"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Seasonal Fun and Reads

Fall temperatures are finally arriving in our area. Orange decorations, and pumpkin everything seems to be surrounding us. We usually stay busy all month long with many seasonal activities. For instance, in addition to the many Fall festivals, we just enjoyed a trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival.

If you prefer to stay home cuddled up with a good book instead of heading out to crowds celebrating seasonal festivals, try one of my suggestions from 10 Scary Reads to Terrify Your Inner Child.

I also recommend my short story "Lights Out" which can be found in Road Kill, Texas Horror Volume 4 from Hellbound Books Publishing: here.

If you're looking for something a little lighter, try my romantic Halloween short story (about 800 words): Madame Tooshkas Spell.

Interested in FREE scary books? Try one of these!

Need a few scary good costume ideas? Try one of these 10 Minute Literary Halloween Costumes and dress like your favorite characters.

How are you celebrating this season?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

IWSG: Drawing a Line

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


OCTOBER QUESTION - 
In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

MY ANSWER - I suppose I draw the line at sex scenes. I'm not opposed to the publication of them, or even of reading them - some of my favorite authors, in a variety of genres, include them. However, I've never felt the need to write one. I have written pieces full of attraction and desire, but the actual act takes place of the page. I'm not sure that this has been an entirely conscious decision on my part, it's just worked out that way. The only time I remember it being a very deliberate omission is when an editor asked me to add one to a story I had submitted. I felt strongly that it wasn't needed. She refused to publish it if I didn't add it. That story is still sitting in my drawer, and computer.

How about you? Where do you draw the line in your writing? How about your reading?

Friday, October 1, 2021

October Pledge

Confession and accountability time. Since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, my writing has declined greatly.

I'm hoping to jump start my creativity this month as I'm teeming with new ideas, and motivated to try new projects. To celebrate my newly rediscovered zest for the craft, and in an effort to keep the momentum going, I'm committing to the Author Publish pledge. "I pledge to write at least one page every day in October."

If this works out for me, I may increase this each month going forward. One thing at a time.

So, anyone want to join me and take the pledge? Have you ever found yourself in a slump, or overwhelmed with ideas? If so, you might enjoy reading about 20 Things Only Highly Creative People Would Understand.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021

September 26 is the beginning of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2021". Below is a couple of lists of ten of the most frequently challenged books.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on or derived from communities across the United States. According to their data here, the ten most challenged books of 2020 were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
You can also view the previous years lists as well at OIF. The list of the most banned books for 2021 will be available in April of 2022. However, if you're curious about the most frequently banned books for the last 100 years in America:

TEN OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS IN AMERICAN HISTORY:

Some books have been repeatedly banned or challenged throughout history. This is a list of books that appear the most often on THE UNITED STATES banned books lists.
































If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org. Another god source of information on banned books is the "Libraries and Center for Academic Technology" site by Butler University: https://libguides.butler.edu/c.php?g=34189&p=217684

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

15 Fall Writing Prompts

It's finally Fall! I'm looking forward to the changing season. I'm also hoping to increase my writing output as I've been too distracted to write as much as I would like lately. In that vein, I thought I would share some writing prompts - not all of them are season related, but you can make them such if you wish. I hope they inspire some wickedly wonderful Autumn tales!

1) Write a Fall or Halloween special for your favorite television show.

2) Design your own school of magic: what does it look like? what subjects are taught? Who are the teachers? What are the back to school traditions?

3) Create a legend about your city.

4) Write an acrostic poem.

5) Write about a Thanksgiving dinner attended by your favorite fictional character.

6) Write a scene from the POV of Alexa or Siri.

7) Create a fake news report.

8) Write a retelling of your favorite Shakespeare play.

9) Write a scene that takes place in your favorite bookstore or coffee shop.

10) Write about a character who has terrible luck.

11) Write a Fall scene without using the word pumpkin.

12) Write about the worst possible break up you could imagine.

13) Make up your own conspiracy theory.

14) Write a story that takes place in a corn maze.

15) Write a ghost story.

What are you writing? Are you trying any of these? Any other prompts you want to share?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Back to School Special


 

Buy one print book direct, get two eBooks free.
Buy two print books direct, get two eBooks and an audio book free.
All orders come with swag – bookmarks, postcards, etc.

Conditions:
Orders must be placed through the Dancing Lemur Press website.
USA delivery only – but please inquire into shipping costs as we can ship to some countries outside the USA.
EBooks over $2.99 not eligible for free eBook selections.
Audio boxed sets not eligible for free audio book selection.
Dancing Lemur Press author discounts do not apply.
Offer good September 1 - 30, 2021.

Take advantage of this great offer – support your favorite author and publisher whose live events are mostly cancelled for the rest of the year.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

20th Anniversary of 9/11

High School students were not even born yet when the Twin Towers were attacked. They learn about 9/11 as an historical event - if at all. I mentioned this anniversary to some of my students today, and I was surprised at the number who either didn't remember learning about the event at first, or at all. Has our nation already forgotten this horrendous day occurred?

Wow.


It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since the attacks. America's motto following 9/11 was "We Will Never Forget." I was so proud of the way our country banned together following that terrorist activity. Just as we have following any other attack by foes in our nations history.

Yet, now I see our country participating in another form of war - one of hate and disrespect. So many of our citizens are all too often ready to jump straight to hate. They can't wait to point out someone else's mistakes. Or worse yet, attacking an opinion or point of pride for someone else just because they do not feel the same. When did it become necessary that we all think, act, and feel just alike?

Has this intolerant culture been bred by social media making it easy to bite back immediately without facing the adversary? Have politicians stirred and fueled our hate and distrust of others? Have we forgotten what it's like to fear for our country? Will it take another act of war to force us to join together?

Where were you when the planes hit New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC? What is different about how you act and feel today than in 2001?

Take some time to consider and write about your feelings, memories, and what you think needs to happen in the future. Here are a few ideas:

1)      Write about your reaction to and activities the day of the September 11th attack.
2)      How have your feelings and understandings about the attacks of 9/11 changed?
3)      There were many heroes during the September 11th tragedy. Write about a hero or a heroic event that made an impression.
4)      September 11th is a Day of Remembrance. As we honor those who lost their lives on this day 2001, make a list of everything in your life that you are thankful for.
5)      Did the events of that day change your thoughts about your life? In what ways, if any, did you change?
6)      Sometimes a mistake becomes an opportunity. Explain…
A)    The terrorist mistake of bombing on 9/11 became an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate it is the strongest nation on earth.
B)    9/11 offered America the opportunity to learn from its mistaken efforts to dominate the globe.

Obviously your answers to #6 will offer diametrically opposed positions depending on how you view the United States' role as a world power, and on the extent to which you believe America should fight terrorism.

7)      BuddyProject.org offers suggested activities that your children can do as they research the events of September 11, 2001. Explore the various sites with your children and discuss with them the information that you find. Encourage older children to write about their findings and feelings.

Do you remember? Are you doing anything to commemorate this day? Is your town?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IWSG: Defining Success

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

SEPTEMBER QUESTION - 
How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

MY ANSWER - My main goal is to keep learning and trying. To me, that is success. You can't control when, or if, you get published. You can't control the amount of money someone is willing to pay you. However, you can control if you keep pushing yourself. Those other things don't guarantee happiness. Keep finding the joy and passion in the craft - that is success!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Final Call for IWSG Anthology Submissions

This is the last week to send a submission to this years IWSG anthology contest.

Guidelines and rules:


Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Sweet Romance
Overall, your story should be clean of offensive material, including profanity, vulgarity, excessive violence, or sexually explicit or suggestive scenes.
Elements in your story should focus on romance, not on sex, which should be kept “behind closed doors.”
The overall plot should lead to a positive and uplifting outcome, also known as "happily ever after."
Absolutely no erotica or pornography.


And please note RWA's definition of romance:
Definition: Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel. An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

Theme: First Love

Submissions accepted: 
May 7 - September 1, 2021

To learn more, check out: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/the-2019-annual-iwsg-anthology-contest.html

Have you submitted this year? Do you plan to do so?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Reading to Inspire Students: Parolee and Pirates

At least once a month I try to share what I've been reading. Sometimes it's the fiction stories I'm enjoying, sometimes it's nonfiction or poetry, and sometimes it's craft specific titles that I share. Every summer, I dedicate a percentage of my free reading time to books that might aid in my classroom environment. Today, I thought I would share a few titles from my most recent selections:

1 and 2) I've only recently been introduced to Damon West. He visited with the staff at the high school where I teach. He will be visiting with staff and students at our school multiple times throughout this school year. His mission: to motivate positive character practices.

I picked up two of his books: the autobiography seen to the right, and his "coffee bean" ideology book seen below.

From the bestselling co-author of The Coffee Bean comes the true story of a well-raised kid, a three-year starting quarterback, a young person filled with potential…until a shocking addiction took hold.

Sentenced to sixty-five years in a Texas prison, Damon West once had it all. He came from a great family, in a home full of God, love, support, and opportunities to reach any goal. A natural born leader, an athlete with good looks and charm, he appeared to be the all-American kid pursuing his dreams.

Underneath this facade, however, was an addict in the early stages of disease. After suffering childhood sexual abuse by a babysitter at the age of nine, Damon began putting chemicals into his body to alter the way he felt.

Once he was introduced to methamphetamines, however, he became instantly hooked—and the lives of so many innocent people would forever be changed by the choices he made in order to feed his insatiable meth habit.

After a fateful discussion during his incarceration with a seasoned convict, Damon had a spiritual awakening. He learned that, like a coffee bean changing with the application of heat and pressure, he was capable of changing the environment around him. Armed with a program of recovery, a renewed faith, and a miraculous second chance at life, Damon emerged from over seven years of prison a changed man. His story of redemption continues to inspire audiences today.


3) I met Hal Roberts at another teacher seminar a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed his presentation enough to be interested in learning more about his educational ideas. This book has been sitting in my TBR pile for a bit, but I finally got to it this summer. 

Leadership is difficult, but it is also very rewarding. Join Hal as you sail away from safe harbors into the rough-sometimes treacherous, challenging, but never dull-waters of leadership. Hal will share his experiences of over thirty years of leadership using the acronym P-I-R-A-T-E-S to guide, inspire, and edify you on your leadership voyage. This book is not about attacking and pillaging ships on the high seas, but how to lead fearlessly and navigate the rough waters of leadership. Hal will share how relationships and trust are the foundation of leading others. Leading comes down to how much influence you have as a leader; and Hal tells how to spark, motivate, and lead your crew to fulfill their potential. He connects each of the attributes to neuroscience so that you can get "inside the brain" of your followers.


4) Hal Roberts, mentioned above, accredits this author as a mentor so I knew I had to check out his work as well. I wasn't disappointed.

Based on Dave Burgess's popular "Teach Like a PIRATE" seminars, this book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. You'll learn how to: • Tap into and dramatically increase your passion as a teacher • Develop outrageously engaging lessons that draw students in like a magnet • Establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie in your classroom • Transform your class into a life-changing experience for your students This groundbreaking inspirational manifesto contains over 30 hooks specially designed to captivate your class and 170 brainstorming questions that will skyrocket your creativity. Once you learn the Teach Like a PIRATE system, you'll never look at your role as an educator the same again.


What books would you recommend teachers read? What advice would you give teachers of future writers? If you were going to write a book for educators, or create your own curriculum, what would it be about?

Monday, August 9, 2021

National Book Lover's Day

I hope you're enjoying an excellent read today!

If you've never heard of this celebration, National Book Lovers Day harnesses all the excitement bibliophiles feel about books into one celebration on August 9th. *Bibliophile – a person who has a great appreciation for or collects books.

A day for all those who love to read, National Book Lovers Day encourages you to find your favorite reading place, a good book (whether it be fiction or non-fiction) and read the day away.
Curious about the history of this day, or how others are spending it? Check out:
WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IWSG: Favorite Writing Craft Books

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - 
Sign-up List.


AUGUST QUESTION - 
What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

MY ANSWER - There are about a dozen of these that I frequently revisit. Many of these I am certain you have heard of from most other writers. However, I will share two I feel are well worth your time and not as frequently touted as a "MUST READ."  First, is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and second is This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley. Both of these offer beautiful and inspiring glimpses into following your creativity regardless of fear and doubt. I wish I heard more people mention these two alongside such classics as:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft  By Stephen King
The Hero With A Thousand Faces  By Joseph Campbell
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers  By Christopher Vogler
The Associated Press Stylebook  By Associated Press
Writing 21st Century Fiction By Donald Maass
Bird by Bird  By Anne Lamott
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within  By Natalie Goldberg

How about you? What is your favorite writing craft book?