Books vs. People

Hello, All Readers,

During the ongoing pandemic, I have spent much time at my desk writing. But when I am not writing, walking, or playing with my dog Jimmy Lambchop, I read.

I must admit that sometimes, I prefer books (and dogs) to people. How about you?

I can forget my cares–usually people related–and get lost in a book. I have a huge collection of the classics, a holdover from my college days as an English major. I alternate rereading many of those with contemporary works.

I will leave you with an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Sheridan’s “A Letter to the Dean When in England” (1726). It is entitled “Better Companions than People”:  “While you converse with lords and dukes / I have their betters here — my books: / Fixed in an elbow-chair at ease / I choose companions as I please. . . .”

So, get a clue, dear Readers. I hope you find some wonderful companions in books, especially on these wintery days. But, yes, people are important, too!

Escape and Immortality

Hello, All Readers, and Happy New Year! 

Since January marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next in our current western calendar, it’s little wonder that its name derived from Janus, the ancient Roman god of gates and doors. It was believed that Janus held the key that could unlock the portal, allowing transition to what is to come. Appropriately, he had two faces looking in opposite directions. 

Consequently, Janus and January remind me of a working hourglass. They represent the past–the sand that has already collected in the base of the glass; the present–that which is rapidly passing through the narrow center tube; and, the future–the sand in the top of the glass that has yet to begin its journey.

In other words, this first month in the new calendar gives me pause to reflect on time. I look backward to all that has shaped me. I experience myself in the present, trying to get square with the pros and cons of that shaping. Then, I look ahead as I attempt to become the best person, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, dog owner, friend, neighbor, and kids’ author that I can be, one day at a time.

Invariably, books play an important role in my reflections about self and time. One of the reasons I read and write is to escape the confines of time and to achieve immortality. Sound impossible or, perhaps, vain? I thought so but have found other authors down the ages who have shared my thinking. Here are six in descending time order:

From Jesse Lee Bennett, What Books Do for You (1923)–  “Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.”

From Emily Dickinson, “Poem 1263” (c.1873)–  “There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands away . . . ”

From William Hazlitt, “On Reading Old Books” (1821)–  “In reading a book which is an old favourite with me . . . . It recalls the same feelings and associations which I had in first reading it. . . . They are landmarks and guides in our journey through life. . . . They give us the best riches . . . and transport us, not over half the globe, but over half our lives, at a word’s notice!”

From Richard Whitlock, Zootomia (1654)–  “Books are for company, the best friends . . . the home traveller’s ship, or horse . . . the seedplot of immortality.”

From Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1605)–  “Books are ships which pass through the vast seas of time.”

From Richard de Bury, Philobiblon (1345)–  “”Towers have been razed to the ground . . . triumphal arches have perished from decay; nor can either pope or king find any means of more easily conferring the privilege of perpetuity than by books. . . . As long as the book survives its author remains immortal and cannot die.”

So, get a clue, Readers. May the New Year and good books transport you on incredibly rewarding journeys beyond time or mortal boundaries.



Reading in the New Year

Hello, All Readers, and Happy New Year’s Eve!

For all reading’s purposes we could recount, reading should never devolve into drudgery, in my opinion.

If we’re lucky, reading will mostly be for pleasure. distraction, comfort, and escape. I must admit that those are the primary purposes or qualities I seek as a reader, but also as a writer for children.

If pastime reading has become a chore at times, perhaps you could set as a goal for 2022 to find literature that makes the corners of your mouth curl up to your cheekbones, that causes you to relish the words on the page, and that sets your imagination on fire.

And for a loftier goal, think about seeking or rereading a landmark piece of literature–you know, one that has or could guide or even change your life. For me, that has to be the Nancy Drew Mysteries series. I read those books as a child and reread them now when I want to escape or recall happy times.

But in my youth, my sleuth-hero Nancy gave me some grander purposes that have stuck with me, namely, to be charitable and community minded, to achieve stellar-reader status in school and beyond, and to dream of writing my own mysteries for kids someday.

So, get a clue, dear Readers. May you be transported by words toward a happy, healthy 2022 that is filled with marvelous, smile-worthy books, the best riches of all.


Looking for Gratitude

Hello, Kids and All Readers,

Continuing last week’s blog about Viktor Frankl and his practice of “Self-Transcendence,” (moving from the Self to the Other), I’d like to share this fun and potentially meaningful game with you.

It’s a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt! For me, one way to shut down the pity party and focus on my blessings is to become aware of what I’m grateful for. Try this game to help yourself do the same.




1.      Find something that makes you smile really big.

2.      Find someone you can give something to that will make them smile really big.

3.      Find one thing you love to smell, and sit with it for 2 or 3 minutes while acknowledging your gratefulness for your sense of smell.

4.      Find something that’s your favorite color and sit looking at it for 2 or 3 minutes while acknowledging your gratefulness for your sense of sight.

5.      Find something you like to snack on, and while munching on it, acknowledge your gratefulness for your sense of taste.

6.      Find something you like to touch, like a soft pillow, a warm blanket, or even your cat or dog, and acknowledge your gratefulness for your sense of touch.

7.      Find something in nature, and acknowledge how grateful you are for this awesome place we call home.

8.      Make up your own Gratitude Scavenger Hunt list and share with someone else.

So, get a clue, Readers. May you have a meaningful holiday season this year having found some of your greatest blessings.





A Blue Christmas?

Hello, All Readers Who Celebrate Christmas, 

Elvis Presley wasn’t the only one singing about having a Blue Christmas.

Unfortunately, millions of people experience depression, anxiety, hunger, loneliness, or unfulfilled expectations this time of year. This is in part due to the notion that everyone–except maybe ourselves–is having a perfect “Norman Rockwell” Christmas. You know: the happy family gathered around the Christmas tree, opening the perfect gifts because they got everything on their wish lists. Surely, we are missing out somehow and want to partake of this joy.

I think many of us really know deep down that most of these expectations are the stuff of fantasy–dreaming the impossible dream. Dare I add selfishness? Nonetheless, our idealism, desires, and sense of nostalgia perhaps cause us to hope our dreams will still come true with a “Christmas miracle” like in a Hallmark movie. I’ve been guilty of this for too many Christmases. Enter unrealistic expectations, an enormous letdown, and a Blue, self-centered Christmas.

Can a Blue Christmas be avoided or shut down all together? Yes! But it takes practice to habituate.

If I read Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) correctly, Christmas would be the perfect time to pay forward his model of “Self-Transcendence.” That’s the practice of shifting one’s focus from the Self to the Other. It’s also a shift in values from extrinsic motivations–materialism, for example–to intrinsic motivations, where a charitable activity is its own reward, allowing for the growth of an increase in moral concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. And the world is full of such opportunities!

But there’s more. Self-transcendence can help us create true meaning in our lives and develop a strong sense of wellbeing. Our best selves can spring forth from our worst selves as we ingrain an optimistic worldview in human potential, Frankl believed.

If we replace or forestall our inward angst with a helpful spirit, we will gain positivity. Positivity can squelch a Blue Christmas before you’ve even decorated the tree.

And if you’d like to read more of Frankl’s ideas that can help way beyond just Christmas, look for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. You can find used copies on Amazon HERE.

So, get a clue, dear Christmas celebrants. Isn’t there someone nearby who could use your help to lift them out of their Blue Christmas? If you step up, your reward will be a Bright Christmas. Move over, Elvis. Merry, Bright Christmas to all!


Remember. Understand. Honor.

Hello, All Readers,

Tuesday, December 7, 2021, was the 80th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. You might be wondering why I, a children’s author, am blogging about this.

Here’s part of the backstory: Since December 7th is also my birthday (but not the same year as the attack!), I was called “a Pearl Harbor Baby” by adults when I was growing up. I never knew what that meant until I was about ten years old and could begin to understand. This date connection, among other things, created an interest in me to learn more about the subject, World War II, and the various people and factions involved in the attack that Sunday morning on Oahu in 1941.

Now that I’m a writer, I have embraced the topic for my Book 4, Saffron Street: Island Danger. Our four detectives will travel to Oahu for their fourth mystery at the request of Mr. Itsuki Yamada, a neighbor on Saffron Street. He wants them to locate a family heirloom that went missing on the very day Pearl Harbor was attacked. As a six-year-old child, he witnessed the attack from his home’s front porch on the Pearl City Peninsula. So his story and the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be integral to the mystery and, hopefully, teach kids something about this tragic event that spurred the United States to enter the war.

But this subject has also become very timely, I believe, with its issues around racism and discrimination, namely, the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans and people of Japanese ancestry in the aftermath of the attack. My research has given me an insider’s view from two books in particular: They Called Us Enemy, by actor/activist/author George Takei, who was uprooted along with his family in California and spent four years of his childhood in an Arkansas internment camp; and, Pearl Harbor Child: A Child’s Eyewitness View–From Attack to Peace, by Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson, a young Hawaiian girl living on the Pearl City Peninsula across the bay from Ford Island where the USS Arizona and six other United States battleships were sunk or damaged, 169 aircraft destroyed, and 2,403 military and civilians killed (1,177 from the USS Arizona alone).

So, get a clue, Readers. History can teach us much about the world, our neighbors, and ourselves. I hope my historical fiction mystery with its Pearl Harbor insights will appeal to everyone, but especially to my young readers. Be on the lookout, then, for Saffron Street: Island Danger, coming in mid to late 2022. “Remember. Understand. Honor. Dedicated to those [Americans and Japanese Americans] who made the ultimate sacrifice.”