Tales of Tails

IMG_1093The lazy, hazy days of summer have caught up with me!  All I feel like doing is reading.  A perfect day for me is one spent under the pergola with a good book and listening to the hummingbirds buzz around my head.

I pulled out another one of my favorite childrens’ books, Brambly Hedge, Summer Story, by Jill Barklem.  If you have never experienced her books, I highly recommend you run right out and get one – OR – let your fingers do the shopping on the internet.

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Ms. Barklem is a British author and illustrator with incredible talent.  As a child she suffered an eye injury that prevented her from having an active life so she turned to art and books.  Her stories are about the Brambly Hedge mice who live in the bucolic world of the English countryside.  When reading you forget the characters are mice and feel like you are a member of their community.  The mice are too charming for words and the illustrations exquisite.

As much as I love her stories, I find myself spending more time studying her drawings.  The detail draws you in like a seek and find game.  I’ve tried to show some of her work here, but for better pictures google her.

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You can purchase her books individually, but I particularly like, The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge.  This book includes her four seasons books, as well as a conversation with the artist and studies of her art in progress.

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If you’re into sewing or crafts, you will enjoy The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book, which includes patterns and instructions for making the mice.  I’m considering making my dollhouse a mouse house…hmmm, do I really need another project?

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I wonder how Emerson would feel about living with a few mice in her house?

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Share these wonderful books with the ones you love!

 

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Don’t forget to encourage your middle-graders to read the Emerson’s Attic Series.

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Please visit the Blue Velvet book trailer.  Copy and paste into your browser:   https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jf_AkD1nG2g

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the trailer and the books.

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Bedtime Stories

The best time of the day for me has always been bedtime.  Snuggling up with a child to read a bedtime story is my idea of fun. Whether you like the old classics or a new contemporary story, there is no limit of books to choose from as the sun goes down and the child settles in your lap for a story.

IMG_0803On one of his nightly reads, our grandson introduced me to the 5 Minute Stories by Marvel.  Super heroes are new to me, but a 5-minute story sounded like a great way to get through a topic I’m not particularly fond of.  However, children are not stupid…it takes three 5-minute reads to equal the regular 15-minute read.  You know what that means, two more stories about super heroes.  No problem, I don’t read super heroes that often and IMG_0800it’s worth it to spend more time with a little boy who would rather have “Pap” reading to him.

 

 

 

 

 

One down, one to go.  Goodie, a princess story next.  Wrong, she wants super heroes too.  What am I missing here?  When do we go into the princess phase?  Not soon enough for me.  Oh well, what are grandmother’s for?

I love the concept of the 5-minute read so I wanted to introduce them to you.  However, when I went to take pictures of the books, I found myself on the bedroom floor surrounded by piles of books that I love.  Wait, there are too many wonderful books!  I can’t just talk about two.  An hour later, I had finally narrowed my selection down to a few favorites and felt bad about the larger pile that didn’t make the cut.   Note to self:  Blog on bedtime stories more often.

The little bedroom library runs the gamut of topics, silly, funny, scary, and serious.  Did you notice, there is no “pretty” mentioned…hmm.

A Mama for Owen is one of our favorites because of it’s sweet story and beautiful art.  Truly a lovely story and the kids love the animals.IMG_0807

Another favorite is The Pout Pout Fish with it’s tongue-twisting rhythm that gives me practice for reading in public.

If I can get through The Pout Pout Fish without a stumble, then I’m in good form.IMG_0808

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Maybe A Bear Ate It! and Interrupting Chicken are great fun.  Interrupting Chicken is the perfect read if you have a little person who is constantly in need of your attention when you’re trying to carry on a conversation with another adult.  Check it out, it could be one of the best purchases you ever made.

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For me, you can’t beat The Velveteen Rabbit.  This well-worn and well-loved classic will never go out of style.

Find it and cherish it.

Finally, come the books that I believe mean more to grandparents than to kids, the recordable books.   Hallmark hit it out of the park with these.  We bought every one available for Christmas and birthday gifts so that our grandchildren would hear our voices after we’re gone.  These books are true keepsakes.  When our daughter told me she could hear our voices coming from other rooms when the 2-year-old opened a recordable books, it brought tears to my eyes.  The best gift a grandparent can receive is knowing their grandchild knew enough to open a book to hear their voice.

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In my heart, I hope Emerson’s Attic hits a favorite list somewhere out there.

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Silver Threads Among The Gold

There’s a sweet, old, love song called Silver Threads Among The Gold, that talks about growing old.  I prefer to think of these lyrics as new friends are silver threads and old friends are the gold threads.  This month I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow author, Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, whom I like to consider as one of my “new” silver threads.

Kathryn has an extensive repertoire of work including short stories, novels, and a very helpful book for authors titled Marketing Your Book on a Budget.  Kathryn researched and compiled extremely useful information which she shares with other authors.  I wish I had found this book before I had bought four others.  

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I read two of Kathryn’s other books, Conquering Your Goliaths and The Feast and thoroughly enjoyed both books.  These are what I call comfortable reads.  You can settle into a cozy chair and take your time enjoying thought-provoking stories that can be shared with your family without fear of obscenities and violence.  Kudos Kathryn!   I’m very anxious to read Scrambled and A River of Stones!

 

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I’m always curious about other authors and Kathryn was kind enough to answer some questions for me.  Read below to find out what makes Kathryn tick.

 

Why did you decide to become a writer?

Truthfully? Okay, here goes. I was pregnant with my first daughter and had morning, afternoon, and evening sickness. I thought to myself, “What can I do?” And it occurred to me that I could sit and write and maybe take my mind off things.

I have always loved to read and so I’m sure that played a factor in me becoming a writer and the fact that in elementary school I wrote some pretty creative stuff 🙂 but it was really the ‘sickness’ while pregnant that got me going.

 

What was your goal when you started writing and what is it now?

Early on I just wanted something, anything, to get published. After eight years of dedication, I published my first piece of non-fiction in a family magazine. Today, it’s to publish at least two books a year and to get my publishing company, Idea Creations Press, where I want it. Right now I’m spending full-time hours on writing and the business and making part-time profits. One day I dream of hiring creative people (other than my husband) to work for me.

 

Do you have a home office? Please describe it or tell us where you like to write.

Yes, I have a home office. And right now it is in the process of remodeling. We stripped the carpeting in here; now all we have is a cement floor with rugs scattered on it. So you can imagine how cold it gets in here. I always have to wear socks, and often have to use the portable heater, which I have to remember to turn off when I leave the room (I don’t want a fire!) I have a desk that is falling apart, but I have told myself that getting a new one will just have to wait until after the painting and new floor gets put in 🙂

 

How many hours a day do you write?

Let’s see, it depends on the day, but I usually write for part of the day, and market for the other half. Or, if I have a client coming over to work on their book, I do that and then either do writing or marketing for the other part of the day. And of course I have my own blog and I try to write blog posts for other sites and do interviews like this one. Whew! But I manage to fit it all in.

 

How many hours a day do you spend on other work related to writing, i.e., research, marketing, etc.

I guess I got ahead of myself 🙂 Research is one of those necessary ‘evils’ as well. Today I did about a half an hour or so of research for another site’s post, and there are days when I spend a bit of time researching for my books.

 

Kathryn, which is your favorite book and why?

Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, hands down. I think it’s because I have always wanted to write a fictional story and at the same time lend some inspiration. My favorite author is C.S. Lewis, and if you’ve read him before, you quickly notice that he writes fiction with spiritual undertones (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) as well as books like, Mere Christianity, which are strictly non-fiction.

 

What is the best advice you can give a new writer?

Don’t expect to be published the first year you start, but keep writing when others give you negative feedback. Take the suggestions in, even if you have to put your work aside for a month or two and then go back to it. Don’t quit because you don’t feel you have enough time to write, or you feel as if you’ll never be good enough anyway. Just write. And learn all you can about writing by checking out good books at the library about writing and attending classes and getting critiques from other writers. Even after all of these years I still get negative feedback and it has helped me to become a better writer.

 

When you started writing did you have a mentor?

No, I didn’t have a mentor, but I would recommend it. It may not have taken me eight years to get that first piece published. What I did was read loads of books! I wrote every day as if my life depended on it; and it actually did 🙂 I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t written down many of my feelings, i.e., free therapy.

 

How do you feel about the books, TV, and movies that are the most popular with young people today?

Great question. I don’t like what I see when it comes to books for teens becoming more adult. I liked it when I could pick up a teen book and I didn’t have to worry about bad language or inappropriate scenes. There are very few books for adults that I dare read. Right now I’m reading The Covenant, by Beverly Lewis, and feel pretty safe; Amish life.

As for TV and movies, I’m pretty careful about what I watch, and I think, in many instances, teens are too adult. I like the Harry Potter movies and a few others like Tuck Everlasting, but most of them are a problem for me.

Later on, after I get to book four of my adult mystery series, I’m going to use one of the teen characters from this series and begin a ‘clean’ mystery series for teens.

 

If you could say one thing to encourage children to read, what would it be?

Just start. I’ve heard it said that the Harry Potter series got many children reading that hadn’t been reading before.

 

Kathryn’s books are available at amazon.com

Please visit Kathryn’s beautiful blog at idea-creations.blogspot.com