Category Archives: Education

Branding Time

Oh My, What Have You Done?

Nothing is not the right answer.  Blogging is not it either.  I wish it were.

Branding Time

Do you get roped into things?  Do you sometimes feel like you’ve been branded as the girl who says yes to too many things at once?

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Sometimes I feel like I’ve kicked up so much dust, that a can of worms might be a good thing in comparison. Today I talked to our CPA and learned about 501(c)(3), and I hope we’ve filed all out paperwork.  I created a program for our Western Regional Breakfast that’s happening at the NCSS Conference in Boston next month.  I found out about awards for the program.  I learned about the Woodlake Rodeo.  I did laundry, made lunch and dinner, cleaned the kitchen, took a walk, went to the post office and mailed a letter to a 10-year-old P.O. Box and I hope to find the person who owns the bottom picture to get her permission to use it, so promise me that you won’t steal it.

CGA

I posted important stuff on Facebook for CCSS.  So the truth is that today, I’ve done a lot, but can I remember it when my husband comes home and asks me what I’ve done?  I do, but that was the wrong question.  Does he really want to listen to me list it all?  I think you know that answer.  That’s why I’m telling YOU – and guess what?  He’ll end up reading about it on Facebook tomorrow.  hehehe  :)

Mill Inn-6R sepia

Right this second I’m feeling a little light headed (yes, I did get my hair cut, but only about 2-3 people even missed the 5-6 inches I’ve chopped off) But that’s not why I’m light headed.  I’m dizzy with excitement because I’m almost finished with my book, Images of America Woodlake – 15,894 words out of a total possible of 8,000 to 18,000, and 192 pictures out of a possible 200. What I’ve learned cannot even come close to a limit of 18,000 words. That has been the hardest part. Collecting pictures from those whose names I get from friends, and of those, the ones who return my call or email. Those are the ones whose minute pieces of the story get in the book. Some people have given me hundreds of photos. Some only one. I have to leave out so much, and someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt when the book is published. There is SOOOOO much more to tell. But, that is not my story – at least not for this book.

IMG_3685R sep ps

So what did you do today?  Do you need someone to listen to your list?  Write it in the comment section.  There, doesn’t that feel better?  You really did do something today!

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

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When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
Hengst1-41R
What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  :)

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

Travel Theme: Twist: Twisted Fourth of July

Setting up for an all city celebration traps workers into all kinds of twists and turns.

Twisted flagsUnfurling flags took hours.

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Some workers didn’t stop until they saw stars!

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Hope you had a memorable 4th!  Tell me about it!  :)

Crazy Women Don’t Blog, But What Do They Do?

Hi everyone,

It’s true, crazy people don’t write blogs.  I’ve been crazy busy these last few days.  We are changing staff people at CCSS, and I have answered emails, and tied up loose ends all week in the interim.

loose ends

I got my signed contract for the History of Woodlake book yesterday, and I’ve also been scanning pictures like crazy, and posting them on three different Facebook Woodlake groups.

4th Grade Bike Trip 4_RT

The pictures won’t win any awards, but when I post them on FB, people recognize their tia or tio (aunt or uncle), and other family members, and it’s a lot of fun.  I taught the fourth grade bilingual class in Woodlake in the early 90s.  Aren’t they adorable?

 

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 1_RT

The pictures show the last bike trip we took before the helmet law for bicyclists went into effect around 1993 or 1994.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 3_RT

The goal was to get to location that hadn’t been disturbed by settlement, where a tribe of the Wachumna Indians, a sub-tribe of  Yokuts Indians, lived in this area.  The Yokuts, yes the ‘s’ is part of the name, was one of the largest tribes in North America.  Food was plentiful, nutritious and easy to gather or hunt.  However, not even missionaries or Spanish soldiers ventured this far east more than once or twice.  Settlers from South Carolina discovered this area in 1853.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 7_RT

Kids enjoyed walking through a sort-of-cave and looking at the paintings left by the Wachumna.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 15_RT

The owner of this property, who is in his 80s, remembers seeing them down by Cottonwood Creek.  It’s dry most of the year.  It probably was then, too.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 10_RT

Wachumna women harvested the many oak trees in the area. Women of all ages sat around the large grinding rock and ground acorns.  You can tell who sat where by the size of the holes in the rocks.  Grandmas had very deep holes.  You can clearly see the deep hole on the back right.

 

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 2_RT

Too soon it was time to bike back to school.

4th Grade Bike Trip 13_RT

Drivers followed in trucks or vans to pick up stray bikes and bikers that broke down along the way.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 14_RT

I biked behind them taking pictures and hoping that no one would have problems.  And no one did.  :)

Don’t Read Sad Books, Then Talk On The Phone

The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.

LaurieShe read it and posted on Facebook how good it was.  When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun.  I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.

The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on  Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.

The back yard 1

Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California.  Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture.  The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me.  In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.

Indianapolis street
I am driving up a street near our former home in Indianapolis, IN.

I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book).  I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home.  These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.

Who names their kids Hazel?  Grandma Morris had a sister,  Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something?  It’s so Hoosier.

Hoosiers
Can you find Grandma Morris? Aunt Hazel is probably there, too.

In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation.  They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting.  The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.

“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders.   “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call.  Could you please call her?”

My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee.  You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”

I’m the emotional one.  Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory.  She is not there.  I have to look up her cell phone.  She answers after a few rings.

“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.

“I’m in Utah.”

“Who are you with?”

This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point.  I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it.  Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk.  I wish I had listened to my gut.

“A couple of ladies from church.”

I’m at a complete loss.  Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little.  It turned out that she knew.

“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.

“OK,” I replied and hung up.  I never felt dumber and more useless.

Moral:  When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.

Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s amazing.

Book Reviews: Peter Abrahams Collection

After I read Steven King’s, On Writing, I thumbed through his suggested reading list at the end of the book.  Granted he published his book ten years ago, so these are not the most up-to-date books.  Probably  voracious readers have already heard of Peter Abrahams, but I started at the top of the alphabetized list, so I started reading his books.  He does what I haven’t even come close to mastering.  He writes descriptions, metaphors newer and fresher than clean socks, similes as puzzling as a Sudoku, which I never work out correctly no matter how much scratching I do along the sides.  If I had to categorize Abrahams books, my guess is that they fit best as drama or mysteries.

Lights Out

In Lights Out Abrahams chose a wrongfully imprisoned, vengeful murderer as the hero.  This poor man’s mother neglected him.  His older brother set him up, lied to him and abandoned him, leaving “Nails” to serve his entire sentence in prison for something he never did.   Of course, he killed a few bad guys in prison that picked on him, which kept him locked up.  When he eventually emerged, looking younger and more fit than his outside colleagues, he looked for his errant brother.   Nails seemed dumb, but you had a feeling he would solve the mystery of why he went to prison, and get the good-looking woman in the end.  You wondered if his brother would get caught, and by whom. He did, but not in any way I would have expected, or chosen to read, for that matter, but it kept me reading.  No matter what he did, Nails’ brother got an appropriate comeuppance, but not one you’d wish on your worst enemy.

Revolution #9

Revolution #9, published in 1992, told the classic story of a smart woman marrying a man she thought she knew, and finding out on her wedding night that she didn’t even know his name, nor the people who came and took him away. The government thought they could close the twenty year old murder case when a counterfeiter blew Charlie’s cover in return for favors he would soon need again. No one had reacted with more surprise than Charlie when the bomb he had built and set under the building exploded, killing the eleven-year-old son of a professor at his college.

Running for his life, abandoned by the real terrorists, Charlie changed his identity, and took cover as a lobster fisherman.  He laid low until he accidentally fell in love.   When he married, news of Charlie’s reappearance twenty years later triggered many levels of events reaching into the depths of the government before the reader discovers the true perpetrators.  But did they get away with it, and let Charlie live?  Only those who read the book know for sure.

Oblivion

I also read Oblivion.  Such a title that might have clued me in to the surprise, but it didn’t.  It’s unclear by the end of the book if it actually has a resolved, happy ending.  It’s sort of happy, but because of the oblivious, I’m not sure.

Petrov is an investigator who wins court cases for his clients.  He’s dramatic and thorough, attacking each case with the tenacity of the locked door on my front loading washer. (That’s another story.)  Somehow along the way, he loses his way, and ends up in the hospital, falls in love with the nurse, and ends up head to head against his past and another love.  Abrahams packs more surprises into each chapter than I have had in my life.  If you read it long ago, you may have forgotten all the turns and twists, but I doubt it.

summer reading

If you haven’t read this trio of mysteries, treat yourself a few days of good reading this summer.  :)  What are you reading?

 

Book Review: Co-Operative Dreams A History of the Kaweah Colony by Jay O’Connell

Kaweah Colony

If you’ve never seen a tree so wide you can drive your truck through it, then you need to come to the Sequoia National Park.  The Kaweah River surges down from the Sierra Nevada, through the Big Trees, forming the Delta where big agriculture lives in Tulare County.

map

The huge forests that attract thousands of tourists world-wide today, might have been wiped from the map before their secret was discovered were it not for the drama that unfolded in the mountains in the 1880s.

I met author, Jay O’Connell, in the Pizza Factory in Three Rivers on the day Sally Pace and I made ad sales calls for the Kiwanis Magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  I went home, and sure enough, I had his book, Cooperative Dreams A History of the Kaweah Colony, in my library, but to my loss, had never taken the time to read it.

Early tent colony where first Kaweah Colony residents settled.
Early tent colony where first Kaweah Colony residents settled.

“Three key issues of the nineteenth-century California history are illustrated by events at Kaweah.” The issues prominent in the 1880s, when the Kaweah Colony formed were: “land and its acquisition; labor and the organization of it; and conservation.  … They are personified by three major characters in the drama of the Kaweah.” Charles Keller found the land, and knew it would be perfect to start the perfect cooperative colony.  Burnette Haskell, son of none other than Eddie Haskell (not from Leave It To Beaver, but very much like him in personality) gave voice to the organized labor movement so prominent in those years.  Finally, Visalia’s own “Father of the Sequoia National Park,” George W. Stewart championed conservation so effectively that the results surprised even him.

More permanent dwellings afforded little protection from the winter weather.
More permanent dwellings afforded little protection from the winter weather.

What I didn’t know was that there was such a mysterious aura around the often-told story.  For fifty years even historians did not know how the park came to be included in a bill that originally reserved only a small portion of the trees for posterity.  Even more amazing was the reason for including the magnificent trees in the preservation act.

O’Connell gently unfurls the story, introducing each character, using primary sources including letters, newspaper articles, and interviews of survivors of the colonies conducted in the 1940s by Tulare County historical expert, Joe Doctor, to authenticate his narrative.

As a student of local history, I found this fascinating, but California’s history, its dream belongs to the world as did the settlers that came in the 1800s.

Reviews and Recommendations

A few weeks ago I read Breathing on Her Own published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas written by Rebecca Waters, a friend in a Facebook writers support group.  This book struck a chord with me because one of my friends in Visalia has gone through much of the same trauma.

Breathing on Her Own

Breathing on Her Own doesn’t sound like a lightweight romance, and it isn’t.  Waters walks us through the difficult healing process of a mother whose married adult daughter is paralyzed after a car accident.  WARNING:  Do not have unprotected sex if you think that parenting ends when your child leaves home at the end of… high school…  college… when they get married…

Molly Tipton, an active church-goer and Christian, battles God as she goes through the healing process after the car wreck.  Her daughter had been drinking, and the weather was bad.  Who got the blame for the accident?  God, of course.  It was HIS bad weather that made the road slick.  Well, maybe it was the “girlfriend” with Laney, she had always been a bad influence, but she died instantly, so it was hard to keep blaming her.

After the weeks Laney lingered in the hospital, Molly struggled through numerous changes and tribulations. That first night in the hospital watching her daughter struggle to breathe on her own, Molly never suspected that the caring officer, Officer Steadman, would later charge Laney with the manslaughter of one of her closest friends.  Molly and her husband, Travis, shared responsibilities for Laney’s children as the road to recovery wound around Obstacle Mountain.   When Laney left the hospital still unable to walk, Molly and her husband had hard financial decisions to make that threatened their retirement plans as they tried to help her daughter’s family cope with living with a disability.

 

Accidents are only a second away from any of us.  As she reached out to help , Molly discovered that her own life needed overhauling.

I recommend this book.  It’s an easy read, but then it’s not!

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A few days ago I told you that I switched to iPage. The switching procedure takes ended up being more complicated than I thought it would to switch, but I wanted to save $200 or so.  The service was great.  Eva called me, and answered my call.  However, I returned to WordPress because I had to transfer my own data to the hosting site.  Because my paid membership expired, I couldn’t do that and take my pictures.  I discovered that WP has a less expensive product to host the website, and give more room for storing my pictures.  I jumped on that train, and I’m back in business at WP.  For my simple purposes the $99 program is enough.  Just thought I’d share.

Book Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Writing the romance novel in November, ushered me through a hidden door from a room I thought I knew well, the Writing Room. My scores on tests throughout my training and career in education, convinced me I knew how to write, spell, and that my knowledge of grammar probably out classed Strunk and White – a good argument against multiple choice tests.

A romance site that helps new writers write the genre of romance recommended Stephen King’s book, On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft.  I devoured every word, making more notes and highlights that I have ever made in my kindle.  I noted vocabulary and description.  He writes honestly without worrying who might be upset reading it, as long as it is true to character.

skonwriting

Stephen King started writing at about the same age I did, around age 10.  I entered a writing contest looking for new talent.  When the rejection slip came back, I wadded it up and threw it away.  Not Stephen King.  He began his lifelong collection of them.  He nailed them to his wall, and counted them as a step up to the next level of achievement.  What I learned from Stephen King is that you have to push yourself to publish.  Eventually you learn what you are doing wrong, if you keep working at it. I wonder what might have happened if I had kept trying to publish my writing.

Stephen King’s advice shot me right in the forehead.  In my first composing enthusiasm, I opened myself for the inevitable criticism that accompanies first drafts.  (duh) I was so excited when I wrote Girls on Fire that I sent it to anyone who was kind enough to take a look when it was fresh off my fingertips.  I discovered that it put one person to sleep, the grammar appalled another reader, and my main character had way too many character flaws.  That’s all good information, but there was more eye-opening to come.  After reading several books on how to write, I shudder because I know there are many MAJOR errors remaining after the fifth or sixth draft.  Master writer, King operates differently.  “Write with the door closed… When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. … Once you know what the story is and get it right – as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”

“Let’s say you’ve finished your first (fifth or sixth, in my case) … If you have someone who has been impatiently waiting to read your novel… then this is the time to give up the goods … if, that is your first reader or readers will promise not to talk to you about the book until you are ready to talk to them about it.” (p. 210)  Then he tells us impatient novice writers to let it sit at least six weeks before we start talking about it with the reader(s).  Finally, it’s time to do the real editing work, most of which has to do with character motivation.

King noted when to ignore your first readers.  “Some will feel Character A works but Character B is far-fetched.  If others feel that Character B is believable but Character A is overdrawn, it’s a wash” (p. 216).  Leave it be – yeah!  Another hint, “As a reader, I’m a lot more interested in what’s going to happen than what already did” (p. 224). “Everyone has a history and most of it isn’t very interesting” (p. 227) (No wonder my reader fell asleep!)

King’s wise words made my fingertips itch, and my brain dry up for the moment while I try to absorb his advice. In my humble opinion, every new writer, and some of us experienced ones, should read this book.

Flash: Old Ironsides is White Oak

I must be my father’s daughter since I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to get on board a ship, whether it goes somewhere or it doesn’t.

USS Constitution 1

The USS Constitution is still a commissioned ship manned by humorous navy docents.  I wonder if having a sense of humor comes as part of the package when one joins the navy.  Most navy vets I know tend to have a “dry” sense of humor.

uss contitution2

The first one told us about the upper deck and the construction of the ship, which is 10% original.  The second deck docent instructed us on the daily lives of 500 sailors living on hard tack and grog.

ussconstitution3

Some of the visitors had difficulty with the height of the ceilings in the “day of sail.”  These guys all adjusted in their own ways.

uss constitution4

Hope you are having a great weekend.  What are you doing this weekend?  My friend’s son, Matt, is picking me up soon, and driving me to see more sites outside of Boston.  :)

Reviewing Reams of Irresistible Romances

We visited the revitalized Visalia Electric caboose at Mooney Grove Park today.

Visalia Electric Caboose

Many of my Tulare County Historical Society friends asked me what I have done since I retired.

“Blah blah, and by the way I’ve written a book.”

“Oh, what kind?” Their eyes light up. (probably a history of something in Tulare County)

“A romance.” Their eyes unlight.  “How nice.”

Writing a romance is not easy – even for dummies.  I’ve read Writing Romance Books for Dummies book as part of my market research and learning process, and I’ve learned that there are so many different kinds of romances.  Additionally, I learned that most of the readers are well-read, well-educated, intelligent females.  “Jess!”  This book is a great place to start if you are serious about writing, and it will help you avoid the pitfalls I fell into as I wrote, then maybe you wouldn’t have to spend so much time rewriting.  I purchased a whole library of books for writers, but I’m not going to review them because, unless you are going to write books, you wont be interested in them.  Besides I haven’t read them yet!  hehe  :)

Here is the list of romances I’ve read in the last month.

Rating

1-10

Title & Author Review
7 Waking Up Married, Mira Lynn Kelly Connor meets and marries the girl of his dreams who spontaneously wore a tee-shirt with the words, “GOT SPERM?” sprawled across the font.   When Megan woke up in Vegas married, and throwing up the drinks from the night before,  she was ready to right the wrong immediately. However, Connor told her he wouldn’t give her a divorce until she tried the marriage.  This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.
7 Hidden, Catherine McKenzie This suspenseful romance begins with the accidental death of husband/friend, and reveals the depths of the lives his death devastated. The reader plunges from one point of view to another.  It was confusing for the first few chapters because the author bounced back and forth in time as well.  Nonetheless, it was a page turner.  This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.
5 Killer Cupcakes, Leighann Dobbs Lexy moved into her grandmother’s house right next door to a handsome investigator.  Unfortunately, she became the object of his investigation when her former boyfriend died as a result of poisoning after eating her cupcakes.  This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.
5 Cupid’s Curse, Kathi Daley Zoe’s father falls in love with the wicked witch of the West, and when someone dies, Zoe steps out of her animal rescue business to help the police solve the murder.  She determines that the wicked witch, not only killed the victim, but that her dad is in danger as well.  The author keeps the reader guessing until the end to find out if her theory was correct.  This definitely is categorized as a contemporary romance.
6 Bang! You’re Dead, Debra Salonen With a heroine named Judy Banger, this can’t be anything but an erotic comedy.  Poor Judy is old by romantic standards, but brings home an really old guy who treated her with respect and concern. They have graphic sex, and he dies.  As much as this isn’t my kind of romance, if you could even call it that, it is very funny.  This definitely can be categorized as a erotica, but leans heavily into comedy.  It is contemporary as well.
3 Sneakers, Sandals, and Stilettos, Natasha Deen I had to stop reading this book in the middle, and I lost interest and never went back to it.  It might be great.
9 Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts This suspense romance spins two romances.  The primary romance blazes between daring, young, beautiful Rowan Tripp, lead “smoke jumper”  and a rookie “smoke jumper.”  The second, and less combustible romance develops around Rowan’s single parent/father, Iron Man Tripp, a retired “smoke jumper.” The nearly 500-page book moves swiftly through mishaps, murders, and near accidents.  Amazingly, I solved the murder successfully, which is unusual for me.  This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.
7 Shotgun Bride, Linda Lael Miller Kade McKettrick needed marry to please his father and earn the right to inherit his property, so he ordered six brides.  By the time they arrived in early March, 1885, he had fallen in love with a feisty hotel clerk who worked for his sister-in-law.  The two of them fought through many rugged, wild-west adventures fighting off bad guys, and nearly getting killed.  This book had two other minor romances brewing at the same time, and several tragedies.  I never realized there were so many cowboy romances until I read the Writing Romance book.  This was my introduction to this genre.

About fifty percent of books written today are romance.  Romance sells, and even if the book is classified as a different genre, there is usually some romance woven into the plot.  The books listed above classify as romance first, and historical or suspense second.   I hope this ream of romance reviews helps you pick out your next good read.  But save room in your romance-reading schedule for Girls on Fire when it comes out!  :)

 

 

 

Boston Here I Come

I have the fortune to be going to the historic city of Boston on social studies business.  I’m extending my stay since I have never been there, and live in CA, so I’ll be there from April 1-8 then on to Philadelphia and Delaware from April 8-15.  Thanks to Google Images for all the pictures.

Boston at night2

I’ll be arriving at 11:00 p.m., so I’m sure the city will look beautiful. For me it will just be 8:00.  I’ll be raring to go!  However, I’m alone, so I’ll  get settled in my hotel, and maybe write a post or two with Manny.  The good news is that I’m going to get to visit blogger friend, Eunice at NutsForTreasure while I’m there.

I investigated a couple of blogs.  Free choices of interesting sights to see abound.  Many friends told me to walk the Freedom Trail which starts at the Visitor Information Center in the Common.

Boston Common

I must see the Mapparium, a walk-in, three-story-high, stained glass globe.

National_Geographic_Wallpaper_-_Christian_Science_Mapparium_display1

I’ll enjoy visiting the Museum of Fine Arts free on Wednesday after 4:00 p.m.  If I tour the Samuel Adams Brewery from 10:00-3:00 beforehand, will I have more fun, or fall asleep on the floor? zzz

Museum of Fine Arts

Maybe I should explore the Massachusetts State House the war ship, USS Constitution, and the Old North Church instead.  Most of them open at 10:00 also. I’ll have plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast while I get used to the three hour time difference.

Old-Massachusetts-State-House

If you have been to Boston, or lived here, what would you suggest for me to see, or are you a blogger friend who lives there?

Mom better not forget me this time!
Mom better not forget me this time!

 

 

 

What Happens at a Social Studies Conference?

Large or small, I like social studies conferences.   Teachers starve for social studies professional development because it differs from other subject area conferences.

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The social studies include four core subject areas:  geography, economics, history and civics.

  • Geography:  Now I ask you who isn’t interested in traveling? One of our CCSS exhibitors offers teachers expenses paid trip for two weeks to Germany.  Do they have offers like that in math conferences?

The activity we did at the N. CA conference this weekend had us identifying where and when pictures had been taken.  Each group of 4 had two different pictures. This particular activity showed change over time in Germany.

  • Economics:  Do you run out of month or paycheck first?What would happen if we quit shipping the 40% of California’s agricultural products overseas, could we save water in drought-ridden California?  Studying economics helps students grapple with historic and current issues, trace the consequences and predict future results from actions we take today.  Conferences bring you face to face with people in the know like Dr. Jim Charkins of the California Council for Economics Education.
  • History:  Scholars from near and far engaged us in conversations about WWI, the trenches, the music, the need to enlist before the selective service started, and the propaganda to get people to enlist.
Lora Vogt from the WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO
Lora Vogt from the WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO

Now I understand a little piece of my grandfather’s life a little better.

scholar Jennifer Keene
Dr. Jennifer Keene from Chapman University compared Ernest Hemingway’s life to the average WWI soldier. Sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute

At the other conference we Skyped author/scholar, Allyson Hobbs from Stanford, also sponsored by Glider Lehrman Institute who studied the effects of African-Americans who passed for white, and what they missed from their black culture by giving up their identities.  Can you imagine giving up/turning your back on who you are?  She made it personal.

Dr. Allyson Hobbs, sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute
Dr. Allyson Hobbs, sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute
  • Civics:  We met three speakers involved in landmark Supreme Court cases.  Sylvia Mendez’s younger sister never knew the court case happened until  she studied the effect on the Civil Rights movement in high school.  Karen Korematsu spoke about her father, Fred Korematsu’s opposition to the federal government, prison, Supreme Court Case.  We met Mary Beth Tinker, Tinker V Des Moines, who wore a black armband to school, to express her views.  She didn’t think it was any big deal at the time.  Now she talks to children around the country.  She told us stories of amazing children, and what they can do that adults couldn’t.
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NCSS President-Elect, Michelle Herczog and Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker v Des Moines

We heard Major General Patrick Brady tell us that people may not have equal opportunities, but we all have access to as much courage as they want.  The more we use, the more we have.

Major General Patrick Brady, Vietnam War hero, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
Major General Patrick Brady, Vietnam War hero, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

We met political cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz who has one of his paintings hanging from the wall of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor

Lalo Alcarez at the CCSS Conference in Los Angeles
Lalo Alcarez at the CCSS Conference in Los Angeles

Where else but a social studies conference can you rub elbows with people who played a part in exciting events you read about in the news?

Power of Democracy2Intensity sparked like electricity during a Power of Democracy Task Force meeting. Where can you get direct contact with legislators, Department of Justice, and Department of Education at the same time?

Power of Democracy/Civic Education
Student speaker at Power of Democracy/Civic Education meeting

We honored our best and finest social studies teachers at the awards program – AKA Emmys. Twitterers tweeted during the conference.

DBQ session

Brent won a bicycle at the membership booth. Exhibitors gave free stuff to everyone.  Best of all teachers connected with other teachers and shared ideas.

Next March we go to Oakland.  The National Conference will be in Boston in November.  California Council Needs YOU!  If you teach history-social studies in CA, please join us.

Visiting Cal’s Used Bookstore in Redding, CA

Market Research 11RT

Blue sky and 75 degrees made today a  tourist-magazine perfect day to look for Cal’s Used Bookstore, located with great difficulty at 5240 Westside Road in Redding, CA back behind rows of what looked like Storage Wars.  Market Research 10RT

While it isn’t Powell’s Used Books in Portland, Oregon, owner, Carl, filled several rooms with many genres of used books, and seemed knowledgeable about them all.  He walked me through the romance section, saving me hours of tedious looking.

It was hard to compare the numbers of books in both the new and the used bookstores.  What is interesting about a used bookstore is which books come back to be resold, and how long they stay on the shelf.  Carl arranged his books in alphabetical order, but highlighted more authors, by setting the books on a little shelf (or book) and piling them up, spine showing.

Market Research12RT
Popular paranormal author

He pointed out authors that sold well, so I bought four books at $3.50 each.  He told me that books by J.R. Ward flew off the shelf faster than any others, and so he only had a few of her books.  I bought her book, Envy, published in 2001.  She is a #1 NY Best Selling Author.  Paranormal romance currently sells well.

Market Research RT

Traditional romance books by Debbie Macomber, author of Back on Blossom Street published in 2007, come back into the store by droves.

Market Research 13RTRobyn Carr sets her stories in local venues, which draws readers in this area to her books.

Market Research14RT

Carl showed me where to find children’s books, then left me to enjoy them by myself.  I found VERY few fiction picture books.  Early readers and early teen books prevailed.  Cal’s stocked mostly non-fiction science and social science children’s picture books.  Of the fiction books available, one earned the Caldecott Honor, John Henry by Julius Lester, pictures by Jerry Pinkney, published in 1994. -mint condition.  I’m guessing that it is around 2,000 words, which makes it almost 4 times as long as The Australian Writer’s Centre suggested length for picture books.  This book cost me $4.50, and is $14.36 at Amazon.  However, I might never have bought it at Amazon because there are so many choices, whereas, it was the only Caldecott Award winning book at Cal’s.

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The other book I purchased, Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, who also wrote Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type which is a Caldecott Award winner, and one of my favorite books. It still had it’s $0.98 price tag on the spine and I paid $3.50 for it.  :)

Duck for President

My analysis of the situation is that once people purchase picture books, they either wear them out, hand them down, or keep them until they have grandchildren.  Most do not come back for resale unless they are not very good.  On the other hand, people reuse paperback books.  These sold for $3.50, about the same price as the hardback copies of the children’s books, almost half of their retail value, $7.19 paperback or $5.38 Kindle.  I learned that authors do not get any more than name recognition from the sale of used books.

So where do you get your books?

Market Analysis for the Neophyte Author

When I went to Barnes and Noble in Fresno to check out the competition in romance novels and children’s books, I looked through the new lens of market research instead of Common Core Standards.

Romance Research 1rt

Most of the romance books lined one aisle filed alphabetically by author’s last name.  Commonly the bookstore displays the titles spine out.  Occasionally an author earned the right to face cover out.

market research 2RTBarnes and Noble displayed more Nora Roberts books than any  other author.  Since I had never read one of her books, I found one in another display of bargain books, a hardback book selling for $6.98, originally $27.85.  What’s interesting for the neophyte author is how many books there are, and how few of them are actually spotlighted.

Market research 3RT

It was easier to read in the children’s section, so I spent the most time in that section.  It intrigued me how few of even the spotlighted books were what I would consider “great reading.”

Market Research 4RT

I stayed three hours in the bookstore until I got hungry, and in that time read, took pictures and made notes on about 20 picture books as well as the romance books.  In that time probably three or four children came with their parents to read. A clerk stayed close by to help them find books, and she talked to me about the children’s birthday bonus I could sign up to receive.

Market research 5RTOut of the many, many children’s picture books available, only a very small percentage of authors made it to their own shelves. Many of these are books that are common household words, like Dr. Seuss, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  One can find some classics in several different places around the bookstore. Packed into the back corner, one bookshelf housed prized picture books by age level.

Market Research 6RT

You can see Eric Carle’s books on the bottom for the very young. Next are the oldest pre-school aged books.  I read two of them, one I liked and one I didn’t.  Days later I saw a wordless cartoon telling the story of Flying Books by William Joyce.  I thought it needed words, but I had read the book.  At the very top, out of reach sat books for two year olds. My favorites were in the younger stories.  I especially enjoyed The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen.  This story began, “The dark lived in the same house as Laslo.”  What a catching first line, then the story unfolded from “dark’s” point of view. “Sometimes the dark hid in the closet…”  These were among the best I read.

Market Research6R

I read books from the less advertised sections.  I chose a book by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Welton Hamilton because they offered an online class on writing children’s literature.  The Fairy Princess Sprinkles in the Snow had all the glitz a little girl would want.  It seemed long, but I didn’t count words.  The book centers around a spoiled little girl who wants to be in the concert but was not chosen.  It seems contrived and didactic in places to me, but Julie Andrews wrote it, so how awful could it be?

Market Research 8RC

I also noted publishers, and published dates, award-winning books.  I photographed book jacket marketing statements, and purchased my favorite books.  When I came home, I looked for my favorite authors online, and friended them on Twitter and Facebook if they were available.  Now I am a veritable expert on the market for romance and picture books.  Onward to getting ready to publish and hit the shelves.

Market Research 9RT

Oops, where’s that book by what’s her name, Marsha somebody?

Copy Cat Writing: Writing Children’s Books Like Audrey Penn

I joined a writing group called “My 500 Words”.  The goal of the group is to write 500 words each day.  Obviously, my writing slacked off the week of our big California Council for the Social Studies conference.

The prompt for today is to copy a favorite from the classics and try to emulate the style.  When I did my day of market research in the bookstore, I looked at children’s books.  I loved the book, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, written in 1993.  (That’s a classic, isn’t it?)

Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried.

“I don’t want to go to school,” he told his mother.  “I want to stay home with you.  I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing.  Please may I stay home with you?

Mrs. Raccoon took Chester by the hand and nuzzled him on the ear.

“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently.  Even if they seem strange and scary at first.  But you will love school once you start.  You’ll make new friends.  And play with new toys.  Read new books And swing on new swings.  Besides,” she added. “I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home.”

Chester wiped away his tears and looked interested.  “A secret? What kind of secret?”

“A very old secret,” said Mrs. Raccoon.  “I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from hers.  It’s called the Kissing Hand.”

“The Kissing Hand?” asked Chester.  “What’s that?”

“I’ll show you.” Mrs. Raccoon took Chester’s left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan.  Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm.

Chester felt his mother’s kiss rush from his hand up his arm, and into his heart.  Even his silky, black mask ringed with a special warmth…

So I wrote my version, The Eskimo Kiss by Marsha Ingrao 472 words

Misty Rabbit stood outside Tree House School and cried.

Misty Rabbit

“I don’t want to you to go away,” she told her friend.  “I want you to stay here.  I want to hop along familiar roads, play and be friends. And talk about growing up. And eat giant carrot burgers and drink chocolate malts. And ride bicycles together.  Please stay.

Rusty Raccoon took Misty by the foot and nuzzled her ear.

“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” he told her gently.  There will be roads for us to hop along again.  But we both have to follow our families now.”

“You are going to school.  You’ll learn to write books.  And make author presentations.   And shake feet with lots of new friends who buy your books.  Besides,” he added. “I know a wonderful secret that will make your days at home seem as warm and cozy as our school nights together.”

Misty wiped away her tears and looked interested.  “A secret? What kind of secret?”

“A very old secret,” said Rusty Raccoon.  “I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from hers.  It’s called the Eskimo Kiss.”

“The Eskimo Kiss?” asked Misty.  “What’s that?”

“I’ll show you.” Rusty Raccoon spread  his fingers on both sides of Misty’s face.  Leaning forward, he gazed into her eyes, rubbed her nose with his nose.

Misty felt her friend’s Eskimo Kiss rush from her nose down her neck, and into her heart.  Even her long ears tingled pink.

Rusty Raccoon smiled.  “Now,” he told Misty, “whenever you feel lonely and need a little love, just touch your nose, and think, ‘Rusty loves you.  Rusty loves you.’ And that very touch will jump from your nose and fill you with yummy thoughts.”

He took Misty’s foot and carefully held it over the kiss.  “Now, be careful.  Don’t lose it,” he teased her.  “Don’t worry.  When you wash your face, I promise the Eskimo Kiss will stick.”

Misty loved her Eskimo Kiss.  Now she knew her friend’s love would go with her wherever he went.  Even to school without him.

That night, Misty stood in front of her friend, and looked thoughtful.  Suddenly, she turned to her friend and grinned.

“Come closer,” she told him.

Misty placed her front feet on both sides of Rusty’s face.  Next she leaned forward rubbed her friend’s nose with hers.

“Now you have an Eskimo Kiss, too,” she told him.  And with a sweet “Good-bye” and “I love you,” Misty turned and danced away.

Rusty Raccoon watched Misty Rabbit hop over a jumbo rock and across the meadow.  And as Rusty scampered in the opposite direction, he stopped and pressed his hand to his nose and smiled.

Misty’s Eskimo Kiss filled his heart with warm words.

“Misty loves you,” his heart rang.  Misty loves you.”

A Bevy of Bambino Book Reviews

A Kissing Hand was the most touching of the books I found this week, but there were several others that I liked as well.

mommy's monster

Mommy’s Little Monster by Dawn McNiff, illustrated by Kate Willis-Crowley will capture your heart, too.  No one can hate these monsters.  Tiny Troll’s mom is going to a party without him.  You should see his look, and even more, his toys!  Mommy gets ready, and if you’ve ever wondered what a troll does to doll herself up, wonder no longer.  She even slimed her scales!  Wait till you see her purse!  Off she went, and in comes Mrs. Hagi, the babysiter. Tiny Troll’s poor toy slug slammed against the wall.  Such a temper!  Mrs. Hagi knows just what will make him better, but doesn’t force it on him.  He smells warm mudmilk from the swamproom.  Soon he and Mrs. Hagi were enjoying more mudmilk than his mother EVER allowed him to have, and Tiny Troll, the happy toddler, fell fast asleep.  When his mommy came in to kiss him good night, “her bristles smelled of mold again.”  Best of all she brought him a bag of rotten worms from the party.  Life is TOO good!

Green Crayon

The Day the Crayons Quit, another favorite of mine by Drew Daywalt illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, had me in stitches.  And I finished my quilt!

Duncan liked to color. The crayons had some complaints.  They each wrote him a letter.  Tired Red needed a rest after Valentine’s Day and Christmas.  Purple expressed his irritation with Duncan’s out of the line coloring.  Beige clarified his identity.  Gray discussed the elephant in the room.  White felt invisible while black tired of always being an outline, and wanted to be a beach ball instead. Proud Green turned out to be a tattle tale.  Orange and yellow fought about which one of them more accurately represented the sun.  Broken Blue couldn’t see out of the box.  Diva Pink complained that he never came close to her.  She was such a mouth, that one couldn’t blame poor Duncan.  Peach, peeled bare, wanted clothes.  Duncan solved their problems in the last picture in his book.  Duncan's solution

Old women laughing in the children’s book section of Barnes and Noble seems weird, but if you go there and read this book, sneak into a corner.  All people will see are your shoulders shaking.  :)

No David's nose

No David! by David Shannon appealed to me, but my husband thought it was too stupid for publication.  Sorry David.  He probably didn’t want to fess up to being just like David as a kid.  The text is stupid, I have to admit, but the drawings, complete with David’s finger in his nose made me laugh.

So what books are your favorite children’s books that you and your children have enjoyed over the years?