Saturday, June 08, 2013

Plans and Such

 I love writing and am learning to be a better storyteller.

This past year I have accomplished quite a bit: writing articles for the paper (I published 5 of them thus far), completing a curriculum that is being published (this was quite a task), and working toward self-publishing my Christmas picture book.

This summer I plan to refocus my attention to writing and the writing process. (It will help that I have no professional work to do this summer.) I recently got the opportunity to sit down with an accomplished author who spoke some words of wisdom to me about the process. Here's what she said:

1) Be declarative in what you want to do--don't shy away.
2) Sit down and have conversations with your characters--you need time to know them.
3) Rise early and write--the early bird gets the publishing deal.

So, here I am! I'm stepping out to say what I want:

1) I want to self-publish my Christmas picture book in 2014 (or earlier) and sell oodles of copies. I would love to see it on a "Top List" somewhere.

2) I want to write a children's book that will be professionally published--Nedge would be my heart's delight.

I will get there by taking the advice of number 2 and 3 from the previous list. Here's to relaunching the vision.

Happy Summer!

Friday, June 07, 2013

I'm bored...

Per a student's request, I made this list of things to do this summer. Her criteria was to make the events "in town" and "not to spend money". I figured I could push it to spending a buck per activity.

Here it is!

Things To Do for $1 or Less This Summer!

1. Walk to the Library and go on a book hunt—find a book title that:
a. Describes your relationship with the person you are with
b. Describes your worst enemy
c. Represents your childhood
d. Represents your relationship to your parent(s)

2. Go on a bigger and better scavenger hunt. Give the first house any small item (a button, pen, penny, etc.) and go door to door to trade it for something bigger or better. Go until you get something great. Be careful to avoid creepy people.

3. Sit in Starbucks with two blank pieces of paper. Draw a BINGO grid. Fill in the grid with items like: Spills a Drink, Orders a Tall, Buys a bagel, Crying Toddler. Once you have them filled in, switch papers. First person to BINGO wins.

4. Walk to Albertsons and ask the Bakery for a free treat. They set them out in the bakery section next to the cakes. If they aren’t there, ask for one.

5. Walk through Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday morning. Taste the free samples.

6. Buy a $1 loaf of bread at the market and feed it to the ducks at Waller Park.

7. Go on a bike ride to Evergreen Video and rent a $1 movie.

8. Take a handful of quarters (ok, 4 quarters) to Giavanni’s. Whoever gets the highest score on the pinball game gets to make the other do something absurd.

9. Wake up to watch the sunrise then go on a walk to the Golden Donut after it rises.

10. Go to the pet shop and name all of the animals. Extra points if you name the fish.

11. Find the most absurd item at any of the many Dollar Stores in town. Buy it and attach a note to it from a secret admirer. Put it on a stranger’s doorstep. Video the fun.

12. Go on a hike to the giant golf ball.

13. Organize a DVD trading party. Have all of your friends get an old DVD they want to trade. Have each person wrap the DVD in a brown paper bag. For each person who brings a DVD have them draw a number. Then, going in number order, have people pick a DVD to unwrap. They are now stuck with this DVD. The next person in order can either steal the DVD or can open a new one. Limit three steals per item.

14. Rainbow hunt. Go to a public place and collect items from strangers to fill the main colors of the rainbow (i.e. a red pen, an orange orange, a yellow button, etc.). Once you have all the items, take photos and post online.

15. Host a Scrabble tournament at Starbucks (I’ll totally come.).

16. Set up a treasure hunt. Hide a dollar somewhere in a public place and make a map that leads to the prize. Give the map to a friend and watch the fun unfold.

17. Roll a ball down the Bradley Dip. It is more fun than you may think.

18. Walk by all of the classrooms you attended during your elementary years. Try to remember one special moment from each class.

19. Get a group of people together and divide into two teams. Make sure each team has a camera/ camera-phone. Set a time limit of 45 minutes to complete the photo challenge. Whichever team completes the most photos will win the game. Take pictures of at least one of your teammates:
a. Standing under a business sign or street sign with their name on it.
b. Hugging a stranger.
c. Lying on the sidewalk.
d. Asking for directions to Elmer’s.
e. Ordering water at Taco Bell. (1 extra point if you bring the cup back.)
f. Pumping gas for a stranger. (1 extra point if you get a tip.)
g. Eating a French fry from a stranger.
h. Holding a pizza box. (1 extra point if you get to keep the box.)
i. Bagging someone’s groceries.
j. Standing with someone who is wearing all one color.
BONUS- Take a picture with as many people in uniform as possible. You may only use the same uniform twice. Each picture is worth one extra point.

20. Take a bike ride to Panera Bread. Order a plain bagel for $1 (if you get it to go it will not be taxed) and get free water. Ride back and take a nap.

21. Pick a bouquet of wild flowers and give them to someone you care about.

22. Write a letter to a celebrity, walk to the Post Office, buy a stamp, and send it. Wait for a response.

23. Get a “free trial” to Anytime Fitness in Orcutt. (I think you are old enough to get a pass.)

24. Start a parking lot dance party. Get four or more cars to put their radios to the same station and dance to a song with the four drivers.

25. Go to the library and use the computers. During your limited 30 minute time on the computer, find as many people with the same name as you. List their occupations, age, and any other information you can find. If you can’t find much, look up information on Nicolas Cage lookalikes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Thought...

I normally don't mention political ideas on my blog, but I have been engaged in a non-holiday conversation with some friends about gun control. I am clearly a pacifist and a non-gun guy. I spent the other day reading some extreme pro-gun bloggers and extremists as well as actually having conversations with some moderates.

Interesting ideas. But none could change my POV. Some argued about the religious ideas of having more freedoms... To them I asked, so do you support abortion? Which they said was completely different. Hum. It sounds like a freedom to me. So what's the difference?

So during this study I stumbled upon some gun death statistics (really cheery, huh?). Here are some facts I discovers:

US Deaths by Firearms- 9,146
UK Deaths by Firearms- 39

Oh, I know. These statistics must be faulty because the UK is one-fifth the size of the U.S.

OK, let's inflate those numbers and show the truth...

US Deaths by Firearms 9,146
UK Deaths by Firearms- 195

Hum. The numbers are still super low in the UK. I wonder why...

Perhaps one factor may be the strict gun laws.

Maybe it is the tea or the Queen, but whatever it is, we need to consider a change.

America is too bloody bloody.

Just my two cents. Feel free to disagree with me... but you're wrong.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

More Angels...

Today I am continuing my Christmas Carols with "Angels We Have Heard on High". I like this one, but I think it is a little absurd when you get the chorus. Nevertheless, it is a a good one to sing.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song? 
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King. 
See Him in a manger laid
Jesus Lord of heaven and earth;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
With us sing our Savior's birth. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012


This year I am ALL about Christmas and Advent. Greg Burtnett posted an advent book on his Facebook page which gave me the idea to do my own advent celebration with Christmas Hymns and Songs. So everyday this month I will read my advent book and sing a Christmas song and consider its meaning. 

Today I kick it off a day early from advent in the A's with "Angels from the Realms of Glory":

"Angels from the realms of glory

Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant light:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Sages, leave your contemplations
Brighter visions beam afar,
Seek the great Desire of nations,
Ye have seen his natal star:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Though an infant now we view him,
He shall fill his Father's throne,
Gather all the nations to him,
Every knee shall then bow down:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

All creation, join in praising
God the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising,
To eternal Three in One:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King!"

I really like the simple ideas contained in this one and how the Christmas Story is told in each verse. The central focus is to worship through this song--I can dig that. My favorite line is "Sages leave your contemplations/ Brighter visions beam afar." I think this is a good check for us all to remember to keep our focus in our lives and not be distracted by the minutia that so often consumes our lives. I hope to have this song on my lips and in my heart today. 

If you run into me, we can sing it together. :-) More tomorrow...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Memories are great. When I write them down I learn something different about myself than what I had intended on expressing.

About two months ago I started writing down some memories in a memoir fashion. I like memoirs and I appreciate their lessons. Read more on my other blog by clicking here.

But what's really on my mind this morning is Christmas. I know I'm not supposed to be thinking of red and green before the turkey and gravy are served up, but I am. I can feel it in the air--I mean, we rarely have nights that touch low into the 30s and possible 20s, so maybe that's why.

I think this year Christmas will be filled with magic and wonder for me as I view it through the eyes of the Doodle.

Now... All I have to do is get through the giant stacks of grading and I bet Christmas will be here...

"Let Christmas come tomorrow
Not just Christmas Day
Have good will in September
And peace on Earth in May..."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I have been working with the local Reading Association for the past year and a half as their "Authors' Chair". My job is to promote our yearly author dinner and bring authors to the event... Last year it felt like pulling teeth to get authors to come. Strike that, it was like extracting wisdom teeth from a crocodile.

Needless to say, it was the most difficult part of the journey. In the end, however, the authors came and we had a great event.

This year I thought I would start early and e-mail the authors in November--after all, the event in March and I was sure to get a slew of rejections. But low and behold my in-box runneth over. That's right, the first 4 authors I contacted responded with big fat yeses!

 I now have 4 authors set and am as happy as a clam.

Woot woot for early plans!