“You gotta know when to hold ‘em.
Know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.”
When I was still teaching 4 years ago, I used to sing, “You gotta know when…” to my kids. It might be you gotta know when to play outside, and when to work. It was fun, and silly, but my kids always got the message.
Now it’s time to apply the words to myself. I’ve been writing for 12 years. Now I gotta know when to edit, when to submit, when to self-publish, or let it go. Knowing when is important whether you’re 8 or 80. I hope you know when to do those things that are important to you, and when to let them go too.
The words from The Gambler are my motto for this year. I picked it when I was doing the 12 Days of Christmas program for writers with Julie Hedlund. I also set my goals for this year.
Here are the 3 things I want to keep going . . .
Here are the stories I want to polish and send out to an agent or a publisher . . .
Here are 3 ideas I want to turn into stories.
Here are the new things I’m ready to try . . .
Self-publish Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream and market it for the 50th anniversary of the moon in Wapakoneta and beyond.
I’ll end this post the same way I ended my goals by saying . . .
Thank You to Julie Hedlund and her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers!
An Interview with June McCrary Jacobs
Meet June McCrary Jacobs! Her interview is On the Scene, on the blog button. Read it and discover what she’s already accomplished. She’s amazing!
Here’s a short list of her jobs . . . Babysitter, house cleaner, movie theater usher, pizza maker, insurance secretary, legal secretary, executive secretary, marketing secretary, research and development secretary, library assistant, sewing/quilt designer, columnist, and technical editor, but she always wanted to be a teacher. She did that too, for 21 years. WOW!
June is also published! She won a contest for a holiday story in 2013. She published her first full-length novel in 2015. Her sewing designs are in books and magazines. She has a short story releasing early this year, and now she’s debuting a middle grade novel this spring. Is there anything June can’t do?
RES-Q Tyler Stop is her debut middle grade book. Tyler Stop isn’t a person. It’s a small town in Sonoma County, California, and the year is 1968. Weston Gregg is eleven, and he’s facing some pretty big challenges. There’s racial prejudice going on in town. Weston must face up to an injury he caused, and every day there’s the bully at school. I hope Weston can solve his problems, but if anyone can help him and the town of Tyler Stop, it’s June McCrary Jacobs.
Who orbited the earth first?
Ham the Chimp John Glenn Yuri Gagarin Laika the Dog
Did you guess Laika? I did, and I was right. Laika was the first living creature to orbit the earth. She was launched on November 3, 1957, two years before I was born. Her achievement was also the beginning of the Space Race between the US and the USSR.
Spaceships back then weren’t well built. We have more than 60 years of experience so we build better spaceships now. We even have a space station where people can live for months at a time.
Poor Laika! She only lived a couple hours after launch. This is a model of Sputnik 2. It doesn’t look very comfortable. I hope Laika was treated well before becoming a dog-o-naut. Before that Laika was a stray living in the streets of Moscow. Russian scientists thought a stray dog would have an easier time living in the harsh conditions in space. If you visit Star City, Russia, you’ll find a statue and plaque that honors Laika and her contributions to space science. Her statue is next door to where she trained for her space adventure and where Russian cosmonauts still train today.
Now, can you guess who was 2nd to orbit the earth?
Ham or John or Yuri
I hope you guessed Ham. He won 2nd place, but only by a couple months. Ham was born in Cameroon in 1957, captured by trappers, and sent to a Rare Bird Farm in Florida. Really! The US Air Force bought him in 1959. He and 39 other chimps were sent to the Holloman Air Force Base. Ham made the top 18, then the top 6, then 1st prize. Back in 1959 he was known as #65 because the air force didn’t want a chimp, with a name, dying in space.
Ham blasted off January 31, 1961 and returned 17 minutes later. I was almost 2 by then. The biggest difference between Ham’s flight and those of previous chimps was his ability to push levers. Ham was a fraction of a second slower in space than on earth. That was a big deal because he showed scientists that astronauts could work in space. Ham’s flight led to the launch of the first American astronaut. Alan Shepherd blasted off May 5, 1961. Thanks, Ham!
Best of all, Ham lived to tell, another 22 years, first at the National Zoo in Washington DC, then at a zoo in North Carolina. If you’d like to visit Ham, go to the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
So, who was 3rd? Was it John Glenn, the American?
Or was it Yuri Gagaran, the Russian? Good Luck!
Yuri came in 3rd. He orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961 in Vostok 1. He instantly became a world-wide celebrity, winning both medals and titles. Yuri never made it back into space again. He died in 1968 when his training jet crashed. It was only 7 years after his historic flight.
I didn’t know that in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin honored Yuri. They left a memorial satchel with Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov’s medals on the moon. In 1971 David Scott and James Irwin from Apollo 15 left the Fallen Angel Memorial behind. They didn’t tell anyone until they returned to earth.
This is the Fallen Angel Memorial. It honors 14 American and Russian astronauts.
Theodore C. Freeman - 1964 aircraft accident
Charles A. Bassett III and Elliott M. See Jr. - 1966 aircraft accident
Virgil I. Grissom, Roger B. Chaffee, and Edward H. White II - 1967 Apollo 1 fire
Vladimir M. Komarov - 1967 Soyuz I re-entry parachute failure
Edward G. Givens Jr. - 1967 car accident
Cliffton C. Williams Jr - 1967 aircraft accident
Yuri Gagarin - 1968 aircraft accident
Pavel I Belyayev - 1970 illness
Georgily T Dobrovolsky, Viktor I. Patsayev, and Vladislav N Volkov – 1971 Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure
And, last but not least, John Glenn. Sometimes it’s good to be last . . . John lived to the age of 95.
Meet John Glenn, the 4th to orbit the earth, but the first American. John was ready to go in January of 1962, but his flight was delayed 11 times because of equipment malfunctions, improvements, and the weather. John didn’t worry. He flew 70 more missions in the simulator and reacted to 189 simulation system failures. John was ready to go!
Finally on February 20, 1962, Friendship 7 lifted off. Would you believe there were two failures during the flight? The automatic control system had problems. John had to manually control the 2nd and 3rd orbit and the reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Sensors also said that the heat shield was loose. John talked with the ground controllers at NASA. They decided to leave a retrorocket pack in place, and John lived to tell. If the shield had been loose, Friendship 7 would have burned up on the way into the atmosphere, but John returned a national hero. He got a ticker tape parade in New York City. Confetti rained down on John to celebrate his 4 hour and 55-minute flight.
John was such a hero he wasn’t allowed to go up into space again. After he retired from the military, John got interested in politics. He served Ohio in the United States Senate from 1974 until 1999. He ran for president once but didn’t win the Democratic nomination.
But he was successful in returning to space. In 1995 John read a book by NASA doctors about bone and muscle mass loss in space. That happens to older people too so John started lobbying NASA to let him return to space. He said they could experiment on him. NASA agreed, but John had to have a scientific reason to go, and he had to pass the same physical exam that the younger astronauts did.
John did the research and passed the exam. In January of 1998 John got the announcement that at 77, he’d be the oldest person to fly in space. On October 29, 1998 John blasted off as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery. In 2012 John said his biggest regret was that NASA didn’t continue to research aging by sending additional senior citizens into space.
John died on December 8, 2016. The phrase, “Godspeed, John Glenn,” was given to him by Scott Carpenter back in 1962. It followed him through his life and was part of his funeral too. When John died, he was the last of the Mercury Seven Astronauts. They were NASA’s founding space team.
Here are the Mercury 7 from their photo taken on April 9, 1959. That was a month before I was born.
Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter;
Back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
An Interview with Pippa Chorley
Meet Pippa Chorley! Her interview is now On the Scene, on the blog button. Pippa answered 6 questions about her writing life. She started young, as a child.
I think the most interesting thing about Pippa is that she hails from Cheshire, England. Now she lives in Singapore with her husband, 3 young children, and her dog Jasper. He’s her writing buddy. Pippa finds her best ideas when she’s taking Jasper for a walk. Her debut book comes out April 5th. I wonder who found the sheep first, Jasper or Pippa.
This is Pippa’s debut book! I love the cover! Poor Sam, she can’t go to sleep. Her mum suggests counting sheep. Sam tries but gets stuck when Little Shep can’t jump over the fence. Join Sam and her flock in this frolicking rhyming farmyard adventure.
Fun Fact: I met Pippa when I met Susan Jacobs Lipshaw. We were all on Kid Lit 411. I’ve only been outside the US twice, and now I have a writing friend from Singapore. I love her ‘mum’ instead of my ‘mom.’ I’m fascinated with the small things that make us a little different and a lot special.
This is my favorite kind of question!
Which country has the world’s most eco-friendly beaches?
Australia France Spain New Zealand
The answer . . . Spain
FYI – this beach may or may not be in Spain.
Spain has 590 beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education. That means their beaches are eco-friendly, safe, accessible, and have learning experiences. The next 2 beaches are in Spain.
This beach sits beside Malaga. Malaga is both a city and a province. It’s gorgeous!
This beach is in Andalusia. It’s a territory in southern Spain. It has 8 provinces, including Malaga. The provinces form the bottom of the Spanish coastline. It’s gorgeous too!
This is a map of Spain. It’s done in the colors of the Spanish flag. The country to the north is France. The country to the west is Portugal. The continent to the south is Africa.
The Mediterranean Sea and its beaches are to the east. The Atlantic Ocean and its beaches are to the west. Do you see the bottom red section of land? That’s Andalusia and its beaches.
An Interview with June Smalls
Meet June Smalls! Her interview is up on our website blog. She answered 6 questions about her life as a writer. If you want to write, her answers might help you start. June’s debut book comes out April 2nd. I’m so glad it’s not April 1st because her book is a fun way to learn something new.
The most important thing to know about June is that she’s always loved animals, and that she’s been making up stories about them for as long as she can remember. I think it’s perfect that her first book is about animals!
This is June’s debut book, and it HAS odd animals! Not an alligator or bear to be found, but you can meet an Aye-Aye or a Fossa. Not only are her animals odd, but they introduce their letters in their own unique, but odd way. If you want to find out what Aye-Ayes and Fossae are, you can preorder this book now or wait till it comes out April 2nd.
Fun Fact: I met June back in June of 2016, no pun intended. We both were taking a class with the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. I think it’s great that we get to be debut authors the same year and with the same debut group. It’s a ‘small’ world after all. All puns intended!
Have you ever read a book that you love? You can’t stop reading it, even if it’s time for bed. You HAVE to read the next page, the next chapter. When you finish, you HAVE to read it again. It might make you laugh, or cry, or both. It might even turn you topsy-turvy! If you have, then you should review that book.
Why should you write a review? You loved the book. Isn’t that enough?
It could be, but if you take the time to write a couple of sentences, you’d help the book. You’d help its author. You’d help someone on the other side of the world find this book too.
I’ve heard that writing a good review for a book is like chocolate for an author. Imagine, you, giving your favorite author, your favorite book a box of chocolate just by writing a review. It doesn’t cost you anything but time, and authors love it. What a great thing to do!
I hope I’ve convinced you to write a review. The next step is to write it, but you’re probably wondering HOW?
Start by writing it online. If you don’t feel comfortable, write it on paper or on your computer first. Then go into Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Cut and paste your review into their link. Actually, confession time, that’s what I do. I write them first for My Reads, my website book review. I do it in My Newsletter form. Then I cut and paste them to My Reads, and then into Amazon. It’s easy peasy because I’ve worked out my words in advance.
Still worried? Here are some tips . . .
2. Make sure you’re accurate about what you write. I know an author who got a bad review. It said there was a walrus or seal in her story. There wasn’t. Writing something that’s false isn’t fair to you or to the author. You might not read the story, and the author may not sell books because of bad information.
3. If you post a review on Amazon, be ready to grade the story. Fours are good. Fives are great. Those are the only books I review.
4. Next think about why you liked or loved this story. It’s an easy place to start. It’s also what I’m looking for if I read your review. What’s so great about this book?
5. Think about the characters. Was there something that made you want to read about them? When I choose a new book, I look at characters and how they’re developed to make my decision.
Think about the plot, how the story moves from the problem to the solution. What kept you reading? I want to know that too. Make sure you tell me what you liked/loved about the plot and the characters, and I might buy the book you reviewed.
6. Finally, what makes this book special? How is it unusual? What caught your attention? When you proofread your review, you want to make sure it’s there. If you’re good at writing reviews, you might even become one of Amazon’s top reviewers.
BTW, I’m not a top reviewer, but in the last couple months, I’ve had 2 people reach out to me to review their books. I guess they liked how I write reviews.
Beach’s Best Tip – I just discovered this a month or two ago. When I edit ANYTHING, I click on narrator in Microsoft Word. It makes it so easy to hear my mistakes and improve them.
For me that’s the best part about writing, always pushing to write my very best. Good luck! Happy Reviewing!
I love to learn, and I love doing quiz questions. I just got the idea for us to do trivia together. I saved my favorite questions from two sites, travel trivia and quiz club.
Here’s your first question. Good luck!
PS- I never look up the answer. I try to guess.
What was the happiest country in 2018? I got it right! I hope you do too!
Your choices . . . Finland Norway Denmark Sweden
How did Finland win? The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network picked them. Wow! That’s a mouthful!
The UN Network looked at 6 factors – 1. Money earned from goods and services (GDP) 2. Life expectancy 3. Social support for citizens 4. Generosity 5. Freedom 6. Lack of corruption. They ranked 156 countries. Unfortunately the US came in 17th.
Here’s a map of Scandinavia. It’s made up of 4 countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Scandinavia must be a happy place . . . Norway and Denmark are past winners.
Finland is home to 5.5 million people. Take a look at the pictures below. It’s a beautiful place!
Here’s the travel trivia link. It’s a great way to visit new places on the internet.
Day or night, Helsinki is a beautiful city. It’s Finland’s capital.
These are the Northern Lights. They make me want to visit Finland. It’s a beautiful place. And happy too!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!