Some thoughts on book banning...


This year Banned Books Week is October 1 - 7, 2023. 

It's sad that we have to have a whole week to highlight this. 

Book banning is as old as writing itself. There is something powerful about the written word. Words contain our hopes, our dreams and our ideas. Words contained in books, written on posters and pamphlets are how those hopes and dreams and ideas can live forever. 

Powerful stuff. 

The history of book banning reaches far into history.  Books have been banned because they are "obscene" or because they are "hate literature", banned for political reasons, or for religious ones, for blasphemy and for giving offense, for being "socially corrupting" and for being too critical of those in power. Books have been banned for being "immoral" and for heresy, for featuring Jewish characters, and being critical of white supremacy. For being subversive, and anti-government. For depicting sexuality and for promoting homosexuality.  For celebrating black culture and for anti-slavery content. 

The list of reasons why a book or piece of writing is "unacceptable" is a long one.  Sometimes the supposed reasons are well meaning- "Let's protect the children," and sometimes they are not. 

In the USA the American Libraries Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom monitors attempts to censor books, materials and services across public, school and academic libraries. The ALA reports that in 2023 from January 1 to August 31 preliminary data shows a record surge of challenges in Public Libraries. The OIF reported 695 attempts to censor library materials, and 3,923 total titles were targeted for censorship. 

The suppression of ideas, and speech has no place in an open and democratic society. 

In case we have forgotten, the First Amendment states that

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 


2023 Letters & Lines Conference - RMC SCBWI

I attended this year's Letters & Lines Conference. 


This was only my second year, and I had a wonderful time. I managed to hang out with my mentor from the Michelle Begley Mentorship Program the amazing Anna-Maria Crum.

2023 Conference Photo 1

The photo above was taken of the line waiting to check in at registration at the beginning of the conference. 

All the sessions were informative, and I came away with a number of key takeaways: -

  1. Rejection is normal. Lean into it. Treat it as a learning experience. There is no shame in being rejected. 
  2. While the process of writing and illustrating is a creative process, the publishing process is all about business, profit and loss. It's an economic decision, and that decision has nothing to do with the creative value of your work. 
  3. Choosing an agent is the most important decision. It's like a marriage. Choose wisely. 

2023 Conference Photo 2

Photo above was of an industry panel general session. 


Labor Day Weekend Table Tennis Tournament

Over the Labor Day weekend, Kevin and I travelled to San Francisco's 888 Table Tennis Center to compete in a tournament there. We competed over 2 days in mostly rated events, and Kevin and I also competed in a rated doubles event. 

The standards were incredibly high. I played mostly the superkids- and they were exceptionally good. Their skill and speed far outmatched mine. It really didn't matter. As I've said before Table Tennis is my happy place. 

We stayed at a hotel that was very close to the competition venue... it took no more than 10 minutes' walk each way.

We got to see some great matches. And I became obsessed with some of the brightly colored shoes...

888 Table Tennis Tournament photo2- shoes

2023 Friday Poetry Challenge

The Passing

Crystal light shining amongst the autumn leaves, a slow Colorado fall. 

A fleeting thought, a whispered breadth, a slow rising breeze.

Knowing but not knowing. 

Without fanfare your moment comes. 

A butterfly's kiss, a fragile wing, a quiet slipping away. 



2023 Friday Poetry Challenge
Remember to post an original poem every Friday. Here it comes - the good, the bad and the ugly. 



Do you have a happy place?

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a happy place. A place or an activity where stresses and strains of the outside world never intrude. Or if they do, it is never for very long. 

For me, table tennis is my happy place. There is something about concentrating on the little white ball, that pushes all stress away. Table tennis is a sport where it doesn't matter your age, ability or agility- you can still compete and be competitive. Table tennis is a sport that is easy to learn but hard to perfect. It is very like chess- there is quite a bit of strategy mixed in with enormous skill, and the pace is... fast. 

Note that I call this table tennis and not ping pong. For me, ping pong is what you play in your basement with your family, or in a bar with your friends. You are relaxed about following the rules.

Table tennis is something different entirely... it is more than a basement game, and much, much more than a bar game. There are strict rules, and sanctioned tournaments, and US Table Tennis ratings, and lessons, and coaching, and... you get the idea. 

Over the July 4th week Kevin and I went to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the US Nationals. We had a blast. 

US Nationals 2023 FW

The event was held in the Fort Worth Convention Center. 

FW Convention Center

There were well over 100 tables set up.

2023 US Nationals me and the hall

Events started on Monday July 3rd- and ended on Friday, July 7th. I competed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Kevin finished his events on Thursday. 

Kevin and I entered the rated 3100 Doubles competition. This was the first time for us to be competing in a doubles event. I was completely intimidated when I realized that for the very first round, we had to play on court 1. I don't EVER expect to play on court 1. So, while HUGELY intimidating, it also was quite the experience. There were 2 umpires, who watched our every movement quite closely. I am so grateful for the experience. (And no we did not win or progress beyond round 1.) 

2023 US Nationals Doubles Round 1 Crt 1

Note our super cute and matching shirts.

Did we win and bring home medals and trophies? 

2023 US Nationals Trophies

NO. Because that's not why we do this. 

We competed and played to the very best of our abilities. We came away from the week filled with enthusiasm for the next tournament- whether it be large like the Nationals, or small like one played at our local club. Table tennis is a very addictive sport. 



Cross post: Coordinates, longitude and latitude- the story of imagination and geometry

This post is from the Adventures of Caitlin & Rio site. 

In the 4th book, The Forgetful Ferret, Caitlin, and her friends solve a secret code – a set of coordinates. That got me thinking. How do we know where we are and where we are going? Thanks to modern technology, our smart phones, available apps and a legion of satellites orbiting our planet it takes a couple of taps, and before you know it, your smartphone is giving you directions.


Imagination is a wonderful thing. I am not so sure about geometry. But the story of longitude and latitude is really a story about imagination and geometry.

Ancient Greeks and Phoenicians had great imaginations. The Phoenicians were great explorers. They observed the night sky with its patterns and constellations. They noticed that one star remained constant throughout the four seasons – and that was the North Star (or Polaris.)

Ancient Greeks, Eratosthenes and Hipparchus imagined that the Earth had imaginary lines - with two sets of parallel lines – one running north – south, the other running east – west. This was first used by Eratosthenes. Eratosthenes was a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist (quite a guy.) He was born in 276 BC. Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician was the first to use these lines as coordinates for specific locations.

Geometry is important to our story of longitude and latitude. Without geometry we would not be able calculate either latitude or longitude. For instance, the Phoenicians were the first to determine latitude (imaginary east – west lines)– the distance from Earth’s poles. The Phoenicians determined latitude in this way - at night they would use the stars such as the North Star or Polaris in the Northern Hemisphere. Once Polaris is located then work out the angle in degrees between Polaris’ position and the northern horizon. Navigators would use a quadrant or a sextant to do this. This angle measure is the same latitude north of the equator.

Longitude (imaginary north-south lines) cannot be determined this way. To accurately calculate longitude, one needs a fixed known point (a meridian) and accurate time. On land with easily identified landmarks the calculation of longitude was easier. (Although it took several centuries before accurate time pieces were invented.) But at sea, the accurate calculation of longitude was difficult – there were no identifiable landmarks on the open seas.

There were many disastrous shipping disasters due to the inaccuracy of the longitude calculations at sea. Navigators would follow the latitudes (easier to calculate) and then hope for the best. The Eighteenth century was a century of exploration. Britain, and France competed for supremacy of the seas. It made a huge difference to be able to accurately navigate where they needed to sail. There were a couple of Government initiatives designed to reward innovation.

In 1714 the British government offered a £10,000 prize for accuracy within one degree of latitude (60 nautical miles at the equator) to £20,000 for accuracy within one-half of a degree for any person or persons who could accurately calculate longitude while at sea. That was a lot of money back then. According to the BBC the prize was won by John Harrison. But this is not entirely true. The official prize was never awarded. (reference John Harrison - Scientist of the Day - Linda Hall Library )

John Harrison, was born March 24th, 1693 and was a British clockmaker. He built a series of clocks that could accurately measure time. (These clocks were accurate for their time, one such clock (the H4) sailed for Jamaica in 1761, and 2 months later was only 5 seconds slow.)  The Board of Longitude (no doubt not very eager to pay out the prize money) demanded a re-trial. The second voyage in 1764, the timepiece gave a longitude error of 10 miles. Still the Board resisted paying out the prize money. It took an appeal to King George III himself before final payments were made. Harrison was required to give the Board all his clocks, notes and drawings.

A prime meridian is the line of longitude where the longitude is defined to be 0 degrees. In October 1884 the Greenwich Meridian was selected by delegates representing 25 nations to be common zero of longitude and standard time of reckoning around the world.

This is a good thing. Because before that was decided there were a number of prime meridians around the world. This would have made it extremely confusing. Now with the Greenwich Meridian being a common zero then all lines of longitude can be calculated using the relative position to the Greenwich Meridian, the position of the sun and the reference time.

Oddly enough time and the ability to accurately tell the time was very important to calculating longitude. The reason why is that to pinpoint a location, it needed to be compared to the corresponding time at two different locations.

This seems very confusing. But it is not when you picture the earth turning on its axis as it moves around the Sun. Now picture a fixed point on the earth. Now look at your watch and what is the time?

Say the time is noon. Let us call that local time. But the time at the prime meridian is 5pm. Which means if someone were standing on the prime meridian at noon our time it would be 5pm their time. Each hour represents 15 degrees in the earth’s rotation. (360 degrees divided by 24 hours.) That means the longitude  at the place were we are standing is 5 times 15 which is 75 degrees.


See Wikipedia Eratosthenes - Wikipedia for more information about Eratosthenes

Wikipedia mentions Hipparchus in a nice entry about the History of Longitude. History of longitude - Wikipedia For more information about Hipparchus see Hipparchus - Biography, Facts and Pictures (

For an interesting in depth description of Harrison’s first Sea Watch (H4) see In-Depth: The Microscopic Magic of H4, Harrison’s First Sea Watch | SJX Watches (

The Linda Hall Library has an interesting write up of John Harrison the British clockmaker who “won” the Board of Longitude’s competition. John Harrison - Scientist of the Day - Linda Hall Library

Britannica has the clearest description and explanation. latitude and longitude | Definition, Examples, Diagrams, & Facts | Britannica

Father's Day

My Dad taught me so much. He taught me about honesty and hard work; that I am worthy; and that I matter. He was a very special man, and I miss him every day. 

Miss you Daddy 11-6-2022