Flat Stanley guest blogs

Hubby and I have have spent the last week trekking around Nashville with Flat Stanley. I was ready to put him in an envelope with a bunch of photos and mail him back to Bremerton, Washington, but HE wanted to create a notebook about his trip. (Of course he did!) I told him I’d help him with his notebook, if he’d guest blog for me today. Since I said in last week’s blog I’d recount some of his adventures in this week’s post, I thought that was a fair trade. 

So, here goes…


My name is Flat Stanley. My friend Trysta mailed me to her Aunt Kay and Uncle G in Nashville, Tennessee, for a vacation.

The first thing they did was dress me in western clothes. Pretty much only the tourists dress like that, but that was ok. I was cool in my boots and hat.

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And I got them to try on western duds, too.


They drove me all around town and showed me the sights. We went to Studio B where Elvis Presley recorded something called records. (That’s what old people had before they could download music.) See the reflection of Uncle G in the mirror when he made the picture at Studio B. You can hardly see me, but I’m standing on Elvis’s guitar.

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From there we found a photo op at a giant microphone. See the red chicken in the background? (lower left) We couldn’t resist a picture with it, too. I’m teeny tiny next to it and I had to hang on for dear life.













We were in the neighborhood of the famous Music Row, which is really just a couple of streets of recording studios except…there’s this statue of naked muses named Musica at the start of it. Uncle G did a good job of photographing it and keeping it “G” rated for Trysta’s 3rd grade project. I’m in all the photos. Can you find me? My closeup was on a foot.

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Nashville is also home to the Grand Ole Opry. Most tourists go there, but I just saw the bus.


Another place we visited was The Parthenon, which was an exact replica of the one in Athens, Greece. It was built in 1897 as part of a world’s fair. The Nashville one is in Centennial Park.


We also went by Vanderbilt University, which is one of over 20 universities in the area. I felt smarter just being there. (Hint: I’m not in this picture.) Trysta’s brother, Xander was born at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital which is near the University.


“The Hermitage” was the home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States. Do you see me standing on the sign?DSCN1518

We got tickets to a Nashville Predator’s hockey game. It was way cool! They won 4-3. It went down to the last second.

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We spent one day at a street fair where a $100 bill kissed me (yuck). But I got to hang out with a couple of cops for a while. That was cool.






We spent most of the day in the puzzle booth. The crafters were friends of Aunt Kay and Uncle G’s from Georgia and they let me help sell some puzzles. I tried to work the cash register, but got in trouble with Aunt Kay.



















My very favorite place at the craft show was the booth where they had custom mail boxes. I bet they had a zillion! It was hard picking my favorite three for pictures. Can you believe this barn, Predators truck, and airplane are mailboxes. They are, I promise! Kind of makes you want to be flat, doesn’t it?


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One afternoon I crashed a wedding (but was on my very best behavior). For a while I sat with the bride and groom at their special table.


Their reception was on the 10th floor of a building so there was a good view of Nashville in the background.



Yesterday, I went to work with Uncle G. I had my own lab coat with my name on it and everything!


Today, I’m all packed and ready to head back to Washington state. I’m going by airplane, so  it’ll only take about six hours instead of three days on a mail truck!

We’ve finished my notebook for Trysta’s school project. I hope she likes it. This is what it looks like.


Aunt Kay says it’s time to head to the airport…and for her to get back to writing her book. I wonder if she’ll write about me in her book. Probably not…she writes fiction.

~ Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley Strikes Again

Once again, Flat Stanley arrived our mailbox.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, Flat Stanley is a book by Jeff Brown. The story is about a little boy, Stanley, who is given a bulletin board by his father. One night the bulletin board falls from the wall above Stanley’s bed and flattens him in his sleep. He survived accident and learned he could do all sorts of things in his flattened state: slide under locked doors,be a kite, pose as a painting, even travel through the mail. Thus the Flat Stanley project, adopted by third graders all over.

The book was written in 1964. I received my first FS around 1986 and have gotten several since.

This time, my little third grader lives in Washington state. The packet came with a laminated Flat Stanley which she had colored (both sides, no less), a letter from her asking me to take him to some fun places (like maybe the beach–she clearly doesn’t understand where Tennessee is!) and a letter from her teacher. The idea is to take a few photos of FS in the destination to which he was mailed, then mail him and the photos back, maybe with a story about what he did while there.

So…I spent a considerable amount of time dressing Flat Stanley so we could have some adventures. This was the first FS I’ve received that was colored on both sides (the little perfectionist!) so I had to dress him on both sides (the big perfectionist!)  A wardrobe isn’t required–I just do it to give him a local feel.



Next week I’ll share Flat Stanley’s Nashville adventures. Until then, check out some of the other places he’s been and see if you recognize any of these people who hosted him 

~ Kay

What’s the longest word you know?

When I was in high school, I learned to pronounce and spell antidisestablishmentarianism. Why? Probably for extra credit…or maybe to be a smart alack. A teacher told us it was the longest word in the English language at 28 letters.

I guess no one bothered to count the 34 letters in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, a word we all knew from Mary Poppins, and challenge her.

In case you’re wondering, antidisestablishmentarianism has something to do with the separation of church and state.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious means—well, I’m not sure what it means. I know it’s a happy word and the name of a song. Wikipedia says the film defined it as “saying something when you have nothing to say.” Wow! I can do that with way fewer letters.

According to several sources on Goggle (and Goggle knows everything, right?) the longest word has 189,819 letters. It’s the chemical name of Titin, which is the largest known protein. Large protein=large word, I suppose. It’d be a good word to work into a novel if you’re behind during NaNo. Of course, you’d take it out during the editing process. You must take it out!

There’s another word for a different enzyme that has 1,913 letters and takes about three minutes to pronounce. For obvious reasons, I’m not putting the names of either of these enzymes in my blog.

Let’s get back to the real world. What’s the longest word in a major dictionary? Several sources identified the 45 letter word which defines a lung disease more commonly known as silicosis: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Floccinaucinihilipilificaion with 29 letters and 12 syllables is considered the longest nontechnical word. It means to describe something as unimportant or worthless. I think it’s ironic it takes such a long word to do that.

But the absolute longest word(and my favorite) is smiles – because there’s a mile between the two s’s.

Have a good one!

~ Kay

The pitter patter of little feet

For some time now, I’ve heard noises in my attic. You’d think, since my new book has a paranormal element, I’d welcome this intrusion. But our house is fairly new, and I’m pretty sure ghosts don’t scurry.

You might recall almost all of the houses in our neighborhood had, not one, but two roofs replaced last year due to storm damage. Yes, insurance premiums went up!

Apparently, there were some “gaps” in our new roof that some squirrels found. They notified all their friends and have colonized in the rafters.

We called one animal removal company in January and their estimate was over four thousand dollars to repair the roofline, trap the animals and do what they said should be done to get rid of the critters. I had a career in sales. This guy was slick. He used scare tactics by telling me though it was currently only squirrels, raccoons or other animals could also move in. I know they could; the squirrels could also pack their bags and move out, but he didn’t mention that. And he tried to upsell. He said if we didn’t do an enzyme cleanup new squirrels would smell the old ones and we’d be in this fix again.  Hummm… what does that say about his repair work?

He did make pictures, which we took back to the roofing contractor who reluctantly came back and fixed the locations in the photos (and only those sites—he didn’t look around to see if there were any other places).

Then we called another wildlife removal company. The new guy found a roofline gap on the other side of the house—sixty-seven feet of gap—which I contend the roofer should have fixed. But I’d rather pay someone else to do it than have to deal with the roofer and his attitude again. The new guy is coming back today to set the traps.

This kid is a hoot. I got the impression he loved his job and probably even plays with some of the animals he traps. His company was more expensive than we’d hoped (about nine hundred dollars to trap and repair the roofline) but I’m ready to get rid of the patter of little feet. I swear they must be having Tupperware parties or something. It sounds like there is an army of them, though my trapper said he’d be surprised if there is more than two or three. He agreed the scent could invite future inhabitants, but he doesn’t think it’s that bad and to really do an enzyme treatment right would mean removing and replacing all of the insulation in our attic—a very big job. He also said they’ve not done a lot of damage for which we are very grateful.

So here I sit waiting for the critter ridder to come set his traps and make the repairs. Let’s hope this does the trick. These noises are inspiration I can do without.


Careful. You could be in my next novel.

My sister gave me a tee shirt that says, “Careful. You Could End Up In My Novel” I don’t wear it out of the house much; I don’t want to scare people. But the truth is every one I know, every experience I have influences my writing. My experiences are a part of my subconscious and come out on paper, sometimes to my chagrin.

Recently, I woke from a sound sleep in the middle of the night and realized a character in the novel my agent is currently shopping to publishers had the same name as a real person I knew over thirty years ago. It was spelled differently, but it was the same nonetheless. I haven’t thought of this person in years, but a conversation about someone else in this man’s same occupation earlier that day must have cranked up my memory. Since the character in my book is a bit on the shady side, I immediately changed his name.

Writers are constantly looking for material, especially dialogue. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stopped conversations to write down jewels I’d otherwise forget. I know this seems terribly rude—and perhaps it is—but my non-writer friends are accustomed to it and just consider it one of quirks. My writer friends totally get it. I have one high school friend who lives nearby, and she’s my go-to person when I’m in a dialogue slump. One conversation with her, and I have enough material to move forward.

I’ll admit when I’m alone in a restaurant or coffee shop I eavesdrop. If the conversation is good enough, I’ve actually gotten out my laptop because I can type so much faster on it than I can on my phone or iPad. Another great location to get good dialogue is the post office. I don’t know why. It just is. I always take my cell phone in with me so I can make a “note” of anything good I hear.

The world is full of ideas. I have to write them down. I keep a master list on my computer. I update it from “notes” I’ve made on my phone and iPad. I’ve even called my home phone and left myself a voice mail when I saw something that triggered a spark. I used to think if a tidbit was good enough I’d not forget it, but then could never get it quite right, if I could recall it at all.

What about you? How do you use the sum total (seems redundant, but the two words are actually a noun) of your life’s experiences? If you’re a writer, will you admit to eavesdropping for dialogue and dialect patterns?

~ Kay