Category Archives: writing life

10 Feb

Author v. Them: When to Revise for Critiquers

I am scared to work on my WIP story right now.
Because someone I respect read the story and said that it’s working well, but I think I need to make one change–a pretty big one–to make it even stronger. But Critiquer said it was great, as is. If I mess with it, will it – well, mess it up? Or will messing with it make it stronger like I suspect?

The Role of Critiques: Clearing up Confusion

This leaves me with a major question about the role of critiques. Basically, I get critiques to check how well I’m communicating. I don’t get critiques to see if my writing is any good (see this post on the good/bad question)

Good feedback includes a reader pointing out where they are confuse or where they lost interest.

Confusion, in early drafts, is often because my vision for the story isn’t solidified, which results in inconsistent portrayal of a character, or contradictory information.

“On page 11, you said Martha was mad, but when she meets Horace in page 15, she runs up and hugs him. Which is it? Mad or glad to see him?

Often, I want to say, “Both.”
But that doesn’t work, does it? If she is livid on page 11, she’d better show that fury on page 15. Else, why have her so mad on page 11?

Another inconsistency that escapes me in early drafts is points of fact or logic. In my WIP, the villain will use a drone to deliver something remotely. My idea about drones was that they are sort of airplane shaped, but the reviewer quickly sent me to YouTube to discover that they are more helicopter-like, but instead of one big blade on top, they have multiple rotating blades on top. Or at least, one current popular model looks like that. I could, of course, invent my own drone design for this story, but why? That would take valuable time away from the creation of characters and plot. My story isn’t ABOUT drones, so it’s not worth the effort. Instead, I’ll look at videos of several different models and synthesize something more factual than the current description.

The Role of Critiques: Reader Reaction

Again, I don’t care if you call my story good or bad. But I do want to know where a typical reader loses interest. WHERE is the key question. Not WHY? As the author, I should be able to pinpoint the why. I just need to know WHERE. When you tell me where you lose interest, I’ll look and go through a mental list of things that could be happening: the prose is awful, nothing is happening, the characters are boring, etc.

I can revise to keep your attention by using better prose, pumping up the action, writing more active character descriptions, putting more at risk in the main character’s life and so on.

The Trap of Critiques

The biggest problem for me today, though, is the trap of critiques; or perhaps to sat it differently, the problem is that someone said my story is Good. Good is the enemy of Best, goes the old proverb. But it’s good. Someone–a reader I respect–said it’s good. Do I trust that, or do I listen to the itch in my storyteller’s sense that I need to tweak this one spot, which will improve pacing later, and create BETTER?

I’m scared of messing it up badly. Of course, I can keep a copy of BEFORE; but the revision will take a lot of small changes and it will be hard to get back to the original. Will I take a chance or not? And if I make these changes, but then realize that it didn’t turn out for the best, will I be willing to do the work to undo everything? Commit or not? Today, I’m scared to work.

It’s a typical day for an author.

22 Dec

Please Nominate Fiction Notes!

The Write to Done blog has opened nominations for its 9th annual writing blog recognition. Readers, you were kind enough to nominate Fiction Notes and it was named a 2013 Top 10 Blog for Writers.

Fiction Notes is named a Top Writing Blog of 2013

Fiction Notes is named a Top Writing Blog of 2013

Please nominate Fiction Notes for the 2014 award!

Blogging has its own rewards, of course, but last year’s recognition for this blog, has kept me motivated to provide you with another year of posts. Thanks for the nomination last year. And thanks for all your friendships!

Deadline for nomination is December 24, 2014.

Here’s the guidelines:
To Nominate your favorite writing blog, you need to do 3 things in the comments section of this post:

1. Nominate only one writing blog. If you nominate many blogs, even in different comments, only your first vote will be counted.

2. Specify the correct web address of the blog you’ve nominated. (Fiction Notes at

3. Give reasons why you believe the blog you’ve nominated should win this year’s award.

Thanks so much! My motto is always, “I believe in YOUR story.”
I hope you also believe in Fiction Notes.


01 Dec

3 Reasons I Failed NaNoWriMo – and Why It’s OK

I am a failure.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo–again. And again–I failed to make 50,000 words.

But I have good reasons.

World Building. I did massive work this month on world building. Since I’m writing a science fiction novel, I needed to invent technology, figure out where to locate installations, design the installations to meet the needs of my sff characters and the needs of the story, create scientifically accurate details throughout, along with the usual backstory.

I used Google Earth to investigate Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area, worked on backstory and characterization, and dug into the details of scenes. Many scenes that are still to be written have been written about; that is, I’ve written notes about who, what, when, where, why and with what emotion. When I do sit down to write the scene, it should go quickly.

November is Hard. I’ve never understood the decision to make November the NaNoWriMo month; it’s one of the busiest months for me. Arkansas has a major reading conference, besides the Thanksgiving holiday. All together there were 7-8 days I simply could not write because I was busy all day with other activities. For me, burning the midnight oil does no good, but at that hour, all I can write is crap. Still, I wrote steadily on the days that I could and made progress.

Writing Style. Fashion swings wildly. Many editors believe that writing should take a long, long time. The fad in the Indie world these days is very rapid writing. In the end–I write as fast as I can and still turn out something that pleases me. I must please myself, not an editor or a contest like NaNoWriMo or anyone else. I can only write as fast as I can write.

My Speed is OK

BlueOKIt’s really OK that I didn’t write 50,000 words this month.

  • I had a great time at the Arkansas Reading Association conference.
  • I had a great time with my family.
  • I wrote about 32,500 words, which is 32,500 words more than I started the month with. More than that, I know my characters better and know that it was a very good month of work.

That’s all I can say.

08 Sep

Momentum: Keep the Writing Coming

You’ve started! Hurrah!
Now, how do you keep going, especially when LIFE happens? As it invariably will!

Stop in the Middle

One strategy to keep momentum going is to stop in the middle of a sentence, paragraph, or scene. Those who recommend this suggest that you stop at an exciting moment, at a place that will be easy and apparent on how to proceed when you come back to it.

This makes sense. Creative people stop working on their craft at a very specific moment: they fail to start again. It’s rare for an artist/writer to stop working on a project. Of course, we all have drawers full of half-finished manuscripts. But the fact that they are half-finished might even be encouraging. No, instead, a writer may accomplish a big goal, say publication of the novel of their dreams. And then–nothing. Once that goal is accomplished, they fail to start again.

Leaving a work in the middle of something interesting means that you have a chance of coming back to it and actually picking it up again.

Keep Score

I am motivated by numbers. Give me a running tally of something and it motivates me to see that number increase. Writing is especially suited to keeping score: keep track of how many words you write each day and a running total for the project. You can do this manually, or with programs such as Scrivener. Some writers like to do this in public with a widget on their website or by posting on Facebook.

Know Where You Are Going

Whether you are a panster or outliner, it helps to keep in mind something about the coming story. For pansters, maybe it’s a vague idea of the ending of the story. For outliners, it’s the next chapter or scene. Either way, I find that looking forward helps me come back to the work fresh and ready to move on.

Dealing with Life

Your job, in the midst of everything that life throws at you, is to find a way to move forward. When I taught freshman composition, one semester, I had a student who had major life challenges. His wife was six months pregnant and on total bed rest or she might lose the baby. His daughter was autistic and each night he sat with her doing homework to keep her from literally banging her head against the wall. He worked full time. I suggested that maybe he should drop out a semester until life was calmer. But he said that his employment was contingent on him being in school and working toward a degree. He couldn’t quit school or he had no job.

“How do I find time to write an essay?” he asked.

The simple answer is, “I don’t know.”

All I could say to him was that I had great sympathy for his situation and would encourage him as much as I could. But in the end, if he didn’t turn in an essay, I couldn’t give him a grade.

And in the end, we all stand before the complications of Life and must find a way to deal with those Life issues and still do the work that we are given to do.

How do you find the time to write?
I don’t know. I have great sympathy for you and I’m cheering for you and hoping that you make the effort because the world needs to hear your voice.
But in the end, you must find the solution to your own Life issues.
When you do, send me your good news!

P.S. My student DID turn in essays and wound up with a B for the semester.

06 Aug

Writers Write: Banish Discouragement

Today, I am discouraged.

My trusty friend, ART AND FEAR, says this:

“. . .artmaking can be a rather lonely, thankless affair. Virtually all artists spend some of their time (and some artists spend virtually all of their time) producing work that no one else much cares about. . . The sobering truth is that the disinterest of others hardly ever reflects a gulf in vision. In fact there’s generally no good reason why others should care about most of any one artist’s work.”

Yes. that’s how I feel today, that no one is much interested in any of my work.
Ho, hum.
So, what?

Fortunately, ART AND FEAR goes on:

“The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.”

On those discouraging days, these are words to cling to!


25 Jul

Take a Creative Risk – You Might Surprise Yourself

I’ve been writing for years. (Let’s not discuss how many exactly!) It’s easy to fall into habits and to think about stories in certain ways. The best creative people, though, insist that they are constantly learning and to do that, they try something different. They take risks.

Let me suggest some risks you might want to take:

Take a creative risk today! Try a new format, genre, audience, or marketing strategy.

Take a creative risk today! Try a new format, genre, audience, or marketing strategy.

Try a different genre. If you’ve only written nonfiction, try a novel. Love writing picturebooks? Try a webpost. Good writing is good writing is good writing. But platforms DO make a difference in length, diction (your choice of vocabulary to include/exclude), voice and more. Why not try writing a sonnet?

Try for a different audience. Stretch your genre tastes and try a different one. Write a romance for YAs. Or a mystery for first graders. Are all of your protagonists female? Then try writing from a male’s POV and try to capture a male audience.

Try a different process or word processing program. I took a class on Scrivener this spring and am continuing to explore what this amazing program can and can’t do. I’m also learning Dragon Dictate to lessen the ergonomic strain on my hands. I know that these programs have potential to change not just my writing process, but also the output. I’m just not sure HOW they will affect it. It’s a risk.

Market to different places. While we often separate the writing from the marketing–especially when we think about the creative process–I think you can still take creative risks with marketing. For example, identify a market FIRST, and write specifically for that market. In this case, you are letting the market sculpt your creative output. If you write a short story for Highlights Magazine for Kids, it’s got to be 600 words or less. If you write an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post, everything is different in your creative output. If you decide to self-publish, you may find yourself suddenly taking the question of commercial viability much more seriously.

14 May

5 Small–But Vital–Tasks for Off Days: #4 is the Worst

Today is an in between day for me. I’ve finished one speaking gig, but have another on Saturday, the Little Rock Chapter of the American Christian Writers. I’m working on that presentation, of course, but I have some extra time today. I’ve just finished a project and I’m in between projects. So–an off day?

No. Here are small tasks that always need to get done. None of these are major priorities, but just maintenance work for my online presence.

  1. Amazon Author Page. Using my account at Author Central , I am updating my bio to include recent books. This is an important, free page that Amazon provides to authors to help promote your books. It should be updated as often as there’s News to report.
  2. News Page. Of course, the News Page on my own website is important to keep updated–and there are updates there for you to read. Here’s why it’s important to keep it updated.
  3. Tweaks on existing manuscripts. I think slowly. Sometimes, it takes me a long time to realize how to exactly say something or what a story needs. But when I finally think of it, I’m deep into another project and there doesn’t seem time to go back to the old one. After all, it’s just a small tweak. Well, those small tweaks may be the most important I ever do! I’ll tweak a couple things today.
  4. Accounting. Boo! Accounting is my least favorite thing to do, so it sinks to the bottom of my priority list. But today, I don’t have a priority list, so I’d better catch up on it.
  5. Read, Share, Re-Tweet, Re-Pin and so on. Social media is about sharing original content. But it’s also about curating content from others. I make it a priority to share my original content, but I find less time to read others’ blogs, share important FB updates, ReTweet and Re-Pin. Days like this, I take the time to read that blog post I bookmarked two weeks ago, but still haven’t read. It feels leisurely!
  6. For example, here’s a great video of Crystal Chan talking about her new book, BIRD. Fascinating to see her inspiration.

    If you can’t see this video, click here.

02 May

May News: Earth Day, Featured Blog and Mother’s Day

This is a newsy post for May:

Celebrating Earth Day

Authors for Earth Day

Authors for Earth Day.

This week, I did a couple school visits to celebrate Earth Day, as part of the Authors For Earth Day program. Yes, it was after Earth Day, but it was the only time we could schedule it.

Darcy Pattison

Darcy Pattison presenting at Gibbs Magnet Elementary School, Little Rock School District, as part of her participation in Authors For Earth Day.

Darcy Pattison

Darcy Pattison signing books at Authors For Earth Day event.

Student holding Abayomi.

Student at Gibbs Elementary holding my book, ABAYOMI.

Fiction Notes: Featured SCBWI Blog for May/June

I’ve been notified that Fiction Notes will be one of the featured blogs on the SCBWI home page for the next two months. They choose about nine blogs to highlight and rotate them six times a year. I am surprised, but pleased to be included. I was the Arkansas SCBWI Regional Advisor for six years and Conference Director for 10–it’s an organization that has meant a lot to me.

Mother’s Day

Are you active on Pinterest? Here’s a new possibility for promoting your content. Pinterest has announced a Mother’s Day Inspiration Challenge.

“Create a public Pinterest board with your favorite mom memories and the things ‘mom used to make.'”
If you want to join the fun, the deadline is May 7.

The challenge is always how to take someone else’s writing/publishing prompt and make it your own! Here’s my Mother’s Day Pinterest Board, where you’ll see a couple photos of my mom and my tribute to her–plus a few classic books, of course.

27 Apr

Arkansas Literary Festival: Cocktails, Glossolalia, and Orphaned Pumas

Cocktail Party – Author! Author!

Friday night, I went to the Author! Author! party with Carla McClafferty, my author friend. We chatted with local radio celebrity, Ann Nicholson, host of KUAR’s Art Scene show.

Mcclafferty Nichols

Arkansas author, Carla McClafferty, and KUAR radio “Art Scene” host, Ann Nicholson.

Of course, they had good food.

Author! Author! Cocktail party at the AR Literary Festival.

Author! Author! Cocktail party at the AR Literary Festival.

Arkansas author Erica Taylor was accompanied to the party by her husband, Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor. Here’s his plate.

Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor's plate at the Author! Author! Cocktail party, AR Literary Festival.

Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor’s plate at the Author! Author! Cocktail party, AR Literary Festival.

If you read my first blog post about the Arkansas Literary Festival, you know that I featured 71-year old Catherine Coutler’s legs. Here, I am confessing that I wrote about her; Carla, Catherine and I also tried to outdo each other by telling horror stories about author visits.

Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison talking with Catherine Coulter.

Arkansas author, Darcy Patti son talking with Catherine Coulter.

Catherine also talked about the process of working with co-writer J.T. Ellison on her new Brit in the FBI series. Like James Patterson and Clive Cussler, Catherine is looking to establish several ongoing series by using cowriters. She said that she firmly believes in paying a co-writer well; of course, being an instant NY Times bestseller is also an incentive for a co-writer. Catherine is usually a panster, writing with no outline. For this series, though, she and J.T. sat down and planned out the next 90 or so scenes and the story has pretty much stayed on track. It is possible to learn a new writing strategy, even after 70 books.

Would you be interested in co-writing with a NY Time best-selling author? Why or why not?

Speed Dating for Authors

For me, the second day of the Arkansas Literary Festival kicked off on Saturday with a Treasure Hunt at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, a gorgeous new facility dedicated to children’s literature and children.

We describe the Treasure Hunt as “speed-dating for authors.” Kids go from station to station, looking for clues, and of course, there is a treasure (snack and small gift) at the end. In the past, the speed dating has had ten minutes at each station, and then a bell rings to move kids to the next station. This time, kids were just set free to complete the treasure hunt at his/her own speed.

For authors, this didn’t work well and I hope we’ll go back to ten minute sessions next year. For example, one boy who was the right age for my ABAYOMI book breezed through, totally focused on gathering clues and getting the prize at the end. He was probably the first to finish in record time–but he saw none of the books and talked to no authors. If the setup had allowed ten minutes per station, he might have been pulled into a couple of great books that were unfamiliar to him.

Still–it was a great morning with kids, and I was so busy, I took no pictures.

Short Stories

I wanted to attend at least one session on Saturday and chose to go see David Jauss, author and writing teacher. He teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Vermont College and is the author of one of the most amazing books on how-to-write: On Writing Fiction: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About the Craft. His essay on point-of-view is unconventional, but brilliant. I used his ideas as the basis of a 3-post discussion of POV in The One and Only Ivan, winner of the 2013 Newbery. I had never met Jauss and wanted to hear him.

Jauss and author Cary Holladay were talking about short stories and both read interesting selections. Then, the moderator asked, “How do you know when a story is done?”

For Holladay, she intuitively knows when a story is done, because it wraps up something and just feels done. Jauss posed an interesting question. At first, he quipped, “A story is done when you die.”

But he went on to point out that some writers feel a published story should be archived at the moment of publication as an expression of where the writer was at that point of his/her career. However, Jauss feels its his duty to improve his stories each time it may be published. One short story has seen print about seven times in various journals or anthologies and each time, he tweaks it.

Where do you stand? After a story is published, would you tweak it again when it is republished?

Arkansas Author, David Jauss talking about his story story collection, Glossolalia

Arkansas Author, David Jauss talking about his story story collection, Glossolalia

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma

For my author session about ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub, I was at the Witt Stephens Nature Center. Situated right on the Arkansas River, just a block east of the Main Library for the Central Arkansas Library System and a block west of the Clinton Presidential Library, it’s a jewel of a place that is dedicated to the wildlife in the state.

Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison discussing her new book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma.

Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison discussing her new book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma.

My last session was about self-publishing. As a hybrid author, I now have lots of sources and information for those just starting the indie process. Here’s my handout for the session. IndiePublishing-2014LitFestival.

I saw a tiny slice of the festival this year, which featured over 85 authors. Still, it was an intensive and fun two days and i am already looking forward to next year’s festival.

25 Apr

Arkansas Literary Festival: Ankle Bracelets, Revised Sex Scenes, and Bees

This weekend is the Arkansas Literary Festival, and I’m busy and having a blast.

The day started at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, where First Lady Ginger Beebe hosted Literacy on the Lawn for the sixth year in a row. Mrs. Beebe extends invitations to schools in the state to bring classes to the Mansion for Arkansas authors to read to them. After a Mansion session, they go to the Clinton Presidential Library across town; this year, they met with the amazing Kadir Nelson for a session about his books. That’s the bare facts. Here’s the behind the scenes story.

The Arkansas Literacy Festival Started for Me with the Literacy on the Lawn at the Governor’s Mansion

When I arrived at the Governor’s Mansion, I was met by Mrs. Beebe. Because of laws limiting a governor’s term to eight years, this is the last year for Mrs. Beebe to host the Literacy on the Lawn and there was a touch of sadness, and perhaps, she was more relaxed this year, too. Wearing a bright pink dress and white blouse, she chatted about past years. After a cup of coffee, she directed me to my station. I was to expect two classes of third-graders about 30 minutes apart.

Ar Governor's mansion coffee cup

A first-time author wondered if these were souvenir cups that we could take home. No. They were just here for early morning refreshments to get the day started right.

Meeting Erica Taylor

Darcy Pattison Erica Taylor

Erica Taylor, Arkansas author, who read her books at the Literacy on the Lawn.

Before the kids arrived, I chatted with another presenter, Erica Taylor, Arkansas author of Figler: My Imaginary Friend. Erica was cheerful and we chatted about books and life. She played college basketball for Louisiana Tech University and was drafted for the WNBA by the Washington Mystics (she’s the tall one in the photo!). She told about trying out for the Olympic team at the age of 16 and not making it; however, at the trials, she met her future husband, Jermain Taylor, who became in 2005, the Undisputed Middleweight Boxing Champion. Mother of three, Erica now writes and is a dance mom, shepherding her daughter through many dance competitions.

Reading to Kids: I Always Learn Something New from my Readers

The sessions with kids went well. Students from Lynch Drive Elementary School in the North Little Rock School District were attentive and asked great questions about Laysan albatrosses and Brazilian pumas. For me, the most interesting thing was that third graders didn’t seem to understand how the world of nature is interconnected, in other words, what an ecosystem truly is. We talked about why we might want to save the orphaned puma and many were surprised that scientists wanted to return it to the wild, where it might potentially harm someone.

In Brazil, I explained that ticks carry Brazilian spotted fever, a lethal disease similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and which is on the increase nationwide. The host for the ticks are capybaras, the largest rodent in the world. The predator for capybaras is the puma (also known as cougar, Florida panther, mountain lion, etc.). By encouraging puma populations, you defeat the Brazilian spotted fever. These connections were difficult for the kids to understand. Perhaps this means I need to write a book explaining ecosystems?

Learning to Revise a Sex Scene

Catherine Coulter

California author, Catherine Coulter teaching us how to write better sex scenes.

I had a two hour break and had planned to actually attend a session at the Literary Festival. I chose Catherine Coulter’s “Kill ‘em Clean” session because she was talking about writing and I thought it could be interesting. In honor of this decision, I am listening to the Audible version of The Final Cut (A Brit in the FBI), which is co-written with J.T. Ellison. At 71 years old, Catherine was a knockout, wearing high heels and wearing an ankle bracelet. Her session was a knock-out, too, because it’s the first time I’ve ever had a teacher read an awful love scene and then talk the participants through a revision of the love scene. Yes, I learned how to revise a sex scene. But I have no clue when I will use this new-found skill!
Catherine Coulter legs

At 71 years old, Catherine Coulter still wears a knee-length skirt, high heels, and an ankle bracelet for her presentation. Wow!

Of course, Catherine covered much more in her session (Read the classic Strunk and White for a quick overview of what Catherine covered), but she will forever stand out in my mind because she’s the first writing teacher I’ve had who tackled–in public–revising a sex scene.

Luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion

I returned to the Governor’s Mansion where the festivities had died down and kids were boarding buses to return to their schools. Traditionally, Mrs. Beebe hosts a thank-you luncheon for the docents who gave tours of the Mansion to the students, and to the authors who read to the students. Kadir Nelson joined us from the Clinton Presidential Libary.

We dined on Cobb Salad.

Cobb salad with vinaigrette dressing was served for the luncheon after the Literacy on the Lawn.

Cobb salad with vinaigrette dressing was served for the luncheon after the Literacy on the Lawn.

Dessert included an Arkansas-shaped sugar cookie and mixed berries.
Coffee and dessert on the Governor's Mansion china: a sugar-cookie in the shape of Arkansas and mixed berries.

Coffee and dessert on the Governor’s Mansion china: a sugar-cookie in the shape of Arkansas and mixed berries.

A Note: Why, you might ask has this post included so many pictures, especially photos of food? This week, I read a fascinating post from the Buffer App folks that summarized scientific studies of what works on Pinterest and what doesn’t. The most repinned photos were of food, especially when combined with a recipe, and of certain colors (No blues!). No recipes here, just great pics of a beautifully laid table, interesting decorations and tasty food. Notice that I snuck in some photos of my newest picture book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma, while I was at it. Look at the my Pinterest board on the Arkansas Literary Festival; I’ll add to it tonight after the Author! Author! cocktail party and tomorrow, after my sessions.

Mrs. Ginger Beebe, First Lady of Arkansas tells a story about bees.

Mrs. Ginger Beebe, First Lady of Arkansas tells a story about bees.

During the luncheon, Mrs. Beebe told us a story of bees. It seems that the Mansion’s pergola has been invaded by a swarm of bees, which have been there a couple years. But this spring, over a two week period three swarms of bees left the pergola to take off and find a new home. That means the bee colony was very healthy with three queen bees emerging rapidly and taking off with each swarm. They decided it was time to get the bees out of the pergola, partly because it was damaging the structure, and partly because the Mansion committee had recently installed two hives of bees on the other side of the grounds.

Animated, Mrs. Beebe told us, “The bees in the hive are Italian banded bees, but the ones in the pergola are mutt bees. Mike (the AR-governor) asked, ‘Do we have to import bees from Italy?'”

The pergola was slowly being dismantled because as each board was removed, it revealed massive honeycombs which had to be cut out and taken to the Mansion kitchen for processing. “They haven’t even found the bee colony yet,” Mrs. Beebe said.

And here we thought that the First Lady only knew about Republicans and Democrats.

Mrs. Beebe telling a story about bees.

Mrs. Beebe telling a story about bees.

And the somber-faced Kadir Nelson actually smiled and laughed at Mrs. Beebe’s stories!

Kadir Nelson enjoyed Mrs. Beebe's stories about bees on the grounds of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion.

Kadir Nelson enjoyed Mrs. Beebe’s stories about bees on the grounds of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. She’s a great hostess!

Instead, she painted a lively scene of grandchildren playing king and queen from the balconies, bee colonies providing entertainment, and a certain sadness as her time at the mansion comes to a close. Mrs. Beebe, we appreciate all you’ve done for literacy in the state. Thank you for hosting authors and kids and books and connecting them in such a gracious and welcoming manner.

The Festival is far from done! There’s the cocktail party tonight, where I’ll take more food pictures for the sake of Pinterest. And, three sessions tomorrow. I’ll post!

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