Because of books, I always wanted a dog…and a rabbit…and a fish…and to be a writer.
The quote came from the top of Lisa’s web page. I had to read more.
The dog came from Beverly Cleary’s HENRY HUGGINS.
The rabbit is from Beatrix Potter’s THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, but the fish – only Lisa knows.
Another important book was Louise Fitzhugh’s HARRIET THE SPY.
It got Lisa’s detective juices going, and it even started a family spy club.
If you want to learn more, visit the About page on her web site. Scroll down to the bottom to find her favorite things. Link: http://www.lisarogerswrites.com/
Part 2 – Lisa’s Books: This is Lisa’s debut fiction picture book, HOUND WON’T GO. I wonder where she got the beginning of this idea! 😊
The story: One cloudy day Hound decided he’d gone far enough. He laid down to rest – right in the middle of a busy intersection! But it gets worse, much worse – the clouds open up and unleash a thunderstorm. Will Hound go? You’ll have to read to find out!
PS - My dog wasn’t a hound, but she did the same thing when she was a puppy. I’m lucky! I live in a subdivision with no busy intersections. Thank goodness!
Really? 16 WORDS! That’s Lisa’s title for this book that debuted last September. It’s the story of how Dr. William Carlos Williams wrote his most famous poem, all in sixteen words.
It started one morning when he looked out the window. Thaddeus Marshall pushed his wheelbarrow down the street to sell vegetables, just like he did every day in his hometown of Rutherford, New Jersey.
The rest of the story is just as beautiful as the cover., but there’s another treat in this book – to discover how the simple everyday things of life can be changed into art by a real poet.
FIRSTS came out in 2016. Lisa’s name wasn’t on the front cover, but she was one of the writers from the Writers’ Loft. Together they all worked together to create this anthology.
Someone like Lisa wrote this review for Amazon, “I was delighted to be part of this first anthology among so many talented writers. Some stories will make you laugh, some cry, and some make you think.” I wonder if Lisa wrote it.
I also found another review that said FIRSTS is “An entertaining collection of children’s literature showcasing young adult, memoirs, poetry, limericks, and picture book stories.”
Did you figure out what an anthology is? After reading that last review, I’d say it’s a smorgasbord of stories. Sometimes they’re from one author, but this time it’s from a group.
This book came out years ago, in 2007. The title tells you exactly what you’re picking up – the story of Boston’s history.
It starts with the founding Puritans, and continues onto Irish immigration, which probably peaked from 1845 - 1849. That’s when the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, and so many came to American shores, looking for food, and hope.
It includes the story of Boston’s colorful politicians who have tackled issues from the Irish back in the 1800’s onto modern day racial and religious issues. The Big Dig was also a recent part of that history. It was a big construction project from the 1990’s where they tried to fix daily Boston traffic jams, but instead it led to leaks, delays, cost overruns, and corruption.
The politicians range from Honey Fitz, grandfather of President John F. Kennedy to Cardinal Bernard Law. It ends with Thomas Menino, Boston’s mayor until 2014. If you want to understand Boston, this is the book for you!
Lake Trivia for Me and You
That’s the name of my newest book so it’s the perfect trivia post for Memorial Day weekend, the start of summer vacation. Here we go! Good Luck!
First Up – The Great Lake Challenge, With Two Questions -
1. How many US states touch at least one Great Lake? 5 8 11 13
2. What word can help you remember all 5 Great Lakes. Hint – it’s an acronym with one letter from each lake so the word has an S, M, H, O, and an E. Good luck!
There are . . . 8 states. In ABC order, they are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Can you find them on the map?
Do you know which country touches 4 of the Great Lakes?
If you guessed Canada, you’re right!
The Lake left out . . . Michigan.
The lakes from West to East are SMHOE (small hoe, for a garden)
And the acronym – did you guess HOMES?
H – Huron O – Ontario M – Michigan E – Erie S - Superior
Next Up – The Great Salt Lake and Two More Questions: I picked these images to give you an idea how big the lake is. The first is a 2018 satellite shot. The second is from an airplane window. And now, your questions!
1. Which state is home to the Great Salt Lake? Colorado Utah Arizona Nevada
2. Which body of water has the most salt?
The Great Salt Lake The Dead Sea The Oceans
Sources: 1. https://www.traveltrivia.com/answer-which-u-s-state-features-the-great-salt-lake-2/
It’s Utah! Look on the map above to find the Great Salt Lake. I think it’s the big white dot.
In first for salt content with 33.7% is The Dead Sea. No wonder nothing lives there.
Look at the satellite image above. The lake is 2 different colors. A causeway for trains divides the actual lake. The northern part has 30% salinity, right behind the Dead Sea.
The southern part ranges from 5 to 27%. I remember visiting when I was little, but what I remember most, is how much it stunk. I wonder if the Dead Sea stinks 3% more.
The ocean – only 3.5%. No wonder it’s so full of life! The Great Salt Lake has brine shrimp, brine flies, and algae in the water. Birds also live here or visit when they’re migrating.
BTW, this causeway photo is for cars not trains, but it gives you an idea what the lake looks like, up close.
Third in Line – The Underground Lake and Two More Questions: These underground lakes are huge, and they're in Europe. There is one in the US that’s 140 feet below the surface and 5 acres in size.
Where is that lake? West Virginia Virginia Kentucky Tennessee
Who discovered it? A cave explorer A geologist A child
Sources: 1. https://www.traveltrivia.com/answer-where-is-the-largest-underground-lake-in-the-u-s/
Look for this huge lake under the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Sweetwater, Tennessee. The Lost Sea is about an hour south of Knoxville. The Cherokee found shelter there in the 1820’s. Confederate soldiers made gunpowder there during the Civil War, but no one ever found the lake.
It took a 13-year-old boy. Ben Sands was exploring the cave in 1905. He found an opening about as wide as a bike tire. I wouldn’t crawl inside, but Ben did, about 40 feet. When the shaft stopped, Ben dropped into the lake and waded out until the water hit his knees. I’m glad he decided to go back and tell someone what he’d found. BTW – a school bus is about 30 feet in length. Walk 10 more steps. That’s how far Ben crawled.
Last, but not Least – One Final Question about Smoky Mountain Lakes: The Lost Sea is below ground, but there are lakes above ground in the Smokies. You’ll find them in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. This is my lake, Norris Lake. It’s north of Knoxville, in East Tennessee.
How many lakes can you find in the Smokies?
4 7 10 13
If you guessed 10, you’re right! The Smoky Mountain Lakes are:
Fontana Lake, North Carolina Lake Nantahalas, North Carolina
Douglas Lake, Tennessee Wolf Creek Lake, North Carolina
Lake Glenville, North Carolina Tanesee Creek Lake, North Carolina
Bear Creek Lake, North Carolina Tellico Lake, Tennessee
Norris Reservoir and Lake, Tennessee Melton Hill Lake, Tennessee
There are also 3 creeks inside the park. They are: Eagle Creek, Forney Creek, and Hazel Creek.
Do you recognize Norris Lake on my book cover? I wrote about the fun my family had there. I hope you’ll take a look at it, then get out to your favorite lake for some fun too. The best part about the book – there’s room for you to record your own lake fun, then go home with your own personalized souvenir.
Part 1 My Family and the Spanish Flu – This is my Grandmother and Grandfather Wilson with four of their children. From left to right, Leo, Mary, Opal Lee, and Grant. Two kids are missing – my mother and her brother Don. They weren’t born yet. Mom was born in 1935 so I’m guessing this was taken around 1930. That’s way after the Spanish Flu.
When the media started connecting the Spanish Flu to Covid 19, I realized something I would never have figured out without this pandemic.
You see, without the Spanish Flu, those kids, my cousins and me – we would not exist.
It’s crazy to think this way, but it’s true. I discovered as a teenager that my grandmother wasn’t grandpa’s first wife. He was married to another woman first. I think her name was Melinda, but I’m not sure. In any case she was expecting a baby. It was due during the time the Spanish Flu was raging through the country. She didn’t live. Neither did her baby.
As a mom now, it makes me incredibly sad that both of them died, and that I don’t know their names. I don’t have a picture of Melinda. I think it’s heartbreaking that when you die, sometimes you are just forgotten by history. If Melinda hadn’t died, my grandfather and grandmother would never have married, and my mom, my aunts and uncles would never have been born. I’m glad they’re all there, but I’m still sad for Melinda and her baby.
I also realized something else by looking at that picture. By 1937 my grandmother, Rinda, was dead. You see her name is my name. I never understood why she had to die when her kids were so little. My mom was 2. My Aunt Opal Lee was 16.
Now I do. You see my grandfather had a third wife, and she gave him a daughter. If my grandmother hadn’t died, that last daughter, my aunt wouldn’t have been born. Sometimes it’s not for us to question why. Sometimes it’s for us to do or die. (Paraphrased from Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Charge of the Light Brigade.)
Part 2 Three Cities and the Spanish Flu – With the new pandemic I’d heard reports about two of these cities, but the third one was a total surprise.
First up – Philadelphia, home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell – By late summer of 1918, a second wave of Spanish flu hit the US. It was carried here by WWI soldiers returning home. By mid-September it was spreading through Philadelphia like wildfire, but the health director said don’t worry. It’s just those soldiers. The rest of us won’t get it. His advice – stay warm, keep your feet dry, and your bowels open. Sorry, it was in the article! Really!
September 28th, Philadelphia was celebrating with a Liberty Loan Parade to raise money for the military. Many people thought it should be cancelled, but the health director said it’ll be fine. We need to raise money for war bonds. On the 28th the parade stretched for 2 miles. It included soldiers, Boy Scouts, marching bands, and dignitaries marching down a route packed with spectators.
This is not the Liberty Loan Parade, but it gives you an idea how packed the parade route was. 72 hours or 3 days later, all 31 of Philadelphia’s hospitals were packed.
By the end of the week 2600 people were dead. A quote from the article said the “parade probably threw gasoline on the fire, but it was already cooking along pretty well.”
Next up – St. Louis, home to the Gateway Arch, our nation’s monument to western expansion – The St. Louis health commissioner went the opposite way. He put local physicians on high alert, before the first case was reported. He wanted them ready when the second wave hit.
When the flu broke out in the army barracks, he closed the schools, movie theaters, and pool halls. He banned all public gatherings. He had a network of volunteer nurses set up to treat the thousands who were infected. It flattened the curve and saved lives. A 2007 study went back and analyzed the results, St. Louis had 1/8 of Philadelphia’s worst death rates, an incredible feat for a big city!
I’m sorry to write that they weren’t so successful with the third wave that hit late winter/spring of 1919. I wonder if they got tired of lockdown and just had to get out.
Last but not least – San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge – Health officials in San Francisco put their faith in masks. If you left home without one or wore it the wrong way, you were arrested for disturbing the peace and fined $5. The officials believed they were 99% effective against the flu.
But gauze masks aren’t that effective. You can see through them, so how could they possibly stop germs? It’s more likely the low rates were caused by quarantining the naval bases before the flu arrived. Then the city closed schools, banned social gatherings, and close spaces like theaters. It sounds like they followed the St. Louis’ plan.
San Francisco believed in the masks so much they blew the whistle on November 21st. People could finally take off their masks without being arrested. A newspaper reported that the sidewalks were “strewn with the relics of a tortuous month.
Sadly their luck changed in January 1919. The third wave hit, and business and theater owners believed those masks would keep people safe. They fought and kept their buildings open. The result – San Francisco had some of the highest death rates in the US.
That same 2007 study said that if the other restrictions had held up, they could have reduced the death rate by 90%. My source for this article, with its great photos: https://history.com/news/spanish-flu-pandemic-response-cities
My conclusions as someone with two strikes (I’m old, and I’m a diabetic) dealing with the Coronavirus for its first wave, maybe more – I’ll wear my mask whenever I go out. I’ll also maintain my social distance. As this first wave ends, I’ll go out more and more, but if there’s a second wave, I’ll head back to that mask and social distancing. I love people, but I also love life! I have a granddaughter, and I want to watch her grow up. I want to dance at her wedding, even if I’m only swaying on my feet.
Meet Helena Ku Rhee. She’s originally from Los Angeles, California, but she’s lived in Asia, Europe, and other parts of the US.
If you’d like to see the moai or find the island on a map, click on this link: https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/samerica/easterisland.htm
Helena majored in English in college. She’s written for adults at the Los Angeles Times and for Salon.com. Now she works by day at a movie studio. At night and on weekends she writes for kids. Click on this link to learn more about her: http://helenakrhee.com/
Meet Helena’s debut book from 2018. The Turtle Ship is loosely based on the story of Korean hero and Admiral Yi Sun-Sin.
In Helena’s version Sun-Sin spent his childhood with a pet turtle. He dreamed about them sailing the world together. Sun-Sin’s family was poor so his dreams seemed impossible until the king announced a contest. Whoever designed the best battleship to defend the Korean homeland would earn a spot in the royal navy, and a chance to sail the world.
Sun-sin went to work, but his spirits sank with each boat. It seemed inpossible until Sun-sin sat down with his best friend, turtle. That’s when he really looked at him. Small but mighty. Slow yet steady, and best of all a turtle never sinks. You’ll have to read Helena’s story to see how the Turtle Ship became part of Korean history.
This is Helena’s newest book. It came out in February, and it grew out of her childhood experiences.
Daniel usually goes to bed at home when his parents go into work to clean offices. Not tonight! The babysitter cancelled so Daniel went with them. He saw brooms and mops and vacuems, but he discovered something better – a paper kingdom filled with dragons and kings. It’s a magical place where anything can happen. Where small boys can grow up to become kings.
Daniel’s story is really Helena’s. She went to work with her parents, tired and grumpy. They told her incredible stories that made everything better. Today Helena has her own magical kingdom. Where is it? Inside her books.
Part 1 – My mother is a bird lover. Sorry, this isn’t her! When I was growing up . . . when my kids were little, she was never, ever, a bird lover. What changed?
Five to ten years ago my oldest son gave her a bird feeder for Christmas. It was a nice gift, but I had no idea it would be life-changing.
Ever since that Christmas, whenever I stop by, Mom always gives me a bird report. She also links dates and birds. My daughter’s birthday is March 9th. That’s the date when the robins come back.
She gives me reports about hummingbird fights at her feeder. She lets sparrows build nests on her porch light. She even made me google a bird. She wasn’t sure about the spelling, and I was sure there was no such bird. Wrong! I found it . . . the Hoary Redpoll. Really! Mom’s Redpoll looks exactly like the one in the video. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af1vpd2Fk04
This isn’t her window either, but Mom watches the birds from her living room and kitchen windows.
I never see them from mine, but until five years ago, I was teaching. When you teach, there’s no time to look out the window.
I still don’t see those birds, unless they knock. At the lake, there’s a Papa Bluebird who tap, tap taps, like he wants to get my attention. I think he’s really warning off his reflection. He’s afraid there’s another boy bluebird in the neighborhood. When I try to take his picture, he flies off. I think he’s camera shy!
Now mom has two different feeders. My husband puts suet and bird seed in one. It looks like the one on the left.
The feeder on the right is for hummingbirds. The red liquid is in my refrigerator. My husband warned me not to drink it. Now he’s mixing it up again because the hummingbirds have returned. They usually come back around my birthday, May 7th, and Mother’s Day.
If you’d like to feed the birds, here’s a link. Did you know different birds eat different food? https://www.wildaboutbirds.com/read/attracting-birds/choosing-the-right-bird-food
Part 2 - Meet some of the birds who visit my mother . . . Can you guess their names? Check the captions to see if you’re right! Enjoy a little music while you enjoy a few birds. Good luck! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0adpbKfIp0I
These are the birds that most often appear at my mother’s window. She would recognize them all. I only know their names because I searched them out on https://pixabay.com/. When I see red, it’s a cardinal. Blue is for bluebird, and when I’m in doubt, it’s a bird.
This is John James Audubon in 1826. You might recognize his name – The Audubon Society. His claim to fame – he painted and described all the birds in America. Then he founded an organization that’s alive and well today. Click on the link below, and you can download 435 reproductions of his work. The Link:
Neil Armstrong Book News: When my first book came out in May 2019, I wanted a book trailer. But there wasn’t enough time, and I didn’t know anything about it.
In the fall of 2019 I decided Neil needed a trailer. A friend suggest asking the high school technologies department, and that’s where I found Anthony Jones.
Neither of us had made a book trailer before. Anthony had the tech background, and I’m a writer so we combined our skills.
I found a few trailers I liked. They guided Anthony to his first digital draft. I critiqued it. He kept what I liked and worked on what I didn’t. We repeated the process a couple more times. Now Neil has a trailer so new readers can find his book, and you can too! Click the link, and scroll down.
Lake Fun Book News: When I started working on LAKE FUN FOR YOU AND ME, I knew this was the make or break illustration. Whoever I picked had to produce it.
When Rick showed me this image, I knew I’d found my illustrator. I found the photos, and Rick digitally enhanced them. Back then I thought this would be the cover shot, but it didn’t even make it into the book.
This one didn’t either . . . it made the cover!
I submitted this image to KDP. I love it! It features the lake, which is the real main character of the book. The three small ones are the children who are the stars of the story. My cover artist put all these elements together. She added a fun font for the title and the blurb on the back. I think it’s perfect! I hope you do too!
Part 1 – Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Usually I write my blog every night, but occasionally something happens. It could be something great like seeing my adult kids, but usually, it’s not. It’s more like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The words just won’t come.
When I thought of this idea, on a night when I was stuck, I thought the words would flow. They’re NOT! I’m struggling to write about my writing struggles. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it feels like that rock and hard place.
I write a sentence. Stop, delete it, and try again. Sometimes that breaks the blank page, but sometimes it doesn’t.
I moved onto this image, finally. Then I second guessed myself and went back and forth between them.
I feel stuck, flailing at my keyboard. Trying to write something that makes sense. I’m weighing every word, which makes it worse.
I want the words to fly off my fingertips, but they would rather hold my head and comfort myself.
Some nights the more you push, the more you wear yourself out.
The last time this happened, I looked like this fox. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I refused to quit.
I pushed and pushed, and it just got worse. Sometimes you have to know when to call it a night, and that’s what I’m doing now.
The last time it worked, but I’ll let you know tomorrow night when I try my luck at this post again. Good night . . .
Part 2 – Let Me Sleep on It
That was two nights ago. I had a good night’s sleep, and I was ready to write – till last night’s writing disaster. My new book is delayed a couple weeks, till the end of the month.
I couldn’t focus to write. I had to come up with Plan C. Don’t worry! I’ll tell you about it soon, in another post.
But there’s something about sleeping on your problems.
When you hit a problem, it’s like hitting a yellow caution light. Sometimes it’s even that darn red stop light.
But there’s a bright side. I took freshman psychology back in 1977. I forgot the name of the concept, but not the principle. Our brains work in circles to go from problem to solution. If you’re stuck, your brain will keep working on that problem until it’s solved. It works whether you’re sleeping or doing anything else.
This picture made me think what that process looks like, whether you’re sleeping or not.
Usually if I stop and come back to my writing the next day, my fingers fly across the keyboard and the ideas pour out. It’s lovely!
Warning – it’s not perfect! First drafts never are. I used to tell my classes that they were sloppy copies. They’re meant to get your ideas down at top speed.
This is what it feels like when you get that answer. Your wheels are spinning. You’re back on green, and you can go, go, go!
Once those ideas are down, go back and proofread them. How? Read them out loud. You can use the narrator on your computer. That lets you listen and focus on how the words sound. I go over each paragraph, again and again until it sounds just right.
Another way – have someone read it out loud to you. Have a pen/keyboard ready. Whenever they stop and stumble, mark it down. Those are the places you want to edit and polish.
This is what it feels like when you’re in the groove with your writing. You’re sitting, typing, and the thoughts flow.
It’s also a great place to be when you’re editing and polishing your work.
It’s nothing like that first picture with you hands on your head. That’s when writing feels FRUSTRATING!
Tomorrow – some writing tips to help you. Please use what makes sense to you and ignore the rest.
Part 3 – My Favorite Writing Tips
These are the things I do when I’m stuck. Use the ones that make sense to you, and ignore the rest.
1. Give yourself the gift of time. If you have a week to do an essay, try doing a little each night. It’s easier on you, on your brain too.
If you miss a night, don’t worry! Things happen, and time is a gift, for you too. Other nights you might be in the groove and work longer. Nothing is worse than stopping when you’re on a roll.
2. Outline your writing. I always do this, one way or another.
Sometimes I use a checklist like the one to the left. It helps me take care of all the little pieces that move my work from keyboard to publication.
When I write blogs, I outline with pictures. I pick out the ones that tell my story in images. When I write stories, I outline a beginning, middle, and an end, in words.
Warning – you don’t have to stick to an outline. It’s a road to guide your writing, but you may find a better path as you travel along. Take it! You’ll have a better story.
Look ahead when you change your road map. You may need to change some plot points. Then enjoy! Writing magic happens when the story guides you along. It happens every time I turn on my laptop.
3. Stuck again? Reread a paragraph or two.
It’s like taking a running start. As you read along, you listen to the words. Your brain will automatically predict what’s next. It’s like breathing.
DO NOT – reread and edit those words. It will stall your writing. Focus on what’s happening in those words, and they will flow onto the page.
You can edit your words later. Not on that first draft! Every writer I know pushes the words out of their head and onto the page. Then they rework, analyze, and have it critiqued. They repeat as many times as needed.
4. If you’re stuck, take another break.
Do something else – Take a nap. Get a snack. Whatever! You can come back to your problem tomorrow. You’ll find it sitting and waiting for you.
When words sit, the next ones, better ones, come along.
If you give yourself time, you’ll work your way to the finish line. Magic!
5. When you’re stuck, talk it out.
To a friend, a parent, a teacher. It will help!
Those people will see what you don’t. They’ll also see how to get you moving again. You’re too close to see your own mistakes, or, your own solutions.
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!