Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Let's Burn This B**** Down!

"Let's burn this b**** down!" cried the stepfather of Michael Brown after he heard the not guilty verdict handed down by the grand jury in the killing of his stepson.  Others standing in the street took up the chant.  By the end of the night, Ferguson was ablaze.

     Martin Luther King Junior would be turning over in his grave.  Take a look at the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's.  I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. taunting the police when a cross was burned on his front lawn in 1956.  I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. torching a police car when his house was bombed.  I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. running away with boxes of donuts when he participated in the sit in at an Atlanta lunch counter in 1960.  I don't remember the civil rights leader lobbing Molotov cocktails into the streets of Selma, Alabama as he marched with hundreds of suit-clad protesters to Montgomery in 1963.  I don't remember the Atlanta native throwing rocks and bottles through Atlanta window fronts as he marched through his hometown.  I don't remember the father of four torching a Montgomery Walgreen's after four young black girls were murdered at the Baptist Church.  I don't remember the pastor running away with a box of tequila from a liquor store, likely owned by blacks, as he protested the lack of voting rights for blacks.  I don't remember the words "Let's burn this b**** down!" being part of the great orator's famous "I have a dream speech" which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Monument in Washington.

     But I do remember the 90% of blacks who refused to ride the Montgomery busses after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person, an initiative started by King's organization.  I do remember the hundreds of protesters who sat at lunch counters, dignity oozing from every pore, as hooligans showered them with ketchup and mustard.  I do remember the long line of followers who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.  I remember the pastor's prayer as he languished in a Birmingham Jail cell.  I remember the 200,000 plus protesters who marched through Washington D.C.'s streets and then listened to King deliver his I Have a Dream speech.  I remember President Kennedy's famous civil rights speech.  And a little document called the Civil Rights Act, signed by President Johnson in 1964.

     Let's bring back Martin Luther King Jr.'s quiet dignity.  Quiet, but powerful.

March on Washington D.C. courtesy

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tickets to the Game

I just received another rejection letter this morning for my chapter book I'm Just Daisy.  I placed it in an enveloppe called "Tickets to the Game" along with the six other tickets.  Why would I call it a ticket when it's a rejection letter?  I read a post online in which the author called her rejection letters "tickets".  Rather than seeing each letter as preventing her from getting published, she saw it as a ticket, bringing her one step closer to the game.

What a great idea!  Since rejection is part and parcel of the writing and publishing world, writers have to get used to it.  Why not see it as a step in the process?  Why not see it as an opportunity rather than a shut out?  As a beginning rather than an ending?  I used one of my rejection letters, which was very detailed and helpful, to write an improved second version of my book.

It's a talent in life to be able to see the good side of something bad.  I could have easily shredded those tickets.  But instead, they are tucked away in an 8 1/2 by 11 envelop.  It's like I'm treasuring them.  They are proof that I've written a book and that I'm getting it out there.  It's like Babe Ruth.  He was the strike out king. of baseball.  But he was also the home run king. I want to be the strike out-home run queen of writing.

So, as I carefully slide my tickets into my envelop, the way Babe Ruth slid into home plate, I am one step closer to the game.  I can actually smell the juicy hotdogs and buttery popcorn.  I can hear the crack of the bat when it hits the ball.  I can feel the rumbling of Yankee Stadium as the fans cheer. Let's play ball!

Yankee Stadium circa 1920's courtesy

Monday, 24 November 2014

Getting a Book Published Through a Sponsor

When My Dad published his book, Meet Me at the Lakeview Casino, he did so with money given to him by the Women's Institute of Grand Bend.  They were interested in promoting local history and they had just received a generous donation from an elderly resident named Mrs. McElroy.  My Dad wrote a letter to the Institute president who put it to a vote.  The committee voted in favour of the book, with about a three quarter majority.  Published in 1999, the book sold enough copies in the first two years for the Women's Institute to recoup their initial donation.

I'm thinking maybe this is the route I should pursue for my books.  I looked up Ontario Historical Societies and found a list of almost 400.  My chapter book I'm Just Daisy, based on the life of my British Home Child great-grandma, would be perfect for a British Historical Society.  My chapter book On Prussian Plains, based on my mother-in-law's family, would be suitable for a German Historical Society or cultural club like the Germania Club in Hamilton.  After all, the Germania Club is where Rob's mom met his dad.  It's also where they celebrated their wedding reception and 25th anniversary.

It's time to write letters and make contacts.  Wish me luck!


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sledding Party at the Farm

While I was shopping in Niagara Falls, New York, Jacqueline was at her friend's farm for a sledding party.  She was so excited to go!  All the girls in her class were invited and about half showed up. I can only imagine what happened.  I'm sure they hopped on their sleds and slid down the rolling hills. Then they all piled on one sled and slid down the hill, laughing all the way to the bottom.

I'm sure they spent some time in the barn visiting with the dairy cows, playing with the cats and kittens, and climbing up into the loft.  They likely visited the old portable where the chickens now live.  Maybe they found a brown egg or two to collect.

They might have swung on the old rope tied to the massive tree behind the farmhouse.  Or maybe they jumped on the trampoline.  Inside, they took off their wet hats, mitts and snow pants and warmed their hands by the fire.  Around the table, they sipped on hot chocolate.

Jacqueline came home, her hair damp, her clothes full of burrs, smelling like the barn.  She loved it! There'e nothing like an old fashioned sledding party!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Christmas Book Basket

A few weeks ago, I saw a great idea on Pinterest for Christmas.  Gather a collection of 25 Christmas picture books.  Wrap them up.  Put the collection under the tree.  Every day in the month of December, have your child unwrap one book and read it to him/her.

Now, it gets expensive to buy 25 picture books.  But I did go shopping with my friend Heather in Niagara Falls, New York yesterday.  I bought a couple of hardcover books for $3.99 at Ollie's Discount Store. Two days ago, I visited Brantford Public Library's Catalogue and requested 22 Christmas books, many of which Jacqueline has never read.  I couldn't believe the selection they had.

It remains to be seen whether I will wrap them since that costs more money and is time consuming. Besides, I will be returning the library books in three weeks.  But I will put the collection in a basket or box and set it under the Christmas tree.  I look forward to Jacqueline delving into the basket.

Here is the list of books I bought or borrowed for our Christmas library this year:

1.  One Splendid Tree (Marilyn Helmer)
2.  Christmas from Heaven (Tom Brokaw)
3.  The Christmas Tapestry (Patricia Polacco)
4.  A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charles Schulz)
5.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)
6.  The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
7.  My Pen Pal Santa (Melissa Stanton)
8.  Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (Christopher J. Piehal)
9.  Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift (Dara Goldman)
10.  Christmas in the City (Loretta Krupinski)
11.  Cobweb Christmas (Shirley Climo)
12,  How Many Miles to Bethlehem? (Kevin Crossley-Holland)
13.  The Finest Christmas Tree (John Hassett)
14.  The Tale of Baboushka (Elena Pasquali)
15.  The Great Reindeer Rebellion (Lisa Trumbauer)
16.  The Message of the Birds (Kate Westerlund)
17.  Jackie's Gift (Sharon Robinson)
18.  The Little Crooked Christmas Tree (Michael Cutting)
19.  The Carpenter's Gift:  A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree (David Rubel)
20.  The Night Before Christmas (Clement C. Moore)
21.  Mortimer's Christmas Manger (Karma Wilson)
22.  Aunt Olga's Christmas Postcards (Kevin Major)
23.  Arthur's Christmas (Marc Brown)
24.  Can't Wait Til Christmas (Mike Huckabee)
25.  The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher (Robert Kraus)

Here is the original link:

Christmas book basket courtesy

Friday, 21 November 2014

Nanowrimo Rules!

"Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!" (Nanowrimo slogan)

This year, I'm participating again in Nanowrimo, a marathon of words for the month of November.  Now that I have some experience under my belt, it is getting easier.  I know what to expect; that's half the battle.  I have an outline to work from.  That organizes me.  And I'm writing about a topic that I've written about before.  They say write what you know.

Nanowrimo is all about quantity.  Write now, edit later.  I do have to admit that I'm cheating this year:  in the past I've written the standard 50,000 words. This year, I'm only writing 30,000.  That is because I am writing a middle grade chapter book, not an adult length novel.  Besides which, it seems so much more manageable to meet a 1000-word-a-day rather than a 1700-word-a-day quota.  Right now I am sitting at just over 22,000 words, over a third of the way to my goal.  I find that if I keep a day ahead of where I'm supposed to be, then if I miss a day, I'll still be on schedule.

Even though this is my fourth time participating in Nanowrimo, it is still exhilarating.  I love the research process.  I love sitting down at the computer and filling the blank page.  I love setting the context.  I love finding "le mot juste", even if it takes me several minutes.  I love weaving historical details into each scene.

A project that started in San Franciso Bay area in 1999 with 21 participants has now blossomed into 400,000 members as of 2013.  I first took part in 2009.  Would you like to join?  It's well worth the time and it's a great workout for your brain!

Note:  For more information, read my post "Nanowrimo:  A Marathon of Words" at:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Six Feet of Snow in Buffalo

I remember the winter of 1977 when Southern Ontario was buried under giant snowdrifts for weeks. But it seems like that winter pales in comparison to what Buffalo is facing this week.  My nephew Cody posted a photo of several people trying to clear the rooftop of a house in the American city. The house, surrounded by snow coated evergreens, is covered with a massive snowdrift.  The adults who chip away at it with shovels are dwarfed by its sheer size.    

The picture shows us how powerful nature is, and how powerless we are.  Standing on that rooftop must be a humbling experience.  It will probably take the Buffalonians all day to clear off that roof. But I'm sure they'll never forget this snowfall.  It will be etched in their memory.  They have the photograph to prove it.