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It's the People Who Matter

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Yesterday was our 20 th wedding anniversary. It was also the day our country got a new president. We spent the morning watching the inauguration, marveling at the power of Amanda Gorman’s words, and President Biden’s ideas, and the hope and love and call for unity that wove its way through the ceremony. It was beautiful to see the fist-bumps of Kamala Harris and Barack Obama, to revel at the connection Madame Vice President had with the former First Lady, to experience the love and respect of the Bidens, and to watch so many people connecting over a shared stand for possibility. It was powerful, moving, uplifting, and made me cry. Twenty years ago, words, ideas, hope, love, unity, and a shared experience among people we cared about did the same. Anniversaries are all about the couple who got married. They’re sort of a “yay, you made it” acknowledgement, and every thumbs-up and heart emoji is validation that someone cares that we continue to make it. But at a wedding, it’s never just a

Advice to my son

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  I just received an interesting email from my son’s English teacher. They’re reading Hamlet in class, and she wants to personalize the scene in which Polonius gives advice to his son, Laertes before he leaves for France. She’s asked us to write our High School Senior a letter full of the advice we’ve spent the last seventeen years trying to impart. My writerly, parent brain loves this idea so much I thought I’d share my letter here.   Advice to my son before he leaves home: 1.      Be kind. Your kindness to someone else will always make a difference. 2.      Give yourself time to sleep. You need it more than you think you do. 3.      Walk or run when you can. Make time to hike in nature. Movement will be a pressure valve release on stress. 4.      Drink water. 5.      Take a moment to photograph that sunset, or the cool cloud pattern, or even the interesting cornice on a building. Look up, notice things, find beauty around you, make a record of it. 6.      Spread your w

Lip balm and skin cream recipe

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This post has nothing to do with books. It's a recipe for the lip balm and skin cream I make, which my husband calls kitchen witchery. It's what inspired my Christmas gift from him this year - a fabulous chemistry beaker collection with which to practice my potions-making. I began making my own skin cream when I developed itchy rashes after my oldest son was born - possibly eczema, possibly stress or hormone-related. Petroleum-based creams irritate my skin now, so I make my own from simple ingredients. And dry lips are my kryptonite, so it was an obvious step to add lip balm to the mix. I keep the recipes in the notes section of my phone, and they've evolved over time. The summers I spent in the Yukon Territory fostered my interest in botanicals, and for awhile I infused almond oil with dried yarrow and fireweed that I'd gathered from the boreal forest. I said this post has nothing to do with books, but that's not entirely true. The short story I just sent in my ne

Supporting the Fair Fight

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This post, by poet and author Lindsay Young , really resonates with me as I wrestle with how I can lend my voice to help change the systemic and institutionalized racism that is woven into the fabric of America. The book I just published, Death’s Door , is full of musings about bias and activism, preconception and responsibility, and for some readers, it seems to be landing squarely in the zone of “exactly what I needed to read right now.” For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the main character’s activism and social conscience, I’ve decided to use Death’s Door to further a cause I feel passionate about – the right to vote. Former President Barack Obama just wrote in response to the protests happening around the country: “The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience   that

Great Books on Kindle Unlimited

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I've started and stalled on this blog post so many times since March when our kids' schools closed and life shifted into something that looked very different than how I'd expected it to look. I'm writing something I didn't expect to write, feeling transparent some days, and resilient others. Teaching myself to knit, to savor small things, and to appreciate every opportunity for human contact, no matter how digital it currently is. No one expected the way doing business has changed for any of us, and the generosity we've all seen from every sector - from medicine to the food and service industries, from deliveries to sanitation, from musicians to authors - everyone has given their time, energy, industry, and focus to helping all of us get through this crazy time. I didn't read for a couple of weeks, but I've started to find my reading escapes again, and I am so grateful I signed up for kindle unlimited, just for the sheer volume of great books th

Ringo's London

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It was cold in London in February, 2018, and the last days of my week-long trip were spent dodging snow flurries and warming frozen fingers around mugs of hot tea. I spent several days with this book in my pocket, traveling the city as Ringo and Jess might have - on foot and with an eye for the small details that average Londoners, head down against the cold, might overlook. Some of the locations I wrote about in this book were already familiar to me, but others had to be researched online, with only old maps and available photographs to guide my words. It was magical, then, to see the places I'd only gleaned from Google and Wikipedia - to feel the age of them, experience the size and color and smell of them - and to confirm that I'd gotten things right, or at least right enough. Before the snow came, I accidentally stumbled upon the College of Arms - that venerable institution and part of the Queen's Household which keeps the records of every noble title and Coa

Best YA Books Under $4

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I read a book every two or three days, and consequently, I have a fairly vast storehouse of book recommendations to fling at friends, acquaintances, parents at my kids' schools, their crossing guard, my bank teller, and the cable guy. I've built a page of book recommendations on my website because I need lists, and I go there periodically to check the prices of my favorite books so I can shout to my reader group on social media when there's a sale. Here's a link to that page if anyone is interested: AprilWhiteBooks.com A couple of my favorite YA Fantasy books are on sale right now, and I haven't done a blog post in ... wow, months, so this is a good time to talk about some great books. Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles, book 1 of 5) by Suzanne Collins This book is the first in a five-book series, perfect for about 10+ year-olds. Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games, wrote the Underland series first, and it's full