Archive for the ‘Letters’ Category

2018 Christmas Letter

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my Friends!

What has 2018 been about for me? Newbery, Newbery, Newbery!

That’s right! I’m on the 2019 Newbery Medal Selection Committee, and it seems like everything I’ve done this year was about that. Our job is to choose the most distinguished American children’s book published in 2018, and in quest of that I’ve read more than 100,000 pages from about 600 picture books and 300 longer children’s and young adult books. Publishers have mailed almost 700 books to my house – and basically, I’m eating, sleeping, and breathing books! And I love it!

Here I am reading on my balcony

With that in mind, my main trips this year were to American Library Association conferences – Denver in February, where I got to see my brother Randy and his wife Vickey, and New Orleans in June. I’m looking forward to making our decision in Seattle at the end of January. Once the decision is made, I’ll rent a car and go visit my kids in Portland, as well as some siblings and little nieces.

I’m still Youth Services Manager at the City of Fairfax Regional Library. I started a Newbery Book Club at the library, and have also visited some local schools to talk about the award process. I’ve used this year on the Newbery to catch up on my website – I have almost finished posting all the reviews I wrote in 2016 and 2017 on Never mind that I’ll be behind again after our winners are announced. I’ve read some fantastic books – it will be great to be allowed to talk about them.

Zephyr is the name my transgender daughter is using now, and she hopes to soon make the name change legal. She’s still living in a house with my brother Peter and four other transgender women. Zephyr tells me that most of those women came to Portland after being rejected by their families for being transgender. So I want to make very clear that not only do I believe Zephyr that living as a woman more truthfully reflects who she is – I am proud of her for living authentically. I’m also proud that this year their home served as a refuge for people who needed one when right-wing extremist groups demonstrated in Portland.

Tim has been working as a contractor for Intel for a couple years now, and just got a permanent job as a Quality Assurance Engineer for a tech company called Arris. He’ll start early in 2019. He came out and visited me (okay, and other Virginia friends) this summer – it was great to see him.

I still live in my lovely condo-by-the-lake and take lots of pictures of the great blue heron that likes to fish in the lake. I’ve enjoyed this Year of Reading tremendously! Be sure to check back after January 28 to find out which books we honored!

Much love,

Last year’s Top Ten list still applies!

10. My employers are even bragging that they’ve got a librarian on the Newbery. Wow!
9. I get to be in the Room Where It Happens.
8. Reinforces that I made a good decision becoming a children’s librarian.
7. My library system is funding my four trips to ALA conferences for my committee service.
6. I get to discuss children’s books with experts who love them as much as I do.
5. Publishers have mailed me piles of new children’s books.
4. This turned my Empty Nest into an asset instead of something to mope about.
3. Forever, the shiny sticker on our winner will remind me of this wonderful experience.
2. A fantastic connection for talking with kids about the Newbery Medal and great books.
1. Books, books, books!
I’ve gotten to spend all my spare time this year reading – without guilt!

Christmas Letter 2017

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Here’s wishing you joyful holidays in every way!

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” (Psalm 107:2)

A big part of 2017 was telling my story.  As the year began, I was in the middle of Project 52 – during each week of the year I was 52, I wrote about one year of my life on my Sonderjourneys blog. Just before I got to the divorce years, I gave my testimony in church – and then writing about those years helped me clearly see how much good God had brought me despite and through the pain. In many ways, I felt like Project 52 put a capstone on my healing journey.

And now a new journey is beginning! On April 12, I learned that I was elected to the 2019 Newbery Medal Selection Committee! What this means is that I will be reading as many American children’s books published in 2018 as I possibly can. My 14 other committee members and I will be meeting in Seattle in January 2019 to make our decision. I am thrilled about this, and it’s going to keep me busy all next year.

I again took some memorable trips this year. In August, I visited my friend Marilynn, who had just moved to South Carolina, and saw the total solar eclipse.

In October, I went to Portland, Oregon, and visited my kids, Jade (who is now going by Amber) and Tim, saw siblings Melanie, Marcy, Robert, Peter, and Becky (who was also visiting) – and saw my FIVE little nieces! Marcy & John had their third little girl, Kara, joining Alyssa and Zoe, and Robert & Laura have Arianna and Meredith. It did my heart so much good to see all of them!

For my second year in a row, this Fall I did a reading retreat in Chincoteague, Virginia, and saw some ponies. Since I’ll need to do so much reading next year, this may keep happening.

My church, Gateway Community Church, completed our beautiful new building. It’s lovely to no longer meet in a middle school. The church is growing rapidly in the new space. I’ve gone back to working in the nursery and still meet with a small group and post on the church blog. We’re trying to use our space during the week, and I started a weekly group – a Silent Book Club, for reading, of course!

I’m still Youth Services Manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library, and keep loving my job more all the time. I still spend lots of time writing and posting And most weeks I get together with a great bunch of friends and play Eurogames.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas,
Sondy Eklund

10. My employers are even bragging that they’ve got a librarian on the Newbery. Wow!
9. I get to be in the Room Where It Happens.
8. Reinforces that I made a good decision becoming a children’s librarian.
7. My library system is going to fund my four trips to ALA conferences during my committee service.
6. I get to discuss children’s books with people who love them as much as I do.
5. Publishers are going to mail me piles of new children’s books.
4. This turned my Empty Nest into an asset instead of something to mope about.
3. Forever after, the shiny sticker on the book we choose will remind me of this wonderful experience.
2. This gives me a new platform for talking with kids about children’s books and the Newbery Medal.
1. Books, books, books!
I get to spend all my spare time for the next year reading – without guilt!

Christmas Letter 2016

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Merry Christmas, and Joy to you this holiday season!

This year was about making the Nest feel like Home, even as the last fledgling took flight.


My daughter Jade and my son Tim are now both in the Portland area, and I have a new favorite place to visit. Tim moved in August and now has a contractor job with Intel. My four youngest siblings still live in the area there, and now so do my four youngest nieces. They are adorable!

My turning point of the year came in July when I had an opportunity to interview for a Youth Services Manager position at Eugene Public Library in Oregon. I didn’t get the job, but the experience of thinking through who I am and what I do best gave me new excitement about my life and calling here. And I had a fabulous vacation while figuring that out.


At the end of July, the Hatch family gathered in California for my niece Megan’s wedding, so I saw California family, too. My Mom, with her Alzheimer’s, is doing worse each time I see her, but she still perked up when she saw her baby granddaughter Zoe being happy and sweet. My Dad continues to model faithful, devoted love as he cares for her.


I am enjoying my job as Youth Services Manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library more and more all the time. We are trying out some creative STEM programming (like a Star Wars Escape Room program last week), as well as increasing story times, and I get to talk about good books!

I’m especially excited that this year I’m on the ballot to be on the 2019 Newbery Committee and help choose the most distinguished American children’s book of the year written in 2018. Voting for committee membership is in March, and you can be sure it will be the major topic of next year’s Christmas letter if I am elected.

Meanwhile, I’m practicing by being a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction, as well as continuing to take part in Capitol Choices – a DC-area group that meets monthly to discuss new children’s books and select 100 of the best books of the year. I took a personal reading retreat in October to Chincoteague Island, which was so wonderful, I’m going to look for more reasons to do this in the future.


Gateway Community Church is still the core of why I love living here. We’re building our Community Resource Center, to open in August 2017. I’m still hosting a small group in my home every Sunday after church, and we’ve been talking about Joy this last quarter. I’m helping collect books for the church’s new preschool and after-Kindergarten programs, so I’m glad to serve with my particular skills.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season,

Sondy Eklund

10. Walking in deep snow after a BLIZZARD! (The one we had this year was awesome!)
9. Walking by my lake any time of year.
8. Taking pictures of birds and flowers and autumn leaves.
7. Reading to small children while doing my awesome job.
6. Being asked, “What should I read next?”
5. Attending Capitol Choices and discussing new children’s books with my people.
4. Showing DC to visitors (like my sister Becky!).
3. Playing Eurogames like Dominion every week with friends.
2. Hosting my church small group at my house.
1. Being surrounded and loved and encouraged by a crowd of wonderful friends.










Christmas Letter 2015

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Merry Christmas, my Friends!


The holiday season is such a good time to look back on the year with thanks.

The theme of 2015 for me was Change and Transition. I’m not sure that’s what I wanted, but that’s what I got!


The first and biggest change is that my adult son Josh is transitioning to become my daughter Jade. Though this is quite an adjustment, I believe Jade that this change more truly expresses who she is. I was blessed to have a chance to spend time with Jade and her partner Sunny in Portland, Oregon, in July and in November. I am more convinced than ever that I have an amazing and wonderful kid!


The other huge transition is that my son Tim is graduating from William & Mary this month! He will earn a degree in both Computer Science and English. He plans to join Jade in Portland. This is a big transition, and I’ve been moaning over my Empty Nest all year long. But I am also so proud of the person Tim has grown to be.

This month is ten years since my ex-husband moved out and five years since my divorce was final. And you know what? I have transitioned to a place where that no longer seems a tragedy in any sense of the word. Romans 8:28 is true – God can bring good out of anything. My life is meaningful and happy and full of joys. I’m excited about what’s coming next.


My church is facing a transition, about to break ground to build our own building. This should bring growth and exciting changes. I am enjoying living nearby, and my small group meets at my house. For all my nine years here, church friends have been the key to making me feel at home here in Virginia.


I still am Youth Services Manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library. This year, I’ve highlighted math-related programs and tech-related programs, as well as always pushing good books. I went to four book-related conferences this year (tacking vacation onto two of them) and always enjoy hanging out with book people.


And my mathematical knitting continues! I finished a prime factorization blanket for my new little niece Zoe, and this will not be the last baby blanket I need to make! I decided this needs a special page on my website, so you can now follow my mathematical knitting adventures at


10. You barely have to clean, and it’s only after yourself.
9. Groceries cost much less.
8. If you accidentally trap yourself in your shower, no one hears you call for help and comes to investigate. (This is a good thing.) You discover resources you didn’t know you had.
7. When you cook, the food lasts much longer.
6. You can change your plans on a whim. If you get a nice invitation to do something after work, you can just go.
5. You can go to conferences and don’t have to worry about leaving anyone behind.
4. You can make activities you love (like Eurogames) a regular part of your life.
3. You can play your music loud and sing your heart out.
2. You can look forward to visiting your kids in their own homes.
1. You can be ever so proud that you have launched some wonderful young adults into the world.

With my sister Becky at Torrey Pines in California

With my sister Becky at Torrey Pines in California

We finally toured the Civil War Barracks a block from my parents' house!

We finally toured the Civil War Barracks a block from my parents’ house!

Hanging out at English Country Dancing with my niece Arianna and sister Melanie

Hanging out at English Country Dancing with my niece Arianna and sister Melanie

A butterfly by my lake

A butterfly by my lake

My newest niece Zoe smiling at her Aunt Laura.

My newest niece Zoe smiling at her Aunt Laura.

My niece Alyssa is feeding her mama and me "busghetti"

My niece Alyssa is feeding her mama and me “busghetti”

Sunny and Jade (and their dog Pippi) are just so cute together!

Sunny and Jade (and their dog Pippi) are just so cute together!

Wishing you a blessed holiday season,

Sondy Eklund

Thankful for 2014

Friday, November 28th, 2014

It’s Thanksgiving! Time to look back on my year and remember all I have to be thankful for!

And here’s my Christmas letter for my online friends:

First, here’s wishing you joyful holidays in every way!

Looking back, this was one of my happiest years in a long time. I’m still loving my home by the lake, still photographing the birds who live by it, and still enjoying being near my church.


I had three wonderful trips this year. First, my New Year’s trip to see my family in California. That included going with my high school friend Ruth to get my ears pierced. Better late than never!

Pierced Ears

When I got back home, I signed up for online dating! So far, I haven’t dated many different people, but I did make one very good friend, and because of him have enjoyed many Sunday afternoon games of Dominion with a whole new group of friends. All around, I think of it as a big win.

Tim got to spend the beginning of his summer studying in Prague. When he got back, he interned at my library in the Virginia Room. Then when he returned to William & Mary as a Junior, he was able to get a job in Special Collections at the campus library.

Josh and Tim

In August, we went to Oregon for the 75th annual Bates Family Reunion – begun the year my mother’s parents got married! It was good to see family I hadn’t seen in years – and also to see my older son Josh (still in Portland) and my parents and my five youngest siblings (the four youngest now live in Portland area as well) and my two toddler nieces, whom I fell completely in love with!


This was also the year I turned 50 – and in September, during the two weeks that all three of us were 50, my childhood friends Ruth and Darlene and I all got together and celebrated with a week of adventures.

Ruth and Dar

And for the rest? I’m still Youth Services Manager at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, still loving my job, and still writing book reviews in my spare time. I’m a judge again for the Cybils Awards. And be sure to google “prime factorization cardigan” (in quotes) to find out about my latest mathematical knitting!

Wishing you a blessed holiday season,

Sondy Eklund

Thanksgiving Letter

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

I decided to send a Thanksgiving Letter this year, rather than a Christmas letter. I have much to be thankful for!

The big thing that stands out for the year is my new home! With my Dad’s help, I purchased a condo in South Riding, less than 10 minutes from my church. After another place fell through, at just the right time for me, this home came open — with a beautiful view of a lake! I feel so blessed living here.

I’m thankful for church friends who made me feel so cared for and helped me through the moving process.

I’m thankful that my sons are doing well. Tim is a Sophomore at the College of William & Mary and enjoying it. He’s declared his major — English and Computer Science. His Dad lives near Williamsburg, so they see each other during the school year, and I get Tim for his vacations. He recently heard about some exciting Study Abroad possibilities for next year. Of course I would have to go visit!

Josh is still living in Portland, Oregon, and now has a salaried job as a computer programmer, which he’s enjoying very much. I’m so happy for him!

I’m thankful for a place to walk. With my lake to hike around, I’ve been much more regular about exercising than ever before, and I’m treated to beautiful scenery, including a great blue heron.

I’m thankful for my job. I’m still working at City of Fairfax Regional Library as Youth Services Manager and still love my job. I’m also going to be a Cybils judge (Kid Lit Blogger awards) again this year. And, yes, I’m on my 13th year of writing Sonderbooks book reviews and still love it.

What else am I doing? Plenty of mathematical knitting, like this prime factorization blanket for my niece, and regular board games with a group that meets Saturdays close to the library. Life is full, and life is good, and I’m so thankful for what this year has brought me!

May you have a blessed holiday season!

Sondy Eklund

Christmas Letter 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Merry Christmas! It’s been a good year! As the years go by, I’m losing physical addresses, so I like to post my Christmas letter on the web to send to my online friends. I always like summing up the year and remembering the ways I’ve been blessed.

2012 is the year where Tim’s age has 3 prime factors, Josh’s age has 4 prime factors, and my age has 5 prime factors! Woo-hoo! But even more exciting than that was Tim’s graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He is now a student at the College of William & Mary in beautiful Williamsburg, Virginia, not too far away, and nice and close to his Dad. It seems like a great fit. Students don’t have to declare their major until the end of their Sophomore year, and he’s taking classes in English, Computer Science, Physics, and other subjects he finds interesting.

Meanwhile, Josh is all grown up and settling down in Portland, Oregon. I’m a little jealous – I’m going to have to find lots of excuses to visit.

And I’m so happy in my Librarian career. In September, I promoted to Youth Services Manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library, the branch where I was already working. My two years not (officially) working in youth services showed me that’s definitely where I belong.

Looking back on the year, that career kept me busy traveling all over the country. I went to ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas in January and met up with a good friend. Then I went to PLA Conference in Philadelphia in March and drove through lovely Longwood Gardens on the way home. Next was ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, California – I got to stay with my sister Becky, and I stayed an extra week to see my family and some long-time friends.

With Three of my Sisters in Long Beach

Still not done, I went to New York City in September to KidLitCon – for bloggers who write about children’s books. And I finished it off with VLA Conference in Williamsburg in October, with a chance to see Tim already in college a month. Hmm. No wonder I’m not feeling any urge to travel for the holidays!

I’m also getting involved with children’s book awards. I went to a seminar about book evaluation committees in January, and have been active in Capitol Choices, a DC-area group, all year. Now I’m finishing the year on a panel for the Cybils Awards, choosing the best Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy books of the year. It’s so much fun knowing I “should” be reading!

I’m still so thankful to be alive and functioning after last year’s stroke and am much more healthy than this time last year.

I do feel very blessed and have so many reasons to rejoice! Wishing you a joyful and blessed Christmas,

Sondy Eklund

2011 Christmas Letter

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Greetings to all my online friends!

Here’s my Christmas Letter for this year. Imagine, if you will, the list from my last post as a sidebar, Top Ten Ways You Know You’re a Youth Services Librarian at Heart.

With My Boys, Tim and Josh

Merry Christmas, my Friends!

Yes, I’m a librarian again and loving it! (For 6 months of 2010, I had to work at another agency due to library budget cuts.) At the City of Fairfax Regional Library, where I work now, I’ve also had the chance to learn about doing genealogical research in the Virginia Room.

Tim’s a Senior in high school this year! How did that happen? He’s doing a Research Seminar in Computer Science, taking plenty of AP classes, and has almost finished his college applications. This summer, we got really hooked on playing Dominion together – a deck-building game with lots of expansions. I am not looking forward to an empty nest next year!

I’m afraid the big event of 2011 was that I had a stroke! On the flight to ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, I slept for awhile with my neck at a bad angle, and had a consistent low-grade headache for a month after. Then, out of the blue, sitting at the reference desk, the room started spinning. It turned out I’d had a cerebellar stroke (balance center of the brain) caused by a vertebral artery dissection (neck injury). Blood rushed to the injury and clotted, and then a piece of the clot broke off and caused a stroke.

They didn’t catch the stroke when I first went to the ER, but I had another episode a couple days later, and that time they found it, and I spent 10 days in the hospital. I feel tremendously blessed to be alive and kicking! I have no permanent disability, though I’m definitely still recovering, and have ongoing trouble with low-grade dizziness. I’m hoping that will leave when the vertebral artery dissection finishes healing (can take 6 months), and in the meantime I’m on blood thinners to keep from having another stroke.

I definitely learned that I have many people around me who love and care for me! Church friends helped in many different ways, and Library co-workers donated lots of leave, so I didn’t have to skip my paycheck. A really lovely side effect was that I spent lots of the summer at home with Tim – for his last summer before graduating from high school.

Just as I was recovering enough to go back to work, my brother Robert got married in Oregon. Tim and I spent a week staying with my Auntie Sue in my grandma’s old house in Salem, and I also got to see Josh, who had recently moved to Portland. All 12 of my brothers and sisters made it to the wedding, and it was a truly wonderful and memorable week.

Here I am with ALL my sisters and brothers!

I do feel very blessed and have so many reasons to rejoice! May you also have a joyful and blessed Christmas!

Much Love,

Sondy Eklund

PS After I wrote this letter, my neurologist did an exam and told me I may have had another stroke, a mini-stroke this time. My eyes don’t track together if I look up and to the right. I’ll have an MRI done next week to find out. So my healing journey isn’t done yet, and that’s my excuse for being so late on my Christmas gifts and cards and letters. But I figure this means that THREE times now, something much much worse could have happened. (The initial stroke was two episodes, with two visits to the hospital, not caught until the second time.) So I am either incredibly lucky or incredibly protected. With all the prayers I know have been offered for me, I’m going to consider myself incredibly protected!

Top Ten Ways You Know You’re a Youth Services Librarian at Heart

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Every year, I like to make a Top Ten list that summarizes my year. All of these have shown up in my life this year.

Top Ten Ways You Know You’re a Youth Services Librarian at Heart:

10. The only movie you’ve seen this year was the final Harry Potter film.

9. You can’t stop checking out picture books, even though your own kids are way past that age.

8. A highlight of your year was when, on vacation, your 17-year-old son read aloud to you from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

7. You have taken telecourses about the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Awards.

6. You are blazing fast reading Fox in Socks.

5. You are unable to refrain from collecting Advance Reader Copies at ALA Annual Conference, even though you’ve recently suffered a major neck injury and can barely carry them all.

4. You have lists of Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Medal predictions and hopes.

3. You’re over the moon when you get a picture with Gary Schmidt (who wrote your top pick for the 2012 Newbery Medal, see #4).

2. You attend KidLitCon in Seattle, for KidLit bloggers, and instantly discover a multitude of kindred spirits.

1. You’re already planning to buy a table at the 2012 Newbery/Caldecott Banquet in Anaheim and began a year in advance trying to talk your siblings into attending.

Christmas Letter 2010

Friday, December 24th, 2010

‘Tis the night before Christmas… and I’m writing my Christmas letter.

The beautiful part is that if I do an electronic-only Christmas letter, then this is right on time!

It’s been a crazy year.  Definitely not one I’d want to live over again.  The big question of the year was:  Can God really work EVERYTHING out for the good of those who love him?  Really?  Even divorce and losing the job I love?

The answer of the year was a resounding: YES!

First, I’ll report that, as of today, my divorce from Steve is final.  Both condolences and congratulations are in order.  He was a very good husband for a very long time, and I’m very sad it came to this.

But I am seeing this was a good thing in my life right now.  It was time to let him go.  Clinging wasn’t going to bring about a change of heart, and it was time to settle legal and financial matters between us.  I’d better not say any more than that.

So I’ll only say that it feels incredibly freeing to be a single adult, responsible only for myself and my son.  There are some wonderful things about it.  Life is good!

The job situation didn’t work out at all like I hoped — at first.  At the start of the year, I was Youth Services Manager at Herndon Fortnightly Library, and loving it.  But library budget cuts were looming, and I knew I was likely to lose my job.  What I hoped God would do was give me a better, higher-paying job.  I put out about 30 applications, but only got two interviews, and didn’t win  those.

I also hoped the Board of Supervisors might realize how awful it is for the poor and the kids and the immigrants in the county to lose hours of library service.  And they might have a change of heart about budget cuts.  That didn’t happen either.

So, yes, in May I got a Reduction-in-Force notice.  But a couple weeks later they offered me a job in another county agency at the same pay grade.  So for half of this year, I was a Management Analyst in Childcare Provider Services.  Basically, I was a cog in the bureaucracy of adminstering the USDA Food Program.  (And it is mountainous bureaucracy!)  I did enjoy the job.  I loved not having to serve the public, and I loved getting to listen to music all day long.  And the people I worked with were fantastic.  I also learned that I am not only detail-oriented, I am freakishly detail-oriented.

But it did bother me that the job was much, much less responsibility and much, much less difficult than being a librarian — and didn’t require a Master’s degree like a Librarian job does — yet it was the same pay grade.  Something’s wrong with this picture.  (But working in a library is so great, they can get us to do it for lower pay than we deserve.)

So, the good that came to me through that job was a continued paycheck — and evenings and weekends off.  I used the time to go to several book-related conferences, which were the highlight of my year.  It confirmed that I am a Children’s Librarian by calling, and I had a wonderful time, learning librarian tips and making connections in the kidlit and book world.

The biggest highlight was the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet as part of the American Library Association Annual Conference.  A friend bought several tables, so I got to sit with friends, too.  And of course the highlight of ALA is meeting lots of incredible authors and hearing them speak.

Below, I’m meeting  Grace Lin, a Newbery Honoree:

Then here I am with Jessica Day George, whose books I love:

And I simply have to include John Green and David Levithan, joint authors of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I actually had on my bedside table with my bookmark a couple chapters in when I met them.

And of course the picture book genius, Mo Willems:

And the teen books genius, M. T. Anderson, who had nice things to say about how bad it is to cut library funding (in response to my shirt).

Okay, I’d better stop!  Other book events of the year were the National Book Festival, Author Talks by Garth Stein, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, the MAYALIG (Metro Area Young Adult Librarians’ Interest Group) conference with Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and finally the Horn Book Colloquium at Simmons in Boston.  I had a lovely October weekend in Boston for that trip, but the huge highlight was when, at the end of it, I ran into one of my absolute favorite authors, Megan Whalen Turner, in the airport.

We’d already talked a little bit — She knew I was a huge fan from some things I’d said online.  We both had some time before our flights left, and while we were waiting, she sat with me and we ate and talked for an hour.  It was just lovely, and I felt like I made a friend — with one of the most brilliant authors writing for children today!

Here I am with Megan Whalen Turner at the Horn Book Colloquium:

You get the idea!  Lots and lots of inspiring talks about books and meeting lots and lots of authors and feeling very much a part of the kidlit book community, even if I wasn’t currently working as a Librarian.

I also actually kept my New Year’s Resolution for 2010 — I worked on writing books for at least 30 minutes every single day (so far)!  And I’m happy to report that I finished a book, a middle grade novel, and I plan to start submitting it to agents right away in the new year.  I’m hoping that at last my time has come, and I will find a publisher!  So maybe next time I meet all those authors, I will be one of them.  We shall see….

But in November, everything seemed to turn around at once.

First, the afternoon before our scheduled court dates, Steve signed the agreement my lawyer had written — so we did not have to have a court battle, and I did not even have to face him in court.

Then two days later, Tim and I flew to California for Thanksgiving Break, where I got to spend time with my family and friends, and had a beautiful, restoring five days.  I was totally rested and rejuvenated.

Here I am with four of my wonderful sisters:

And I got to see my son Josh, who lives in North Hollywood and recently moved into an apartment with my brother Peter.  They both work for IQ Joe, making Zoom Math, software that makes graphing calculators much easier to use.

Here are my two sons together:

Tim, by the way, is doing great.  He got straight A’s first semester!  He’s a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, so that’s a noteworthy accomplishment.  I made a deal with him back in 9th grade that I wouldn’t hassle him about doing his homework if he would DO it — never dreaming that he would actually take me up on that offer!  He’s an easy-going person to live with, except when I try to wake him up in the morning.  He and I went to the Rally for Sanity in Washington, DC, on October 30, and both thoroughly enjoyed it.  (And he will be old enough to vote in the next presidential election!  Look out!)

When I got back from California, they told me I could step into the job of a librarian who had retired.

So for three weeks now, I have been a Librarian again!  And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Librarian is the right job for me.  I’m currently not in the Youth Services department, but I still get to help kids who come to the Information Desk with questions.  I’m working at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, and I’m enjoying learning to use the Virginia Room, where we have a treasure trove of local history and genealogical materials.  I’m also processing reference books, which is quite different from what I did before, so I’m enjoying learning some new things.  And just reveling in being in the right place for me.

So — the year didn’t turn out at all like it would have if I were in charge of the world.  But I definitely like the way it turned out!

This Christmas, I even got to sing with a caroling group.  Thanks to all my years of being in choirs, singing at Christmas time is one of the most important parts of the holiday for me.  Tonight we sang in the Christmas Eve service.  It was a lovely service, with lots and lots of joyous music.  The theme was that Jesus was Emmanuel — God with us.  It reminded me, in a glorious way, that God has been with me this difficult year, and He has been wonderfully faithful.

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas!

Sondy Eklund