Sunday, February 18, 2018

Duck and Cover Star Mobile Craft

In addition to writing, I also love to craft.

I decided to make a craft to go along with my MG book, Duck and Cover.

The book is about The Cuban Missile Crisis, but it is also about a boy and his dreams. His mom tells him to "Hang your dreams on a star, and you'll go far." So that's what he does. He hangs his dreams on the North Star.

I'm going to show you how you and/or your child can make a star mobile.

And, as always with crafts, if you need to make a few changes, do so. That is why crafts are so unique. They are all different.

I used a 9" Styrofoam form.

I tore 1 1/2" strips of material. It took around 9 feet.

Wrap it around the form. I pinned the ends with straight pins. You could glue the ends if you wanted to.

Then I got three pieces of craft wire 18" long. I stuck the ends into the Styrofoam (you could put a little Elmer glue onto the wire before sticking it into the foam), brought them together at the top, twisted the last couple of inches of the wire around each other and bent it over into a hook. I tied a ribbon around the wires at the bottom of the hook.

Go here and run off on card stock the PDF of Stars. Cut them out. 

Punch a hole into the large stars. Cut different lengths of fishing line. Tie into the holes and then tie around the Styrofoam ring. Let them hang at different lengths. Then get a glue stick and glue the small blue stars onto the hanging ribbon. If you want, you can color the backs of the stars to match the front.

Now have your child write his or her dreams or wishes on the individual stars.
Hang it in their room.

 I hope you enjoyed this craft and I hope you enjoy my book.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Littlest Bigfoot

I admit I am a "wanna be believer" in Bigfoot.

So, when I saw this MG book, I wanted to read it.

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
September 2016

Image result for the littlest bigfoot
Beautiful cover with a beautiful young girl and a cute littlest Bigfoot.

But, the MC feels she is unwanted, unloved, too big and has very unruly hair. I do feel that the cover should have been more true to the description of the main character in the book. I know some of you may think this sounds silly, but I feel if a young girl who is a little overweight reads this book and then looks at the picture on the cover, she's going to think, "If she's supposed to be big, then I must really be big."

The book starts out slow and is written in three POVs - Alice, Millie and Jeremy. If you can keep reading through the slow beginning and get used to the three POVs, you will find it to be an interesting read. In the second half of the book, I found myself wanting to finish the book to see what happens - and that is good.

This is what it says on Amazon:

  Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one.

But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star.

Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else.

Have you read The Littlest Bigfoot?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Writing Wednesday - The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

There is some controversy about this book. I admit I had heard a lot about it, but had never read it until yesterday. I had a little free time after my writer's group met at the library, so I went over and browsed the children's section.

I picked up this book and began to read. At 621 words, it did not take long to finish. It was first published in 1964. There have been many additional printings of it since then, and it has sold millions.

It has over 3000 reviews on Amazon and 82% of them give it a 5 Star Rating. (I would be happy to get 25 reviews on any of my books) But that's another story.

I liked it in the beginning. I thought it was a cute and simple book. But as I flipped through the pages, I started feeling sad for the tree. The tree gave the boy unconditional love throughout his life, but I feel the boy remained selfish. He never thanked the tree for what she gave him. 
They say the character in your book should grow and change. In my opinion, the boy in this story did not grow and change. I feel he was selfish in the beginning and he was selfish in the end.

I read that Shel Silverstein once said, “It’s about a boy and a tree. It has a pretty sad ending.” I think that about sums it up.

But everyone has different opinions about books and that is what reviews are for.

You can go here and read about it on Amazon.
Go here and hear the reading of it on You Tube.

What do you think about the book?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Getting Back into a Routine

Happy Monday everyone.

I have been so lax in posting on my blog lately. I'm going to try to get back into a routine of posting regularly.

So check back on Mondays and Wednesdays. I will try and post at least one of those days and maybe both.

There is a blog, Always in the Middle, that posts about middle grade books every Monday. They call it  MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays). People review middle grade books. There is a click to their site and you can read what they have been reading. I used to post pretty regularly on this site, but haven't did it for a while, but I always try and go visit it every Monday.

Last Monday Patricia Tilton put up a very good review of my MG book, Duck and Cover. It was a nice surprise when I went over to her blog yesterday and saw it.

You can click here and read it. 

It is available on Kindle on Amazon. We are currently working a few kinks out of the manuscript, and the paperback will be put back up for sale shortly.

Happy reading and happy writing!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Enjoying my Writing

Another year has passed.

Did you meet your goals?
Are you content with where you are in your writing career?

Just recently I came to the conclusion that I am going to stop being so stressed out about my writing goals.

I am going to relax and enjoy my writing.
If I get published - great!
If I don't - that's fine, too.

With the ending of this year, I will no longer write a column with the regional magazine, Two-Lane Livin.' Not because I quit (I loved writing for this magazine), but because, after 10 years, the publisher ceased publication of the magazine. I wrote 8 years for the magazine.

My middle grade book, Duck and Cover, was published.
It is a very good story inspired by a small memory from my childhood. I am not entirely happy with the publication of it. It is in the process of being revised.

I published my cookbook, Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances. It has been selling well on Amazon.

 In honor of New Year's Day here is a recipe from the book:

I call this Charley’s cooked cabbage because my husband is always the one who cooks it. My husband, because of the way he is, inspired a picture book manuscript that I wrote. He always overdoes everything. If a little is good, more is better, is his motto. With that being said, my husband makes a huge pot of cabbage when he cooks it. Of course, you don’t have to make such a large pot. This is more of a way of cooking something than a recipe. My husband says the secret to cooking good cabbage is not to cook it too long.

large head of cabbage (or two-enough to fill a large pot)
package of Lil Smokies
½ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the cabbage on cutting board.
Add 1 to 2 cups of water to large pot and add cabbage.
Add sugar, vegetable oil, and Lil Smokies.
Season to taste (Charley likes pepper, so he shakes on a lot)
Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer.
Stir occasionally, cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.

We always have cabbage on New Year’s Day. When I was a child, we put a silver dime in the cabbage. Whoever got the dime in their serving would be prosperous that year. That was one way to get the kids to eat cabbage—we all wanted that dime. 

I may self-publish my other middle grade book that I have written. I also have a novella, that I love and is close to my heart, that I may self publish.

I have found that it is very hard to get your books published by big publishers. It helps to have a name or agent, been previously published, or a story that is unique and what the publisher is looking for in order to get picked up.

I have come close a few times with my PBs, but I don't know if I will ever be able to fit the needed criteria.

I will keep trying to get my PBs published, but may opt to self publish my other manuscripts.

I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to do that and I will try to be satisfied and happy with my decision.

I want to enjoy writing again.

Do you have any writing resolutions?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Create Your Own Book Weights

I'm a writer
I'm a reader
I'm a crafter.

I just finished a cookbook that I had been working on for what seems like years and had it published.

It doesn't have a spiral binding, so I needed something to hold the pages open when I'm cooking.

I looked up book weights, and I didn't like the leather ones I saw online, plus they were pretty expensive.

So I made my own. And I will show you how you can make them, too.

The template I used is 2 3/4" x 8 1/2". Cut this shape out of card stock or cardboard (you can cut up an empty cereal box).

 For each one, find pretty material and cut two pieces.
I also cut a 3" piece of grosgrain ribbon (that is the small pink strip you see sticking out from the material).

Put the two pieces together, printed sides facing each other, and the ribbon in-between, about half way down.

Fold the edges of one end down and sew together, keeping the end you folded down open.

Turn and iron.

Get a funnel and fill with bb's. I used 1/3 cup for each one. Of course, you could probably use rice or dried beans, but I prefer the bb's.

Sew by hand (or machine, if you wish) the open end.

Voila! Aren't they pretty?

Of course, you only need one for each book.

Great for cookbooks, craft books or any book.

And while you are here, go here to check out my cookbook - Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances.

You can click on the "see inside" feature to read the contents page.

Living up to my blog title, there are 7 blackberry recipes included in the book. I love blackberries!

In addition to over 120 recipes (old and new), I show you how to make aprons out of old blue jeans (that is the crafter coming out of me), read a few of my poems (Recipe for a Home, I am From Appalachia, Recipe for Warm Memories, and Grandma's Apron), use pages in the back to write down your own treasured recipes so they won't be forgotten, and read three pages of cooking tips and a page of food traditions and superstitions.

Do you have any book weights?

If not, make a few of these pretty ones. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Author Take Over on Facebook

Hi, all.

Summer has been very busy here at the Smart house in Jackson County.

I finally finished my cookbook, Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances, that I have been working on for a very long time. I am about ready to send for the proof.

I have also been re-writing a novella that takes place in 1908/09 rural West Virginia.The idea for the book came from my grandparents who lived during that time period.

Saturday on Saguaro's Facebook page they are having an Author Take Over. I have never participated in one of these before, and I must admit I don't know what I'm doing. But, I am going to have fun trying.

Come over on Saturday and join me during my 20 minute time slot of 3:40 until 4:00 Eastern time.

I will tell a little about my me, my book, and my favorite character in the book.

I will be answering any and all questions you may have about my book, Duck and Cover.

I will be posting links to my sites and my Pinterest board on Duck and Cover.

Come by and say hi, so I won't be lonely.

Happy Writing!

Monday, June 12, 2017

West Virginia Writer's Conference

This weekend the West Virginia Writer's Conference celebrated their 40th anniversary.

The sun filled the sky the entire weekend (our conference is usually visited by rain).

People from all over the United State attended. If I remember correctly, we had attendees from Washington, Iowa, Ohio, Florida and quite a few other states.

I live within a few miles of the conference.

Every year they give the JUG (Just Uncommonly Good) award to a deserving writer. This year one of the recipients was Dolly Withrow. She is a member of our writing group and very deserving of the award. She is a Grammar Guru and has a fun way of helping you remember all the rules that are so easy to forget. And she was a member when the conference formed 40 years ago.

One of the workshop presenters, Michael Knost (who was the other JUG recipient), had a great workshop about showing vs. telling.

Think of showing as a radio play-by-play sports announcer.
Think of telling as the sports commentator.

The sports announcer describes each play as if you were there. He becomes your eyes.

The commentator tells you background information and statistics.

In writing a story, it would translate to something like this:

showing - Lucy scrunched her nose at the stale peppermint from the bottom of her purse. (The writer is your eyes, showing what Lucy is doing)
telling - Her mother gave her the candy a year ago. (The writer is telling in this sentence)

Don't tell things that aren't essential to the story.
Show emotions.
Show reactions.

I attended the Awards Banquet on Saturday Night.

I won 3rd place and Honorable Mention in the children's category of their annual spring writing contest.

And I received 2nd place ribbons in the People's Prose workshop on Saturday and the Poetry Writer's Wall.

After attending the workshops, I am now sitting at my desk editing my manuscripts.

Using the knowledge I gained, I will try to make them better.

Have you attended a conference or workshop lately?
What tidbit of writing advice can you share with us?

One thing I have learned is that most writers love to help each other out and share helpful information.

"I love my writing friends. I appreciate all of you!"

(I sneaked in an !, though my friend, Dolly, says not to use them.)

One of my writing friends, Beverly Stowe McClure, just posted a review of Duck and Cover on her blog. Thank you, Beverly. She is a very talented author, click here to check out her blog.