Monday, April 23, 2018

Permission Granted

I, an official, MLS, 20+ years-experienced librarian, am granting you permission to get rid of your books. Why, you ask?
It's spring - book sale time at many libraries, and the time when many well-intentioned people bring their old books to libraries so they don't physically have to do that gut-wrenching thing and throw them in the trash themselves. Yes, I just let a secret slip - sometimes, libraries throw out books. 

Before I go furthur, I feel obligated to say that, OF COURSE, do these things first:

If you love the book and want to re-read it or it has HUGE sentimental value, keep it.
If you love or like the book but won't re-read it, share or donate it.
If you hated the book but think someone else could like it, share or donate it.
If you loved, liked or hated the book, it's in great condition but you don't want it cluttering up your life, share it or donate it.
Regardless of your love for it, if the book is in bad condition, moldy, smelly or falling apart, throw it out.
If someone gave you the book and you feel like you need to hang on to it for that reason, share or donate it. They won't know and it will help de-clutter your life.

Contrary to what you might think, most librarians I know are NOT in love with all BOOKS. Really. Yes, we may love the ideas, the words, the covers, the smell. We may collect some for a variety of personal reasons just like you. For the average person, just because a book is a book, it does not make it a treasure to hold on to for a lifetime. Sure, some are. But that 10th reprinting of a James Patterson best-seller in paperback from 1999? Nope. That thousand-pound cookbook from 1954 that even you did not make a single recipe from? Nope. That copy of The Giving Tree that your old college roommate gave to you but you never really liked it anyway? Nope. Obviously I am not speaking to people in third world countries or a child in a homeless shelter whose books may be her lifeline. These people are why we donate books.

I have maybe six bookshelves in my house, and after I write this, I'm going to purge those and bring the good ones to the library book sale. I'm getting rid of the old hiking trails books that we really don't use anymore, the parenting books we have aged out of, and some gifty books that I haven't looked at since they were gifted. I'm keeping a few books my mother-in-law passed on to me for that day when I'm desperate for a book to take in the car, craft books on writing, a book that a friend wrote and included me in the dedication, and two boxes of children's books in the basement that were my kids' favorites. Everything else I can get at the library or borrow or buy if needed. Then go through the process again.

Librarians serve, among other reasons, to give you access to books and information. Our job is not to save every book in the world from destruction, nor is it yours. Re-read the rules at the top. 

What I am saying is, I GIVE YOU PERMISSION not to have to hold on to every book that has crossed your path. 


DE-CLUTTER, DONATE and DO yourself and the world a favor. 

Permission granted.

"Sharing education, sharing a book...that's what 
changes the world." - Brad Meltzer

Besides your local library, here are some places you can contact to possibly donate your books:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

THE THAW - #50 Precious Words Challenge

It's that fun time of year again for Vivian Kirkfield's


In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, Vivian is asking us to write a story using only 50 words, unlike Dr. Seuss who used limited words over and over again. Get it? Two different approaches to a fun writing prompt that I suggest you try!

So here's mine, inspired by a little critter I found on the sidwalk at work this past January. Thanks for reading!

While groundhog slept
and bear snoozed
woolly bear thawed her Halloween fur
in the golden sun of
this unusually warm January moment
while trudging over gritty sidewalk
through not-yet-crimson clover
on her way to somewhere
before the re-freeze from the approaching storm.
Her presence? Quiescence.

Here's a great book on the subject by Laurence Pringle!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, New Inspiration

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, probably because I know I will just feel worse when I set about breaking them. However, I do like the idea of fresh starts, and as a children's librarian, the idea of themes per month and a set number of days in a month and....well just all that good stuff!

Soooo, having never tried PiBoIdMo before, I am on my second day of Tara Lazar's STORYSTORM (previously PiBoIdMo - thank you Tara for changing the name!) and can't wait to see how long I can stick with it!
(You probably know all about it since I am late to the party, but if not, go here):

Basically, you are spending the month of January coming up with at least 30 story ideas in 30 days. Why is that revolutionary? Because apparently I had 4.5 stories just sitting around inside my head and they would have not materialized at this point (maybe never) but for STORYSTORM. 

I also like the idea from some guest bloggers on Tara's site that changing location is good for inspiration. Again, something you KNOW, but don't DO. So since I'm in the arctic freeze, I relocated to our newish craft room/dance/yoga basement and found some inspiration as I played with the latest products from my 11-yr-old's slime studio.

I read 15 picture books I'd been meaning to read (and also because I'm on a book award committee and had to), re-wrote 2 picture book texts I really like the rhythm of, typed up a pb draft I'd written out on paper and came up with 2 new ideas! (I also did 4 loads of laundry but that doesn't seem to count).

So at least for this month, this will be the year where I focus on new ideas and lots of writing. Maybe less querying and less re-working of the same old stories. I'll check back in in February and see how it went...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Halloweensie Spirit (Pt. 2)

Ok, I am SOOO in the spirit that I wrote ANOTHER entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's



I am not usually a writer of rhyme, but this seemed like the perfect place to give it a try (and Halloween seems to call for scary atmosphere or silly rhymes!) A huge THANK YOU to my writer friend and rhyme-guru Nancy Tandon for helping me in record time! I still can't believe I got it down to 88 contest words - just goes to show that you can ALWAYS cut more...


Treat bag in hand, this monster was dressed,

Trick-or-treating was finally in sight.

But my tummy rumbled, my monster guts grumbled,

I asked mom “what’s for dinner tonight?”  

She said, “Candy for dinner!” What could be better?

I danced down the shadowy streets.

I ate sour things, gooey things, candy corn chewy things,

My insides filled up with sweets.

When we got home, I counted my loot,

With a belly that rumbled and hurt.

I shed monster fur, pulled off my mask

And asked Mom, “Hey, what’s for dessert?” 

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Halloweensie Spirit!

I had such fun with Susanna Leonard Hill's holiday writing contest last year that I wanted to try this one:


~ for children’s writers ~

Check out her blog at

  So the rules are that you have to use 100 words or less, and include the words MONSTER, CANDY CORN (1 word), and SHADOW in a Halloween story. Here goes! I can't wait to read all the fun entries this weekend!


Curious George got the last chewy fruities.
The purple monster nearly bumped me off the step when she grabbed the giant chocolate bar.
Mint patty? Candy corn?
My costume itched.
“Trick-or-treat!” I heard behind me.
I had to think fast – mint patty or candy corn?
Grabbing the candy I jumped off the step, not sure I chose right.
I saw a shadow of big ears by the bushes.
“I dropped all my chewy fruities,” said the sad monkey.
I pulled out the mint candy.
“Want it?”
“Yuck,” said George.
“I know,” I said. “Want to hunt for more chewy fruities?”
George smiled.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Did Not Write This Summer

Now that the kids are back to school, I'm reflecting on all the writing I did this summer, which was basically NONE. Nothing. But I've decided I'm not going to feel bad about it. I talked with a writer friend this morning, and she confirmed that she too, sat at her desk today and couldn't quite remember where things were.
I know kids are not an excuse (look at what J.K. did! blah blah...) so I'm just going to skip the excuses and not feel bad about it. Obviously had any fabulous agents or editors requested something on deadline, I would have gotten to work. But they didn't, so neither did I.
So here's my "Writer's Ode to This Summer", and you can guess whether I was ever a good rhymer or if my summer-slide has caused irreparable harm.

I did not write at the lake,
I did not write at a clambake (nor did I get invited to one).

I did not write at the beach,
I did not write eating a peach.

I did not write in a car,
I did not write with a jar (of blueberry preserves).

I did not write in the sun,
I did not write with a hamburger bun (I'm a vegetarian).

I did not write under a starry sky,
I did not give it the college-try.

I did not write on my kayak,
I did not write on anything that rhymes with kayak.

I did not write on my neighbor's cool boat,
I did not write on a unicorn float.

I did not write with a beer and a lime,
I did not write - for I had no time.

And in the future, I'll write on my own you see, 
For I did not get into Rutgers University (One-on-One+ Conference).

But today, today I will write and you too should write and not feel bad about all the time wasted this summer. For in the immortal words of the Keith Urban song,

"Ain't it funny how the best days of my life, was all that wasted time?"

Monday, May 8, 2017

When the librarian/children's writer goes on vacation...

Last month I went on a short trip to Canada with friends and family. No writing, no emails - just lots of good food, history, and sights. But of course, I could not truly leave the children's book world behind.

I found myself wandering into the cutest store, pulled in by their adorable clothing designs. Not long after, I made the connection from this:

to these:

Turns out the store, HATLEY, is the parent company of Little Blue House, which was started by author/illustrator Nicholas Oldland's parents! He went on to publish 4 more picture books starring those adorable woodland creatures who are out to hug trees and be friends and all that good stuff! Check out their story on the website for more charm and adorableness.

So not only did I buy the pajama pants, but I bought notepads and other things I had to have. And I promise I am not being paid when I say that the pajama pants are SOOOOO comfy! My kids are completely jealous that they bought lame t-shirts somewhere else.

Lesson #1 - you cannot escape from adorable picture books once you are hooked, even if you leave the country.
Lesson #2 - not only does Canada have Justin Trudeau, they also have amazing pajamas.