Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

That's my DH (Dear Husband)
Doing the traditional ceremonial
for you.

Wishing you all good health, happiness and prosperity in 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Thank you all for your friendship and for your support during this year of change, transition, success, loss and general all-around craziness! Thank you for supporting my book through your blogs and with your purchases of it. Thank you for your comments and your humor. Thank you for writing great blogs that I love to visit - I am in awe of your talent and creativity.

I hope that you are surrounded by love and laughter, and that your heart is filled with peace and joy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Bloggini Break

I'm taking a bloggini break over the holidays, so I just want to wish you all the happiest of holidays, a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year.

Like every year, this one had its ups and downs. Mom passed away after disappearing into Alzheimer's for almost 10 years. I miss her every day. But I feel like Mom and Dad are watching over me together again, and it comforts me. I'm also grateful for all the blessings this year has brought. My book - my dream of a lifetime - is in the world and being well-received. Though it's been hard work, I've enjoyed EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of this launch.

This year I've reconnected with long lost friends and made so many new ones. I'm especially grateful to all of you who hosted me on your blogs during my book blog tour or who wrote wonderful spontaneous reviews, and to all who followed along or showed up here just to say hello. I love it when I go to comments and see your names there. Thank you for the friendship you've extended to me.

I really need to start writing regularly again, so that's what I'm going to do now. I feel the excitement of my new story starting to tingle, and that's the perfect place to be. I'm going to goof off a bit, get some rest, and then begin.

So, though I may not be posting much here for a while, I will probably still be dropping by all your blogs to see what you're up to. I love your words, wit and humor.

Sending lots of holiday hugs you way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

DEJA VU BLOGFEST: Finding Our People

I'm participating in DL Hammons' DEJA VU BLOGFEST today. The idea is to "recycle" a past post. This one was originally a guest post over at Becky Povich's blog, and folks seemed to like it. So, it's Deja Vu All Over Again, Folks!


In recent years, actress Shirley MacLaine has become known as much for her unusual beliefs about aliens and spirituality as for her movie roles. She lives here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and when her book came out a few years ago, I went to the book signing. Yes, she has some offbeat ideas, but I discovered that she makes a lot of sense about certain things. The one thing she wrote about that really resonated with me had to do with this idea of “finding your people.”

The gist of her point was that we are born into a particular family, but that we spend most of our life looking for “our people” outside of that birth family. Some of our family members may be “our people” and some may not. I think there are many people who feel so different from their other family members that they wonder if they were adopted, or if they really were abducted by aliens!

So, off we go into the world, seeking out those to whom we feel connected on a deep soul level. In romantic relationships, we call them our Soul Mates. But this idea of soul mates can go beyond just romantic partners – it can apply to all those in our lives whom we truly call Friend. These are the people who see our flaws and still celebrate us; the ones who show up for us; the ones who sincerely root for us; the ones who “get” us.

A few years ago, I became a yoga teacher. I started teaching at a studio here in Santa Fe, where the teachers have well-established followings. I began by subbing classes. Sometimes no one would show. Sometimes a person would come in, see that there was a sub, turn on her heels and go. Ouch. But then, new people came. And the next time I subbed, they came back. They told people the new teacher was pretty good, and the next time, a few more came. Eventually I had my own classes, and I developed a following. My people had found me and I had found my people – the ones for whom my style of teaching yoga resonated.

I think it’s very much the same for us as writers. Sometimes we want to achieve some concept of “success” so much that we write things that we think will please a certain audience. Are vampires still in? Should I write about vampires? I heard that zombies are the new vampires – shall I write about zombies?

What we need to do is take a deep breath, pause, and ask ourselves: What kind of books do I like? What kind of book have I dreamed of writing? If I love zombies, and have a great idea for a story, I should write it! But only because it’s truly what I love, not just because I think there is an audience for it out there. Because if my heart isn’t in it, then I won’t truly find “my people,” and my people won’t find me .

So, like the yoga teacher, showing up to share what I know and hoping that students will come, find something of value, and return again, as a writer I write what moves me and hope that among the many readers who try me out, one or two will like my work enough to return. Like yoga students, our readers may not show up in droves, they may show up one by one. But over time, those ones and twos become threes and fours, and eventually, we’ve got a following. By being true to ourselves, we’ve found our people.

P.S. When I was little, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman was my favorite book, so I guess I've always been looking for my people!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Perfect Start to My Day

This morning I opened my email to find this note:

Dear Miss Goodwin,

My name is Peter and I am in the 3rd grade. My mother just bought an autographed copy of "The Christmas Village", because we read it in class. I couldn't stop reading it ! It was just hard to put down. Everyone in my family wants to read it. I think you should write Part Two ! I also think you should win an award for it. Thanks for writing a great book.

From Pete (age 9).

Not much could take the smile off my face this morning. Hope your day starts off well too (and stays that way!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wise Bear William - A Beautiful Book for the Little Ones

I'm so excited to recommend my friend Arthur Wooten's beautiful picture book, Wise Bear William, A New Beginning, as the perfect gift for the little ones in your life. The story is funny and sweet, and has a lovely message about recognizing what makes each of us unique and special. The illustrations by Bud Santora are absolutely gorgeous! 

Here's a bit about the story: Toys that were so loved when new have been long forgotten in the attic. But rumor has it that soon the children will be coming to rescue them. Each toy hopes to be selected by a child, but each is a bit bedraggled and in need of sprucing up. The toys work together to help each other look their best for when the children come. Each toy has a quirky and endearing personality, and you'll come to feel as though they are almost real. Wise Bear William is a heartwarming story about being able to acknowledge our shortcomings with humor, and about realizing that it's what inside that truly matters.

Arthur Wooten is a playwright, screenwriter and humorist. He is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including Birthday Pie, Fruit Cocktail and On Picking Fruit. Wise Bear William is his first book for children.

Bud Santora is a versatile and immensely talented designer and illustrator who has won an Emmy for costume design.

Click here to buy your copy of Wise Bear William

Arthur Wooten
Author of Wise Bear William, A New Beginning

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dreams of Trains, Toys & Donkeys at the Children's Museum

This Sunday, I'll be reading/signing The Christmas Village at the Santa Fe Children's Musuem, from 2 to 4pm.  And, I've decided to donate $1 per print copy sold during ALL of December to the Museum - that's whether it's sold there, or on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Sales have been good so far, so I'm looking forward to writing them a BIG CHECK!

It's the museum's annual holiday event called, "Dreams of Trains, Toys and Donkeys." I am not the donkey! It's a major fundraiser for the museum, which, like most non-profits, is struggling for its life these days. I'm delighted to be able to be there and be a part of helping this wonderful institution survive and thrive.

Here's the link to their website, with information about the holiday event: Santa Fe Children's Museum

Today, I'm off to teach Restorative Yoga and Gentle Yoga. Look forward to turning some stressed-out folks into blissed-out folks.

Have a great Friday!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Under the Tiki Hut

I'm the Under the Tiki Hut guest poster today! If you haven't visited Carol Kilgore's fun Tiki Hut blog, you must! I mean, who doesn't want to be under a Tiki Hut at this time of year? Especially after Monday's snowy snafus, and yesterday's frigid temps? We're talking 7 degrees here in Santa Fe yesterday - that's unheard of! But you heard it here!

Every Wednesday,Carol invites a writer to be the guest blogger, and you have to write A) From the perspective of a character from your book and B) the character has to be under the Tiki Hut on a beach and C) at this time of year you have to bring the holidays into your story!

So hop on over, because my main character from The Christmas Village, young Jamie Reynolds, is Under the Tiki Hut today!

Jamie was under th Tiki Hut a minute ago ... better pop over
to Carol Kilgore's blog and find out where he went!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Comedy of Errors on a Snowy Day

I grew up in New England, where we are used to snow. We expect it. We know what to do with it. Here in Santa Fe it's different. We get winter here, with snow and cold. But for some reason, Santa Feans like to pretend that Santa Fe doesn't get snow, so they don't plan for it, don't much plow it, and sort of pretend it just hasn't happened! Also they drive as if nothing at all was different - which is to say, they speed in residential sections, pass on the right and talk on cell phones while driving, eating and making illegal u-turns.

Yesterday we awoke to a snowy morning. We live at the top of a hill now, and the lot wasn't plowed and I wasn't game to take our new car down an icy hill right off, so I moseyed at home rather than going straight into the yoga studio. (I work there on Mon/Tues/Wed mornings).  The first teacher cancelled class anyway, so no worries about rushing in.

Eventually the snow looked to be tapering off, so I went in. Going down the hill was treacherous, and I had to move far over so the big car coming UP the hill wouldn't whack me as he fishtailed all over the place. But once down, the roads were ... clear! As in, bare. As in, you'd almost not even know it had snowed.

Smooth trip to the studio, only to find upon arrival that we had no heat! The 9am teacher had to keep them doing sun salutations to stay warm. I also learned that five hearty souls had actually made it in to the 7:30 class - which had been cancelled - despite our instructions to please call in on snowy days to listen for a cancellation message. Of which there had been one, but ...oh well. Funny thing is, the Monday 7:30am class usually has 2 people, but of course on the SNOWY DAY, 5 people decide to come ...what's up with that??

To boot, I also discovered that helpful students had been answering the studio phone when it rang, before I got there. Which is actually NOT helpful, because the students told people the classes were taking place, when in fact, some later classes were cancelled. Had they left things alone, the callers-in would have gotten the message on the machine telling them this ... So, not so helpful!

Anyway, it's all rather funny and typical of our quirky yoga studio. One of the owners and I were talking later about how we could be our own Reality Show about a yoga studio where we plan for most things but whatever we forgot to plan for is what happens, and where everyone who comes is part of the family and tries to be helpful in the worst possible ways. I think it would be "Must See TV." It's just about the best place I've ever worked, because we do our best and then throw up our hands and say, "Well, who woulda thunk THAT would happen," but most of all because we always end up laughing.

Hope you have a smooth day today!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Snowy Monday!

We woke up to snow this morning. I'm supposed to work at the yoga studio today, but the early classes are cancelled and I'm more than happy to have another cup of coffee and diddle around here in Bloggiland while we see what develops.

My WOW Book Blog Tour wound up last Friday, and I can't say enough good things about Robyn and Angela, my tour organizers, or about the great bloggers who hosted me. The tour was a great way to promote my book, but the best part was making friends with the hosts and their friends and followers.

Some hosts who had originally asked for just a guest post or an interview ended up spontaneously reviewing The Christmas Village., because they enjoyed it so much! I'm especially grateful for that, because their excitement about the book is so heartfelt and sincere that their enthusiasm becomes contagious. When people review your book because they WANT to tell the world about it - well, there's not much that's better than that!

Later this week, I'll list all my hosts and their blog links. If you didn't have a chance to check them out before, you'll definitely want to pop over and make some new friends. And, if anyone out their would like me to host them here on my blog, please let me know!

Today I've got interviews at two very different blogs with rather similar names:

Megan Warburton's Storybook Love Affair
Deirdre Eden-Coppel's A Storybook World

I just love anyone who's got the word Storybook in their blog title, because you know they love books! Stop by and say hello to these lovely ladies and check out their great blogs.

Hope you all have a lovely week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Tides of March

We woke up to snow-covered ground this morning here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The sun is coming out now, so we're looking forward to walking around the Plaza a little later this morning, and maybe there's one of those Starbucks Peppermint Mochas in my future too ... It's definitely beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas.

Today I want to introduce you to my husband, artist J. Richard Secor, who blogs as RVPainter. His blog is a quirky combination of art talk and painting demonstration, RV tidbits, and faux-curmudgeon bluster (really, the crabby old man routine is just his schtick - he's a very nice man - but don't tell him I told you that!)  He paints in acrylic on paper and canvas. He didn't even start painting until he retired early from banking at age 54 - so Late Bloomers everywhere - take heart!

Richard started out working in watercolor when we lived  in Maine. He painted a lot of lighthouses and seascapes back then, and his palette was quite soft and pastel-ish. When we moved to Santa Fe from Arizona four years ago, he took a long break from painting, and wasn't even sure he would pick it up again. Well, of course, he did. And when he did, he was drawn to the more vibrant colors of acrylic paint.

Lately, he's been drawn again to painting seascapes - maybe because we are looking ahead to our RV adventure next year, when we'll be visiting many of the east coast seaside haunts where we were very happy. The painting I've posted here depicts a moody Maine seascape, and it's called, The Tides of March. You can see more of his work and chuckle along with his crabby artist demo here: RVPainter Blog.

His artwork is always for sale and it's so inexpensive, it's ridiculous!

The Tides of March
J. Richard Secor
12 x 16
Acrylic on Heavy Linen Paper

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Not Christmas without the Christmas Pudding

It's the last stop on my month-long WOW Blog Tour, and it's been a real whirlwind of writing and meeting great people. My guest post is one of my favorites on the whole tour - it's called, It's Not Christmas without the Christmas Pudding and it's over at Megan Warburton's Storybook Love Affair. It's a personal story about my own Christmases past, about family, and of course, about the Christmas Pud.

I hope you'll stop over to read it and give a shout-out while you're there. Megan's blog is really delightful - she has a new follower - ME!

There it is - the Christmas Pud, looking so pretty
but I still say "YUCK" to what's inside!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


It's Thankful Thursday again - boy does time go fast! And throw in the fact that it's December 1st! Can you believe it? Where did 2011 go ....

Today my WOW Guest Post is over at My Reading Room, and my piece is about working with themes in your writing. It's called "Themes that Resonate." On Friday, my post is a fun one called, "It Isn't Christmas without the Christmas Pudding," and it's at Storybook Love Affair, with Megan Warburton - she's all the way over in Australia!

Since it's Thankful Thursday, here is my list of today's ten thankful things:

I'm grateful for:
  • Good health - my own and my husband's
  • The start of the holiday season - I'm ready for it!
  • My husband, Dick, aka RV Painter, who keeps me laughing (check out his faux-grumpy-old-man personna over at
  • All the wonderful bloggers who graciously hosted me on my Blog Tour
  • Elaine, the librarian at the Carlos Gilbert Elementary School in Santa Fe, where this morning I'll be reading part of my book to 3rd and 6th grade classes
  • Our upcoming RV adventure - we've started booking our stays at parks next year!
  • Tony from the Liverpool Blue Coat School, who tracked down a woman who was my mom's friend at the school in 1939
  • Parents who kept me safe, but let me find my own way
  • The mint chocolate flavored, dark chocolate coated cookies I found at World Market
  • Good friends, old and new - so glad to have you all in my life
What are you thankful for today? P.S. Hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Entering the Market of Writing for Children

If you want to gain experience and credentials as a children's writer, my post "My Experience Entering the Market of Writing for Children," over at Finders and Keepers  can help you. Every writer has a different journey, but I've shared some tips that I think will helpful to anyone. In fact, these steps apply to trying to get published in any type magazines, now that I think of it. Check it out, and say hi while you're there!

Hope you all have a very happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review at In the Pages

Last week of my WOW blog tour, and it's been a whirlwind, but a fun one! Today, there's a review of The Christmas Village over at In The Pages. Stop on by and say HI!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Reminder of What it's All About

This past weekend, the loveliest thing happened. I got an email from a woman whose 10-year-old daughter had started a book club last year, and the club has grown to 20 girls. Each month, the girls submit three book reviews each and then the group votes on which book to read the next month. And, they picked The Christmas Village! The Mom asked me if I'd be willing to write to the girls and tell them a little about myself and how I came up with the idea for the book.

What a wonderful reminder about why we do this - of course we want our book to SELL, but really, it's because we have created something from imagination and words and our hearts and souls, and we think it is the best of ourselves that we can give, and we want to share it. This girls' book club is what it's all about, and I couldn't be any happier if I sold a hundred books this weekend!

I'd also like to share a book recommendation with you: It's August Farewell by David G. Hallman, and it's a memoir of the16 days between the time his partner, Bill, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the day he died. But it's more than just that - it's a love story about two people who shared 33 years together, in good times and bad, and in sickness and in health. Hallman tells the 16 days in present tense, so we feel like we are going through it with him. He intersperses that with vignettes from their 33 years together. It's sad and moving and uplifting and spiritual, and it reminds us that, no matter our differences, when it comes to love and loss, we are all very much the same. August Farewell is beautifully written, and I loved it.

I'm thrilled to be highlighting Kai Strand, author of the children's books, The Weaver and Save the Lemmings. We're meeting Kai at an amazing time in her writing career: The Weaver is a finalist in the EPIC e-books awards, and Save the Lemmings ... well, please read my interview with her in the post below to find out Kai's BIG NEWS about that! Her story will give writers everywhere hope!

READ ON ....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Author Highlight: Kai Strand

Author Kai Strand

ME: Kai, you were just at a huge book signing event in Oregon, where they were hoping to set a world record for "Most Authors Signing." Was the record set? And tell us what that event was like!

KAI: Yes, I participated in the Oregon Book and Author Fair in Central Point, Oregon. What a fun day. There were over 60 authors there, and the titles ranged from picture book to scoliosis and all points in between. It was fun to chat with book enthusiasts and other authors. My tablemate, Ivy Smith and I got to know each other well, sitting next to one another for 7 hours or so. We did indeed make an attempt for the world record for most authors signing their individual titles at the same time. All the data has to be verified by Guinness World Records, and I can’t wait to find out if we qualify. Wouldn’t that be FUN to be in the Guinness Book of World Records? Now I have a copy of The Weaver with the official world record attempt stamp and my signature.

ME: Yes, being in the Guinness World Records would be a great thing to be able to tell people! Now let's talk about your middle grade book, The Weaver. It looks absolutely charming! Please give us the story summary, target age group and where we can buy it.

KAI: Thank you, Melissa. And charming it is…let me explain: Mary Wordsmith lives in a town of storytellers, known as word weavers. Her mother is the most revered word weaver of them all, but poor Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. She can’t tell a good story to save her life.

One day she meets a strange little creature that grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, Mary is now weaving strange little yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales. Now she has two problems to overcome.

The Weaver has a little magic and a lot of storytelling. It is written for children 9 – 12 years old. The Weaver is available in paperback, hardcover or as an ebook through:

Barnes and Noble
Or direct from Guardian Angel Publishing

I’m excited to say The Weaver is a finalist in the EPIC eBook Awards!

ME: Congratulations! That's terrific! The Weaver sounds terrific - everyone - go buy it NOW!! Tell us a bit about the EPIC award.

KAI: Thank you! It is exciting. EPIC stands for Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition. They’ve been around since 1998. Their purpose is to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing. They hold EPICon annually and they’ve been recognizing leading books in the electronic book industry with an annual awards banquet. You know that saying, “It’s an honor just to have been nominated”, well, let me tell you, it is an honor for my book to have made it as a finalist! I have to wait until March to learn if it has earned the title of winner.

ME: Okay, we've kept people in suspense long enough about your VERY BIG NEWS. So, drumroll ...Tell us about it!

KAI: Yes! I’m thrilled to announce the sale of my middle grade novel, Save the Lemmings, to Featherweight Press. When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image.

ME: Congratulations - again! That is such wonderful news, and so encouraging to everyone out there who is hoping to sell their book - it does actually happen! Let's switch gears for a minute and talk about how all this got started. From what I read on your blog, it sounds like you had an idyllic childhood growing up in Wisconsin. Did that affect your desire to write for children, or in what ways has it affected your writing?

KAI: It’s funny that you asked that. I’ve considered my idyllic childhood a hindrance to my writing more than a help. I don’t have any issues or angst to share. It’s horrible. Okay, I’m really, really kidding about it being horrible that I’ve had a great life.

Growing up in Wisconsin instilled a real wholesomeness in me that I’ve never lost. People in the Midwest are so kind and genuine and that really impacts your values. Plus my parents always stressed honesty and being forthright. I try to bring that truth and honesty into my writing. I think it is so much harder and far more courageous for people to be honest and truthful, so it is important for children to be exposed to it in real life as well as through fiction.

ME: Actually, I've seen a cartoon where a girl is writing a letter to her parents, telling them that, because of the happy childhood they gave her, they'd ruined any chance that she could ever become a great writer! There is a lot of mileage to be gotten from angst, I guess! Okay, I also see that you have FOUR children! How often do real events from your daily life with four kids show up in your stories?

KAI: Aspects of real life show up a lot in my stories. Not only events with the kids, but from my childhood and stories I’ve been told by friends, family, etc. But it is usually only bits and pieces. I have so much fun with my kids and I thoroughly enjoy the people that they are. How can I not let that impact my characters and the stories I want to share? Heck, everybody should have as much fun as we do.

ME: Are you working on a project now, and if so, can you tell us a bit about it?

KAI: I’m finishing up edits on another Weaver tale, that I hope and pray meets the expectations of my fabulous publisher.

I’m also writing a very personal story that reduces me to tears every time I work on it. It’s loosely based on a friendship circle in my life. Even though the characters in the book aren’t me and my two friends, it is close enough to us to make me laugh and cry. There is a loss in this story that is especially difficult for me to address. But it is a beautiful, beautiful story and I hope I can do it justice and one day share it with the world.

Then, when I need a break from the heavier topics, I switch out of my middle grade hat and into my young adult writer’s cap and work on the second book in my super villains series. Talk about fun! Teens with super powers who, because they are villains, get away with being bad? Yep, lots of fun!

ME: This is a remarkable time for you - tell us how you're feeling about everything that is happening .

KAI: This is an exciting time for me as a writer. I was laid off from my day job at the end of June and haven’t found any comparable work since. However, the extra time at home has allowed me to really concentrate on my writing career. I’ve been able to write and submit short stories to magazines, which is something I simply didn’t have time to do before and I have more time to research publishers for my completed titles. The extra time has allowed me to really focus my efforts and it feels like I’m finally seeing a forward progress in my career. I think 2012 will be a banner year for the writer me.

ME: It's amazing how things sometimes open up for us just when we're at those scariest of moments? You've taken a downturn and turned into an inspiring story of persistence and success. Let's finish up the interview with anything else you'd like us to know.

KAI: If your readers are interested in finding out more about my wholesome upbringing or learn where some of my shorts have been published or read more about The Weaver, they can visit my website, I love to hear from readers, too, so feel free to stalk my Facebook page or send me an email. All my contact info & upcoming events can be found on my website.

Thanks for hosting me, Melissa. It has been so much fun chatting with you and your readers.

ME: Kai, you are a gem, a wonderful writer and a kind and generous person. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing your books soar to great success.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering a Happy Time - My Memoir Collaboration with My Dad

Today my WOW blog tour guest post is over at the Women's Memoirs website. It's the story of how I tried to help my dad find a reason for living after a massive stroke left him paralzyed in body, but still sharp of mind. We collaborated on several memoir pieces that eventually were published. You can find our story here: Women's Memoirs

Here are a few pictures of my dad at Cuttyhunk Island, a place that he loved and which we wrote about together.

Standing in front of the seaplane that took Dad and his survey crew to and from Cuttyhunk.
That's Dad on the right, he'd be in his early 40's here, but he looked very young.

Dad's crew clowing around in front of the Jeep that Dad almost put "in the drink."

Mom and Dad in their 70's, at the home in Andover, MA that they shared for more than 50 years.
Dad was 86 when he passed away in 2009

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Thankful Week

It's Thanksgiving week! On the one hand, I'm wondering where the year has gone. On the other, I feel ready for the holiday season to roll in. It's been such a tough year for people - I don't know anyone who hasn't had a rough time in one way or the other. It's been up and down for me too, what with Mom passing away in March. But I've been blessed too and so I'm feeling like I just want to feel content with things being rather plain and simple this year.

I'm especially grateful for the wonderful bloggers who have hosted me on the WOW Blog Tour. And Robyn and Angela at WOW did an amazing job setting it all up - if you need a tour, please check them out! Here's where I am visting this week:

Memorable Children's Books and Gifts is highlighting The Christmas Village, and there's a review there of the book as well. As the name suggests, they have lots of great books and gifts for kids. Here are the links to the blog and website:

On Tuesday, there's a review of The Christmas Village" over at 365 Days of Christmas.

Wednesday, I'm the guest over at Women's Memoirs, where I'll be talking about the memoir collaboration my father and I did after his stroke - we did two pieces that were published in the Martha's Vineyard Gazette and the Andover Townsman. The post is called, "A Collaborative Effort - My Dad/Daughter Memoir Publishing Experience."

And on Friday, we wrap up the week and give thanks over at Words from the Heart, where I'll be writing about gratitude.

Thank you so much for visiting with me and for hopping over to these other blogs. It's not just all about me (WHAT??? Not about ME???) - these folks have terrific blogs and part of the fun is discovering them.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pictures from Andover Book Signing Weekend

Here are pictures from the book signing at the Andover Bookstore on Saturday, November 12th. What a terrific time we had! There are more pictures from the earlier part of the signing, when I did a reading, but someone else has them and I have to get them. These photos are mostly family and friends who were there later on. My blog tour itinerary is off to the left and the previous post - please visit all these great bloggers and say hi! Okay - pictures!

My beautiful neices, Elizabeth & Olivia, and their dad, Terry Hart

High school friends, Mary Lou and Jim Tremblay

Dear friend, Sue Thomson

Old friends reunited

Andover High friends

Good friends together again

Silver and Gold

This past weekend was one of the best of my life! Yes - in large part because I had the book signing in my hometown and it was a huge success. But more so because I was with family, and was reunited with many old friends from school and jobs long ago.  I spent time laughing with friends I had gone to school with from grade one through high school. And I got to hug work friends I hadn't seen in more than 20 years.

The signing itself was very successful. When I'd asked how many books to send, the fellow said, "Oh, send 20 or so." I thought, NAH! I'm sending 100. Good thing I did, because we sold 75 books on Saturday! I think the only time they did better than that was when Jay Leno - also from my hometown of Andover - did his book signing there!

My Blog Tour continues this week at some wonderful blogs. I hope you'll stop over to visit. The title of this post comes from that old song we used to sing as a round in Girl Scouts, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." I'm grateful for reuniting with old friends, and I'm grateful for the new friends I've made here in bloggi land. I'll post pictures from the signing later, but for now, here's this week's Blog Itinerary:

November 15: Donna's Book Pub
Guest Post: The two writing techniques that improved my writing the most

November 16: Sue Fitz's Books Books The Magical Fruit
Guest Post: Channeling Your Inner 10-Year-Old

November 17: Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them
Guest Post: Every Town Has a Story (finding ways to encourage kids - and grown-ups, to write)

November 18: Jill Franclemont's All Things Jill Elizabeth
Guest Post: Heroes & Villains - two faces of the same coin

Hugs to all,

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Hi everybody,
Well, today is a day of dreams come true - my book signing at the Andover Bookstore in my hometown of Andover, Massachusetts. I'm looking forward to seeing friends from grammar school and high school - people I haven't seen in 40 years! And our old neighbors too.  And I'll be at my favorite place on earth that doesn't have palm trees - the bookstore! It's the old-fashioned indie kind, with a real fireplace, wing back chairs and nooks and crannies. We'll try to get some good pictures.

Thanks for all the kind words and support!

Hugs to all! XO

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Can you believe it's Thursday again already!??!!  In a few hours, I'll be flying to Massachusetts for the book signing in Andover. I'm looking forward to seeing friends I haven't seen in years - we're talking 40 years for some! And, looking forward to spending time with my family too. The last time I was home was for Mom's memorial service in March, so it's nice that we'll be getting together for a happier reason this time.

My blog tour continues with a guest post Today at Nancy Brown's Capability Mom blog - the topic is "The Benefits of Being a Late Blooming Writer." Those of you who feel like you are getting a late start at writing - or whatever your calling is - take heart! There are reasons why it can be better to come into your own later in life.

And Robyn from WOW put a nice post about the book on her blog too. You can find it here: A Perponderance of Things.

Okay, back to Thankful Thursday! This week, I'm grateful for:

  • Having had four years with my adorable MINI, which we traded in today for a Honda Fit. But I'll always love MINI, and when you see her, you'll understand why! (There's a photo of her at the end of the post.)
  • Being able to spend time with my beautiful neices, Olivia and Elizabeth this coming weekend
  • That I really am going to have a book signing at my favorite bookstore on the planet: The Andover Bookstore in Andover, MA
  • That first cup of really good coffee in the morning
  • My friend Darla, who always makes me laugh
  • A big fat issue of Instyle magazine to read on the plane
  • Animal crackers
  • Having the parents I had, who gave me the most wonderful gift imaginable: a happy and carefree childhood
  • Angela at the Santa Fe library, who was extraordinarily helpful to me
  • Tony from the Liverpool Blue Coat School in England, who found the 88-year-old woman who was mother's friend there more than 70 years ago

MINI, please come back, please!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Mother's Friend

If you've been following for a while, you know that I had been trying to find out more about my mother's experience in England and Wales at the start of World War II. At the time, she was 14 years old and attending the Liverpool Blue Coat School - a boarding school for "orphans and fatherless children." Mom qualified as a "fatherless child", because her father had disappeared. Her mother worked as a governess in the U.S. and sent Mom to England to be cared for by relatives. But she ended up being shuffled around and wound up in boarding school. In September 1939, on the eve of WWII, millions of children were evacuated with their schools from major cities to the "country." Mom was evacuated, with her school, to Beaumaris, Wales.

I've been in touch with Tony from the Blue Coat Brotherly Society, who has been wonderful. He found a woman who remembers my mom! Her name is Carrie and she is 88 years old. She wrote me a letter, saying that Mom was her dear friend. The students had been sent back to Liverpool in 1940, because the expected bombings didn't come that first year of the war. But Mom didn't go back to the school. Instead she returned to the U.S., and her friend Carrie never knew what had happened. I don't know why Mom never got in touch with Carrie after coming home. Carrie said that Mom was the first friend to sign her autograph book, and she sent me the page from that book, with Mom's handwritten note- which Carrie had held onto all these years.

To have found someone who knew my mother back then was what I hoped for, but I didn't expect it to actually happen.I can't wait to write back to Carrie and tell her about Mom's life after she came back to the U.S.

Here are a couple of pictures of Mom from that time in her life. She's 11 or 12 in the picture with the dog. The small portrait photo was probably her passport picture for the return to the U.S. - on the back it says June 1940 and that's when she came back. The third photo is after her return to the U.S. She would have been 15 then.

My WOW BLOG TOUR continues this week with more chances to win a free book. There's a book review today on Jessica Nierad's Dream Hour Blog, and Friday, my post over at Nancy Brown's Capability Mom Blog is about The Benefits of Being a Late Blooming Writer (It's Never to Late!)

Okay, here are pictures of Mom as a young girl:
Mom, around age 11 or 12

June 1940, probably her passport picture for the return to the U.S.

Back in the U.S. 1940

Time Travel Tuesday

 My WOW Blog Tour continues with a visit over at Meryl Evans Blog. It's a guest post called, "Doing It Anyway." That title is a take-off from Susan Jeffers great book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, and the post offers a few techniques that I've used to overcome my fear of writing. Stop over to check it out - leave a comment and you'll have another chance to win a copy of The Christmas Village! Many thanks to Meryl for being my host.

SO! I don't know about you, but to me it seems that the older I get, the faster time goes by. It's November 8th already! And there is a bit of snow out there this morning. I am heading to New England on Thursday for my hometown book signing in Andover, Massachusetts on Saturday. They got a lot of snow in that storm last week - hope I don't need to bring boots ....

My parents lived in their little house in Andover for 54 years. That's a LONG time. I've been back there regularly over the years, even though I moved away. It's always a little like going back in time for me - when I'm there, I'm a 10 year old kid again, and everything I loved about my street and my town surges back and swells my heart. This weekend, I will reunite with childhood friends I haven't seen in 40 years! That's a REALLY long time. And I'll be at my favorite place in the whole town - the bookstore. As a child, it was a place that fueled my fantasies and my dreams.

In The Christmas Village, when Jamie goes into the miniature village, he goes back in time to 1932 Vermont. It's the Great Depression and times are hard. But people in the village open their hearts and homes to him. When I first starting thinking about this story, I imagined that it was the Victorian era in the village. But then I started to see the potential for drawing on similarities between things going on today and the hard economic times of the Depression. The book isn't about that, but it makes for a nice subtext to the story.

I'd LOVE to go back to Victorian England! Maybe there's a book there that I need to write.

If you could time travel, what time would you go to and where would it be?

Monday, November 7, 2011


My WOW blog tour starts TODAY with an interview over at the Women on Writing Blog. This week's itinerary is posted over there to the left.

This is what I'm wondering today: Is it really possible to manifest our destiny? Or is manifesting destiny kind of an oxymoron - if something is already destined, can WE really manifest it??? Does thinking about this make your head hurt???

Over the past 10 years, I've read a lot of books on the subject of manifesting our dreams into reality. It started with a book by Louise Hays. Then I read, You'll See it When You Believe It, by Wayne Dyer, and then later, The Law of Attraction, and  Ask and it is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks..

They all come at the same idea from different directions: Our beliefs drive our destinies; we can attract everything we want into our lives by setting our intentions and focusing positive thoughts and energy on them; if we ask for what we want, with the right energy behind it, it will come to us.

In my book, Jamie wishes several times that he could live in the Christmas village, and that's what happens. I guess you could say he manifested his desire. But is a wish the same as setting an intention? They seem different to me. A wish seems like asking someone else with power over your life to make something happen for you, while setting an intention feels more like you are asking the powers of the universe to help YOU make it happen. See the diff?

Plenty of people poo-poo this manifestation stuff, but I have to say that I've come to believe in it because it's happened for me enough times now to overcome my skepticism. Some things take longer to manifest than others- it took a long time to manifest my book. I'm still trying to manifest an oceanfront cottage. But in recent years, many other things have manifested quickly and with remarkable serendipity.

I'm not sure that I necessarily believe that we have a "destiny" because to me that seems pre-ordained.Or perhaps there is a destiny, but there are many paths by which we can get there. It's also possible that we can make choices that prevent us from getting there.

Today I'm keeping it simple. I'm just going to try to manifest a nice, easy day. Do you believe in manifestation? What have you manifested in your life, and what are you manifesting these days?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Simple Sunday

Even though my life has moved away from a strict Monday through Friday workweek, I still think of weekends as, well, weekends. I've always loved Sundays, and still like to keep them simple and uncluttered. I even wish that we would go back to the days when stores didn't open on Sundays. Not necessarily for religious reasons, but just because it meant there was one day set aside for enjoying simple, unrushed, unmaterialistic pleasures. Family, friends, food, fresh air, fun.

Since we moved to the Southwest 10 years ago, I've been far away from family and my New England roots. I think that writing The Christmas Village was a way of keeping close to those roots, since it takes place in Vermont. (I'm from Massachusetts, but the village just spoke "Vermont" to me :-) In the book, 12-year-old Jamie is drawn to the miniature village because it looks like a perfect place where time stands still. When he finds himself IN the village, it's 1932, a time much like today, when people had lost their jobs and maybe their homes to hard economic times. Even so, the people in Canterbury - the village - pull together and help each other out.

When I wrote this story, I know that I felt the pull of days gone by. Those weren't "the good old days" by any means! But there was a simplicity to life and a one-on-one connectness between people that has, if not disappeared, at least diminished.  One of the reasons I'm looking forward to our RV adventure is that it will take us all over the country, where we will be able to spend time in person with family and friends.

Today, we're keeping our Sunday simple. We're meeting friends for breakfast, then back here for a quiet day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it's not too windy, so a nice walk to work off that breakfast is probably in order. I'll write some posts for my upcoming WOW blog tour (starts tomorrow) and then maybe a nap. My dad, who passed away two years ago, was a great napper. I got the Napping Gene from him. Miss you, Dad. You too, Mom.

What's on your agenda today? Simple? Or not so much?

Either way, hope it's a good one.

That's Mom & Dad in the living room of our home
in Andover, MA, where they lived for 54 years.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I've decided to start something new on my blog, and it's called "Thankful Thursday." Every Thursday my post will be about 10 things for which I'm grateful. They won't necessarily be the BIG things of life, more likely the small ones.

I first started making lists of things I'm thankful for about 10 years ago when I read Simple Abundance by Sara Ban Breathnach. I can honestly say that the small act of writing down my blessings changed my life. I gradually turned away from focusing on what was lacking, and began to recognize how lucky I am.

So here we go!

Today I am thankful for:

  • The clear blue skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Having the day off from work
  • An absolutely wonderful review of The Christmas Village over at Just Jingle's blog
  • This new start my husband (aka RVPainter) and I are making in our lives (sold the house and buying an RV to travel around the country in next year)
  • My husband, for so many reasons, but today's reason is for being willing and eager, at the age of 71, to set off on this adventure!
  • Robyn and Angela at WOW - Women on Writing - who are organizing my upcoming blog tour - those ladies are awesome.
  • That I will get to see and spend time with my friend Darla next weekend - I haven't seen her in over four years!
  • To have finally realized what I believe to be my purpose in life - to have written a book that I would have loved to read as a child.
  • For my family of friends at YogaSource here in Santa Fe
  • For that earthy smell of autumn leaves on the ground
  • For really warm socks with bears on them, from a store in Shipshewana, Indiana (that's technically 11 things, but I REALLY love these socks :-)

I've got a guest post on Becky Povich's blog, and we'll be giving away a copy of my book. Stop over there and leave a comment, and you'll be entered. The post is called "Finding Your People," and it's about finding those real and true connections as a writer, with others here in Bloggi Land, and in every aspect of life. Becky is a warm and wonderful lady, and definitely one of "my people!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Signing at the Santa Fe Children's Museum

I'm delighted to report that I'll be holding a book signing at the Santa Fe Children's Museum (Santa Fe, NM) on Sunday, December 11th from 2 to 4pm. I'll be donating a portion of the proceeds from all my book sales that day to the museum.

I'm very excited for this opportunity to share the joy of my book release with a wonderful cause, that just so happens to be a great fit!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Experience with Createspace

I'd like to take a moment to share with you my experience self-publishing my book through Createspace, which is the publishing arm of Amazon. I can honestly tell you that it was so much easier than I ever thought it would be.

From the get-go, my sales contact, Jenny, was professional and knowledgeable. When she said, "I will call you tomorrow at 2pm your time," by golly she did!  I was a little skittish at first and made her go through "what would happen next" several times. I also made her do this again at various stages of the process, because I would forget what she had told me, despite having taken copious scribble notes. She always explained things again, patiently.

I knew up front what services I wanted: Custom interior book design and Custom Illustrated Cover, and Kindle e-book design. The custom illustrated cover was important, because it's a children's book. Createspace offers copy editing services, but I chose not to purchase them because I'd had an agent who had been an editor, and I felt that together, we had really vetted the book. There are also marketing services you can purchase, such as video book trailer, but I had a connection for that on my own.

This is what I ended up purchasing:
Custom interior design
Custom illustrated cover
Library of Congress number
Kindle e-book conversion
500 Postcards

The deal came with 50 free copies of the book - a very nice bonus. The Library of Congress number cost $75 and makes your book eligible to be included in the catalog of books from which libraries order. I got the Pro-plan, which only costs a little, but increases your royalties a lot. I honestly can't think of a reason why someone wouldn't opt for the Pro-plan.

I was most nervous about things like uploading my files (would the formatting be all right???). But it turns out that as long as you formatted your document like a normal professional manuscript, there won't be a problem. I actually made one of my Team Members stay on the phone with me when I uploaded the document for the first time! As I said, they were very patient with me. :-)

They commit to turning proofs around in a set period of time and they never failed to do so. The interior was pretty easy, because I wasn't doing anything too fancy inside. Most of my time was spent getting proofs of the illustrated cover and giving feedback. I was SO worried that the illustrator they assigned me wouldn't "get" what I was going for, but she did. When I saw the first drawing, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, because I knew that we were going to be all right. I honestly couldn't be more pleased with that cover, had it been done by Monet or Van Gogh!

You have the ability to submit interior changes without charge, up to a point. It's something like 80 text changes, which at this stage of the game, you would hope you wouldn't have! But I'll tell you, I was surprised at how many little things I did find - maybe 20 or so little things over the course of several proofs. Capitalization, a missing word, missing or unnecessary commas. My errors - not theirs!

Another nice thing is that now the Createspace team will not only create the Kindle e-book file, they will LOAD it up for you, for no extra charge. I was very relieved when they told me this. Apparently a lot of writers are like me, they don't want much to do with HOW those technical things get done...I really like it when people do that kind of stuff FOR me. Just call me Princess Melissa.

This experience was overwhelmingly positive. They were professional, reliable and everything happened as it should, when it should. So, that is the gist of it. If you have questions for me about the experience or specific aspects of it, please ask! I'm happy to share.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


This week I'm taking part in the

It's the brainchild of delightful bloggers Deana Barnhart and E. R. King. You can pop on over to their blogs to get the list of other participants and read their posts.

Now THIS is the one I've been waiting for!
Our assignment today is to present our
from literature.

So let me introduce her ...
She's cold, calculating and controlling.
She's manipulative and mean,
but she disguises it beneath a smooth, poreless mask
of quiet, unruffled calm.

So here she is, ladies and gentlemen ...
Everybody's favorite sociopath ...
The woman voted
"Most Likely to Volunteer to be Dr. Mengele's Assistant " 


Nurse Rached
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey (1962)

Nurse Rached is the head nurse at a mental institution in Salem, Oregon, where she maintains absolute control over the residents. She rewards total obedience and cruelly punishes any behavior that could threaten the perfect predicability of her realm. Nurse Rached is a quiet tyrant, a sick sociopath hidden behind glassy skin and a crisply-sprayed-to-perfection pageboy hairdo.

Enter Randle McMurphy, a relatively sane inmate with a rebellious streak. McMurphy tries to bring fun and humanity to the ward, and in doing so, threatens Nurse Rached's dictatorship. She retaliates with small punishments at first, but when McMurphy persists, Nurse Rached ups the ante. She gives McMurphy shock therapy to weaken him. But McMurphy is a fighter and his efforts have awakened rebellion in the other, previously docile inmates. Sensing that her enemy's strength is growing despite her efforts to diminish him, Nurse Rached uses the ultimate weapon in her arsenal - she has McMurphy lobotomized.

In the 1975 film, McMurphy was played by Jack Nicholsen. Nurse Rached was played by Louise Fletcher, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for her incredible portrayal of one of the biggest b#tches in literary history. Nurse Rached was voted the fifth worst villian in movie history by the American Film Institute.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This week I'm taking part in the


It's the brainchild of delightful bloggers Deana Barnhart and E. R. King. You can pop on over to their blogs to get the list of other participants and read their posts.

Today, our assignment is to present our FAVORITE PROTAGONIST from literature.

This was a pretty easy one for me ... it's ...

Gregory Peck! Oh no, WAIT! I mean, ATTICUS FINCH!

It's easy to see why I'd get confused though, because when the Pulitzer Prize winning book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was made into a movie, Gregory Peck became Atticus Finch as much as any actor can inhabit a role. Even the book's author, Harper Lee,  was so moved by Peck's performance in the role of Atticus,that she gave him her father's pocketwatch.

Here are my reasons for choosing Atticus Finch as Greatest Protagonist in Literature:

Atticus Finch is the quiet-spoken attorney who is appointed to defend a black man against a charge of rape in Depression-era Alabama. Atticus is a widower, raising his son, Jem, and his daughter, Scout. Despite antagonism and aggression from the people in his town, Atticus firmly stands his ground and ultimately proves the defendant's innocence. But the racial situation of the times is such that the man is found guilty anyway. Throughout the trial and its aftermath, Atticus Finch's moral compass never wavers and his behavior sets the hightest standard for integrity.

Atticus Finch is a quiet hero, willing to stand up for what is right,
no matter the opposition,
no matter that it would be so much easier not to.

He sets the example for his children through his actions and his simple words,
such as,
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ...  until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do." 

My Man, Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Monday, October 24, 2011


I need to play a little bit, so this week I'm taking part in the 

It's the brainchild of delightful bloggers Deana Barnhart and E. R. King (Get Busy Writing Blog). You can pop on over there to read about the blogfest and read the other participants' posts - this is a really fun one.

Today's post is on: Killer Supporting Characters. They don't actually have to BE killers, they just have to be "killer" in the sense that they are classic, unforgettable supporting characters - in YOUR opinion! I saw E.R.'s post this morning, and I think she may have come up with the best one of all, but I'll still go ahead and give you my vote for


A Little Drumroll please...............

SEVERUS SNAPE   from Harry Potter

Severus Snape - Evil Villian, or Just Misunderstood?

Severus gets my vote because he is such a classic conflicted villian-hero. You are never sure of him - throughout seven books. Right up until to the bitter end, we don't really know if Severus is really and truly bad.....

If not for the sorrow of his unrequited love, would Severus have been a different wizard altogether? A good man, a family man?

If not for his undying love for Lily Potter, would he have been an irredeemable scoundrel? A truly evil, unrepentent Death Eater?

Who the heck knows! Who the heck cares! He's perfect just the way he is - totally conflicted, tortured  and royally P.O'd about it.

Such ambiguity, such inner turmoil and angst are the stuff of great characters. Plus, I really have a thing for Alan Rickman. He can be cool, and he can be creepy. But most of all, of course, it's the Voice...



Cool...well, maybe a still a little creepy,
but in a cool sort of way....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Make it Easy, Keep it Simple

This Sunday morning, I've at last been catching up on reading and commenting on other blogs. It's nice to hear other peoples' voices for a change! Interestingly, there seems to be a common theme running through the blogs I read this morning: a desire for simplicity.

This definitely resonates with me. All of the changesthat  my husband (that cuddly faux-curmudgeon known as RVPainter) and I have been making have come about because of the desire for a simpler life. The road to getting here has at times felt complicated: Putting our house on the market at the worst time in history; finding temporary digs here in Santa Fe for the winter; getting our RV built; and all that while I'm in the middle of publishing, and now promoting, a book.

But through it all, we have kept these two mantras in mind: Make it easy. Keep it simple. We now test every single decision we make against these two barometers. Is it simple? Does it make it easy? If not, we re-think. We both recognize that we BOTH have the tendency to make things complicated, so now we stop and ask ourselves these questions. Nice to know we've learned something in 30+ years together!

We have another motto: Get Stuff Free. It seems as though ever since we put this one out there, we are getting more stuff for free. Last night, we went - for free - to a gala fundraising event for Cornerstones, a Santa Fe non-profit that raises money to rehab old, historic New Mexico buildings. Dick, aka RVPainter, donated six paintings for the silent auction. A chorus of talented young people entertained us (for free), we munched on free hors d'oeuvres and drank free wine, and dined on a delicious dinner. Free. I love free.

Hope your Sunday is easy and simple, and that you get some free stuff too.