FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Jennie Lou Harriman

stove

 

Sequestering Without a Stove

by Jennie Lou Harriman

 

When I lost my home suddenly during the COVID-19 situation, the house I moved into needed a stove. I didn’t feel comfortable, or have the energy while moving, to go out shopping for one, so I used my creative problem solving skills. This whole experience has gotten me even closer to using “back to basics” skills. When I’m not writing, I teach arts and crafts classes for children and people with disabilities. I love teaching “back to basics” classes: sewing, woodworking, and cooking. You never know when you might need them, as many people have learned this spring.

When it came to eating when I first moved into the new house, I ate some food that didn’t need to be cooked. To stay as healthy as possible with a disability, I mostly eat whole foods close to their natural state. I do not purchase many processed or prepared foods. You don’t need a stove to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheese, granola or yogurt.

And to cook, all I needed was heat. My biggest challenge–I love tea. Tea makes everything better. If it had been summer, I could have made sun tea by putting water and tea bags in a glass jar on the porch. But it had been a wet, chilly spring, and I wanted hot tea to warm me up. The first few days, I heated my tea water in a slow cooker. It took a loooong time, but helped me work on staying calm and patient during this hectic time. I also used the slow cooker to cook rice, sweet potatoes, and soup. I even baked a loaf of whole grain bread in it!

I have a little Jet Boil stove for camping. I thought I knew right where it was, because I knew I would need it for tea. But you know how it goes with moving…which box was that in?? I was so excited when I found it! This lightweight one-burner gas stove is one of the best cooking investments I’ve ever made. And it heats water in one or two minutes. Yay for tea! I also cooked oatmeal by pouring boiling water over a bowl of oats and putting a cover on it. I did the same with frozen peas.

I didn’t have internet for over a week. In fact, I christened this 30-year-old house with Internet when I had it installed. That was an important reminder to me during this time. Not everyone has internet. I enjoyed that week with little online access. I limited my phone data usage to save money, only using it to check work email and do a bit of research for a stove. It was refreshing, especially since my new house is in the country, and I hadn’t lived in the country since I sold my house in Vermont and moved to Tennessee four years ago. I feel more myself than I have in years–less getting caught in the worldwide web and more observing plants and creatures coming to life in the spring.

Once I had full internet access I did more research, and after contemplating the pros and cons, decided to purchase a nontraditional stove. My kitchen is small, so I ordered a countertop oven that doubles as a dehydrator. But due to slow delivery times, it took three weeks to arrive. During that time, I borrowed a Pampered Chef grill from my aunt and uncle (it was electric or could be used with charcoal) and did all kinds of creative cooking. Some of my favorite meals were: grilled salmon with a spicy maple syrup glaze, whole grain blueberry pancakes, and tomatillos sautéed in bacon fat.

One day I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie. I decided to take on the challenge of cookie making without an oven. I don’t eat many sweets, so even with a typical oven, I don’t often make a whole batch of cookies. Usually, I just want one or two. So here’s a recipe that not only satisfies a craving for a small family, it proves that chocolate chip cookies can be baked on a grill!

 

Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (or two!)

By Jennie Lou Harriman

2 Tbsp softened butter

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup self-rising flour

4 Tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat grill on low-medium setting.

Whisk one egg. (Use leftover egg later to make a scrambled egg snack.)

Combine softened butter, brown sugar, one tablespoon of egg, vanilla, and flour.

Mix in chocolate chips.

Place one or two mounds of dough on a cast iron pan.

Put the pan in the grill, and put the cover on the grill.

Bake until golden brown. The amount of time will depend on your grill setting.

(Enjoy your warm treat even more, knowing you just baked a cookie on a grill! I’m not sure how this would go using another type of grill. Perhaps the pan would need a cover. Or maybe smoked chocolate chip cookies would be delicious…or not–an experiment yet to come!)

 

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Jennie Lou Harriman

 

Jennie Lou Harriman is an artist, educator and entrepreneur. She enjoys writing nonfiction that helps children have fun while learning. Her passion for interacting with children led to her first six picture books-five of them were created in collaboration with children. The other was part of an intergenerational program that also included residents from a retirement community.

Jennie Lou writes profile articles, recipes, how-to activities, and curriculum. She loves teaching hands-on activities in person, seeing what emerges in the moment, and developing written curriculum so others can join the fun, too!

Jennie Lou was raised in both Vermont and Tennessee, giving her an awareness of different perspectives of life.

 

saw hammer drill

 

My Hammer, Saw, Drill website: hammersawdrill.com
My main art/teaching/book website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com/about
Blog on this website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

 

kaitlyn

 

 

Creative Ways to Get Your Kids Reading

by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

For a while when my daughter was two, she didn’t want to sit still for a book but she LOVED baths. She didn’t want to get out, in fact. So one day I decided I’d bring some books to the bathroom and read to her there. She was already sitting in one place, and I needed something to occupy me when she kept asking to stay in longer. Bonus: a way to get her out was to say, “Okay, one more story, and it’s time to get out.” Boom! 

Creative ways to get your kids reading can be hard to come by, so hopefully some of these will spark something for you and your family.

Another thing that’s worked really well for us is to get books that are about the shows or movies my daughter loves. I know that can be difficult to get right now, but if you already have some books that match with shows or movies, just drop them in front of your child after you start the show. It’s highly likely his or her unoccupied fingers will start flipping through the pages and realize, “Omg this is what I’m watching!” Then you can read it with him or her or them again after the show or movie is over, get the TV turned off, AND that lovely pile of other books you conveniently placed next to them all read, too.

Finally, incorporating books into play has been a successful way to get my daughter reading. Just the other day, my daughter wanted to make doughnuts–she has a felt matching book with food and we got creative! We got a wooden spatula from the kitchen and an recently emptied Gold Fish crackers box for the oven (ok I know doughnuts are fried but just go with it ;)). As we were pretend baking, I thought, “Grandma would love this,” so of course my brain went straight to a refrain from a wonderful book by Anika A. Denise that we received from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library “It’s baking day, it’s baking day, it’s baking day at Grandma’s.” So I found the book and asked her if she wanted to read it, and she did!

Another thing we’ve done recently is actually incorporated my daughter’s toys into books. My daughter has been all about her toys lately, so one day when we were sitting on the ground playing PJ Masks with her figurines, I reached for a book. Of course, my daughter didn’t want to read, she wanted to play. But what if the toys want to read? Ohhh, now we got the toddler hooked. I put one figurine on the page and as you can see, my daughter started adding more in and creating her own story. We got the chance to explore a book in a whole new way. Double score: Mom worked in reading AND creative play!

One of the best things about times like these is they really inspire us to think outside the box, so while these ideas of connecting reading to something else aren’t new, what you come up for your child will be. And then you can pat yourself on the back and say, “Wow, I’m smoother than I thought.” Or at least, that’s what I did 😉  Whatever you do, just know, we’re all struggling with trantrums and worries and way too much tech use. Just try your best; that’s all anyone can ask for.

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Additional interviews with Kaitlyn:

https://www.pbspotlight.com/single-post/2020/01/24/Author-Champion-Spotlight-Kaitlyn-Sanchez

https://anafiction.com/2019/06/21/kaitlyn-sanchez-and-her-journey-to-get-her-agent/

https://www.wordsandpics.org/2020/02/special-feature-how-inspiration-spreads.html

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Sanchez

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is an associate agent at Olswanger Literary, mom, wife, math teacher, and picture book author represented by Joyce Sweeney at the Seymour Agency.

She is also the co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as the creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest.

In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when her husband and daughter cozy up so they can all read together.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Debbie LeCroix

dungeon

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

The Family Dungeon (It’s not what you think)

by Debbie LeCroix

 

Growing up, I watched my brother play Dungeons and Dragons.  They never asked me to play.  I probably would have. But as an adult, my interest is about as deep as watching paint dry. But, D&D has always been something my son Billy enjoyed. Alex (my college student) always wanted to learn. So when we got stuck in Quarantine, guess what?  Family Dungeons and Dragons every Sunday and Wednesday.  Let me repeat… every Wednesday and Sunday.  (My husband told me if I wanted out to roll badly so I’d get killed off.  His technique has not worked. We are all still in the game 4 weeks later, and I have to admit, it’s kind of fun.) And I’m learning so much. Who knew that there were so many variations and shapes of dice?!

Alex picked a Wizard.  My husband, Todd, is a Fighter, and I’m a lovely Rogue.  Somehow we all picked the same name: Fig.  That’s what happens when you are listening, but not listening to each other.  We all have variations of Fig.   I’m actually Figly, the Rogue. And I’m pretty good with a crossbow.

I have amazing stealth skills, which I use to “borrow” ale.  Billy, the Dungeon Master, makes me role every time I choose to do this, to see if I’m as efficient as I can be.  I think it’s his way of teaching me consequences.  I’m not a huge drinker in real life, so I’m using my alternative reality to build up my tolerance.  Some rolls of the dice is better than others.  I’ve also learned with my strong persuasion skills and card game abilities, that I’m great at gambling to get what I want or save us from a situation.  Of course, I think my son changed the rules for me.  I’ve never liked the violence of attacking goblins, giants and Bugbears with axes and bows. I’d much rather friend them and read them a bedtime story.  This is difficult to do as Bugbears are like hobgoblins, but bigger and scarier (I think.) I’m learning an entire new world here.

It’s really fun to watch Billy as our Dungeon Master.  He loves to act out all the attacks.  It’s like watching a YouTube video, but in real life.  I really need to get some of these on camera.  (I almost said tape, but that would be irrelevant since we no longer have tape.) 

Along the way we saved a Goblin, named Droop.  I want to call him Doby.  House elf/goblin….  Droop has actually saved us a few times.  He doesn’t have much confidence, but has been just what we need to win against a encampment of orcs and one ogre. Please note for any real die hard D&D players, if I misspeak your language, it is not intentional.

Family Dungeons and Dragons is a really great bonding experience.  Since we have no activities in the evenings and all my events have been cancelled, we are using our time to bond and try something new.

It’s also really great for opening up the imagination, learning to world build, and creating story scenarios.  If you are looking for something to do, and this sounds fun, I say go for it! It’s all about the experience points.

 

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Debbie book

 

REVIEW:

Children’s Literature – Jodell Sadler

This is a title that looks like it’s all about telling time, but it’s actually about anticipating time. And really celebrates clocks, clock sounds, such as various cuckoos and tick-tock sounds, and movements to the rhythm of the day. It also brings up the various lullabies, serenades, and unique sounds that can come booming out every sixty minutes. This story is told through the interactions of two unspoken characters, a blue bird and a horse that step in time together, hang from pendulums, who remind each other to listen, sleep to lullabies, and wake up in time to start their day. This book is a nice reminder of all the sounds of many kinds of clocks: cuckoo, alarm, grandfather, hall, kitchen, and anniversary clocks, that kids might find in their lives and the roles they play. Kids who enjoy this title may also enjoy 10 Minutes to Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann, which shares a fabulous unspoken story in the illustrations.

 

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debbie picture

 

Author Debbie LaCroix writes picture books and is a playwright. She’s currently working on her first middle grade novel.  She also sells Usborne Books & More.  With her free time, Debbie reads Tarot cards and interprets dreams to help empower others and help them find their stories.  You can find her at www.debbielacroix.com for her writing, www.goreadtoday.com for her books, and at www.facebook.com/dreamcatcherdragon for her Tarot.

 

 

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Natasha Wing

 

kids laughing

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Using Joke Books to Lighten the Mood and Teach at the Same Time

by Natasha Wing

 

Like sneaking grated vegetables into a recipe, joke books are a great way to get your kids to read without it feeling like reading. There’s no chapter to finish. No stressful plot or conflict. But skills are still being learned. Kids learn about humor and what’s funny and how to play with language. They learn how to read aloud and get comfortable in front of an “audience.” They learn how to memorize. All while building their vocabulary.

Here’s an example of the fun you can have with a joke.

Why do Europeans walk funny?

They convert feet to meters.

This is silly on several levels. First, picturing people walking funny IS funny!

Then having their feet change into something else like meters is silly. Adults may think of meters as a measurement, but younger kids might imagine a real object like parking meters.

From here, you can now turn this into a learning experience. Find out the conversion rate of feet to meters. Then go around your house and measure things in feet and see if your child can convert to meters. See, you snuck in a little math, too!

If you want to extend this further, you can have your child draw a caricature of a person walking with meters instead of feet. Look up what caricatures are and study the different exaggerated styles, then draw. Now you’ve snuck in an art class!

Here’s a way to expand language. When writing jokes you don’t want to give away the answer in the question, just hint at it. For example, there’s a joke in Saltwater Sillies: 300+ Jokes for Buoys & Gulls about seals. If I had written, “What branch of the military did the seal enlist in?” it would have been too simple to guess. (Navy Seal) Rather than using the word “seal” in the question, I used another word for seal which is pinniped. Pinniped means fin or flipper-footed and refers to the marine mammals that have front and rear flippers. This group includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. Finding this out allowed me to substitute pinneped for sea lion and walrus jokes, too. Your child will now know another word for seal, sea lion and walrus!

Here are some fun ways to use joke books while sheltering in place.

  1. Make sure your household and the grandparents’ household each has the same joke book. Then during Facetime or Zoom chats you can take turns telling each other jokes. It’s a fun way to connect and make each other laugh. Plus it gives your child an opportunity to ask their grandparent what a word means.
  2. Challenge your child to come up with a new joke.

Give him or her a list of words that sound alike such as:

See

Sea

Si

C

Then see if they can come up with a joke using one or more of those words. Have them share it out loud with someone to test it out.

  1. Have your child write a joke on a postcard and mail it to a friend or teacher that your child misses. Ask the friend to mail one back.
  2. Play a game of make up the answer.

Write down three joke questions. Then ask your kids to supply their own answer. Have everyone vote on the funniest answer.

  1. Play act out knock-knock jokes. Two people can participate in this: one says knock-knock and the other asks the question, Who’s there? The children can dress up by wearing hats, or can act by pretending to be a character and change their voices. If you want to add music to this stand-up comedy act, have another child with a drum, harmonica or a kazoo make a funny noise with their instrument after each joke answer. Record it and send it to a friend or family member.

While you’re at home teaching, use joke books to lighten the mood, and feel good about developing your child’s sense of humor and vocabulary.

 

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Natasha book

 

Where do king crabs live? In sandcastles! Hundreds of ocean-themed jokes for kids ages 5-10. Knock-knocks, tongue twisters, one-liners, and puns will keep them laughing all the way to the beach. Also includes fun facts, and kooky caricatures for kids to color in. Packable size to take on trips. Crack your friends and family up with a gift of humor!

Available on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2XsuFez) and other online retailers.

 

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Natasha picture

 

Natasha Wing is the author of a funny children’s book using bakery puns called Bagel In Love. She has also published three joke books: Lettuce Laugh: 600 Corny Jokes About Food; Buzz Off!: 600 Jokes About Things with Wings; and Saltwater Sillies: 300+ Jokes for Buoys and Gulls. More of her books can be found at natashawing.com. Friend her author page: facebook.com/natashawingbooks.

 

 

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Lori Degman

 

connected

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Staying Connected in a Disconnected World

by Lori Degman

 

Thanks, Donna, for asking me to write something for your Feel Good Fridays series!  It’s such a great idea! I’ve definitely had my share of sad and lonely times over the past month.  Not being able to see my mom, kids and grandkids has been really hard, but we Facetime and Skype often to keep in touch.  I also do Zoom meetings and Hangouts with different groups of friends and that has helped!

One thing that’s been discouraging for me is that my newest book, Travel Guide For Monsters, comes out April 15th and I’m not able to share it with kids.  I had five bookstore events and six school visits planned to help celebrate the book and of course they were all canceled.  It has made the release of this book feel so much different from the others – there’s just not the same energy and excitement about it.

I was encouraged when I saw some authors had made videos of themselves reading their books.  I loved the idea because I really wanted to connect with kids, but I was nervous about doing it.  I knew they wouldn’t be perfect – and they’re not!  But that’s ok, because kids need to see adults making mistakes too!  Now I have Youtube videos for each of my six books and I hope people are enjoying them.

Another thing I’m doing is virtual visits with students.  For one school, they weren’t able to do anything “live” so they sent me questions from the students and I recorded and shared my answers with them.  I’m also scheduled to do readings and Q&As with classes on Instagram Live and Zoom.  I love interacting with kids so, if any teachers reading this would like me to join your zoom classroom sometime, let me know.  You can email me at Lori@Loridegman.com.

Thanks again, Donna!

 

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Lori book

 

Taking your monster on a road trip this summer? Or letting your favorite beast tag along on a family beach vacation? Wherever you and your monster are traveling, Travel Guide for Monsters is full of essential tips to help you both enjoy the sights from coast to coast–and avoid monster-related mishaps.

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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Lori Picture

 

Lori Degman is the author of the award-winning books: 1 Zany Zoo, Cock-a-Doodle Oops, and Just Read, as well as Norbert’s Big Dream, Like a Girl, and Travel Guide For Monsters.  She was a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education.  Lori lives in Vernon Hills, Illinois, where she spends her days writing, visiting schools and playing with her grandkids (once this quarantine is over).  You can find her online at http://www.Loridegman.com.

 

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Margot Finke

survival

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Margot’s Magical COVID-19 Survival Kit!

by Margot Finke

 

The threat of COVID-19 has changed the way we must live.

 

***Ways to alleviate the stress of being isolated indoors***

 

I go out into my garden and work among the flowers, soak up the sunshine, and take many deep, lung-enhancing, breaths. My husband mows the grass, cooks, and is setting up the usual small seed pots on every windowsill and available space – for spring plantings!

We read books on our Kindles (Library is closed), and I catch up on cupboard cleaning while I listen to music. Groceries and fruit are ordered on line and delivered into the trunk of our car – no humans contact! I am always reminding Hubby to wash his hands. I am also in charge of sanitizing everything we buy or touch. We are older, so we protect ourselves to the best of our ability. Doing this gives us a great comfort. 

 

***Take advantage of  “Contact” that is Virtual and Safe.***

 

In the Internet age, no need to feel isolated!

Using Skype or Zoom will put you in touch with friends and relatives. Just Google them, download the program, and you can enjoy virtual visits! FREE. Grandkids feel closer when you Skype together, suggest books for them to read, or play online games together. Most teens (or even younger) know their way around the Internet. Ask them for computer help. They will love you for making them feel so smart and useful.

Use your email or text, and reach out to anyone you feel like chatting with. And for the really techie challenged there’s always your phone. A neighbor who lives alone would love a call from you, or an offer to order their groceries and have them delivered. They will feel less alone, and you will feel the power of friendship, and doing a good deed.

 

*** Keep your sense of humor sharp, and ready for any fun that “virtually” floats your way!***

 

Join Facebook’s Social Distancing Society for giggles, jokes, and good information. Choose TV shows and movies with uplifting themes.  Search online for places and people who realize “This too will Pass.”

Decide to make the best of a really scary and dreadful situation. Gather those you love into a large virtual community that shares ideas, help, and the determination to beat this virus – no matter what!  With a little online help from the INTERNET, BOOKS, FRIENDS, PHONE, TEXT, and FAMILY, you can do it, and feel proud of yourself as well.

 

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Margot picture

 

I am children’s author, Margot Finke, originally from Australia. I now live in the US with my husband, three children, and four perfect grandchildren. 

Margot’s Magic – my 16x Books, for ages 4 to 14 years, are all on Amazon. Some of my books have Aussie themes, and I also offer “Content” Editing  +  Writing Guidance.

My Book Catalog is FREE  —  Email: mfinke@frontier.com 
https://www.margotsmagic.com/2019/11/margots-books.html

 

Margot books

 

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Barbara Renner

 

birds

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

FLOWERS KEEP BLOOMING AND BIRDS KEEP SINGING

WE WILL BE OKAY

by Barbara Renner

 

Arizona has two seasons, Spring and Summer, and most people think it’s nothing but rock lawns and brown dirt. But when the calendar marks the beginning of Spring, the desert bursts with color of flowering wildflowers and cacti. Sometimes along with the blowing pollen comes allergies, and this year 2020, the COVID pandemic, which has forced the desert rats and rest of the world to hide inside their homes under a strict quarantine.

As a nature lover, I can get pretty restless cooped up in the house all day. Luckily, I can still go on my long walks and enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors the desert offers this time of year. Walking makes me happy, and I can step in stride to my favorite Pandora tunes through my ear buds. On my walks, the blooming wildflowers look like carpets of yellow and orange, and the bougainvillea bushes climb the block walls with candy apple red. Even the Palo Verde trees, which means green stick, grow a bushy head of yellow blossoms this time of year. Recently, I picked some wildflowers to put in a vase by my window. They only lasted a few days. Like me apparently, they also need to be outside in the fresh air.

Another benefit to living in the desert is being able to open the windows during our lovely 70-degree Spring weather. Being a bird lover, I enjoy listening to the birds as they announce dawn. Birds sing to attract potential mates and defend their territories. Some people believe that birds who sing loudly first thing in the morning are proclaiming that they are strong and healthy enough to have survived the night. It sounds like a good philosophy for us to follow, especially during this pandemic.

Sometimes I make up words to the birds’ chirpings, “pretty me, pretty me” or “tweedle dee, tweedle dee.” It’s the small things that keep me occupied. As a matter of fact, The Cornell Lab of Bird Academy is offering a course on how to identify birds only by their songs using mnemonics like “drink your tea” or “sweet, sweet, sweet, isn’t it sweet.” With all this extra time on your hands, perhaps you will want to make up phrases to the bird songs too – or maybe not.

What am I doing to keep a positive outlook during this strange time of depressing news, mask wearing, and toilet paper hoarding? I go for walks in the mornings, marvel at nature’s bounty, breathe fresh air, and soak up the Vitamin D the sun provides. I sit outside in my wicker rocking chair in the early evenings realizing that after every rain, the sun will continue to shine and the flowers will still bloom. I marvel that the birds go about their business without a care in the world, singing their songs and nesting so their species will survive. Tweedle dee.

 

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loon

 

Spring! Time to Build a Nest, A Story about Trumpeter Swans

When Pen and Cob realize it’s time to find a place to build their nest, they are shooed away by a beaver and a muskrat.

 

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Barbara

 

Barbara and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years, but travel to Minnesota in the summer to escape the desert heat and fish. After retiring from teaching, Barbara pursued a career writing children’s picture books about wildlife. Even though her stories are fiction, they contain interesting facts about the main characters as well as QR Codes so readers can hear actual animal sounds and calls. Not only does Barbara love nature and wildlife, she adores all breeds of dogs. Larry is a Yellow Labrador mix who came to live with the Renner family almost 7 years ago. Barbara is currently creating a book, Larry’s Words of Wisdom, that includes his cutest photos and most profound words of wisdom. A portion of sales will go to the facility where Larry was rescued. Information about Barbara and her books about Lonnie the Loon, Quincy the Quail, and Trumpeter Swans can be found on her website: www.RennerWrites.com. She is also a member of SCBWI. Keep in touch with Barbara on her social media sites:

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Donna Boock

 

birthday

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Quarantine Birthday Party Ideas – Ways to Celebrate Virtually

By Donna Boock

 

 

About a month ago, I went out like everybody else and stocked up on supplies to get us through a few weeks in quarantine. Canned soup – check. Frozen pizza – check. Extra chocolate – check and double check. We were ready, we thought.  However, I never imagined we would still be quarantining more than a month later. And it certainly didn’t occur to me that we might be celebrating birthdays in quarantine.

But both of my kids were born in April, and as it came onto the horizon, and no end to social distancing was in sight, it became clear we’d be home alone celebrating. It was time to get ‘virtually’ creative.

 

Flat Matt

 

My son Matt’s birthday was first on the calendar. I wanted to find a way to make this birthday spent in isolation feel somehow less isolated. I came up with the Flatt Matt project. If you’re familiar with Flat Stanley, this idea springboards from that. I found a picture of Matt, blew it up and removed the background using Canva.com, then printed and cut out copies (If the people you are sending to have printers, you could just text or email as well). Then I wrote a letter to friends and family who I thought would have fun with the idea and asked them to make a short video using the Flatt Matt action figure as I called it, and either tell a favorite memory, or what they can’t wait to do with him when this is over or simply sing Happy Birthday. I asked them to please text it to him on his birthday. I was in awe of all of the creativity people put into it, and he loved getting all those fun videos as they trickled in throughout the day. It was like an all-day video celebration!

Riley, my daughter, was up next. Having been recently thrust into online school, I knew all of her friends would have Zoom downloaded so we planned a Zoom meeting birthday celebration. I masked up, grabbed my hand sanitizer and dashed in & out of the grocery store to buy individual cupcakes to drop off to her local friends and family (doorstep delivery only, with a text to let them know their cupcakes were outside). Before we lit the candles and sang, we asked everybody to share one favorite story or memory of Riley. She loved that her friends got to share in her special day, and I loved the stories they shared. You can even download certain apps that allow you to interact and play games through Zoom!

Some other ideas on my brainstorming list were:

  • Camping out in the backyard (Pitch a tent indoors if it’s too cold where you live)
  • Video game “party” using a system that allows kids to interact virtually & schedule a time with parents so kids all can game together
  • Zoom, Skype or Houseparty call (with cupcakes or pizza delivery optional)
  • Create an Escape Room at home (search on Pinterest) or reserve a virtual one with friends here https://lokeysescaperooms.com/

So, if you or someone you love has a birthday coming up, and you are looking for ways to make it special even if you can’t be together, I hope these ideas inspire you and allow the distance to melt away.

 

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Donna books

 

The whole class is going on a field trip to the zoo!

But too bad for classroom rivals Kinzie and Ben. Neither of them can go thanks to getting—and sharing—pink eye. To make it even worse, Ben’s mom can’t take off from work, which means Ben has to come to Kinzie’s house for the day. And there’s no time to make a Kinvention to stop that.

Kinzie and Ben decide if they can’t go on the field trip, maybe they can create their own backyard zoo instead. What could possibly go wrong with that great idea?

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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View More: https://bobbirattaiphotography.pass.us/donna-headshots

I am a children’s book author originally from the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania. There I lived on a lovely lake where there were no fish, bears or snakes. (wink, wink)

I now live in Venice, Florida which is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World and is named for the abundance of sharks’ teeth found on the shores.  But that doesn’t scare me at all. Why should it? The sharks here obviously don’t have any teeth! As an extra boost of luck, there are no alligators or snakes here either.  (wink, wink)

In case you can’t tell, I write funny fiction. That means I make up a lot of things and people laugh at me – often.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Amelia Griggs

 

goal

 

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

 

Setting Goals and Self-Publishing Tips

by Amelia Griggs

 

          2020 is a leap year, and what a strange year it is indeed! While we are practicing safe social distancing, we can use the extra time to write down some goals, plan for the future and strive to do something we have never done before. If you’re thinking about writing a book, now is the best time. If something is holding you back, let go of it. There is no time like the present to follow your dreams and make things happen. Make 2020 the year you make your dreams come true. Dream a little…dream a lot! January 13, 2020, was Make Your Dreams Come True Day, but it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. Dream a lot and dream big to prepare for September 25, 2020 which is World Dream Day!
          If you have an idea about something you want to do in 2020, write it down before it flies right out of your head. I keep journals and notebooks, both paper and electronic all over the house, because you never know when the next big idea will pop up.
          I’ve been getting a lot of questions about KDP vs. IngramSpark, and which is better. KDP is free to create, upload and update a book listing. IngramSpark is usually $49 for a book listing and $25 to upload updated files; BUT if you use coupon code INGRAMSPARK2020, all fees are currently waived. I have used KDP for most of my books (which are tech books and children’s books so far), but for the hard cover versions of my children’s books, I used Ingram Spark since Amazon’s KDP does not currently have a hard cover option. The quality is good with both but there are some differences. I created a video comparing quality of both which you view here if you are interested.  
          If you could go back in time, what advice would you tell the Amelia who was just starting on the self-publishing path?
          I would tell myself that it takes time, so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly for all aspects of the writing, formatting, and self-publishing process. Also, it’s important to build your brand and become familiar with the marketing and promoting process as well.
           What advice, in general, do you have to give novice writers of picture books who would like to self-publish them?
           Proof, proof and proof again. Hire an editor as well as a proofreader, and always be sure to order your proof copy to review and approve before you put your book live and announce it to the public.
          For more self-publishing advice, I would like to give a shout out to Picture Book Planet for interviewing me and publishing this article about the self-publishing process: https://picturebookplanet.com/self-publishing/
Happy Writing!
Amelia
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Amelia book
***The Bella and Mia Adventure Series! ***

The third book in the series: Snowflakes With Sugar

Mia and Bella are decorating for the holidays and decide to make a special treat which is a family tradition. Mix flour, eggs, vanilla, sugar, a little of this and a little that, plus lots of love, and what do you get? Can you guess what it is? When the doorbell rings, Bella and Mia wonder…who can it be? This charming holiday-themed rhyming story includes the recipe and a little history about this surprise treat!

The Bella and Mia Adventure children’s book series is designed to foster love within families by promoting fun activities with parent and child. It also introduces rhyming to children. Rhyming helps children with memory and promotes learning. Reciting rhyming is also an excellent bonding activity for parents and children, or in a group setting with children.

Each story is inspired by warm childhood memories of me watching my mother cook all kinds of scrumptious foods and the fun times we had in the kitchen. Recipe included in the back of the book!

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Amelia picture
Amelia Griggs is a Learning Design and Development specialist, Instructional Designer, Writer and Authorpeneuer. She enjoys researching, designing and developing all kinds of educational materials, writing instructional articles, blogging, and composing fictional short stories. She is currently working on educational eBooks, how-to guides, instructional YouTube videos, and children’s coloring and activity books. Amelia has always loved writing for as long as she could remember. She also loves writing short stories, rhymes and poems, and there’s even a historical fiction novel in her future.

She has a Bachelors of Business Administration with a Major in Computer Science, and a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology.

Please visit all of Amelia’s websites and social media:  https://linktr.ee/ameliagriggs  

Reach for the stars and be all you can be. 🙂
May success, happiness, good health and prosperity be yours!
Happiness is doing what you love!

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Debbie Dadey

Debbie quote

 

(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 

BY STAYING CONNECTED WHILE STAYING SIX FEET APART

For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)

 

Pandemic Swing

By Debbie Dadey

 

I spent a lot of time on my swing when I was a kid. It wasn’t a fancy wooden one like you seen in the backyards of MacMansions today. It was red metal with a painted wooden frame my daddy had attached to the bottom. The frame was supposed to keep it from rising off the ground or turning over. It didn’t work. We never turned over completely, but we did lift the frame off the ground almost every day. We would swing for hours. Sometimes I’d sing or sometimes I’d talk with my brothers or friends. The wooden frame made a seat for me to tell all my troubles to my dog, Spike.

On a really good day, our neighbor, Dougie, would come over. He would stand in front, on the frame stage, and give us a comedy show that was better than the Brady Bunch. It didn’t matter if I’d flunked a spelling test or I was in trouble with my mom, the entertainer would help me forget it all.

I realize I’ve been on a pandemic swing lately. Perhaps you have as well. My frame has been wobbling up and down, making me nervous the whole thing will tip over. I admit I’ve been singing around the house perhaps more than usual. On Easter morning, I stood on my porch looking at the sunrise and sang, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today!” at the top of my lungs. Not sure what my neighbors thought about that.

I’ve also called and texted my family and friends more than usual, just to make sure they aren’t sick. It’s comforting to face similar problems, like neurotic hand washing, with someone else. It’s not the same as sitting side by side on a swing set, but it’s still a comradery that’s soothing. My dog has even suffered through some teary talks and came out wagging her tail.

But mostly, what has helped me to keep moving has been entertainment. My husband and I have been watching a movie a night, when we would normally watch one a week at the most. I am averaging a book a day, when usually one might last me a week. I tried reading classics, but I needed comfort fiction, which for me is Christian Historical Romance. I needed books I enjoyed and swept me away like an old Calgon bath commercial. After all these years, I still needed the diversion of the arts to take me away from the troubles of the day. I keep my regular ‘work at home schedule’, but I make allowances for ‘comfort time,” because we must be kind to ourselves as we face this pandemic swing. We will not tip over, but soar on.  

 

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Debbie book

 

Pearl needs her merfriends’ help when she’s named Winter Princess and finds out she’s going to be a big sister in this sparkling Mermaid Tales adventure.

Pearl is over the moon when she gets the fin-tastic news that she’s been picked to be the next Winter Princess! She can’t help gushing to Shelly, Kiki, and Echo about the beautiful dress she’ll get to wear and how all eyes will be on her when she makes her big speech at the Winter Festival. She can’t wait to tell her parents!

But her parents have some news of their own…Pearl is going to be a big sister! They’re adopting a baby boy, and he’ll be coming home with them right around the time of the Winter Festival. Suddenly, instead of glittering gowns and princess tiaras, Pearl has to talk about new cradles and baby toys. How can her new brother be stealing all of her parents’ attention before he’s even here?

Can Pearl convince her parents that a messy, noisy baby is the last thing they need? Or will she discover she’s more suited to being a big sister than she thought?

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

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Debbie picture

 

Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 176 traditionally published books, including the upcoming Mermaid Tales book, The Winter Princess. It is available for pre-order before the July release (pushed back because of the pandemic). Debbie is working to help homeschooling needs by providing content on her website and with a YouTube live reading every Friday at 2:00 Eastern through the end of May, which will be available on her YouTube channel afterwards. During National Library Week, Debbie will read aloud an entire book, Marty the Mudwrester, on FacebookLive at 9:00 Eastern, which will be available afterwards in her Facebook library. Find out more about Debbie on debbiedadey.com, Facebook.com/debbiedadey, Twitter.com/debbiedadey, or youtube.com/debbiedadey