On the Moon

Everything looks different when you’re standing on the moon
The Earth seems smaller, just for one
Not all that grand next to the sun
And yet you see it is alive
Its brilliant colors fill your eyes
And even though the darkness rolls across it every day
Twelve hours pass and then that dark is slowly pushed away.

Yes, everything looks different when you’re standing on the moon
Your only food in freeze-dried packs
Your oxygen strapped to your back
Life-giving home is far away
You’re in a place you cannot stay
You’re caught between the wonder that you ever made it here
And the knowledge that you’re vulnerable and that there’s much to fear

In that one moment, on the moon, so many things seem clear

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The sink full of dishes is smelling quite strange
The mountain of laundry’s turned into a range
There’s dust on the mantle and toys on the floor
I’ve never seen so many cobwebs before

But here is my bucket and here is my mop
My hair is tied into a bun way up top
I’ve rolled up my sleeves, donned my pink rubber gloves
I’ve turned up the songs I especially love

I’ll brave that odd smell; I won’t shrink from the stains
I’ll climb every inch of that whole mountain range
I’ll battle the dust, whip the toys into shape
I’ll hunt down web-makers; not one will escape

For as much as we’d like all of life to be play
There’s a battle that has to be fought every day
The most common of lives still takes courage and grit
But we’re happier, far happier, when we don’t quit

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Princess (A True Story of a Little Girl I Knew Quite Well)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be a princess.
It wasn’t just that she wanted a poofy pink dress with sparkles or a pony all her own that she could ride. It wasn’t just that she wanted to live in a big castle. It wasn’t just about dress up and make believe. She wanted to be royal. She wanted to be beautiful and graceful and noble and brave.

She wanted her father the king to dote on her and her subjects to love her and princes to come from far and wide to seek her hand in marriage. She wanted to rule wisely and bring happiness and also, obviously, to save her kingdom from some grave danger.

In her head she imagined many such scenarios.  She lived out the stories when she was alone, using all her brains and guts to solve as many crises as her eight-year-old brain could conceive.  She wasn’t any fainting flower princess.  She was a brave princess, bold and daring.

When October rolled around, then, and her mother asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween, there was only one possible answer.  Of course she would be a princess.  Of course.

The next few weeks were very exciting.  Her mother went to thrift store and brought home a lovely, filmy ball gown.  The girl’s eyes shone as her mother adjusted it to fit her small frame.  Another day, her mother found the perfect blue shoes to match the dress.  They even had a little bit of a heel.  The girl tried them on and walked carefully around the house imagining her future splendor.  Hair styles were discussed.  Sparkling jewelry was added.  It was perfect in every way.

The week of Halloween finally came, then the night of the Halloween carnival at school.  It was cold and grey and drizzly outside, but inside the little girl glowed with happiness as she put on her dress and her shoes and her jewelry.  Braided hair completed the transformation.  She was a princess, finally looking on the outside what she had long felt like on the inside.    

Of course, all these glories had to be covered up with a raincoat and hood.  The weather would not be concerned with the state of her dress.  The whole family piled into the station wagon and headed out.

In the back seat, the little girl looked out at the rain and felt her insides begin to tremble.  Slowly a pit grew in her stomach and worries began to crowd her brain.  As they pulled into the school parking lot, the girl could see dozens of families piling out of cars and running laughingly through the rain toward the school.  Light streamed out of the doors and the sounds of thronging people echoed out into the night.

The girl’s joy in her princess clothes was completely gone now, washed out in one terrifying thought.

Everyone was going to see her costume and then they were going to know.

All these strangers would be know her most treasured secret, her greatest longing, her innermost dream. They would see that this plain, ordinary redhead in a small town in Oklahoma dared to imagine that she was an actual princess.  They would see how silly it was.  They would find her ridiculous.

It was unbearable.

The little girl was silent as they went inside.  Her brother donned his giant cardboard-box robot costume. Her mother offered to help her take off her coat.  But the little girl refused.  She didn’t want to take off her coat.  She didn’t want anyone to see her costume.

The rest of the evening was excruciating.  The school was crowded, packed with laughing people playing carnival games and collecting candy and participating in cake walks.  The little girl, with her coat wrapped tightly around the costume that could betray her, was hot and uncomfortable.  She was in constant dread of people asking her what she was dressed as.  Many times her mother offered to take her coat, but the little girl just clutched it tighter.  

It was the only thing protecting her inner life from this crowd of strangers.

Finally, finally, the family had enough and they went home.  As they got into the car, the little girl could see the disappointment in her mother’s eyes.  She had worked so hard on that costume and in the end no one had seen it.  The little girl wanted to tell her.  She wanted to say that it was lovely, that it was perfect, that her mother had done everything just right.  She wanted to say the real reason that she didn’t dare show anyone.  But she couldn’t.  It was all too embarrassing.  It was all too ridiculous.  She just wanted to go home and forget that all of this had ever happened.  She wanted to go back to dreaming her private dreams, beautiful and alone.

But the princess dream was no longer beautiful.  Something about that night had made it lose its’ brilliance.  She could no longer pretend to be noble and gracious because she knew that she was not.  She was ordinary and selfish.  She could no longer pretend to be brave and daring because she knew that she was not.  

She was a coward, afraid to expose her inner life to anyone who would not understand it, and though she didn’t know words like vulnerability and candor, she did know that she no longer felt like a true princess. She did know she couldn’t pretend she was, even to herself.

Still, the little girl wanted it.  She wanted to be what she was not.  To be brave.  To be confident. To let was inside, out into the world.  To be free. To be true.

The little girl wanted to be a princess, and now she knew what it would take.


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You Were Born

If you aren’t already, you’ll soon be aware
That life’s very odd and has weirdness to spare
But nothing will blow your mind more on this earth
Than to think of your life and the fact of your birth

Forever the world turned and you weren’t in it
One day there was no you, and then in a minute
Inside of your mother, you suddenly were
A whole brand new person, what a thing to occur!

And then came the day when you ran out of space
You were finally ready to show off your face
Not one single human had ever yet met you
Then, boom, there you were, for us all to come get you

Each year we make cake just to celebrate that
It explains the balloons and that weird pointed hat
Because where there was silence, your bold voice appeared
And our life is more magical now that you’re here

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Birthday Week

My two oldest have their birthdays this week, so you can just imagine the crazy.  Go ahead.  Imagine it.  It could inspire you to invent a wildly entertaining story. No, so far there haven’t been any actual monkeys involved, but feel free to include them in your telling, if you like.

I’ll be back with my own version soon, but in the mean time, Ellie’s birthday post is up over on our family blog, so go ahead and check it out if you’re in the mood.

Party on, people.  We certainly will.

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Why You Should Never Ignore the Prickle

Once upon a time there was a man driving along a straight lane just as it was about to get dark.  

He knew where he was going and had friends waiting for him at the end, and the scenery on both sides was perfectly peaceful, but still he had a funny prickle at the back of his neck.  He recognized the funny prickle.  It always came when something was not quite right.

Still he drove on as the sun slowly set, and he tried to ignore the prickle.

(Silly, silly man.  You should never ignore a prickle on the back of your neck.  Your neck knows things that the rest of you can’t quite figure out.  When it prickles like that, you should always turn around and change all of your plans.  Always.)

Just as the last rays of sunlight were streaming across the road, the man’s car sputtered and turned itself off.

He drifted a ways and the rolled to a stop on the side of the road.  Then he got out of the car, still ignoring the prickle, which by now was more like a jabbing under his collar.

He lifted the hood of his car.  Nothing seemed to be wrong.

He closed the hood and straightened up, looking around for the first time.  What he saw was quite odd.


As far as the eye could see stretched flat, neatly-clipped grass, marked off in giant rectangles by white paving stones.  On the edges of each rectangle, small cone-shaped hedges grew, each one surrounded by its own tiny fence.  This pattern was repeated over and over with eery consistency off into the distance.

Rubbing the back of his neck and refusing to worry, the man took out his cell phone to place a call to his waiting friends.

The phone was dead, and no amount of button-pushing or power-cord-plugging-in could make it come to life again.

The man no longer felt that he could ignore his prickling neck, but he also no longer felt that he had many options left to him.  His car would not move. His phone would not work. There were no other living beings anywhere at hand.

(Silly, silly man.  There are always options.  Sometimes you just have to look harder to find them.)

The well-manicured look of the landscape suggested that people did live nearby, though.  After all, someone had trimmed those hedges and put up those fences and cut that grass so low.

With no other option that he could see, the man and his pricklig neck began to walk down the white paving stones away from the road and (he hoped) toward some sort of house where he might find help.

He walked a very long time, past a great many curiously precise grass rectangles and even more oddly perfect cone hedges. 

He walked a very long time.

And eventually, he did see a house. Or what he thought must be a house.

The building was perfectly white and perfectly rectangular and each of its four corners touched the edge of a smaller building, perfectly black and perfectly cone-shaped.  The man had never seen anyplace so strange.  There was a large front door in the exact middle of the white rectangle, but no windows that the man could see.

With a great deal of prickling in his neck but still no other options, the man went to the big front door and knocked.

Silently, the door opened.  The man was blinded by the light that poured out into the night but he heard music from inside, so he didn’t hesitate long before stepping inside.

“Is anyone home?” he asked.

The door shut behind him.

The man’s friends wondered why he didn’t arrive that night, but they didn’t begin to be worried until the next day when he didn’t return anyone’s calls.  They drove down the long, straight lane, all the way to his home in another town, but they never found any sign of him or his car in all that peaceful landscape.

And they never saw him again.

Posted in Mystery, Scary stories | Leave a comment

I came across this book, and it brought a smile to my face. 

There’s a lot of win here.  Lots of playing with perspective and asking silly questions and answering serious questions that weren’t meant to be answered.  It’s fun.  You should check it out sometime.

Plus now I’m thinking about impossibilities.  (They are so much more fun to think about than possibilities.)

I’m thinking of my cute little end table tapdancing across my library floor. I’m wondering what it’s favorite song would be.

I’m thinking of my fuzzy blanket having babies.  Fuzzy blanket babies are something I would like to see.

I’m thinking of having a conversation with my husband’s grandfather, whose picture is on my wall.

I’m thinking of donuts appearing out of thin air. (It is probably good this hasn’t happened yet.)

And I’m thinking about all the impossible things that are somehow actually happening as I type these words.

I’m thinking of my three children, those impossible, irrepressable individuals, sitting in three classrooms a half-mile away, thinking vivid, brilliant impossible thoughts.

I’m thinking of my good friend down the street, caring for her four children impossibly well and then going off and taking charge of 26 more for the day, and then coming home and loving on those sweet four again, and somehow, impossibly, still sane and even occasionally laughing.

I’m thinking of my sweet friend walking through unending nausea and exaustion while, impossibly, keeping alive two tiny humans and, yet more impossibly, growing one more inside of her.

I’m thinking of my next door neighbor, who lost her husband two weeks ago to cancer, but who woke up this morning and got out of bed and took her daughters to school and carried on with the impossible job of living.

How could we ever imagine that life is empty?  How could we ever protest that we don’t have any stories to tell? 

We live in an impossible world.  (Did you know it is spinning and we are actually kept from flying off it by a force of nature that no one can see?  Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?)

This world is full of impossible life. (Did you know that you can take one tiny nut, put it in the ground and let it rot, and then it will become a tree?  There is absolutely no way that should work.)

You did at least three impossible things before lunch.  I guarantee it. (Or did you think it was nothing when you pushed your foot down on that little bar and then a huge car surged down the road?)

What impossible things will you do before supper? 

Will you even notice?


Posted in The Storytelling Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Deserted Island


I’m on a deserted island
Not really that far from the shore
There’s deep water all around me
But my feet are on rock once more

I’ll have to work hard to survive here
Gather rain and find fish I can eat
Make a sand bed and low driftwood table
With this bit of soft moss as my seat

Perhaps I can chat with that sandcrab
Or trade songs with the wind as it plays
The stars can hear all of my stories
You know they aren’t going away

I could probably swim to the mainland
But I just can’t imagine what for
I’ve got all that I need on my island
Not really that far from the shore

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This is a really good day.  

Really, really good.

Not only is the sun shining, not only is it September, which means we’re mere days away from the best season of all, not only is it the last birthday that I’m still in my 30s, but today, TODAY, you can finally buy The Poisoned Cure!

If you want the real, beautiful paperback book in your own hands, you can get it here.

If you want to read it on your handy little tablet or phone, you can get the ebook here.

While you do that, I’m going to head over to Starbucks and sip my free birthday drink while puzzling through some new problems with Book 5.

Told you this was a good day.

Happy reading, everyone!

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Ten Reasons to Read The Poisoned Cure

And none of them have to do with my birthday. Even though IT COMES OUT TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8!! (Which is my birthday, as you’ll have deduced.)  Check back here, or on Facebook, or on Twitter, or at Madison House Publishing in the next few days for all the fun links and a couple of special deals on the earlier books.  You don’t want to miss this!!

Now on to the reasons you need this book:

10. It’s 90 degrees in September. You need something to read while sipping lemonade in your air conditioned house. 

9.  It’s way, way better than having to do this.

8.  It will take you to places like this one.  

7. You know you want to know how a cure could be poisonous.  You know you do.

6.  It’ll give you an excuse to sing this song.

5.  Better The Poisoned Cure than this kind of cure.  Just saying.

4.  It looks so pretty when you hold it. 

3. It’s Book 4! (That means there’s only one more book to go.) You need the complete set on your shelf. 

2. According to this lady, you won’t be disappointed.

1. This is where it all gets real. Like, someone is going to die. Just saying.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8!!!  See you then!

Posted in The Book of Sight | Leave a comment