Monday, December 31, 2012

Here Comes 2013!

Looking Forward to 2013

Angel (my sister’s dog, in the chair) and Baxter (my dog) are looking forward to 2013. Here they are dressed in their holiday best. Angel loves it. Baxter tolerates it. Hoping 2013 finds you at your best, and that you love it more than tolerate it!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013

Wishing you straight trails, glowing sunsets, and warm campfires.

Rob Sanders

Sunday, December 23, 2012

To One and All

A Cowboy Christmas Blessing

May all your Christmas trees tower tall.
May all your guests have a boot-stomping ball.
May all your chow be served pipin hot.
May all your horses gallop and trot
May all your evenings be starry bright
And may all your cattle sleep well tonight.

Rob Sanders

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It All Adds Up!

One Week in the Life Of An Author

Number of classes I visited.

Times I read Cowboy Christmas.

Books I signed for teachers and students

Number of schools I visited.

Number of performances I attended of
Cowboy Christmas—The Musical.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Springfield Memories

I’m back from a book-signing event at the Barnes & Noble in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri. My dear friend, Betty Swadley, helped organize the event. Betty and her husband, Rev. Paul Swadley—aka: Swad—pastored the church I attended as a teenager and college student. They also know everyone in Springfield—including Renee Hunt, the customer relations manager at Barnes & Noble.

I read the book at the beginning of the signing and all fifty books were sold out before the event finished. (Thank goodness my aunts, uncles, and cousins had pre-ordered all of their copies ahead of time.)

This is my Aunt Becky and my cousins Donna Sanders Tiefenbrunn and Linda Sanders Garges.

Here I am with Mrs. Janet Henley, my third grade teacher at Bingham Elementary School. I write about Mrs. Henley (who prefers to be called Janet) every year with my students. She was the first teacher to read a chapter book to us (Little House on the Prairie) and the first to take us on a field trip (to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum in Mansfield, MO). How great to reconnect and catch up with Mrs. Henley—I mean Janet!

My youth minister and his wife (Jack and Winnie Tuckness) were there with their three grown children and seven grandchildren. My cousins from the Raney side of the family—Jacqua Garrison and Dawn Lindsay—were there, too. Along with other South Haven friends. My best gal pal from Springfield, Lauri Massey, attended with her partner, Mickey, and their son, Ethan. And, of course, my sister Pat, was there every step of the way.

This is a picture of me and my twin-cousin, Linda. We were born two months apart (I’m older) and grew up together. The hat is a loaner from Linda’s husband, Mark.

Aunt Becky hosted a Sanders’ family reunion and thirty plus aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins joined us. I was humbled and honored at the effort they made to attend the book signing and the reunion. It’s been years (up to thirty or more) since I’ve seen some of these family members, and I had forgotten the warmth of their love, and the genuine, sincere way they conduct themselves and lead their lives. Thank you one and all.

On Sunday, Pat and I visited our Aunt Shirley (our mom's only remaining sibling) and Uncle Jack. Pat took me for a birthday lunch and to see family friends perform in The Nutcracker. Then Cousin Jacqua and her busband, Kevin, hosted us for dinner and a birthday cake. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like . . . COWBOYS!

Cowboy boot ornaments and candy canes greeted the teachers at my school today. They were clickin’ their heels with delight! Yee-haw!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


When I completed graduate school, the contract for the job I’d had for the previous two years also ended. I worked for the next year at the seminary (yes, seminary—long story) I had attended. I worked in public relations developing brochures, writing news releases, creating displays, and making minimum wage. When I moved on from that job, my co-workers took me for a going-away luncheon at a nearby Chinese restaurant. At the end of the meal came the fortune cookies.

My co-workers each gave me their fortune cookies, insisting that I would need all the good luck and fortune I could get as I moved on to my next career. I cracked open one cookie after another, reading each fortune as I went.

          Your road will be paved with success.
          An exciting destination awaits.
          New friends and new challenges are in your future.
          Miles separate friends, but they do not end friendships.

I was amazed that each and every fortune had special meaning to me. Sometimes I am a hopelessly na├»ve Midwesterner, and this was one of those times. I didn’t realize until the last cookie, that my co-workers had placed fortunes they had created for me in the cookies. Then I read the last fortune—You need to get back to work if you expect to be paid.

The laugh was on me, but the sentiments of those fortunes lingered in my mind long after I had moved.

Fortunes are still important me. But now it seems many fortunes you find inside those crunchy cookies aren’t fortunes at all. Often they are just quotes, or a statement of fact. Every now and then, however, I find a fortune worth holding on to. Shortly after signing my contract for COWBOY CHRISTMAS, I started saving fortunes that I wanted to come true. My collection includes these:

Opportunity is knocking at your front door.
Right now there’s an energy pushing you to stay on your path.
Nothing happens unless first a dream.
A new business venture is on the horizon.
You will soon receive an offer you cannot refuse.

Of course, I’ve probably thrown away four fortunes for every one I’ve kept. Who wants to hang on to a fortune you don’t want, or hope won’t come true? But holding on to the good ones . . . now that’s the key. A positive thought hidden inside a fortune cookie takes on special meaning when you want that fortune to come true. Then the forutne becomes a mantra, wish, hope, dream, goal. Once you start thinking those positive thoughts—or “putting them out in the universe” as my friend, Sharon, likes to say—you start acting and living in the truth of those fortunes. What you believe, is what you become.

If you could write a fortune today to describe the next step you want to take along your writing path, what would you write? What would your hope, dream, wish, or goal be? Write it down. You can even stick it inside a fortune cookie if you want. Then start living your new fortune. And keep writing.

This is a photo of my Shrine to the Sacred and Silly above my desk.
In the back right-hand corner you can see my fortunes sticking out of a small, white urn.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Here I am autographing book after book at the Barnes & Noble, South Tampa store (home of my PB&J critique group). We sold out of books and I ended up signing twenty-eight book plates for books that were ordered.

This is a cool fifth grader named Taylor. Taylor is an almost-black belt in Karate, loves science, and is an avid writer. We met at his elementary school last year when I led a writing camp for kids. His dad brought Taylor to the signing today. Who says older kids don’t read picture books?!

Here I am with my ole teaching pal, Lori Ritenor. Lori and I taught together six or seven years ago when we both first moved to Tampa. Lori was one of the many writing, teaching, and SCBWI friends that stopped by today.

To top it all off, the Barnes & Noble store has declared this week COWBOY CHRISTMAS WEEK and the employees will be dressing in cowboy gear and wearing pins featuring the book all week long. Much thanks to Beth Gaffney, Customer Relations Manager!

Read All About It!

Featured in

YEE-HAW! Cowboy Christmas is featured in the Sunday, December 2, New York Times Book Review. Cowboy Christmas is the first book in “Bookshelf: Holidays in America,” and the review includes a wonderful two-page spread from the book. You can check out the review at

The text of the review reads:

Three cowboys, Dwight, Darryl and Dub, along with their chef, Cookie, are waiting for “Santy Claus.” But how will he find them out on the range? Hearts a-worrying, they sit around the campfire, recalling Christmases past. Full of corn-poke phrases like “knee-high to a grasshopper” and “darn tootin’,” the text is sure to elicit a giggle, and the simple story, complete with its jingling-bells ending, is the cheery kind children seem to cling to this time of year. Older children will notice that Santa isn’t quite who he seems, but younger siblings will believe.