Thursday, December 30, 2010

What makes a good story

I just watched part of a Biography show about George Lucas. He said, "I'm an old-fashioned romantic. I believe in stories, in adventure, in romance."

Wow. THAT is what makes a good story teller!

By that definition, I guess I'm an old-fashioned romantic, too. I hope so. George Lucas, I hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

cardinal in the window

The birds are so much fun to watch this time of year. I feel sorry for them most of the time, though, so I try to keep my feeders stocked.

Just snapped this photo of a cardinal through my kitchen window, screen and all. It looks like a toy or an ornament or something. It's real, though.
Now: writers' retreat at my house this afternoon--hunkering down to get some work done!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I love holiday break. Get up, make coffee, write, walk Freya, eat lunch, write some more, work out (preferably, XC skiing, or tromping through knee-deep snow, or even sitting on the bike on the trainer and hating Coach Troy), write a bit more, make dinner, read, maybe clean a little, maybe watch a movie, read. Such a schedule is more than idyllic. It's heaven.

The reading part might be the best since during school I barely have time to keep up reading what my students are reading for my own classes.

Right now: I finished the Hunger Games and am halfway through Catching Fire. Don't want to put them down. I have about ten more books I'd like to read in the next ten days. Not sure that's gonna happen. Am going to get Wintergirls and Thirteen Reasons Why and Mockingbird any day now.

And then, there's the good family things that come with holidays. Yesterday, Bill and Cathy (my brother and his wife), came up from Iowa for the day. We had a blast. That sort of Christmas vacation possibility is the very best of all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cross Country Skiing

Lisa P. and I went skiing on the new trail Skarpohl grooms in Busher? Buscher? Park. Great, flat trail. It felt so good to be on skis again! First time this year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas walk and Grand Fondo!

Freya and I had a lovely Christmas walk this afternoon. Even though the snow was up to my knees and she has to barrel or bounce through it, we had a blast. It was quite the work-out. Lightly falling flakes, quiet, a few deer, and the glow of the snowy world. Christmas landscape as it should be.
And news: the Minnesota Ironman Bike ride will now be timed. A new venture! Grand Fondo, here we come!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December mornings and Bob Feller

Finals are over. I'm so relieved. Some wonderful moments of this semester, and some amazing students made it all worthwhile.
But still, it's so much work, I'm glad, glad, glad to be done for a few weeks.

The still early mornings mean no homework, just sitting with my laptop, my story about Grant O'Grady struggling to wend its way forward, Freya snoring nearby, and Christmas tree lights twinkling blue against the black early morning sky.
A magical way to start the day.

Speaking of Grant O'Grady. My protagonist is a fourteen-year-old boy in North Dakota in 1937. His Idol is Bob Feller, who grew up in Van Meter, Iowa, and who pitched for Fargo-Moorhead (Grant got to watch him play), before he was snatched up by the Cleveland Indians at age seventeen.

Bob Feller died this week. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though Grant is a fictional character, he lives in my head, in my life, and all of that part of me grieves Bob's death. Yet, Bob had a good life. That we should celebrate and remember.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sometimes I hate email

Sometimes, I need to bury in and work, but I feel guilty if I don't check my I do...and then I have fifteen things I need to attend to...and forty-five minutes later, I've gotten NO work done.
AAAAAck. It's not even a matter of being disciplined to stay away from email--if checking it has to be done. But sometimes I feel far too available.
Note: I'm not available right now. I'm grading.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Snow for Christmas? Hardly!

Pfeffernut County is indeed buried in snow this year. Everybody should be happy, right?!

Jill Kalz came to my Children's Lit. class at South Central.
I am reading book reviews that my students wrote, and here's a great excerpt (Mike Dokken, thanks):

This was an awesome book. After Jill came to class and read it, I had to buy it for my daughter.
Although that farmer comes off a bit "crazy," all of the other farmers eventually envy him and follow his example.

The message in this book is great. Think for yourself!
Illustrations are very colorful, very on target, and very cool!!!

Overall, AWESOME BOOK!!! I am so glad I got this, and plan to add the rest of the Pfeffernut County Series to my kids' library.
Great Children's Book! I'm glad I picked it up.

What a nice endorsement!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Girl Meets Boy

I am in the throes of grading final portfolios and research papers. I won't emerge until sometime next week unless I have to come up for air in between.

So I'm just relishing this, which I've forgotten to be excited about. That will hopefully carry me through. Then I have three weeks in which I can write EVERY DAY!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards died today. I'm sad.

Elizabeth Edwards was a a real woman. A real, brilliant, articulate, loving woman.
When she visited MSU when John was campaigning for VP, she could answer every question thrown her direction about everything from foreign policy to economics to health care. The only question she couldn't answer was, "Why hasn't your husband's book been made more public during this campaign? It's a brilliant book." She said, "I can't answer that. I have no idea."

After she talked to us, she greeted every single person who wanted to meet her. I thanked her for what she was doing and told her how much I admired her, and she gave me a huge hug. She was a woman who exuded intelligence, kindness, and sincerity. No matter what anyone's political stance, nobody can argue with the fact that Elizabeth Edwards was something. I'm sad that she's no longer in the world.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I finished Swati Avasthi's SPLIT a couple weeks ago, on the way to North Carolina, and I either have had no time to blog, or Blogger has jammed my internet connection, so I haven't mentioned it again. It was one of the best YA books I've ever read. The story follows complex characters with no easy answers to their situations; their complex problems don't necessarily get resolved, yet come to a very satisfying place at the end of the book. It's one of the clearest fictional depictions of how domestic violence works, and the protagonist is so well drawn, that we're with him in his struggle every step of the way.

I LOVED this book. I feel as if the characters are my friends, and they're the kind of characters that stick with me, as if I wonder how they're doing now. I can't recommend it enough for anyone, not just for YA lovers and readers.