A Favorite Christmas Story

mctpigtailsWhen I was in kindergarten at the First Presbyterian Church in High Point, North Carolina (yep, that’s me with the pigtails), I heard a Christmas story that made a huge impression on me. The name of the story was Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden.

Up in the steeple of our church was an impressive set of bells. These bells rang on Sundays, calling people to worship. They rang WhytheChimesRangon special occasions, and—sometimes, but not always—they rang at the end of the midnight service on Christmas Eve. I always loved hearing the bells as they announced the official beginning of Christmas Day, and I think that’s why this story by Mr. Alden has always been a favorite of mine.

Read Why the Chimes Rang (just click the title to the left), and share it with someone special during this holiday season. I hope that you, too will hear the bells and know the awe and mystery of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and best wishes
for an amazing new year!



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Posted in Books, M.C. Tillson, North Carolina

Did you see who I met the other day?

Listening to a great storyteller.

Listening to a great storyteller at Eisenhower Elementary.

There I was, delivering my latest book to the library at Eisenhower Elementary School (my favorite elementary school in California!) and there she was—telling stories to the students. How lucky can you get?

Who was it? Why, Patricia Polacco, of course. Author and illustrator of some of the most beloved books in the world. My personal favorite is The Keeping Quilt—and guess what? She brought her keeping quilt with her to show to the students!

Patricia Polacco also brought a little piece of the meteor that fell on her grandparent’s farm in Union City, Michigan—the subject of her very first book, Meteor. She brings this magical rock to all her visits and lets students take a turn at making a wish.

Patricia Polacco books are all about what happens when people get together with people—with family, old friends, new friends, teachers, neighbors, and even strangers. Sounds like just the thing if you’re looking for something to read during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Patricia Polacco is an amazing woman and the story of her own life is CelesteandPatthe basis for the stories she tells and so richly illustrates in her books. I got a chance to talk with her a bit after all the students had returned to their classes, and she immediately made me feel as if we had been friends for a very long time. Patricia lives in Michigan and has family that she visits in Northern California. I certainly understand her attraction to both places! (Hmmm…do you think she might like to have a place to visit in North Carolina?)

On this Thanksgiving, be sure to say thank you to someone or for something you might otherwise overlook, and have a wonderful holiday!



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Posted in Books, Michigan, North Carolina

Mystery Solved!

The Secret on Bald Head Island is the last of the North Carolina Lighthouse Adventures trilogy, bringing to a close the mystery that’s been on my mind for more than four years.  It all started on an annual family beach trip to Oak Island—that’s when I first got the idea of magically changing the flash of the Oak Island Lighthouse to send a very tall signal for help.

“What if…” I thought to myself, “what if the lighthouse all of a sudden flashed three times instead of four? Would everyone notice? Would anyone notice?”

And, of course, if you’ve read The Mystery at Oak Island, you know that is exactly how the whole thing begins.

Oh my!

Is this the strategy for unlocking the secret on Bald Head Island?

It’s a little sad to finish a project that you’ve been working on for so long, but I’m also very excited. I can’t wait to see how people like the rest of the story (The Clue at Price’s Creek) and how the story ends (The Secret on Bald Head Island).  I do hope you enjoy it.

And now? Well there are so many things on my plate that it’s always hard to figure out where to start. There’s the story of Ms. McNair that needs to be told, Angelo’s adventure on the way to school, and about a hundred billion other ideas jumbling around in my head.

I’ll keep you posted!



P.S. If you’re in Southport on Friday, November 6 for the Gallery Walk, come by the Ricky Evans Gallery and say hello!

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Posted in Books, Lighthouses, North Carolina, Uncategorized

Talk Like a Pirate?


It’s talk—not fight—like a pirate day, gentlemen!

I tell you…it’s hard to keep up with these official days. First, there was National Lighthouse Day which I missed (!) and now International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up on Saturday, September 19. Stede Bonnet would never forgive me if I missed this one too!

In honor of the day, I found this link to a pirate name generator that you can use to create your own pirate name. (My pirate name is Miss Two Toes Penny!)

BTW, did I tell you that I saw a real pirate ship when I was with my family on Oak Island this summer? More about that later, but here’s proof!


The Spanish ship El Galeón Andalucía advancing on Old Baldy! (Thanks for the picture, Larry!)

Away ye landlubbers!mct110714

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Posted in Books, Lighthouses, North Carolina, Travels

My Brother Is Home!

My brother is home!  My brother is home! My BROTHER is HOME!  I jumped on his bed and he yelled at me! And then I jumped on his bed again. I love this game! My brother is home!

His shoes smell funny so I took them outside.

My brother is home! My brother is home! He’s home! My brother is home! My brother is home! My brother is home!pawprint


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Posted in Mercy

And be it further enacted…

Can you believe I missed National Lighthouse Day?eagleharborcover

It was August 7, and I just…missed it. There’s really no good excuse. I love lighthouses. I’ve done a lot of research about lighthouses and, over the past eight years or so, lighthouses have become the subject of six books in my Lighthouse Adventure Series. (Eight if you count the puzzle books!) I can’t believe I missed it.

But maybe we could travel back to a couple of days ago…to Friday, August 7, 2015 to be exact. And let’s take a look at what my blog on that day should have been.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!

August 7 is the date that—224 years ago—the U.S. Congress chose as the day to celebrate, appreciate, and generally support lighthouses. In 1789, Congress passed an act that did all of these things. It was signed by George Washington himself.

Now back in 1789 there weren’t very many lighthouses. (The very first lighthouse ever in the United States had been built in Boston in 1716.) This law from Congress was very important because it designated money to be used to build and take care of lighthouses.It also approved a lighthouse to be built at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. This lighthouse, called the Cape Henry Lighthouse, is still standing today, beside a newer, more visible tower.


Almost two hundred years after Congress approved the Lighthouse Support Act, the 1988 Congress declared August 7, 1989 to be National Lighthouse Day. The bill was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

So, if you get a chance, hug a lighthouse today. (I’m sure none of them will mind that you’re a couple of days late.) And next year, on August 7, check back with me. See if I managed to do an appropriate celebration for the structures that—for more than 225 years—have been responsible for watching over our waters and “rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe.”


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Posted in Books, Lighthouses

Meeting New People Can Be Fun, but Scary

We had friends over for dinner last night. I didn’t know they were friends until later, so I wanted to bark at them when they came to the door. I have been practicing NOT barking at people, but sometimes I forget.

I like having people come over for dinner because sometimes they give me treatsespecially if I don’t bark! pawprint


Posted in Mercy