Books + Children = Happy Librarians

kami kinard Last week I attended the South Carolina Association of School Librarians Conference in Columbia SC. I’m thinking there’s no better place to be than with a bunch of people who love children and books. What a happy event!

My participation in the event started with an Author’s Round Table. During this, librarians moved around the room and spoke with different authors about their books. The different groups were interested in different aspects of a book’s life. One question I got more than once was whether or not I designed the cover. I did not. Almost all book covers are designed by in-house designers with input from Sales and Marketing teams. These are the people who usually know consumers best. If my book is going to be judged by its cover, I definitely want them to be behind it.

The next even for me was the book signing. Here I am at the Scholastic booth with a stack of The Boy Problem, which is only available through Scholastic clubs and fairs until April 29. We sold out by the end of the event. I love the girls who work for Scholastic book fairs! They are fabulous. 

It was also great to meet the Barnes and Nobles representatives who were super nice and took a picture of me and nerdy chick Amy Carol Reeves that I couldn’t get to upload. Grrrr. (Amy and I will both be at the SC Book Festival this year on May 17).

On Friday I led a poetry writing workshop for librarians, which introduced a way to use poetry for nonfiction research assignments and book reports. This scasl poetrymight have been the best group of students I’ve ever taught. Now they’re all poets! One attendee blogged about it HERE.

The event ended with an Author’s luncheon, for which I was the keynote speaker. Can I tell you how thrilling that was for me? And intimidating.

kinard keynote

The Flash of Blue is Wonder. “An author might want the world to be a kinder, gentler, less judgmental place.”

I promise the world would be a happier place if we could hang out with librarians every day! But since there’s no way  to make that happen,  I will give you this little bit of happiness that I discovered this morning on Facebook. I watched it a couple of times to get my day off to the right start!

 .

Hooray for School Librarians!

Confessions of a Chronic Doodler

It’s HERE! The trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, created almost entirely from my doodles. My confessions follow, but first, watch the trailer! And stick around for the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post! 

Now for true confessions:  

I’ve never been good at taking notes. I probably shouldn’t admit this while I still have children in school, but often when I’m listening to someone talk, my mind starts wandering. And when this happens, my pen starts wandering too.  I confess.

Ever been on the phone with me? You know those times when you were talking and there were long periods of silence on my end? I was probably doodling. I confess.  doodles

Add to my list of confessions that I doodle on paper menus when dining at restaurants, church bulletins during church, programs when at performances, and in notebooks I take to conferences. I even doodle when I’m listening to my own internal voice. Doodles are crammed in between the words of all of my revision notebooks. If you could stretch out the pen marks from all of my doodles into one continuous line it would probably wrap around the world a few times. Times ten.

2harley2-watermark-copyHere’s another confession for you. I often curse the fact that my artistic skills are limited to doodling. My mother is a real artist, capable of rendering realistic landscapes and still-life paintings. My fourteen year old daughter is becoming an excellent media artist and has even started a little business creating drawings from photos of pets.

But me? I seemed destined only to doodle. And yet….

My doodling skills help me communicate visually. So when I turned in my manuscript for my first novel, THE BOY PROJECT, I included some doodles along with a note explaining that these were just to illustrate my ideas, and a publisher could hire a real artist to do the actual art.  The manuscript sold! And some of my actual doodles were used in it, along with others that they altered a little.

For my second book, THE BOY PROBLEM, forthcoming from Scholastic in April, everyone understood that I’d include some doodles, but that another artist would probably do the work for the book. But my own doodles ended up being the ones that grace the pages. And then, when I hired someone to make the trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, she built the whole thing out of my doodles.

bookmarksI have to admit, I’m a little shocked by this. I’ve never thought of my artistic skills as good enough for publication. But the book turned out really well! And the trailer is so cute! Empowered by this, I used my doodling skills to create the 8 ball and mustache for these new promotional bookmarks.

The Boy Problem

Book designer Whitney Lyle created the doodles for this cover.

The bottom line here is that I’ve been selling myself short. And I think that as women, a lot of us do this. It’s important for us not to think in terms of what we CAN’T do, but in terms of what we CAN. I will never be able to sell an watercolor painting masterpiece. I’m not likely to create a digital rendering of your pet iguana either. But I can create one heck of a doodle! Go Me!

Oh yeah. There’s another bottom line here. I wanted to introduce my new book trailer to our readers! Did you watch it? See that guy’s head at 0.18. I had to doodle it about sixteen times to get it right. That’s how good I am.  Hey, it’s not about the first fifteen times I couldn’t draw a decent circle. It’s about the one time I did. 🙂

GIVEAWAY INFO:

To celebrate the release of THE BOY PROBLEM trailer, and the arrival of the new bookmarks, I am giving away class sets of bookmarks to teachers, librarians, and bookstores. If you are an individual who wants just one or two you can get some too. I’ll mail these to the first fifteen people to fill out the form below. If you leave a comment too, I’ll throw in a BOY PROBLEM bracelet when they arrive. This Giveaway ends on St.  Patrick’s Day, 2014.

Boy Problem Bookmark Final Front

Eight Things to Teach by Eighteen that They Can’t Learn from Google

My son on his 18th birthday.

My son on his 18th birthday.

Once, before I had children, I ran into a friend who’d just had her first child. 

“How’s motherhood?” I asked.

She didn’t answer with the usual “Great!” or “Exhausting!” responses I expected.

Instead, she said, “I can already tell I’m going to be worried for the rest of my life.”

I’m not sure truer words have ever been spoken.  My son was born about two years after this conversation. And while there have been SO many joys over the years, there have also been worries. Lots of worries. Endless worries.

This month he turned eighteen. Eighteen! Eighteen years of worrying about things I can control.  And with every year that passes, more and more time spent worrying about the things I can’t. What’s a mother to do?

While the goal of every good mother is to teach her child to be independent, as that bittersweet eighteenth birthday passes, I can’t help asking myself: Have I taught him everything he needs to know to make it in the world?

I think most mothers wrestle with this question.  I’ve seen other posts listing things we might forget to teach our children because we do these things without thinking, like how to mend ripped fabric or cook a meal. And yet – with the power of Google at every teen’s fingertips — I know my son can find out how to do things like sew on a button with the touch of a screen. But what things does he absolutely need to know that he can’t find on Google?

Here’s my list of 8 things to teach them before 18.

1.Empathy: Teach them to consider how others feel.

feelings facesThis will make them better people. They will add to their own value when they show that they value the feelings of others.  There’s truth in the saying, “People don’t care what you know, until they know you care.”

2. Self-Worth: Teach them to value themselves.

Show them that what they have to offer matters to you and to the world.  The best way to teach your child self-worth is for you to value you.  I’m serious. Show your child that you are worthy of respect and love. You will be modeling the most important characteristic for them to develop.

3. Life is Unfair: Teach them not to expect fairness.

scales of justiceIt would be impossible for me to calculate how many times I heard my own father tell me life’s not fair.  He is a judge, so somehow, I always expected him to be on the side of fairness. Instead, he was on the side of “Deal With It.”  And dealing with it, is something we have to learn to do. See number four, below.

4. Bravery: Teach them to be brave in the face of failure, because they will fail.

This, they must accept.

5. Don’t judge: Teach your children not to judge others.

They will be happier if they are not constantly measuring the value of other people. They must learn that humans come from all situations and circumstances, and that sometimes it is almost impossible for a person to make good choices. (I included this because you should try to teach it, but you will fail. Judging is part of the human condition. Still, we must try. See number four, above.)

6. Self-Advocacy: Teach your children to advocate for themselves.

When they are growing up, you are their biggest advocate, but this will change when they leave the nest. So equip them with the skills needed for self-advocacy. Teach them not to be afraid to speak out logically and reasonably to defend their rights or to ask for what they need. Self-advocacy will not always bring desired results, but that’s okay, you’ve already taught them numbers two, three and four!

7. Humor: Teach them to embrace laughter.  

laughterIf your child learns to laugh, not only in happy times, but also in the face of failure, you will have taught them to find joy in unhappiness. And you will give your child a quality valued by all others. Everyone loves to laugh.

8. Faith: If you want your child to have a sense of faith, model this for him or her.  

It does not matter what your religion is, if faith is something you want for your child, you must ground them in it.The world will not do this for you. Google will not do this for you.

My son is now eighteen. Do I still worry? You bet! Have I taught him all of the above? I’ve tried, but I doubt it. I’m learning, though, not to beat myself up over this. I’m going to trust that with the foundation of love and guidance we’ve given him, he’ll be okay. 

For everything else, there’s Google!

How the Vegetable Co-op Changed My Life

Bins awaiting pick-up by co-op members.

Bins awaiting pick-up by co-op members.

I’m not what you’d call a Tree-hugger, a Granola, or even a Free Spirit. Those titles require a lot more time and energy to earn than I have to give. Sadly. (Because I particularly admire tree-huggers.) Anyway,  in the spirit of adventure, this wanna-be tree-hugger tried something new and joined a vegetable co-op. My goal was to force myself to eat healthier, and I guessed that if the vegetables were already selected and provided for me weekly, instead of sitting in stores waiting for me to go pick them out, I would.

Did I meet this goal? Yes! Did our compost pile grow substantially due to an abundance of uneaten vegetables? Yes!

Okay, so my experiment could have been more successful had we eaten more and composted less. BUT here are some things I discovered about myself during the process.

  1. I definitely eat healthier when my refrigerator is stocked with vegetables.
  2. I lost weight without dieting because an abundance of vegetables was on hand.
  3. I was forced to try foods I hadn’t tried before.
  4. I became an adventurous cook, googling recipes, and altering those I found to keep them low fat.

Every Friday, I went to the Omni Gym to pick up my box of locally grown vegetables delivered by Pinckney’s Produce. The combination of vegetables in my box IMG_20131213_124052_681was never the same, but it usually contained some vegetables you could eat without cooking, like lettuce, and some I already knew how to cook, like broccoli, and a few others I had never tried. It was fun to experiment with these and try some new dishes. I even attempted new recipes for familiar vegetables.

Curious about some of the recipes I tried?

Stir-fried bok-choy. Kolrabi chips. Fried cabbage. Tomato pie.  Stir-fried eggplant. Collard greens. (Don’t let the word fried, fool you here. None of these were fried in the usual sense.)

My favorite source of vegetable recipes became Martha Stewart’s website. There, you click on the vegetable and scroll through all available recipes for it. Most are straight forward (and low fat), so I loved this.

My doctor tells me that all women need to eat a lot of vegetables in the cabbage family, like broccoli, ….. but I wasn’t sure what to do when I ended up with three heads of cabbage in my vegetable drawer. The only way I knew how to cook it was boiled, and I didn’t particularly like it that way. I was surprised to find a recipe for “fried” cabbage. Apparently, it is a common southern dish that this southerner had never heard of. I made a low fat version of it, and my husband and daughter were asking for more.

Here is how I made it:

Chop one onion and sauté in two tablespoons olive oil. Chop cabbage in to small pieces, add to onion. Add a touch more olive oil, if needed. continue to sauté. Sprinkle with one teaspoon sugar. Yes, sugar. Sprinkle mixture with garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Stir until cabbage is fairly soft.

1.Chop 1 onion. Sauté in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Chop 1 head of cabbage into small pieces, add to onion. Add a touch more olive oil, if needed. Continue to sauté.
3. Sprinkle with one teaspoon sugar. Yes, sugar.
4. Sprinkle with garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
5.Stir until cabbage is fairly soft.

You’ll be surprised by how good this is!

The lifestyle changes I made as a result of  joining the vegetable co-op are subtle, but I am happy to discover an easy way to eat healthier and try new recipes. This past Friday marked the end of the fall co-op season. We’ll be signing up for the co-op again this spring with the goal of cooking more and composting less! The new year is right around the corner… does anyone’s resolution involve trying something new?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Are You A Nerd?

Sudipta and I found out we were Google-able as nerds this summer when we were contacted by Huff Post Live for a segment on nerds. We’ll tell you more about that interview that didn’t happen later. For now, I’ll just say that it initiated some entertaining conversations about what it means to be a nerd. Right after that, I found this Geek vs. Nerd Infographic. While I can’t agree with the way everything is shown here, I have to admit that when I got down to the movie category I discovered that this Nerdy Chick is undeniably a nerd.  Not only are the movies in that list some of my favorites, I haven’t seen a single one in the geek category. No, not even Anchorman.

Soon, we’re going to be asking for suggestions for smart women to interview in 2014. If you know a nerd (or a geek) you’d like to see interviewed here, you’ll have a chance to nominate a nerd in December. So which are you, a geek or a nerd? 😉

Geeks vs Nerds

From: MastersInIt.org

Which are you? Geek or Nerd?

.

Walking Into Words

We authors are world builders, so nothing thrills us more than to see our words come to life in the form of a book. That way, we know that people will enter the worlds we create through our IMG_20131109_123313_504words. A few talented and lucky writers create worlds so vivid that they are recreated in the form of movies, and their worlds then reach millions through words and visuals. That must be an amazing feeling. And even fewer writers have their worlds recreated in three dimensional in places where we, the readers, can actually experience and interact with these word-built words! Butterbeer, anyone?

That’s right, I spent the weekend at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, and I was struck over and over again about how much of the park is owed to the power of words – to authors.

Mmmmmm. Honeydukes!

Mmmmmm. Honeydukes!

Now I am not a big fan of theme park rides, those days are gone! But what Harry Potter fan doesn’t want to walk down the streets of Hogsmeade? I know I did! So it wasn’t too hard (we only made her beg for a year) for our daughter to convince us to take her down to Universal for a long weekend. (Let me give you a TIP: the second weekend in November is a GREAT weekend to visit this park. We paid for two nights in the hotel and got the third free, we also paid for two days in the parks and got the third free. Crowds were low, lines were short, and a new super-affordable dining meal card was newly available. )

Anyway, as a reader, and a writer, I have to admit that I fully enjoyed stepping into the world J.K. Rowling created while I shopped at Honeydukes, ate roasted chicken in the Three Broomsticks, drank Butterbeer, and even visited the restrooms where Myrtle moaned. It was fun to see words come alive. And while Hogsmeade was certainly the main attraction for me, it was only one area of the author-inspired park.

Hold on! I am checking my texts.

Hold on! I am checking my texts.

We visited Jurassic Park, the gargantuan creation of author Michael Crichton.

And took a walk through Seuss Landing, a world inspired by the crazy out-of-the-box words of Dr. Seuss. Here I am with the first eligible bachelor to attempt to hold hands with me Universal trip 1429in over 23 years.

I’m sure that my daughter, who spent a lot of time being photographed with many mini minions, and my husband, who rode more roller coasters in those three days than he probably had in a lifetime (due to my wimping out after the Norwegian Horntail experience) took different things away from the Universal experience. But I came away feeling awed by the power of words, and the amazing possibilities before us when we build worlds with them.

As I polish up my current work in progress, I will be asking myself: What changes can I make to insure that readers will want to step off the pages and into this world?

 

Universal trip 719

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Oprah, Carpe Diem, and Motherhood

Years ago, I was a self-employed graphic designer and feeling a bit unsettled about my work. So I tuned in to watch Oprah because her show that day was about finding fulfillment in life.

After discussing the idea of self-fulfillment, Oprah said to me, “Why did God put you on this Earth?”

I responded, “To be a mother.”

Wha??? Not the response I was expecting.

I was single and had given up the hope of marriage. My biological clock had a dead battery. I wanted to be a mother?

italypaintingI have always been a life-is-short-seize-the-day kinda chick. When a new job turned out to be not what I expected, I quit after 18 months and went to study art in Paris for the summer. When a dear college friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, I looked at my own life. Carpe Diem. I sold my condo to buy a little house with my own grass and trees. I spent a month in the medieval village of Urbino, Italy, painting landscapes in oil. I ticked those things off my Life List (I hate the label “Bucket List.”).

But I hadn’t realized that Motherhood was on that list. Not until Oprah. But once it was on my list, I took action.

I found an adoption agency that dealt with international adoptions. I wanted to adopt a toddler, thinking that would back up my age of motherhood a little. The agency advised that toddlers were most available from Russia, so that was where my search took me. After months and months of paperwork, a picture of my daughter arrived in a Fed Ex envelope. It was my last chance to say yes or no to motherhood. I took the photo to my own mother, who said (as I posted here ) “She just needs a mother to put a smile on her face.” I sent my acceptance paperwork back to the agency.

anna_mom_1994_crpt_lr

Our first Christmas as a family.

Two months later, I flew to Moscow and waited four days for my daughter to arrive from another city (it was a long, painful labor). After knowing my three-year-old daughter for only 36 hours, I flew home with her. I call it my Nine Hours of Hell. Anna was a constant ball of energy, racing up and down the aisles, not eating or sleeping, and going from laughter to tantrums in seconds, almost throwing my watch down the toilet as I tried to change her pull-up in that tiny restroom, and ripping out every page from her new picture book, One Hundred Words in Russian. At one point, she and I sat on the floor at the back of the plane as I cried to the attendants, “I’m too old for this!”

But I had Seized the Day. I was a mother and nothing would ever change that.

anna_momglasses

Fun with new glasses last month

19 years later, my Anna is a smart, funny, beautiful, dog-lovin’ photographer and certified pet sitter. Anna and I celebrate Adoption Day every November 11th, the day we arrived at JFK after those airborne Nine Hours. But this November 11th, instead of Hell, we’ll be enjoying a Heavenly platter of gnocchi Bolognese at our favorite restaurant.

We both continually seek self-fulfillment—Anna with her photography and me with my writing. Like motherhood, self-fulfillment is a job for life.

How do you seize the day?

mom01Cover_smAuthor’s note: In 2001, my picture book, The Best Single Mom in the World: How I was Adopted was published by Albert Whitman & Company, although it is no longer in print. If you’d like to read more about my adoption experience, read this article in Adoptive Families magazine, or an interview with me at ComeUnity.com.

Books for Everyone

worst case scenerio collegeEver stumble upon something that unexpectedly brought you a lot of joy? Maybe even some laughs? And that thing was FREE? It made my day when that happened to me last week on the way to the Shrimp Festival. Yes, there is a Shrimp Festival. (Ironically named, when you think about it, because it isn’t much of a party for the shrimp.)

But that’s beside the point. What’s on point is that you have to park a mile away from the festivities if you plan to attend. And I just happened to pass the library going from my car to the tents, loud music, and dead shrimp. While I like a good party, nerd that I am, I like a good book more. So I took a detour into the library where they have more good books than I have time to read. They also happened to have a shelf of FREE books.

This shelf is always there, so I almost walked on by, but something grabbed my eye and soon I’d found a book for everyone in the family.  This in and of itself is not that amazing. What’s amazing is that when I brought the books home, EVERYONE loved what I put in their hands. How often does that happen? Seriously? I mean, Santa Claus can’t even work that kind of magic at this address anymore.

For my husband I found a 1930s leather- bound hymnal. He collects old hymnals, and this is one he didn’t have. For my daughter, I grabbed SMILEYS. Don’t know what IMG_20131017_103301_466Smileys are? Let me give you a few visuals:   *<:-) That was a Smiley in a party hat. How about the Smiley who lost a fight?  %+{  The baseball player smiley? d:-) You get the picture. My thirteen year old liked the book so much that when I asked her to borrow it to write this post she said, “Be sure to give it back.” Highest praise!  (For me, the best part of the Smiley book was the blurb on the cover, hailing the volume as the “Noah Webster of Smileys.” Really? I thought Noah Webster was a person. The blurb wasn’t attributed to anyone in particular, by the way.)

For myself, I found Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, which I began reading as soon as I got home. I was just getting into the story of the young person named Red Riding Hood, who ended up feeling affronted by the woodsman who tried to save her from the wolf, when my son shoved the free book I’d found for him into my hands. It was The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College. Since he’s headed to college next year, the title seemed perfect for him!

The page he wanted me to read was titled How to Tell Your Parents You’ve Been Expelled. (Considering he should have been working on college essays at the time, expulsion seemed to be the least of our problems.) I read the page, which was formatted as a sample letter you could send your parents if such a problem ever did arise.

It started out like this: “Mom and Dad—I’ve got something big I need to tell you. Your baby boy/girl is coming home!”

I know that being expelled is no laughing matter, but this didn’t keep me from laughing until I cried.  My seventeen year old son was laughing too and it was a feel-good family moment. We’d already laughed at the directions for turning a pile of dirty laundry into a beanbag chair, and the illustration of how to use a child size life preserver as a seat protector for dorm toilets. I handed him back the book and we spent the next few minutes laughing back and forth about various college scenarios.

The laughter stopped when I got this question: “What’s the Walk of Shame?”

Hmmm. Maybe I should have read the book before putting it into my child’s hands and having a read-aloud session.

Oh well. Censorship has been dead in this household ever since my son started out-reading me, which happened when he was back in elementary school. I still give the day an A+ thanks to the FREE book shelf.

Got to go… the story of The Three Codependent Goats Gruff is calling my name.

 

 

.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway

This contest is officially over. Winners announced on October 10. Thanks everyone! 🙂

Authors don’t design the covers of their books. Cover art is usually conceived by in-house book designers and I am very very lucky that the designer Scholastic assigned to my books is Whitney Lyle. Whitney has done an amazing job with both covers! And I love the way the second cover, the one you are about to see, compliments the first. I asked Whitney to share a little about how she came up with these cover designs.   Here is what she said:

I loved the cover creation process for both The Boy Project and The Boy Problem! The story reminded me so much of my crafty, boy-crazy, methodical self back at Robert Frost Middle School! I had notebooks with lists of boys, slam books that I shared with my best friends, and boxes full of ticket stubs, fortune cookie slips, and notes. 
 
Back when we started working on The Boy Project, we considered several directions that the cover could take, but in the end we decided to make the cover feel  like a journal because it would fit the story really well. I looked to my old notebooks as inspiration, making a collage of elements that fit the story. 
 
For The Boy Problem, we thought that some of the doodles should allude to the story, so I drew several pages of equations, Magic 8 Balls, fortune cookies, cupcakes, and shooting stars and narrowed them down to what looked best. I also looked for silhouettes of different boys to place on the sticky notes. We wanted to find different stereotypes (the jock, the romantic, the life of the party).

Thanks Whitney! It turned out great!

So… now time for the drumroll… here is the cover for THE BOY PROBLEM!  I’m so excited about it that I’m doing a giveaway. Make sure to scroll down to the end of the post for details.

boy problem cover

Isn’t that great? I especially like the way the post-it notes used here compliment the index card found on the cover of my first book.  You can see more of Whitney Lyle’s fabulous work HERE.

Now, those of you who’ve kept up with what’s going on with this book might notice a really big change on the cover that you weren’t expecting. See it? Yep, in the past two weeks we’ve undergone a title change!  So now The Boy Prediction is The Boy Problem! (But we managed to work the word prediction in anyway, so don’t worry, you’ll still get your fill of 8 balls, fortune cookies and the like).

Let’s go on to the contest, shall we?  Sudipta’s virtual visit giveaways were so popular last spring that I thought I’d try one too.

IN CELEBRATION OF THIS FABULOUS COVER, I will be giving away a free 30-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how this book came together, and answer questions about being an author. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose! Or  I’ll send you one of my new signed paperbacks of The Boy Project instead.)

Entries will be accepted until October 9, 2013.  The winner will be selected using the random number generator at random.org and announced  on October 10.

Here are the rules for this giveaway. It’s super-easy:

The ONLY thing that is Required is to enter your name and email address in the form below. This is so I can reach you. Email addresses will not be published.

If you want to enter multiple times, keep reading. This is optional!  You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the cover.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below. (You can follow from the right sidebar too.)

(3) tweet this post to your own Twitter followers and tag me @kamikinard in the tweet.

(4) like fellow blogger Sudipta’s author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(5) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment below.

or (6) like my Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

Good Luck!

The Ultimate Lap Desk

IMG_20130717_092504My granddad was one of those men you’d call handy. If something needed to be fixed, he fixed it. If you wanted something, but couldn’t find it in the store, he built it, or made it, or jerry-rigged it. Sometimes I wonder what my writing career would be like without him.

When I am in a period of intense revision — like I am now — I print out my manuscript. Then I go over the pages with my favorite pen in my hand, my laptop in front of me, and a revision notebook beside me. And when I am doing this, I am sitting in a comfortable chair somewhere… not always at my house… with one of granddad’s creations. I call it the Ultimate Lap Desk. And I don’t know what I’d do without it.

My grandfather made it for his mother, my great grandmother,  because he couldn’t find a lap desk that she could use comfortably. She was probably approaching ninety at the time, and any desk that simply sat on her lap was not stable enough to hold a dinner plate, or a crossword puzzle. So he made one that would fit across the arms of her favorite chair.

Eventually, my mother ended up with it. I found it in a closet when I was in college and kind of …quietly acquired it. It was great for writing papers then, and it’s great for writing books now! Every book I’ve written, (those sold and unsold) has been composed, at least partially, on top of that desk.

The beauty of this lap desk it is that unlike the ones you can purchase, this one offers SPACE. Almost as much space as a real desk.  And it fits across the arms of almost any chair (excepting those gigantic armchairs that can fit two or three people.) And since it stores vertically, it doesn’t collect papers and other junk (like my other desk which is usually so cluttered I can’t really use it) !

My real desk after my last revision. Please don't look too closely! But it's too funny not to share. See why I rely on the lap desk?

My real desk after my last revision. Please don’t look too closely! But it’s too funny not to share. See why I rely on the lap desk?

I did an on-line search for lap desks and couldn’t find anything comparable. The are all fairly small. So after deciding that I didn’t have time to market a new, super-useful product, I decided to write a post about this one. Maybe one of you will have the spirit of entrepreneurship and decide to make these available for everyone. Whether you’re a writer, a worker of crossword puzzles, an artist, or a player of solitaire… this is a great thing to have around.

And if you’re handy… you can make one! Here are the dimensions. Mine is made from 1/4″ plywood that has been sanded and coated with poly (Actually, I’m pretty sure graddad used shellac), so the surface is fairly smooth.

Want to make your own? Here is is, plain and simple. Dimensions: 32" wide 18 1/4 " deep 1/4" thick 3 1/4" at deepest point of semicircle cutout

Want to make your own? Here is is, plain and simple.   Dimensions:
32″ wide
18 1/4 ” deep
1/4″ thick
3 1/4″ at deepest point of semicircle cutout

Don’t you want one of these? Well, whether you do or not, happy writing, or drawing, or playing solitaire, or doing whatever you do!

 

A note to our followers: With travel, and writing, it has been a slow July, but we have a great interview with an unusual giveaway planned to post soon! Also, thank you all for the many views and comments on last week’s post. It is still surreal for my family, but your commments meant a lot.  Kami