Monday, February 11, 2019

Lovely Little "Ly"

As my writing has developed, I've discarded a few habits along the way. One of them is my reliance on adverbs. When I taught using the whole language approach, one assignment I remember was for my students to find adverbs in that particular day's reading. Of course I had chosen carefully (note the Lovely Little Ly), and sought out passages that fit my purpose.

Surprisingly (LLLy), I did notice one thing. The novels I selected to work with student lessons had fewer and fewer adverbs as the publication dates became more recent. Finding "ly" words became increasingly (LLLy) more difficult.

A blog by a fellow author clearly (LLLy) explains the devaluation of the "ly." Take a look at Joan Edward's blog on writing and see what I am talking about. I read her blog faithfully (LLLy), and this post really struck home with me.

Not that she's claiming putting "Ly" on permanent exile is the answer. There is a time and place to insert the perfect "Ly" adverb when it fits like the missing part of a five hundred piece jigsaw puzzle. It's the snick a writer hears when that one well chosen word completes the intended image.

But in this blog she's pointing out the value of sentences constructed to give the reader the full picture, not the short cut version with an "ly" stuck on the end of an adjective. 

I made a comment on her blog reacting to a humorously (LLLy) written comment by another reader, and because of that, I won Joan's lottery. In fact, in honor of Valentine's Day, and because she is a wonderful person, all of us who commented were offered the same reward, a critique of a thousand word snippet from our own personal manuscripts that would flesh out those LLLy's and give the sentence a new life. 

I know exactly which thousand words to send: The final few pages of my work in progress. Reading back through it I realized there weren't as many of those pesky "Ly" adverbs after all, so I inserted a few to add to the verbs the old fashioned way. Hopefully (LLLy) she will give me a new awareness of how to revise and make those vivid verbs come alive without the "Ly" crutch.

I'm looking forward to seeing what she suggests. Thank you, Joan!

Catch of the day,


Monday, January 28, 2019

The Making of a Book Trailer

I'm sending a big thank you out to Karen Ruhl for the fantastic job she did on the book trailer for my Apollo Eleven picture book, Back on Earth: When Men First Landed on the Moon

Short and sweet and perfect, isn't it? This was a lesson on how to cut to the chase to get a message across all the while maintaining beauty and creativity. Karen nailed it. 

Our goal was to keep it below one minute, and we almost made it. I wrote the script, which ended up being only a few lines long. The words had to drive home the message that the book is a catalyst for sharing the Apollo Eleven moon mission between the generations. 

Then I narrowed down the number of pictures to use from the illustrations by artist Bobbie Gumbert. They had to be representative of not only the book, but also the intended message of the trailer. 

Then Karen took over and worked her magic. I suggested the countdown, and she selected the perfect background music to enhance the second half of the trailer. And TA-DA!  

I met Karen through the Red Awning Gallery in Hudson, North Carolina where we are both members. Karen is open to designing book trailers for others, so check her out on facebook at Karen Ruhl Photography & Design. Her main passion is photography, however as an extension, she is branching out into book trailer design. Here's a feature article about her from the local newspaper several weeks ago.

I appreciate her talent.

Catch of the day,


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Fly Fishing Playbook

Announcing!!! A new book on the market! One that I aided and abetted, but didn't write. One that I would never have guessed I would be a part of before I had written the Fly Fishermen of Caldwell County book. But here I am and there it is. So this one is, you guessed it, another fly fishing book.
Check it out on Amazon. Ebook only.
When Alen Baker asked me to work with him on his fly fishing playbook project, I readily agreed thinking it would be a short, quick book about fly fishing. After all, I reasoned, how much is there to this sport?

Little did I know.

I'm an author, not a fly fisher, but delving deeper into the intricacies and nuances that Alen presented in this book brought a new awareness to me. I realized that I just might be convinced to find a stream and give it a try. His contagious passion, not only for the sport itself, but for maintaining the environment that makes it possible is obvious from the first page to the last. Using a bit of humor, he breaks the mystique wide open to draw in the reader and simplify what could be a daunting chore to a beginner like me, or even to a seasoned fisher looking for that one gem of a tip to up his game.

My Fly Fishing Playbook is a sharing of Alen's accumulated wisdom from his years on the waters around the world, what worked for him, as well as what did not work for him. After several chapters of general introduction, he goes into three distinct kinds of fly fishing:

Okay, so I would not have guessed deep sea fishing could be fly fishing as well. Yes, even sharks respond to a fly on a line!

This book is not necessarily designed to be read straight through, although I was able to build a stronger foundation by doing so. Whether the reader picks and chooses according to his needs, or follows the narrative from the first page on, he (and she) will find this playbook offers strategies and information essential to success.

Bottom line, read and digest what this book has to offer, and then go fishing!

Catch of the day,


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Trees on Cars

When I wrote my first children's book, I designed it around the theme of trees on cars, as in a Christmas tree on its way to a new home to delight the family. Since then my son's family has supplied me with a wonderful collection of trees on cars. This year's was no disappointment, a string art version:
And it came in its own special bag:
This string art plaque joined the gifts I've received in the past that I use as decorations each year, salt and pepper shakers, candle, and miniature trucks:
And a tray:
And a blanket I've used when I spoke with classes, note the hand towel on the table, and the paper bag on the floor:
And last, but not least, my favorite, a hanging ornament I showcase when I have a display of my books:
That's a page from my book, When Christmas Feels Like Home, illustrated by Carolina Farias. The creators of those gifts all could have used this one page as a guide. Here's a better look at the page.
My word to writers, be careful what you write. Your family might take the theme and run with it for presents, like mine did. What a wonderful concept!

Merry Christmas to all,


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Military Service

As often as I could this week, I tuned in and watched bits of the tributes to former President George H. W. Bush. I was reminded yet again the impact of this greatest generation, and of the diminishing number of those who can claim the title.

As if that weren't enough, this week I also saw coverage of the recognition of  Pearl Harbor Day where a contingent of only twenty survivors were able to attend. I wonder what went through their minds sitting there, knowing what they know firsthand about the horrors of war, knowing they went on to lead full lives while others remained with their sunken battleship in a watery grave.

Since this time last year I've worked on a couple projects involving women who were children on that day that lives in infamy. One wrote in a letter that she remembers that December Sunday when the congregation at church sat hushed in pews. As a nine year old, she had no concept of what the silence meant, only that people cried and that in the following months the fathers and brothers of her friends left home to join the service. Operative word: service. She did her part a year later by being a king in the Christmas pageant. There were no men available. Her mother accomplished her own version of service by writing weekly to those men while they were abroad. Her father served the community left behind by ministering to them from the pulpit and in a few cases, from the gravesides of fallen soldiers. All that comes from chapter two in my biography, Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend where I quote from her own recollections about growing up in war time.

My current project also involves a lady who was a child during that era, this one thirteen years old at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. Unlike Jane, however, she was so isolated from the rest of the world, she knew nothing. Her whole life from birth until she graduated from high school spread less than a mile on one street filled with a corner grocery, church, school, barber shop, local grill and a drug store with a dinette corner to hang out. What more could a girl of the thirties and forties need! She doesn't remember the Great Depression, although her childhood years coincided with it. Her family sheltered her from hardships with love and food on the table. She doesn't remember gas rationing because they had no car. She doesn't remember food rationing because they had their own beyond what was at the store on the corner. Her own father died in 1939. That she remembered. Every minute detail. Which is probably why she paid no attention to a war waging on the other side of the globe. Her personal war was closer.

When I found the graduating classes for the years from her high school, I pointed out to her the odd list for 1943. Only one boy among more than a dozen girls. We only speculated, but maybe, just maybe, this war reached down into the available young men and pulled them away.

To serve.

We can't say it enough. "Thank you for your service."

Catch of the day,


Sunday, November 11, 2018


I'm not at all into numerology, but I have noticed a few coincidences lately involving numbers. The concept of numerology has to do with the study of numbers in a person's life. Numbers make up a universal language, after all, so no one is exempt here. I've never connected with this science and I don't plan to have a "reading" or anything, but I am open to the "what if" of numbers as an interesting thought. After all, one of the books of the Bible is "Numbers." Is that significant...or not?

When I was debating whether to use numerals or letters in writing on the back flap of my newest picture book, Back on Earth: When Men First Landed on the Moon, I looked through literature to see how the space mission was labeled, Apollo 11 or Apollo Eleven or even Apollo XI. It was split about half and half between the first two, with a few in Roman numerals, but my decision was based on ease of reading:
Later when I uploaded the book to my author page, this came up:


That seemed a little strange to me, but isn't that a delightful coincidence! Here I had been spending months keying in on the number eleven, and rather than it just being significant because of the Apollo mission number, it also is the number of books I have published. Eleven is the eleventh. Weird.

Even more strange, 11 is a master number in numerology, signifying "the potential to push the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception," according to a website I found. [Cue lead-in music to Twilight Zone]

Plus, my granddaughter turned eleven this past September eleventh. Power to the elevens in my world!

Before this, all I really knew about eleven was that it was a prime number hard to rhyme. And it was the pipers piping in the Twelve Days of Christmas. And it was the last ditch effort of the Eleventh Hour. I've added to my universe today!

Today is also November 11, 2018 or in other "words," 11-11-18. But look at that last date. It could also represent November 11, 1918, a significant date in the history of the world, the day the war to end all wars ended with the signing of an armistice, hence Armistice Day, or as it is now known, Veteran's Day. I once interviewed a lady who remembered that day. She was four years old and she was with her father in the fields when church bells rang out from many directions. He loaded her on his shoulders and told her to always remember that moment because war was finally over and peace was ahead. She never forgot. Unfortunately, the rest of the world forgot about peace in the face of tyranny, and once again world war spread across the time for her generation to fight.
The sun hitting at that just awesome moment
at yesterday's Veteran's Breakfast in my community.
The significance of eleven comes alive once a year on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is a hopeful omen for peace. On this day, a hundred years after the original date, I salute all you who serve(d) in the United States military. I am free to write this blog because you stood up for our country. Thank you for your service.

Catch of the day,