Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge Update

I haven't updated my progress since March 15, so thought on our first visit to the Bookworm Meet-up since the A-Z Blogging Challenge, I'd post the list of Alphabet Soup titles I've read between mid-March and now.  They are:

The Glory Wind by Valerie Sherrard
Home from the Vinyl Cafe: a Year of Stories by Stuart Mclean
Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik  Backman
The Night the Gods Smiled by Eric Wright
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Some of these titles are different from those I originally planned to read for the challenge, and I haven't posted reviews of any of them, at least not yet. But if I were to put them in order of preference (instead of alphabetically), it would go like this:

1. A Spool of Blue Thread
2. The Glory Wind
(both of which were book club titles, by the way)
3. Home from the Vinyl Cafe 
4. A Man Called Ove
5. Lessons from the Mountain
6. The Night the Gods Smiled 

Fifteen more titles to go, and while I'm off the reading schedule I originally set for myself at the beginning of the year, this is totally doable. We have 30 weeks and 4 days to go, so I only need to read one book every two weeks to reach the Alphabet Soup goal. To reach my Goodreads challenge, I only have twelve books left to read. As the saying goes, 'two birds with one stone!' Or, less violently, 'two plants with one seed!'

Friday, 27 May 2016

Flashback Friday

Today we return to May 12, 2008, when I wrote the following on my old blog, Notes from Innisfree:

Mothers deserve a day off. Maybe it's bold of me to say - as a mother, perhaps I should be more self-effacing - but it's true. We work hard for no money, and often for little apparent gratitude. So a day that's devoted entirely to recognizing our contribution to the family is appropriate.

That being said, I've learned not to expect too much of the day. Children are children, after all, and their efforts usually require prodding, either by a teacher or by the non-mothering parent. Thinking of others to any great degree, even of the one who brought us into the world, is a quality that comes to fruition only after years of hinting, encouraging, and maturing. I myself continue to appreciate my mother more as the years go by.

Still, I am not without hope, so it pleased me when I was asked what I wanted for Mother's Day breakfast. My reply - "surprise me" - was not the answer sought after, so I had to spell it out. Apparently, it is not only men who cannot read minds, children also suffer from this disability. Therefore, I requested - served in the kitchen and not in bed -half of a grapefruit, scrambled eggs, an all-beef sausage, waffles, and coffee. At the appointed time, any children in the house had vanished to the x-box and computer, so Daddy made the meal. It was tasty and prepared with love. A joined us in time to participate in its consumption.

As we were leaving the house for the day, A asked for cardstock paper. She had realized the previous day that she hadn't purchased a card and wanted to make me one. My son had presented his school-made card on Tuesday. It read "I love you. Have a CRAZY Mother's Day!" It was certainly turning out that way :)

After church, we headed off for Toronto, where my mother lives. It wasn't raining when we reached Toronto, so D went out to mow her yard, while I prepared lunch inside - scones, a bean salad I'd made the day before, and a garden salad. A worked on my card, warning me several times not to peek. When D came in, we ate lunch, then retired to the living room for an exchange of cards.

I had purchased the first card I looked at, not because I didn't care enough to spend hours in front of the rack, but because it spoke exactly to who my mother is - selfless in all that she does, always putting her family first. A's card to me was a collection of praises and thoughtfully chosen Bible verses. K brought out his present - a red rose with a green stem that he'd made out of duct tape at school. Who knew that such a beautiful creation could be made out of such a common household item?! Later he confided that a classmate had made a dozen of them for his mother, but K'd made only one, labouring intensely over it. One was perfect, I said, and it was true.

For supper we went out to Swiss Chalet. I'd thought that it wouldn't be so busy later in the day, but we still had a twenty minute wait to be seated. Swiss Chalet had a gift for every mother - a tealight candle in a small glass bowl, and a card with coupons to be used at a later date. I don't know if they do something like that every year, but it was certainly a nice touch.

We left my mother's house quite late, but filled with pleasant memories of the day. I still have dishes to wash from Saturday night's supper and Sunday's breakfast, but I am determined to put them off until Tuesday, since today is my birthday.

A day off may mean just postponing the inevitable return to reality, but we need to do that sometimes.

I don't usually quote the Pope, but here's a great statement from Pope Paul VI to leave you with: "Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see."

Happy Belated Mother's Day to moms everywhere!

[2016 P.S. - we won't even discuss Mother's Day this year. Suffice it to say, the best part was the sermon at church!]

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

6 Words

During the A-Z Blogging Challenge I was invited to participate in 6 Words. Each month, Eli compiles a post inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who said any story can be told in six words. Eli asks bloggers, friends, strangers, and a few strange blogger friends to respond to a prompt. This month the prompt is "What’s one creative endeavor you have in you that you need to start?" You can check out the responses (including mine, #14) here. Have a look, then let me know what your answer would be. In six words, of course.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Book Review: Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children's Market

Author: Kathleen M. Muldoon
Publisher: E&E Publishing, 2010
Genre: Non-fiction, Writing

First Lines:

Jesus loved children. Whenever I read a gospel account of Jesus with a child (for example, Matt. 18:2-3), I see an image of Him wrapping an arm around that little one and exchanging endearing looks with him or her. Whenever I write for Christian children, I get a similar image of loving parents reading my book or story to their sons and daughters, and that makes my heart sing. [From the Introduction]

From Goodreads:

Because you have picked up this book, I assume that you too have felt leanings toward writing for the Christian children's market. God has blessed you with writing talent, and you would like to use that talent to sow faith seeds. What better place to start than with children who are just beginning or have taken their first faltering steps on their own faith journeys? Or what of the special ministry to teens who may be at a crossroads in their faith lives? Writing for Christian children covers the gamut of ages, from cradle to college-bound.

In this book, we will explore the various types of writing in this specialized ministry and discuss the vast mission field of writing for the Christian children's market.

So, are you ready? Then dig out your notebook, sharpen your pencil, and crank up your computer; we'll begin by studying the first great commandment of writing for this special market....

..".cover[s] all the aspects of writing for children that I would have included if I had written this book myself-but perhaps d[oes] it even better than I could have." -Sally E. Stuart, Christian Writer's Market Guide

My Review:

It took me a while to read through this book, partly because there’s a lot of excellent information, partly because I received it as a PDF and I’m the kind of reader who prefers to hold a book in her hands and to manually turn the pages.

That being said, the first positive was the foreword by Sally E. Stuart, who prepares the well-known and useful Christian Writer’s Market Guide. To have her endorsement was quite a coup for Muldoon and definitely gave the book great credibility, at least in my eyes.

The book will help both the novice and those of us who have previously written and published. Muldoon goes into great detail about the various kinds of writing one can do for children and how to do it well and also spends a lot of time on the subject of preparing your work for submission. This latter is especially helpful since many writers find this the most tedious and difficult part of the process. One thing the book clarified for me was the whole area of analyzing publishers to determine the best place to send my work. I’d never had it spelled out the way it is here and I finally ‘get’ it. This alone would be worth the price of the book.

Each section includes ample examples and ends with an exercise to cement the concepts being taught. In the back pages are useful lists of resources and recommended reading. Highlighted throughout are the importance of prayer and the reflection of your own faith in your work for children.

Please note I received this book free through the BookCrash program in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Saturday Weigh-In

Wow; looks like I haven't weighed in since March 26! The good news is that I haven't fallen off the wagon. In fact, I'm nearly finished the third cycle of The 17-Day Diet, and will be returning to the first cycle soon. I've lost 4.6 pounds and have exactly 4 to go to reach my goal weight. Of course, I'd likely have lost it all in this period if only I'd been 100% true to the diet's requirements :)

 I'm continuing to check in with my weight-loss buddy once or twice a week, have been walking the dog good distances when the weather's been cooperative, have given up bedtime snacks and am not eating past satisfied. All steps in the right direction. I still need to drink more water. What can I say?

If you're looking to shed some pounds before summer or a special event, why not give the 17-Day Diet a try? It works for me! The main caveat is that when you get to the final cycle, you have to keep going. No returning to former habits or you'll be right back where you started.

And now I'm off to walk the dog. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Question of the Month

So, I have to do a feedback report on the A-Z Blogging Challenge experience, but first I need to do the R-U posts this week. And before I do that, I need to answer May’s Question of the Month: 

“If a friend came to you looking for advice on starting a blog, what three pieces of advice would you give them?”

1. Choose a name that is catchy and memorable. For those who don’t bookmark their favourite sites, it’ll make it easier to relocate your blog when they want to read it again.

2. Give people an idea of what they can expect upfront. Indicate the type of content in your profile or in a schedule on your sidebar. My schedule tells people that on Mondays I write about intentionality, Tuesdays are for the bookworms in the crowd, Wednesdays are for mid-week miscellany, Thursdays the subject is friendship, Friday’s all about being thankful. Occasionally I also write on the weekend. In those instances, Saturdays have to do with diet and/or weight loss and Sundays are for what I call ‘sermon notes,’ even though they may not riff off of an actual Sunday morning sermon.

3. Don’t be discouraged if your blog doesn’t attract a lot of readers right from the get-go. Yes, it’s nice to get tons of comments (and don’t forget to reply to them!), but look at the early days as a chance to make mistakes and learn from them, and to build your skill as a blogger/writer.

And now I’m off to visit the rest of those participating in the monthly question. I’m sure to learn something I can apply!

Are you part of Michael D'Agostino's Question of the Month blog hop?  Why not join us here?