Tuesday, May 13, 2014

'A Snicker of Magic'

This past weekend, I indulged in my first non-academic book in months. My choice? "A Snicker of Magic" written by Natalie Lloyd and published by Scholastic.

It's a whimsical tale of a young word catcher and collector Felicity Juniper Pickle who travels the country with her mom, younger sister and dog Biscuit in search of home. They arrive in Midnight Gulch, Tennessee--a town once rumored to be magic. Felicity hopes to bring that magic back and in the process, set her family free from its wanderings.

The book is quite simply a delicious read. It's full of wacky characters (aka a beautician mechanic) and enough ice cream to inspire you to grab a bowl yourself (which I did. Two times.)

Felicity's joys and aches soon became mine because her experiences have once been mine--and in some instances still are, even as an adult. I found myself reading the book with pen in hand and underlining sentences as they bore witness to the very whispers in my heart. I know your happiness and pain, Felicity!

Released in February, this young adult novel caught the attention of the New York Times. That, my friends, is a big honkin' deal.

The book drives home this point: your words are more important than you know.

At Natalie's book release party in Oneida, Tenn. this spring
'Snicker' was especially enjoyable for me because it's written by my friend.

Natalie and I met 16 years ago in Colorado Springs when we were high school students. She was the winner of a writing contest where two other gals and I were runners up. The organization flew us all to Colorado for a weekend of photo shoots and girl fun. I returned home to Brooklyn, NY, and she to Oneida, TN, and we promised to stay in touch, which we did.

When I moved to Knoxville 11 years ago, Natalie and her family helped me find an apartment. They became my family since I had none in East Tennessee.

We both made a profession out of writing--I went the newspaper journalist route for a while and I'm now in public relations. Natalie went the magazine and columnist route and eventually wrote "Paperdoll," a book for teen girls about true beauty.

'Snicker' is her first novel. Pick up a copy for your children. Heck, pick it up for yourself. It's quite a ride.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Master Lola!

I've been a Volunteer at heart for a while but I now have the cred to make it official.
I became Master Lola this week following the graduate hooding ceremony Thursday at the University of Tennessee. I am now an alumna of the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program. YAY! In short, I am ready for a life in public service. Cool, huh?!

No job changes on the horizon. I'll continue in my gig in the UT office of media relations. Since I work at a state university, I am already a public employee. The degree will help me to do better what I'm already doing. I'm excited to see how life unfolds from here on out. I'm especially thrilled about all my newfound free time. It's a beautiful thing!

With other grads of the Master of Public Policy and Administration program

My dad and sister Remi traveled from New York City for the main campus ceremony. Their presence was such a huge blessing. Two of my dearest Knoxville friends Caroline and Rachel also were there to cheer me on.

Rachel, Remi, moi, dad and Caroline

The MPPA faculty held a smaller departmental ceremony for the 11 graduates on Friday and the program director personally hooded every one of us, which was super cool. (At the main campus ceremony Thursday, we put on our hoods ourselves. Only the doctoral candidates were hooded by their advisors.)

Professor Joe Jarret, moi and Professor and program director David Folz
An aside: I was totally digging the professors' procession robes and hats I saw at the main campus ceremony and our departmental hooding. They were among the coolest and most colorful I've ever seen. Makes me wish the professors wore them everyday in class. Haha.

One final photo of le graduate:
Downtown Knoxville in the background. I love my city!