Sunday, June 27, 2010

What character am I?

I often wonder what character I play in the story of my life. Am I the overworked housewife, deserving of sympathy? The nagging mother who should be checked? The over-scheduling parent, or the parent limiting children's opportunities? The time-starved artist, suffering without "a room of her own?" And if I am the overworked housewife or the time-starved artist, why on earth can't my husband see it?

In reality, I can be all of these things at the same time. Or none of them. I try to do the right thing and fulfill my responsibilities; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But to describe myself, in conversation or in writing, as any one of them, would be incomplete.

If I can remember that my fictional characters, too, will be larger than their sterotypes, my stories will be richer. Like my own life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reprints--always a nice surprise

Just got a check today for another reprint of my article "Boy Mayor of Texas," first published in Boy's Quest. I didn't realize when I submitted that it would keep working for me so long. This was my fourth check!

Since this was one of my favorite stories to write, I'm glad kids are still reading it. The article was about Brian Zimmerman, elected mayor of his unincorporated Texas town (which didn't have any legal bylaws about mayoral age). Although his post was unofficial, he took it seriously, warning motorists not to drive too fast and pushing for incorporation. He was spotlighted on several national TV shows, traveled to France for a conference of mayors, and was even featured in a movie.

When I decided to write about him, years later, all I had to go on was the memory of a TV spot featuring a boy mayor in Texas. Hours of searching "boy mayor texas" in my library database finally pulled up the articles I needed to get started. Finding the photo was just as difficult. Eleven days after having my second child, I learned that the magazine couldn't use the photo I had suggested and needed another photo, fast. Ever try finding a photo of a former mayor of an unincorporated town (i.e. no town phone book), whose family had since moved? Hardest paycheck I ever earned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free Books with Summer Reading

Yesterday when I picked up my daughter from school, she begged to go straight to the library to sign up for the KCLS summer reading program.

Here's more information about the reading programs I referenced in a recent ParentMap article.

--At Barnes and Noble, kids can read eight books, write a sentence about each, and earn a free book
--At Half Price Books, kids can read 15 minutes a day for five days out of a week and turn in their reading log for a $3 shopping card. You can do this every week until July 31st. Print out the reading logs at
--King County Library is offering prizes for children who read 1000 minutes over the summer. Preschoolers have a similar program, and there's something for teens as well. Kirkland and Redmond Libraries are even offering a program for adults, which my daughter is urging me to do. Pick up a form at your nearest library, or sign up online at

Other Seattle area libraries have similar reading programs; check your library for details.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Berry Picking Article

Check out my latest publication in the June issue of ParentMap: "U-pick berries: a taste of summer sun."

Here's a tip I didn't have room for in the article: call ahead to make sure your chosen farm is actually a U-Pick. Terry's Berries in Puyallup often gets visitors who call ahead to ask what kind of berries are available, drive a long way to the farm, and only then learn that they can't pick their own.