Archive for the ‘miscellany’ Category

best-loved words, turns of phrase ~ first installment

In miscellany, words on August 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm








prekvapeni (Czech word for surprise)


character (as in, ‘she’s a real character’)

fetching (as in, ‘doesn’t Tom look fetching today…’)








piece of work (as in, ‘That Sadie is a real piece of work…’)










What I’ll do when I’m a best-selling author: Pt. 1 {cough, cough}

In miscellany, writing on June 28, 2012 at 12:08 am

When the Mega-Millions Powerball lottery hit an insane jackpot amount on a Friday back in March, my young daughter, two friends and I were headed to Charleston, S.C., for the weekend.

When we stopped at an ancient gas station in Middle-of-Nowhere, S.C., we noticed the Powerball signs and remembered the huge jackpot. On a lark, we each decided to buy a ticket – after all, it was Friday, we were on a road trip, and we were looking forward to a big weekend in a beautiful city. In our happy, punchy frame of mind, buying a lottery ticket seemed like a good and hopeful (if ridiculous) thing to do.

The four of us then spent the rest of the drive to Charleston daydreaming about what we would do if a huge windfall ever landed in our laps – if we suddenly had none of the usual financial parameters that tend to limit Big Dreams a bit.

(We got so into the spirit of things that when they announced a couple of days later that the winners had not bought their tickets in South Carolina, we actually felt a little miffed … despite the fact that three of us were otherwise logical, realistic adults.)

I thought about that lottery-fantasy afternoon recently when I read about a book series (which shall go unnamed here) that seemed to take everyone by surprise when it began selling hand over fist. What would I do, I wondered, if I ever had the rare experience of becoming the author of a blockbuster book (or books)?

After all, my possible routes to the big bucks are limited; I have tried shaking the family tree for long-lost, aging rich relatives, but  that’s been fruitless so far. Out of the three things I write about here, no one is going to pay me big bucks to run like a tortoise, and no one is likely to pay me to sit around and read books all day. (I don’t really want to review books full-time, so that job path is out of the question.)

That leaves writing as my best shot (right up there with the next MegaMillions jackpot). Since there is just a little competition out there, I won’t hold my breath … but there’s no harm in making up a list of things I would do if I did become the next blockbuster author.

(This dream does have a caveat: I have to swing the blockbuster sales with a book that is actually good. Otherwise, the shame would make it too hard to enjoy all the daydreams on my list).

Here are a few things to start the list:

1. Take ‘Harry Potter World’ by storm.

And we would do it up in STYLE.  Depending on just how best-selling I was, I might rent the place out for a day so my girl and I – and all of our friends, of course – could avoid standing in those long lines I hear so much about. Butterbeer all around, and wands, too.

(I’m sure it’s obvious by now that I would be equally as – if not more – excited, than my child about this particular wish.)

2. Hire a chauffeur to drive us around in our Prius a couple of days a week.

I love driving – but on road trips. Driving around town doesn’t do much for me. Two or three times a week, it would be a luxury to enjoy the same perk my daughter enjoys every day: Getting to sit in the back seat and read books on various boring local treks to the grocery store, school, trumpet lessons, etc. No chauffeur uniform or hat required.  Just impeccable/safe driving skills and no talking while we read.

3. Find and buy an old Victorian house with wraparound porches and a garrett.

It would also need to have a backyard equally as magical and forest-like as our current backyard. And a screened porch with a door that squeaks.

Then I would need some great contractors to give it a ‘green’ overhaul (solar panels, etc.). And, realistically, an on-call handyman given how un-handy I am.  (By this, I mean a person who is handy… of any gender. ‘Handyman’ is the old-school term and I like it for that reason; changing it to ‘handywoman’ or ‘handyperson’ sounds sort of ridiculous.)

4. Take my girl to Prague and tour her around my favorite spots from my lovely time living there.

She will find it as magical as I did, especially if we go in December, when the Christmas markets are up in the Old Town Square and there might be a little snow.

5. Take a leisurely, meandering cross-country road trip to my favorite places from my solo road trips long ago.

These include Graceland, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house in Missouri, the Brooklyn Lake Forest Service camping area near Laramie, Wyoming, and a slew of breath-taking National Parks, including Mesa Verde, the Grand Tetons, Glacier, Crater Lake, Olympia, Mount Rainier, and Craters of the Moon.

6. Take a second long road trip in which we go to places I completely missed on my long-ago road trips. 

These include New Orleans, Yosemite National Park and many other places.

7. On all road trips, we would stop and give away my books to anyone who was interested, and we would shop at every indie bookstore in our path.

Owing to the caveat to this fantasy, outlined above, my books would be really good books, so in theory, people who like books would actually want them.  And, of course, we would also bring along and give away a variety of the many really good and especially great books written by other people.

That’s enough fantasizing for now; it’s probably time to get back to writing. 

word wall.

In lines worth underlining, miscellany, reading on May 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

word wall.

In answer to today’s Book Riot open thread question from @RebeccaSchinsky ( about where readers gather their favorite book passages, I’m posting a photo of one section of the wall where I’ve tacked up some of my favorite short and long passages (along with photos, bits torn out of magazines, my girl’s artwork and other quotations).

Bookish holiday decor, Part 1

In miscellany, reading on December 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

As mentioned in a post over on the kids’ book blog I write with my 10-year-old, I use my grandmother’s cake plate to show off books instead of cake, due to my lack of willpower when it comes to dessert.

Stealing an ingenious and colorful idea from a fall display at the Cameron Village branch of the Wake County Libraries – a slew of book covers in beautiful shades of orange – I changed up my platter for the holidays. Now a small tower of books with red (and a couple of other complementary colors) spines are part of our Christmas decorating, alongside two Auntie Claus picture books.

If you are a better engineer than I am, you may want to join the inventive souls who are building Christmas trees out of books this year ~ there’s now a slide show of the many trees created after word got out about this new take on bookish decorating.

On a musical note, this year I have vowed to finally carry on the tradition of an elderly-but-full-of-verve family friend who died a decade ago. Miriam ‘illustrated’ Christmas carol titles in her holiday decorating; for instance, hanging from the ceiling via fishing line in front of a bay window were several angels ~ i.e., ‘Angels We Have Heard On High.’ I only have a few days left, but I think I can do it.

Do you have unique and/or sentimental ways of trimming your house for the holidays? If so, please share in a comment below.

(See Part II ~ the story of our holiday picture book decor ~ over on the Lost in a Book blog that my 10-year-old daughter and I write about kids’ books.)

Postscript/update, December 2012: Don’t miss the 2nd Annual Books-on-Cakeplate Holiday Edition display in our 2012 post.

Honoring Viki

“I would not like to live without dancing, without unknown roads to explore, without the confidence that my actions were helpful to some.” Sam Keene


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the intersection of graphic design + picture books

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Mother-daughter dynamic duo (covering the key 15- to 51-year-old demographic) waxes poetic about kids' books