Happy “Poem in your Pocket” Day!

Thanks to blog reader Talia for bringing this to my attention — I’d never heard of Poem in Your Pocket day, but her sharp ears caught a mention of it on NPR this morning.  Click here to read the transcript or listen to the audio clip.

The idea is to carry a favorite poem in your pocket today, and share it with friends and people you meet.  How fun!  Count me in — here’s one of my favorites for this time of year that I’ll happily share with you:

[In Just-]

by e. e. cummings

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan          whistles

Portland is definitely “puddle-wonderful” this time of year!  You can read more about Poem in Your Pocket Day here, and feel free to share a favorite poem with us in the comments below.

Weekend update

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer:  I didn’t win anything Monday night at the Oregon Book Awards.  But a wonderful book DID win — WILDWING by the lovely and talented Emily Whitman.  I highly recommend it!

On to my “fishing” trip.  I spent the weekend with three dear friends in one of the prettiest spots in the world:  Camp Sherman, Oregon.  It’s situated along the banks of the Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest, a few hours from where I live.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  Here’s that same view taken with Hipstamatic, a cool new app that I’m trying out on my iPhone:

It’s supposed to make photos look kind of vintage, like they were taken in the 1960s with a Polaroid camera.  Awesome, huh?  I’ve decided that my iPhone is going to be my only camera, since it’s so convenient and since I always have it with me, so I’m trying to become an expert.  Not there yet by a long shot, but I’m having fun learning as I go…

One of my girlfriends has a family cabin, and that’s where we stayed.  It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

My favorite feature, apart from the amazing deck out back overlooking the river, is the big stone fireplace.  It’s a real beauty.

It looks even better at night, don’t you think?

We sat in front of it for hours every evening, talking and laughing over endless cups of tea and a ‘smore or two.  There’s nothing like hanging out with friends!  I learned to play a new card game called “Poohead” (hey, I’m not the one who invented it!).  There are no winners, only one loser who’s the poohead until the game is played again.  Guess who earned that title? Yeah, that would be me!

Every morning I got up early to go for a walk.  I love to walk, and I do some of my best “fishing” (for ideas) that way.  I always stopped at the Camp Sherman General Store on the way back.  Stepping inside is like stepping into the past.

It reminds me of every camping trip I ever took when I was growing up.  Inside is an irresistible jumble of souvenirs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, food, camping equipment, fishing rods and doo-dads (the Metolius is legendary for its fly fishing), and would you believe espresso?  (OK, so that didn’t remind me of our Vogel family camping trips, I have to admit–they didn’t even have espresso back then!)  There were even decaf soy lattes, my favorite.  (Mrs. Wong would definitely approve.)  And don’t you love the big carved bear totem guarding the front door?

This part of Oregon is much drier and sunnier than Portland, where I live.  We had a blast soaking up the sun every day on hikes and bike rides.

Two of my friends pretending to be awed by the sight of the sun, which is a real treat for us Portlanders this time of year!

One afternoon we biked to the Head of the Metolius, the place where the river bubbles out of the ground.  Its source is a bit of a mystery–nobody’s ever been able to figure out for sure exactly where it starts.

The Head of the Metolius

See how the water just suddenly appears out of the hillside?  (That’s another Hipstamatic shot, by the way.)  It gushes out at a rate of some 50,000 gallons per minute, and just a few yards downstream it’s already a full-blown river.  The Metolius is one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States.  Clear and cold–a steady 48 degrees near the source (brrrrr)–it’s picture perfect. I’m serious!  Check it out:

(That’s another Hipstamatic shot that I tinkered with in Photoshop Express, where I found this fun frame.)  And here’s me, not picture perfect but having a great time anyway.

Another outing over the weekend was to Black Butte Ranch at sunset, where we explored the Big Meadow and made some new friends…

… including a red-wing blackbird, who perched on a fence pole watching us.  I got ridiculously excited when I spotted him (her?).  I grew up in New England, where they’re a dime a dozen, but I haven’t seen many since moving to Portland 20 years ago and they’re one of my favorite birds.

I also got ridiculously excited fiddling with my camera/iPhone. So excited, in fact, that at one point I somehow managed to accidentally take a picture of myself …

What a dork!

The absolute best thing about walking the Big Meadow trail at Black Butte is the panoramic view of some of the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack.  I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves, but can you see why I love living in this part of the world?  Oregon is breathtakingly beautiful!



It’s TOAD giveaway Tuesday!

You asked for it, you got it:  the extrava-TOAD-ganza you’ve been waiting for … the fabulous ONCE UPON A TOAD giveaway!

I have three copies of my new book to give away.  All you need to do to enter is comment below, or on the MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB FACEBOOK page (feel free to “like” it while you’re there!), and tell us how you would “fracture” one of your favorite fairy tales, the way I “fractured” the old French fairy tale Diamonds and Toads for ONCE UPON A TOAD.

In case you’re in the dark, a fractured fairy tale is one that’s been turned on its ear and given a unique twist (or two or three).  Briefly, in Diamonds and Toads, there are two step-sisters, one good and one rotten, who encounter an old woman at a well.  The good sister treats the woman kindly and is rewarded with a spell that sends her home spouting gems and flowers whenever she talks.  The girl’s stepmother (also rotten), orders her real daughter to go see the old woman, too, only the rotten stepsister is nasty to her, and returns home spouting creepy crawlies (serves her right!).  In one of my many twists on this story in ONCE UPON A TOAD, the good step-sister ends up spouting the toads (so unfair!).

Another example:  Cinderfella, a silly 1960s movie in which Cinderella is reimagined as a guy, living with a wicked step-mother and his two wicked step-brothers.  There’s a Princess Charming and a fairy godfather to boot.

You get the idea, right?  Off you go–start dreaming up a fun entry for us.  Just one per person.  Oh, and if you’ve entered and won a book from me before, would you say so in your entry?  (Honor system here, as I don’t keep track.)  If your name is drawn again, you’ll still win a prize (a different one of my choosing), but I want to make sure those who haven’t had a chance at a book get a turn.

One entry per person, please. This time around I’m opening it up to entries from ANYWHERE in the world! Deadline is Tuesday May 1st, at midnight Pacific Time. Winners will be announced on Wednesday May 2nd.

And yes, my dogs Bonnie and Billie will be the judges once again.  It’s a big responsibility, and they know it.  They’re already in training for their strenuous duties…

Toad spotted in the wild

My husband and I have a little ritual every Friday night.  First, we go to Costco for a slice of pizza and a soda.  (Yup, we’re boring and cheap!)  Then we do our grocery shopping.  Then it’s home to curl up with the dogs and watch a DVD.  If the dogs leave us any room on the sofa I was so lucky to find on this site a time ago, that is…

Since this was launch week for my new book, we decided to stop by our local Barnes & Noble on the way home for a little reconnaissance mission, to see if we could spot ONCE UPON A TOAD anywhere in the store.  Eek!  Look what we found!

There it is, front and center on a cool Fables & Fairy Tales endcap display!  I stood there grinning my head off.  (We authors are a little strange, and tend to get all goofy like that.)

Launching a book is like sending a child off into the world — as the proud mama or papa, you’re thrilled to pieces, and at the same time a little anxious.

I have to admit, seeing this made my week.  If any of you are out and about and happen to spot a “Toad” in the wild, take a picture and send it to me, OK?  I’ll post it here on my blog.

Fan mail Friday

I’ve just spent an enjoyable afternoon answering a pile of snail mail letters, and will shortly be diving into a pile of emails.

Here’s a fun envelope sent to me by Talia.  I thought you all might like to see it — it’s such a creative way to recycle an old magazine or catalog!  Mrs. Wong would definitely approve.

Front of envelope
Back of envelope


Isn’t that cheerful and bright?  It got me wondering  how on earth she folded it to have it turn out so perfectly.  So I did a little sleuthing on the Internet and here are two methods that I found:



You can be sure I’ll be trying this soon!



Paging Amelia in Chicago…

Oh dear, another fan who forgot to include a return address…  Amelia, are you out there?

I really want to answer your letter, but I can’t because I don’t know where to send it!  I’m hoping you’ll spot this blog post so I don’t have to put your envelope into the  “Sad” file.  (As in “Sad Author,” that is.)



Two posts from me in one day — and more to come tomorrow! This is a big week aboard the good ship Frederick what with book birthdays, anniversaries (bookaversaries?), and now a chance to give PIES & PREJUDICE a boost.

Remember that old poster “Uncle Sam needs you!”?  Well, the mother-daughter book club needs you!  PIES & PREJUDICE has been nominated for an Oregon Book Award, and the sponsors are doing something a little different this year.  In addition to the various category awards, they’ve added a Readers’ Choice award, and they’re asking for input from readers and fans.

If you’d like to vote, just click here and you’ll be shuttled to the contest.  You can vote for any book you like — including PIES & PREJUDICE!  Voting ends Monday April 16th at 5 p.m. Pacific time.   Award winners will be announced at a splashy ceremony the night of Monday April 23rd (and announced here on this blog the following morning).

(If you’re under 13, ask your parents for permission as it looks like voting requires an email address.)