[Almost two and a half years ago, I began writing a blog that eventually had 77 posts, 34 followers, and 29,378 views. I am so thankful every day that I have readers who tap on their computer keys or phone apps to read my thoughts.  When we moved that blog over to this new website recently, the very first post didn’t budge. As I read that first piece again today, I thought about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned since those early days when I had written a memoir about teaching, and I was just starting to think about writing a novel. Now that novel is no longer simply a far off thought in my imagination, but instead it’s a real book coming out this November. I thought it might be fun to repeat that first post here on my new site for a few days.  Then I will begin a series of posts about the fun–and work–of building this new site.]

Van Kirk speaking at one of her many author events.


And Sometimes She Writes…

A Blog by an Author, Teacher, and Mom

Eight years ago when my brother and I were clearing out our father’s possessions after his death, we came upon a stash of family treasures.  Besides WWII love letters to our mother and various newspaper clippings about his children’s accomplishments, he had also saved a tattered, construction paper-covered book I had hand-written and illustrated when I was eight or nine.  The Mystery of the Golden Slippers—evidently a precious gem had been stolen and hidden in the toe of the titled ballet slippers (too much Nancy Drew reading.)

I had forgotten that early, ambitious foray into writing a novel, just as I had failed to remember a neighborhood newspaper I had typed on an old typewriter using carbon paper to duplicate my words.  He had saved those too.  Perhaps he was trying to remind me that pencil lead and ink were in my blood.  He was usually right.

And so I am being very intentional as I begin this blog and welcome everyone to read and comment on entries.  They will reflect my thoughts on my world, my small town, and my current novel.  The title of my blog comes from this thought:  She teaches, sews, reads, watches grandchildren, and loves movies.  Oh yes—and sometimes she writes.

Speaking with the hometown audience about my teaching memoir.

Speaking with the hometown audience about my teaching memoir.

The world of self-publishing is also a gold mine of topics.  In 2010, I self-published The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks) with iUniverse.  It is a collection of creative nonfiction stories from my long high school teaching career.  It sold well and is continuing to sell on major book store websites.  Teachers and future teachers have written their positive reactions about its inspirational nature and its realism about the teaching profession.  This book will always be special to me and it has its own website and Facebook page.  Its publication brought back emotions and memories and put me in contact with many people who had left my life and—because of my book—returned.

Over the last five years I have studied the publishing industry.  Since 2009, I have spent most of my year in Illinois and my winters in Arizona where I have often visited two independent bookstores, The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale and Changing Hands in Tempe.  Each store invites writers to discuss and sign their books and I’ve listened to many authors, asked questions, and been inspired by their comments.  Changing Hands Bookstore and the South Mountain Community Library also sponsored a writing conference I attended recently that brought some of the best minds in publishing together to discuss their various specialties.   Then a year ago I joined Sisters in Crime (SinC), a web community of mystery writers, readers, agents, and publishers.

In my new life as a retired teacher I am now shifting my focus to writing fiction, specifically cozy mysteries.

Please come along for the ride and check back for new blogs.  I’m changing the focus of my life from teaching in high school and college to writing fiction.  One of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau, decided to change his direction and leave the woods of Walden Pond because, “Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live… ” Me too, Henry.