Birthday 2007

Well according to

, Thursday is song game day so here’s mine. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64.” I’m not 64, I’m 36 today and while I’m eager to find success in publishing my dear sister sent me a lovely email saying that she already finds me a success. The wonderful thing is, I know there are many people in my life who also feel this way about me and that gives me a sense of peace.

I had an especially difficult mothering day yesterday. I had to be at synagogue in the afternoon to teach Judiasm (this still amazes me) and found myself praying during the service for greater powers to “help me temper my desires and high expectations so I can see my children as they are.” I was a very mature and compliant child and it is difficult for me to understand why my children can’t get up, get dressed, and get to the bus in a more fluid way. My kindergartener has had almost 100 days of school now, the second grader has no excuse at all. No excuse except they are who they are: A little slow to motivate, transitions have always been difficult, and they are more interested in the world around them than the appointments they have to keep. Of course, I have to say, they are downstairs now helping my husband prepare my birthday breakfast so the motivation was certainly there this morning.

This has been a happy and wonderful week for my friend Cindy Lord, but it has been a heart wrenching week for the members of the Denning family who lost their daughter Hanley Denning (also 36) to a car crash. You can find out more about this wonderful woman and her mission here. Below, I’ve posted a letter to the Denning family. I hope you will consider her mission, Safe Passage in your giving this year.

January 22, 2007

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Denning,
    I am writing to express my profound sense of grief and loss upon hearing of the death of your daughter. While Hanley and I never met, I followed and supported her work with Safe Passage. I first read about Hanley in the Press Herald.
    I sat in the Miss Portland Diner and looked at a photograph of the sweeping vista of garbage and filth. In the middle of this filth sat a child with a doll cradled in a cardboard box. Further inspection made clear that it was not a doll at all. It was her infant sibling. The article told of the Guatemala City dump and Hanley’s project to educate these children. A educator myself, I was moved and wished to jump on the next plane to be of direct help but my two small children at home made that choice impossible. Instead, I used my position as a 5th and 6th grade teacher to assist Safe Passage.  I worked with my team teachers to organize a school supply drive. After a slide presentation from a Safe Passage employee, our students were also moved by the obvious poverty of the children in Guatemala City. They collected boxes and boxes of school supplies and sent them to Hanley’s school.
    I’ve since left the public school system to pursue children’s publishing. Perhaps I can continue Hanley’s message of peace and education by creating a picture book manuscript about the children of the Guatemala City dump. I don’t know. I do know that Hanley was doing “good work.”  Good work in the tradition of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Good work that this world needs so desperately. I applaud her and the others in the Safe Passage organization.
    Again, my sincerest sympathies to your family and Hanley’s families and friends in Guatemala. Hanley will be missed.


Anna J. Boll

Emotional Day!

This morning I started to reassimilate into my home and family after an amazing and productive writing weekend. Of course I checked my emails and there were numerous emails about some call from Seattle. Seattle? What’s in Seattle?

The ALA had, as you all already know, announced that Cindy Lord won a Newberry Honor and the Schneider Award for her wonderful book Rules. I was thrilled to pieces. I think my actual reaction was:

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD!!!!! Guess what!” I said jumping around the house cornering my son who was home sick. (Again, but that’s another story.) “Cindy won the NEWBERRY HONOR!” I said jumping around him as he tried to put a puzzle together.
“Cool, Mom. That’s great. What’s a Newberry?”
“Kind of like a Caldecott,” I explained (I’m a picture book person.)
“Oh, cool, really awesome.”
I jump away a little like a kangaroo on steroids.

I immediately called the bakery to order a cake. Why cake? Because Cindy, I am honored to say, read some of those original chapters at our in-person crit group of which she was a part for many years. (five, or six years was it?) I was there when it got rejected. I was there when Scholastic said, “yes.” And that is when our group buys the author a slice of cake from the cafe where we meet.

I was also there (as were many who have been touched by Cindy’s kind, humble and giving nature) as Rules made it’s journey to publication. Now I am able to say I was there when Cindy won her first ALA awards. This calls for more than a slice. Let her eat cake!

I’m sure there will be more.

Super Easy Apple/Pear Crisp

I made this last night and thought you might want to try it. There’s nothing like good smells and a full tummy to help you write. (No, I was not procrastinating! smile.)

Peel and slice up two pears and two apples. Place in the bottom of a greased 8×8 square baking pan. Sprinkle with a sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to taste. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of Lemon Juice and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Stir this up right in the pan. Top with your favorite granola and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is nice and soft.
Enjoy as a breakfast treat with vanilla yogurt or as a dessert with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Been done

The other evening I was reading my most recent novel attempt to my husband who is great and very honest and he says, “Hasn’t this been done a lot before?” And in my head I’m thinking you know he’s probably right and if I fuss at him he won’t agree to hear my work anymore. And in my heart and what, of course, comes out of my mouth is something about how I am writing what I know and this is what I know and that my characters are different from those other characters… But even as I say it I feel that it is a pretty lame defense. I apologize and tell him he’s probably right, and set aside the notebook. What I need to do is pick up the notebook again and just write some more. I can’t help but think that my experiences were unique and wonderful and deserve to be written about. I just need to hit on the unique and forget about what everyone else does.

Nancy Pelosi’s first 100 hrs.

 As you may have heard, Nancy Pelosi is hoping to start off big with her “100 Hours Agenda.” It’s a bunch of progressive proposals, including cutting oil subsidies to invest in clean energy, getting cheaper prescription drugs for seniors, and raising the minimum wage.

 Naturally, the big drug companies, oil companies, and business lobbies are fighting hard to stop her.

 MoveOn has started a petition to Congress so we can show our representatives we’re ready for some real progress, and they should act quickly to pass the 100 Hours Agenda.

 Plus, the total signature count and some of our comments will be read out loud on the floor of Congress during the debate — so the more we get, the louder our voice will be. You can join me in signing today at:


Illustration Friday- “Phoenix”

I’ve never really shared this before, but… These are my designs for “The Phoenix Towers.” Right after 9/11 I designed these buildings to replace the Twin Towers. “Two curving wing-like structures, white, with windows to reflect the city lights,” is what I wrote on the bottom. The arrow points to a strip of window running down the edge of the building and says, “Glass for elevator shaft. Glass elevator allows views of the city. Goes to observation deck.” The inset is an interior shot and says, “In between towers, glass covered atrium. Marble floor (white) etched with names of the dead, in cocentric circles. Center, eternal flame in water.”

I wish I could have submitted the idea to someone because the monstrosity they’ve designed seems like a tower of Babel. Trying to reach higher into the sky in order to prove that we can touch the face of God first. Sometimes beauty and peace are more appropriate than might, and money.