It Wasn’t a Coincidence

Most Saturdays, my husband and I have a long “to do” list and yesterday was no exception.  One of the items on that list was for him to get his flu shot. We stopped in at the pharmacy where I used to work to see if he might be able to get one there.

While we waited for them to prepare his vaccine, I had the pleasure of chatting with some of my former co-workers.  One had recently moved, and another just joined the grandparent club two weeks ago, so I was excited to hear their news.

After a few minutes, a woman came into the pharmacy gift shop and said she was looking for a children’s book about chickens that she had seen on a previous visit.  My friend and former co-worker pulled out a copy of “Which Came First?” and motioned toward me and said, “That’s the author over there.”

I was stunned and delighted!  How many authors get the opportunity to hear a customer come in and request one of their books.  Well, the famous ones probably do all the time.  But it was such a fun moment for me!  

Of course, I went over to meet the woman and offered to sign the book she was buying for her granddaughter, Hazel. I told her about the fun mouse that the illustrator, Vicki Guess, had hidden in all the outside pictures for the children to find.

During our conversation, she asked about the other books I had written. So, I told her about the “The Button Box” and “The Day The Turkey Came To School.” She bought those as well and I signed them for two more of her grandchildren.  She commented on what fortunate timing it was that she had come in when I was there.

As we continued to talk, she asked if I had other books in the works.  I said that I did, but that I also worked full-time as the Director of Senior Living at a local retirement community. She inquired about which community and when I told her, she smiled and said, “My mother and my sister both live there.” I asked for their names since I work with 200 independent residents.


Of course, I know her mother and her sister too! I don’t know if they were aware that I write books, but I suspect they probably do now. We laughed together about our serendipitous meeting that day and my new friend hugged me.

I am privileged to be connected to this family through both of my professional vocations. I don’t believe our meeting was a coincidence.

My books are available at the Community Pharmacy Gift Shop in Denton, Texas, at a library near you, at a gift shop or book store near you, on Amazon, and for a signed copy, on my author website at:

The Day The Turkey Came To School

The actual events that inspired the story of “The Day The Turkey Came To School” happened about 15 years ago when my daughter, Anna, was ten years old.  I was driving her to her elementary school in Portage, Michigan one November day when a big turkey with an attitude did indeed have the school drive blocked.  I remember thinking that very morning that I should write a story about it someday!

About three years ago, I was going through the stories on my computer and found a half page beginning to the story.  I finished it in about an hour and thought it had potential to be my next book for kids.

When I sent it to my illustrator, Vicki Killion Guess, she liked it immediately but said she would need to do some research before she could draw and paint a turkey! A friend in Michigan took pictures of the actual school…Angling Road Elementary…and sent them to Vicki so she could picture how to paint the school and the drive for the book illustrations. (In case you are wondering, I did donate a copy of the book to the Angling Road School Library.)

Vicki and I had a lot of fun working on the story together and as a surprise for me, she painted my first grandchild, Graham Michael, in one of the crowd scenes.  He is the baby in the red and white striped outfit being held by his father (my son, Ryan) in the DePauw shirt. Just for fun, Vicki also painted her own seven children in the crowd scenes.

One other secret about the book is that the heroine of the story, Miss Thompson, the second grade teacher, is based on my real-life daughter-in-law, Paige Thompson Sever. Since I am a huge fan of teachers and the wonderful jobs they do, I dedicated the book to all the teachers, including my dear friend and art teacher, Vicki Killian Guess.

While the story is about a turkey coming to school, it’s also about one of those unexpected events that bring people together and how people might react to such a surprising and funny situation. I didn’t intend for it to be a Thanksgiving story, but the combination of it being about a turkey and set in November, has made the book a popular one this time of year.

Vicki and I were both delighted and honored when “The Day The Turkey Came To School” was named the “Best Children’s Book” at the April 2018 North Texas Book Festival. Since then, many teachers and parents and grandparents have made the book a part of their Thanksgiving lesson plans and family traditions.

I’ve read it many times at schools and libraries and it is great fun for me to see the smiles on all the young faces as they listen to my turkey story and learn a little turkey trivia. Next month, I will have the pleasure of reading it for the first time in the city where it happened…at the Portage, Michigan Public Library.

“The Day The Turkey Came to School” can be found at a library near you, at a gift or book store near you, on Amazon, or for a signed copy, on my author website at

Don’t Be a Chicken Liver

My daughter, Anna, has told me that no matter how many books I publish, “Which Came First?” will always be her favorite.  I don’t know if she likes it because of the fact that the story really happened to me when I was a girl, or if it’s the highly entertaining illustrations by Vicki Killion Guess, or maybe just because it’s a funny story about a girl and chickens.  I like it too and I had a lot of fun writing it.

“Which Came First?” was my second book and is a tongue-in-cheek, humorous story about a ten-year -old girl who must gather the eggs on her grandmother’s farm.  The problem is she is terrified of the chickens and of the rooster named “Pretty Boy” who patrols the barnyard. Torn between her fear of the chickens and her desire to please her beloved grandmother, the girl tries several resourceful ways to get the task completed.

While it’s a funny farm story about chickens and eggs and the love between a grandmother and granddaughter, it’s also a story about not giving up and being resourceful.  I wrote the story because I wanted children to know about farm life and what it was like to have to gather eggs.  I also wanted to write a story that taught about the importance of perseverance and not giving up just because a something might be a little difficult.

“Which Came First?” is a story I originally wrote 15-20 years ago when my children were growing up. As a mother, when you are trying to teach your own children, you often think back to how you were taught.  As a young girl, I learned from my grandmother that you keep trying until you figure out a way to get the job done.  This means you may have to try several different approaches before you are successful.  What a good lesson for us all!

From “Which Came First?”:

I entered the room where the chickens had their production line and saw the triple row of boxes lining the perimeter of the room.  The hens sat on their nests like a line of haughty matrons under the hair dryers at the local beauty salon.  Even though it was quiet and dark in there, I could feel their beady eyes watching me.  They were silently daring me to try to take away their prized accomplishments.

I was afraid of them, and sensed that they felt, even took delight in my fear.  As I approached the closest row of nests, one of the hens began making that low sound of half fear and half warning that rumbled out of their throats whenever they felt threatened by thieving humans.  Soon, the other hens joined in and the chicken coop came alive with a chorus of menacing clucks. 

On a personal note, I wanted to use the phrase “Don’t be a chicken liver” in one of my stories because that’s something my brother, Jeff, and I used to say to one another when we were kids and one of us was afraid of something.  In hindsight, I wish I had named the book “Don’t Be a Chicken Liver” because it’s funny and it makes me think of him whenever I say it.

One of the many things that makes “Which Came First?” fun to read, is that artist Vicki Killian Guess hid a mouse in all of the outside illustrations for children (and adults) to find. At the end of the story, there are also egg points with “Fun Facts About Chickens” and “Funny Chicken Sayings.”

My books are available at a library near you, at selected gift stores across the country, on Amazon, and for a signed copy, on my author website: