how they support themselves.
Even if forwarded messages have cute pictures and fancy fonts it doesn't mean they weren't stolen.
I was reminded of that problem today because I listened to a CD of a workshop about copyright laws from a writers conference I attended. The speaker mentioned that plagiarism is a serious, legal offense. Although nobody is likely to sue or fine all the thousands of people who forwarded the same material, it is still against the law to send it.
Please don't forward "forwards" unless you're positive that the material is in the public domain.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Zits, etc.

I just got another ad for something to treat acne. Luckily, I'm far to old to worry about that problem, but lots of teenagers get pimples.
People of all ages are prone to get dandruff, and we're constantly bombarded with ads for things to treat that, too.
Unfortunately, the products that supposedly cure those conditions often make them worse. (Maybe that's how the manufacturers and advertisers stay in business.)
Both conditions can be caused or aggravated by sensitivities to the chemicals in the soaps, shampoos, creams, etc. intended to treat them. Makeup that's used to conceal zits can make them worse for the same reasons. Sulfur and related chemicals and fragrances are frequent offenders, but others can be a problem for some people.
And serious acne in anyone with a tendency to have allergies can often be a result of eating certain foods. That's probably why long ago people thought chocolate caused acne; in people allergic to chocolate it actually does.
For anyone with dandruff or acne it's a good idea to read labels and try switching to fragrance free personal care products with as few chemicals as possible. And I hope anyone with serious acne and a family history of allergies of any sort will talk to a health practitioner about an elimination diet, which can reveal foods causing that reaction.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Martha Swirzinski on Exercise

Building Better Bodies and Brains.

What is the one thing you can do for yourself and your child that will have the biggest impact on your body and brain? If you said exercise, you were right. We all know that getting your body moving is great for your health but did you know it is just as important for good brain health? That's right, when you and your child get up and moving it actually helps increase learning.

Advances in brain research show that most of the brain is activated during physical activity. Eric Jensen, author of Brain Based Learning and Teaching, tells us that after 10 minutes of sitting our brain starts to shut down. The learner gets sleepy and learning declines. So what is one to do? Yep, that's right get your body moving. Moving “increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (“brain food”) to the brain” (Pica, Rae)

A few facts to ponder:

o “Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer's by 60 percent.” (Medina John)

o “Being active grows new brain cells.

o Balance improves reading capacity.

o Movement can help reinforce academic skills for all students.

o Play can increase attention.” (Blaydes, Jean)

The holder of a Bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation from Clemson University and a master's from the University of Maryland in Kinesiology, Ms. Martha Swirzinski has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of movement with children. She is also a certified personal fitness trainer. She currently lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

“More and more research is being developed about the rise of obesity in children,” notes Ms. Swirzinski, who teaches movement education in a local pre-school and offers teacher training workshops and customized consultations. At the same time, numerous studies continue to link increased brain function and movement, she explains. “Being active grows new brain cells!”

Ms. Swirzinski believes that every child should be afforded structured movement opportunities every day to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and become part of a lifelong regime.

It is along this vein that Ms. Swirzinski has published three children's books focused on movement. Using entertaining rhymes and charming pictures, these developmentally based books offer fun and creative ways for children to move while also providing mind stimulating activities on each page. By following the suggested activities, children can engage in 30-60 minutes of their recommended structured daily movement, as well as enhancing other mind/body skills. Designed to be enjoyed again and again, the pages of these books are filled with laughter, learning, movement and more.

To learn more about Martha and her work with kids please go to

www.wholechildpublishing.com or www.movementplus.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Computers! We can't live with them and we can't live without them!
All my e-mail accounts were down for about 24 hours. At least the automated message from tech support told me what to do so I didn't have to wait on hold for ages. But when the messages did arrive they all went to the junk mail file. Guess now I'll need to reset and retrain that.
But every time I start to complain about this kind of problem I remember how things were in past centuries when it took months to get letters, if they arrived at all. People who came to America from other continents might never again have heard from the people they left behind. Even half a century ago letters often took two weeks to arrive, and phone calls only worked if the other person happened to be available. Even answering machines didn't exist.
Okay, even with the nuisance of occasional tech problems, internet access is much more a blessing than a curse.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Safety First

A young kid I knew was riding his bike when he hit a bump and tipped over, falling down some cement steps. His helmet was smashed, but he only suffered a bruise on his head. His doctor said it was a good thing he had the helmet on or his skull would have been smashed.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.
An adult I know was riding his bike on a country road, rounded a corner, and smashed head-on into a truck. He wasn't wearing a helmet. Fortunately he wasn't killed, but he certainly could have been.
Once I was waiting to be seen in a hospital emergency room. Another patient was a pretty young woman who had been riding a motorcycle off-road when she spun out and rolled in some gravel She was wearing nothing but a string bikini and helmet and her entire body looked like raw hamburger. She was in extreme pain and her body was probably scarred for life. But her face, which had been protected by the helmet, was okay.
Please, please, please be sure your kids always wear helmets when biking, riding scooters, skateboards, etc. And, grown-ups, please do the same. Helmets may feel hot or uncomfortable and some people think they don't look cool, but they can save your life. Nobody is invulnerable.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Teasing can be a form of bullying.
As a child I was teased constantly because I was skinny. (Even as an adult I sometimes got rude comments about that, mostly from people who were overweight.)
The other kids in grade school didn't mention my asthmatic wheezing, which could usually be heard all over the classroom, but that's probably why they were uncomfortable around me. I thought of myself as the class victim and it never occurred to me that I, too, was a bully.
No, I never physically hurt anyone or threatened to do so, but I often "defended" myself by making sarcastic comments or said things laden with sarcasm because I thought they were funny. Looking back, I realize I must often have hurt the feelings of other kids.
Although I can scarcely remember the physical threats made against me, most of which never actually happened, I can still remember some of the nasty comments my classmates made. And I'm afraid some of them might remember similar things I said to them.
A while ago I mentioned a website that gives wonderful advice about how to deal with bullies. On rare occasions in my childhood and as an adult I'd used the tactics suggested there and can vouch for the fact that they do work. I strongly recommend http://www.bullies2buddies.com.
As an adult I try hard never to say things that might hurt someone else's feelings because I don't want to be a bully. And if someone says things like that to me, I know how to react.