No Charm Intended Launch Party!

So as you all know by now, “No Charm Intended” is out! If you’d like to see what some bloggers and reviewers are saying, check out my Pinterest page here.  

In the mean time, we are gearing up for a lovely, intimate book release party at a local business–Stitch Amour. Check out all the details here. This will be my only local event for this book. So if you live nearby, please call and make your reservations today.  Reserve your space at www.stonesoupbooks.net or call 540-943-0084. Space is limited. Your $15 Reservation includes autographed copy of “No Charm Intended” plus crafts and snacks! And at least one giveaway!

As ever, your reviews and thoughts are extremely important. I’m loving hearing your thoughts. Please keep it up!

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Five things I thought about during my morning run:

1. A squirrel in the middle of the road standing up to take a look at me. What a soft-looking little white belly.

2. The weather is freaky-good. Never expected to be able to take runs like this in January.

3. My guest post on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. Woot. You can win a book if you comment!

4. My book launch lunch was so lovely yesterday. I love Stone Soup Books in Waynesboro!

5. Today, there’s a nice mention of SCRAPPED in one of the local papers. Sweet!

Country Girls Want Red Shoes, too

As you all know, my know my first book is out. (Yay!) SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS has gotten some great reviews—one from the Library Journal. It also was chosen by Jules, the B & N Mystery expert as one of his favorite mysteries for the Nook. Very cool.
As for me, I’m gearing up to visit the Harrisonburg B & N to sign books on Saturday at 2:00. Last weekend, we held a book launch party at a local independent book store, Stone Soup Books, Waynesboro, Va.
At one point, I decided I wanted to wear red shoes with my new dress for the launch party. I thought the shoes would add just the right pizzazz, with a little intrigue. Good for a mystery author, right?
Thus began my search. The online store where I found my favorites didn’t have my size, so I thought I’d look around here. No luck in my town of Waynesboro—the only red shoes I could find were very high. (I wanted to look good, not kill myself in them!) I sent my husband to a neighboring town’s shoe store. He works in Staunton and could pop over there at lunch time—just to see if they had red heels that he thought I’d like. He called me back later that afternoon. “They don’t have red shoes. The sales clerk said they never have red shoes because Staunton is labeled an agricultural district by the headquarters.”
Um, WHAT?
Who are these people that think because women live in a rural area they wouldn’t wear red shoes? I despise them in the same way I despise people who think all New Yorkers are rude, all Southerners are sweet, or people that think all women should be tall and thin to be considered beautiful, or that smart people aren’t sexy, or well, you get the point.
But really—red shoes? Why red and not pink, or yellow, or purple? What is it about red that has some buyer in New York say “No, I don’t think farm girls will buy red shoes.” What is this 1959? Are we really in the United States of America? Shouldn’t I at least have a choice about this at my local shoe store?
Well, in actuality I do. We all do. The choice is take our business elsewhere. I found my shoes at another on-line store. This is one of the best things about the Internet—it’s evened the score a bit for those of us that don’t live in the big cities and are at the mercy of some man behind the desk in New York City that doesn’t know the first thing about us. We don’t fit into your little mind’s preconceived notions for us. We are smart, we are strong, short, tall, round and thin and yes, country girls and women want red shoes, too.

Weekly Religious Education in the Public Schools

This column ran in 2004 in the Daily News Leader, Staunton, Va., but I own the right to this and any of my columns. I still get phone calls and email messages about this column. After it was published, I was threatened, called every name under the sun, and lost some “friends.” One of the most revealing things that happened was all of the supportive emails and calls I received—but almost all of them said they would not go public with their stand. I’m running it here because the issue has cropped up again in the Daily News Leader and I’ve gotten several requests to see it.

Thoroughly Modern Mollie

We just registered Emma to attend kindergarten next fall. We have thought about private schools, but decided we would try the public school and if it does not work out, we know know we have a few options. I have always believed that education is what you make it and that what happens at home is just as important as what happens at school. But I do fret about possible bad influences, as well as the Standards of Learning and the Weekly Religious Education Program.

I am not sure I know enough about the SOLs to give an educated opinion about them; but I do know that I will learn a great deal about them over the next year. Many teachers I know don’t like the SOLS, and from what I understand, it’s because they take the creativity and individuality out of teaching. One teacher I know said,’You have to teach to the standards, not to the child.”

That is worrisome.

Given all the pressure on Virginia’s teachers now, I wonder what they really think of the Weekly Religious Education program in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County Schools. (Just in case you don’t know about this, our public school students are taken off campus once a week and given a dose of Christianity.) Constitutional issues aside, it seems to me like an enormous waste of time.

For that hour or so a week, our kids could be learning something educational, not getting religion, which after all should be a family matter.

A number of Waynesboro parents that I know are very concerned about the WRE.

Many of our kids are not in school yet, but they will be soon. I have tried, with the help of Ed Piper, the minister of my church (the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waynesboro) to organize a community forum in which all of the community’s concern about the WRE could be aired. We have invited the president of the WRE to attend such a gathering. I tried to get her to agree to a date, place, and time to no avail. So, we will probably have one without them, regrettably.

Religion in the public schools is a hot issue to be sure – one that the WRE slides out of by claiming that it is elective. That logic doesn’t hold true for several reasons. I have heard troubling stories from parents detailing things like the pressure their children (second-third, and fourth graders) feel about attending WRE. That pressure comes from both peers and teachers.

I have also heard that kids come home in tears saying they are going to “go to hell” if they don’t attend these classes. (Is this something we want little ones to worry about?)

Another source I have, who worked in the schools, says that the WRE is a joke; the children run wild during that time and nobody is learning a thing.

Great.

Another story I heard made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. A woman I know called the school to ask about WRE. She asked the teacher, “Is it religious education or is it Christian education?”

“I don’t understand the question,” the teacher responded.

Is this the person who will be EDUCATING our children?

It is a dangerous path in today’s world to think there is only one way to believe, to have a connection with Spirit, and Only One way for salvation.

And it is more dangerous to inculcate our children into that way of thinking. This has nothing to do with political correctness, but everything to do with reality. Our world is getting smaller, our children’s worlds will be even smaller, and we need to help them open their hearts to others belief systems – not to change the way they or we believe, necessarily, but to respect others feelings, religions and cultures. It will be imperative to them as they make their way through our blessedly diverse world.

I understand that there is a concern that some of these children may not be getting religion at home. I say exposure or nonexposure to religion is up to parents. Period. If a child is having problems with morality or character or whatever, we have highly qualified guidance counselors who can step in.

I also say that this is certainly a school (and therefore Constitutional) issue. Our children are taken FROM THE SCHOOL. And , the thing that bothers me more than anything is that we are asking our kids to make a public choice-with all of the stigma that is associated with it.

Children should not have to choose a religious preference in front of school mates. Let’s not use religion as a way of dividing our children.

Little Writer

Emma, my 9-year-old, has had rough year. Third grade is tough and she is bright, but a bit dreamy and creative, and would rather be outside playing than studying for exams. (Wouldn’t we all?)  Luckily, she has a very involved teacher, who has been careful to encourage Emma’s natural abilities, along with trying to get her to work harder on the things that don’t come as easy to her. This year, she chose Emma to attend the Young Author’s Night—which is a program they send talented and gifted writers to in the Spring. Kids from Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County are selected to go. It makes them feel so special. One author talks to them about her life and what it’s like to be a writer. Emma came home so inspired that she started to work on a mystery novel.;-)

Here is the story Emma wrote that got her into this event and the one she shared while she was there. (Okay I am bragging and I am using my blog to publish my own daughter’s story.)

Don’t you want to know about when I got lost at the children’s museum in Lynchburg? It was July 27, 2006. I finally got to the children’s museum after one hour of waiting in the car. We finally got to the the children’s museum in Lynchburg. I jumped out of the car and raced to the door.  I pushed open the door and glanced at the inside playground.
Soon after we got to the museum, my Dad asked me to climb all the way to the top floor, I said yes.  So, I climbed to the last floor. I saw a tunnel through the playground. It was the only way to get to the next floor. So I went through and I got scared. Suddenly, my dress was caught on something so I turned around and saw a family.  I screamed so loud that a lady who worked there heard me.  She crawled in and found me. She grabbed me. She finally got me out of the terrible place.  I looked behind me and saw a sign that said "tunnel of horror." I started to cry and asked the kind lady will I ever see my mommy and daddy again?  Yes, she said. But it didn’t sound like the lady. I looked up and saw my mommy.

Photos by Another Talented Waynesboro Mom

A few months ago,  I wrote about my good friend Jennifer who just opened her own shop and her friend Robin, the artist, who has recently gotten her own studio. I predict similar things for another friend Christy Majors, who is one of the most creative people I know. Right now, she is an incredible stay-at-home mom finding her outlets in a variety of ways—most breathtakingly through photographs. 

dreams, business, art

Dreams are funny things. Last night I dreamed about my friend Jennifer Ledford’s best friend Robin Goering, who is an artist. We stopped by her studio yesterday. http://robinstudio6.blogspot.com/ Let’s just say that between the incredible art and the magic of her space, she filled my dreams most of the night. On top of that, Jennifer has created a nifty space all her own in downtown Waynesboro, as well—forged with her own blood, sweat, passion, and you guessed it DREAMS!

Kids and Sew On, Jennifer’s custom embroidery company, used to be a home-based company. It has grown so fast and so incredibly that she decided to take the leap and rent a store front. She embroiders bags, shirts, hats, well, just about anything you can imagine. Now her store is located on Wayne Avenue. You can still order her products online at http://www.kidsandsewon.com.
We visited both places yesterday during Waynesboro’s Fall Foliage Festival where artists set up their wares for sale. Okay, so I can never afford to buy what I like, but still, it’s always inspiring to see the art, but more importantly, to see the dreams become reality in front of my face. 
For me this year, it was so satisfying to see these two women Jennifer and Robin fulfilling their passions. Interestingly, they both spoke of how nice it was to have their own space, how it made them feel whole again. (Jennifer has four children; Robin five. And both have been stay-at-home moms, while pursuing their businesses and art.)
Things do and can fall into place. Often, it’s not the way we imagine it will be when we are young women pursuing our careers—or when we are struck utterly, profoundly, with the need and the desire to have children. How will it work? Will we have to stop painting? Will we have to stop dancing? Acting? Writing? Often the answer is “No, but…” That is to say,   “No, but it will just take rethinking, reshaping, reforming. I know that my writing career is nothing like I had imagined it would
be. Still, it ain’t chopped liver. I am still finding my way. Who knows
where I will be 10 years from now? Even though they are not writers,
women like Robin and Jennifer are
lighting a way for me. I am grateful for them. 
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