Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Gift of Time

If you have not had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with an 80-year-old, I highly recommend it. I don’t know what their secrets are – but I do know they seem to have shed much of the worry that clouds the mind and takes the attention of youth. They take care of their needs, know their limits, and seem to be undauntedly cheerful. Is this the secret to getting to 80?

I saved a clipping about a woman who was interviewed at 98 years old. She said her secrets to longevity were: drinking lots of water, walking regularly, and getting rid of “stuff.” She said the more things you hold onto, the more it weighs you down the older you get. A friend of mine told me about her mom. When my friend’s mother reached her eighties, if someone visited her and admired a lamp, her Mom would say, “You like it? Take it!” She wished to lighten up, and it delighted her to know her things would go to someone who loved them.

I recently talked with another friend. She said, because of the economy, she was going to go Christmas shopping in her house. I told her about gifting in the Soviet Union. Because people did not have a lot of disposable income in the USSR, they would give you something they already had – something their grandfather had owned, or something that was part of their lives or homes that they wanted to share with you. My Russian friends were also great at making things – a picture from dried flowers grown at the dacha, a pair of child’s mittens, a crocheted swan. I wonder if we will soon get to the point in this country when we exchange gifts not out of pressure – but out of joy and delight.

Somebody told me that gems like to travel – to circulate from one person to another. Maybe things do, too. Karen Kingston, the author of CLEAR YOUR CLUTTER WITH FENG SHUI, said that even things can have a purpose – and when we stuff all our “things” in the attic – we are frustrating their purpose.

This inspired me to venture up into my attic. It made me think about the toys I was stashing away up there. I kept some of my favorites -- for my imagined future grandkids. The rest – I wanted to see them played with now. I brought them out of the shadows -- and sent them along. I look forward to doing more of this. Hopefully the “letting go” will become easier – and fun.
(Photo credit: Unknown; Esther, Ethel and Gertrude Bubolz)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving from Sleepy Hollow Books.

(Photo credit: Joe Tansey Jr.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday!

Today is Sleepy Hollow Books's first birthday!

To celebrate we went to Tomie dePaola's book signing of his new pop-up book, BRAVA, STREGA NONA!, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

(Photo credit: Amy C. Spaulding)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Morning Has Broken

I was raking the leaves in my yard today. I stopped to listen to the noon bells ringing through the woods from the church down the road.

I started thinking about Camp Sloane – a YMCA camp in Lakeville, Connecticut. Each summer, in August, I went away to sleep-away camp for a month. The first summer, I wanted to go away to camp because my best friend, Michelle, was going. The following summers, my PARENTS wanted me to go.

It was kind of scary being away from home for a month, but I liked living in a big tent with 7 other girls.
I loved waking up to reveille played over the loud speaker.
I loved swimming lessons in the small lake with fish that would nip you if you stayed in one place for too long.
I loved flipping our canoes over.
I loved the ritual “sing-offs” at meal times ("We are the PIONEERS, the mighty, mighty PIONEERS!)
I loved drinking “bug juice” (kool-aid) and eating pancakes covered in sugar.

Fifth-grade freedom is a great thing …

This afternoon’s autumn bells through the woods reminded me of the camp’s Sunday services in the woods.

At Camp Sloane, there were log benches that lined a shady grove. We would go down there, as a group, on Sunday mornings. Some of the counselors would bring their guitars. They would say some profound 16-year-old words and sing some songs. I think “Kumba-ya” was a regular number. (It was the ‘70s). My favorite hymn was “Morning Has Broken.” Camp church spoke to me because we got to worship outside. I could feel and understand in my bones that God is everywhere.

It is funny, because when my husband and I had just married and moved into our new home, we decided to go "shopping" for a church together. One Sunday, we decided to stop in at the little church down the road. We opened the doors and the whole congregation turned and looked at us. Then the first hymn they played was “Morning Has Broken.”

(Photo credit: Joe Tansey Jr.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Last Words

Have you ever had a book drop off the shelf at your feet in the library – or a scrap of paper fall from your desk – and it is was just what you were looking for?

A four-paged book fragment with the engraving “Aspiration” by George Frederick Wattson has appeared in my papers. If you are familiar with the engraving and the origin of the passage below please send me an email.

The page attached to this engraving reads:

Beatrice. 59
"... and the angels cannot tell God from
man or man from God. And Beatrice showed
Dante this great mystery. And he stood still,
looking, with the great light shining into his

Although he does not tell us what he saw,
we know it was Florence, where he lived,
and that he was looking at all the people with lov-
ing eyes, and seeing them just as those who
live with God see men.

Heaven is here, little children. Let us
love one another."

My uncle, Donald T. Spaulding – “Big D” -- had a great last line.

When he was dying, I asked him -- as delicately as I could -- for his words of advice to me.

He was a great corporate strategist; he helped transform IBM into a blue chip company. When he asked you a question, he wanted to hear "yes" or "no" -- not the extended version. His last words to me: “Do what makes the most sense.”

A couple of weeks later, he died. And the face fell off the craggy "Old Man of the Mountain" in New Hampshire where he lived. In October -- after an 80+-year drought – the Red Sox won the World Series. My uncle never lived to see the Red Sox win a Series in his lifetime – but when he got to heaven, I am sure he had something to say.

Because I was not able to attend Uncle Donald's memorial in New Hampshire, my aunt sent me a program of the church service. It contained the typed eulogies from his friends and family with his picture on the cover.

Below his picture were Big D’s last words. I cried when I read them -- because now I knew just how damn smart he really was. His last words:

“I finally figured it out. It is all about love.”

(Photo credit: Unknown; John P. Spaulding and Donald T. Spaulding)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Hearts Are With Galveston

Our thoughts and prayers are with Galveston and the Gulf Coast during this challenging time. -- Sleepy Hollow Books

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Going to Galveston

A clairvoyant friend of mine recently said, “Right now is the time for JOY. All our decisions and actions must be guided by joy.”

I wondered aloud, “Is joy really possible these days? Isn’t being happy now and then good enough?” Then I started examining when and how often I felt joyful during my day. And it reminded me of a funny story my mom would tell me…

When my mother was a young lady, she and her sister and aunt and uncle were musing over where to go on vacation. Someone suggested Galveston, Texas. So they all hopped into their car and started driving. They traveled through Alabama, then Mississippi, and Louisiana. After a series of mishaps, and overtaken by fatigue, someone said, “Whose bright idea was this, anyway – going to Galveston?”

This led to a heated discussion.
“ I didn’t really want to go to Galveston,” said my mother.
“Neither did I,” said sister.
“Me, either,” said her Uncle.
“Hold on a moment,” said the Aunt to her husband, “ You’re the one who said Galveston was nice this time of year.”
He replied, “ I said it was nice -- I didn’t say I wanted to GO there!”

Today, when my mother says, “Make sure you’re not 'Going to Galveston',” she means, be sure your heart is in it, before you jump into something you think will please others.

When we look at our lives searching for JOY– we may have more choices than we think. If we slow down and take time to listen to our hearts –- and seek those things that truly make us happy -– we can find directions to Joy.

(Photo credit: Unknown; Janet and Emilie Smith)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Favorite Books

The book I remember most fondly from my childhood is Stuart Little. My father, who traveled a lot, read one chapter a night to us before bedtime. Dad read from his own boyhood copy - a brown, hardback copy with illustrations; his mother had dedicated it: "To Dickie from Mother, Christmas 1945."

My sisters and I would beg my Dad to read "just one more chapter" but Dad would refuse. He would make us wait until the next evening. We would grumble and then close our eyes so it would be tomorrow. It was agony having to wait. Some nights I would lie awake trying to figure out how Mrs. Little, Stuart's mom, could have given birth to a real mouse, and whether my mother could give birth to a puppy.

Other childhood favorites of mine were: Goodnight Moon, Meet the Circus, by H. A. Rey, and Make Way for Ducklings. One series especially close to my heart were the books called The Witch Next Door and The Witch's Christmas. The witch hung a wreath on her door made of bats, and the snow that fell on her roof was black. Eventhough the witch was living in suburbia -- and was, well, a witch -- the kids still loved her. The books were written with a light touch by Norman Bridwell who also penned Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

As I grew older, I remember devouring Charlotte's Web, the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the original Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Stars Under the Tent. As I grew older and life became less dreamy, I got into the Judy Blume books and I read all the "boy adventure" books -- Kidnapped, The Red Badge of Courage, The Call of the Wild, and Treasure Island. I also read Mao's Little Red Book, and stayed in for an entire day to read The Secret Garden in one sitting.

You see, my parents had a little bookshelf that was built into the wall. It had blue doors with brass nobs. The shelves were just deep enough to hold paperback books -- and it was along the hallway to my room. I would sit in that hallway for hours and read. My parents could have put anything in that bookcase and I would have read it.

I decided, when I became a Mom, that I wanted my son to have a secret bookcase, too. I took a narrow closet with sturdy shelves and removed all the towels and linens. Then I loaded the shelves up with books. I put a blue cushion on the floor of the closet and added a flashlight. It didn't take long for Nick to find it. He would hide in that closet and when the house became very quiet, I knew he was there. Which favorites Nick will remember? I don't know -- but I can't wait to find out!

(Photo credit: Amy C. Spaulding)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to Prepare Our Children For the Future

This is an excerpt from "Messages from Matthew" ( that I would like to share with you. He writes on the topic of HOW TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE:

When asked, "What is the best way to prepare our children for the future?", Matthew wrote:

"My reply -- By Example.
LIVE fearlessly;
BE honest;
EXPRESS your thankfulness for the blessings 
in your life and the beauties of Earth;
SHARE generously with 
persons in need;
SHOW reverence for all life;
BECOME involved in 
measures to preserve or restore the environment;
KEEP your mind open 
to new perspectives;
BE discerning in your decisions;
BE resilient, 
LEARN from failed efforts, and try again;
DUMP emotional garbage,
LAUGH and smile often;
FORGIVE those who hurt you, and
FORGIVE yourself for hurting others.
To this I add: LISTEN.
LET the children's voices be heard.
ENCOURAGE them to talk about their 
ideas, fears, plans, hopes, dreams, disillusionment and 
ENCOURAGE them to set realistic but not limiting 
ENCOURAGE them to emulate but not compare themselves with 
individuals who inspire them.
And above all,
LOVE them.
By how you live, you show them the power of unconditional love for themselves, 
all others and Nature." -- MATTHEW, through his mother, Suzanne Ward (

This serves as a great reminder of other words of advice I received at a parenting workshop I attended in Chapel Hill, NC several years ago.

Tammy Hughes, a founder of the first Waldorf nursery in China, opened the parenting workshop with this question:
"What is the best thing you can do for your children?" We replied, "Read to them." "Feed them healthy foods." "Love them."

Her answer: "The best thing you can do for your children is... Work on yourself.” We all laughed.

Then she asked us: “What is the second most important thing you can do to help your children?" We were silent this time.

Her answer: "Work on your marriage.”

Dr. Mark Eisen, our family doctor, was also leading the workshop that evening. One of my favorite sayings he has is, “Your children will love you for your striving.”

As we strive to be better parents, and to learn from our errors -- we live by example. As we make our mistakes, apologize, forgive, and plan on how to do better next time -- and eventually -- laugh at our foolish ways -- we teach our children how to be kind to themselves -- and that their parents have the courage to get up, stand up, and be human.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Sleepy Hollow Books is currently accepting manuscripts of original fiction for young children.

Topics of Interest: Middle-grade fiction (and narrative non-fiction)

Please read both PART ONE and PART TWO before submitting your work. Thank you.

To send manuscripts via email, please follow these guidelines; we will consider simultaneous submissions:

1. Attach your manuscript as a double-spaced WORD document; Times New Roman; 12 pt. type
2. Put the working title of your manuscript and your full name in the "Subject" line of your email.
3. Include your full name on each page and use page numbers.
4. Please include a brief cover letter as the first page of your manuscript -- with your full name, contact information, a brief biographical sketch, and anything else you would like for us to consider when reviewing your manuscript.
5. Send your manuscript to:


Terms and Conditions for Submitting Materials

Sleepy Hollow Books appreciates your interest in submitting a query. In order to submit your query, please read and agree to the following Terms of Submission. By submitting your query to Sleepy Hollow Books in print or online, you automatically acknowledge and accept these terms:


1. All references to the Query in these Terms of Submission include, without limitation, all Material and other items submitted as part of the Query.

2. I agree to the Terms of Submission without reservation. I request that Sleepy Hollow Books read and evaluate the Query for possible publication by or on behalf of Sleepy Hollow Books ("Publications"), including without limitation the internet website I understand and agree that Sleepy Hollow Books would not read, accept or consider the Query but for my agreement to all of the Terms of Submission. I understand and agree that all queries and other submissions become the property of Sleepy Hollow Books and that Sleepy Hollow Books is under no obligation to return, reply to or accept the Query, including without limitation any of the Material, under any circumstances.

3. I understand and agree that Sleepy Hollow Books has no obligation of any kind, express or implied, relating to, arising out of or created by receipt of the Query. I understand and agree that Sleepy Hollow Books has no contract, legal relationship or other obligation to me, express or implied, unless and until Sleepy Hollow Books and I enter into a separate, written agreement signed by both Sleepy Hollow Books and me which specifically states that it creates a contract, waiver, release, obligation or legal relationship.

4. I understand and agree that Sleepy Hollow Books receives many queries, submissions, ideas, stories, articles, columns, photographs and similar works and material ("Submissions") and that the files and archives of Sleepy Hollow Books contain large numbers of varied themes and ideas for articles, features, columns, stories, artistic and photographic works and all other aspects of the Publications created and published by Sleepy Hollow Books. I understand that many Submissions may be similar or even identical to the Query or Material contained in the Query. I am aware that Sleepy Hollow Books is constantly researching and developing new ideas for all aspects of its Publications and that Sleepy Hollow Books is likely to possess, through its own efforts or through other Submissions, material and ideas substantially similar to Material contained in the Query. I also recognize that many similar themes, ideas, articles, features, columns, stories, artistic and photographic works relate to family, education. nature, metaphysics and child-development concepts which are the major themes of Publications produced by or on behalf of Sleepy Hollow Books. I understand and agree that publication of articles, material and ideas substantially similar to or sharing major themes with the Query is not of itself sufficient evidence to allege or prove that Sleepy Hollow Books has wrongfully appropriated the Query or any Material contained therein. I understand and agree that Sleepy Hollow Books does not have and will not incur any responsibility, obligation or liability to me for publication of any original or derivative ideas, works of authorship, joint works, titles, captions, artistic works, photographic works, concepts, methods, improvements, designs, discoveries, ideas, software, websites, trademarks, trade dress and trade secrets, regardless of any similarity to the Query or Material contained in the Query, unless Sleepy Hollow Books actually uses the Query or the Material (a) as a whole (b) as a direct result of my submission of the Query to Sleepy Hollow Books and (c) without entering into a separate written agreement signed by both Sleepy Hollow Books and me which specifically states that it creates a contract, waiver, release, obligation or legal relationship. I understand and agree that I will bear the sole burden of proving all elements of any claims against Sleepy Hollow Books, including without limitation the burden of proving Sleepy Hollow Books wrongfully appropriated the Query or any Material contained in the Query and that the Query and Material submitted by me is substantially different in content from material already in the possession of Sleepy Hollow Books or obtained by Sleepy Hollow Books from any other source.

5. I hereby represent and warrant to Sleepy Holllow Books that      (a) I am submitting the Query voluntarily and no person or entity, including without limitation Sleepy Hollow Books, has made any promises, threats or representations of any kind in order to encourage, induce or force me to agree to these Terms of Submission or to submit the Query.

     (b) I have not deliberately included any dishonest, plagiarized or inaccurate statements in the Query, which relates to an original work I have written produced or created or which I propose to write, produce or create.

     (c) I have the capacity and authority to agree to the Terms of Submission and to write, produce or create the specific works anticipated by the Query.

     (d) Compliance with the Terms of Submission will not, now or in the future, violate the terms of any other contract or agreement to which or by which I am bound or legally obligated.

     (e) The Query and the specific works anticipated by the Query are not in the public domain and have not appeared in print or any other published source, including without limitation electronic sources.

     (f) The Query and the specific works anticipated by the Query do not and will not infringe, violate or conflict with the intellectual property rights of any person or entity, including without limitation rights of copyright, trademark, trade secret and rights to proprietary works.

     (g) The Query is not in any way defamatory, libelous, obscene or an incitement to an illegal act, does not illegally infringe upon the privacy or contract rights of any person or entity and does not violate the law of any state, the United States or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

     (h) I have not and will not solicit, receive or accept payment, compensation or anything of value from any third party in exchange for inserting, using or recommending a name, product or other content in the Query or the specific works anticipated by the Query.

     i) I have retained and will retain copies of all sources cited or referenced in the Query and the specific works anticipated by the Query and will support or verify all statements of fact, quotations and other citations contained in the Query at the request of Sleepy Hollow Books.

6. I will indemnify Sleepy Hollow Books against any and all claims, losses, liabilities, damages, demands, suits, causes of action, judgments, costs and expenses, including without limitation court costs and attorneys' fees resulting from or arising out of my breach of these Terms of Submission.

7. The Terms of Submission represent the only, final, complete and exclusive understanding between Sleepy Hollow Books and me. I have no relationship, agreement or rights relating to Sleepy Hollow Books except as expressly stated in the Terms of Submission. I understand and agree that the Terms of Submission were written in and will be construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of North Carolina and that my acceptance of the Terms of Submission is taking place within the State of North Carolina. I agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the Federal or state courts located in Durham, North Carolina for purposes of any legal action commenced under or arising out of the Terms of Submission or the Query.

8. Nothing contained in these Terms of Submission will be interpreted to require the commission of an illegal act or a violation of applicable law. If any conflict arises between the Terms of Submission and applicable law the latter will prevail, the relevant provisions of the Terms of Submission will be deleted, modified or limited to the extent necessary to comply with law and all other provisions of the Terms of Submission will remain in full force and effect.

We look forward to hearing from you.