August 1st publishing date for my book Respect Our World: Sustainabililty!

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

What a surprise I had yesterday, when I noticed stores are posting my children’s educational book for pre-order!

It all started last summer…

  • I received my usual copy of the Children’s Writer newsletter, produced by the Institute of Children’s Literature (see my post about ICL here)
  • The newsletter mentioned a book producer looking for authors to work on projects.
  • Since I’d been planning to check out non-traditional publishing opportunities, I looked into it.
  • I sent my writing resume to Red Line Editorial.
  • In early December I received an email from Red Line, inviting me to work on a project, their series of books called To Be Canadian.
  • I accepted, and said I’d like to work on the one about Sustainability.
  • I spent most of my school’s Christmas holiday researching and contacting experts.
  • It was a VERY tight schedule, rather exhausting, but I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having!
  • I wrote evenings and weekends during January, and edited and rewrote during February.
  • They accepted my manuscript, noting that they planned to publish the series in the fall.
  • I proceeded to wonder for the next few months if they were really going to publish it the way I wrote it, if it will say my name anywhere, what it will look like.
  • I couldn’t really believe I’d be the author of a children’s book.

But it’s true!

Here are a couple websites that show the series, Beech Street Books (the publisher), and McNalley-Robinson.

And yes, my name is on the cover. Whew.

If you have an inkling to pursue this kind of work-for-hire educational writing opportunity, I recommend checking out Red Line’s website , and Evelyn Christenson’s website, which lists many other educational publishers.

YA-HOO!

 

Thank you publicdomainpictures.net for the HAPPY image!

Oceanside Poetry

Art begets art.

I usually try to escape the long, cold Calgary winter when I have time off for spring break, and if I’m not exploring I like to write. The warm relaxing climate and the inspiration of the ocean brings out the creativity in me, and judging from the freely-offered art and writing that I see around beach towns, it’s clear I’m not the only one inspired.

I’m so glad the locals in some places consider this form of art worthy of permanent all-weather plaques.  Here are several I’ve run across in my past few trips.

Shell Beach Symphony

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles is Pismo Beach, California. I’d heard of Pismo Beach (most recently on an episode of I Love Lucy!), but never been there, so I skipped my usual southern California spots in favor of this more central area. I stayed in a residential neighborhood called Shell Beach.

Wandering around the small neighborhood and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I discovered a little park. Running around the park’s perimeter alongside the cliffs is a sidewalk that passes a plaque on the ground. The lovely words on it share sentiments that perfectly describe my feelings toward the ocean.

 

The symphonic

Ever rising ever falling

Sound of surf

Sings its song to the eternal

Winds and man they come and go

But the rising falling crawling sea

Always was always is

Always free   B.B.

Bayard Bloom

December 12, 1974

 

Nearby on the sandy beach, I enjoyed warm-hearted greetings written daily in the sand by some unknown but obviously beautiful people. The longer I stayed there, the more I found the neighbors to be friendly and welcoming. Thank you Shell Beach!

 

“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing”

“Warm and fuzzy”

 

Pelican Pete

I lived in San Diego for a while and my favorite place there is Pacific Beach near the Crystal Pier.

This past April I noticed a large statue named “Pelican Pete” near the PB lifeguard station. On a plaque is the story of Pelican Pete in rhyme.

“The Ballad of P.B.

Pelican Brown was in search of a home
where he could have fun and relax
he looked for a beach that was pretty
and a sea that was swimming with snacks.

He flew up and down the long coastline
looking both far and quite near
then one day he knew he had found it
when his eyes saw the great Crystal Pier.

On the end was a big crystal ballroom
dancers came from all over the west
and since Pelican Brown loved to tango
he dressed up in his best velvet vest.

He fit right in with the others
tangoed many a night until dawn
Pelican Brown loved the beat of the music
and danced until the others were gone.

Then he’d fly out and find him some breakfast
the happiest bird all around
and everyone loved when they looked up
and caught sight of Pelican Brown.

The dancing bird soon became famous
people came from all over to see
the great crystal ballroom and dance hall
and the pelican known as P.B.

(Poem by Jan Phillips copyright Jan Phillips, Concept and sculpture by T.J. Dixon & James Nelson)

 

And here is one of many San Diego murals I ran across, on the outside wall of a business:

 

La Jolla Lifeguard Box

There is a pathway that goes along the shore in La Jolla, not too far north of Pacific Beach. If you take it past the sea lions and seals at Children’s Pool Beach (Casa Beach) and keep walking along the shore pathway, just before you get to La Jolla Cove you will see a lifeguard box which has a phone in it for emergencies (unlocked during the summer).

 

Lifeguard box and La Jolla Cove

Engraved on the box is this text:

TRANQUILITY

BOOMER

FRESH DEEP SOUL PURITY

SPRAY GENTLE BREEZE

WAVES BREEZE REEFS

SPIRITUAL HEALING

BODY SURF RESPECT ROCK

WORMS FINS ENDLESS

PELICANS UNPREDICTABLE

FRIENDS RIPTIDE

A FREE SPIRIT PALM TREE

ADRENALINE RUSH

FUN EEL GRASS MAGIC

ETERNAL CALM PICNIC

BOOMER CAMARADERIE

BUNGALOWS YIN YANG

CHANGES COMMUNITY

I searched around for the story of this lifeguard box with all the interesting words, and found this account    :

High on a craggy bluff overlooking the churning surf in La Jolla stands this weathered sea-green box, a proud, life-affirming icon dedicated to lifeguards everywhere, embossed with transcendent words and phrases that evoke the heart and soul of the brave men and women who save lives on this rugged coast. Take a closer look, and you’ll see how beautifully these words connect us with the creed that draws lifeguards and surfers to the Pacific: “spray, waves, eel grass, tranquility, spirit, adrenaline.” The box demonstrates the power of primal engagement with the forces of nature in all sorts of fields and pursuits, in taking the time and effort to carve out our unique and vital code.

…The long summer days remind us to pause and reflect and experience life anew. This box is more than just a box. It’s about life and death, a memorial to a legendary body surfer and lifeguard who drowned here at Boomer Beach. During the summer the box is unlocked and contains a phone to contact the lifeguards during an emergency. Read downwards starting under the “E” of LIFEGUARD, and you will find his name spelled out in an acrostic puzzle: DAVID C FREEMAN.

What a lovely surprise to discover Beach Literature, and the fond memories of those who live there, adding to the enjoyment of already idyllic spots!  I hope you enjoyed these gems, and you’ll share similar discoveries of your own!

Favorite posts from some great blogs

For a long time, I have wanted to introduce you to some great blogs and bloggers, by way of listing some of my favorite posts.  A few of these have a similar focus to my own blog–books, writing, reviews–but some are completely different!

 

To start with, here are two posts from Susan Bailey’s blog on Louisa May Alcott.  We met through our mutual interest in this great author.  Of course I would go crazy for the antique music box!  The second link showcases a beautiful book that introduces young children to an author they might have otherwise missed.

Beautiful music box Renditions of Lizzie’s Favorite Hymns

Book review: Henry David Thoreau for Children

 

Mitch Teemley is relevant, humorous, a brilliant wordsmith, straightforward, spiritual – you’ve just got to have a look at his site, starting with these:

Don’t Love Yourself

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

 

Photo courtesy of Home Office by Unsplash at Pixabay (public domain), home-office-336373_960_720

 

Marcia is a children’s librarian and posts fascinating information (and gorgeous photos!) about books, travel and more.  See if these don’t make you drool…

New Library Books

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

Ready to laugh? Intrigued by controversy?  This hip lady will make you smile, give her opinions, and educate you at the same time!

Pre-Thanksgiving Joyful Mayhem and Large Appliances

How to Find the Perfect Swimsuit

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I discovered that this next blog had a listing of vintage books, and the author actually set outs to read them all!  Wow.  Not only that, she has ongoing reading clubs and challenges.  Check out these posts…

What’s Making Me Happy: Week 1

Children’s Classics Suggestion List 2

 

Mary Phillips loves Bronte, Austen, Alcott, and her posts include poetry, pretty pictures, literary musings…and her sparkling personality!

Give it Away, Give it Away Now

Solitude vs. Social Activity–Cecilia by Frances Burney

 

These are just the tip of the iceberg!  I have the pleasure of following so many talented bloggers offering fascinating views and uplifting information to the world of online literature.  It will take more posts to cover them all.

I hope you found some new reading material and inspiration in these blogs!  If you have some to recommend to me, leave me a comment.  Thanks for reading!

 

Thanks also to these creative photographers…

Unsplash at Pixabay for laptop photo “Home Office”

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, at Flickr for “Blogging Au Plein Air, after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot”

Little Grain’s Big Adventure by Jacqueline Price

How very exciting! An adorable children’s book, with quality writing, unique and exotic locales and wildlife, gorgeous artwork and beautiful lyrical language!
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Little Grain is bored with his hum-drum life tumbling in the surf among all the other grains of sand, and asks his friend Little Bird to take him to see the sights of Hawaii.  He ventures even farther, all the way to the Gulf of Alaska, and a strong wind strands him on an iceberg.  Now poor Little Grain is scared, cold, and homesick for his family and his warm sandy bay.  If only he could get some help!

This book is full of exotic plants, fascinating land forms, and unusual animals of the ocean, land and air, each in turn the most beautiful thing Little Grain has ever seen.  And THIS BOOK is one of the most beautiful things I’VE ever seen!

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The lyrical and alliterative words make Little Grain’s Big Adventure a joy-filled reading experience, and on each page we can find our tiny main character making comments in little white speech bubbles.  I am drawn in, re-reading it over and over, savoring the unique, calming imagery in the language.

This story of a little grain of sand was inspired by the author’s family trip to Napili Bay in Maui, and is enhanced with brilliant, bold illustrations. As a librarian at an elementary school, Jacquie discovered a talented fifth-grade boy who agreed to illustrate her book, and brought to life all the marvels Little Grain encounters from Hawaii to Vancouver Island and Alaska, and back.  After admiring the art, I could hardly believe that the illustrator was not a professional artist.  (Yet!)

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I fell in love with this story years ago when Jacquie sent it to our children’s writers group for our feedback. How wonderful to find out she was doing a book signing at our local Chapters Indigo bookstore in Calgary!

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This book is such a treasure.  I highly recommend it!

You can purchase a copy of Little Grain’s Big Adventure at the author’s website, www.jacquelinedprice.com.

What a beautiful present it would make for a child’s birthday or a holiday gift.  (And…..psssst!   Jacquie has another book coming out soon!)

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A Story a Day in May 2016

2016story a day badgesq500x500 2I am writing a story everyday!

…and more importantly, I’m FINISHING each story.  As in, they each have an ENDING, which is one of my biggest struggles.

I often go hog wild with an idea and write a few pages or even a chapter, and then take a break. But then I don’t know how it ends, so I avoid it.  Eventually it goes in the thick “In Progress” binder.

So I decided to intentionally work on writing endings and Story a Day is one of the tools I found to help me do that. It’s Day 4 and I’ve finished every story!

JOIN US!

It’s easy.  You get an inspiring writing prompt in your email everyday, often from a famous author, some encouragement and tips, and jump right in to write and then share with the community if you like.

You can sign up at http://storyaday.org/signup2016 and yes, YOU CAN SIGN UP LATE. The more, the merrier!

Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

I don`t normally forward a link to a news article, but I just found this and can`t resist.

I just adore Beverly Cleary. On April 12, 2016 she turned 100 years old–can you believe it!

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Whenever someone learns my name is Ramona, they ask if I read the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I tell them that I am pretty sure they were based on me. In the 60`s, my mom read Henry and the Clubhouse, Ramona the Pest and Henry and Ribsy to my brother and me each night, with our huge collie in bed with us.  I was very confused: how did this author I`d never met know me so well, and why did she write a whole book about me!  The illustrator, Louis Darling, even captured my unruly hair and untied shoes.

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Look, I still have them on my book shelf!

May June incl books 229

Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for years and years of joy and laughter!

You can read a great article about her on Today Parents, here.  And if you haven`t already read one of her books, it doesn`t matter what your age, treat yourself to any one of them (especially the three above), and experience the warmth and feel-good humor of this dear author.

Also, check out my review of Beezus and Ramona (originally posted at Best Children`s Books)!

With Appreciation to the Writers of Hymns

Easter is such a joyful time, and the words and music of the old hymns help me to fully express the joy inside me.

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Here are a few of my favorite Easter hymns. I must sing these every Easter or I don’t feel like I have sufficiently celebrated! So for the past few years I’ve gone onto YouTube before church and sang along with several choirs. And then if we also sing them at church, that is frosting on the cake for me.

Thank you hymn writers!

CHRIST AROSE

This song starts out slow and somber with images of the grave. But the chorus launches into a brisk march with the notes going higher and higher, lifting the singers to new hope and joy. Robert Lowry wrote the text and music for this song in 1874, and my hymn book includes the scripture, “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus, my Lord!

Death cannot keep his Prey,
Jesus, my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord!

Easter 05_41_14---The-Cross_webCHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY

This song written by Charles Wesley in 1739 is also a vigorous tune. You can’t help but “raise your joys and triumphs high” as the notes soar upward. I love singing the high notes, it energizes me! The song taunts death:  Hey, Death, where is your sting now? Where is your victory now, Grave!  Christ disarmed you both!

There are actually eleven stanzas, and these are some of the best known.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

HE LIVES

This song is a very simple declaration of someone living life as a follower of Christ. The words and music were written by Alfred H. Ackley in 1933.  He wrote them in response to someone who asked him, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?”, and a dreadful Easter sermon!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading through all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Happy Easter everbody!

Does the Science behind Leap Year point to Intelligent Design?

I find it absolutely fascinating and inspiring that our solar system is so orderly!

Our massive planet Earth floats in space, revolving around its sun, travelling a total of 584 million miles at 67,000 miles per hour.  The number of days for one revolution has been consistent for thousands of years to the nearest millionth of a day.  How is that possible?

Could we replicate that kind of unvarying data?  If the top experts of the automotive field raced a car around a track every day using every scientific, technological controls known to man, would they be able to get results as consistent?

There is something Divine and beautiful about this.  To me, it points to an unchanging, faithful God who lovingly created a world of order for his children.

As usual, I also found a significant connection in literature, The Pirates of Penzance, a comic opera.  The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic soon learns, however, that he was born on 29 February, and so, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His indenture actually specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday”, meaning that he must serve for another 63 years.  Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.

Here is a sampling of writings on Leap Year worth checking out, and I leave the best for last.

According to timeanddate.com, Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It doesn’t take 365 days to circle the sun, it takes 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. So if we didn’t add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year, then after 100 years, our calendar would be off by 24 days.

There are various other calendars that have Leap Years. The Chinese Calendar has 13 months with a leap month added about every 3 years. The Jewish calendar has 13 months in a leap year. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has 383, 384, or 385 days. A leap year is referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me’uberet, or a pregnant year.

The Iranian calendar is slightly more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. Compared with the Gregorian calendar, which errors by one day in about every 3226 years, the Iranian calendar needs a one-day correction in about every 141,000 years. The Islamic Hijri calendar has a 11 leap years in a 30-year cycle. An extra day is added to the last month of the year during the Islamic leap year.

The Hindu calendar includes an extra month, once every three years or four times in 11 years. A leap year in the Ethiopian calendar is similar to the Gregorian calendar in which an extra day is added to the last month of the year every 4 years.

To close with the best: First, an exploration of the various calculations used to define a year. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way.

And my favorite, a fascinating point of view that the calendar has actually always been in place, since before man was created.

…Thought provoking perspectives on time…space…and eternity.

One Story’s Path to Publication

Great news! Standard Publishing will be publishing one of my stories in their teen publication, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine! This is a special thrill because it is one of my favorites.

This story grew out of a fun assignment for a writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. The instructions were to go to a public place to observe children or teens, and make notes on their conversations. I went to my local library, where there were two teenage boys playing chess with the huge chess pieces. I had so much fun taking notes and enjoying their laughter, competitiveness and bravado. Eventually, for another assignment, I conjured up a story with a character based on one of the boys.

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Before I submitted it for publication, I took this story to my writing critique group. They gave me a lot of suggestions, which I incorporated. I sent it to a magazine for pre-teens, but they rejected it, and a year later I submitted it to a contest, which I did not hear back from.

Recently I found information about ENCOUNTER—The Magazine in a weekly newsletter called Children’s Writers eNews. I re-read the teen story I’d written a year or so before, and found it a bit confusing. I decided to submit my original story, written for the ICL class—and it was accepted!

That was an educational experience. Although I still think it is smart to get feedback and critiques on my writing, I’ll probably trust my own judgment more!

Standard Pub banner sshot-1Standard Publishing is a 150-year-old organization. If you are interested in submitting to ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, or Standard Publishing’s other periodicals, you can find their writer guidelines here and here.

 

[Chess photo courtesy of Wikipedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Large_chess_set.JPG%5D