I love this time of year. I know I am in the minority, but I’m not alone. I grew up in Chicago where it got cold in December and stayed cold until April. We had outdoor skating rinks and skiied all winter. Winters in Indianapolis are wimpy. It was 60 degrees today! There is no such thing as winter sports here. Someone from Michigan once told me the reason people in Indianapolis don’t like winter is that it doesn’t stay cold long enough for them to enjoy it. Interesting fact – Indianapolis is on the latitude with the most freeze/thaw cylcles. It snows, but it doesn’t stay for more that a few days. Not like in Chicago where I can remember coasting onto my ice covered driveway for two months because it hadn’t gotten warm enough for it to melt.

But the real reason that I love this time of year is that there is nothing else going on so I can do projects! In the Spring you have gardening, spring break, and graduations. Summer needs no explanation. In the Fall everyone gets busy with work and school until the ‘Holiday Season’ which basically starts before Halloween and goes until New Year’s Day. But in January, February and March we only have MLK Day, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day and St. Patty’s Day. Not much preparation required except buying a card, making dinner reservations and maybe a shamrock or two. Lot’s of time for me to MAKE THINGS! I am a crafter, though some people would call me crafty, and what I really consider myself is a Fiber Artist, since most things that I create are with fabric or yarn. In the 70’s I was into macrame and I made a table that hung from the ceiling with a plexiglass cirlce suspened by a metal ring. It was quite a conversation piece in my dorm room in college. When my children leave for college next fall, I am going to start calling myself a Fiber Artist (and author, of course!) I am also planning to reclaim the basement from my son who has turned it into a recording studio and band practice space. I am coveting a work table from the Martha Stewart Collection – call me Martha!

For Christmas presents this year I made mittens and scarves out of wool sweaters that I felted (basically shrunk in hot water in the wash). Pics below. I have to say I think they turned out cute! Then I made bags and pajamas and pillows! I am even making myself a jacket. I haven’t made clothes for myself in years, but I went to a new, high end fabric store (The French Seam) and found myself leaving with three yards of gorgeous watermelon colored wool. Bookstores, fabric stores and yarn stores are dangerous places for me. Did I also mention that I am making curtains and pillows for my family room? I’ve taken over the living room and dining room and since I like to have my projects out in the open until they are finished, and I have multiple projects going on at once (just like you readers who have multiple books on the nightstand) it’s a bit of a mess. My office is the same way. I’m a pile filer. I don’t agree with the people who say that if you haven’t completed a project within a year to discard it. I have at least three knitting projects waiting in the wings that I may not get to until next Fall, but I will get to them. To me its like when you finish a book and you’re at loose ends until you find your next book. One must always have a project ready to start.

So for those of you who love this time of year for the cold and the luxury of time to create, pour yourself a cup of tea or hot  chocolate and get crafting!

Felted Flower Pins


'Matching' mittens


Scarf and Mittens


Woolen Mittens


Pillow with Felted Flowrs

Coincidences – Part II

I had to share the next episode in the Winnetka, IL coincidence saga. At the Indy Author’s Fair I talked with Margaret McMullan, winner of the National Author Award. We had met before and I went to a workshop where she talked about her novels. One of her novels for adults, “In My Mother’s House”, really intrigued me, so I got it and started to read. It turns out that the family in the book moves to Winnetka, IL!!  That really got my attention. Why all these Winnetka references? Stay tuned to as the story unfolds….


I’m one of those people who find meaning in even the smallest things, so when ‘coincidences’ happen I take notice. I believe that coincidences are really the universe giving us little nudges or responding to our thoughts and desires. Several serendipidous coincidences happened to me just recently. In October, I attended the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL) conference in Memphis, TN. The keynote speaker was Margaret Peterson Haddix, a highly regarded and prolific YA author. In her speech she mentioned that she used Conner Prairie as inspiration for her first novel, “Running Out of Time” (see post under ‘Conner Prairie’ 10/14/2011). I live right across the river and about two miles away from Conner Prairie. The really interesting coincidence is this -while I was at the confernce I purchased Ms. Haddix’s novel “Found” and discovered that one of her characters is from Winnetka, IL, which is the town where I grew up and is fictionalized in “Indian Summer”! So what made me pick that particular novel? Is there going to be some connection between me and Margaret Peterson Haddix? (I hope so!) Her books are mostly in the science fiction genre, which is the direction that I find that my writing going. (My science background is appearing more and more in my writing, but that’s a subject for another post).

Then last week I suddenly thought of my son’s first grade teacher for no particular reason. She just popped into my head while I was at the drugstore. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in over 10 years. A few days later while I was shopping at Costco, who do you think I ran into? Mrs. Tobias, former first grade teacher! We chatted for a few minutes and she was stunned to learn that my son is now a senior and applying to colleges. I have to wonder why I thought of her and ran into her.

The third synchronicity was that I called some friends of ours to get together for a night out and then I saw our friend Celia at the church Bazaar (shopping again!). She said that she had just mentioned to her husband that they should get together with us – she hadn’t gotten my message yet. ~ Que the theme from The Twighlight Zone!

So what do these synchronisities mean? Haven’t you ever had the phone ring and you know who it is before you answer or even more spooky, been thinking about a friend and have them call? Do our thoughts somehow communicate with one another remotely or telepathically? I’m exploring these ideas in “The Field”. I believe that we are all connected. I’d love to hear about ‘coincidences’ that have happened to you!

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

Margaret Peterson Haddix “Running Out of Time”

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!
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!

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








The Kids' Table


Playing Cards


A Boat Ride






The "Leadman" competitors






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.



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



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