Behind the Scenes
(Where stories come from)
Lori finds inspiration for her stories in the most unusual
places. Important people and animals in her life have often guided her to
write some of her favorites. Here are a few “behind the scenes” facts.
The Donut Lady, Los Angeles Times Kids’
Reading Page, 2000
“One of my favorite people
in the entire world was my Great Aunt Boody. She showed me that some grown-ups
actually liked to play! Boody spent hours playing games with my brother and
me-- Monopoly and Blackjack were their favorites. But the board game, Clue,
was the most exciting. Boody had a special, who-done-it-knack for discovering
whether it was Mrs. Scarlet with a rope in the Dining Room or Mr. Green with a
lead pipe in the kitchen. No matter how badly I wanted to win, seeing Boody
solve the mystery somehow made everything right in the world.
In her golden years, Boody’s passion
for sweets lead her to a new career and to new friends at a job at Winchell’s
Donut House. Back in the 1940s, Boody and her husband ran a drive-thru sandwich
shop called The Maid Rite. Sandwiches sold for a quarter and a slice of
homemade pie for fifteen cents! Winchell’s became her home away from home
until the age of 75.
Watching Boody make donuts was a thrill. She added flour
and sugar into the mixing machine that spun the powdery mixture into a thick,
white batter. Boody stretched the dough out onto metal sheets and cut circular
shapes with a round tool. To fill the jelly donuts, she poured the red, sticky
filling into the jelly machine, stuck a donut onto a prong and pulled down the
lever. I loved watching the red glop squirt into the dough! These trips to
Winchell’s were one of the highlights of my childhood. An added bonus was the
dozen donuts Boody brought as a gift every time she came to see us. Of course,
jellies were our favorites!
These sweet memories were inspiration for "The
(Click Pictures for Larger View)
Before Aunt Boody passed away two years ago, she was so proud of “her” story that ran in
the LA Times Kids’ Reading Page.
On My Way, Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Page, 2004
“It’s easy to write about your best friend, especially if
she’s a dog. Mo was my best buddy for thirteen and a half years. She was a Back
Labrador/Golden Retriever mix that I basically considered my first child. Mo’s
favorite hobby was chasing her big, red rubber ball. She spent so much time
with that ball in her mouth, that Mo’s teeth were worn down and rounded out in
the shape of it! Hiking in the mountains and swimming in lakes were a few more
of Mo’s favorite activities. One time, when she was only four months old, Mo
retrieved my Chap stick that had been floating out in the middle of the lake!
When at home, Mo enjoyed her walks. But unlike most dogs, Mo
knew how to walk herself. She’d grab her leash in her mouth and head on down
the sidewalk. Mo had a built in compass!
I couldn’t have ever asked for a more amazing pal to share
my days with. Mo stuck by me through about five moves, a new husband and two
kids. And all the while, she smiled, gave big kisses and took herself on walks.
Mo has inspired me to write many stories. She starred in my first
picture book, Don’t Lick the Baby. Even though she passed away in 2005, in my heart, Mo will always be my muse.”
Mo and her big, red ball!
Tap Shoes for Yaya, Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Page, 2001
“Sometimes, writing helps you heal when you’re feeling down.
My mom passed away in 2002 at the young age of 65. I still miss her everyday,
but writing Tap Shoes for Yaya helped me feel less sad.
When my mom turned 63, my son and I decided to buy her tap
shoes for her birthday. He was so excited to give them to his Yaya (the Greek
word for grandma.) She was not able to get up and dance, but she would sit on
a chair and tap those feet like crazy!
When Yaya was a child, she loved to go tappity, tappity, tap
all through the house, even though her parents couldn’t afford to get her tap
shoes, or send her to tap class. Even as a young girl, she stood up for what
she wanted. She was a strong influence on me and taught me to never give up for
what I truly believe in.
Even now, sometimes I can still hear that tap, tap, tappity tap, and I know she’s still with me.”
Here is Yaya (Jean Polydoros) in her younger
Papa’s First Flight, Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Page, 2005
A few years ago, we took my dad to Hawaii for the very first
time. It was also his first plane trip. My son and I thought it would be fun to
write a special story for my dad to give to him on the plane. They read it
together on the plane, and we all had a blast together on the big island of Hawaii.
Writing this story taught me that it is never to late to learn and try new
things. You can conquer your fears, no matter how old you are!
Lori with her dad and son outside a lava tube on
Marmots Don’t Fly, a file cabinet special, written in 1993
Back in 1993, I got up the nerve to go mountain climbing for
the very first time. My best friend, Linda, was a park ranger in Tuolumne Meadows,
in Yosemite National Park, CA. I drove all night to get there, just in the time
for the climb. To get to the base of Cathedral Peak, it was a tough three-hour
hike uphill for this sea level girl who had just arrived and not acclimated
yet! Once we got to the base, I looked up at this 1,100 foot peak and my heart
fell. Would I be able to do it?
Well, lucky for me, I had a group of very patient and
skilled climbing friends who got me up safely (and I never even lost my
footing!) Being at the tip of a peak over 9,000 feet high was exhilarating! I
can still feel the chilly, high Sierra wind whipping through my hair.
At one point on the way up, I had been waiting on a big
boulder down below. Once I got up a 100 feet or so, I looked down below me, and
on that very same rock, sat a plump, fuzzy marmot (cutest rodent in
existence!) It was at the moment, that my mind starting working out the story
of a superhero marmot who used his spiritual connection with nature to save his
I did send it out to several publishing houses and got back
a few nice comments, but as of now it sits in my file cabinet where it will
probably remain forever. Sometimes your first piece is just a stepping stone.
But I always think of my time on Cathedral peak how it inspired me to write
about a creature that could do amazing things, even though everyone told him he
Lori “flying high” on Cathedral Peak,
Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
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