Trick-or-Treaters big, small and canine!

We had a party teen party at our house for Halloween and everyone dressed up – even the dog! Hope your Halloween was Spooktacular!

Cowboy Ernie

 
Peter Pan and Tinkerbell
Real men do wear tights! This reminded me of a high school boyfriend of mine who went as Peter Pan and his best friend – who happened to be right tackle on the football team and 6′ 5″ went as tinkerbell! Complete with pink tights and tutu! It takes a confident guy to do that. Of course, all the girls loved it!
 

Party goers

 

Flapper and The Black Swan

 
 

Little visitors

 

Itsy Bitsy Spider

 

Firefigher Ben

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
!

Conner Prairie

Its always interesting to me to discover where other authors get their inspiration. I was recently at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL – October 30th) for a book signing and the Keynote Speaker for the luncheon was Margaret Peterson Haddix.  She is a prolific and award winning author of YA and Middle Grade books (something like 29 titles!) and the interesting thing for me is that she lived in Indianapolis at one time. In fact, her first novel, “Running Out of Time”, was inspired by Conner Prairie, a nearby Interactive History Park, which is just a few miles from where I live! She visited Conner Prairie as a reporter and interviewed the actors who portray the inhabitants of an 1800’s historical village for visitors to this “living history’ museum. It gave her the beginings of her idea for “Running Out of Time’. My children and I have always loved her books, so I was excited to wait in line to have her sign “Found”, the first novel in her “Missing” series. Of course I also gave her a copy of “Indian Summer” 😀 , which she gracious accepted, saying that she had just run out of books to read and she needed something for the plane ride home. I hope she enjoyed it!

Conner Prairie http://www.connerprairie.org/Plan-Your-Visit/Interactive-Map.aspx

Margaret Peterson Haddix “Running Out of Time” http://www.margarethaddix.net/books/runout.html

Fall Flowers, Art and Stars

Fall Flowers

 
I love Fall and gardening, so here is a picture of the flowers by my front door. I think the colors are gorgeous! The greens and purples make me happy so I have it as my wallpaper on my iPhone.  I like the cool nights and warm, sunny days of Fall- although its been rainy here lately. But I like that too! At least my garden likes it. Every season has something good about it. To me Fall means – apple cider and trick-or-treating; sweaters, jeans and boots; hiking in the woods through Fall foliage; pumpkin bread and apple pie! And soccer, soccer, soccer all the time!
 
XanderKats
 
Awesome artwork by XanderKats (my son) at the  Arts Festival (just the big one on the bottom)! 
 
I’m doing more research for my next novel, tentatively titled THE FIELD. I went to the Butler University Observatory and saw a presentation in the planetarium on Jupiter and its moons. Did you know that the moon Europa is covered with ice with an ocean up to sixty miles deep underneath? Because it has a metal core it has a magnetic field and generates heat so scientists postulate that heat vents in the ocean (like those in the oceans of Earth) might be the perfect place to harbor LIFE!!! Not acutal aliens, though, more like bacteria, but LIFE nevertheless. We didn’t get to look through the telescope because it was raining, but it was still pretty cool. I will be going back on a clear night to view the stars. The Universe is amazing!
 
Europa

Summer at the Lake

Our Mamaw lives in a magical place we call “The Cottage” on a lake in northern Indiana. While my children were growing up they would spend two weeks at ‘Camp Mamaw’ building wonderful memories and having a fantastic time. We are fortunate to spend a lot of time there in the summer. One of my son’s friends says that ‘Mamaw is the Magic of the cottage’. She certainly sets the tone, but I think the real magic is sharing it with our family and friends. Here are a few pics of the fun we have.
 
 
 

Fireworks over the lake

 

Floating at the sandbar

 

Sunset

 
 

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The Kids' Table

 

Playing Cards

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Boat Ride

 

Inviting

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chillin'

 

The "Leadman" competitors

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cousins

 

Relaxing

 

Summer Fun in Indiana

 

This year Father’s Day and our children’s 18th birthday fell on the same day. We decided to go kayaking on the White River. Even though it was overcast and a bit drizzly, we had a great time! I took the pictures with my phone from my kayak, while trying not to drop the phone in the water, so they are a bit blurry, but you get the idea. It was very peaceful and beautiful. We saw several Blue Herons fishing and a lot of turtles.

Katie and Alex G.

 

Xander

View from my kayak

 
I also got to go horse back riding in Brown County with my cousin, Kathy and her niece. We drove her horses to the horseman’s camp in the State Park and then rode to the Story Inn for lunch where we met the rest of the family who had spent several days in the park geode hunting. They found over 100 geodes! The Story Inn is 150 years old and reported to be haunted by the Blue Lady. We also saw some murals that had  been painted at the Inn by Kathy’s uncle George. The day was great, but I’m still saddle sore!
 

Sherman and Spartacus at The Story Inn

 

Jesse and Sherman

 

Alex

School Visits and Summer Writing

Snacks Crossing Pizza Party

 
 

Muffins for Moms

 

Deer Run 4th & 5th graders

I had a busy month of May with school visits. Visiting the schools and talking with kids about reading and writing is really a joy! At Snacks Elementary, a group of students read Indian Summer as part of a reading group and had a pizza party during my visit. They asked a lot of great questions and everyone wants a sequel. I do have the beginnings of the sequel forming in my imagination, but it will have to wait until I get The Field, my next novel, down on paper (or into the computer). At Stephen Decatur Elementary, I did a presentation on ‘Reading for Literacy’ to the Muffins for Moms program and almost 400 people attended. They were very excited to buy books for summer reading. I spoke with 200 4th and 5th graders at Eagle Creek Elementary about ‘Bringing Characters to Life’. They were a great audience.

I’m getting a lot of great writing done on The Field  this summer. I like to write outside when I can where I can look at my garden and take breaks to play fetch with Ernie.

Reading for Literacy

I am doing an Author Visit to Stephen Decatur Elementary School on Friday, May 6th for 400 students and parents at Moms and Muffins. Yes, you read that right – 400! That will be my largest group so far. I am very excited. Okay, I’m a bit nervous, too. My topic is Reading for Literacy and I am, of course, trying to make my talk both fun and informative. The ultimate goal is to get the kids exicted about reading. Here’s something interesting I learned in doing my research:

“The single most important activity for building the skills to be a successful reader is reading aloud to children.”  ~ 1983 National Commission on Reading

Reading aloud to children improves reading skills, writing skills, speaking skills, listening skills, attitudes about reading and even math skills! And we shouldn’t stop reading to our kids when they get into middle school. We should read to them up to eighth grade and even beyond. Share funny or interesting excerpts of what you are reading with your teens. I know you might have to wrestle them to the ground first to get them to listen, but it’s for their own good. The Read~Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a fantastic guide for parents interested in learning more.

Reading = Knowledge

Spring Fever

Every spring I get this surge of energy as the weather starts warming up and nature gets busy. This year I really need it because it’s crazy busy at our house! All four of us have work (or school), writing and publishing plus just getting on with the usual things. My children are both juniors in high school this year, so we’ve begun the college search this spring and have visited several places. I am a little bit jealous. I want to go off to college and have adventures, too! My son’s band is going to the recording studio to lay down some songs and is planning a midwest tour this summer. My daughter is working on developing a senior picture business as her summer job. I hover over them offering support, advice (solicited or not) and make phone calls. My brother and sister in-law just had their second child, a beautiful girl, so I’m planning a trip to visit them, and this year is my 25th anniversary with my wonderful husband! Whew! I also have several school author visits that I’m looking forward to in May. Lots going on!

Favorite Things and Places

My writing space

 

Here’s a picture of my writing space. I try to fill my home and office with things that I love and have collected over the years and lots of COLOR! I love the color of this room. It is makes me feel energized and focused. The pictures on the wall are framed hankerchief’s of my grandmother’s. She lived in at time when ladies carried beautiful hankercheifs instead of tissues. My dad still carries a hankerchief. The Effiel Tower sculpture reminds me of my various trip to Paris. The framed photos at the back of the desk are from our lake cottage (the inspiration for Indian Summer). They remind me of many wonderful summers spent with family and friends at the lake. My family started a tradition of collecting little figurines from the different places we’ve been on vacation. I have the Chrysler Building from New York City, Big Ben from London, the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the Coliseum from Rome, the Acropolis from Athens, and many others. They have a spot of their own as they take up too much room on my desk.  Here are two quotes I like about life and travel.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine

San Diego

Courtyard of the Del Coronado

 

Sea Lions

I recently got to spend a few days on Coronado Island in San Diego at the Del Coronado Hotel. The hotel is a victorian beauty over 120 years old and is said to be haunted! Unlike Marcie in Indian Summer, I wasn’t visited by any spirits, but it wasn’t for lack of wishing. Although the temperature was only in the 60’s (way better than Indianapolis) it was sunny and the area is beautiful. We drove up to La Jolla to see the seals and sea lions lolling on the rocks by the shore. You can tell them apart because sea lions have large front flippers and make a barking noise. We even saw some humans swimming in the VERY cold water without wet suits. Yikes! Then it was back to the midwest for cold, rainy weather and a book signing at Barnes & Noble with other members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  Lots of great books!

Me, Laurie Gray and Margaret McMullan