Some Kids Just Break Your Heart

andy, age 4 years, 6 months

Andy, age 4 years, 6 months

This little guy  enrolled in one of the two bilingual PreK Classrooms on an Early Childhood Campus and was referred for assessment by his teacher and mother. My play-based early childhood assessment team (educational diagnostician, school nurse, school psychologist, bilingual PreK teacher, Special Education Teacher, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist) spent no telling how many hours during his PreK school year trying to figure out what was up with him. Just about the time we’d gotten him all figured out, the school year was over and it was time to send him to big school, an elementary campus!

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Channeling The Richards Sisters

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 9.05.43 AMDaughters of Memory, my first book, was acquired by Louis Rubin and was published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in 1991. In D of M, two sisters, Claire Louise and Macy Rose Richards, as young women, come to terms with each other and with their terrible family secret only after a bitter public conflict in their small town of Molly’s Point, Texas. This story is told in each of the women’s voices in alternating chapters. As I wrote that novel, I often felt as if I was channeling CL and MR. Continue reading

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Shade Island, a summary

Shade Island opens at a wedding in Cypress Springs, the small Texas town in which my second novel (ExcIMG_0776use Me for Asking) was set. Claire Louise Richards (of Daughters of Memory fame) discovers that Ralph Anderson, the man that the entire town of Molly’s Point believes that she ran off with back when she was a high school senior, is very much alive. For almost thirty years, Ralph has been living approximately one hundred miles from Molly’s Point with his wife and three sons. Claire Louise, who all along has believed that Ralph died in an accident the night before they were to run away together, totally loses it when she is confronted with the reality of her old beau as a living breathing person. The result? a total disaster! Continue reading

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Shade Island Book Trailer

Shade Island . . . a literary mystery, the first in my Macy Porter series. I made this book trailer for my pitch at last weekend’s agents and editors conference in Austin. The sound track is Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones, and sung by Johnny Cash.



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Why Isn’t My Child Talking, Acting, Playing Like Other Children?

IMG_0212Why isn’t my child talking yet? Why doesn’t my child play with (or like) other children? These are the two questions that I encounter most frequently when I talk with a concerned parent or preschool teacher. Thus, these are the questions that my Early Childhood Assessments are designed to answer. Testing shouldn’t begin and end with a diagnosis. After testing, I don’t consider it nearly adequate to say to a parent, ‘yeah, your child has delays in this or that area and thus qualifies for special services.’ My written and video reports are composed, edited and revised to make sense to teachers, therapists, and parents. Above all, they are designed to offer solutions to the child’s educational difficulties.

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George Orwell: 1984

Urban DwellingThe more things change, the more they stay the same . . . Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), a literary political novel, in the nineteen forties. The cautionary tale was published in 1949; its stated purpose was to warn readers in the West of the dangers of a totalitarian government, i.e., a government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state. The novel is still read and studied today, but apparently has yet to teach those of us who reside in the West much of anything. I’m not sure why this is the case, but a possible answer did occur to me when I heard the pastor at my church quote from Generation to Generation by Edwin Friedman. Friedman, an ordained Jewish Rabbi and a family therapist, wrote: The unmotivated are notoriously impervious to insight. It may be that some of us are in the process of becoming motivated and are  beginning to pay closer attention. According to Amazon (June 2013), sales of George Orwell’s 1984 classic novel about the oppressiveness of government overreach and life in a world where there is no place to escape the watchful eye of Big Brother did rise 7000 percent subsequent to Americans learning about the U.S. government surveillance programs (the NSA scandal). Continue reading

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Shade Island Sunsets

This is an excerpt from my new mystery . . .SHADE ISLAND . . .tell me what you think . . .

Macy Rose is looking out the back porch window, watching the sun drop below the horizon, and thinking about her father, Stewart Richards, who is dead, and her Uncle Ray, also dead. It’s mid July and the boys have left for College Station where they will attend freshman orientation, known at Texas A&M as fish camp. Macy is wondering if this miserable low sinking feeling resembles the way that her parents, or her grandparents for that matter, felt when she left the ranch, driving  her Falcon Sprint, heading for summer school out in Lubbock, only two weeks after attending her last high school graduation ceremony. She’s wondering if her father is upset that she and Carlton bought the boys a Toyota 4-Runner instead of a Ford F-150. She misses her kids, although they are only going to be gone for one week this time. But it’s the beginning of the end, and she knows it. Patricia, Uncle Ray’s daughter, just left and now Macy is unsure if the gnawing sick feeling in her stomach is because she never  wanted to be an empty nester, or if it is related to the fact that, many years ago when they were both Marines, her father saved Uncle Ray’s life. Why had no one ever told her about this before, she wonders? Continue reading

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No Similarities Between the Two of Us

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 San Juan, Puerto Rico: I pushed the down arrow to call the elevator in the Condominio Sol y Mar, a twelve-floor building in the Condado section of San Juan. The top two floors, both called penthouses, had only one apartment per floor. Floors ten through four contained two apartments each, whereas floors two and three contained three apartments. The first floor of the thirty-year-old building consisted of retail: a drug store, a small health food store and cafe, and a shoe shine stand in addition to the building’s administration office suite. My apartment was on the third floor, and I believed that I was currently the sole resident of this floor, as I had lived in my apartment for seven months and had yet to see or hear inhabitants in either of the other two apartments. Continue reading

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The Visual Storyboard: A Novel Idea!


Since learning about storyboards from script writers, I have been using this nifty visual format to keep my work alive during the down times when I’m so busy with my day job that my novel’s characters get totally neglected. This photo shows one of the many chart tablet pages that line the walls of my study. Shade Island is divided into 3 acts and contains approximately 175 scenes. The charted scenes are all listed sequentially with each scene being represented by pictures, a short summary, details that need to be added, notes about revisions, and/or all of the above. Continue reading

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James Lee Burke Was Born in Houston, Texas!

Evernote Snapshot 20131014 082829Currently I’m listening to James Lee Burke’s book Rain Gods for the second time as I commute from San Antonio to Houston to see family and write for my sister’s commercial real estate publication: No doubt everybody in the entire world (except me) already knows that James Lee Burke has won two Edgars, written over 30 books, and has his short stories published in all of the best places. I picked up an audio copy of Rain Gods because Sheriff Holland was described as the sheriff of a tiny Texas town, which made me think of the tiny Texas town (Molly’s Point, Daughters of Memory) that my characters Macy Rose and Claire Louise Richards hail from. ‘Hm, this guy is writing about a sheriff in Texas, I have to read, well listen to this!’ I thought. I’d heard that he was a good writer, I just had no idea how good the man was going to turn out to be! Continue reading

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