Ah, the joys of writing!
And today I am referring to literally WRITING, handwriting, using pen or paper–not typing. I have found handwriting or printing one of the best ways for me to create and record my thoughts.
But here I want to focus on sending snail-mail letters to people as a way to connect and keep in touch.
Coincidentally, today I received a thank you message from a dear friend who just received my card in the mail. I’d commented that I felt closer to her sending a physical card than emailing or texting, and she agreed wholeheartedly.
Also coincidentally, today I read an article by one of my favorite bloggers who writes about the joys and opportunities of handwriting and sending snail mail. Barb at ritewhileucan.com is full of creative ideas and has a heart for brightening up someone’s day with a card or letter. She just posted about an opportunity to be a pen pal with a senior in a care centre, who are especially lonely because of lockdowns. I am looking into to adding one of these dear ones to my snail mail pen pal list. Thanks, Barb!
Go to Rite While U Can and see more precious smiling faces of men and women with their written notes to potential pen pals!
There are also many other similar initiatives catching on around the world, in Canada, the U.K., Australia, to name a few. Check out these news stories!
You may be inspired to pen a letter or send a card to one of your loved ones, or one of the seniors at a website. If so, I hope you’ll post a comment about it below!
image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/@shkrabaanthony
Are you, like me, dusting off some stories or manuscripts that have been filed away for a few years? If so, you probably want to find homes for them.
Or, you might be looking for periodicals that are in need of exactly the kind of articles you write.
Let me tell you about a website I recent discovered, Freedom with Writing.
Most of the online resources I’ve found focus on either non-fiction or fiction, but Freedom with Writing focuses on both, which I like. It’s free and couldn’t be simpler: they send you emails with valuable links to writing opportunities. Apparently, they have been going since 1999!
I can never just “scan” their emails, like I can many others. They are full of meaty information all the time. On top of that, the format is an absolute joy: clean, clear, simple, to the point, giving you in a glance exactly the information you are looking for.
Take their home page, for example. It looks similar to many other websites offering to help you find success. But once you start clicking on their links, you can tell they put in a lot of time and energy into digging up valuable information and passing it on to you.
They also lend a helping hand to newbies like me with various straightforward, useful articles, such as how to send in your proposal, or helping you understand the realities of the freelance life.
Here is an example of two entries I found today while browsing the information under “95 Technology and Science Blogs, Magazines, and Websites that Pay Writers” on their home page.
The following is a list of 95 technology publishers that accept pitches directly from freelance writers, and pay for the writing they publish. Payment rates in this area tend to be higher than some other categories; blog posts for a programming site are often in the $200 to $500 range. If you’re not sure how to approach these publishers, then be sure to watch this free webinar.
And here are a couple from today’s “24 Free Writing Contests & Cash Grants (Up to $30,000)”, also on their home page.
Today, I STRUCK GOLD! 35 Themed Calls for Submissions (Non-fiction, essays, etc.) This article is what inspired me to write this blog post. It is right up my alley!
Now, I tend to be overly trusting, so these days I scan reviews of EVERYTHING. I was happy to see that there are many others who agree with my positive reaction to Freedom with Writing. Here are a few:
If you check out Freedom with Writing, let me know what you think!
Have fun dusting and getting your creative works out there!
[“laptop-and-diary-on-table-in-garden-4559527” photo courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels;
Gold photo courtesy of James St. John at Flickr : “Gold-quartz hydrothermal vein (16 to 1 Mine, Allegheny County, California, USA)” ]
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2020
At this time of year, I usually post information to help you plan for the Calgary’s biggest and best used book sales, but this year things are (obviously) a bit different…
RESET Calgary usually holds the first used book sale at the Crossroads Market. Here is the note on their website:
“We have made the decision to postpone the 18th Annual Book Drive & Sale. We are truly sorry that the Book Drive & Sale will not be able to move forward in the spring as in previous years, but we are feeling excited about the possibilities for this event next year.
This is an extremely important fundraiser for our agency as it provides over 12% of our revenue and we thank you for your considering supporting RESET Society in other ways during this time: https://resetcalgary.ca/how-you-can-help/”
The Calgary READS sale is usually at the Calgary Curling Club, and they are planning their used book sale for the fall of 2020. BUT in the meantime, they need your donations of new and “like-new” CHILDREN’S books NOW.
“If you are able to donate “gently used” children’s books, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide instructions on how to donate.”
And for those who just can’t wait for the in-person used book sales, you can still shop online. Although the following do not offer as many incredible deals as RESET and Calgary READS will offer, here are some used book stores to get you started:
Calgary’s Fair’s Fair used bookstore updated their webpage: “Our Inglewood store will be OPEN to the Public effective THURSDAY, MAY 14th 10:00 am – 4:00 pm – 7 DAYS A WEEK“.
Calgary’s Better Books and Bibles (new and used Christian books) has posted this notice on their website: “We are opening our doors again on Saturday May 30th! Our hours will remain the same (10-2) but will increase if business calls for it. We are very excited to see all of you again!” https://www.betterbooksandbibles.com/
AbeBooks, founded in Victoria, B.C., Canada, now worldwide, has a page for searching for books with free shipping to Canada.
Better World Books has free shipping to Canada, and has several deals happening now. As their website says, “Every time you purchase a book on betterworldbooks.com, we donate a book to someone in need.”
Powell’s Books is included in my list because it is near and dear to my heart. This “City of Books” was established in 1971 and is also one of the top attractions in the city of Portland. In the two hours I had allotted to explore it in 2007, I only made it through about a third of this unique store.
Happy reading to all!
Wishing you all health, safety, sanity, and patience as we get through this time!
Life is still beautiful. Consider yourself hugged.
[Warm appreciation to photographer Artem Beliaikin for the “Pile of Books” image!]
Just for fun, since it only comes once every four years, I decided to look around for Leap Year-related literature. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found!
The Pirates of Penzance
Having a birthday on February 29th makes you a “leapling”, and sometimes one birthday every four years can get you in trouble!
This is a comic opera that premiered in New York City on 31 December 1879, and is still being performed 140 years later! Here are some lines from The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.
For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve’no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight
days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if were owing
to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,
on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !
You can read the entire work here. I was fortunate enough to see a performance of this in 1981 in San Diego, but at the time I didn’t know enough about it to appreciate its fame and longevity!
Humorous short stories and plays
Tradition said that men should do the asking when it comes to becoming engaged to marry, but during a leap year, a woman was “allowed” to propose marraige. This topic inspired plenty of writers around the turn of the 19th century!
A 1907 short story by John Kendrick Bangs called “The Genial Idiot Discusses Leap Year” appears in The Wit and Humor of America, Volume X of X. You can read this volume here. It is full of surprises, laughter and we can see from the standpoint of 2020 that we’ve come a long way, baby!
The Misses Pringle’s Leap Year: a Comedy in Two Acts, by Amaryllis V. Lord, is a 1912 play which also centers around this theme of women having the “privilege” of proposing marriage–in this case, it is the bachelor parson! You can find it at Amazon and at Forgotten Books. Here is a blurb about it advertised in another book:
THE MISSES PRINGLES’ LEAP YEAR
A Comedy in Two Acts by Amaryllis V. Lord
Ten females and the apparition of a man. Costumes, modern ; scenery,
unimportant. Plays half an hour. The Misses Barbara, Priscilla and
Betsy Pringle, while scorning matrimony in public, have a secret inclina-
tion toward it, and taking advantage of leap year, each, without the
knowledge of the others, proposes by letter to Deacon Smith with sur-
prising results. Very easy and amusing, requiring no scenery and but
little rehearsing. Price, 7cents
And here is one more, an 1885 play I found on Hathi Trust, called Leap-Year: a Comedy in Four Acts for Nine Characters, by Susa S. Vance. The entire play can be downloaded here. Who knew that Leap Years would inspire so many humorous stories?
I even ran across a lovely 1913 Leap Year song that has the sweetest lyrics!
From this century….
Here’s a cute Tigger and Pooh book called Leap Day, read aloud on You Tube.
Happy Leap Day!
With all the romance novels out there, it’s hard to know where the good quality reads are.
So here are some recommendations of clean, well-written romance novels I’ve read over the past couple years.
Some are set in past history, others are set in present day, and one is both!
Falling for June
by Ryan Winfield (2015)
This is a sweet story about a foreclosure clerk Elliot who meets David Hadley, an elderly man living as a hermit in rural Washington State. David needs Elliot’s help to fulfill a promise to his wife June, whom he met in his fifties at the top of a 70 story building. A unique, beautiful love story.
by Elizabeth White (2007)
A classic example of me falling for the cover, but this time the image delivered what it promised! Humor, excellent writing, good plot, wholesome values and witty dialogue. Jana wants the land for wildlife rescue and Grant wants it for hunting. But God knows even stubborn enemies sometimes fall in love…
by Anne Tyler (2016)
I read this voraciously, as I do all of her books. The introverted 28-year-old devoted daughter of a brilliant microbiologist is asked to do her father a very big favor in order to help bring all of his years of research to a successful conclusion. Brilliant fun, good-hearted book!
The Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer (1950)
Sophy is a free-spirited young woman who has been left alone far too much by her ever-traveling father, much to the consternation of proper society. A typical Georgette Heyer heroine, this one is shockingly direct and audacious. While he is overseas for an indefinite period of time, she is sent to live with stuffy relatives. They certainly don’t want her there and they look down their noses at her, but she is a take-charge gal and sets out to solve the many problems in the bedeviled family. Along the way, however, she stirs up some new problems. You can’t guess how it’s going to finish until the very end of the breathtaking roller coaster ride, in the last few pages. The version I read was 403 pages, but I didn’t want it to end. It lived up to its high rating as one of the greatest written by this best-selling author of 57 books.
by Rachel Hauck (2018)
In this excellent split-time novel, a love letter is found by someone in the twenty-first century who is related to the writer of the eighteenth century love letter. It switches from authentic depictions of characters, relationships and historical events in 1780 South Carolina, to intertwined storylines in present day Los Angeles. The characters are realistic, with fallible personalities and struggles with faith. Brilliant storytelling, and suspense as the author flips back and forth between the two time periods and the two couples, make it a fascinating read!
I hope you’ll share your favorite Valentine’s Day reads in the comments section below!
Happy Valentine’s Day reading!
I grew up in the U.S. in a predominantly white neighborhood during the sixties and seventies. My city’s school system began forced busing when I was eleven years old, just as I was leaving elementary school and preparing to start junior high. It was a controversy that sparked violence and unrest.
From a social media group established for our 40 year high school reunion, I know that many people of all races suffered from this mandatory integration. Personally, aside from a couple minor incidents, my memories of that time are good.
I enjoyed meeting new friends of all races, and grew in my respect toward my non-white classmates. I am sure that the forced busing policy accomplished some of its goals to intermix blacks and whites successfully.
(If you’re interested, here are two articles I saved from the city newspaper in the early 1970s. One covers a sit-in protest by students, and another shows a more peaceful option for trying to find common ground among different races.)
So did that experience influence the writing of my third book? You decide.
Last year I was pleased to write another educational book intended for the Canadian school curriculum. It turned out to be my favorite so far!
This is the first biographical work I’ve done, and I so enjoyed discovering many unsung heroes! It was nearly impossible to choose which to include in the book, but I am so happy with how the book turned out. I especially love the many full-sized photos.
Some of the heroes included are:
Rose Fortune, Viola Desmond, Addie Aylestock,
Oscar Peterson, Willie O’Ree, Portia White,
Drake, Phylicia George, and Eugenia Duodo.
I hope you’ll be curious enough to look up these great Canadians!
Black History in Canada is a series of educational books published by Beech Street books. My book is entitled Famous Black Canadians and intended for students in grades 4 through 6.
One of the joys of the holiday is settling down
after all the energetic activities
to read inspired holiday fiction.
You are no doubt familiar with some of the well-known holiday books and short stories…
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol… The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson…
Eugene Field’s The First Christmas Tree… O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi…
A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the night before Christmas) by Clement Clarke Moore…
And, of course, the sacred Bible accounts of the first Christmas.
Well, here are some gems that I’ve recently discovered.
They are not as well known, perhaps, but are some of the most beautiful holiday stories I’ve read!
“Christmas Day in the Morning” by Pearl S. Buck
A farm boy works so hard, only to see disappointment in his father’s eyes, until one Christmas he overhears his parents’ conversation and learns what Dad really thinks of him.
My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell
A true story of the lowest point of her life
“A Christmas Inspiration” by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Fun-loving young women living together in a boarding house take notice of one of their quirky, quiet neighbors.
“A Gift from the Heart” by Norman Vincent Peale
The true story of a young Swiss girl employed by a wealthy American family and her Christmas surprise.
The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien (1976)
A collection of letters the author wrote from 1920 to 1943 to his children “from Father Christmas”.
and, my VERY favorite,
The Man at the Gate of the World by W.E. Cule
The Magi Caspar’s quest to find the Saviour of the World, and his obedience to the call to stand at the Gate of the World—in the city of Damascus—and wash the feet of weary travelers.
Most of these I found during the past few weeks of reading these two books:
A Classic Christmas, and The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories.
For more selections…
here is American Literature’s beautiful collection of Christmas Stories, and
(I can’t resist!) Linus’s version of the first Christmas.
Wishing you many peaceful, happy hours of reading, and
A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!