National Library Week – 2015

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Dr. Seuss


I’m skidding in on the last day of National Library Week this year, but it’s not really the end of the celebration. Around our house, every week is library week. We live in a bit of a remote area if judged by city dwellers, but after 15 years among towering oaks and more than a few wild animals, we have our own library branch! We existed until quite recently (and throughout the fallout from the direct hit of Hurricane Katrina) with a sparsely stocked grocery store, but the one lack of amenity we lamented most was a neighborhood library.

Now don’t think for a minute that we don’t also celebrate technology or that we shun it in favor of the printed book. We own an iPad, a NookColor, and a Kindle, but we love our always growing library of books and the ability to access many more through our library. We can have the convenience of driving three minutes to pick up any book that they have or can order from their network of library branches. I missed the easy access to research and entertainment that had been mine before we moved from a bustling city to a bucolic countryside.

Now I’m thrilled to have even more reason to call attention to National Library Week. We have a little great-granddaughter who loves our outings to the library. Ours has a Mark Twain theme in the children’s room, so she always asks to see the jumping frog of Caliveras County, the mural where Huck Finn adventured on his raft, and sit inside the dock-side hut where we can read books she chooses from the low shelves. We have watched her progression from toddling through the door on her first library visit, to asking to go often, to bringing home her books to “read” by herself.

The library is one of the very best ways to prepare your child for the world. It was one of my best early experiences where I realized the magic of animals and people in their times and places. It made me want to go home and write my own stories. It’s free, fabulous, and fun for a lifetime!

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Go To Your Oracle


Recently, I watched Stephen King on YouTube during an interview about his writing. Writers’ ears always perk up at the sharing of thoughts and methods, ways to balance life with writing, what makes other writers “tick,” – things of that sort. I envy Mr. King’s ability to turn his nightmares into megabucks. He has obviously found the how-to’s, and although he didn’t say it, something important came to me while watching his body language and listening to him talk.

King seems to have overcome a kind of self-consciousness which undermines the best writing. We can lose ourselves in an inspiration, we can be transported by an experience or a sight; but the moment that we become aware of it and begin to judge it, doubt the reaction, edit it, we lose the magic. At ease with himself and very forthcoming, King offered his own very simple writing prescription without seeming to be aware of it. He began to relate how he prepares himself for his writing day by describing his home environment. To paraphrase, he said something close to this, “I have a little cabin on my property, away from the house. It is reached by a path through some trees. I take something, maybe some coffee, and slowly walk toward it, relaxing. Then I sit down and take my time.” That’s where thoughts come to him. That uncomplicated place is the oracle that he associates with his flow of creativity.

Those of us who are afflicted understand. Some must have a particular type of music (Stephen King does and it’s surprisingly modern and loud). Others must have utter silence, or at least music which is soft, without distracting. I enjoy the sound of birds or ocean to embrace that primal state which allows me to express free thought. It’s just as necessary to write from this perspective in children’s stories as it is for adults. It might be described as feeling a bit like time travel originating in the right brain.

I’m writing when I’m doing anything else – listening to conversations, digging in the dirt, cooking for family and friends. EVERYTHING goes into the gumbo of story. Every memory, everything I do, seasons everything else. Since I often get “flashes” of beginnings, middles, and endings, or something I feel compelled to express, I’m rarely without pen, paper, and camera – tools which can then be translated to computer when I get to my “oracle” place. Many people and places are inspiring, and they become part of a particular tapestry once I get back home. My study/office has a necessary messiness, with favorite aphorisms taped to my workspace, stacks of research, folders of ongoing work, papers to file, photos to sort, people to call, and endless to-do lists. It changes every day, but here it is today – I tried to tidy up just a little. Not many are invited to share this space, but you reading here, are welcome.

Doors to my Study


My desk


Library steps on right side of bookcases

Easel to the left of bookcases


My watercolor sketches of Max, the lovebird I raised from a featherless chick

Nature walk discoveries which inspire me

A modern use for my great-grandmother’s cream pitcher


Photo of the boys watching a pigeon, on a day that makes me smile to remember


My photo gallery always plays on my Mac when I’m not writing

Mother’s tea cart holds cards and treasures. Windowsill stores family baby shoes.


A hummingbird nest sits atop a mini-pitcher from grandmother’s collection, held by great-grandmother’s teacup and saucer.

Reference Corner


My clipboard beneath Bobby’s first-place watercolor, painted at the age of five


Seats for visitors

Favored wren nest box just outside my window. Jeannette painted a house for each of the front porch columns.

View from my window. Now it’s time to get back to work!