About Me

My Photo
I am a children's writer from the Virgin Islands. Growing up there was like living inside a history book; an imagination stimulator. Consequently I've been writing for just about forever. I am a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and a member of SCBWI.

Blog Schedule

I post on Monday and Thursday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest


I'm participating today in DL Hammons DEJA VU BLOGFEST

This is a unique fest where we repost a favorite "blog offering from earlier in the year, or one that you believe failed to receive the exposure it deserved."


***

Okay, I'm going back in time, back to 2009 to my post called


What is the Sound of One Heart Breaking?

(I have made a few editorial changes which are in blue.)

Listen.

As we peruse pictures of the president's dog, as we read the latest celebrity gossip, as we whine about how much we want this, that or the other, as people starve, as people make war, as people discuss the ramifications of global warming, as we chew our nails over swine flu....(Ebola) even as we write for children and hope for publication...

While all of that is going on and a million other things...

Listen.

In one place in the northern Pacific (and other places in the Pacific and in the Atlantic too) there is a mass of floating island of plastic debris. It is twice the size of Texas. It is growing. (And still growing.)

Listen.

I don't know what to do. I am ashamed of humanity. I am ashamed of our lack of caring, our blindness, our ignorance which is no excuse.

Listen.

This is the sound of one heart breaking.

She is weeping because she doesn't know what to do and she is ashamed.

http://www.mauitime.com/Articles-i-2009-01-29-68584.113117_The_great_garbage_swirl.html#123

http://www.deepfried.tv/news/default.cfm?ID=1516

http://dannycoleman.blogspot.com/2008/07/great-pacific-garbage-swirl.html

http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com/2009/04/garbage-swirl-in-pacific-twice-size-of.html

Laysan albatross plastic filled stomachListen.

This is the sound of one heart breaking.

It is Earth's heart.

Listen.

Listen as she breaks.

File:Pollution swan.jpg


A VIEW OF GARBAGE2
Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste at the Garbage Beach

Plastic DOES NOT biodegrade. It just gets smaller and smaller and smaller. It has been found in the bellies of whales. It has been detected in the stomachs of the smallest sea creatures, creatures that are food for larger creatures, who are creatures we may well eventually eat. It will kill them, it will kill us. We are shitting in our own nest and eating it too.

If you don't believe me, how about this little video from National Geographic?

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Fight against plastic.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thankful Thursday

ImageChef.com
Every Thursday, from now until I don't know when, I'm going to express my thankfulness, for at least ONE something.

I've chosen a picture of the Deep Field to remind me, and perhaps others, of how precious this tiny ball of dirt is, the one we call Earth. It is unique and rare and the chances of us finding something like it is rarer still. Even if we do find something like it, we are totally incapable to reaching it.

This is it. Let us be kind to Earth and each other. Let us be THANKFUL for what we have.



Today I'm thankful for SAFETY.

Safe, from the Latin salvus, meaning uninjured. Related to the Latin solidus, meaning solid and the Sanskrit sarvah, meaning uninjured, intact, whole.

I have a safe roof over my head, a safe place to sleep. There are no rioters in the streets of my town, no bullets being fired, no bombs going off which is more than I can say for a lot people in many different parts of the world.

In light of the recent mass murder of children in Pakistan... This is the official video for John Lennon's song. I warn you in advance, this is NOT A SAFE VIDEO to watch.
 
Did you manage to watch it all the way to the end? Did it bring you to tears? Did it make you angry and ashamed?

Today I am thankful for safety.

What are you thankful for?

***








Tomorrow I will continue to be politically incorrect as I join DL Hammons and many others in the Deja Vu Blogfest. Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vitamins and Death


Today I'm helping spread the word about Medeia Sharif's latest book, Vitamins and Death.

The subject is one that has intrigued me since I first read about it. And the cover... well, it expresses so much emotion. 

Be sure to sign up at the bottom for a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card AND copy of her book!

***

VITAMINS AND DEATH, Prizm Books/Torquere Press, December 10, 2014
Purchase from Prizm, Amazon – Vendor sites will be updated on the author’s site.

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother's briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High. Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, she thinks no one will figure out they're the Battles from recent news and that they're safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed Deidra's life. Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Book Blast Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alternatives & Thankful Thursday

Alternatives is a recurring post in which I give synonyms for an over used word. Click on the tab above for a "complete" list of over used words.


Today's word is:


ImageChef.com

Okay, isn't definitely one of "those" words you use a lot, not only in your writing but in your everyday speech? Come on, admit it. Your secret is safe with me. For me it's an "ly" word that definitely without a doubt, creeps into a sentence unbidden, or slips out of my mouth like some kind of sly snake. 

If you are brave enough to admit you have this problem here are a few alternatives you can use. 

Depending on how you use it, this list may come in handy for finding another way to say the same thing.

absolutely, all right, alright, assuredly, authentically

beyond any/all doubt, by all means/odds

categorically, certainly, clearly, come hell or high water, completely, conclusively, consummately

decidedly, don’t mind if I do, doubtlessly

easily, explicitly, expressly

factually, far and away, finally, firmly, forsooth

hands down

inarguably, incontestably, incontrovertibly, indisputably, indubitably, in spades

naturally, needless to say, no ifs ands or buts about it

obviously, of course

perfectly, plainly, positively

realistically, really

so, specifically, supremely, sure/surely

that’s right, truly

uh huh, unarguably, unconditionally, undeniably, undoubtedly, unequivocally, unmistakably, unqualifiedly, unquestionably, unrestrictedly, utterly

without doubt, without fail, without question

yes!, you bet, you’re on
***

ImageChef.comEvery Thursday, from now until I don't know when, I'm going to express my thankfulness, for at least ONE something.

If you care to join me, there's a linky thingy at the bottom.

I've chosen a picture of the Deep Field to remind me, and perhaps others, of how precious this tiny ball of dirt is, the one we call Earth. It is unique and rare and the chances of us finding something like it is rarer still. Even if we do find something like it, we are totally incapable to reaching it.

This is it. Let us be kind to Earth and each other. Let us be THANKFUL for what we have.

Today I'm thankful for water.

I think I understand solids and even gasses. But water, and liquids in general, elude me. Water is a miracle substance that, like every thing else on planet Earth, probably came to us from the stars.


Throw away your sodas, and throw away those plastic water bottles. Next time you, drink a glass of water or make tea or coffee or take a shower say a little prayer of thanks that you are blessed to have hot and cold running water in your home.

Today I am thankful for water.


***

What are you thankful for? Care to join me on Thankful Thursday? Got a favorite alternative for definitely? I definitely do...  I like indubitably. It sounds so silly and ridiculous. So Laurel and Hardyish.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Special Guest Post Shares Her Christmas Story

M. J. Joachim at Effectively Human  is hosting her Second Annual Holiday Food Drive. I'm late, but I hope to spread a bit of Christmas cheer, reminding everyone to donate food items to your local food banks and/or charities.

NO ONE should go hungry in the United States.  NO ONE!

As you do your shopping, add a couple of cans of beans or evaporated milk or a few jars of baby food to your basket.

Trust me, it's not painful, it won't hurt.

***
What follows is a very special post from a beautiful young woman who is facing her mortality at far too young an age.

She is special and dear to my heart and I have been blessed that she has openly shared her journey with me.

A few days ago she sent me an email and I asked if I could share it on my blog because it's
That Time Of Year 
when we should be remembering what GIVING is all about. I know it's a bit long, but I hope you will take the time to read this story from a most beautiful human being. 


My Christmas Story


Yesterday, I held a "Garage Sale," but it was more of a giveaway event. I held it in the crummiest part of town, intentionally. With the help and  support of a few amazing friends, I boxed up various items from my house and as many new items as I could acquire.

When people stopped in and asked me prices I said, "It's free, please take what you'd like." To every child I saw, I told them to pick out anything of their choosing, and as long as the adult they were with said it was ok to have, they could have it.

Most of the children picked toys, but some didn't. Some chose a purse, a book, a cd, a piece of clothing or jewelry. Whatever. It was fascinating to watch them scurry about and put thought into their selection. I got hugs and thank yous. It was a magical, beautiful day. 75 degrees outside in December!
Geschenke-2007
A very old woman came by, with her adult daughter. She told me that she had 12 grandchildren whom she'd never been able to give Christmas gifts to, because even an item from the Dollar Store would add up to more than her resources allowed. Together, we filled a box with enough for all 12 grandchildren to receive gifts from their grandmother. She was absolutely delighted. She had no teeth, but she smiled the biggest smile I've ever seen, filled with pure joy. She was beautiful.  These were what society would call "poor people", because they really have no money. But, I saw no poverty yesterday. I saw the spirit of Christmas, I saw love. And, in the eyes of every grateful child of any age, I saw the face of God.

Not one person showed greed or took more than what was reasonable. I left it pretty open, anyone could have loaded up their pick up truck if they wanted to, but not a single person did. A few people gave  me money, even though I didn't want it. They told me that they appreciated my acts and I received prayers of blessings and hugs. I don't care what the calendar reads. It was MY Christmas.

Towards the end of the day, I met a little boy named Aubrey. My selections were getting slim and I feared there would be nothing there that he'd like. But, he found a pink glittery deer horn that I'd bedazzled and he was fascinated with it. He put it on his forehead and said he was a unicorn. He really loved it.

Angel 09073He tapped my arm and said, "Ma'am, I need to tell you something." I sat on the ground to be at his eye level and asked what it was.

His reply was, "Jesus told me that when you die, ma'am, you're going to be an angel. He said you'll have wings and you'll be able to fly, and you won't hurt". Then he took my hand and said, "It's  true ma'am. Jesus told me to tell you that and I don't tell lies."

Wow!

It was the most beautiful, magical day ever! I merely shared material items with those in need, but I'm the one who was truly blessed. I hesitated in sharing this story, because it was "my joy", so precious and intimate. "My blessings". Then I realized that's exactly why I should share it. Joy and love are meant to be shared, that's the whole point.

A grandmother will be able to lovingly give her 12 grandchildren gifts, for the first time ever. That's beautiful. Adults who didn't have sweaters for the impending winter weather are now outfitted. A community was visiting and sharing recipes, and I saw more than a few neighbors who'd never before met strike up conversations.

Many words we use we are taught to believe are "emotions" or "feelings," abstract terms, open to interpretation. Yesterday, I SAW joy, and love, and gratitude, and community. I SAW God yesterday, in every smiling face and I HEARD God yesterday, in every child's giggle.

I'm crying as I type this. Tears of gratitude for yesterday's experience. Tears of joy for the opportunity to be blessed so much. Tears of Love for the grace of God.

There is no such thing as "giving till it hurts". It doesn't hurt at all to give. It is the best feeling in the world. It's as simple as smiling at a stranger, setting an extra place at the table for someone who's hungry, or sharing items that you'll never miss with a community in need. If you can do more, do more. If you can do little, do little.

Mother TeresaAs Mother Theresa wrote, "If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one". If we each practiced this, think of the domino effect it would have. As sadly as a community can be destroyed (ie. Ferguson, Missouri), a community can be lifted, as I saw happen yesterday.

Many people asked when I'd be back. They remembered they had some things around their homes that they weren't using, or offered to cook enchiladas and cakes. The "poor people" realized that they weren't "poor" at all. A woman offered her sewing skills, as another said she loved to iron. I think everyone is currently baby sitting each other's children now. Men were talking about combining efforts to mow the grass and fix up Mrs. Rodrigues' home, as she's been recently widowed and her house is not in well condition. It was LOVE. I'm not sure that I'll be able to host another event like yesterday, as my own physical health declines; but I know that I'll do everything I can to help, to encourage, to support it.

And again, I'm engulfed in the bliss that is true gratitude and being present in the moment. Absolute Nirvana. Only by God's will did yesterday happen. Only by God's will am I typing this. I've unintentionally fought God's will for as long as I can remember. I didn't mean to, and I truly don't feel I was aware that I was doing it. But, the more that I recognize and allow His will to occur, the more blessed I become.

And lil Aubrey with his beautiful message ~ I am in a state of true humility for that miracle. I think that was God telling me, "Good job, kid". I can think of no higher compliment or no better state to be in than that which I am in right this minute.

May you enjoy this holiday season with the true spirit of Christmas in your every moment, to the very marrow of your bones.


***
Thanks for letting me share this Sweet A.
Thanks for letting me share this with you, my fellow bloggers.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thankful Thursday

THANKFUL THURSDAY
File:Heic1401a-Abell2744-20140107.jpg

Why wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful, when in actuality we should be thankful every second of every day.

I have decided that every Thursday, from now until I don't know when, I'm going to express my gratitude, my thankfulness, for at least ONE something.

If you care to join me, there's a linky thingy at the bottom.

I've chosen a picture of the Deep Field to remind me, and perhaps others, of how precious this tiny ball of dirt is, the one we call Earth. It is unique and rare and the chances of us finding something like it is rarer still. Even if we do find something like it, we are totally incapable to reaching it.

This is it. Let us be kind to Earth and each other. Let us be THANKFUL for what we have.

***

Today I am thankful for breathing. The air that goes into my lungs and leaves it has been here for millions of years. Some of the molecules I breath in may have passed through the lungs of Buddha, Einstein, my parents, a dinosaur, or that mockingbird that sings in our yard.

Trees and plants all over the world live on what we exhale. They thrive on our waste and freely give back to us what we need to stay alive. Could there be anything more symbiotic?

Daily, I do my best to take a moment to think about my breath. It is the stuff of life. It was the first thing I did when I was born. It will be the last thing I do when I die.

Today, I am thankful for breathing.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG

The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, the purpose of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is: to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting is the first Wednesday of every month.

You can sign up HERE.


***

I'll tell you what's been getting to me lately. I keep wondering, what the heck am I going to blog about next? 

I took November off and most of the month I worked on my grandmother's cookbook, but the whole time away, at the back of my brain, was this  niggling, whispering imp, with an irritating, raspy voice - the kind that can raise the hairs on the back of your neck - saying things like:
Art by Arthur Rackham from my ancient book of Grimm Fairy Tales

 "Why don't you just stop blogging? What more could you possible write about? Who reads your stupid old blog anyway? What's the point when every week you struggle to think of something? And don't forget, you've got to go around and VISIT people and be SOCIABLE. You KNOW it's a waste of time. Think of all the other things you could be doing! Reading a book, watching mindless TV, working on your next novel, sweeping the floor. DUSTING! And what about Mondays? You know it's Mondays that give you fits. You NEVER know what to write on MONDAY. And isn't that the day you want your post to be the most interesting and new and exciting? Give it up, why don't you?"

On and on and on with the negatives. 

Personally, I don't know how some of you do it. I'm talking about people like Alex Cavanaugh, Lee McKenzie, Diane Wolfe, and Joy Campbell. There are many others, I know, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind. I see them all over the place, doing all sorts of things, and I wonder, how do they do it? 

BrainthatwouldntdieAre their brains literally plugged into their computers so that all they have to do THINK about it and **POOF** they're on Facebook or Twitter or Blogger, or wherever, and they're got their ideas and words and links and pictures all right there and **POOF** it's all posted and neat and perfect? 
(I have just spent like 20 minutes searching for a picture I could safely use. It's taken well over an hour to write this post. I'll be looking it over Tuesday to make sure there aren't any glaring mistakes.)


So tell me, do you ever feel like quitting too? 

I probably won't because I've still got a lot of words on my list of over used words that still need to be given ALTERNATIVES. And just this morning I woke up with an idea for something ELSE I can do on Thursdays along with my other occasional and random posts.


So stop by tomorrow and you'll be privy to my new idea. That's right, I'm posting THREE times in ONE WEEK. So much for quitting.