Update on editing and publishing

I notice I haven’t posted in eleven months. I’m not very focused on promoting myself, I guess.  But I have been a busy bee! I have a manuscript that is ready for publication, in my professional opinion and that of other professionals, but it’s not *exactly* what is most popular in the middle school-tween market […]

Editing Jane Austen!?!

Jane Austen, review, Love and Friendship, film

A teen-aged Jane Austen wrote a novella that she never even titled, much less published herself. It’s been called Lady Susan, and now it’s been made into a movie, “Love and Friendship.” Austen is known for originating the romance novel. She really hit the sweet spot with readers ever since her brief career of 1811-1817.  […]

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, a review

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool Published 2010 by Delacorte Press, 351 pages Genre: Historical middle grade/tween fiction, Newbery Medal winner Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker arrives in the dusty, underpopulated town of Manifest, Kansas, during the height of the Great Depression, sent there by her drifter father who for some reason thinks she needs to stop […]

Book Review: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Newbery Award winner historical fiction set in medieval England, for tweens

Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi, Book 1 in the Crispin trilogy Published 2002 by Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 262 pages Genre: Historical drama for tweens This book won the Newbery Award when it was published, and more recently the author has published two sequels. It’s A.D. 1377 in rural England. A […]

Why is this car grinning?

author Phyllis Wheeler discusses the family car, Monster

Monster the car is grinning. He thinks he won. I’ve been fighting with this car ever since we got him, nearly ten years ago. Took him home, and our mechanic discovered somebody had put antifreeze where the brake fluid ought to be. The car had that cheesy grin then too. Well, we got the antifreeze […]

My mother, mom and opera singer

Jane Ruth Elder, my mother, grew up in Tacoma, Washington, during the Depression in the family of a teacher. In those days, teachers were paid little. It became apparent that her parents could not afford music lessons for her, even though that is what she wanted more than anything. How could she become a musician […]

My father, engineer

This slide rule belonged to my dad, the engineer. Eldred W. Hough, although he was the oldest son, wasn’t named for his father, Thomas C. Hough. Instead, his younger brother got the name Thomas Hough. So, why did the younger one get the father’s name? That’s kind of odd. Dad’s names came from his mother’s […]

Thomas Hough, immigrant and entrepreneur

Thomas Hough, an enterprising young man, was born in 1844 into a lower-class family in Yorkshire, England, and didn’t like his prospects. His education stopped at the sixth grade, and his dad was a wagon driver. He got a job at the local  cotton mill as a lift operator, but whenever there was a pay […]

Granny Jennie’s mother, stuck on the prairie

This is about Granny Jennie’s mother Mary Jane, who dominated the Illinois prairie around her in the late 1800s but may have longed for a trip to … Switzerland? My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Robertson, always wanted to go to Switzerland, or so I imagine. So she painted this fantastic landscape with a crooked chalet and […]

Granny Jennie, a genteel lady

Phyllis Wheeler's family heirlooms

My Granny Jennie, born in 1885, hand-painted this pitcher in an art class in college. She had a college degree, rare for her generation, especially for women. I remember her the best of all my grandparents, because she traveled south to live with us in the winters when I was small. She spent plenty of […]