I’m lucky! I had four Facebook/Instagram friends who reached out to let me know something was wrong. I only know one of them personally, but I’m so grateful that all four of them saw, and then said something.
Here’s my story, just in case it happens to you. I would never have believed this could be true. I’m a retired teacher/writer from a small town in Ohio.
Part 1 – Two Cautionary Notes
This all started on October 16th, but I couldn’t find that message. I found this one from Karen on the 29th . . . Hi. I’m a friend of yours on FB, and I got a strange message from you on Instagram. Was it really you, or a fake you?
I answered back that I’d check. I did – no message, let alone a strange one. I asked for more information. She answered . . .
‘They’ sent a message to me today through Instagram. I am following you now twice. One account has 74 followers and no posts, which is the fake one. The other one, using your same photo, has posts.
I replied that I’d change my password again, like I did on the 16th. I thanked her again, and I hoped this was over, but it wasn’t.
On October 31st I got this message from Linda . . . Hi – Have you been contacting me via Instagram? I just want to double check that this is really you.
I apologized and said it wasn’t. I told her I’d changed my password twice already. That I was trying to figure out how to clean up this mess.
Linda wrote back . . . No worries. I just wondered because the messages are just a little off. Just now I got one asking if I know about some kind of domestic assistance grants. I’m going to block you for now, because I honestly think it’s a foreign bot. Will you contact me . . . when it’s resolved?
I couldn’t believe it! Domestic assistance grants? Foreign bots? I felt like I was in a spy movie. That’s when help arrived!
Part 2 – Help is on the Way
I messaged that night, the 31st . . . Linda, how did they get my name on IG? I just had a kiddo (I had her sister in school) who contacted me. I looked up my address and only found me. Do you have the address they were using? I want to get this cleared up, and you just can’t talk to IG. YUCK!
I’d forgotten – I messaged IG twice, and got no response. But I got this from the kiddo, AKA My Hero, on FACEBOOK . . . RINDA! Get on your Instagram if you’re able. Someone is impersonating you and trying to push “grant information.” I’ve sent you several messages with what they sent me and asked my Grandma to reach out to you as well.
Her Grandmother wrote . . . Jessica just called me and said she has been getting messages from you on Instagram about federal grants. She thinks your account has been hacked.
Wow! Jessica went above and beyond a friend! She called her grandmother who was one of my teaching buddies.
These are the original messages from Jessica. I can read the first line – RINDA URGENT! And the second – Someone is pretending to be you! The rest of both screen shots are what the ‘fake rinda’ wrote. I would NEVER write either of those messages. Sorry, if they’re a little fuzzy.
Jessica’s explanation of how they did it (extra j in the middle) is on the bottom right. She also said she flagged it but Instagram did NOTHING, even though I’d already filled out 2 reports. You’d think they would have pulled down the fake rinda. They didn’t.
This set of messages came up after Jessica’s grandmother finally got my attention. I’m so glad I could ask Jessica. You can tell – I had no idea what I was doing.
The funny thing that I learned from later messages – I couldn’t search and find this fake me, the one with the extra j in the middle. Jessica said they must have blocked me.
I did another report about THAT, but I didn’t hear anything from Instagram. NOTHING. Jessica flagged the fake account again, and Instagram didn’t respond to her either. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I have a writing friend whose web site has been blocked by Facebook for a year. A YEAR, and she’s a retired Kindergarten teacher.
Part 3 – Solving My Own Problem
It’s now January, 2021, and Instagram never got back to me – I really don’t know if the fake me is gone. The last time I checked with Jessica was on October 31st. She pulled down her flag, and the fake me was still there. She flagged them again, and suggested that I report again. I did, but I have yet to hear anything from Instagram. It’s not a surprise – the only 2 social media sites that respond to me are Pinterest and Weebly.
The only proof I have that fake me isn’t operating - no one has messaged me about grants or strange messages since October.
I didn’t rely on reports to Instagram. I put up my own post with an image that reminds me of Darth Vader. I added a message that I was hacked on Facebook, my Facebook business page, Instagram, and Twitter. Here’s a copy of that post . . .
Someone hacked me on IG so if you get a weird message from what looks like me, it's not. I only message people I know personally, and I don't do anything with grants.
My friend Jessica said - flag that weird account, and let me know. I'll keep reporting until this person leaves my account alone.
I’m glad I did! Here are my stats – I reached 11 people on my Facebook business page, 3 on my personal page, 16 on Instagram, and 0 on Twitter. Those are the ones that I know of. I wonder how many took a look and then scrolled on down.
Instagram is where I had the biggest response, 16. I also had 2 people who commented on my post.
One wrote . . . I received a strange message as well. Sorry that happened to you.
Another wrote . . . Yeah, I got that message. Maybe that’s who hacked me.
Part 4 – IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING
That’s what four people did for me. I only know one of them personally. It only took a few minutes, but the other three made a huge difference in my business. The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
I left a reporting trail. I don’t know if it made any difference, but at least it’s there. My conscience is at peace because I tried to do the right thing.
If I’m ever in the shoes of those friends who helped me, I’ll do what they did. If I see something off, I’ll say something. I’ll message them on a different account like Linda and Karen did. They saw the fake messages on Instagram, but they contacted me on Facebook. I so appreciated them and their help!
I’ll also do what Jessica did – I’ll flag the account and send in a report. Unfortunately, I don’t know the grandmothers of most of my friends, but I’d call them if I did 😊
Looking back the best thing I did was putting my message out on social media. I know there were at least 30 people who heard my story, and two of them were touched enough to write on Instagram. That’s where the original fake account originated from.
So if you’re ever in my shoes and you’re hacked, or you see something that’s not quite right, I hope you’ll take my advice – See something, say something.
I haven’t written about the audition since mid-November, but I’ve been steadily working on it. I have four stories to get agent ready by February. Here’s the link for where I was back then . . . Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
And now – here’s what my stories and I have been doing since November . . .
1. The DUCK STORY went through 3 rounds of critiques and revisions. I almost sent if off for a 4th, but I spent Christmas with my Texas kids. Tomorrow I’m back to the lake and back to work. Job #1 is to finish those ducks and send them off by Friday.
It’s amazing to go through this process, to see elements of my original story in this new edition, and to see how the changes improve the plot and the characters.
Drake is now Liam, but it’s a deeper change than just a name. Liam drives the action. He thinks harder, finds better ideas when the ducks challenge him. And the ducks, they’re harder to beat.
The other HUGE change links Liam’s duck struggles to his sisters. The metaphor deepens the plot. I can’t wait to send this manuscript back to Lynne Marie, the Picture Book Mechanic, to see what else she suggests. She pushed me, pushed this story, and we’re better because of it.
2. My Safety Story went through 2 rounds of critiques and revisions, so far. The first round started by cutting one scene. It was easy! That means it was fat, not muscle – that’s what I call essential/nonessential parts of a story. I made the changes and sent it off to Lynne Marie.
She liked the bones of the story and the character names, but Lynne Marie thought I should change the setting for the first scene. I had to think, hard, on how to make it happen. In fact, I did it last. I started with the easiest changes and moved towards the hardest ones.
When the changes were done, I listened to the story over and over again. Usually I do 3 sets of 3 listening/editing rounds, per story, per day. I do that for at least 3 days before I even consider sending it off for a critique. (Yes, I have a thing about 3’s!) Then I sent it off to Lynne Marie. She sent it back a couple days before Christmas. I saved it, and I’ll look at it this week. I’ll start by adding the notes to a fresh copy. From there, I’ll work my way through her notes, hopefully, next week.
3. My Dog Story has spent the last 2 months with Callie and her Writing Magic Critique group. It’s been through 4 rounds of critiques and 3 rounds of revisions.
In the first critique Callie suggested a name change. Names are everything in a story, for characters and titles! My own dog gave me this story idea. She was a Border Terrier named Leia, like Princess Leia from Star Wars. Her full name was Leia Millennia Beach, and yes, my kids LOVED Star Wars! They still do.
Princess has been the dog’s name since I wrote the first draft back in 2012. I took a look at names over a couple days. I tried Rascal. Callie didn’t think it worked. I trust her opinions so I looked again. I picked Coco. She loved it! Woohoo!
One of the most unexpected changes happened after I left Princess behind. Princess said arf, arf, but Rascal and Coco went ruff, ruff. I didn’t plan it, but arf felt wrong when I listened/edited. Ruff felt right. Editing is magic because sometimes, characters tell YOU what they want to say. It’s interesting – neither Rascal or Coco could say woof – they’re too small for that sound.
The other big change was in the story mission statement. It helps me focus which road the story and its plot should take. When I wrote there’s a battle going on between Coco and her girl Marlee, it completely changed the plot. I didn’t catch it right away. Callie did! She suggested I try thinking of the story as a battle between these 2 characters. It worked!
I used some of the same elements, but I turned the action into a zigzag (/\/\/\). At the end of one scene Coco’s winning, but Marlee wins the next. The best part of this new dog/girl battle is that I stuck the ending. The most important sentences/paragraphs/pages in any book, is the first, and the last.
Tomorrow – the last manuscript for the challenge, plus 2 more. I started working on them in December. LOL! It’s a good thing I love editing!
4. My Nativity Story had 1 critique, from Rate Your Story (RYS). They gave it a 6 – I wanted a 1, but the comments are more helpful to me than a score.
Their only suggestion – add action. I did. Now I need to find out if it’s enough. How? I’ll send it to Callie’s Writing Magic Critique group and find out. It’s ready to send out, and the dog story is ready for more revision.
The next 2 stories aren’t part of the Agent Audition challenge. They started because I decided to take a class with Callie. I thought I could finish revising my middle grade novel and do the agent audition. Then I came up with a new idea for an early chapter book. Now all I have to do is balance 6 stories?!
5. My Ant Story is 30 chapters long. Last year I finished chapter 26. When I saw this class, I decided to get a running start by going back to Chapter 1 and the revision notes Callie left for each chapter.
I’ll go through those notes, make the corrections, and move forward. I haven’t started yet, but, if I read and revise chapters 1-16 by the end of January I’ll be back on track. Hopefully chapter 30 will be done by the end of February. Fingers crossed!
6. My Zoo Story is a new idea – it’s only a month old! I have the characters, the setting, but no plot – yet! I’m taking my chapter book that’s coming out in March, and moving it to the zoo.
In ZOE’S SCAVENGER HUNT FUN, Zoe is searching for points for the lake scavenger hunt Mom designed. Can she come up with enough points to beat her older siblings and win the prize?
Zoo Scavenger Hunt Fun already has a problem - Zoe wants to win the hunt. I have the format – 7 chapters with 7 animals. I need to figure out what the three tries will be, how the action will rise/fall, and the animal order. I know that the challenges must grow until that 3rd try/ 6th animal, when Zoe will think winning is impossible.
My plan – to work through Callie’s worksheets. They’ll help me figure out those 3 tries with 7 animals. My goal – to have the story outlined, and the first 3 chapters done by the end of January. Here’s to finding story magic at the zoo!
This post started with an email. Janet Campbell at elderspark.com sent me some great links to help seniors. She also asked if she could write a piece for their families who live far away. I said ABSOLUTELY! I saved Janet’s links for a later post. Here’s the piece Janet asked to write, the piece she wanted me to share.
In the past, someone who wanted to act as a caregiver for a senior relative would have to live close by. For seniors with serious medical conditions who require daily in-home care, that is still the case. But what about seniors with limited mobility who may need frequent doctor’s appointments, yet still manage to cook, clean, socialize, and take medications with little assistance?
If this describes one of your parents or another relative, you may be able to handle basic caregiving duties even if you no longer live in the same area. This guide from teacher, speaker, and author Rinda Beach discusses the devices and technological support systems that will keep you updated on your loved one’s health and well-being no matter how far away you live.
1. Choose the Right Cell Phone Plan
When it comes to phone plans, many carriers provide plans that cover unlimited text, talk, and data. When you’re responsible for checking in on your loved one on a regular basis, you want to know that you can stay connected without racking up any overage charges.
Some seniors are very tech-savvy, but others may need assistance to choose the right cell phone and plan. You may want to spend an afternoon with your loved one and go shopping together to help them make an informed decision.
2. Alert Systems
When it comes to location and medical alert systems for seniors, you have several options. Your loved one may feel safest with a wearable device that sends out an alert in the event of a medical emergency, like falling. You should ensure that any wearable device you purchase has GPS - if your loved one gets lost, this function is invaluable.
Installing remote monitoring sensors in your loved one’s home can help you keep track of their daily routines and habits. According to Seniors Matter, these sensors should be placed in strategic locations around the house - for example, placing one on the refrigerator door can let you know if your loved one is eating at normal times. No matter which monitoring system you choose, you can rest assured that you will be notified if your loved one needs your help.
3. Install Security Cameras
If you would feel more comfortable seeing your loved one during the day, placing a few security cameras in different locations around the house could be an option. You will have the ability to live stream the video footage on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
While many seniors and their caregivers find that having security cameras around the house allows for peace of mind, your loved one may not be open to the idea of being recorded. Make sure to have an honest conversation with them about the pros and cons, and do not install any cameras without their permission.
4. Financial Monitoring
Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted by online scammers who are hoping to make a quick buck. Kiplinger suggests helping your loved one protect their savings from scams and personally checking their accounts for any suspicious activity with a financial monitoring system.
These services will generally charge a monthly fee to scan an individual’s accounts and credit reports and catch any charges that seem abnormal compared to their usual spending habits. If you are alerted about any strange purchases, and it turns out that your loved one was not responsible for the charges, you can contact the bank and credit card companies immediately to remedy the situation.
Taking on the role of caregiver can present all kinds of challenges. But modern technology is making it easier for people to ensure the safety and security of their parents and relatives as they enter their golden years, even with hundreds or even thousands of miles between them.
Christmas is coming. For kids that means a week or two of vacation. I picked out 3 simple projects for families who’re looking for something fun to create.
Project #1. A Christmas Gnome: I took 8 screenshots for the 4 steps in this project. Instructables has many more, that show more specific instructions.
Link: Christmas Gnomes : 4 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables
Materials: Faux fur
Scrap fabric for hat Socks, pick the size your gnome should be
Wooden Bead Beans or rice to fill the sock.
Hot glue Rubber bands or hair ties
Optional – Jingle bell and stickers to decorate the hat. You could also use a favorite Christmas pin, the jewelry kind.
Make the body. Fill your sock with rice or beans.
Tie it off with a rubber band or hair tie.
Make the beard by cutting a half-moon shape out of faux fur. Cut it to fit your sock,
leaving an inch of room at the top and extra fur at the bottom.
Fit your beard so that you like how it looks. Then use hot glue to hold it in place.
Pick a wooden bead for the nose. Separate the beard. Then glue on the bead for the nose.
Make the hat by fitting the fabric to your gnome’s head. Make sure you overlap the cloth
by at least half an inch. Cut away the extra fabric. In this version they used a cone.
Hot glue the fabric to make the hat. Then glue it onto your gnome’s head.
Optional – Accessorize your gnome. This one used a jingle bell and a sticker.
You could use a pom-pom, a small Christmas pin, or whatever you’d like.
Project #2. A Gingerbread House for a Cat:
I took 14 screenshots for the `12 steps in this project. Instructables has more pictures, that show more specific instructions. This house is adorable, but it’s also tricky to make. I’ll show you the basic steps. Click on the link if you want to try this project.
Also, if you don’t have a cat, this would make a great doll house or any other kind of structure. Just change the the decorations or the building design to make it fit you.
Link: Cardboard Gingerbread Cat House : 12 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables
Hot glue gun & sticks Scissors
1 large cardboard box Craft knif (x-acto)
1 medium box Paintbrushes
1 small box/extra cardboard
1 cat scratcher bed (or another box)
White acrylic paint
Build the base of the house. That’s your biggest box.
Make the second story. That’s the cat scratcher bed, or another box
Add in the roof and the gables.
Instructables has this as #4, but I’m giving you bare bones
to help you decide if you want to try this project.
Cut out the Gable Roof, and glue it into place.
Finish off the gables so it looks more like a real house.
Cut out the windows and the doors. Then glue the gable into place.
Add in reinforcements. Look for places that look droopy, or hold a lot
of weight. Draw, cut out, and glue the reinforcements in place.
The Instructable designer used 8-10 of them, and this is her 3rd
house this fall. Reinforcements are a good thing!
Add the sides – just 2 simple triangles! You might want to add in a few
more reinforcers. Can you ever have too many? Really!
Draw, cut out, and glue the chimney together, but DON’T glue
it onto the roof. You’ll want to paint everything first!
Paint! I would sketch these out first because I’m terrible at painting.
The designer suggested painting around the windows. Add in dots and hearts,
snowflakes and swirly lines, whatever you’d like to decorate your gingerbread house.
Paint the shingles on the roof and bricks on the chimney. Then glue the chimney onto the roof.
Add in the snow – with a glue gun! If it’s white, you’re done!
If not, get out your paintbrush, and paint it white.
Optional – make a welcome mat. It should be as wide as your door.
Enjoy! Your cat will! I didn’t know that cat’s love cardboard! The author of this Instructable has three, in different sizes, and they all love their gingerbread house! Merry Christmas!
From the Cat Gingerbread House Designer
Project #3. A Simple Up-Cycled Paper Christmas Tree: This is the easiest project I picked. I took 5 screenshots for 5 steps. This one is easy-peasy! You could make it with my directions, but I included the link, just in case.
Want to create a similar project? Look for a simple design, maybe from a cookie cutter. Remember – only use half the shape to make it 3D.
Link: Simple Up-cycled Paper Christmas Tree🌲 : 5 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables
Newspaper fliers – You’ll need at least 40 pages to make your
tree strong enough. This one has 110 flier pages.
Scissors or craft knife (Note – the knife will give you nicer edges.)
Glue sticks are great. Go easy on the glue if yours is liquid.
Decide how big your tree will be. It should be as tall as your shortest flier, and as wide as your narrowest one. Trace your tree on the booklet. This one’s traced in white.
Notes – The straight edge of your tree must be on the fold. Allow at least 5mm between the tree and the star. Need a template? Click on the Instructable link.
Cut out your first tree. Use it as a pattern for the rest of them.
Glue two booklets together. Use the glue stick on the bottom tree.
Lay the new booklet on top. Wipe off any extra glue.
When all the booklets are glued together, open up the tree so you
can see the first and the last page. Glue them together.
When the glue’s dry, set up your tree by
spreading out the pages.
What is it?
If you’re mindful, what does that mean? You’re present, not just in the room. You know what’s going on around you, inside you. No multitasking allowed!
Being mindful means listening to what your head and your body say. You’re aware of your surroundings, the world around you. The most important part is recognizing your feelings. Don’t judge them. Just let them be.
Source: Mindfulness: How It Helps Your Health (webmd.com)
I found five exercises that will help you find your way to mindfulness. Here are my sources:
1. 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens (+Tips!) (positivepsychology.com) I selected four, and they all sited Karen Young. These activities take longer, but can be modified to fit your classroom practice.
2. Karen Young. (2017). Mindfulness for children: Fun, effective ways to strengthen mind, body, spirit. Retrieved from www.heysigmund.com
3. 5 Minute Classroom Mindfulness Activities for Kids (teachstarter.com) These are shortened versions of the selected activities.
Five Mindful Excercises
1. Mindful Posing – Try striking a pose. This one might help your kids feel strong, brave, or happy. Test drive a few rounds of these. I bet your class will love them. If they do, I bet they can come up with a few new ideas for poses of their own! Source #1,2
- This illustration looks like a Superman pose, but it’s actually Wonder Woman. Stand tall, feet apart, with your hands or fists on your hips.
- To make the real Superman, stand tall. Have your arms reach for the sky, like you’re ready to take flight.
2. Spidey Senses – Kids will need their inner Spiderman for this one. They’ll need their senses to tell them about the world around them. Have them pause and focus on what their senses tell them. What can they smell, see, hear, taste, or touch? Source #1,2,3
This is a great way to encourage observation, curiosity, and living in the present!
3. Mindful Jar – Another name is Glitter Bottle. The first thing to do is to make one. Here’s how . . .
Fill a clear jar or bottle with water. Add glitter glue (glue & dry glitter). Put on the lid. Source #1,2,3
Part 1 – Shake up the glitter. Which emotions swirl like it? (example – anger) Connect those emotions to how they affect thoughts and decisions.
Part 2 – Now watch the glitter settle. Which emotions feel like this (calming)? Connect these emotions to how they affect thoughts and decisions. Discuss how you can calm your mind (example – take deep breaths).
4. Mindful Walk or Safari – Take a walk, inside or out. Long or short. Keep your mind on the present. Use your five senses to find living/nonliving things in the environment. Source #1,2,3
5. Gratitude – Give students time to think of things they’re grateful for. You can share them out loud. Write them down on paper. You can keep them in a journal or on a bulletin board. If you need suggestions, click on the link for Source: 3
Thanksgiving Trivia Part 3 – Becoming a National Holiday
5. Which president of the United States made Thanksgiving a national holiday?
Abe Lincoln Andrew Jackson
Ben Franklin John Adams
6. Which author convinced him to do it? Bonus Points if you know her most famous book.
Louisa May Alcott Harriet Beecher Stowe Sarah Josepha Hale
And the answers are . . .
Here are the multiple choice answers, in historical order. Are you ready for the answer?
5. The man who helped build this cabin in Indiana when he was a boy, was the president who made Thanksgiving a national holiday. Did you guess Abraham Lincoln? Wow! What took so long!
2 Fun Facts – Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, was the first president who was not one of our founding fathers.
He lost to John Quincy Adams, the son of the 2nd president, on his 1st try. Jackson was an outsider to Washington. He was born in the Carolinas, but came to the White House from the great state of Tennessee.
Meet the authors! Which one looks like she fought a 17 year battle to make Thanksgiving a holiday?
6. Who do you think talked Abe Lincoln into making Thanksgiving a holiday? It was the woman who lived in this house.
Her name – Sarah Josepha Hale. I didn’t know her name either, even though I had a book about her in my 2nd grade collection. My daughter has it now.
Sarah was persistent! She talked to president after president for 17 years before Abe finally thought it was a good idea.
You may not know her name, but I bet you know her most famous story – Mary Had a Little Lamb. It’s still sold on Amazon! I think it’s wonderful that the author with the youngest audience is the one who persuaded Abe to make Thanksgiving a holiday. This year I’m thankful for Sarah Josepha Hale!
Do you see Louisa’s book? It’s a middle grade novel, and it’s still sold on Amazon. The cover was its 150th anniversary edition. That makes it a classic, and it’s still relevant – Amazon has recent videos for sale.
Harriet’s book is last. It’s written for adults, and it had a huge effect on its readers. It was written by a woman, who couldn’t even vote. When she met President Lincoln, he said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.” WOW! That’s powerful! What a great compliment from an American hero!
Thanksgiving Trivia Part 2 - The Meal
3. How many people attended the first Thanksgiving?
53 90 105 143
4. Which food was NOT on the menu?
Turkey Mashed Potatoes Lobster
And the answers are . . .
3. There were 143 people at the first Thanksgiving.
There were 105 pilgrims on the Mayflower, but only 53 of them made it through that first year – 4 women, 22 men, and 25 children/teenagers. It was a terrible year!
They wouldn’t have made it to that first harvest without the help of Chief Massasoit. They invited him and 90 Wampanoag Indians to their big feast.
4. Mashed potatoes weren’t on the menu. Potatoes came from South America. The Spanish conquistadors brought them back to Spain, but they weren’t popular enough in England to have made it back to the colonies.
Wild turkeys were definitely on the menu. So were ducks, geese, and swans.
Can you believe lobsters made it to the feast? The bay was full of them! The Pilgrims also caught mussels, bass, clams, and oysters.
Cranberries were also on the table, the whole berry. But without sugar, there was no sauce.
Their stuffing was a mixture of herbs, onions or nuts. There was no flour to make bread or pie crust.
They might have made pumpkin custard. Early settlers mixed pumpkin, milk, honey, and spices into an empty pumpkin. They would have roasted it in hot ashes. No ovens yet either!
Source: 1. History.com | Date Updated: November 25, 2019 - great resource for Thanksgiving food.
3. History of the First Thanksgiving (historyofmassachusetts.org) - Great place to find out who was there!
Thanksgiving Trivia Part 1 - The Landing
It’s November 23. Time to think Thanksgiving thoughts. Here are your first two trivia questions . . .
1. What’s the name of the spot in Massachusetts where we think the Pilgrims landed?
New Jersey Plymouth Rock Boston Nantucket Island
2. When did they land in 1620? Nov. 11 Nov. 26 Dec. 10 Dec. 18
And the answers are . . .
1. This is Plymouth Rock. It’s where we think the Pilgrims landed back in 1620. See! It’s on the rock!
But the Pilgrims never refered to Plymouth Rock in any of their writing. The first known written reference was in 1715. That was almost 100 years later. Did they still remember, a rock?
The first documented claim was in 1741 by Elder Thomas Faunce. How did he know? He wrote about it – 121 years later!
2. The Pilgrims didn’t land on November 11th. The Mayflower was sitting in Provincetown Harbor. No Plymouth Rock – in sight! That’s when the men signed the Mayflower Compact. This photo’s the Mayflower, but it’s only a copy of the original.
It wasn’t November 26th either. There’s nothing on the calendar until December 10th. That’s when a scouting group found a good harbor on the west side of Cape Cod Bay. In between the pilgrim men sent out search party after search party looking for a great landing spot.
Why? They needed a place for ships to land. They would still need supplies to come from England. Eventually they’d ship out their own goods/products to sell back to English markets.
They finally landed on December 18th, one week before Christmas of 1620. Why didn’t they land sooner? Bad weather! Can you imagine living aboard ship in December without a heater, or, trying to build new homes in the cold New England winter? YIKES!
Plymouth Harbor Source: By Linear77 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34890560
Plymouth Rock: By jjron - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19571461
Mayflower II: By GmaJoli - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51381537
Information Sources: 1. en.wikipedia.org
3. Mayflower Lands at Plymouth - HISTORY (This site has great photos and quick video clips)
I have been looking for an agent since I finished my first story in 2009. Back then I discovered my stories were well written, but not good enough to be published. There’s a difference, and I discovered I had a lot to learn.
I worked at my craft. When I retired in 2015, I was closer. A writer I admired thought a manuscript was close. It just needed a little more work so I revised and edited till I pushed it as far as I could. It was better, but not agent-ready.
I didn’t quit. I kept working on my stories, sending them out when I thought they were ready. I self-published two of them. This year I have a story that someone’s been interested in for a year, someone else for two years. Now I have the chance to audition for them. My assignment – to have four stories agent-ready by February.
How Do You Audition for an Agent?
If you were a musician, you would play or sing for them. If you were an actor on stage or on the silver screen, you would act out a scene for them. It might be from a movie, a play, or a TV show, depending on your skills, and the role you’re auditioning for.
You might do an interview, but not like either of these. You wouldn’t go in front of a microphone and camera. That’s a news interview, and you wouldn’t sit in front of someone at a desk. That’s a job interview.
In each of these auditions, you tryout, or interview with your work. I work in words, with stories. I don’t write them with pen and paper. I don’t even print them out any more. When I first started writing in 2007, I printed out those stories, and I mailed them in.
Now I write all of my stories on the computer, and I send them out that way too, over the internet using email.
I’ve already started getting ready for the February auditions. That means pushing each of the four manuscripts as far as I can, then sending them out for review.
The Next Step – My Three Critique Resources
One is like an old friend. I’ve used it since 2018. The second is an acquaintance I recognize, but I’ve only used it once or twice. The third is brand-new, and I’m ready to try it out!
The Writing Magic Membership Group is now my go-to group. It’s online, and I’ve been meeting here with Callie and company since 2018. They’re my writing community!
Callie puts out her call for manuscripts on Wednesday, and we meet the next day, on Thursday. In between we read each other’s work so we’re ready to discuss what’s working and what isn’t. We meet 2-3 times a month. It’s wonderful!
Rate Your Story is another writing group I belong to. I can send in 18 manuscripts a year to a group of published authors. They judge the stories they’re assigned. They send me a score and comments.
The score and the judge’s name aren’t important, but those comments are, especially if you want to get into traditional publishing, the path I’m on now.
I sent in one story. I got it back. My judge didn’t give me any line edits, the easy fixes. They gave me ideas to improve the story structure. (That’s in the next section.)
The Picture Book Mechanic is my new resource. Callie from Writing Magic recommended her when I asked about getting agent-ready. I emailed Lynne Marie, and I sent her my first manuscript. I should get something back in a week or two. The Picture Book Mechanic is busy!
Callie said to be ready for tough critiques. I like knowing what Lynne Marie likes, but it’s more important to know what I can fix. I believe in doing the hard work to make my manuscripts stronger.
Tomorrow – What’s next, when you get a critique back?
What Happens After You Get a Critique Back
1. Take time to think.
I got my duck manuscript back from Rate Your Story. I read over the critique. I transferred the comments into my manuscript. I didn’t dive into changes. I gave my brain time to think.
Reading/transferring helped me understand the suggestions. I couldn’t make those changes right away. I needed to wrap my head around them to see new possibilities.
There were two big things my judge wanted me to look at, the main character’s name and the three tries he made at his problem.
2. Work and make changes.
I researched names and duck behavior for a day or two. I put my notes at the end of the story.
Then I took a couple days to go in and out, making changes. I stopped and started. I moved ahead, and then went back to the beginning again.
I didn’t think I’d change the main character’s name, but I did. Somehow that small change made it easier to see new possibilities.
The duck manuscript’s revised . . .
3. Edit, edit, edit.
The duck story is ready for editing, but not from a paper. I’ll listen to it over and over again using the narrator on my computer. I can see and hear the words at the same time. Fixing errors is easy!
I also read my manuscript out loud. It’s another way to hear those errors. I’ll repeat the editing step over and over again until my story is as good as I can make it. Then . . .
Then I’ll start the process all over again. I’ll send that manuscript back to one of my critique resources. While I wait, I’ll work on another story or two.
Here’s to my latest adventure – getting four stories agent ready by February! May the force be with me!
This is the homepage for BilioKid Publishing. Here’s the link: https://bibliokidpublishing.com
I’m not on the homepage but you can find me. Click on the button – OUR AUTHORS & ILLUSTRATORS or the link below. I’m at the bottom. That’s because I’m the new kid on the Biblio Block!
Meet Brooke Van Sickle, the author of four books. Teacher to aspiring writers, like me, who dream about getting our stories out to kids. If you want to join me on this trip, click on . . .
This year Brooke founded BiblioKid Publishing. The publisher’s name – Brooke Gansemer. That’s her new married name.
Brooke is incredibly talented . . . she’s also the Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. It shows. Just look at the BiblioKid website! I checked into it when I started writing this post. BOW – WOW – WOW!
Click on this button – SHOP OUR BOOKS, or this link:
This is what you’ll see. Brooke’s newest book, THIS IS MY CASTLE. You can preorder it from the BiblioKid website.
You can also find my Lake book, with a new title – ZOE’S SCAVENGER HUNT FUN. Click on READ MORE, and you can! I was surprised to find something here. I didn’t write it, but I love the ideas Brooke used. I see them added into my words, and it’s thrilling!
Here’s what she posted – I love it! Thanks, Brooke!
How I Became a BiblioKid Author
I never expected to take this voyage. It started with last summer’s book about Zoe, Maddie, and Nick, and how they found lake fun. It also had room for the reader to record their own lake experiences. I had nine great reviews, but the book never took off.
Covid made everything harder, but Lake Fun never found a market at the marinas. That’s where I thought it’d sell.
I might have a better market. Someone bought a book for his sister. She has a house that she rents at Norris. He thought it would make a great gift for her renters. Someone else told me they had the same idea.
I can only publish in paperback with KDP. Ingram won’t print anything in the journal style I used. I thought a hardback book might be a better fit for the rental market, so I decided to ask Brooke.
Brooke interviewed me in 2019 when NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM came out. This year I went on her podcast for the Indie Publishing Summit. I talked about LAKE FUN. Then I attended the rest of the conference. I learned a lot!
Like Brooke publishes with a local printer in Iowa. My first question – could she print LAKE FUN in hardback? Her answer – yes.
The next – was she interested in working with me and my manuscript? Her answer – YES! We met on Zoom to talk about how the process would work, and the timeline. Brooke had her presentation ready. I watched and listened. My questions came later.
I’ve never been in this situation before, and I wanted to understand my rights and responsibilities. Brooke wanted to do the new book as a second edition. I would have the copyright, and Brooke the ISBN numbers.
I checked every detail I could think of. It took me a week or two to decide, but I did. Brooke became my publisher and my editor. I knew changes were coming, but I was surprised when Brooke divided it into chapters.
I’m lucky . . . I have control over the changes. The first day I couldn’t imagine LAKE FUN with chapters, but the next morning I saw the potential. Now two months later, I’m happy I did.
The biggest change – Brooke asked for more detail, with the setting, with how the characters felt, and so on. I couldn’t do that on the 1st edition. Every time I added a sentence, I cut another one.
If I didn’t, the illustrations slid off the page. I think this 2nd edition is richer because of those new details. Now my part is done, and I can’t wait to see what BiblioKid and its art director will do with my illustrations.
Final Edits, Illustrations and Marketing
My work for Zoe and her scavenger hunt is almost done. I edited the new chapters, and Brooke loved them! Yay!
I just finished the questions for the scavenger hunt. I’m waiting to hear back from Brooke. She has a good eye for things that could be edited.
Tomorrow I’ll send her my new acknowledgements and dedication for the 2nd edition. I want to listen to them on narrator a few more times before emailing them to Brooke. I’m a perfectionist!
I just started looking for comp titles for Zoe and her scavenger hunt. When I wrote Lake Fun back in 2019, I didn’t find any that were similar to what I wanted to write. I thought that was a good thing – I had a novel idea. I was surprised when Brooke wanted them for this project.
Comp titles are similar books. They help publishers figure out if your manuscript fits them. They need to make money if they invest in you, and Brooke needs comp titles to market Zoe’s scavenger hunt fun, and I think I found some titles for her to use.
I used a comp title when I reviewed Mr. Lemoncello for you. It reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A comp title helps you link an old favorite to something new. It makes it easier to try a new book.
Comp titles are also used in marketing. That’s the part of publishing I know the least about, and I’m hoping Brooke will be my teacher. It’s one of the big reasons I signed with BiblioKids.
Can you guess what else Brooke started working on? If you guessed illustrations, you’re right. She has an art director who’ll look at what Rick and I did on the 1st edition. Then he’ll improve on it.
I’m thrilled! I did my best, but I’m not an art major. BTW – I draw stick people so my art skills are pretty limited, but, I have a good eye. I can tell what goes together. If you’re good at picking out your clothes, you have a good eye too!
I learned a lot being the art director for NEIL ARMSTRONG and LAKE FUN, but I’ll never be a professional. I’m glad to have one around to make ZOE’S SCAVENGER HUNT FUN a great 2nd edition.
Plus, I get to approve their work. Usually authors don’t have a say on the illustrations, AT ALL. I’m excited to peek into their work!
P.S. I’ll keep you in the loop with Zoe and her chapter book. That’s the part of marketing I do understand.
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!