Chess Fantasy a Reality in 2021

My chess book has grown into a middle grade chess fantasy. Querying begins this March.

Twelve-year old Princess Cassie, child of Mars and chess goddess Kaissa, escapes to New York City when a war is waged against Chess Mountain. Disguised as a mortal student in a chessy classroom, Cassie befriends humans and thwarts a bully while struggling to find the only solution that can solve her kingdom’s conflict.

Grandmasters and Grapes

Ah, to be remembered for grandmasters and grapes,
for Narnia and philosopher-scientists,
for St. Exupery and our avian companions on Earth,
for spreading chess fever to help us find our voice –
Thank you for this reminder
of the true curriculum I am meant to bestow as your guide –
yes, a teacher in disguise!
Still striving to take unstained out of this world…my panache!

Grandmasters and Grapes
A generous ode written about me (VWG) by a 4th-grade student 




2019 Resolution: To (Try to) Catch an Agent

Rosey with Pages 2018

My book! MY book. My BOOK!

My manuscript is winding up. I am sooo excited that I made such enormous progress in 2018. It’s alive!

That was one of last year’s resolutions that I actually made happen (and I lost some weight, too!). As a full-time elementary school teacher who also tutors (chess and piano) several hours a week, it is not easy to tackle another huge task during the course of a BUSY (2018 was PARTICULARLY hectic!) school year. I get tired, you know?

But there is only so much that can be done from summer to summer (not enough!), and I was NOT going to let another year go by with next to no progress.

Thank you to all those who supported me in so many ways, both practically and emotionally, chapter after chapter, revision after revision.

Thanks to SCBWI Midsouth for their wonderful conferences, resources, and friendships made.

Thank you to my occasional insomnia that allowed me an extra few hours a week.

Thanks to my cat Rosey (pictured) for hanging out with me in my office at all hours.

Hey, I know I didn’t get one accolade yet or win any awards. But I’m already thankful anyway! No matter what happens, I’m grateful for even getting to this point.

My resolution for 2019 is, after the manuscript is decidedly polished, to seek agent representation, and I already have my list of candidates and am drafting my first few query letters for the months ahead.

Yes, yes, yes. I’m well aware there are new challenges ahead, surely numerous disappointments included. I know. But those are signs of life.

I’ll be okay no matter what happens (I tell myself 😉 ).

And then, there’s always HOPE. I BELIEVE!

Here’s to 2019!

I’ll share much more about MY BOOK 😉 then.



The Chickadee Chronicles, Part 2: Bringing Birds to School

RubyThroated drawing by studentStudent’s drawing of a 
ruby-throated hummingbird

Once I soared into the world of ornithology, I knew I needed to “herd” the birds into my classroom.

The first thing I did was share my enthusiasm.  Sincere excitement modeled by an instructor about a topic generates ENORMOUS interest in students. Although enrichment models do point to having students choose their own areas of research, it is crucial to realize most students, especially (but not only) in elementary school, need a Phase One where they are first exposed to a variety of topics. On the subject of ornithology, very few students start off being able to identify more than a robin or a blue jay, and some not even those. After a session or two, all my students show a great interest, and in no time learn and know more about birds than most adults! Although plenty of topics are shared in my classroom, the truth is that the subjects I am most excited about pull in the most followers. And besides, today’s blog is about the birds, so I shall continue! 🙂

Years ago, I came across and purchased a fantastic curriculum from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, featuring large beautiful sets of flashcards for birds. Each student borrows one card that becomes his or her “Personal Bird” (my phrase, it makes me smile!) until the end of the school year. On one side of the card is a full-color picture of a species. On the back are many fun and interesting facts about it, plus a map of the United States showing their personal bird’s range. MANY standards across the board can be accessed through activities using these cards alone!

Over the years we have:

  • Identified birds by sight, sound, and description
  • Read books about birds and birders
  • Written about birds
  • Made speeches about birds
  • Created word problems about birds
  • Mapped about birds
  • Sang about birds
  • Drawn birds
  • Told jokes about birds
  • Made chess sets using the theme of birds!

If I left out a cross-curricular connection or twenty, it’s only for the sake of brevity!

I also came across a beautiful example of a kindergarten class who learns about the birds from a wonderful teacher. You will find additional resources on her page:

Keep on Birding!