I make New Year’s resolutions every year. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember, and every year they are exactly the same as the year before: 1. Write a new book 2. Plan special occasions with family and friends 3. Lose ten pounds. I always keep two out of the three; I write a new book and I create fun with family and friends.

This year, I decided to forget about the ten pounds. I’m not obese, so it isn’t a medical issue. I left the new book and the special times off my list, too, because they are not goals so much as a statement of what I always do.

I’ve made only one resolution this year. At every meal, half of what is on my plate must be vegetables or fruit. Since I’ve been a vegetarian for decades, you might think this would not be much of a change but it is making a surprising difference. Instead of zapping a plate of leftover pasta for my lunch, I had a smaller portion with steamed green beans on the side. Last night when I fixed a snack of cheese and crackers, I added a sliced apple. I’m eating more salads and fresh oranges.

Eric started school today in Laramie, Wyoming. Before he left, I treated his family to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. (See resolutions about special occasions.) The entire dinner was paid for by the advance I received that day for a Japanese edition of Night of Fear.  Back in 1993, I kept my New Year’s resolution and wrote a book. Seventeen years later, the Japanese edition paid for a family celebration. How fun is that?

Gifts that last

One young girl posted on Facebook that she and her brother had sorted through the gifts under their Christmas tree and there were “only thirteen presents each.”  “Only” does not seem an appropriate adjective for thirteen gifts! I admit that I usually give several gifts to each of my family members, but they have the grace to seem both surprised and grateful for the many packages under our tree.

As a child, I always received a book for Christmas, and for my birthday. Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land and the other Raggedy Ann and Andy books were treasures, as were the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I read them over and over, and I kept them. They now reside on a special shelf, alongside books that are autographed by author friends. Not many gifts are still cherished more than sixty years after they were unwrapped.

When one friend told me there are some Peg Kehret books under her family’s tree this year, it made me hope that some day, years from now, her children will look back and remember the pleasure they got from reading.


ntmtcover.jpgA reader asked if I had fun writing Nightmare Mountain. When I thought about it, I realized that I wrote that book twenty-two years ago! It was the third of my books for kids. Yes, I had fun writing it but it’s even more fun to know that, all these years later, kids are still reading it.

The Perfect Weapon

icicles.JPGIf you are writing a mystery, an icicle makes the perfect weapon. Get rid of the evidence by melting it.

I’m happy to report that my own icicles are melting without hurting anyone first.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving with Anne, Kevin, Brett, and Eric. As a vegetarian, I don’t eat turkey, but I enjoy all of the other traditional foods: mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. Most of all, I love being with my family.

Brainy choices

Writing is a cerebral occupation, one in which many intellectual decisions must be made. For example, today I am going through my editor’s comments on Animals Welcome. I’ve worked with this editor before, and whenever she has questions or suggestions about a manuscript I pay attention because she is usually right.

In this book I had mentioned elk scat, and the editor wondered if kids would know what that is. Country kids, or the children of hunters, probably will; city kids probably won’t. Since I want all readers to understand what I say, I changed elk scat to elk poop. Every kid knows what poop is, and they’ll think the word is funny. Yes, I make many intellectual choices each day.

National Author’s Day

An e-mail from a young fan wished me a happy National Author’s Day. I had never heard of this occasion but I checked and discovered that yes, indeed, Nov. 1 has officially been National Author’s Day since 1946.  How could I not have known this all these years?  It sounds to me like a fine excuse to celebrate with chocolate.

If you want to do something nice for your favorite author, post a positive book review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  

This ‘n that

A letter I wrote to a reader was returned. “No such address. Can’t forward.”  I had used the self-addressed envelope that the reader had enclosed with her letter to me.

The days grow shorter. Rain, cold, wind. I decided to stock up on essentials so that if we get snow or icy roads I don’t have to drive. My essentials included two cases of cat food. Molly eats sparingly (as sensible older folks should; I could learn from my cat) but Mr. Stray and Woody, the new feral, have big appetites.

I added a new quote, from Robert Ellsberg, to my quote journal: “This is the decision I have to make every morning: I can rise and think about what has been done to me, what I have lost…or I can rise and say to myself, “Here I am. Let’s get moving!”

What’s True?

I’ve been working on a nonfiction book that requires a great deal of research. In some ways, the Internet makes research much easier than it used to be. Instead of squinting at microfilm in a library, I can access old newspaper and magazine articles on line. On the other hand, there is so much misinformation on the Internet that I’ve had to double and triple-check sources. Often I find more than one answer to the same question.

All of this made me curious about just how much erroneous information has been published on line about me. In less than two minutes, I read that I was born in 1937 (wrong) and that I had attended Rutgers and Penn State (both wrong.) I found a book site for readers that includes a “Peg Kehret Message Board” where people have sent me messages and asked me questions. The trouble is, I don’t have anything to do with this site and have no way to answer the questions.  I try to reply to all mail and email, and I respond to comments on my Facebook author page, so it’s frustrating to realize that people posted questions and comments, and assumed I got them, when I didn’t.

With all the problems of the Internet, however, I can not imagine being without it. It may or may not save research time overall, but it certainly broadens the scope of what I learn.

Interesting question

One of the sites where people can post questions for the public to answer came up on my Google Alerts one day last week. The question was, “When did Peg Kehret die?” I found it interesting that the poster did not ask IF I had died or not; he/she took that as a given. Maybe I look worse than I thought.

I decided not to answer the question myself because I was curious to see how others would respond. Then I forgot about it, deleted the Google notice, and don’t remember where the question had been asked. 

For anyone who is wondering, I am still here, typing these words myself, and glad of it.