Summer’s coming! No teachers! No homework! No school rules! It’s a kid’s favorite time of year! For parents, it depends . . . on if your kids can find things to do that don’t get them, or you, in trouble. TV is an option, but there are others. Better ones. If you need some, here are 15. If you’re feeling anxious now, here’s the link for some options, AND their illustrations.
Link: 15 Things You Could Achieve Tonight Instead Of Watching TV (cablecompare.com)
Marci from Cablecompare.com sent me this idea a month ago. My plan – to share their link with you. Then to write about their list with my own unique retired teacher spin. My advice, ask your kids what fits them. Then let the summer flow. Do what fits your family. Change it up when needed. Then you’ll all have a better summer. Blink . . . and it will be over! Summer always goes way too fast.
Reading, Writing, and Artwork (#1, 2, 5): You could do these together or separately. With my examples, don’t worry about perfection. With my 2nd graders, if they marked a word, I’d correct the spelling. If they didn’t, I’d let it go. The important thing is that your kids enjoy what they’re doing. You don’t have to do one every day, unless your child wants to. One a week is enough! Feel free to switch them up. Variety is the spice of life!
Example 1 – Join a summer reading program – record your books in a journal/calendar/sheet of paper. It doesn’t matter. The journal part can be as simple as writing the title and I love this book/hate it/because. Add an illustration, and you’re done!
Example 2 – You could sign up for something like Storyworth, the one you’ve seen on TV. Let your kids interview you, write it up, revise, and illustrate it with their own artwork or by selecting photos. If they’re not comfortable writing, you could do it, and let them help you revise it. They can listen to it on the computer on an ap like narrator, or they could listen to you read it out loud. They’ll hear the things they want to change, which is what you want them to do. Remember, perfection is over-rated, especially when it comes to kids.
Example 3 – Write letters to a relative or a friend. If they answer, it’s a bonus. Everyone loves getting mail!
Take a Walk and Get Fit (#3 & 4): If you’re walking, that’s getting fit for me. It doesn’t have to be walking around the block. Example 1 – It could be walking along a beach, through a museum or the mall, even a toy store.
Getting fit doesn’t have to be calisthenics every day. Example 2 – Kids need to play whether it’s a team sport like soccer or baseball. A backyard game counts. So does an afternoon at the pool or swimming classes. I’d even count a playdate at a friend’s house.
Summer is downtime for kids. School pushes them to meet standards, to pass achievement tests. They need a break, and a break that’s fun. Summer’s coming, and the biggest thing I wish for you . . . is FUN!
Here are 5 more things you can do instead of watching TV. Thank you, Cablecompare.com!
Link: 15 Things You Could Achieve Tonight Instead Of Watching TV (cablecompare.com)
Make Dinner, Learn Something New, Family Time, & Do Chores (#6, 7, 8, 10): Would you believe you can combine these too? Here are a few ideas. Example 1 – Think cooking! Plan a meal and cook it as a family. There are lots of great skills that are new for kids, and chores to be done from setting the table to cleaning up.
Example 2 – Learn something new. Look around your community. Places like libraries and YMCA’s offer classes, especially during the summer. When you’re on vacation, keep your eyes open for new things to try, like boogie boarding or hunting for seashells. When you’re finished, don’t forget to clean up and put things away.
Example 3 – Clean as a family. You could pick one room, or set a time limit like an hour. Let little ones help. It makes them feel big, and they learn real life skills. When you’re done, have fun together. You earned it!
Call a Friend (#9): Example 1 – How many kids miss their friends over summer vacation? This is a great way to promote social skills and to arrange playdates.
Example 2 – Don’t forget your family! They love hearing from you. You can take turns, or put it on speakerphone and let the conversation flow.
Here are 5 more things you can do instead of watching TV. Thank you, Cablecompare.com!
Link: 15 Things You Could Achieve Tonight Instead Of Watching TV (cablecompare.com)
Make Plans & Work on Them (#14 & 15): In other words, set a goal and work towards it. You could set one for yourself to accomplish by the end of the summer. You could set one as a family. Then, figure out the steps to get you there. Example 1 – If your goal is to read 10 chapter books this summer, try reading a chapter book a week. By the end of the summer you’ll have read 10 – 12 books.
Example 2 – If your family goal is to take a vacation together, then you’ll need to figure out how much your family can spend, look at places to go, pick one, make reservations, pack your bags, and go. Every voyage starts with that first step!
Some Ideas – Redecorate, Expand your Horizons, or Join a Club (#11, 12, 13): Example 1 – Set a goal to redecorate a room, like maybe the family room. The easiest and cheapest way is to change the paint color. Another small step is to watch yard sales and thrift shops for treasures. If you have a problem, like the toys are everywhere, look for storage. When you finish redecorating, you’ll have a brand-new room that everyone can enjoy.
Example 2 – It reminds me of #7, learn something new. Whatever you call it, look around for ideas. Maybe you want to try photography or crafts. The local library or art store might have something that will fit you or your family.If you go to the Y, look for sports or activities to join. Maybe even a club, like rock climbing. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Give them a try. Even if you don’t like them, you’ll have tried something new.
Finally, remember summertime is downtime. Don’t push so hard to set goals and achieve them, that you forget to have fun. Kids grow up. Enjoy your time together. It ends all too soon. Here’s to making the summer of 2022 the best one ever!
Have you traveled on an airplane since Covid? I hadn’t, not until last week. It was an airline I’ve never flown, but it’s the worst trip I’ve ever taken. Ever! It was that bad!
I was flying to Texas to see family. I had a delay, but I made it to my next flight on time. Thank goodness! But going home to Ohio . . . it was awful! Here’s the story of that flight, and what I learned.
Part 1 – Delays, Cancellation, and Falling Apart: It all started with one delay. It rolled through the whole afternoon. Four hours later we finally boarded the plane. We made it out to the runway, sat there for like 15 minutes, then returned to the airport. It was so depressing. An hour later my flight was cancelled.
I thought I was handling it. I read my kindle all afternoon, snacked on popcorn, and made jokes about sleeping in the airport. It all fell apart when I was waiting in line for fast food that wasn’t. When I finally got mine, there was no place to sit and eat.
I was at the end of my rope, close to tears. That’s when my husband texted me some great advice. He said I should get a room for the night. I listened. I’m glad I did. The 6 or 7 hours of sleep helped me get through the next day. Would you believe it was even worse?
Things I Did Right:
1. Bringing my kindle so I’d have something to do.
2. Taking a walk every hour or so. Exercise is always a good thing.
3. I listened when my husband had a better option.
Things I Did Wrong:
1. I ate junk food. It was popcorn, but it didn’t fuel my body. It let me fall apart. Next time – I’ll eat a better lunch and dinner, so my body’s fueled for speed bumps. They’re all over the airport.
2. I planned to sleep there. I’m a diabetic with insulin shots and pills to take. Stress and lack of sleep will increase my blood sugar level. That’s a terrible thing for me. Next time – I’ll look for a hotel as soon as my flight is cancelled. Self-care is important when navigating an airport.
Part 2 – More Delays, A Missed Flight, and A Lost Phone: The next day, well, it got even worse. It was a downhill slide that didn’t stop until I got back to Detroit at 10:00PM.
It started with an early wake-up call. My alarm got me up at 5:30 so I could be at the airport by 6:00AM. I thought my flight was at 8. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time. If you know me, you know that I’m not an early bird. My worst nightmare – waking up at 8 and missing my flight.
By the time I arrived at the airport and grabbed a light breakfast, OK, Chex Mix, my flight time moved back to 10:10AM. I wished they’d told me earlier. I would have slept another 2 hours. But I thought let it go.
Within 10-15 minutes, someone stopped to chat. She remembered me from the night before and asked why I was there so early. Would you believe my flight was delayed the night before, after I left the airport? My airline, whom I won’t identify, and whom I will never fly again EVER, didn’t message me. URGH!
So I settled back into my kindle and waited. At 9:30 . . . nothing. At 10 . . . the flight was delayed, again. I kept reading. I tried to remain calm and focused. Thank goodness I got at least 6 hours of sleep! I also picked up some popcorn to get me through. It helped, a little.
At 11:10 . . . nothing. No change, and my plane had been sitting outside since it cancelled the night before. I watched and waited. About 11:30 the airline announced we’d be leaving soon. I wondered when soon would come . . . this afternoon . . . this evening . . . maybe tomorrow?!
There was another flight arriving from Dallas, departing again in the gate next door. The airline announced they’d be leaving as soon as their plane arrived, and, prepped for departure again. They also announced anyone who had early connecting flights leaving before 12 should speak to the desk. Mine left at 1:15. I knew it’d be close, but I thought I’d be safe. NOT!
We finally left at 12:30 after sitting on the runway for 30 minutes. There were 4 planes ahead of us. The flight to Dallas took 1 hour and 30 minutes. TROUBLE AGAIN! My flight left without me!
By the time we finally took off, I was hangry. I’d gone through worry over my next flight, plus hunger. Chex Mix and popcorn won’t keep you going when you’re stressed out.
Then the airlines did it. They served first class. I was the row behind, and I got nothing. They cancelled my flight and made me pay for a hotel room, but they couldn’t give me a coke and pretzels. URGH! When they finally did, I was the last one served. Surprisingly the first-class flight attendant could take away my trash – even though she couldn’t serve me. URGH again!
I did make friends with a family from 1st class. I’m not a frequent flier so I asked them what to do. They said go to the nearest gate with an airline employee. Any of them could reschedule me.
The first employee sent me to gate 28. No one was there. Figures! Then I ran into my favorite flight attendant from 1st class. At least she pointed out a gate, and it had someone there. SAVED!
I went over, got my flight changed, and thought I was on the road to recovery. I found my gate, then stopped to find a place to eat. I lucked out! I had the best waitress, best food . . . but that’s when disaster struck. AGAIN!
I settled in with my drink, food on the way. I had time to text my husband my new flight information. The only problem . . . NO PHONE. I made myself sit still. With my heart pounding and panic gushing through me, I could barely do it once, let alone twice.
After the 2nd search, my waitress came back. She asked if I was OK. I said no. That my phone was gone. It was all I could do not to cry. I didn’t have my food yet. She offered to let me go look. I thought for 2 seconds, then decided I needed to sit, to eat. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I needed food, badly, and I needed to gather my composure.
Part 3 –The Search and My Return Home: After lunch, I began the search for my phone. First up – finding the lost and found. My waitress couldn’t help, but I remembered seeing an airline information room.
I stopped by a gate along the way and asked the attendant to try my phone. It rang, but no one answered. His guess, my phone got turned into a supervisor who locked it away.
My next stop, the airline information room . . . it was absolutely useless. They couldn’t help with the lost phone or with calling my husband. But at least they gave me the terminal and gate number for the lost and found.
I made it to the right terminal, the right gate, but the wrong room for the lost and found. Would you believe it was next door? They hadn’t gotten in any phones all day either. I asked to make a call but wound up going next door again. Do you ever feel like you’re chasing your tail?
I finally made my call. My hero made sure I gave my husband the flight number, passed me a couple tissues, and looked up the arrival time for Detroit. She brushed off my thanks, but I repeated it. Kindness means the most when your life is just plain horrible.
I fought to keep back tears during the call. Afterwards I took a minute to gather myself together, to figure out what to do next. I had 2 hours before my flight. I decided to take a few minutes to backtrack to see if I could find my phone. Nothing, but walking off anxiety helped. So did a kind supervisor who checked her gates. Kindness makes everything easier.
It was time to head to the gate. I was over an hour early. My flight wasn’t on the screen, so I settled in to wait, and to read. Finally about 30 minutes before my flight, the screen lit up . . . Denver. Not Detroit! I panicked!
I ran to the nearest attendant for help. He said I had time, then sent me on to the right gate. I had another 30 minutes to wait. Another delay, and the gates changed on me. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get home.
When I finally got on that last plane, I was thrilled! I was in the back row of an airbus, but I didn’t care. I was finally going home after 2 days of delays and cancellations. My husband was in Detroit, waiting on me. I got in at 10PM, then home to Wapak at midnight. My trip was finally over! The next one – I’m driving!
Things I Did Right:
1. Eating a good meal, especially after I’d lost my phone.
2. Retracing my steps to find it. Exercise is good for your body and your brain.
3. Repaying kindness with a sincere thank-you.
Things I Did Wrong:
1. I carried my phone in my hand when I got into Dallas. Next time – I’ll keep it in my bag. Losing things is too easy when you’re stressed out.
2. When I left the gate with my new flight, I didn’t double check to see if I’d left anything out. Next time – I’ll make sure I have everything in my bag, before I take a step in any direction.
3. Losing my phone upset me. Next time – I’ll start looking for that silver lining sooner. I got a new phone, and it’s better than my old one.
1. I will stay away from small airports. They’re having trouble staffing their flights. Next time – If I’m flying into Hobby, I’ll take Southwest. It’s their Houston hub.
Started 4/24 Finished 4/28
I spent the 24th and 25th traveling, so I finished Willa and the Dark Hollow . . . Then I started all over again. There are things you see when you read something twice. Now I’m on chapter 46 out of 62, and I’m heading for that big finish, again.
In Book 1, I found out who Willa was as a character, how she dealt with the evil within her own world, then discovered a new family outside it.
I liked Book 1, but I loved Book 2! It’s how Willa saves the magical world of the Smokies. It’s a great fantasy with bits of history blended in. Willa discovers how the Smokies are a world of plants, animals, and people. Loggers and mountain folk, Cherokee and Faeran . . . It doesn’t matter who you are. No one can exist in isolation after 1901. The Smokies changed, and cooperation is key to everyone’s, to everything’s survival.
The world of the Faeran, whose wood witches communicate with nature, make this a truly original story, It isn’t a bit preachy. I was cheering for Willa from beginning to end. She’s the perfect hero. She even has a sacrificial ending. Personally, I wanted her to be happy, but this one fit the plot. Book 2 will stand alone, but it’s richer if you read Book 1 first.
PS – Book 2, with the loggers’ story, is part of how the Great Smoky Mountains’ National Park was created in 1934.
NOTE: Willa of Dark Hollow is a stand-alone story that does not require reading any of the author's previous books. Plunge into an exciting story of history, mystery, & magic from the best-selling author of the Serafina series. Loved by adults and young readers alike, Kirkus Reviews has awarded Dark Hollow the prestigious Kirkus Star, calling it "a captivating, stirring tale of family and friendship.
"The Great Smoky Mountains. 1901. Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, Willa is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines? When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against an all-consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world. For readers from 8 to 108.
Started 4/20 Finished 4/23
Next up, Killing Jesus. I didn’t plan to, but somehow it called out to me. It’s well done, but not my favorite book from the Killing series. Maybe it’s because I know so much about Jesus from years of church. Maybe it’s because the authors didn’t go into faith, which is the most important thing about Jesus, for me. But then, writing it from a purely factual, historical point of view makes sense for a broader audience, for people who don’t know or follow Jesus.
The story starts not with the birth, but with the killing of babies in and around Bethlehem. They were age two and under. It ends with the women finding the tomb open and Jesus gone. What did surprise me is how the disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ words or actions, how he was telling them that his death was coming. That fascinated me.
The afterword goes into his story after death – how it was told by the disciples, and by other historians. It includes the fate of the disciples. They dreamed of glory, but died deaths like Jesus. The Maries, Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother, they disappear after the crucifixion.
I was surprised to learn what happened to the villains . . . Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, and Herod Antipas. I never wondered about them, ever. Killing Jesus finishes with the influence Jesus had on the Roman world, and the effect he continues to have today.
Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.
Now the iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus's life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever.
Started 4/14 Finished 4/19
I tried and failed to write last night so I’ll try, try again. I’ve read Killing Lincoln before, probably a couple times. It called me back again last week. No surprise . . . I’ve admired Abe since I was a kid, and each time I read this biography I learn a little more. The writing and research are that good.
It’s hard to write nonfiction, even harder to make it read like a story, and this biography has details I’ve never read anywhere else. Mary Todd Lincoln’s depression is in lots of places, but this is the only one that said the last time she saw Abe, she gave him permission to die. It was only a sentence or two, but it caught my attention, this time. I did the same thing for my dad the last time I saw him back in 2015. It’s something I’ll never forget.
The authors helped me get to know each character in Lincoln’s story . . . from Abe and Mary . . . to Generals Grant and Lee . . . to John Wilkes Booth himself. It was like having a narrator feed me facts as I read, but only on a need-to-know basis. Lines like Abe, ‘the man who had five days to live,’ pushed the ticking clock, and the drama. They’re sprinkled throughout the manuscript. If you like history and you’re fascinated with Abraham Lincoln, you should pick up this book.
A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly
The iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.
In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.
Started 4/6 Finished on 4/13
What did I read? A little bit of this, and a little bit of that! I had a couple writing friends with picture books coming out. I had another one with a middle grade novel. I took my time reading . . . until I discovered its debut date . . . the next day. I was on chapter 7, and I finished the whole book in the next day and a half. When I make a promise, I keep it!
I didn’t share them because they’re part of my business. Reading picture, chapter, and middle grade novels are what I do professionally. I reviewed each book, and those reviews are on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. Eventually I’ll pull them up and put them into My Reads reviews.
BTW – the only books I review are ones that I can give 4’s or 5’s. If a score is less than that, I’d rather let the author know why I didn’t review it. I’ve read over 500 books so I have lots to choose from.
The books in this post are things I’m reading for fun. Sometimes I pick romance novels. Sometimes I pick fantasy or biography. I have over 300 books on my kindle so, I reread them. Then I buy a book or too. It’s like a treasure hunt finding new ones.
PS – I also finished Willa of the Woods. Would you believe it’s way more fun to read when it’s not business? Now . . . to buy the sequel!
PPS – I didn’t finish Harry Potter. I wasn’t in the mood. Maybe when I’m at the lake, I’ll take a couple weeks and read the whole series, just for fun. That’s my favorite kind of reading!
Part 1 – Time to be Born: Meet Vivian Kirkfeld, former Kindergarten teacher and writer extraordinaire! She’s published six fabulous books, with more in the pipeline.
She’s also the creator of the #50 Precious Words Contest. She started it back in 2016. Since then, it’s grown and grown.
This year 724 people entered. Over 200 people, including me, earned an honorable mention. It was the thrill of my writing life, so far! 57 people won great prizes that included the chance to work with well-known authors, editors, and agents. No wonder 724 people entered!
Here are the two entries from 2020 and 2021. Writing something with just 50 words, it was a challenge!
A Story, 2020 Time to Be Born
Baby, can’t sleep? Baby, do you remember –
Here’s a story about you – Laying safe and warm
Tucked safe and warm in your mama’s belly. Beneath my heart?
You twisted and turned. You twisted,
But it still wasn’t time. Turned side to side.
Hours passed. You stretched,
Then a day. Was it two? Tried to kick.
You twisted, tried turning. No room for you.
You needed more room. Time to be born.
That’s when you knew it was time to be born. You rushed out,
Hello, Baby! Welcome home. Found a family
55 words – OOPS! Too many! And a home.
Where we’ll always
keep you safe and warm.
This time – only 47 words – with 2 extra lines!
If you’d like to read the posts I wrote about #50 Precious Words in 2020 and 2021, here are the links:
Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach - #50 Precious Words – the 2020
Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach - Grandma Inspiration – Stories to tell - Stories to Write – 2021
Part 2 – Becoming You: I decided to skip #50 Precious Words this year. I was writing other things. I ignored Vivian’s announcement in February. I helped friends with their March submission, and I wasn’t going to enter . . .
Until March 6th. The deadline was 11:59PM, that night. I don’t know why, but at 3PM I decided to write something. I had ten minutes till lunch, and an idea kept nudging me. I thought why not give it a try.
My idea – to write about how babies develop inside their mothers. I found a source with photos and descriptions that showed the baby grow month by month. I tried to write it last summer, but I got stuck. Too many words!
I wrote that story on March 6th. The framework was easy. I wrote my 50 words in ten minutes. It took another ten minutes to revise it. I reached out to a few critique partners, got their feedback, and did my final changes in ten minutes, again. I’ve never written or revised anything that fast – 30 minutes total! I posted Becoming You at 10:30 PM. It felt like magic!
Two eyes appear.
Ten fingers to count.
You winked at me!
You’re a girl!
You sucked your thumb.
A somersault, really?!
And here you are!
PS – Becoming You has gone through 4 revisions already, and it will go through a few more before my writing friends think it’s submission ready.
If you’re like me, you could try this . . . I window-shop with my emails. Looking makes me happy. It’s like a treasure hunt, and the treasure is finding a dog who makes me click on his picture.
My emails start with a header from Adopt a Pet. Underneath are photos like Mini’s. All you have to do is click, and you can read more about her. Sometimes there are more pictures. Either way it’s fun to look, and it’s free!
I used to look at poodles and doodles, but now I search for pugs and bulldogs. I clicked on Mini, but she’s already been adopted, and that makes me happy. I love looking!
Here’s one of the dogs who tempted me. The tilt of her head, the look in her eyes. She seemed curious, like she wanted to know what was going on.
She also reminds me of my dog Leia. She used to lay with her back legs in the same position. It looks like it’d hurt, but it was her favorite way to relax. I always read the information below the picture. It’s fun to look, to imagine her as my dog.
This pair of dogs caught my eye. They’re bonded, like best friends, so they should be adopted together. My favorite part – how they’re alert, but also ready to chill out. Me too!
Puppies are just plain cute! I love this one’s face and imagining what he’s up to. Plus looking beats adopting. No puddles!
If you’re like me and you can’t have a dog, looking through emails is the next best thing. You get some of the fun, but none of the work. And who knows where it might lead?!
Part 1 – Me and Storyworth: Have you seen Storyworth in ads on TV? I have. I almost got it for my mother for Christmas. There were things I wanted to know about her, but my husband and I thought it would be too hard, even if I did the writing. Now I’m glad I didn’t. Mom died in early December, but I wish I’d been able to do this five years ago.
It turns out someone in our family got Storyworth for Christmas. Me! It was from my daughter, and now every Monday, she gives me new homework . . . every Monday! That’s when I get a new email prompt from Storyworth. I’m 4 behind, and I’ve never been late on homework . . . ever!
The first photo was from Storyworth’s Facebook page. This one is from the top of their webpage. I’d never seen it, until I started putting together this post. It’s a treasure! It’s a letter from the founder of Storyworth that tells their story. I’ll let it speak for itself. It’s worth reading!
You can read the letter, but you can also listen to the video. I didn’t, but you can go to their website and listen. I believe that the young man is one of the founders, Nick Baum, and the older man is his father. I love their story, even though I didn’t listen (I had this blog to write).
Meet the founders, Nick and Krista Baum. I love mom and pop businesses! I read that Nick’s from Stockholm and grew up in France. I bet he has some stories to pass onto his own family. I hope they find time to write them down. Their kids will love them!
Meet Sarah Christian, the customer care lead. Her team is easy to work with! I’m known for my questions, and someone from Storyworth answered within 24 hours.
Both questions were about formatting pictures. BTW – I learned the best strategy is to put all your photos at the bottom of your answer. If you have 2, 3, or 4 pictures, then take a screenshot. Put it at the bottom.
Part 2 – My Storyworth Account: This is my homepage for my year-long adventure on Storyworth. Normally I don’t see it. The question I’m answering has a link. I click on it, paste in my answer and a photo or two. Then I click save. But if I’m editing, or want to know where I’m at, this is where I go to check-in.
Here are the first five stories I wrote for my daughter. I answered them back in January. That’s when I was able to keep up with my Storyworth homework.
Post 9 is about my childhood pets. When I submitted it, Storyworth sent my daughter an email. She’s my editor. She started this project so I want her to be happy with the results, but I also want to make sure my writing is clear to her. And to anyone else who reads it.
She knows some things from my childhood but not everything. I wanted to make sure I wrote enough . . . not too much, or too little. When I wrote about my childhood pets, she wanted to include our dog Leia. I almost added it into post 9, but then I decided question 11 was a better fit.
#11 asked, ‘Who inspires you?’ I answered, ‘The characters in my work in progress (WIP).’ Then I wrote about Leia and her picture book story. It took 11 years to get it agent-ready. That’s super hard!
Then I added in Leia’s history with our family, like how she came to be Leia Millenia Beach. OOPS! I forgot about the name part for Storyworth, but I can’t tell everything! Even here. I don’t want this book to be Harry Potter long. Then my kids wouldn’t read it either!
Part 3 – How I Write and Edit My Posts: Here are the basic steps I take to answer a Storyworth question.
1. I jot down a list of things I want to write about. It’s quick, fast, and dirty. For Leia, I wrote picture book, choosing her, coming home, and best things.
2. Then I start writing, first sentences, then paragraphs, about each idea on the list. I don’t worry. I just put my answers into the computer.
3. Next, I edit. I listen to each paragraph on my computer. (I use narrator.). I don’t move on to a new paragraph until it feels right. I add and delete words. I move sentences around until I’m ready. It’s better, but not perfect.
4. Then I do another round of revision. It’s never just right on the first round, or the second one either. Every time I make a change, it uncovers something else. When I listen to my writing, I hear my mistakes and change them. I’m done when those mistakes are gone, when I like how the words sound altogether.
5. Next I find photos to fit the post. Usually I pick one or two, and I take a screen shot of them together.
6. Now I’m ready to go into Storyworth. I find the right question, paste in my words, add in the photos, and click submit.
7. Storyworth emails my daughter, and she checks my work. If she finds an error, I do another round of edits until it’s just right.
Here’s a finished question. It looks like a chapter book to me, but my daughter likes them this length. I need to go back and edit my early pictures. I couldn’t get them side by side the way I wanted. Now I know how – screenshot them together.
If you want to remember your family’s history, I’d take a look at Storyworth. Your posts can be as short or as long as you’d like, and you’ll have your family history, plus photos, in one book.
Started 3/30 Finished 2nd Read 4/5
I started this book on a Wednesday, and I finished it Thursday thanks to a long car ride. Love Practically came out in March so this was my first chance to read it. I love the way Nichole Van writes, the way she develops a story.
This time she introduced the two main characters in the Prologue. Then we meet them 20 years later in chapter 1. They’re dealing with all the things that have happened since that first chance meeting. I finished it in the car and started rereading. I love reading a book again. You notice things that you didn’t catch the first time.
Nicole wrote an author’s note at the end of her story. They fascinate me because they tell how an author developed a story from idea to finished book. You’re getting the inside scoop, straight from the writer’s keyboard!
PS – I’m looking forward to September. That’s when the 2nd book comes out.
As a young woman, Leah Penn-Leith fell hopelessly in love with Captain Fox Carnegie—the only irrational mark on her decidedly sensible life. Fox, unfortunately, did not return her regard.
Their story should have ended there. After all, Fox left for India. And Leah returned home to Scotland to rear her much younger brothers.
But twenty years later, Fox appears on Leah’s doorstep—older, scarred, and world-weary—proposing a marriage of convenience between them. He needs a mother for his young ward, and Leah, with her capable good sense, comes highly recommended. What woman could say No to such a proposal? Not Leah. Fox has always wreaked havoc on her ability to think rationally.
After their marriage, Leah confronts the chaotic reality of Fox’s life. His castle, ten miles up a rugged Highland glen, is shambolic. His ward, Madeline, is a precocious handful. Fox’s time in India is shrouded in rumor and mystery. Worst of all, Fox himself is distant and broken, his personality as altered as his scarred body.
Throughout it all, Leah is left with two questions: What happens to a woman after her most-cherished fantasy comes true? And can a marriage, begun in practicality, transform into something deeper? Something like . . . love.
Started 3/23 Finished 3/30
I read Shadow of Night back in July of 2012. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. How could I not love it when I got to time travel back to meet Elizabeth I? When I finished, I couldn’t wait to read the final installment.
Then 2 years passed. The Book of Life finally came out in August of 2014, and it was worth the wait! It wrapped up all the loose ends, and it finally answered everything I wanted to know about Ashmole 782. It gave me the satisfying ending that I was waiting for, plus a few surprises along the way. That’s why I’ve reread this series 3 or 4 times since 2014.
The #1 New York Times bestselling series finale--sequel to A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, that sets up Time's Convert. Look for the hit TV series “A Discovery of Witches” airing Sundays on AMC and BBC America, and streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder.
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.
Started 3/10 Finished3/23
I just finished A Discovery of Witches. To my surprise I found a quote that helped me imagine the little girl in my bat story. She needs to show signs of becoming a baby witch, and now I can finally picture how that might happen.
Now onto Book 2, Shadow of Night. It’s my favorite, because I get to travel back in time to meet my favorite historical figure . . . Elizabeth I. The year is 1590, and Elizabeth has 13 years left to live. To meet her on the page, watch her interact with Matthew and Diana, it’s an incredible journey that you can only take in a book.
The #1 New York Times-bestselling sequel to A Discovery of Witches, book two of the All Souls Series. Look for the hit TV series “A Discovery of Witches,” streaming on AMC Plus, Sundance Now and Shudder. Season 2 premieres January 9, 2021!
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes reluctant witch Diana Bishop and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782--the lost and enchanted manuscript whose mystery first pulled Diana and Matthew into one another's orbit--deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew's past tightens around them. Together they find they must embark on a very different - and vastly more dangerous - journey.
"A captivating and romantic ripping yarn,"** Shadow of Night confirms Deborah Harkness as a master storyteller, able to cast an "addictive tale of magic, mayhem and two lovers."**
3/26/22 – Te Ata: I watched this movie about a month ago. Then a second time a week later, and now it’s on my list to watch again. It wasn’t just a good movie. It let me peek into Te Ata’s world and understand her point of view.
Two scenes stayed with me. The first – a young Te Ata sees an argument between an Indian and a white settler. I knew something bad was coming, but when she returns, the Indian was dead. The settler gone. I can’t imagine seeing that as an adult, let alone as a teen.
The second – Te Ata is at the theatre watching a cartoon with a funny Indian chief. At least the audience thinks so, but Te Ata has tears in her eyes, and she runs out of the theater. I realized that two worlds and two points of view collided in that moment, and I had tears in my eyes too.
I’m grateful for those insights, but I think the theme of the movie is more important. It’s about being true to yourself and finding the people who support you in your journey, whatever their race happens to be. Te Ata and her relationships gave me hope that people from different worlds could care about each other, could work together.
Te Ata (TAY' AH-TAH) is based on the inspiring true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, a woman who traversed cultural barriers to become one of the greatest Native American performers of all time. Born in Indian Territory, and raise on the songs and stories of her Chickasaw culture, Te Ata's journey to find her true calling led her through isolation, discovery, love and a stage career that culminated in performances for a United States president, European royalty and audiences across the world. Yet of all the stories she shared, none are more inspiring than her own.
The Real Te Ata: The only place I could find the real Te Ata without violating copyright – on two book covers. The first – Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller – American Treasure: Collector’s Edition by Richard Green. It’s online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
The second, Te Ata: Oklahoma Cultural Treasure by Pati Hailey, is no longer available on Amazon, but I wish it was. The cover makes me want to open it up and learn more about her. A few reviewers commented about the photos inside, but it’s a children’s book, and they’re known for their illustrations.
A Story from Te Ata: I reviewed Baby Rattlesnake for My Reads back in June of 2018. I picked it because of the illustrator. Mira was one of my teachers back then. I also noticed the attribution – told by Te Ata and adapted by Lynn Moroney. I wondered why it was done that way.
Now I think I understand, after learning who Te Ata was. She told her stories outloud, the way folktales have been told for centuries. My guess is that Lynn heard that folktale and wanted to write it down. Telling a story is different than writing it. I wish I had Te Ata’s original story, but I’m glad that Lynn adapted it so it won’t be lost.
Here’s the link to my review of Baby Rattlesnake: Rinda Beach - Beach Reads - Rinda Beach
To learn more about this American treasure, check out these sources:
- Te Ata: An Oklahoma Treasure | Chickasaw.tv
- Te Ata | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (okhistory.org)
Part 1: Have you ever wanted to escape? You can – if you’re in Wapakoneta, Ohio on April 2nd. Just stop in Riverside Art Center anytime from 10:30 – 1:30. I’ll be doing a brand-new activity for kids – Escape to the Lake. I’ll be their guide. Your kids will write and draw about how they’ll have fun, and best of all – it’s free!
If you can’t make it to Wapak, you can schedule an event with me. I can come in person, or I can zoom with you. I love to work with kids! It’s why I still substitute – to stay connected to kids, families, and schools. If a visit isn’t possible, try one of my lake books. They both have a story with illustrations from me, and journal pages for you. You’ll get to be my co-author, my co-illustrator.
Part 2 – Escape with Lake Fun for You and Me: There are two ways you can escape to the lake, and your child can choose their own way to go, whether they meet me in person, on zoom, or in one of my books.
Lake Fun for You and Me is one choice. It’s my lake picture book. My story and illustrations are on the left side of each page. The right side looks a lot like this journal page, except it includes the family scavenger hunt results. There’s room for you to write and draw about your escape. There’s also room to do your own family scavenger hunt too. If you have a copy of my book, you’ll get to be my co-author and co-illustrator.
I don’t know how many revisions I did to get Lake Fun ready to publish. I started in June of 2020 and finished in April 2021, so it was quite a few. I can help your child do a first draft and encourage them to keep working until it’s just right, whether they put it in Lake Fun or into a journal of their own.
Here are a couple of the ideas that made their way into my book. Every one of them was something my family did whenever we escaped to our lake. They’re the things that Zoe and her family did in Lake Fun and in Zoe’s Scavenger Hunt Fun too.
When Zoe’s Scavenger Hunt Fun launched in 2021, I used my illustrations to make a top 10 list of ways to have fun at the lake. Take a peek at #8 Cannonballing off the Dock and #7 Kayaking. My family did both on our vacations, and I hope yours will too, when you get the chance to escape to your lake.
Part 3 – Escape with Zoe’s Scavenger Hunt Fun: This is the second way to escape to the lake with me – in person, on zoom, or in one of my books.
Zoe’s Scavenger Hunt Fun is my other lake book. The chapters and illustrations are at the front. I saved room at the back for you to write and draw your own escape. Your pages as co-author and illustrator are altogether.
I don’t know how many revisions I did for Zoe either. I had an editor at BiblioKids. We started work in September and finished in November. First we converted my picture book into chapters. Then we did a couple rounds of revisions to make the story fit its new format. We did the same thing with the illustrations. I’ll help your child revise their first draft, and I’ll work with them until they think their story is just right, just like my editor did.
Here are a few more ideas that found their way into my lake books. My family had fun with them and so did Zoe, in both stories.
These illustrations came from that top 10 list of ways to have fun at the lake, and they were two of my kids’ favorites. #5 is Tubing. My husband used to play ‘Crack the Whip’ with the boat and the tube. The kids loved it.
#4 is Wakeboarding. My adult kids and husband still do it. I’m their spotter. My job is to shout when they go down. Then we swing around to pick them up. Safety first – you don’t want another boat to get too close when they’re alone in the water.
If you’re free April 1st, I hope you’ll stop by Riverside Art Center in Wapakoneta, Ohio. You’ll find me at the kids’ table, helping them escape to the lake. I hope I’ll be busy!
If you can’t make it to Riverside, we can escape together in a zoom session. It’s the next best thing, but if that’s impossible, try out one of my books. Your kids can contact me on my website, and I’ll be sure to answer. I love to help readers, writers, and illustrators.
PS – This is my family’s favorite illustration from the book. Mine too!
Here’s the link if you’d like to watch this post as a video. Link: Watch | Facebook
Part 4 – An Unexpected Ending: I thought I was done with this post. I already did my video. Then after taping it, I realized I’d forgotten something you might want – my top ten list.
My post from March of 2021 started with the chapter book version of Zoe’s scavenger hunt. Here’s the link to her top ten images to help you escape. Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
Part 5 – Striking Gold: I couldn’t believe what I found last night when I was updating my vault . . . a video of Zoe’s Top Ten list. Here’s the link for a final escape. Link: Watch | Facebook
Part 6 – A Photo Finish:
Meet a few of the kids who came to Riverside Art Center to escape to the lake with me.
All they needed was me, my lake books, and their imagination.
Riverside Art Center supplied everything else.
Now it’s time to send a big thank you to Riverside!
They let me try out my new activity for kids, and they were the perfect hosts!
3/9/22 - Darkest Hour: I watched this movie over the weekend on Netflix. I was struck by how timely it was. This week President Zelenskyy of Ukraine used Churchill’s speech at the end of the movie, to speak to the UK Parliament.
It feels like history is repeating itself, that this is Ukraine’s Darkest Hour. Will our leaders act like Churchill who pushed to keep fighting, or will they act more like Neville Chamberlain? If you haven’t heard of him, he’s the one who gave away Czechoslovakia and Poland, who wanted to negotiate peace with Hitler.
This is my 2nd time watching this movie, but I’ll watch it one more time . . . because there’s so much historical detail. And so much heart.
These are Amazon’s Description of the movie’s Key Historical Figures, along with their biographies. I hope you read and discover who led the UK successfully through WWII, Churchill or Lord Halifax? If you want to go a little further, who is today’s Churchill? And, today’s Halifax/Neville Chamberlain?
PS - The movie is in COLOR!
Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman)
A longtime member of parliament, Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain in May of 1940 as Nazi troops are spreading across Europe. As the battlefront nears closer to England and with the entire British Army trapped at Dunkirk, he is immediately faced with a daunting choice: attempt a peace treaty with the Nazis to save his citizens or rally the war-weary nation behind the continued fight against tyranny.
Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott Thomas)
Churchill's wife of 31 years at the time is both his emotional support and his intellectual equal. His adored 'Clemmie' is his most trusted confidante as well as critic, and is essential in helping him shape his strategic policy.
King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn)
King George reluctantly appoints Churchill to Prime Minister in May of 1940 as the threat of a Nazi invasion of Great Britain looms.
Elizabeth Layton (Lily James)
Elizabeth is Churchill's extremely loyal and attentive secretary. She begins working for him early in his appointment to Prime Minister as he writes several extremely important speeches crucial to bolstering the morale and patriotism of the public as the war rages on.
Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane)
Lord Halifax is Foreign Secretary of the U.K. when Churchill is appointed Prime Minister. Not trusting Churchill's instincts, he advocates for negotiating a peace treaty with Germany at odds with Churchill's belief that any treaty would endanger the U.K.'s sovereignty and would radically change the balance of power throughout Europe.
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!