Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Nope. Just me in my first Halloween costume--a gypsy fortune teller.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


when I'm having fun. It's hard to believe that I've been visiting schools for almost ten years. I still enjoy it. That's because every visit is a little different and because I always walk away learning something, too.

Yesterday I visited Briarhill Middle School in Highland Village and Delay Middle School in Lewisville. Thank you Bonnie Adams and Deborah Lilly. Your students and teachers made me feel welcome.

Today I spent a spectacular day at Forestridge Elementary in the Richardson ISD. I talked with the sharp fourth and fifth graders and got to shake the hand of every first grader on their way out the door. One little boy wiped his hand on his pants before shaking mine. Adorable! Thank you Alicia Mills for rolling out the red carpet!

Sometimes the things I learn at school visits are not always writing related. When Bonnie graciously gave me a gift bag, I slipped my hand inside and learned that I could detect a Godiva Chocolate box by touch.

The Zachary Beaver clay figure at the top was made by a student at Forestridge. She even put the bandage on his foot. The artist said that he was fatter until she baked him in the oven. After all the chocolate I've been given this week, I'm going to need to do the same!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Today I arrived in the Dallas area for a week of school visits. Tonight my parents and grandpa drove over from East Texas(and Louisiana) to have dinner with me in Richardson. My cousins, Kay and Taylor, joined us, too.

After dinner, Taylor asked, "When you were young did you like animals?"

I told her I did. "I even liked bugs. I still like bugs."

She said that she did, also, except for spiders.

It must be in the genes, I thought. Then she said, "I like snakes, too."

Well, genes can only go so far.

Thanks, folks, for the mini-family reunion!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Saturday, November 3, I have the pleasure of presenting at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. If you have never been to this book festival, you're missing out. A lot of book festivals modeled their festival after this one. And once you've attended, you'll understand why. Because there's a whole lot of fun going on.

I'll speak on two panels that day:

Panel: Where Are You From?
Other panelists: Adam Rex, Deborah Wiles and Michael Hoeye.
Time: 10:30 am
Location: Great Hall of the Family Life Center

The second panel is a session devoted to The Kids Book Club Book. I'll present with the authors of the book--Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. I met Judy and Vicki at the last Texas Book Festival that I attended when we shared a taxi on the way to the author's breakfast at the Governor's Mansion. We've had a nice friendship since then.

Panel: The Kids Book Club Book
Other panelists: Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Lifestyle Tent

Book signing:
11:30 am
1rst floor of the Family Life Center

For more information about the festival:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Use the email address above to enter the October Giveaway. For more details read yesterday's posting. Have a good day!

Monday, October 22, 2007


This month's giveaway is a hardback copy of KEEPER OF THE NIGHT. To enter the contest all you have to do is be one of the first three people to email with your name and mailing address. You can start entering Wednesday, October 24th. Good luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Yesterday I participated in Star-Lit 2007. Star-Lit is a fundraiser for the Dallas Bethlehem Center, a non-profit organization that provides South Dallas children with a positive environment for growth through pre-K and after-school care. Friday the Star-Lit authors visited the center. The director, Hope Wharton, gave us a tour of the center and later we read our books to the kids. The visit gave a deeper meaning to the next day's event.

Star-Lit was a hit. Over 700 people attended. They got to meet Brian Collier, Greg and Cynthia Leitich Smith, Laura Numeroff, Will Hillenbrand, Tracy Dockray, Kim Brown and more. Jeff Morton, the volunteers and underwriters deserve all the glory. Their hard work made this celebration of words possible. Thank you for letting me be a part of STAR-LIT again. And as an awesome bonus, my cousin Kay and her daughter, Taylor showed up. We'd never met, but Kay's grandmother and my grandfather are siblings. Kay grew up in Forest Hill, Louisiana, my emotional home.

Star-Lit ran smoothly because of all the great people behind this well-orchestrated event. Each author received a host to help them through the day and, lucky me, I got assigned to Janet Peters. Janet took me to the STAR-LIT events. She set up my PowerPoint, made sure that I got fed and had breaks between presentations and signings. During the signings, she distributed post notes for the books and got my purchased books signed by the other authors. Janet, a five foot dynamo, is one those rare people who can multi-task. .

As if that weren't enough, after the event I discovered another of her talents. Janet knows the perfect places to pick up a few gifts. Before she dropped me off at the airport, she took me to a couple of charming Dallas stores--Swoozies and Lucky Dog Barkery. In a quick shopping spree, I bought

Halloween treats for Shannon,

a new collar for Bronte,

a strawberry cupcake from Sprinkles for me. An hour later I pulled the squished sweet from its sack. Warning: Cupcakes do not travel well in crowded purses. But they taste exactly the same. A scrumptous way to end a lovely day!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


For the last seven years, I've visited Wilson Middle School in Plano, Texas. For some time now Wilson's librarian, Mary Long, has worked on her doctorate. All the while, she managed to stay connected to her students by sponsoring numerous book clubs. Even with going the extra-mile at work, she persevered toward her goal. This year she achieved that honor. Congratulations, Dr. Long!

Thank you, also Leslie LaMastus from Frankford Middle School who has asked me back for the past six years. Visiting Wilson and Frankford has become a tradition that I look forward to each year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I've visited hundreds of schools over the last nine and half years, and I can't tell you how exciting it is when I'm asked a ton of questions about the writing process. That happened today at the Pullen Elementary School. They wanted to know about my timeline for plotting, how I developed characters and how I chose my titles. After the Q&A time was over, some of them still wanted answers. Bravo to their teachers! They have ignited enthusiasm for the writing craft.

Thank you Celia Jones from Springer Elementary and Rhonda Martin from Pullen Elementary for two great days in Rockwall.

Move over Katie Curic! Audrey Nelson is on her way!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yesterday I participated in one of the most delightful conferences--The Business of Children's Publishing. John Warren Stewig from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin put together an interesting group of speakers including an editor, an agent, an art director, a publisher, a marketing director, and an illustrator. He also invited two booksellers, representing an independent and a chain. In two days, attendees got an overview of the publishing world. I learned a few things I hadn't known before. There are 10,000 children's books published a year. To me, that means there are lots of opportunities out there to get published and those that are published have to work hard to get their books to stand out.

Sometimes that sheer number makes my head swim. But I always remember the comment that my publisher Laura Godwin told me years ago. "Kimberly, when it gets down to it, all you have to do is write a good book."

The picture above is of the Milwaukee skyline at dusk. It's a striking city in a beautiful state.

My next stop is Dallas, Texas. I'll be visiting schools in the area and on Saturday, October 20 I participate in STARLIT. There are a host of authors and illustrators participating including Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Laura Numeroff, Will Hillenbrand, and more.

If you live in the the Dallas area, I hope you will join in the fun. It's being held at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano. The event begins at 10:00 am and ends at 2 pm. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Four years ago, Kathi Appelt invited four writers (Jeanette Ingold, Lola Schaefer, Rebecca Kai Dotlich and me) to her family's ranch in the Texas hill country. We didn't know that first day we would return to Oak Meadows. But before the last day ended, we made up our minds that we'd be back again and again.

If you're a writer, I wish for you what I've been fortunate enough to experience at the annual retreat. Each reunion celebrates friendship and ignites our dedication to the written word.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


What happens when five writers,retreating at a ranch without Internet service, escape to town? Why they check their email of course.

Before heading to the coffee shop to get online, we satisfied Jeanette's barbecue craving at Brisket and Brew. The friendly owner came over to our table and chatted with us, asking where we were from.

"Are you sisters or friends?" she asked.

"Sisters," we told her.

As she walked away, she said, "Have a good time shopping."

"Why is that people assume that a group of women meeting out of town are always shopping?" asked Kathi.

An hour later we walked into the coffee shop with our black laptop cases, attracting curious stares from a group of women eating lunch together. They are probably going shopping, I thought.

When I got online, I went directly to my email account, only to be bombarded by email announcements from Jo Malone cologne, Neiman Marcus, and Office Max. These are accounts I frequent. I quickly hovered over my screen and pushed the delete button. I wonder if Neimans is having a sale?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

AND NOW.....

the time that I wait for all year.....retreating we will go, retreating we will go, high ho the writer-o, retreating we will go.

I'll post more about my annual writers retreat very soon. Until then, just picture me at the ranch, eating pie, writing on the porch, walking with Lola and the cows, eating pie, writing in my retreat bedroom, eating pie....

Friday, October 5, 2007


Thank you, Kansas Book Festival for a delightful day! Talk about organization, graciousness and warmth--the Kansas folks know how to put on a book festival. Thank you Tamara and Carolyn for being such great hosts. I had a super time! Thank you, Watermark Books and Book Barn for selling my books. Thank you Cyndi Hughes for letting me be a part of a fun day. And thank you, Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick for making our panel fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


If you are in or near Wichita, Kansas, I hope you you'll attend the Kansas Book Festival this weekend, October 5-6. Friday I'll be speaking on a panel moderated by Pulpwood Queen founder, Kathy Patrick for one session. Kathy owns the only bookstore/beauty shop and has over sixty Pulpwood Queen Book clubs. Their motto is tiara wearing and book baring. Kathy has a book of her own coming out in 2008.

At noon, I'll have a session by myself. I'll be talking about my new books--Piper Reed Navy Brat and Skinny Brown Dog. I'll also share the journey I took to become a writer. Grab something to eat and stop by my tent.

Some of the other children's authors presenting that weekend will be Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith and Dian Curtis Regan.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


As promised, all the weekly entries were eligible for the special prize at the end of the month.

Congratulations, Mary D'Angelo! You've won your choice of a signed first edition of one of my books.

I've enjoyed posting daily in September, but as you might imagine it is difficult to keep up that pace when you have other things to do(write books, visit schools, ride my bike, etc.). However I will be posting at least once or twice a week. So I hope you will continue to check in on the Jambalaya page. And just for fun, there will be random monthly giveaways.

Monday, October 1, 2007


(I promised a posting each day in September, and wouldn't you know? I neglected to do so on the last day of the month. So I'm posting today.)

For the last ten years I've traveled by planes, trains and automobiles. And by taxis. I believe taxi drivers are the most fascinating human beings on the earth. Some are philosophers, some are current events experts, some are like Musa, a nice man with dignity.

I stepped inside Musa's taxi at the Atlanta airport. Musa is a cheerful man from West Africa, who told me to visit South Africa when I mentioned that I'd love to visit one day. "South Africa is very nice," he said.

He told me he couldn't understand what some of his passengers were saying. "Some of them talk too fast, but I can understand you." Then he asked, "Can you understand me?"

"Yes," I told him. "Your English is great."

"I learned the British way," he said.

Musa and his family had moved to Atlanta three years ago. He seemed to like it, although he didn't like the traffic. Before he pulled up in front of the hotel he gave me his phone number and told me that he'd be happy to take me to the airport on Monday. "Just call me ahead of time," he said.

I told him that I might, but I recalled a time in Chicago when I had a similar arrangement and the driver was thirty minutes late. While I waited, I watched taxi after taxi pull up and leave. Never again, I promised myself.

Saturday I visited The Little Shop of Stories where I met with the Mommy and Me book club. Piper Reed Navy Brat was their latest book selection so they had a lot of questions about what was going to happen to Piper in the next book.

"Is Piper going to move?" one girl asked.

"Do you want her to move?" I asked.

They all called out, "No!"

I was thrilled by their response. One of the reasons I wanted to write at least three Piper Reed books is that I wanted civilian kids to experience what it was like for military kids. Moving is part of their childhood. So even though those young ladies may have not moved, they empathized with a child that settles down, makes friends, only to be plucked up from her surroundings and have to do it all over again somewhere else. Thank you, young ladies, for recognizing that.

Yesterday I participated in SIBA's(Southern Independent Booksellers Association)Movable Feast. A movable feast at a bookseller's conference is somewhat like speed dating. An author is seated at a table with eight booksellers. She has ten-twelve minutes to tell them about her new book. When the allotted time is up, the author moves to the next table.

I visited ten tables in two hours. It was fun. The booksellers made me feel like I was sitting on their front porch, spinning a yarn. They asked questions in their charming southern accents(there really is a difference between a Georgia and an Alabama accent). Of course some accents were Midwest and even British. I thank each of them for making me feel welcome.

This morning I ate Southern Eggs Benedict(poached eggs and corn hash on biscuits) with grits. Then I packed. I thought about calling Musa, but the girl at the register's desk assured me that there would be plenty of taxis. After my bad experience in Chicago, I decided I'd just take my chances.

When I checked out, I exited through the sliding glass door. There was one taxi waiting. The driver was leaning against the door, smiling--Musa.

"He's been waiting and waiting for you," the bellman said.

I felt terrible. I guess when I told him that I'd be leaving around 9:30 on Monday he thought that I meant to pick me up at that time. It was 9:50. I apologized and told him I thought that I was supposed to call him.

Musa didn't seem upset at all. He said, "No problem. We're fine." He put my luggage in the back and took off for the airport.

We chatted about Atlanta and his children. As we approached the airport's entrance he asked, "How can I improve my accent?"

"Improve your accent? I love your accent."

He explained that he wanted to speak where people could understand him. "One lady told me to listen to television and read books."

"Reading is good," I said. "But don't lose your accent. That makes you special."

He laughed. Then he pulled up in front of the Continental terminal. I didn't have time to tell him about the ten tables I sat at yesterday--all with lovely unique accents. It was part of what made them special, too.