Time is growing short to find the right gift for yourself or someone you love. I wish I could say I made money off affiliate links, but I don’t. I’m simply a struggling author sharing some things I love that you might enjoy.
This is my Sphynx Juno. She’s 12. Rather than drinking from the Catit flower fountain like a normal cat, she prefers this pose. She has tried this on other fountains and bowls, tipping them over. This one is Juno-proof!
All our cats love this fountain. We no longer worry one kitty will develop kidney problems from a lack of water.
It’s cheap, cute and easy to clean. I got it from Chewy.
A 2020 Christmas Ornament. Normally we add an ornament to the Christmas tree that commemorates some place we went during the year. But this is 2020. Out of virus concerns, we followed public health recommendations and stayed home. My family hasn’t had the big reveal so no pic yet, but Etsy.com has a delightful variety and you can support small businesses hurt by the shuttering of craft fairs and other in person outlets. If you want to shop local, Etsy gives you that choice as well. Claire of Sidetracked supports Etsy.
Books – ebooks and physical books!
Seriously – feed an author, buy a book, and give the gift of entertainment.
Gift Cards from local restaurants. Support those places you love, but also treat people who don’t live with you to a great meal from some place local to them.
Some local bakeries and ice cream places will ship across country which can be a wonderful taste of home for someone who can’t travel or has special dietary needs.
Personally, I’m excited about the AandJbakery.net gingerbread house kit that arrived at my house this week. As a food allergy family, finding a gingerbread house we could safely build was a challenge until we learned about A&J. The pic is last year’s model. The gingerbread is the best I’ve ever had.
I’m thankful that I’ll have writing news to share in the near future. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to find out what it is.
I’m thankful I got to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. I grew up following them and learned the mantra “Wait until next year.” Waiting through a lot of next years taught me lessons in patience and hope that apply to my writing career. I wait for the next book to take off and be the one that gets on the shelves in Target, or at least gets a high-profile review. In the meantime, I sure do appreciate all you loyal fans, er readers, who’ve stuck with me. Can I add a 6th? Because if so,
Last month I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Since embarking on my writing career, this is the third time I have been able to attend. The 2016 conference marked my first visit to beautiful San Diego, CA. I wish I could go more often, both to San Diego and to the conference. In the meantime, here are five lessons I learned.
Romance authors are wonderful people. We are smart, funny, hard-working, determined, curious, gracious and generous.
Always wear comfortable shoes, especially when volunteering as I did during the Readers for Life Literacy Signing. You never know when you will need to race through the building to lend a hand to one of those wonderful authors.
Be ready with the one line elevator pitch ANYTIME. I am on cloud 9 that my dream publishing house requested a full manuscript based on a one minute interaction.
Small mental shifts in how one approaches the business of writing can be powerful. Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan shared ways to make promotion a more playful rather than dreaded part of of being an author. When Mary Burton quipped “It’s not concrete, folks, it’s words,” I found the idea liberating.
Last, but not least, I learned I once again picked up too much amazing swag and too many books. This is small sample. The books are in another room. I can’t keep it all. Over the next few months, I’ll draw names from my newsletter subscribers and send out some goodies. I even have a few things that I can ship overseas. If you aren’t subscribed, sign up here.
Humility. Kids are terrific at pointing out all your flaws. If I misspeak, I will be corrected. If I come home after a work-out or a long bike ride, my kiddos will point out how bad I stink. If dinner is not delicious and merely okay, I will know. Forget tough to please reviewers, my harshest critics are tied to my daily life.
The mundane can be amazing. I never thought much about drawers until my daughter was 3 months old and I laid her on the bathmat while I got ready for the day. I pulled open the drawer to get out my hair brush. The action was nothing to me until I noticed how big her eyes grew. She had never seen a drawer in motion before and her little mind was blown. Since then, I’ve tried to be more appreciative of small moments. Wonder is a state of mind.
Bananas are tasty. I did not eat them until I had to set a good example to my children.
Listen and ask questions before giving advice. Respect what they have to say, and they will respect what you have to teach them, unless it is a mispronunciation in which case, see #1.
Nothing beats a snuggle and a book. At the end of a long day, I love to sit with each child and talk books. At first, I read picture books, then we moved on to new challenges. My son and I read the classics. He decides if the language is too tricky for him to read half or not. We stop and talk about ideas, word meaning and make predictions. Sometimes my daughter listens in. More often she and I snuggle and she tells me about what she is reading at the moment. Because it’s a comforting ritual for all of us, we turn to it when not feeling well or simply having a rough day. Of course, if you read this, chances are high you are already a book lover and know exactly what I mean.
The last two weeks, I’ve treated you to book recommendations for Middle School readers and for Elementary aged readers. This week, I’m sharing five terrific picture books. I’ve given priority to books that have been released this year. As before, I’m including buy links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for your convenience. I do not benefit financially in these recommendations, I just want to share books I love to help those who are looking for a book to give to a child.
The Book with no Pictures by B.J. Novak. Yup, I’m starting a list of picture books with a book that has no pictures. Trust me on this one. B.J. Novak, previously a writer for The Office, has a tremendous way with words and a wicked sense of fun. This is the book the kids in your life will want to spring on unsuspecting parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, uncles and well, anyone as a bedtime story. The sense of mischief and fun appeals to kids all ages, including those of us experienced kids who have the gray hair to prove it. Amazon and Barnes&Noble
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers Have you ever looked at a child’s box of crayons and wondered what on earth happened to those once pristine pieces of wax? Jeffers’ playful illustrations are spot on and new readers will be surprised at the emotional depths Daywalt finds in the crayons. This is a terrific gateway for talking about emotions. Amazon and Barnes&Noble
I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems. Mo Willelms is the mastermind behind Knufflebunny, the Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie, stars of I Will Take a Nap. Elephant and Piggie don’t look alike and possess many opposite traits (cautious versus impulsive) that can cause some conflict between the two, but friendship always prevails. Amazon and Barnes&Noble
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat. This came out last year, but it didn’t cross my radar until my ninja loving son brought it home from the library. As I’ve said before, I think Dan Santat is a terrific illustrator and his vibrant images bring this twisted fairy tale to life. This is a fun book to read alongside an original version of Little Red Riding Hood and can lead to great conversation about empowerment and bullying. Amazon and Barnes&Noble
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss. It’s not every year you get a new Dr. Seuss Book! For me, it’s no Fox in Sox (my favorite Dr. Seuss), but it is a fun book to read aloud and share with the children in your life. A lot of children will relate to the problem of picking a dream pet and in this book, there are no real life consequences, so bring on the silliness and help kids spark their creativity. Amazon and Barnes&Noble
Kids that are read to from day one are kids who grow up to be readers. Study after study shows the benefit of reading with children. From building vocabulary to creative problem solving, to building empathy, to creating a passion for knowledge, few tools on this earth are more powerful than a book. Please share the joy of reading this holiday season, whether with a special child in your life or by donating a book to a school, shelter, library or program like First Book.
I hope you have enjoyed this extended Friday Five series. If you have books to recommend, or thoughts on this list, please share in the comments.
At the tail end of January, I slipped on ice and broke my left arm. By broke, I mean shattered. Trauma surgeons rebuilt my arm with the help of 8 pins. For my First Friday Five, here are brief five lessons I’ve learned about life with my broken arm.
1. Typing one-handed is hard. So is removing a pan from a hot oven, driving, shampooing, and holding a hard back book. I could continue this list, but please see the first sentence of point one.
2. Sometimes, I wish I had the Kim Kardashian skill of balancing objects on my butt, then I would be able to open doors and carry something at the same time.
3. Some company should really manufacture velcro front-close underwire bras in my size.
4. None of my Bad Traveler research on amputees and PTSD prepared me for how infantalizing the loss of independence can be.
5. I’m fortunate to have many wonderful people in my life who have helped me in myriad ways. A neighbor drove me to the emergency room, friends have watched my children and driven them to various tasks. Far-flung family rearranged their schedules to care for me and my children. I cannot thank my husband enough for all he has done, everything from opening medicine bottles to ordering my favorite chocolate. There’s nothing like a little misfortune to remind one of all the good in this world.
Welcome to March Madness. This two-word phrase is synonymous with NCAA College Basketball and lots of it. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the final game isn’t played until April, but the craziness exists. To celebrate this first Friday, I present Five Reasons to Embrace March Madness.
1. The TV will be on a lot, from approximately noon until two am, Thursday through Sunday. No one will want to cook. Consider this a good excuse to consume chips and beer.
2. March Madness proves men aren’t immune to a good Cinderella story, case in point, Virginia Commonwealth and coach Shaka Smart.
3. A charismatic player will emerge from a smaller program, reminding you not all college athletes are biding their time until they can turn pro.
4. A personal reason – if I don’t watch, I won’t see my husband for a month. Worse, in an effort to watch all the games, he’ll overload the DVR before I can watch my back episodes of Enlisted or The Amazing Race.
5. The coaches fascinate me and not just because some look good in their suits. You can watch a man’s face run through every emotion during the course of a game and it’s all in the name of research.
Cold enough for you? If you’re in North America, chances are high you’re a little tired of winter at this point. Maybe my “First Friday Five” this month will help.
5) Snow shoe. If you don’t own a pair of snow shoes (and I didn’t until about two weeks ago), bundle up until you can’t move your arms and take a nature hike. Chances are a little sunshine and fresh air will do you good.