Friday, May 2, 2014

I'm Moving!

I'm moving my blog to a new site, linked to my new and improved website. 

Find me at Becky's Blog.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Issues in Lit

Someone told me last night that they have no interest in reading novels that are about issues. I had explained that the book I'm working on is about fracking, frac-sand mining, and also  about a mixed-race, mixed-religion high school couple. He said that didn't interest him in the least.

However, he has read my current-trying-to-get-out-in-the-world novel, Slider's Son, and loved it. That book is loaded  with issues: Native American relationships with whites in the 1930s, Germans' reactions to Hitler in the same period, the winding down of the Great Depression, poverty, history, etc.
So....not sure if that means he's only interested in story, or if maybe I have enough story going on that he didn't realize there were imbedded issues. Of course, I started out to write a good story, not to make it an issue book, and the issues just sort fell into it.
Maybe that's the key: the story has to carry everything. But we know that as writers. It's the readers who need to be cajoled into reading by saying "it's about...." the story, not the issues. Just pondering.

AND, my agent as asked me to find a Native American writer who would be willing to read my MS. He's scared to market it without a stamp of approval that it is not insulting, and treats the Native people in the story with respect.
So that's my quest. If by ANY chance, you can help me with that one, let me know, please.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mankato Area Cycling Team

Just have to say....
I had a BLAST tonight at Franklin School. I met some excited young cyclists who will join the local cycling team.
Singletrack High is so much fun. I made me want to just get out and ride right now, but it's late and dark and cold and windy. I'm hoping that it will be nicer in the morning, and maybe I can sneak in a ride before school.
Thanks Mike Busch and Matt Busch and Jenna and Justin Reinhardt from Nicollet Bike for all making this happen!

I got to talk a bit about Chasing AllieCat (and even read my favorite race scene), and we watched the trailer, too! It was much fun!

If you have a chance to see Singletrack High, and you have the least interest in cycling, see it!

TONIGHT! At Franklin School, 7 p.m.

Singletrack High Film Tour comes to Mankato!

Join the Mankato High School Cycling Team at the Franklin Elementary Auditorium, 1000 N. Broad Street, Wednesday, April 23rd for a FREE screening of “Singletrack High” Doors open at 6:30 p.m! Student Athletes, Parents, Teachers, Friends & Family--all are welcome!

Singletrack High Film Tour comes to Mankato!

Photo: Singletrack High Film Tour comes to Mankato!

Join the Mankato High School Cycling Team at the Franklin Elementary Auditorium, 1000 N. Broad Street, Wednesday, April 23rd for a FREE screening of “Singletrack High” Doors open at 6:30 p.m! Student Athletes, Parents, Teachers, Friends & Family--all are welcome!Trailer for Singletrack High

And I'll be there with CHASING ALLIECAT!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Website and and old Blog that made my Day

I'm in the process of moving my website and blog into one bigger site. Right now, it's usually impossible for me to update the website. I get an error message every time I try. should be up and going Monday for sure. In trying to see the new look, I googled myself, which I don't do very often. As a result, I found this recap of a program I have given several times. This writer, however, was listening VERY well. She captured most all of the main points I was making. What an honor to have someone listen so closely!

Dancing Through YA Blog

And on another note, I was walking Freya by the horses today. One disturbed another. Both were antsy-prantsy in the wind, and the one in the pasture was bucking and jumping between bursts of full-on gallop. None of this fazes Freya, but a girl was trying to lead one of these horses, a big Friesian, who outweighed her owner probably twenty to one.  The Friesian on the halter went a little crazy, too, responding antics.  I figured Freya better not add to the dilemma, so I held her collar while we walked past.  Both horses were tossing and bucking, so we didn't get to close. I was watching the horses, not where I was going, stepped in a rut, and took a nose dive. My glasses dug into my nose and I got up full of dirt. By the time I got back, my nose was covered in blood. Only then, after watching my face, did I realize I'd lost a lens from my glasses. So Freya and I went back again, not full of much hope, but lo and behold, there was the lens--untrampled, unscratched, in one piece. Repair job, cleaning: good as new.

Back to work.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


 Last night I squeezed in twenty miles after school. I didn't feel all that great, and I knew that some exercise would help. It did. It's lovely to be able to ride outside in shorts again!
 And here's Freya down at the creek this morning. Happy girl waded through the water.
Just seven days ago, this was us! How easy we forget!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mark Ruffalo's petition: Stop exporting FRACKED GAS and save our planet, maybe.

Tell Congress to stop supporting FRACKING and spend our resources developing clean, renewable resources! 

URGENT: Stop Congress from Rubber-Stamping Fracked Gas Exports!

To be delivered to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate
The oil and gas industry is using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to pressure Congress to rubber stamp approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

But gas exports won't help the situation in Eastern Europe. It’s just a ploy by the oil and gas industry to increase fracking and export U.S. fracked gas to the highest bidder abroad, while causing irreparable damage to our climate and to water, air and health here at home. Protect our communities and climate – not big oil and gas industry profits.
There are currently 55,833 signatures. NEW goal - We need 75,000 signatures!

Petition Background

The oil and gas industry has created a massive PR campaign to convince the public that fracking will create American energy independence, while working behind closed doors to open up export facilities to ship gas abroad. This would drive up gas prices for U.S. consumers and create huge oil and gas profits, all at the expense of U.S. communities.

And now, the industry is trying to use the recent crisis in Ukraine as leverage to get Congress to rubber stamp approvals for new export facilities, even though the gas would be sold to 158 World Trade Organization (WTO) countries on the open market. Bills to allow these exports have been introduced in the House (H.R. 6) by Cory Gardner (R-CO) and in the Senate (S. 2083) by Mark Udall (D-CO). However, the ploy is a complete sham by the oil and gas industry to take advantage of a foreign crisis.

Exporting natural gas spells disaster at all points. First, it requires more fracking – a process that is poisoning Americans’ water, air and health while dramatically increasing methane emissions in the atmosphere. Second, it entails enormous multiple football-field-sized facilities along our coasts to supercool gas to -259 degrees – facilities that are a huge energy sink and pose grave threats if they explode as they have in the past. Third, the liquefied gas must be shipped overseas in huge tanker ships, re-gasified, compressed, transported and ultimately burned. The climate implications of the entire process are extreme.

It is irresponsible to push for more fracking and an extremely dangerous export process that is contributing to climate change, leading to more global instability and in the long run, undermining any national security goals that proponents claim will be achieved. The real solution is to transition off of fossil fuels through proven clean energy solutions.
Tell Congress to stop Fracking and develop renewable, clean resources!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Minnesota Book Awards and St. Peter Reads

Rachael Hanel's Blog about being a finalist for the MN Book Awards

Her memoir, We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down is worth the read! It's a lovely, powerful book about being a gravedigger's daughter.

I'm in one of her pictures, too! Rachael is in our writing group, and we are oh, so proud. This is our second writing group finalist for a Minnesota Book Award (Kirstin Cronn-Mills was a finalist a couple years ago for The Sky Always Hears Me).

We had a grand afternoon and evening at the Awards.  Here is Rachael Hanel (left) before the awards ceremony, talking to her husband David, while she is ready to sign books.  Beside her is Melanie Hoffert, who won the category for her memoir Prairie Silence.
Here are the members of our writing group in attendance:
Judith Angelique Johnson, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Rachael, and me. Our friends Steve Deger and Leslie Gibson joined us for dinner and for the festivities. Here they are with Leslie's and my favorite outfit spotted at the Gala. We have no idea who this lovely and creative woman is, but she was willing to pose with Leslie and Steve!
Also, notably, sitting at Rachael's table,  were several of us who usually ride the Minnesota Ironman together. We had to take a picture becasue we've never been photographed together while NOT wearing lycra/spandex.
Left to right: Loretta (Rachael's mom), Renee (Rachael's sister), me, Rachael, and David Hanel (Rachael's hubby, who often lets us draft on long rides).

Before we dressed and went to the event, Angie and I wandered around downtown Minneapolis while Kirstin was at a meeting. Here I am being Mary Tyler Moore. :)
And since I'm telling this story backwards, I want to include that I started the day in St. Peter at the St. Peter Reads event. It was a blast. Nicole Helget did a brilliant job as keynote speaker with an extended metaphor comparing baseball and writing. She was captivating, as always.

Twelve of us writers were invited to a "Moveable Feast" (Great name) where we sat with one breakfasting table of interested readers for fifteen minutes and then moved to another. We got to meet many readers and fascinating community members this way. It's a GREAT event, and I encourage any local reader or writer to attend next year.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Medusa's Head

As you can tell from my Medusa book (or if you've taken one of my Humanities courses), I'm a bit of a mythology junkie.
I thought I had looked upon almost every depiction of Medusa imaginable, but today, I just found another new one:

Now that one creeps me out. It's not just scary, but it's realistic, as if I'd be scared to get within a few feet of that dead head--and the snakes don't look dead at all! EEEk.
One look would indeed petrify me with fear.
Another creepy one that isn't as scary, but is more famous is by Caravaggio, the Baroque painter:

And then another fairly common image in relief sculptures:

There, your Medusa for the day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Raising money for Aplastic Anemia

Once again, I'm riding the Jackson County Brevet century (100 miles near Atlanta, Georgia) to raise money for research and treatment of Aplastic Anemia and related blood disorders. These are pictures from when I did the ride two years ago with my son-in-law Tom McCaslin, who is a healthy survivor of AA. I feel as if this cause is one worthy of my work and  makes me not ashamed to ask for contributions. Tom and I are at it again.

My Jackson County Brevet Page

George Hincapie on the Brevet! : )

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beware the Ides of March and unrelated--Marguerite Henry

Can't pass this day without thinking about Rome and Julius Caesar. Greek Mythology  and Roman lore are two of the staples of my Intro to Humanities Class at South Central College.

On a different note, Nikki and I took Alec to the Greenville Library yesterday. There is a terrific children's wing. We perused books, picked a bagful for Alec, and I came across this nostalgic section:
When I was in grade school, I read every book I could find that Marguerite Henry wrote.  My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, made us tell the class what we wanted to be when we grew up (Smile), and who would to teach us how to do it. I said I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to learn from Marguerite Henry.

I got to hear Marguerite Henry read once at the University of Minnesota--she was the very first published writer I ever saw do a public reading--but I was too shy (believe it or not) to go  up and tell her she was my idol. I wish I could still tell her. Instead, I'll try to do her legacy justice.

Thank you, Marguerite Henry, for all your wonderful stories.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dr. Seuss

It was Dr. Seuss' birthday this week, and I missed blogging about it. But trust the guru of children's literature, Anita Silvey, to keep us up to speed. Here's her blog about Dr. Seuss' near miss of being a dry-cleaners-owner instead of the author we all love.

To Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street

I have to go grade papers (just got off the trainer), so you can read Anita Silvey's words instead of mine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Clementine! If you've read Clementine an her sequels, you'll never forget her.

We read Clementine for Children's Lit tonight, had a good discussion, and we watched this delightful clip of the author and illustrator talking about creating this delightful series:

Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee talk about "Clementine"

Sunday, March 2, 2014