When Poetry and Power Meet

Dear Readers,

I had the privilege of watching a thought-provoking Zoom symposium today, sponsored in part by the San Diego Public Library Foundation and the Robert Frost Society.

It was entitled A Symposium on Poetry and Power: An Online Screening of the Documentary Film, JFK: The Last Speech.

Featured were President John F. Kennedy giving what would be his last public speech at Amherst College on October 26,1963–some say the best speech of his administration; clips of the president and poet Robert Frost’s relationship early in the Kennedy Administration; and, Amherst alumni sharing how the speech energized their lives and, in many cases, altered their career plans.

It was followed by a panel discussion about the intersection of poetry and politics that included alumni from the Amherst Class of 1964 that witnessed the speech, Frost biographers, and literature professors and poets from various universities.

In his speech in 1963 just four weeks before his assassination, Kennedy discussed the importance of a liberal arts education–for which Amherst College is noted–so American citizens could better prepare for a life of social service that fostered social justice. As he said, “The artist . . . becomes the last champion of the individual mind.” Poetry, as part of a liberal arts education, can help plant the seeds of social awareness and raise calls to action via its words and images. How? By providing doors to art for all, not just the elite; mirrors where readers, listeners, and would-be poets can find themselves and others; and, windows for changing, even improving, our perspectives on the world.

So, get a clue, Readers. Think about it: poetry and politics have certainly amplified each other throughout American history, whether it was Robert Frost reading his poem “The Gift Outright” at JFK’s inauguration, or Amanda Gorman reciting her masterpiece “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s. But this integration isn’t limited to inaugurations. Poetry can help us imagine possibilities for a better world, especially when bolstered by effective political activism by citizens. If you’d like to see and hear JFK’s famous Amherst speech on YouTube, click HERE. It runs for 14:32 minutes.




Coloring It

Dear Kids and All Readers,

I just approved the final color version for the cover of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, Book 3 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series, launching November 9. I must say that it’s stunning!

The cover is being finalized by Dane, designer from eBook Launch, who has done the covers for my other two books. Dane captured the essence of Walnut Street  with eye-catching and intriguing details that include the Phantom Rider and horse. That’s all I’ll say accept . . .  I think it will absolutely appeal to you, too!

So, get a clue, Readers. Please mark your calendars for September 9, 2021. On that day, you can judge my book by its colorful cover at its big Cover Reveal. Until then, Happy Summer Reading with the Botanic Hill Detectives!




Covering It

Dear Kids and All Readers,

Today, I approved the sketch for the cover of my next book, Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, Book 3 in The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series.

Next step: The designer will color it in and present it to me for the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Just from the sketch, I can tell it’s a winner. It has the drama and dynamism I was after. More important, I believe you will be intrigued by it enough to want to open and read the book.

So, get a clue, Readers. People do judge a book by its cover. May you like it enough to explore inside when the cover is revealed on September 9. Stay tuned!


A Blessed Addition

Hello, Kids and all Readers,

I have just returned from Virginia where I helped welcome and care for my second grandchild–a baby boy, this time. Whoohoo!

My daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, granddog, and I welcomed Baby Flynn on May 29.

He’s a happy, healthy little guy who already has us wrapped around his tiny fingers and in love with him, especially his big sister. She had requested a brother. Sometimes, wishes do come true.

One photo I’ve enclosed shows my dog Jimmy Lambchop admiring a sidewalk message chalked by my neighbors in San Diego the day after Flynn’s birth. Thank you, neighbors!

So, get a clue, Readers. It doesn’t take an addition to the family to make us pause and give thanks for our blessings, but it surely helps. Joy to all!


Keeper Habit #5

We’ve arrived at the fifth and final installment of my Post-Pandemic Keeper Habits. Last time, I discussed “Remain Good Friends with my House.”

Here is Number Five:

5. Embrace the Writerly Solitude. I have gotten comfortable with the stereotypically solitary writer, holed up at my desk, with my dog and my house cheering me on. Ever hear of FOMO—“Fear of Missing Out”? I had a bad case of that pre pandemic as I stayed home to write while simultaneously wondering what fun I was missing by doing so. Not anymore! The stay-at-home orders were a blessing. I could hunker down guilt free because everyone else was doing likewise! That may sound self-centered, but it came at just the right time to teach me a valuable lesson: Be happy where I am, with who I am, doing what I want to do. Embracing this lesson also gave me more time to write, learn new technology (like Zoom), and save gasoline and the environment. What writer doesn’t need or want all of that?

As the pandemic ends, I know I will continue to fine-tune my new habits. But for the most part, I believe they’re here to stay. The process has been an evolving lesson for me in finding the good in the bad; and, turning sour to sweet. Lemonade, anyone?

Keeper Habit #4

I present to you the fourth installment of my Post-Pandemic Keeper Habits. Last time, I discussed #3, “Revamp the Exercise Routine.”

Here comes Number Four:

4. Remain Good Friends with my House. I’ve loved living in my nearly one-hundred-year-old house for three decades. But did I really know it down to its nooks, crannies, and floor boards? No.

The stay-at-home orders were such a gift for me! The house wrapped its vintage arms around me and hugged me tightly, gifting me with comfort, security, and calmness. We have become great friends.

I have found that I am cleaning more often, not just because my cleaning person disappeared due to the shutdown, nor merely to ward off the virus. It’s to love my house back, making it shine, and filling it with flowers, smiles, and gratitude. It’s almost as if my house, now a Home, has become a member of the family, along with my dog. Now, we are three.

So, get a clue, Kids and All Readers. Please share the good, new habits you’ve embraced from the pandemic. You can tell me about them HERE. And watch for my fifth and final Keeper Habit on June 3. Thanks!