Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dia de Muertos

In the late 80's and early 90's, I lived in a lovely little one bedroom flat in San Francisco's Mission District. This is where I first experienced Dia de Muertos (aka Dia de los Muertos).

I instantly embraced the idea is honoring and connecting with our loved ones who've gone ahead—keeping their memory alive by sprucing up their grave (if they have one), cheering them on in their spiritual journey, and inviting them to visit us on the night of November 1st by enticing them with their favorite earthly delights.

More than anything, I love the idea of reaching across the great divide between living and dead, and doing so with joy and whimsey over the deep sorrow that our loved ones are no longer here with us. It's also the main reason I was drawn to and still make Cartoneria (Mexican paper mache).

In Mexico, November 1st is the day to tidy up loved one's graves, bring bright flowers (real and paper) and spend time in the graveyard. People bring food, meaningful objects, and music that will perhaps draw their loved ones back to be among them throughout the night. Many spend the entire night in the graveyard, playing music, eating, and drinking. Dia de Muetos is a national holiday in Mexico so there's also plenty of public celebrations, parades, and festivals.

Dia de Muertos was once limited to Central and Southern Mexico and was celebrated in summer. It dates back many hundreds of years. The date of this celebration was eventually moved to coincide with All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day (an effort by the Roman Catholic Church to dilute traditional  Dia de Muertos rituals and celebrations). The Church deemed it too primitive, too pagan, and it certainly didn't generate any money for the church.

Ofrendes (altars) are a beautiful and healing part of the Dia de Muertos celebration. For years I've built small altars in my home. Here is this year's ofrenda.

I won't try to explain everything that's going on here—just know that Day of the Dead altars are very personal and healing. My dad crossed over on June 4th of this year, so of course, he is the primary focus of this ofrenda. Kettle corn, a cigar, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and one of his fishing lures have been placed here for him. And of course, lots of pics that capture his spirit.

There are many other people and pets represented and "invited" with this ofrenda. A small glass of Pinot for my sister-in-law, Sandy. White roses for our friend Debbie who left us just a couple months ago. A Tarot card for my dear friend, Miriam. At the bottom, the traditional bright marigolds (flores para los muertos). You know this celebration has spread far when Trader Joe's has "Flores para los Muertos" and they're marked as such.

I decided a more condensed altar was the way to go this year and came up with this two-story Ofrenda. The candles will burn all night tonight but I have to work in the morning, so won't be staying up all night to party with the spirits who no longer have to punch the clock. But I will have a beer with my dad tonight.

Mom and I visited his grave on Friday and brought some beautiful fall flowers. It's a military cemetery so you can't go too crazy with extras, though I did see someone had left their loved one a little pumpkin and wish I'd thought to bring one.

Blessings on you and all your loved ones who have crossed over. Their spirits have left their mark on this side. May their memory bring you comfort today and every day.  

My dad was an amazing free spirit, who is even free-er now. We miss him terribly, but have no doubt he is rockin' the great beyond and still making everyone laugh. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Crossings; with and without goodbye.

Where the hell have I been? Off the social media grid that's for sure, entrenched in real life.

At the end of May, my sweet dad fell ill and passed away a short time later. Ed was 90 and lived a very full life. Still, I can't help but wish for one more family gathering, one more backyard barbecue, one more time to clink my glass to his and hear him say, "Slainte."

When you’re the writer in the family, it’s clear you’ll be writing the obituary, memorial card, and eulogy of any family member who crosses over. Honoring a life in words is my final gift to them. Hopefully, I capture their spirit, do them justice, make them proud.

To say my dad was a character is an understatement. People were drawn to him because he was always upbeat and funny. Nearly 100 people turned out for his Celebration of Life gathering, not bad for someone who outlived many of his contemporaries.

When it became clear there was nothing more doctors could do and our beloved Fast Eddie was leaving us (dying of a rare disorder called Heyde's Syndrome related to his aortic stenosis) we decided to switch him to palliative care. 

Regardless of knowing a person’s ultimate wishes, it’s still a difficult decision to make on someone else’s behalf. But once they put dad on a morphine drip, there was no more agitation, no more pain, no more confusion. We all got to spend time with him, gathered around him in a beautiful suite looking out over the Diablo Valley, the place he and my mom made a home for us some 48 years ago. He knew we were there and could squeeze a hand though he was drifting between two worlds.

Still, my dad hung on longer than we anticipated considering how very done his body was. But Ed comes from pioneer stock and regardless of the circumstance, they just stoically keep going. At a certain point when it seemed he was determined to hang on regardless, I switched from telling him it was okay to go, that we would take care of mom, to sending him on a mission.

Camping, backpacking, and fishing had been a big part of my dad's life. So I told him he had to go ahead and make camp for us on the other side and we'd be along shortly.  Told him we wanted a spot near the water with lots of trees. That when each of us came through the woods into the clearing of our camp, we wanted to see him there in his camp chair—a fishing pole in his hand, drinking a beer and smoking a stogie—our dog, Inky, by his side.

I told him his folks had already set up camp there, along with plenty of friends and cousins so he'd better get going, 'cause we wanted a good spot and he needed to have the beer cold when we got there. I assured him everything on his life list had been checked off but he had one last chore: to get the hell outta that tired old body that wasn't him anymore and run like the wind.

Fast Eddie got busy and started leaving in earnest that afternoon. Later, as my brother, Terry, was holding his hand, dad's breathing shifted and we knew he was ready. It was a good crossing.

As sad and difficult as it was to lose a beloved parent, we all got to say goodbye, tell him how much we love him and what a great dad he'd been.

Just a few days ago, as Tom and I were sitting down to dinner, we got the call that a dear friend had passed away in her sleep early that morning. It was a devastating stab to the heart. Debbie was our neighbor, our loyal friend, our council, the unsung rescuer of so many stray souls, human and animal alike.

My dad had a good long life. We got to say goodbye and send him on his way with blessings. It's amazing what a difference that makes. I only wish we'd had the same opportunity with Debbie. So much left unsaid.

So there you have it; why my blog is more neglected than usual. Where my heart and soul have been, and where I continue to linger for now. 


I began this post on a long flight from SFO to Heathrow—"Crossing the Pond" as they say. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Tom in the UK. He was out on tour with Y&T and had a week off in London. Disconnecting from life and work at home to wander about London and the Wales' countryside for a while was healing.

I’ll be back to social media after a bit, though I suspect in a more limited fashion. I just got clocked by a couple solid life blows that put me on the mat. But I’ll be up before the count of 10 and back in the ring slugging it out as a self-published author. I’ve got more stories and more fight left in me. My dad didn’t raise no quitter.

Until we connect again—make time to be with family and friends, say I love you, be kind to one other. No regrets. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Frankenstein's Monster Defends Doctor Frankenstein

Two sides of an issue that remains divisive. Regardless of which side of this debate you fall, I think it's important to be respectful.

Girls at Isleta Day School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1940.
I believe we each achieved that here—though one of us was a bit more long-winded. That would be me, of course.

Hello Kelan,

I have just noticed that you produced your book Delta Legend through Createspace, which unfortunately makes it something of a problem for us to carry at our store.  Createspace is a subsidiary of, a company whose business practices have been very harmful to independent book stores such as ---------.  So we can't in good conscience carry their publications in our stores.  That's the case both for books that are self-published through Createspace, as well as other titles Amazon publishes through major publishers such as Houghton Mifflin (Penny Marshall's autobiography is an example of such a book that we declined to carry at any of our stores).  We can sell your title at the event.  That would be okay.  So while I can take Delta Legend on consignment, it will only be for the night of the event. You can either bring them the night of the event or, if you still want, you can bring them by early.  I'll leave a consignment form for you.  But unfortunately, we would not be able to sell or display your book until the event on --------, and we would need to return any unsold copies to you at that time.  I am very sorry, and I apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause you.



Dear -----, 

Thank you for one of the more respectful and polite rejections I have yet to receive. And yes, I’ve received my fair share of nasty ones, both in writing and in person.

I believe it is in the best interest of all parties that I appear to interview ------ about his wonderful book but do not sell my own book at this event. This event is not about me. It’s about generating interest and sales for ------'s book and ---------.

I am extremely proud of Delta Legend and I would never want it placed somewhere it’s not wanted—only tolerated for an event. I do, however, feel it’s important that you and others who share your stance understand why I ultimately self-published Delta Legend and did so with CreateSpace.

In 2010, when I finished the manuscript and began querying agents, I truly had no idea that agents and the majority of the publishing industry believe that a book featuring an African American male protagonist relegates that book to a limited niche market. I was extremely na├»ve. 

Thanks to the We Need Diverse Books movement, things have shifted slightly, but there’s still work to be done in this regard. Toward the end of my 51 rejection letters, two agents actually spelled things out for me; letting me know that while I was a decent enough writer, Delta Legend was going to be a tough sell. That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to let the gatekeepers of the publishing industry keep me from telling Calvin’s story. 

In researching my options of how to make this happen, CreateSpace came out ahead in customer satisfaction with regard to accessibility and guidance. They were, after all, in the independent publishing business before being bought by Amazon.

I’ve had booksellers tell me that I should have published with LuLu or some other company not owned by Amazon (thank you for refraining from that by the way). Being an armchair publisher is one thing. Actually bringing a book into the physical realm is something else entirely.

My partner, Tom Size, has been a Sound Engineer/Producer for over 30 years. He experienced first hand the revolution within the music industry similar to the one that’s currently underway within the publishing industry. Post-revolution, Tom’s had the opportunity to work with some amazing artists whose music never would have seen the light of day under the old paradigm of the record companies.

When the gatekeepers no longer hold exclusive power to decide what is worthy, it changes everything. We are still in the throws of discovering both the good and bad of this with the publishing revolution. I hope, however, that independent booksellers don’t allow their war with Amazon to become their identity. Independent brick & mortar bookstores serve the community in ways never could, never will. People still crave authentic communities over online communities and I will always support indie bookstores, even though my own book will likely never appear on their shelves.

I would have loved for Delta Legend to have been traditionally published. It would have been a much easier road than the one I currently walk. But there will always be challenges that make us work harder in order to be even better.

The discrimination I experience in being a self-published author is minor compared to the very real discrimination marginalized groups experience routinely. It means everything to me that I now have a physical copy of Delta Legend to share with the students I’ve had the privilege of working with. If not for the advent of self-publishing and CreateSpace, that could not happen.

When a young adult who struggles suddenly becomes engaged and discovers the joy of reading through a main character named Calvin Pierce—someone he can identify with—that’s something I will never be ashamed of, or apologetic about.

—Kelan O’Connell  

Bride of Frankenstein, 1935
CreateSpace Author, 2013

In addendum: The event went extremely well. The bookstore folks were respectful and gracious to me. I bought my copy of Bettyville by George Hodgeman (so excited) and connected with yet another teacher who serves at-risk youth. A complimentary copy of Delta Legend is on its way to him. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review of Bayou Magic

In 2015 I'll be adding my reviews of Diverse Children's & mostly YA books here, and I'm delighted to make Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes my first.

Not having children or grandchildren of my own, I rarely read Middle Grade Fiction, but I snagged an ARC of Bayou Magic at KidLitCon 2014 where the author was a presenter, and I’m so glad I did.

There’s magic in these pages—it's a lovely story from a gifted storyteller.

Maddy is the youngest of five sibling girls, which means she can easily get lost in the family dynamic. Each of her sisters have already done the obligatory summer stint with grandma in the Louisiana bayou of Bon Temps and reported it to be a deplorable sentence. To them, Grandmere’s strange ways make her something of a witch.

Now it’s Maddy’s turn to spend her summer with Grandmere. To an average city kid from New Orleans, a summer with no electricity or indoor plumbing might seem like a summer to forget. But Maddy is no ordinary 10 year-old and her gift for magic begins to blossom once in the loving embrace of her mystical grandmother and the enchanted world of Bon Temps.

Won’t tell you much more as it’s best to discover this gem of a Middle Grade story for yourself. It hits all the right notes of empowering young girls while appropriately addressing environmental issues, multicultural communities, slavery, alcoholism, cultural heritage, and African American folklore. 

For more about the prolific author/playwright/educator, Jewell Parker Rhodes, click the image below and visit her website.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Author/Blogger Cops Out, Re-Posts Old Humor Piece for the Holidays.

Oh come on, it's funny. Relying on this piece every December is my new holiday tradition.


I'm fascinated by America's obsession with holiday yard art. Like everything else in America, it just keeps getting bigger, and true to our American way of life, it's not really getting any better—just bigger. 

Seems the large inflatable figures that light up are here to stay. We're not content to simply watch others haul dirigibles along 5th Avenue in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we must have them in our own front yards. One day soon, these will come with helium tanks so we can fly them above our roofs. Imagine the chaos when one comes untethered and interferes with air traffic: Police shoot down inflatable Rudolf, owner sues. It's coming.

But back to our present day Holiday-ous Gigantes. Being that I have a somewhat dark sense of humor, my favorite aspect of this American holiday trend is the grim morning-after scene that plays out every 24 hours. What looks brightly festive by night is depressingly deflated in the light of day. Splayed out on the lawn, Santa looks like he's been on a three-day bender and Frosty is an ugly reminder of Climate Change. 

Festive, depressive. Festive, depressive.  

One night I might just knock back a couple hot toddies and find a way to crawl into one of those large inflatable snow globes to spend an evening with the happy snowman family. Think what a brilliant holiday selfie this would make—me, in a scarf and mittens, posing with my adoptive snow people family—tons of tiny styrofoam balls in my hair (and probably up my nose). Imagine the fun when the owners of said inflatable snow globe discover me face down in a polystyrene snowdrift. The police are called, Tom has to come get me, I’ve ingested styrofoam... Okay, maybe not.

Those holiday yard art fanatics who freely mix Christian religious figures with ones of popular culture hold a special place in my heart. Nothing brings me more delight than a nativity scene surrounded by animated reindeer, or The Grinch lurking nearby as a poser fourth Wise Man. He took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast. He's eyeing the Baby Jesus, this really must cease

I often wonder what those unfortunate souls who crank out this avalanche of cheap holiday crap in China must think of us as they sit in factories for hours on end, day after day, assembling the plethora of gaudy decorations for our American holidays. Imagine if things were reversed. Can you picture yourself sitting in a factory somewhere in America painting Chinese characters on thousands of plastic dragons, having no idea what they said or meant? Exposed to god only knows how many toxic chemicals so you could earn horrible money making hideous doo-dads for a holiday in another country? 

Sorry, I seem to have strayed down a dark path. And we really don’t want to think too far down the line during "the most wonderful time of the year." Shake it off, Kel, and get back to your previously scheduled humor piece. 

Last year, Tom and I were simultaneously dumbstruck and impressed when we discovered our neighbor out putting up his Christmas lights just days after Thanksgiving. He doesn't usually have "game" when it comes to this kind of stuff and Tom was even a tad jealous since we were nowhere near spelunking into the garage to bust out the X-Mess boxes. 

But true to his nature, at a certain point our neighbor lost interest in the whole thing and simply walked away. Though he managed to get one section of the eves done, as the holiday light project rounded a corner, it suddenly came to an abrupt halt. And there they sat for the remainder of the season; a good-sized cardboard box and two tangled mounds of Christmas lights left behind on the roof. Up on the housetop, click, click, click. Down to the sofa, I’m o-ver it.

Believe me when I say I’m not bagging on our neighbor. The truth is, as a writer, I totally get this. That's why I find it so damn amusing. 

I can relate to that moment of inspiration when you bust out the ladder, climb to the roof of your imagination, and start staple-gunning magic to the eves. But sometimes, you simply run out of steam, lose interest, and toddle inside for a beer or a nap (probably both) vowing to return to the project just as soon as creativity strikes again. Here’s proof: I began an article entitled, The Obligation of Holiday Yard Art about five years ago. So you see, sometimes you actually do finish stringing up the lights. 

Happy holidays, America. Whether you light the menorah, plug in the nativity scene, or fire up the giant inflatable Snoopy—enjoy. Just be grateful you didn't have to make any of that cheap plastic crap yourself.

                Subversive neighborhood photos by Tom Size

Saturday, October 25, 2014

KidLitCon 2014

It's been 2 weeks since the conference in Sacramento and I've finally managed to carve out some time to write about my experience attending this wonderful event. I know I'm late in reporting but perhaps my delayed post will help keep the positive energy flowing a bit longer.

This year's KidLitCon organizers: Maureen Kearney, Tanita Davis, Jen Robinson,
Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, Reshama Deshmukh, and Sarah Stevenson
KidLitCon is an annual gathering of bloggers who focus on Children's & YA Lit. These dedicated literati hail from all over the country. They are librarians, teachers, authors, parents, and other voracious readers who can and often do change a life with one book recommendation. That's this year's team of organizers pictured above—the ones who made it all happen.

Sadly, I was a bit off my game during the conference. After almost a year of experiencing a mysterious chronic cough, my condition was recently diagnosed and is being treated as environmental asthma until further testing. And it was in full swing during this two day conference.

My persistent cough has rendered me the person for whom I usually reserve my most searing stink-eye. You know, the one whose cough is distracting during a talk. The one who slinks in late to a session (due to yet another wracking coughing fit) OR gets up and leaves in the middle (to hit the inhaler). Yeah, I'm suddenly that person. My apologies to all—especially Jen Robinson who had the unfortunately pleasure of sitting next to me during one of my most challenging episodes and refrained from smacking me. Thanks, Jen, I owe you.

But back to what really matters. Blogging Diversity, What's Next? was this year's KidLitCon theme, a conscious decision by organizers to help keep the focus on this critical issue. They filled their presentation line-up with authors and bloggers who were out there fighting for this cause even before We Need Diverse Books brought it forth as a mainstream issue. There were so many outstanding speakers that I won't be able to cover them all. Just know that each and every presenter brought vital information and enlightenment to the gathering. There's a reason they were chosen to speak and why they have hordes of followers.

Meeting Guinevere Thomas!
Being a white author who writes across racial/cultural boundaries can be interesting at times. And let's face it, I'm not just white—I'm blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Irish pink-pale white. For the most part, I've found incredible support and encouragement from authors and bloggers of color and I can't begin to express how much this means to me.

Meeting Libertad Thomas!
Two of my greatest supporters are the amazing bloggers of Twinja Book Reviews and now Diverse Book Tours. Libertad and Guinevere Thomas are quickly becoming respected leaders of the Diversity in KidLit movement. They came all the way from the East Coast, bringing their undeniable energy and presence to KidLitCon. And let me tell you, people naturally gravitate toward them. To finally meet these incredible writer/bloggers in person was a gift.

Author, Mitali Perkins, was a great choice for keynote speaker. She's just such a positive, engaging speaker and we all got ARC's of her latest book, Tiger Boy. Of course, I totally related to her saying that she wants to feel free to write for characters outside her own race/culture/gender—doesn't want to be relegated to writing only Bengali girl characters! Having a successful author of color say that was reassuring.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about of the scientific law of nature; how positive attracts and negative repels. It's natural and right to be angry about inequality and injustice in the world. But when that anger is turned into positive action and moves forward in a way that's inclusive and attracts others, it becomes something powerful. We Need Diverse Books is the perfect example.

Now a non-profit organization, WNDB has quickly become a force of nature the traditional publishing industry can no longer deny (and is wisely clamoring to sign up with). Four members of the We Need Diverse Books Team presented on Saturday. It was so great to see some of them in person and in action. Mike Jung has a brilliant sense of humor and he made me laugh a lot during their presentation. Laughter heals and I needed it.
Authors and WNDB Team Members, Karen Sandler, S.E. Sinkhorn, Mike Jung.
(Martha White's not pictured as she insisted on taking the photo.)  
Please keep in mind, I wasn't able to interact with every blogger and author who attended KidLitCon but those I did get a chance to meet made a lasting impression. Their very way of being in the world gives me hope for the future of diversity in Children's and YA Lit and therefore, future generations period.

Nathalie Mvondo & Libertad Thomas
One such blogger is Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks! Together with Kim Baccellia of Si, Se Puede they presented, Finding and Reviewing the Best in Diverse Children's & YA. It was the first session I attended and set the tone for all that followed. Sorry I didn't get a pic of Kim but that's Nathalie with Libertad who presented later that same day. Teaming up with with editor, Laura Atkins and author, Zetta Elliot, Libertad spoke at Sistahs (and Brothers) are Doing It For Themselves, enlightening bloggers to the growing number of authors and illustrators who are independently creating diverse literature and encouraging bloggers to support them. FYI Twinja Book Reviews and Diverse Book Tours focus almost exclusively on Indie Authors, so check them out if you are serious about supporting Indies like me. Remember, lots of us couldn't land an agent or publisher because of our diverse characters and stories. The tide is turning.

Faythe Arrandondo and Hannah Gomez. If I had snarky hip librarians like these
when I was a kid, I would have read WAY more!
Faythe Arrendondo of YSLA-The Hub and Sarah HANNAH Gomez of McLicious are bloggers and librarians who work in libraries at opposite ends of the spectrum. Hannah brings the real world to kids in a predominately white area of economic wealth, while most of Faythe's library population struggle daily with the realities of socio-econonic strife.  On day two, Hannah and Faythe joined forces with bloggers Kelly Jenson and Summer Khaleq (she's only 16!) to present, We're Not Going To Take It Anymore, Why Bloggers Have the Ability To Make Diverse Books Happen. A brilliant bookend to a successful conference.

When Faythe spoke to the realities of not having books her young library clients can relate to—it was powerful. How is she supposed to hand a kid who struggles daily with poverty yet another book with a protagonist who is likely white (either wealthy or middle-class) and heading off to an adventure at boarding school or vacation?! Faythe's mission to bring change in this regard gave me pause and I'll not soon forget her words or her passion.

Housemade veg gnocchi at Grange.
Side note: At the end of the first day of KidLitCon, I decided it was best I not talk anymore as it only resulted in more coughing fits. Instead of attending the first night's dinner at a local Brew Pub, I slipped downstairs at the Citizen Hotel to sample the locavore cuisine of Grange—once a foodie, always a foodie. As some of you know, in real life, I work at The Kitchen. Delta Legend is based in the Sacramento Delta, a region known for agriculture. I grew up enjoying the asparagus, corn, pears, and strawberries grown there. Therefore, a restaurant that focuses on a locally sourced menu was calling my name.

There were quite a few ARC's for the taking at KidLitCon and when I saw Jewell Parker Rhodes', Buyou Magic on the table, I snapped it up in a heartbeat and started reading it at dinner. Jewell herself was also in attendance and a presenter. Her writing is lovely and her characters enchanting. This author is not only a prolific writer of both adult and children's novels, she's also the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University (just to mention one of her many affiliations). Yeah, she's that level of writer, as well as, a kind and gracious person.

ARC of Jewell's latest book. 
A great book, lovely food, and a glass of wine after a full day at KidLitCon was just what I needed. I crashed out early to rest up for day two of the conference.

I could go on and on about this awesome event, but by now I've likely lost most of my audience. Unless of course you were there and like me, are wanting to keep the experience and feeling alive until the next gathering of this amazing tribe.

Thank you to all who made KidLitCon 2014 happen and who graciously allowed me to participate and included me in your circle. Until we meet again...

And now it's time to post this and watch the World Series. You might be surprised who I'm rooting for (hint: I love an underdog). I'll make any corrections tomorrow but for now, I'm off the clock!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Staring at Trees

West Sonoma County is the place I return to when in need of R&R. For me it's actually RR&R— that last one being Reboot.

There is magic in these woods.

I lived on the Russian River and in Sebastopol, CA from 2006-2010. I've always found peace and healing among the vineyards and redwoods, not to mention my beloved Sonoma Coast.

After a pretty stressful year of all work and no play, I was longing to return here to the redwoods and just be. Thankfully, I didn't have to twist Tom's arm to spend time in Cazadero.

We rented Ken and Cindy's lovely little cabin, Cloud 9, in the woods on Austin Creek near where our dear friends Gina and Lonnie live full time.
Two chairs in the creek bed by the fire pit Tom built.

Several days of no obligations (other than deciding what to eat). No cell service, even a brief power outage that meant no WiFi, has been as my mom would say, "heavenly."

Of course, Rox got to come along on this mini vacay. Even though she's turned the corner to being a senior doggy, she can still while away the hours being The Creek Monkey. The exact rules of Rock Ball remain ambiguous, yet it's a game she has endless energy for. And at night, she sleeps like, well, like a dog.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a very full schedule today: A morning hot tub, another walk in the woods, maybe a short drive to the coast followed by a bonfire down by the creek. And yeah, there will be more barbecuing and some West SoCo craft beer and wines thrown into the mix. My Goodreads list shows that I am reading nothing. Actually, I read one short story, a Sunset Magazine, and a few cooking magazines. But mostly, I just stared at trees and water and fire.

Four days of work next week and then I head off to Sacramento for KidLitCon. I'm so pleased Diversity is this year's focus and theme. I hope to meet some of you in person at KidLitCon next Friday and Saturday.