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July 2009: In Brief, Part 1

Highlights:
Writing Project Gets Attacked By Wagner-Loving Grass Pollen- Grass season was supposed to end in June.  Then I was going to finish the fourth draft of my kid novel.  Grass pollen-- my #1 allergen -- didn't get the memo.  Instead it rose up in the air to the tune of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, flew straight in my direction at the library, and totally destroyed my allergy shot miracle.  I was back to downing Benadryl, hiding inside my house, and getting little writing done.  Curse that Wagner and his influence on pollen!  (Okay, I admit there was no Wager playing, but if my life had a soundtrack -- uh, one other than what my music player had -- that Wagner piece would have been playing in the library each day.)

Before the onslaught I did get through 16 of 36 rough chapters.  I'm told the shots will work even better after another year though.  Yes please.

SCBWI Conference In Westminster-  The MD/WV/DE conference in Westminster is my favorite. They have good speakers, the nicest group of volunteers, and a wonderful set-up at Mc Daniel College. (It's the last year for this location though.  *Sniff*)  The best part of conferences, for me, is getting to see all my writing friends and talk books and TV.

New Allergy Mystery- The first half of the July it was grass allergies that tormented me. In the second half I couldn't figure out what was bothering me.  The grass pollen was gone and we don't have much weed pollen in Bethesda.  I tried staying only inside, then only outside, and still, my allergies were unrelenting.  What was I allergic to this time?  Martin decided it was dust.  So he and the daughterling took on the gigantic task of removing the ancient carpet from our room.  They also replaced the mattress I bought from my parents back in the 80s.  I loved the look of the clean wooden floor and the new mattress was quite comfortable, but my head was still swamped in mucus.  Curses!  The mystery continued....

Fiction Books Finished:
The Spellman Files
(***), by Lisa Lutz- 28-year-old Izzie Spellman has decided that she's never going to have a normal life until she moves away from her family. That's going to be tricky since she rents an apartment in their house and works for their private detective agency.  Her quest for independence is an enjoyable journey into both the world of a private investigators and the world of caring but eccentric families.

Ivy & Bean (***), by Annie Barrows- Seven-year-old Bean is looking for a friend.  She rejects her mother's suggestion to introduce herself to that "nice girl" Ivy across the street.  Active Bean is sure Ivy -- in pretty dresses with her hair neatly held back in a headband-- will be perfectly boring.  Then Bean plays a joke on her older sister and is forced to flee over by Ivy's house to hide.  It turns out girls in pretty dresses aren't always as "nice" or as boring as they look.

The story is simple, fun, and illustrated.  It's broken up into short chapters that are just the right size for an advanced-beginning reader who wants to try her first chapter book.  It's a popular series with the early first and second grade readers at my school. (For ages 6-10)