Sunday, May 31, 2015


Please help.  My blog is starving and I have nothing to feed it.

     I'm stricken with pity and guilt by my blog's plight, but pity and guilt don't help it any more than they would help this tiny scrap of avian life to survive, to grow, to someday unfold its new wings, to launch itself into the infinite nest of the air.  My blog needs nourishment, and I have none to give.
     Unfortunately, the USB ports on my laptop don't accept worms and grubs.  If they did, I could probably manage to find some good specimens in the back yard.  But the food I need to produce for the blog has to be manufactured in my brain, and my brain seems to have closed up the creativity shop.  The only thing it seems able to produce these last few weeks is anxiety, and as we all know, the only thing anxiety can feed is more anxiety.

     It's embarrassing to reveal what I'm so anxious about, but I will, in the hope that if I spill a little of my own blood between the keys, the blog will at least be temporarily mollified.  I'm anxious because in 13 days I'll find myself in attendance at the New Jersey Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (a.k.a. "NJSCBWI") annual Conference.  I've attended this Conference for many years, and for every one of at least the last five, I've gotten my heart broken.  I've submitted the first 15 pages of a book manuscript for one-on-one critiques by editors  and/or agents, and I've been told by at least one such critiquer that she (it's always been a she) loves what I've written, loves the way I write, and wants to see more, more, more.  So I've duly sent more, more, more, only to (occasionally) be told never mind, or (more frequently) never hear so much as a syllable in response.  This happens every.  Single.  Year.  And yet I keep making my annual pilgrimage to this Conference, because where else will I find the opportunity to receive real critiques from real industry professionals?  It's truly an amazing perk that NJSCBWI offers, and I keep taking advantage of it, and I keep getting my hopes up, only to eventually be spat out once again upon the slush-pile shore.
     But here's the thing: my writing keeps getting better.  I know this to be true beyond all doubt.  So of course, each year I can't help believing that THIS TIME will be the charm.  And each year, I do inch closer and closer, but - at least so far - never close enough.  Which is why for the past week I haven't been able to draw a full breath - not like that's annoying, right? - and I'm not expecting any relief from this condition until I'm back home post-Conference.
     Truth be told, writing all this is not only embarrassing; it's mortifying.  What's wrong with me??  Do I not have one of the most fortunate of lives?  I have a good, wise, supportive husband.  I have two healthy, smart, talented, funny, kind children.  I live with the two best dogs in the world.  I have a career that I find challenging and rewarding, and that also pays decent money.  I have a handful of friendships that go bone-deep.  In sum, I have everything I have any right to want, and more.  So why can't I just be grateful and STFU????
     I'll tell you why.  Because, much like my blog and a certain caterpillar, I'm hungry, hungry too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


     In April I only wrote about other people - specifically, people who lived and died 500 years ago.  So far in May, I've barely written about anything at all.  So maybe it's time for me to write about myself and my family and our little jaunt over the past weekend to Washington, D.C. TO ATTEND MY SON'S LAW SCHOOL GRADUATION!!
     But honestly, it's been such a crazy couple of weeks that I'm not sure I have enough brain power remaining to write anything coherent, let alone halfway intelligent.  So we'll compromise.  I'll just post pictures.

there's the grad
(is it just me, or is there something distinctly 16th-century about that cap and gown Nathan's wearing??)

                                  and there he is with his sister (left) and his girlfriend (right)

                                                         and here's the whole fam!!

So much happiness and pride I almost exploded... and still might, if I ever have enough energy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


     I don't know about you, but for me April ended just in the nick of time.  In the week that followed, this is almost literally the first opportunity I've had to rub two minutes together.  In other words, it's time for me to attempt an A to Z Challenge Wrap-Up post.
     I'll start by saying that I LOVED doing the Challenge in this, my second year.  I sort of stumbled my way to what proved to be the perfect topic for me: 16th-century people who lived exceptional lives in one way or another, but whose names are, for the most part, unfamiliar to people of the 21st century except for historical scholars.  Not being a historical scholar myself, I had never heard of almost any of the 26 people I ended up posting about, and trying to round up and organize information about their lives was a constant source of delight for me.
     I also discovered a whole bunch of wonderful blogs and bloggers that I would probably never have found otherwise.  I can't mention all the names here, but I will list my absolute top three (in no particular order):

     Kern Windwraith, The Odd Particle Review.  Quirky, hilarious, thought-provoking observations, 
deeply generous in spirit.

     Nilanjana Bose,  Madly-in-Verse.  Gorgeous poetry that had me thinking, almost every                   day: "So why is it exactly that this writer isn't famous yet?"

     Zalka Csenge Virag, The Multicolored Diary.  Fascinating summaries by a professional storyteller of epic tales from around the world, retold with panache, expertise, and irreverent humor.

     I volunteered to be a Minion this year, and then when I found out what that entailed, I thought about backing out.  Did I really want to be a Blog Cop, searching out and reporting to my Overlord bloggers who had dropped out along the way or who were still participating but not following the rules?  YUCK!  It took me a little while, but then I caught on to the purpose behind all this.  A lot of Challenge participants diligently hop around the list, visiting ten or twenty or even more new blogs each day, and it can be a real bummer to put in that kind of time and effort, only to find that you keep hitting on blogs that aren't really part of the Challenge after all.  So the goal is to eliminate the debris and make blog-hopping a more pleasant experience for the people who actually are participating.  Makes sense, right?
     I don't have any brilliant suggestions about ways to improve the Challenge for next year.  I enjoy the democratic flavor of it all - we're all in it together as long as we're willing to put in the work.  Since I'm unlikely to ever run a marathon, this may be the closest I get to that kind of experience!  And I don't even have to be seen in public in running shorts!  I'd call that a win-win.
     Congratulations to all my fellow Challenge survivors!  If we didn't meet this year, I hope we will next April.