Wednesday, December 31, 2008


for me was celebrating the life of Coleen Salley, beloved children's author, talented storyteller, advocate of children's literature. She was loved by all. If you missed the big event, here's a peek:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The Homecoming:A Christmas Story came out about the time I was thinking of becoming a writer. I had a huge crush on John-Boy and became a loyal fan of the television series, The Waltons.

This is my favorite scene in the movie. If you remember, I hope it will take you back. If you've never seen it before, I hope it will take you somewhere wonderful--some place that probably exists underneath your own roof.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Grocery List for Christmas Eve Dinner

Prime Rib roast






mustard greens

Diet Coke


Monday, December 22, 2008


While making breakfast, this weekend, I heard a familiar sound--honking coming from the sky. Every winter thousands of Canadian geese fly south and retreat on the Panhandle's playa lakes.

Their return comforts me. Witnessing their perfect formation, their graceful choreography, I'm reminded that we truly can count on some things in life.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


When I was seven or eight, my grandparents visited us for Christmas. After they unpacked, they placed our gifts under the tree. As they did, I noticed that my sister's had a tiny tear in the wrapping. I became obsessed with that gift. Each night leading up to Christmas, my family would gather in the living room. I inched my way over to the tree and when no one was looking, I slipped my finger into that hole, making the tear a bit larger. I did this night after night. It wasn't my gift, but I wanted to know its contents. All because of that little tear. The funny thing is that I don't remember what the gift ended up being. I only remember the anticipation of making that tear a fraction bigger each night, hoping for a peek.

Yesterday I received my first pass pages of the third Piper. It's an exciting stage because this is when the manuscript begins to look like a book. The font has been chosen and the illustrations are in place. I can still make changes at this stage so I plan to take it to a coffee shop tomorrow morning and read it slowly and carefully while I sip an espresso macchiato.

The book won't be out until August, but I thought you might enjoy a tiny peek. Let's just say it's in honor of that little girl from years ago who couldn't wait to see what was underneath the wrapping paper.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


As most of you reading this already know, there is a whole world going on out in Blogland. I appreciate those bloggers who took time to read my book and post their reviews. If you're interested in what they had to say about Piper Reed, the Great Gypsy, here are a few:

The Well Read Child

Jen Robinson's Book Page

Books for Kids Blog

Jelly Mom Children's Book Reviews

Biblio File

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

The winners of the December Giveaway are:

Dana McDonough of Newburgh, NY


Kim Celentino from Brookhaven, PA

You both will receive a copy of Piper Reed, the Great Gypsy.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I got my first taste of buttermilk pie at my grandparent's church when I was thirteen years old. It was at the fifth Sunday dinner in July. Since four women made a buttermilk pie, I decided to try a piece of each. My love affair with the dessert has never ended.

About twenty years ago, I found a recipe for the pie, but over the years I made it my own, changing it to suit my memory of that summer day. I'm sure my pie doesn't compare to those ladies' at Elwood Baptist Church. I hope they will forgive me for that because each time I bake one, it is a tribute to them.

This week I baked a mess of pies and yesterday Jerry delivered a few around the neighborhood. And since I wish I could give each of you a piece, but can't, I'll share my recipe instead. I'm not an expert baker, but I've been told it's a pretty good pie. It has my friend Charlotte's stamp of approval. (That's a worth a lot, I hear.)

Here's the recipe. It's my holiday gift to you. (To enlarge, please double-click)

"Isn't that Kimberly's Buttermilk Pie?"

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Big news for both my younger sisters this week.

Angela(the baby I'm holding) graduated from college yesterday. She's going to be a language arts teacher!


Happy Birthday, Alicia!

Here's a little something to take you back:

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This month's giveaway is a signed copy of PIPER REED THE GREAT GYPSY. (I'll bet you already knew!)

To enter, please send your name and SNAIL MAIL address to Two winning entries will be selected from a random drawing. The deadline is Tuesday, December 16 at 5:00 pm, central time. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


My dad was a dry-dock sailor. He served twenty-one years in the U.S. Navy and never had ship duty. Regardless, the Navy called him away several times. Sometimes it was because he had a special assignment. Usually it was because there wasn't any housing for us. So we'd stay behind until another enlisted family moved, making a home available.

The departure I remember the most was when he left for Guam. We had no idea when our family would reunite. Back then I didn't know anything about Guam, just that it was on the other side of the world. The day my dad left for the island. I was nine years old and we were living in an apartment in Alexandria, Louisiana. My dad's voice cracked as he hugged us goodbye before leaving for the airport. After the car drove away I moped around the complex. When I heard a man whistling a tune, I cried all over again.

One of the reasons my parents chose for us to live in Alexandria was so we could be close to Forest Hill. Located eighteen miles away, the little town was the home of both sets of grandparents and many of our other relatives. With our dad away, they stepped in and tried to fill the void. My uncle Larry taught me to swim at the apartment pool. He started by showing me how to dog paddle. Soon I shed the bulky life jacket and swam overhanded laps. My grandparents took us to visit Astroworld. We wouldn't be seeing them for a couple of years and they were trying to make memories. All the while I daydreamed about meeting our dad at the airport. I visualized him placing flowered leis around our necks while hula dancers moved to the sounds of a ukulele.

We didn't know when we'd get the call to leave, but we got ready. We made several trips to the base hospital for a series of vaccinations. My mom crocheted ponchos to keep us warm for the few hours we'd be in San Francisco on our journey to the island. She'd heard it could be chilly there.

When the call finally came it was July. We were staying with a family while their mother met their dad in Hawaii. He was on a brief furlough from his Vietnam tour. Other arrangements were made for their kids while we packed and set off for Guam.
It was a long journey--the flight to San Diego, the bus ride to San Francisco, the layover in Hawaii. Hours later my dad met us at the Agana airport. There were no hula dancers. No ukulele. But my dad slipped leis around our necks. My mom's was made of plumerias. Ours were made Lifesaver candy rolls. It didn't matter though because we were all together once again.

At the end of Piper Reed Navy Brat, Chief leaves for ship duty. I didn't have that much trouble writing about the departure. But oddly enough, I struggled with the reunion in the next book. How could I convey the importance of that moment without being sappy? I've never been one who feared writing emotional scenes, but Piper Reed the Great Gypsy was a light humorous book.

At first I avoided it. In earlier drafts, Chief is away in one chapter and then in the next he is home. My friends that read that early draft mentioned the glaring oversight. I knew in my gut I'd have to deal with it. Finally I found a way. Piper, like Chief and all the Reed girls, is a list maker. One day it came to me that there could be two lists--one about what they'd planned to do when Chief returned home, the other about what actually happened. Does tenderness without sappiness exist among the lists? I hope so. But I'll let you decide.

To learn more: Piper Reed the Great Gypsy

***Check back tomorrow for the December Giveaway***

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


First snowfall of the season.

First fire of the month.

First words of the morning.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Bronte waits, watching out the window.

Cat makes her way over our fence, into our yard. Again.

She climbs onto our gazebo and sits in her favorite wicker chair. Head held high. Waiting.

Bronte rushes to the window. Paces.

I open the door. Bronte races out. Barks a warning. Just like yesterday.

Cat sits in the chair. Head held high. Waiting.

Bronte tracks her scent, sniffing.

She tracks Cat's scent up the gazebo stairs.

Cat sits. Head held high. Waiting.

Bronte sees Cat.

Bronte backs down the stairs.

Cat sits. Waiting.

Bronte sniffs around the yard. Around the rose bushes. Under the apple tree. Sniff, sniff, sniff.

Cat slides from the chair, saunters off the gazebo and slowly walks past Bronte, our dog, our scaredy dog. Cat stretches deep before hopping the fence.

Bronte returns to the couch to wait and watch for the return.

There's always tomorrow, girl.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
--Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'd seen umpteen movie versions based on the story, including the musical Scrooge. But I'd never read A Christmas Carol. Lucky for me, the San Antonio Airport has a bookstore. Last week, before boarding my plane, I bought a copy. For a Dicken's novel, it's very short, around a hundred pages. If you were like me, and had never been aquainted with the original, why not pick it up this month? It would be a wonderful read aloud. (Even if no one else is in the room.)

And here are a few more holiday choices to consider:

If you want to know more about the process of writing Santa Knows and Merry Christmas Merry Crow check out the interviews with Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith and Kathi Appelt.

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith Interview

Kathi Appelt Interview

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


My post, Talking Turkey, can be found today at the southern authors' blog, A Good Blog is Hard to Find.