August 12, 2017
Keeping up with a blog is more time consuming than I have spare time, so, unfortunately, this site gets neglected way more than a writer should let it. If you take a look at the date I last posted here, you’ll see it’s been awhile. And before that, it was another “awhile.”
Currently, I’m off working on another book, and trust me, it’s not going to be called, “How to Get a Million Followers by Blogging Every Day.” 😁
March 31, 2016
Anyone who buys too much stuff, whether it be from retail stores or someone’s garage, eventually ends up with way more than they need. Truth be told, I’ve been in that predicament regularly for about 25 years now and only through conscientious effort have I been able to keep all the excess junk from getting out of hand in my house. In order to help maintain the balance of stuff coming in with stuff going out I try to get rid of stuff I’m not using by having a blow-out, kick-ass garage sale every year or two.
Naturally, everyone who knows me knows I have a lot of experience running garage sales, so they often tap into my expertise when they have their own sales. And…because I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to hard work that I don’t get paid for, I usually volunteer to help them. Next thing I know, I’m knee deep in their junk helping them do their sale.
From helping many others as well as running my own sales, I’ve become pretty proficient at it, building up my knowledge about what works and what doesn't. I’ve learned enough that I could write a book about the topic. In fact, I did write one. My new book, “The Garage Sale How-To Guide” is full of tips and advice that I’ve been giving out for years to friends, acquaintances, and assorted relatives on the best way to pull off a successful sale.
If you’re planning your own garage sale, please consider buying a copy, either in print or e-version. Sorry, I can’t personally come and help everyone with their sales (even though everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for doing that), but if you purchase a copy of my book, it will help you do for yourself what I would have done for you.
June 12, 2013
Something else I managed to accumulate was a fairly impressive stash of vintage Dick and Jane type readers. The accumulation started when I happened to find a Dick and Jane book for a mere quarter at a garage sale. How could I not buy it for that price? Then I found another one for cheap at a flea market, then another at a thrift shop, and over time I ended up with a small hoard of vintage children’s school books. I didn’t just limit myself to Dick and Jane books—pretty much any old school reader I stumbled on piqued my interest. If it was inexpensive, I took it home, regardless of the condition. A true book collector would have taken into consideration the condition of the books when purchasing them, which is one reason I don’t call my accumulation a real collection. I didn’t intentionally set out to collect these books--much like I didn’t intend to collect all those rejection slips, but…as you know…stuff happens.
Countless kids grew up reading Dick and Jane so it’s a given that there will be some serious reminiscing going on any time a person leafs through the pages of these books for the first time as an adult. The intrigue of the books isn’t because they are well written, that’s for sure. The text is so cheesy your cholesterol level goes up just reading them. Check out these sample pages:
While I’ll admit the text is hilarious (especially when taken out of context), it’s the nostalgia of these books that is the big draw. Like so many other “vintage” kids, I remember learning to read with repetitive sentences like, “See Spot run. Run, Spot. Run.” I adore the illustrations in the old readers, but again, it is the nostalgia of simpler times that especially draws me to them—Mom in the kitchen cooking dinner or dressed in her two-piece tailored suit, matching hat, and white gloves just to go visit the neighbor up the street. Then there’s Dad in his suit, tie, and of course, wearing his hat, driving the lone family car off to work. Let’s not overlook the little girls wearing pretty pastel-colored dresses and their Mary Jane shoes running around at the playground, fearless of exposing their days-of-the-week ruffled panties when they turned upside down on the monkey bars. Those were the days, right?
There is no denying Dick and Jane helped millions of school children learn to read. Thanks in part to them, many of those readers grew up to become writers--including the person writing this.
Leave a comment if you grew up with Dick and Jane, and even if you didn't, leave a comment anyway.
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May 28, 2013
May 24, 2013
Hop on over to http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/2013/05/kidlit-authors-for-oklahoma-disaster.html to get all the details.
May 20, 2013
This week I’m celebrating my local library’s successful book sale. Twice a year a group of volunteers put their lives on hold for a week to run a used book sale at our local library. During book sale week, the volunteers’ families don’t get fed, their dirty laundry piles up, and everything in their personal lives gets put on hold because by the end of the day they’re too tired to want to do anything but sleep. I’m one of those masochist volunteers who helps with the book sale (and, yeah, lets my dirty laundry pile up).
Although the public only sees volunteers working during the sale (keeping the books organized, helping people find books, or carrying books to customers’ cars) some volunteers work all year long getting things ready for the sale. A group of people collect, sort, and stack mountains of books for months leading up to the sale, plus start advertising the sale well before it happens. Then the week of the sale as many bodies as can be recruited lug thousands of books out of the storage area and to the sales room. Anywhere from two to three full days are spent getting the sales room set up with all the books in their proper categories. The actual book sale lasts only three and a half days—although to those of us working it, it seems so much longer. Those are the days we only have time to shovel in handfuls of M&Ms for nutrition and when we start to notice how neglected our yards are looking as we pull out of the driveway each morning. After the sale is over, it takes several more hours to pack up and move the leftover books to wherever else they end up. Running the book sale takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work by a devoted group of people--or by a group of zombie-like creatures who don't know better. It hasn't definitely been established which category the volunteers fall into.
Why do these volunteers do this year after year, putting in countless hours without being paid? First off, maybe no one told them that slavery is illegal in this country. Okay...kidding again. Maybe. Or, perhaps they just appreciate how many people benefit from the book sale. Local people get to de-clutter their houses of excess books they no longer want. People coming to the sale get to buy books they DO want at bargain prices. Parents tend to buy their children tons more books than they ever could afford to buy new. Students and teachers also get to buy books that they also couldn’t afford to buy new. Adults find books they had as children. Dealers and other lucky customers occasionally find books that are worth a lot of money on the secondary market. Our two town libraries get extra money for things their regular budget doesn’t cover, and those items that get purchased or the programs they offer benefit the community. And…this year, the leftover books will be donated to help set up libraries in underprivileged areas of Africa, so the sale is even helping people in other parts of the world. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation.
As a writer, I want people to read, and offering low costs books helps encourage reading. Also, helping with this sale gives me a boot-camp-worthy workout from all the lugging, lifting, moving, and shelving books. Why pay to join a gym when I can get a complete workout (for free) helping the community?
So, this week I am celebrating successfully raising money for a good cause, promoting reading to people in the community, donating leftover books to areas of the world that don't have the luxury of books available like we do, plus getting physically fit in the process.
Now, if only I could find some volunteers to tackle the mountains of dirty laundry piled up in my house I’d celebrate even more. Please leave a comment and make my day (not as much as if you came to my house and did my laundry for me, but I guess I can’t get too greedy here, can I?)
May 10, 2013
The rules are fairly simple: Sign, up over at http://viklit.blogspot.com/. Post things you'd like to celebrate. Comment on other people's posts. Feel joyful.
Feel joyful. Celebrate. How could I not join in? Well, maybe because it reinforces what I blogged about a few days ago about how much time-wise social media sucks you in, but details...details...
Reading about the blog hop reminded me of the old Gratitude Board my friend Riffy used to run. It was a place where participants would post things we were grateful for (when we weren’t discussing all the other things happening in our worlds). I tend to be a grateful person anyway—thankful for all the good things in my life. But occasionally when life gets crazy, I start cursing the gods of misfortune and that’s the time I have to remind myself to step back and think of all the good around me, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant it might seem compared to some of the bigger stuff happening.
So, this week I’m celebrating (and feeling grateful for) finding this blog hop. It will be a reminder not to take for granted things like the gorgeous, sunny day we’re having today after a couple of days of get-ready-to-build-an-ark rainfall. Even though I can’t credit the weather as being something I achieved myself, I am going to celebrate it anyway whether it falls under the rule guidelines or not. I am also celebrating that I’ve been able to get some work done this week on a new MG book I started--and that was an achievement that I can take credit for.
Mostly I am celebrating my life this week—which right now is pretty good.
Be sure to comment on this post--and you can make my life even better.
May 7, 2013
February 17, 2013
January 22 through March 22, 2013 students in grades 1-12 in the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec) are invited to submit an essay of 50 to 250 words with their ideas for ending hunger in their local communities.
The grand-prize winner of the contest will receive a three-day family trip to New York City that includes dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square and a $2,500 savings bond. In addition, Olive Garden will provide a $5,000 grant to bring the winner's essay to life by supporting hunger initiatives in his or her local community.
The winners in each of the 12 grade categories will be awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.
See complete rules here:
May 30, 2011
Check out some of her other youtube videos and let me know if you fall in love with her sweet little voice and adorable personality the way I did. Knowing this young collector-in-training is now a fan of my doll books is one of the wonderful fringe benefits of being an author.
May 20, 2011
April 21, 2011
If you meet that criteria and have written (or are about to write) a terrific story for children ages 3 to 8, you might want to check out this contest. The Grand Prize is $5,000 and the winning story will be offered to Simon & Schuster, Inc. for possible future publication. The contest ends July 15, 2011.
You are not eligible to enter the contest if:
- You are a professional writer, such as a novelist, magazine, blogger or newspaper writer who writes books or articles for pay (I'm assuming bloggers who don't get paid, are still eligible).
- You have authored any work of fiction that has been published or is about to be published in exchange for payment.
Good luck to those of you entering!
April 4, 2011
March 21, 2011
After hearing about the auction, I had to see for myself if this “sell your story idea” is worth doing because I have a head full of ideas that I know will make someone rich (obviously not me, but someone). I headed over to eBay to research how viable this selling of ideas could be. Unfortunately, it seems to be a slow week on eBay and no one is actually selling any brilliant story ideas right now, which might turn out to be a good thing because if I do go this route, there will be little competition for my own brilliant ideas.
March 15, 2011
February 28, 2011
February 14, 2011
Here’s a sneak preview of what the book is shaping up to look like:
February 8, 2011
That was the closest I’ve ever been to negotiations with a major publishing house.
*logo copyright HarperCollins
February 4, 2011
This is a typical picture I drew when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, and as you can see, I wasn’t exactly a child protégé when it came to drawing human subjects (truth be told, I was better at drawing houses or other square things). As a kid I didn’t let the fact that I wasn't that good detour me from the thought of being an illustrator anyway.
Then my sort-of/kind-of dream of being an illustrator completely disappeared in high school after my art teacher wouldn’t sign for me to go on to advanced art because she said I “fooled around too much” in Art 101 class. I’m guessing it was probably her way of telling me she didn’t think I had much artistic talent. The fooling around part she referred to was me making faces at my sister who spent lots of time hanging around the back door of the art room. I blame my face-making antics on “middle-child syndrome”--you know, that obsessive need that middle children (or children from large families) have to get attention. As for the part about not-pursuing-my-dream-in-spite-of-what-that-dream-crushing-teacher-thought, that part I blame on not really wanting the dream all that much anyway.
Fast forward five or six years. A pile of rejection letters from editors of magazines I submitted to didn’t crush my new dream of being a writer. Writing success came slowly and in little bits, but the thing I had going for me is that I wanted this dream bad enough that I wasn’t going to let any dream-crushing comment or rejection detour me along the way. I practiced, and took writing classes (where I still made faces at people), and attended seminars until I learned the skills necessary for editors to finally say yes.
If you ever decide to give up on a dream, don’t blame it on someone else. If someone tells you don’t have the talent or skills necessary to reach your goal, don't let that cripple you. They may be right, and if they are, then do everything you can to get those skills and foster that talent. If they're wrong, prove it. Success is the greatest revenge against dream-crushers.
January 31, 2011
Since my last post, I finished writing a YA book and was just starting to shop it around to agents when I had to switch gears and put all my creative effort into finishing up my latest doll book with my co-author, Rebecca. The manuscript, “Tammy Rarities From Around the World” is now officially in the hands of the printer--or should I say, the files are on their computers (yippee!!!).
This book has been a long time coming and over the years that I've been working on it, I've had many collectors tell me how they can't wait to see it published. Every year at the Tammy convention I was asked about the status of the book, and every year I had to admit the difficulty I was having finding a publisher willing to take a chance on it. Still, Tammy collectors patiently(?) waited for it and gave me lots of encouragement to keep plugging on. I think a lot of Tammy collectors will be excited when they see the book, but no one can possibly be more excited about the book’s publication than I am. My co-author is probably a close second...but I’ve been working on it longer, so surely I deserve the crown, right?
The book will make its official public debut at the Tammy (Doll) Convention in Chicago where convention attendees will be the first ones to see the book--not including the authors’ families, of course. Naturally, they deserve to see it before the general public because they had to make huge sacrifices and give up meals and clean laundry in order to allow us more time to work on the book. Showing them the finished product will prove we really were working and not just playing on Facebook or ebay all this time.
While I’m waiting for the Tammy book proofs to come back from the printer, I can now turn my attention back to working on my YA books. But first I want to check out Facebook and a few ebay auctions...