Archive for the ‘writing workshops’ Category


February 22, 2018

Lara medium

Tomorrow I’m off to Columbus, OH, for the weekend to speak at a convention of teachers of English and Language Arts–wonderful people who still believe in our kids and want them to love reading and writing and to excel in both in an atmosphere of kindness, compassion, and safety. I’ve never met a teacher–or a student–who hasn’t witnessed bullying. Then one night about 3 AM, all of these concerns came together for me when I woke up and could almost hear this tough girl saying, “This is not about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up.” I got up, crossed the hall to my office, and began writing what may be the most surprising (to me) book I’ve ever written. I had no idea where the story was going, and I usually do when I begin writing. In the end, it came to be about the effects of bullying, the promise of returning kindness for meanness, and the possibility of touching and changing lives in school and out. Plus, the book contains, in real time as action proceeds, just about everything I know about writing, with chapter titles like: Character; Villain, Setting, Dialogue, Opposition, Conflict, Details, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution.

If you’ve read about Lara and Laney, I’d love to hear from you. You can learn more about the book at




November 14, 2017

Dad and Dandi

My dad, Captain Frank R. Daley, M.D., told me stories before I understood what he was saying. I remember that when I was very young, Mom would read me a story at bedtime. Then Dad would come in and make up a story. My favorites were part of a “Big Foot Dan” series, where Dan always beat Superman and Mighty Mouse in races. It wasn’t until a decade later that I figured out the amazing similarities between Dan’s feet and mine.

When I was a bit older, I got to partake in the story creation. Dad: “Once upon a time, there were four horses grazing on a hill. Their colors were. . .” Dandi’s turn: “Um, brown and brown and brown and brown?” Thankfully, my answers grew more sophisticated as time went on.



September 26, 2017

Dad on step

This is my dad (Frank from WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE) reading on our back step in Hamilton, MO. I think I was in high school when I took this picture. Just this morning I read an article that explained how reading creates more white matter in the brain and expands learning areas of the brain, enhancing intelligence and empathy. Dad read every chance he got–everything from novels to medical journals, how-to books to Alfred Hitchcock magazines. I remember Mom laughing over funny novels, like Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, while Maureen and I read novels . . . and comic books. What books do you guys remember reading when you were kids? What did your parents read? What are you reading now?



August 8, 2017

Just Sayin'

When is the last time you wrote a letter? When is the last time you received one? In our age of texts and emojis, letters have dwindled. When I wrote WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, I was able to study over 600 letters written by my parents serving in WW2. Who preserves texts, even for the life of the phone? I decided I’d write a novel totally in letters. The result is JUST SAYIN’, a middle-grade novel in letters. The postmark and setting are Hamilton, MO, where I grew up.



July 24, 2017

Imagine yourself serving in a makeshift hospital overseas. Now, imagine you’re in the middle of World War 2, trying to care for desperately sick, wounded, terrified soldiers. And on top of that, you are a newlywed, and your spouse of only a few weeks is also at the front, caring for battlefield wounded . . . in a different country. How could such a marriage survive?

Letters. These are just two of the Army trunkful of letters from my mom and dad, Dr. Frank Daley and Nurse Helen Eberhart Daley. They lived for mail call, when they would hear from each other and know they were safe and still in love, in spite of the physical distance between them. Imagine waiting for a letter, hoping, praying . . . and nothing for days and days. You had been writing 2 or 3 times a day, every day. And then, imagine receiving a treasure–11 letters at once.

I based the novel, WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, on my parents’ stories and on the over 600 letters they left me.



July 21, 2017


This post only makes sense if you saw my last posting about Art Linkletter and his classic, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS. Here are a few kid quotes from the sequel I was honored to write: KIDS ARE STILL SAYING THE DARNDEST THINGS:

Q: What does God look like?

A: He’s really, really, really old–like 23. But He never looks a day older every time you see him.

Q: What makes God angry?

A: When his creations turn out too good . . like cockroaches and my brother.

Q: Why do you think we have mothers?

A: She’s the only one who knows where the Scotch Tape is???

Q: Who’s the boss at your house?

A: My dad’s the boss of our house . . . until Grandma comes over. Then he’s just one of us.

So many kid quotes in this book have shown up on the Internet. I’ve received forwarded emails from friends who thought I could use a good laugh. Only, all the quotes were from my book.

Finally, the three beauties in this picture are my granddaughters. Maybe I feel another book coming on: GRANDKIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS.



July 19, 2017

Dad's prophesy

Let me explain. If you’ve read WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, you know that my parents left me an Army trunk with over 600 letters they’d written each other while serving overseas as Army Dr. and Army nurse. I also found a cigar box (neither smoked cigars) with intriguing contents, including this memo. It’s an old prescription blank of Dad’s. How old? Well, note the phone numbers: 21 (home) and 66 (office). In case you can’t make out the handwriting, the note says: “Daughter is writing a book called ‘Parents Say the Darndest Things.” 1) At the time, I was way too young to declare that I wanted to be a writer. 2) Who remembers Art Linkletter’s classic KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS? 3) Decades later than this mysterious note was penned, I wrote:KIDS ARE STILL SAYING THE DARNDEST THINGS, with an introduction by Art Linkletter!



July 4, 2017

Rock Away Granny Cover (2)

This is my new picture book, and I’ll bet it will bring back a few memories. “We get out records–they’re small and black. A guy named Elvis has a giant stack.”

How many of these dances (all in this little book) do you remember? West Coast Swing; The Twist; The Boogaloo; The Swim; The Monster Mash; The Bunny Hop (instructions included)?  “I slide and guide. Then I swirl and twirl./ My gran grooves out like a go-go girl!  And we rock, rock, rock at Granny’s house tonight.”



June 28, 2017


WHAT? Big sis, Maureen, and little Dandi look even funnier than usual. I’ve been trying to figure out what had us so surprised. Then I saw it. *Do you?* And if you don’t, then take a wild and funny guess, which is what I would have done if I hadn’t spotted what I’ve spotted. And that is one way stories happen. I love that. When I teach a writing workshop, sometimes it’s fun to pass out pictures (not of me–I’m not that crazy) and let writers come up with a short story that explains the picture. Sound like fun?





June 15, 2017

Just HelenAll that I know about this picture is that it’s my mother, Helen Eberhart Daley, Lieutenant and nurse, serving in France toward the end of WW2. But it’s the kind of photo that creates a scene, a story, in my mind. I imagine her staring out to sea, maybe from Marseilles, taking a rare break from the hospital, hoping to glimpse a ship that could take her home. Or, maybe she’s looking for Frank, hoping he received her code letter telling him where she was, where they could meet. What do you guys imagine?

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