Shimmer of Time Goes on the Road (and I Do Too)

Summer days are for lazing around the pool, going for evening bike rides, and generally slowing down the pace of life, right?

Uh, not here.

I’ve actually been extra-busy lately, not only with writing book #2, but taking Shimmer on the road.

I had an unexpected opportunity to do an author visit to the Tyson Library in Versailles, which in Indiana is actually pronounced ver-sales, not vare-sigh. Sigh.

Read-Aloud Time at Tyson Library

Read-Aloud Time at Tyson Library

Regardless of living where they didn’t know how to pronounce French a hundred years ago, I had a lot of fun. It was Tyson Library’s summer reading kickoff and I had an hour to read books to kids from 2-12, so took some favorite picture books, a chapter book, and, of course, Through the Shimmer of Time. I signed books while the kids did crafts and had snacks, and then I taught an hour-long writing workshop to teens and a few adults. We talked about the critical elements of plot (hint: someone wants something they can’t easily get), brainstormed possibilities for adventure and romance and thrillers, and had a great Q&A session.

At the book signing table with authors Katie Andrews Potter and Pamela Woods Jameson

At the book table with authors Pamela Woods Jackson and Katie Andrews Potter.

The next weekend I was at Conner Prairie where I signed books with 4 other writers during the Curiosity Fair.  Sarah Morin came dressed as a medieval princess for her Young Adult novel Waking Beauty, and Katie Andrews Potter turned out to be a kindred time-traveler – her Going Over Home is the flip side of mine for a YA/adult audience.  Madalyn Kinsey brought The Ghost of Cheeney Creek and Pamela Woods Jackson’s YA, Genius Summer, has a historical element.  Really fun to meet like-minded authors!

Sarah Morin and Madalyn Kinsey ready to sign books.

Sarah Morin and Madalyn Kinsey

With thunderstorms predicted, the staff moved us and our books out of the tents and into the Museum Center and boy, were we glad.  While we chatted and signed in comfortable air conditioning, people came in from outside red-faced and dripping sweat. I did get to meet a lot of families and some very excited kids, including one who read the whole book while his family was out experiencing the rest of the festival!

Drawing a Winner for the "Shimmer of Time" Poster at Conner Prairie.  (Yes, I know there's a ribbon in my face!)

Drawing a Winner for the “Shimmer of Time” Poster. (The ribbon in my face actually goes to the model rocket.)

 

The Conner Prairie Gift Shop carries Through the Shimmer of Time, of course, but it’s also available at the Hale Farm and Village near Cleveland and the Heritage Village Museum in Cincinnati. Perhaps I’ll visit festivals there sometime soon!

An unexpected happening: the Indiana State Library is opening a Young Reader’s Center, and they asked if I would donate a signed copy to be displayed there. They’ll also have a copy that circulates. The State Library – how cool is that?

logoAnd last, but certainly not least, I’m volunteering at a summer writing program for youth, sponsored through the Indiana Writer’s Center. We focus on narrative non-fiction, which basically means the stories from their own lives. The kids will have a couple writing prompts to choose from each time, and my age group (middle school) will not only create their stories, but have a chance to edit them as well. Each child will have work published in an end-of–session book which will be in public and school libraries and for sale at local bookstores. We’re told the students tend to return to school in the fall with not only greater fluency in writing, but a whole lot more confidence in English class and school in general. What a great program to be involved with!

I’m really enjoying working with kids, both as a mentor and a visiting author. No surprise, really – I spent my early college years majoring in Elementary Education. I hope to fill the fall and spring with school and library visits, so if you’d like me to visit yours, please pass my name along!

Oh, one more thing: Through the Shimmer of Time is now free to read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime, so if you’re signed up with one of those, happy reading!

And another “one more thing”: Book #2, RESCUE Through the Shimmer of Time, is slated for publication this fall. If you want to stay updated, please sign up for my soon-to-begin newsletter.

Posted in SHIMMER OF TIME, Writer's Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Visions of Today and Yesterday

I feel like I live in two worlds.

I recently bought a pear tree (note to self: buy a partridge) and needed to drive slowly along the back roads on the way home. My route took me through the small town of Clayton, Indiana, and my double-vision kicked in.

This is actually a house in nearby Danville.  That's what I get for letting my mind wander without taking pictures!

This is actually the Ora Adams House in nearby Danville. That’s what I get for letting my mind wander without taking pictures!

Clayton is a country village a few miles south of the county seat, which is a slightly larger town. The historic homes along Clayton’s main road invited me to slow down and enjoy the sights – spreading shade trees, lovely flower beds, and a woman mowing a yard.

Juxtaposed against this, I could also envision women in long skirts and sidewalks walking of boards. Families would have hitched a wagon and taken regular trips into Danville for supplies. The Presbyterian Church has been around since the 1830s, and descendants of the original settlers probably still worship there.

From 1910 - can't you imagine living then?

A gathering in 1910 – can’t you imagine being there? (Click to enlarge.)

Farther on, country roads took me through flat farmland. A tractor rumbled through the field for spring plowing, but I could also see a team of horses straining against their harnesses, and the man taking his hat off and wiping his brow. In the fall, a combine will roar through, harvesting corn or soybeans most likely. Or could it be a long row of men and women wielding scythes and tying up shooks of wheat or oats?

Image courtesy of USDA via Flickr

Image courtesy of USDA via Flickr

Le Laborage by Rosa Boneur, via Wikimedia Commons

Le Laborage by Rosa Boneur, via Wikimedia Commons

 

By the time I got the pear tree home (leaves still intact, thank goodness), I was back fully in the modern world. But the more I read and write historical fiction, the more I live in the past and the easier it is for my imagination to overlay today with scenes of pioneer times.

It’s rather a nice sort of double-vision to have.

What about you? Can you “see” a previous time laid over our modern lives? When you’re traveling, or at home, too? How far back does your imagination take you?

Posted in History, Writer's Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Graduation Day: A Son Finds His Road in Life

My best Mother’s Day gift this year was the realization, once again, of the joy of watching my children find their passion. This is what we did yesterday:

The Newest Grad in Our Family

Bryan, my oldest son, received his Bachelor’s in English – a long first step on his way to becoming a university professor.

It’s been hard to watch sometimes – after exploring Chemistry Ed, English Ed, English Lit, Accounting, Poly Sci and who knows what else, I sometimes despaired that I would ever hear the passion in his voice that he needs to have for his life’s vocation.  And he despaired of taking so long and still not knowing what he wanted to do.

No more, please, NO MORE!

No more, please, NO MORE!

Through these years, though, he found he does want to teach, just not high school. And he’s discovered that he’s definitely not into 19th Century Literature enough to do a doctorate in either American or British Lit.

beowulf cover

Beowulf for Pleasure Reading

On the other hand, he loves Shakespeare, is intrigued with Dante’s Divine Comedy, and reads Beowulf for fun. Never had a class that covered it, just likes to read it. And did I mention he does it FOR FUN?

So now, when he talks about the Medieval/Renaissance literature field, I’m hearing the excitement that reassures me he’ll be happy in his chosen field, even if it does require six more years of heavy-duty schooling. And that gives me joy.

He’s not alone – his siblings have given me the same pride lately – but I’ll tell you about them the next time. For now, it’s Bryan’s time to shine, and I’m immensely proud of him.

 

Posted in Goals, Home & Family, TAKE JOY! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Smile While You “Shut Up and Dance!”

I was working on a different blog post, but this video has taken over my mind – and my smile.   If you need a bit of happy time today, this is for you!  (And as a bonus, how many of the movies can you name?)

Doesn’t that make you just start dancing in your seat?

While your toes are still tapping, I’ve got to get back to writing now.  So far, though, I see these movies in the video (in no particular order):

  • Beetlejuice
  • Get Smart
  • Risky Business
  • Flashdance (the newer version)
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Happy Feet
  • Mean Girls
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Grease
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Big
  • Frozen
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Mask
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Enchanted
  • West Side Story
  • Puss n Boots

There are a few more I know and can’t remember the names of, and even more that I haven’t seen.  Can you add to the list?

Posted in Misc, Music, TAKE JOY!, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Solar-Powered Self

fascinated by thunderstorms (image via Flickr CC)

The power of thunderstorms fascinates me.  Tree branches whip in the wind, rain pelts against the roof, hail clatters on the deck and the skylights.  Thunder rolls and cracks, and I count seconds until the flash of white.  When the lightning and thunder come on top of each other, I startle, shudder and look on in amazement, safe in my house.  No matter what I’m supposed to be doing (including sleeping at night) I find myself drawn to the window to witness the spectacle.

Muffled in fog (image via Flickr CC)

On the other hand, when cottony fog muffles the outside world, cocooning me in my solitary day, I’m grateful that the only commute I have is the three paces to my computer.  And when a soft, gentle rain waters the grass and flowers, the patter on the roof becomes white noise.  These gray days make me glad to stay home and curl up.  It should be the perfect time to write, but I’ll often end up with a blanket over my legs and a favorite novel in my hands.

Glorious Sun! (image via Flickr CC)

But I take my energy from sunshine – not the humid, dog-days of summer, but the crisp spring days now.  I recently heard someone say her kids called her solar-powered, and that’s me.  I can bound out of bed after a good night’s sleep and the promise of a sunny day energizes me, giving hope to actually accomplishing a good portion of my to-to list.  Or I can wake up tired, growling at the world, and the sun on the trees cheers my soul.  And when something goes wrong mid-day and frustrations set in, give me half an hour in a sunny chair by the flowers and I can cope with a smile.

Most of the time, anyway. 

The best combination:  a sunny day and a good book (image via Flickr CC)

On these glorious sunny days, I try to do my writing in a notebook outside – for as long as I manage to keep my brain going.  I might pull a few weeds absentmindedly, letting my thoughts run, or take a long walk to get the body and mind moving again.  I plant flowers and vegetables and take joy in watching them grow.  I read outside and let the sun warm my skin and scalp, and a cool glass of water keeps me from overheating.  And when I finally go in, I bustle with the energy I’ve been soaking up like a plant.

I can take joy in many different kind of weather (as long as the tornadoes stay far away, thank you), but the bright days of spring and early summer are my favorites.  I’m solar-powered.

Posted in Misc, TAKE JOY! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

St Patrick’s Day Flash Mobs

In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve got three videos to make you smile.  First, though, a word from our sponsor: Jennifer’s Pet Patrick’s Day Peeve.

The advertising world doesn’t have a clue about Irish names, and insists on referring to St. Patrick’s Day as St. Patty’s Day.  WRONG!  Patrick, in Irish, is Padraig (with a few accents thrown in that WordPress won’t let me include.)  If you shorten Patrick the Irish way, you get Paddy, never the girl’s name Patty!  So now you know, and you’ll never make the same mistake as Madison Avenue, right?  RIGHT?  And now, back to our show . . .

First up is in Australia – a country almost as popular with Irish emigrants as the US!

Here’s another that becomes great fun.  People stand in a designated spot to try Irish Dancing, with a holo-image of an Irish dancer beside them.  But what happens when the real dancer shows up? (If you clicked the prompt at the end of the first one, it took you to this.)

And for those of you who like more modern Irish music, here’s a casual group in Toronto with hits from U2, Van Morrison and Snow Patrol.

For more Irish fun, check out these posts . . . and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Newbie, Apprentice, or Master Writer?

I’m not a newbie writer anymore.  I don’t even cringe as I say the words that used to scare me:  “I’m a writer.”  Nope, that’s ME!

But despite the people who tell me I’m a genius and are waiting breathlessly for my next book (yes, there are a few of them out there), I’m nowhere near a master.  I’m solidly in my apprenticeship, working and learning along the way.

Kristen Lamb blogged about this yesterday and gave permission to share.  Here’s our Jedi Master on the three stages of a writing career:

Pirate Code=Writing Rules. Clearer now? :)

The mark of a pro is they make whatever we want to do look easy. From running a business to playing guitar to wicked cool Kung Fu moves, masters rarely seem to even break a sweat. Same with authors. With the pros? The story flows, pulls us in, and appears seamless and effortless.

Many of us decided to become writers because we grew up loving books. Because good storytellers are masters of what they do, we can easily fall into a misguided notion that “writing is easy.” Granted there are a rare few exceptions, but most of us will go through three acts (stages) in this career if we stick it through.

Act One—The Neophyte

This is when we are brand new. We’ve never read a craft book and the words flow. We never run out of words to put on a page because we are like a kid banging away on a piano having fun and making up “music.” We aren’t held back or hindered by any structure or rules and we have amazing energy and passion.

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 8.32.50 AM

Woodleywonderworks Flikr Creative Commons

 

But then we go to our first critique and hear words like “POV” and “narrative structure.” We learn that maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do and that we need to do some training. We also finally understand why so many famous authors drank…a lot.

Act Two—The Apprentice

The Apprentice Phase comes next. This is where we might read craft books, take classes, go to conferences and listen to lectures. During the early parts of this phase, books likely will no longer be fun. Neither will movies. In fact, most of your family will likely ban you from “Movie Night.” Everything now becomes part of our training. We no longer look at stories the same way.

The apprentice phase is tough, and for many of us, it takes the all the fun out of writing. The apprentice phase is our Act II. It’s the looooongest, but filled with the most growth and change. It’s the span of suck before the breakthrough.

I’ve studied other forms of martial arts, but I am relatively new to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Right now I am in the span of SUUUUUCK. When I started as a neophyte, I “seemed” to do better because I just muscled my way around on the ground and being naturally strong? It worked…against an equally green opponent.

Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….

Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….

 

But it also wore me out and gave me more than a fair share of injuries. I had to learn technique. Technique looks awesome when Coach does it. It looks easy on theYouTube videos.

When I do it? Eh…not pretty and NOT easy.

Right now, I’m losing most of…ok, all of my rounds, which is tough on the ego but easier on the joints. I’m focusing more on “rules”, finesse and drilling the basics because I know that in time? It will pay off. Right now is NOT the time for me to try and be “creative.” There is also NO substitute for time on the mat.

Same with writing. Many shy away from craft books because they fear “rules” will ruin their creativity. Truth? They will, but only for a little while 😉 .

Eventually we realize that rules were made to be broken. BUT, the difference between the artist and the hack is that the artist knows the rules and thus HOW to break them and WHY and WHEN. We start to see rules as tools.

As we move through The Apprentice Phase and we train ourselves to execute all these moves together—POV, structure, conflict, tension, setting, description, dialogue, plot arc, character arc—it eventually becomes easier. In fact, a good sign we are at the latter part of the apprentice phase is when the rules become so ingrained we rarely think about them.

We just fight write.

We’ve read so much fiction, watched (and studied) so many movies, read so many craft books, heard so many lectures, and practiced so much writing that all the “rules” are now becoming instinct and, by feel, we are starting to know where and how to bend, break or ignore them.

Like anything, there is NO substitute for DOING. Watching Ronda Rousey videos is a good idea for understanding ground-fighting, but it can’t take the place of mat time. Reading, taking classes, studying cannot replace writing crap until we don’t write crap.

At the end of the apprentice phase, writing is now starting to become fun again, much like it was in the beginning when we were banging away on the piano keyboard. Like the fighter who instinctively knows to arm bar an opponent without conscious thought, we now find more and more of the “right” words and timing without bursting brain cells.

The trick is sticking it through the apprentice phase long enough to ingrain the fundamentals into the subconscious.

Master

This is where we all want to be. In fact, we all want this on Day One, but sadly, I believe this Day One Master is reserved for only a handful of literary savants. Mastery is when we return to that childlike beginning. We write with abandon and joy and, since the elements of fiction are now part of our DNA, our literary marrow, what we produce isn’t the off-key clanging of a neophyte, it’s actually a real story worth reading. Granted, it isn’t all kittens and rainbows. Masters have a lot of pressure to be perpetual geniuses.

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 8.36.54 AM

Portrait by Yosuf Karsh via Wikimedia Creative Commons

I believe most of us, if we stick to this long enough, will always be vacillating between the Advanced Apprentice Phase and the Mastery Phase. If we choose to try a totally new genre, we might even be back to Neophyte (though this will pass more quickly than the first time).

We have to to keep growing. The best writers still pick up craft books, refresh themselves in certain areas, read other authors they enjoy and admire to see if they can grow in some new area. Masters seek to always add new and fresh elements to the fiction.

The key to doing well in this business is to:

1. Embrace the Day of Small Beginnings—Starting is often the hardest part. Enjoy being new. Enjoy that feeling because you will reconnect with it later because you recognize it.

2. Understand We All Have an Apprentice Phase—We will all be Early, Intermediate, then Advanced Apprentices. How quickly we move through these will be dictated by dedication, hard work and, to a degree, natural talent.

3. No One Begins as a Master and Few Remain Permanent Masters—Every New York Times Best-Selling Author was once a newbie, too. When we understand this career has a process, it’s easier to lighten up and give ourselves permission to be imperfect, to not know everything. Many writers get discouraged and give up too soon because they don’t understand there is a process, and they believe they should be “Masters” right away.

Hey, I did.

We need to give ourselves permission to grow. If we love and respect our craft, we will always be learning, so we will continue to dip back into “Apprentice” to refine our art even further.

Does this make you feel better to know this career has a process? Are you in the Act II span of suck and getting weary? What are you doing to remain focused? Which part has you the most discouraged? Write with the abandon of the Neophyte then edit with the eyes of an Advanced Apprentice or Master 😉 .

Back to Jen now:

My Neophyte phase is well behind me and I’m solidly working my way out of the SUUUUCK part of the Apprenticeship.  Some storytelling skills are ingrained deeply and flow out of my fingers, others put up a fight.  But it’s so nice to know I’m not alone, and to be learning and progressing with each story I write.  Thanks, Kristen!

What about you?  Where are you in your writing career?  Leave a comment below and share your journey!

Posted in Guest Blogs, WRITING | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beauty of a Woman: Bring on Those Wrinkles!

I see my mother when I look in the mirror. The line of my jaw, the way my eyelids crease,  the bump on the bridge of my nose. But I especially see her when I’m tired – when my skin is sagging and flat and my brow is wrinkled. I think, ohhh, I look old.

Mom at 79, with daughter (me), granddaughter & great-granddaughter

Mom last year, with daughter (me), granddaughter & great-granddaughter

And yet when I get to see my mother in person (about twice a year since we’re 2,000 miles apart), I see beauty. Yes, at 79 years and 10 months old, she definitely has wrinkles. And age spots. And she’s not very tall anymore. But she is strong and intelligent and her eyes can sparkle with fun.

All my growing up, Mom worked:  at an office job, at home, with the horses and other livestock. I’d try to bury myself in a book after my chores were done and she’d call me out to help with something. In later years, we’d talk on the phone and about 10 pm she’d mention she had to hang up so she could finish painting a room or installing a light fixture. Even now, I feel guilty sitting around reading if another adult walks through the room!

Now Mom actively gardens almost two acres by herself. She could use some help with the mundane hard labor but has a hard time finding someone who “knows how to work.” She offers a certain amount per hour with the possibility of doubling it if they can keep up with her.  So far, whether they’re 18 or 30, they can’t.

Heck with those youngsters – I’ve got 25 years on my mother and I can’t keep up with her!

Mom is very self-contained, enjoying a good time with a few friends, but also quite content to spend days in her garden without seeing anyone. She still builds bookcases and outdoor sheds, fixes the dog/deer fencing, digs out the pond. We kids breathed a collective sigh of relief when she decided she really didn’t need to do roof repairs herself anymore.

Like most seniors, she grumbles about government and young people both, and she still worries about her adult children and grandchildren. But from her Social Security, she donates to veterans’ organizations and takes food and clothing to people in need.

Mom’s not my only role model for aging with strength and grace.

Sister B's whole face is like this!   (Image via Flickr, cc license)

Sister B’s whole face is like this!
(Image via Flickr, cc license)

I’ve worked with someone a few times in the temple who has far more wrinkles than Mom. Sister B is about 92 and her face looks like a Shar Pei. But she has the kindest, most loving eyes I have ever seen. One time I told her, “I want to be you when I grow up.” She smiled, looked around the temple, and said, “You will be if you keep coming here.”

I wish I had a picture of Sister B for you, but her image in my head is strong. It doesn’t matter that her skin is not dewy and young, that she’s slightly hunched over or that her bones feel fragile. Her spirit is beautiful and it shines in her face.

I think the only people who have naturally smooth, youthful faces when they’re old are the silly ones who have sailed through life with no thought. You don’t grow spiritually, emotionally, or any other way without challenges.  Wrinkles are simply a badge of the years you’ve spent loving and laughing and crying and learning.

Mom & Dad, 2009

Mom & Dad, 2009

So when I look in the mirror, it’s not my gravity-laden skin I see now. I look for loving eyes, for a sparkle of fun, for strength in my muscles and my character. I want to see Mom in my reflection. I’m on my way to being her when I grow up.

First, what’s your take on wrinkles and other aspects of aging?  And are you still deciding what you want to be when you “grow up?”

boaw-logo-2015-originalSecond, this post is part of The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015.  Click here to visit the main site and find other wonderful blogs about a woman’s true beauty!

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Home & Family, TAKE JOY! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

I Need Some Whitespace in My Life

Busy, Busy, Busy! (via Flikr, cc license)

Busy, Busy, Busy!
(via Flikr, cc license)

Too much to do, too little time, too many deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise. 

When things are so jammed up, it doesn’t take much to send you over the edge.  My mother thinks I don’t know this, but I do – it’s just that it’s hard to keep it from happening. 

I’ll blog more about this later for Take Joy, but for now, here’s a piece I loved from Randy Ingermanson’s newsletter –  “stolen” with permission.

Whitespace in Your Life

Picture this scenario: You go to the refrigerator to get a jug of milk. Should be simple, right? What could go wrong?

The refrigerator is packed. The milk is right there in front on the top shelf, wedged in between a pint of cottage cheese and some bottles of apple juice.

You’re holding a glass in one hand and you reach up with the other to grab the milk.

It’s wedged in tight. You jiggle it a little bit and realize that you really need to put down the glass and use both hands to unpack things.

You reach to put the glass down and … one of the juice bottles pops off the shelf. You make a mad grab for it. It slips away from you. You try again. It bounces off the vegetable bin. You try again. It smashes onto the tile floor.

Glass and juice puddle all over the floor and now you’ve got a mess that must be cleaned up right away.

What went wrong here?

You got careless. It’s probably appropriate to yell at yourself for being careless.

But your carelessness mattered because you were trying to do a task with no margin for error.

Had there been a little margin in the packing on the shelf, your small error wouldn’t have caused a major mess.

Margins matter. Books have a margin that makes them more readable and nice to look at. And the outer margin of a printed book helps protect again errors in cutting the paper.

Another word for margins is whitespace. Your books need whitespace.

So does your life.

A little whitespace on the refrigerator shelf makes it much easier to take things out. It also makes it easier to find things in the back of the shelf.

When you think about whitespace in your life, you can see all kinds of places where it’s crucial. Not just your physical space, but also your time, your money, and your energy.

When your schedule is so packed that you have absolutely no extra time in your life, an unplanned trip to the mechanic can have ripple effects that wreck your day, then your week, and then your month. Your schedule needs whitespace.

When your financial situation is so precarious that you’ve maxed out your credit cards, that unplanned trip to the mechanic can leave you without a car and without a way to pay for repairs. Your finances need whitespace.

When you’re so exhausted that you can barely drag out of bed in the morning or do your duties, an unplanned bout with a cold virus can knock you out. Your energy level needs whitespace.

Your life needs whitespace. So does mine. So does everybody’s.

Knowing that you need whitespace won’t magically make it appear. There isn’t any whitespace wand you can wave.

The concept of whitespace is just a mirror you can use to help you see when you have a potential problem that could come crashing down on you.

The first step in solving a problem is knowing it’s there.

Right now, my office needs some whitespace. The stack of stuff on the floor in the corner keeps growing. It doesn’t keep me from closing the door. Not yet, anyway. But it’s a warning signal. By admitting to myself that my office floor needs whitespace, I have a real chance at solving the problem.

And what about you? What area in your life has the least whitespace right now? How bad is it? What small error could make things go massively wrong?

What about you?  Do you have tips or tales to share in the comments? 

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 11,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Posted in Healthy Living, TAKE JOY!, Writer's Life | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Put a Book in the Hands of a Child

Internatl Book Giving DayFebruary 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s International Book Giving Day!

This is the third year for the holiday, and the goal is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible.  And surely that’s something we can all help with!

First, if you aren’t familiar with International Book Giving Day (I wasn’t), here are some ideas:

Internatl Book Giving Day Bookmark1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.

Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.

2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.

Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.

3. Donate a Book.
Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or shelter. You could also donate your books to an organization working within the U.S., such as First Book, Reading is Fundamental or Reach Out and Read.  If you want to go international to get books in the hands of kids, try Books for Africa,  Room to Read or Book Aid International.

Internatl Book Giving Day BookplateBut Wait . . . There are Extra Goodies!

Generous picture book artists  Anna Walker and Gus Gordon have designed a bookmark and bookplate for International Book Giving Day 2015.  Click on each picture to download the pdf, then print off a few and tuck them into the books you’re sharing!

Next, head over to BookGivingDay.org to put your name on the participant list.  They’ve also got any other information you might be looking for.  Oh – and don’t forget to tweet (#giveabook) or share on Facebook!

Now what am I going to do on February 14th?  Well, I l-o-v-e the idea of surprising an unsuspecting child with a book of his or her own!  So I’m going to take a few gently-used children’s books to a health clinic in the city to do just that.  I think I’ll also give a copy of Through the Shimmer of Time to my local library, plus leave a copy of Shimmer in the library for a child to take home.  Hmm . . . I’ll have to figure out how to do that without it getting re-shelved!

What about you? How will YOU put a book in the hands of a child?

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