Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pictures from Texas

Dr. Stephens was kind enough to send me pictures of the Reading Festival this past weekend.  If it looks like we had fun--well, we did!  


Have You Seen This Toy?

Yes, it's a real toy.  Read through some of the customer reviews for a chuckle . . . or not.  

Soon they'll be making preschool toys where the little characters have duct tape, rolls of plastic sheeting, and gas masks in case of terrorist attack. 

Sheesh.  What a world. 

I spent yesterday at LeTourneau University--spoke at lunch to a group of education students and teachers, then did a Q&A with some folks.  Then had a real treat--Dr. Kathy Stephens took me to a local Chick-fil-A (did I spell that right?) where we held an in-store book-signing and I signed books with the COW!  :-)  It was a lot of fun, and we took pictures.  I'll have to post some as soon as I get copies.  Met some really wonderful folks, including Leslie, one of our blog friends!  

Clyde, I stepped outside and waved to you.  Did you see me?  :-)  

Am flying home today (Saturday) and looking forward . . . to doing the laundry.  

P.S.  Don't forget the showing tonight of "The Note" and "The Note 2" on the Hallmark channel.  Hope you can catch it!  


Friday, January 30, 2009

If you like illusions . . .

Hello from Longview, Texas!  It's chilly here!  

This is an interesting video clip.  And since distraction is a major element in illusionary magic, I think I understand why the divas of magic show so much cleavage. :-/  It's also amusing how they snarl and leap around from feat to feat.  Bet they burn a lot of calories, don't you think?  


Thursday, January 29, 2009

How's Your Reaction time?

I'm flying out this morning to Longview, Texas because I'll be speaking at LaTourneau University on Friday. Looking forward to it.  :-)  I've had a couple of months off, but the travel schedule is picking up again. 

BTW, don't forget that "The Note" and "The Note 2: Taking a Chance on Love" will air on the Hallmark Channel this coming Saturday night.  Check your local station for times. 

And yes, I took the screenplay for the second movie and wrote it up into a novel.  That's supposed to be released in May, along with the DVD.  

This looks like a game, but it's really not--it's a fun way to see how fast your brain and muscles react to visual stimuli.  Click on the little baseball, and then when you see the words "swing batter," click anywhere on the ball field.  The screen will then tell you if you were fast enough to hit the ball.  Interesting, when you think it could also reveal whether you're fast enough to brake to avoid a child, a suddenly-braking driver, etc.  

I started out slow and then got faster . . . . because I knew what to expect.  But in real life, we never expect the unexpected, do we?  :-0 

So . . . how'd you do? 


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In Memory of John Updike

Yesterday's news bulletin: The Author John Updike Has Died at 76

John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, has died at
76, according to his publisher.
A friend of mine sent this link to an Easter poem John Updike wrote. I was amazed at its beauty and theological truth.  Read it yourself here.  


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Think your home would be hard to sell in this market?

LOL!  Then count your blessings, because look what some other folks have built.  

Can you imagine a bar in every bedroom?  A jet outside the living room window?  A huge room simply for wrapping gifts?  

I can't help but marvel that these folks can't find a more useful way to spend--invest--their money.  


Monday, January 26, 2009

My hospital adventure

Thanks, friends, for all the prayers and kind thoughts during my unexpected hiatus.  Boy, did I learn a lot during these last four days!  

What follows may be TMI (too much information, Mom), so you may want to stop reading now. Okay, still here?  You've been warned.  :-)

I felt as fit as a fiddle on Wednesday.  Lori Copeland, my Heavenly Daze co-author, popped into town, so we went to lunch and had a great time.  About six o'clock, I had some cable guys at the house to repair the phones, and I was fine--but while they were here, I was hit with some MAJOR stomach cramps--really bad.  Knocked me to the floor, and I started perspiring so profusely that water was dripping from my fingertips.  One of the cable guys called out to me, and I yelled back, "I'm sorry, but I can't talk to you right now."  Of course, they couldn't come to me, because I was being guarded by Babe, the man-eating mastiff.  :-) 

So they left and after a while I got up and felt better, but went to bed early.  And I'll skip over a little bit here, and let you fill in with your imagination.   Anyway, at two a.m., I woke up hubby and said, "You want to take me to the ER now, or wait until morning?  It might be quieter there if we go now." 

So he took me to the ER, and I sent him home to sleep. I thought they'd just run some tests and send me home, but they admitted me.  Hubby came roaring back at five a.m., wondering why I hadn't called.  (I was trying to let him sleep!)  

I had a room to myself for a few hours, but on Thursday, they brought me a roommate--an older woman who had slipped in her tub and broken her hip. She had stayed home and self-administered painkillers she'd bought who knows where, but when she ran out of drugs, she came to the hospital.  She seemed to be quite bitter, but I tried to be nice and show a little kindness where I could. Hard to know what to do in that situation. 

My worst night was Thursday night--I had to prepare for the colonoscopy (which I was going to have next month anyway, on account of being over 50), so I had to drink that nasty stuff that purges the system.  My omnipresent stomachache got MUCH worse; in fact, lying down and giving up the ghost sounded pretty good.  :-/  I found myself in an odd situation--staring at this cup of tasteless salty solution I had to drink, knowing that a few minutes after downing it, I was going to be in PAIN. There's some familiar imagery in that, but it sounds blasphemous to point it out, so I'm going to skip it. 

 But by the next morning I felt better, and the actual procedure was blissful.  Whatever anesthetic they use, it's effective and it doesn't leave you groggy.   Verdict:  part of the intestine was inflamed, which equals colitis. What caused it? Probably an infection, virus, or . . . something.  But the doc says my 24 hour fast, plus a couple days of liquid diet should help it heal. 

Hubby brings me some beautiful roses to inspire me to feel better.  They look much prettier than I do. 

In the mean time . . . my roommate is getting angrier and angrier.  She needs a smoke, but she can't get out of bed.  Her surgery goes well, and she sleeps quite a while, but when she wakes up, she is constantly calling for our compassionate nurse, a really cool guy from Haiti.  She keeps begging for more pain killer, but they can only dispense so much.  She spends a lot of time insisting that the dispensing machine isn't working, but it is. 

By Friday, I'm feeling much better and trying to get my book club book read.  I'm also emailing my friends, tapping out messages on my phone with one finger.  Also keeping my Facebook page updated, without telling the world gruesome details.  Roommate is more antsy than ever, and keeps calling people, cussing them out, and hanging up on them.  I'm . . . perplexed.  

By Saturday, we're watching Titanic on TV, but then she begins to think we're on a boat.  I am even more perplexed.  She is even more agitated.  By seven p.m., she is screaming out the door and purely paranoid, weeping and wailing that the nurses are conspiring against her, they've been in her house, they've stolen her computer passwords.  The sweet nurses who have helped her all day are now being called . . . unprintable things.  

By eight o'clock, I gingerly get out of bed, unplug my IV pump (tenderly nicknamed "Henry", and I have no idea why, he just looked like one), and go out to the nurses' station, where I whimper, "Help."  The nurses assure me they're trying to find an empty bed for me.  As the woman continues to rant and rave and scream, they have to go in to sedate her, but she screams, tears off her clothes, and won't let them touch her.  

Long story short, they end up restraining her and giving her a sedative, which wears off LONG before it should.  By the time I'm in another room, she's screaming again, which she does all night long and when I leave on Sunday morning she's still screaming and I can hear her from down the hall . . . 

The nurses explain to me that perhaps she's an addict of some kind, because the third day is always "eventful" for those who have to go through withdrawal.  Which leaves me wondering why anyone in the world would ever think drug abuse is a good thing.  (And I know that many, many become addicted to pain killers without intending to. An awful thing, as the withdrawal is not fun.)   The sight of that woman tied to her bed and out of her mind . . . not anything I'd wish on my worst enemy.  

But when God had me out of that room, He had me fall into conversation with this sweet little woman in a baseball cap--she was keeping vigil over her husband who was in the room next door. Her native language was Spanish, and I was able to use enough of my espanol to learn that her husband was ninety-two, wouldn't eat or drink, and she was all alone and terribly worried. (And the screaming coming from next door wasn't helping.)  So when hubby came up, he went in and prayed with them, and before I left, I gave her a hug and wept with her for a few minutes.  "Jesus es con usted," I told her, and she nodded that she agreed.  If you think of her, please pray for her husband. He was having surgery for a bowel obstruction on Sunday afternoon.  (And I wish I could say my Spanish was really good, but it isn't.  Her English was great.) 

And so I left with a new appreciation for nurses and technicians and dietitians and everyone who gets to wear those comfortable smocks and provide care for others.  I witnessed dozens of acts of mercy, most of them performed with a smile.  I left my roses at the nurses' station, because they surely deserved them.  

If you are in health care, I salute you! 

But it's good to be home.  And I'm so grateful for your prayers. 

Now . . . in which book shall I use this adventure?  And can anyone tell me why after fasting for 24 hours, then having two days of broth and Diet Coke, I came home six pounds heavier?  The 2009 diet is not going well.  


Friday, January 23, 2009

I am in hospital. Talk to you later. ;-)

The Kissing Contest

My cousin sent me this video--and I cracked up, then felt slightly queasy.  It's hilarious.  Enjoy! 


Thursday, January 22, 2009

That's One Clever Dog

I had an unexpected treat yesterday--Lori Copeland, my dear friend and co-author of the HEAVENLY DAZE series, was in town so we met for lunch, then I took her to my house to meet my puppies.  :-)

My dogs are (relatively) smart, but this one takes the cake.  Check out this dog who shoplifts.  

At first I thought maybe it was a pet store, or someplace where dogs routinely visit, but no, it's an actual grocery store.  LOL!  I don't blame the manager for not forcing the issue.  That was a BIG dog! 


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Like You Know?

Whew.  I thought I was enjoying some time "off," but Monday I set out to "kindle-ize" some out of print books (i.e., make them available via the Amazon Kindle reader), and that's been keeping me very busy.  Not only do I have to check the formatting, etc., but I keep finding words that I no longer use  much (like "suddenly") in the old text, and I'm driven to take them out!  

A friend sent me to this You Tube Video, a bit of poetry performed by a teacher. It's funny and profound, like the best humor is.  Enjoy . . . you know?  

(I'm beginning to think all the really opinionated people have moved to blogdom.)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LOL! The latest Mac

This weekend I read THE HOST, an adult novel by Stephenie Meyer, the same woman who wrote the Twilight series. 

All I can say is wow.  The book is VERY different and took a little getting into, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down.  I sat in my chair with tears streaming down my face as I read--my husband kept walking through the room and laughing at me.   

So if you're looking for another engrossing read, check it out.  It feels like science fiction, but other than the aliens, it's not, really.  It's a novel that's almost impossible to classify, but it's great.  

And now--the sarcastic folks at the Onion have outdone themselves with this video--poking fun at Apple's uber cool and at apple folks who go for the uber cool just because . . . well, it's cool.  

Check out the video here . . . and remember, it's not real.  

I think.  ;-) 


Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Unlikely Love Story

This video clip made me cry . . . not hard to do, granted, but still.  Ignore the silly music playing in the background and enjoy this story of Tara the Elephant and Bella the dog.  

You might want to keep a tissue handy. 


Saturday, January 17, 2009

A fun site

If you have any artists in the house, especially graphic artists, gather them around the computer and visit this web site.  You'll need to give it a couple of minutes to load, then you're free to drag the slider bar to any point and watch the fun unfold.  Literally.  :-)  

Who sits around and dreams these things up? 

My newsletter went out yesterday, so if you missed it, you can see it here. And yes, I know there's a typo--"Mary" should be "May."  

Just think of me as one of those Amish quilters who purposely makes a mistake in each quilt just to remind herself that only God is perfect.  :-)  


Friday, January 16, 2009

Good news! Books are back!

A new report just came out from the NEA--and it's good news.  Here it is:  

More American Adults Read Literature According to New 
NEA Study

Literary reading on the rise for first time in history of Arts Endowment survey

January 12, 2009

Washington, D.C. -- For the first time in more than 25 years, American adults are reading more literature, according to a new study by the National Endowment for the Arts. Reading on the Rise documents a definitive increase in rates and numbers of American adults who read literature, with the biggest increases among young adults, ages 18-24. This new growth reverses two decades of downward trends cited previously in NEA reports such as Reading at Risk and To Read or Not To Read.

"At a time of immense cultural pessimism, the NEA is pleased to announce some important good news. Literary reading has risen in the U.S. for the first time in a quarter century," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This dramatic turnaround shows that the many programs now focused on reading, including our own Big Read, are working. Cultural decline is not inevitable."

Among the key findings:

Literary reading increases

  • For the first time in the history of the survey - conducted five times since 1982 - the overall rate at which adults read literature (novels and short stories, plays, or poems) rose by seven percent.
  • The absolute number of literary readers has grown significantly. There were 16.6 million more adult readers of literature in 2008. The growth in new readers reflects higher adult reading rates combined with overall population growth.
  • The 2008 increases followed significant declines in reading rates for the two most recent ten-year survey periods (1982-1992 and 1992-2002).

Demographics of literature readers

  • Young adults show the most rapid increases in literary reading. Since 2002, 18-24 year olds have seen the biggest increase (nine percent) in literary reading, and the most rapid rate of increase (21 percent). This jump reversed a 20 percent rate of decline in the 2002 survey, the steepest rate of decline since the NEA survey began.
  • Since 2002, reading has increased at the sharpest rate (+20 percent) among Hispanic Americans, Reading rates have increased among African Americans by 15 percent, and among Whites at an eight percent rate of increase.
  • For the first time in the survey's history, literary reading has increased among both men and women. Literary reading rates have grown or held steady for adults of all education levels.

Trends in media and literary preferences

  • Fiction (novels and short stories) accounts for the new growth in adult literary readers.
  • Reading poetry and drama continues to decline, especially poetry-reading among women.
  • Online readers also report reading books. Eighty-four percent of adults who read literature (fiction, poetry, or drama) on or downloaded from the Internet also read books, whether print or online.
  • Nearly 15 percent of all U.S. adults read literature online in 2008.

A tale of two Americas

  • The U.S. population now breaks into two almost equally sized groups – readers and non-readers.
  • A slight majority of American adults now read literature (113 million) or books (119 million) in any format.
  • Reading is an important indicator of positive individual and social behavior patterns. Previous NEA research has shown that literary readers volunteer, attend arts and sports events, do outdoor activities, and exercise at higher rates than non-readers.

Isn't that great news?  Now excuse me, I must return to my book . . . 


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Taking a Chance on Love to premier Jan. 31

It's here!  Or almost here.  You can read just one of several side stories here, or you can just tune in and watch the adventure on the Hallmark Channel, January 31st.  

(Gee, that picture doesn't give the ending away, does it?) 

Yes, there's a happy ending in store for Peyton and King, but they have to suffer through a few things to reach it.  
Hallmark is going to repeat "The Note" immediately before the premier of "Taking a Chance on Love," so be sure to check your local listings as to time and station.  And enjoy! 


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I knew I was in trouble last week when I was driving and realized that I could see the road better without my prescription sunglasses.  

By the time you read this, I'm sure I'll have been to the eye doctor, as I'm waaaay overdue.  I've been nearsighted for about twenty years, but only needing glasses to drive.  I didn't realize how bad my eyes were until the last time I went for my driver's license test.  The woman finished with the man in front of me, then she told me to look into the little machine and read the three columns.  

I looked up and told her she'd made a mistake--there were only two columns visible. Did she forget to advance a slide or something? 

She smiled knowingly and told me to try reading it with my glasses on.  So I put on my glasses and--surprise!  There were three columns, after all.  Sigh. 

So for the last several years I've carried a purse full of glasses cases.  I have reading glasses for reading.  I have prescription sunglasses for driving.  I have prescription glasses for distance when I'm not in the sun.  

Lately I'm beginning to think that I need glasses for eating--have you ever noticed blurry food

And now I suspect that my eyes have either vastly improved, or deteriorated to the point where my near-sightedness is now far-sightedness and I just don't realize it.  Does that make sense?  

So off to the doctor I go, ready to be told that my eyes--which I value more than any other sense--are going the way of all flesh.  Aging.  

(Update: back from the eye doctor and yes, I'm not getting older, I'm getting better.  In one area, at least.  :-)  )  

How many pairs of glasses are in your bag? 


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Routines . . .

I've been asked to blog about my "writing routines" on another blog, so I thought I'd practice on you guys first.  :-)   

My writing routines . . . well, you've probably picked up that I'm a severely structured person.  Before I ever begin a project, I mark out the days on the calendar, cross out any travel dates, all Sabbaths, and any other days I won't be able to work, and then I divide the number of available workdays by the amount of drafts I expect the book to take--usually four or five.  Then I print out a work calendar and literally mark each day with "draft one" or "draft 2," etc.  

When I begin each draft, I print out a hard copy and divide the number of pages by the number of days available for that draft.  This gives me my editing quota.  On the first draft, of course, I'm aiming for number of words, and I usually set of a goal of writing between 5,000 and 7,000, depending on the book's schedule.  

Is that a lot?  Most writers think so, but I write fast, sloppy, and lean.  The purpose of the subsequent drafts is to fill in the canvas and flesh out the characters.  I have a skeleton outline, so I know where I'm going. 

My daily routine is fairly simple:  up early, breakfast, clean house (a chore or two per day), read newspapers, quiet time, exercise time, shower time, work time.  And I stay at work until I've finished my assignment for the day, whatever's on the work calendar.  If I spend too much time on other pursuits (email, web surfing, mindless video games), I will be at my desk well into the evening hours.  But there's so little TV worth watching . . . 

If I do finish work at a decent hour, I like to kick back and reward myself with a movie--another way to study story.  I've been a Netflix member for years and love being able to discover films I would never have found if not for the Internet.  

And there you have it--not very glamorous, I'm afraid, but a practical method that works and has enabled me to write 115 books in the last 20 years.  

Now I'm sure you can find something more interesting to read . . .   :-)  


Sunday, January 11, 2009


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.    i am fighting a cold.    ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Less than 12 hours ago, I took a dose of Nyquill.  ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  

That's all I'm sayin'.  



Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cartoons for Saturday

Remember when cartoons were cute, charming, and fun?  Gather your kids around and take five minutes to watch this gem.  It's adorable.  :-)


Friday, January 09, 2009

Did Last Year Flash by You?

One creative guy has condensed an entire year into forty seconds.  Take a moment (literally!) to watch the passage of a year in one spot of Planet Earth.  Sort of reminds me of Genesis . . . 


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Audi Commercial

Take a moment to watch this commercial for an Audi sports car.  It's flippin' fantastic.  :-) (Pun intended.) 


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dog Groomers Gone Amuck

Somebody please put these dogs out of their misery.  Please.  

These are almost as bad as those pageants for little girls who are made up to look thirty and taught to shake their non-existent hips.  

It's just not natural.  :-/


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Be a Princess!

Have you read the books (or seen the movies) that are part of The Princess Diaries?  Meg Cabot created the books, and though I haven't read them, I thought the movies were delightful.  

She is about to complete the "princess" series, and to commemorate the conclusion, an online auction will run this month, with the proceeds to benefit teen programs at the New York Public Library's 87 branches. 

What are they auctioning off?  Tiaras, naturally!  The list of people who have designed tiaras for the auction includes Julie Andrews, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Lauren Conrad, Julianne Moore, aNicole Miller, Chris Van Allsburg, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece.  You can participate in the auction by visiting here.  

Come on, check out a tiara!  You know you want one!  Doesn't every woman?  :-) 


Monday, January 05, 2009

Fiction that Sticks

My favorite book growing up was THE NUN'S STORY, by Kathryn Hulme.  Not only was I fascinated by the world of the convent (which was far different than my life), but I learned some real spiritual lessons from that story. 

Sister Luke's main problem, you see, was obedience; her fatal flaw was pride.  A nun is supposed to obey the voice of her Mother Superior as if it were the voice of Christ himself.  And Sister Luke was always running ahead of her superiors--doing good things, but doing them without her superior's permission.

In one scene, Sister Luke works with an envious older nun, Sister Pauline.  Both nuns are taking a test in medical school, and Sister Pauline is worried about being shown up by a younger nun.  But Sister Luke grew up in a doctor's home, so she has taken to tropical medicine like a duck to water. 

When Sister Luke goes to her superior to confess problems with Sister Pauline, the Reverend Mother thoughtfully suggests that Sister Luke purposely fail her exams on the morrow. Such an act would be done in obedience, and it would be an act of charity--she would do it out of love for Sister Pauline and Christ. 

Sister Luke knows that she stands "at a crossroads of her religious life."  But the next day, she cannot bring herself to fail her exam.  She passes it with flying colors, to her great shame.  Her pride won that battle. 

It's easy to follow Christ when he's not asking us to do something we don't want to do.  But when he asks something that flies in the face of our logic or our desires . . . are we still willing?


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Out of Style Words

Our minister of music asked me to sing in church tomorrow (today), and I decided (since the song is rather slow) to sign as I sing--that's sign language, BTW.  Anyway, I'm fortunate in that the words are easy and I already knew most of the signs, but I'll probably walk around humming and flying my fingers for the next few hours.  :-) 

On to the subject of the day: 

Michigan's Lake Superior State University compiles a yearly list of words that have been over-used . . . probably with the hope that we will avoid them in the coming year and restore them to ordinary status.  So these are the words and phrases that were overused, misused, or useless in 2008.  Use them at your own risk in 2009: 

carbon footprint or carbon offsetting
first dude
monkey (because of it's use as a suffix on the Internet, a la grease-monkey.) 
winner of five nominations (ha!) 
Wall Street/Main Street
not so much
icon or iconic
it's that time of year again
desperate search 
and finally, the emoticon <3>



Saturday, January 03, 2009

A new book to tell you about . . .

I don't know if you're an Elvis fan (he's actually a little before my time), but my writing pal Leanna Ellis has a new book out that sounds like fun.  Here's the official blurb: 

Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction for B&H Publishing. Her latest book, Lookin’ Back, Texas will be released September 2008. Visit her website at here. 


Elvis Takes a Back Seat

B&H Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-8054-4696-8


A young widow, determined to fulfill her husband’s last request, hauls a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas toMemphis to return it to its rightful owner.  The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n’ Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust’s mysterious history.  The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.




Friday, January 02, 2009

These are the things that fascinate me . . .

Was reading the paper the other day and found a photo of a couple in Colorado Springs.  A pediatric neurosurgeon removed a brain tumor from their baby boy's head . . . and found a foot and other body parts inside the tumor. 

Wow.  I'm thinking (and I'm no medical expert) that this may have been part of an undeveloped twin, sometimes known as fetus in fetu.  A similar situation actually has given me an idea for a novel that's not out yet . . . but it's coming. :-) 

Another article informed me that an appeals court turned down a request for a new trial from a former Washington, D.C. judge who sued his dry cleaner for 54 MILLION DOLLARS because they lost his pants. 

I mean--really!  What were those pants made of, spun gold?  Fifty-four MILLION DOLLARS?  

The paper said three appellate judges agreed Pearson failed to show the store's advertising  (they had a sign saying 'satisfaction guaranteed') was fraudulent. But he can still ask the entire nine-judge appellate court to review the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Has our judicial system gone nuts?  I'm just sayin' . . . fifty four million dollars?  Judges should know better. 


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Do You Live in a Literate City?

One thing I've noticed when I traveled in Europe is that the average person seems much more literate.  Bookstores abound, and you often see people sitting in a park with a book. Or reading on the tube.  Or just reading.  

One researcher has just come up with a list of the ten most literate U.S. cities: 

Here is the full Top 10 Most Literate list for 2008 (OK, there are 11 cities on the list) generated by Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University:

Minneapolis (tied for 1st) Seattle (tied for 1st) Washington, D.C. St. Paul, Minn. San Francisco Atlanta  Denver Boston St. Louis Cincinnati (tied for 10th) Portland, Ore. (tied for 10th)

Miller's research for this year's "America's Most Literate Cities" was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University. The original AMLC study was published online in 2003 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The data for the 2008 analysis came from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Booksellers Association, Audit Bureau of Circulations, Yellow Pages and other sources.

The AMLC study attempts to capture the literacy of major U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 and above, presenting a large-scale portrait of the nation’s cultural vitality. 

"From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation," Miller said.

Contrary to popular wisdom, Internet use correlates with reading words printed on paper, Miller found. Cities ranked highly for having better-used libraries also have more booksellers; cities with more booksellers also have a higher proportion of people buying books online; and cities with newspapers with high per capita circulation rates also have a high proportion of people reading newspapers online.

"A literate society tends to practice many forms of literacy not just one or another," Miller said.

However, when the literacy lens is opened to look at the picture worldwide, in terms of per-capita paid newspaper circulation, the United States ranks No. 31 in the world.

The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Venezuela, Finland, Greece, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway, among others, all significantly surpass U.S. circulation rates — often at a substantially higher cost to consumers, Miller said.

Angie here again: One reason Europe is more literate, in my humble opinion, is because writers are valued in tangible ways. Did you know that writers, artists, and poets pay no income tax in Ireland?  Or that authors in the U.K. receive a payment from public libraries based on how many times their books are checked out?  

It would be nice if the U.S. would consider something similar to encourage writers and readers. 


P.S. For those of you who want to read the Bible through--I found an online guide that breaks it down for you.  This guide is specifically designed for the NLT Study Bible, but you can also use it for any other version.  Look under "reading plan" at this link.