I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Write From the Soul

          I Heart Indies Blog Tour

I'm sorry I've missed a post or two but I've been busy, busy revising a manuscript that needed to be sent last week. I'll blog about that later this week. 

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        For now, welcome to the I Heart (love) Indies Tour! I'm one of the stops on today's celebration of independent book stores. Sure, we've all been seen browsing in the big chain stores. And maybe you even have those discount programs they offer, thinking you're saving money on books.

        But people, let's not forget our local indie store!! These are the folks who connect to books; these are the ones who sell books because they love to get them into the hands of readers, not just because it's a way to make a living.

       Let me tell you about my local indie. It's called Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. Don't you just love their logo! 

 LS of S is co-owned by Diane and Dave. She prefers to be known as "a feisty little bookstore babe" and he claims to be a childhood "anti-reader" now turned into an avid reader.

LS of S is a wonderful store just off the town square in Decatur. Not only do they sell children's books, but they also support the children's writer community. LS of S loves to have authors speak and sign books. They also host Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) gatherings and currently they are hosting an illustrators gallery exhibition of published artwork. In addition to their weekly story time, they sponsor book-related summer camp weeks, ongoing book clubs. 

Can you say way-too-much-going-on-in-this-shop?

So next time you're in the Atlanta area, please drop by my favorite Indie bookstore. You're sure to make some new friends and definitely won't leave empty handed!

To read more about the I Heart Indies Blog Tour, go to Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog. They started it all!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Write From the Soul

                     Something Strange Is Going On

      Part of my daily routine is to check my email then hit the 'Net and quickly scan my favorite blogs. I followed the usual pattern this morning but noticed on the first blog that it had her Tuesday post. That was odd since yesterday I read her Thursday post. Okay, I thought, something is screwy on this site. 

      On to the next blog on the list, a blog that features a different post Monday - Friday. There was the post from Tuesday! This was starting to feel shades of Twilight Zone. I checked four more blogs and ALL of them displayed either Tuesday or Wednesday's posts. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?????

      I guess the logical thing to do would have been shut the computer down, reboot, start over and hope I'd just popped briefly into an alternate Universe where only Tuesday and Wednesday exist. Nope. I had one of those "Groundhog Day" moments [I'm sure you remember the movie where Bill Murray was forced to relive the same day over and over?]  and decided I wouldn't deal with a Universe that only believed in midweek days. I announced -out loud- that I wasn't participating in this and when I came back to the computer in a few hours, I expected all to be right in my Internet world.

This weirdness took place around 10 AM and when I returned to the computer around 5 PM I went back to those same blogs. The Tuesday/Wednesday posts were gone and there, in their place, were Thursday posts!

Okay, was there a memo sent out stating this week we're having two Thursdays and I missed it????            

What do you make of this quirky event? 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Write From The Soul

                                 Mom Memories

Sunday is Mother's Day and while we should appreciate our moms all year long, I thought I'd steal a fellow blogger's idea and share a favorite "mom memory" with you.

My mom was a teacher too and starting at a very young age, I wanted to become a teacher just like her (although I didn't really want to teach preschoolers like she did.) Books were always a part of our world and one of my favorites, as a little one, was The Bundle Book by Ruth Kraus. [It's no longer in print I'm sure but you might find it at a library.] The story is about a little girl who hides under the covers in her parents' bed. Mom comes in, sees a big "bundle" under the covers and begins a verbal guessing game about the identity of the bump. The mom guesses, the bundle replies 'no' until the mom gives up and the child jumps up and says "It's me!" Mom acts appropriately surprised, hugs her and proclaims that she is just what the mom needs.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I reenacted this story. Before the bed was made or after the bed was made....it didn't matter. And my mom patiently went through the entire story each time with me. Okay, maybe once or twice she tried to shorten it but only if she was reeeeally in a hurry!

That game bonded us together and to this day, talking about The Bundle Book game makes both of us smile.

Do you have a favorite memory with your mom?

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  Love you, Mom!  XOXO

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Write From the Soul

                 Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary

I'm sitting here writing with a lump in my throat after watching Oprah's salute to the Freedom Riders on this the 50th anniversary of their momentous journey. There were over 160 participants from the Ride on her program, including Congressman John Lewis.

Many of you learned about the Civil Rights Movement in school; as an elementary school teacher, I taught aspects of this important time in our history to my students. I did not, however, learn about it in school because I was living through that time. I was 9 years old in 1961 and lived in the north. Although  Jim Crow laws were not practiced in my state, the events going on in our country were not mentioned either.

I lived in Detroit among many races and ethnicities and we didn't give it much thought. Kids were kids and as long as someone said they were your friend, you were bonded together. Don't get me wrong, I know prejudice existed. I remember at age 13 during my Bat Mitzvah party, some of the adult guests asked about my two Black friends  and assumed they must be the children of our housekeeper who had also been invited.
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The stories shared on Oprah were incredible and horrifying and inspiring. One of the Freedom Ride buses was attacked in Alabama. Members of the KKK broke out the windows and slashed the tires. They yelled horrible things to the riders and threatened to kill them. The driver managed to drive away from them only to discover the slashed tires. He locked the door to the bus, and went to find help. Meanwhile, the crowd surrounded the bus again and a fire bomb was tossed inside. Someone was heard to say, "Let's burn those [the N word] alive." One rider told Oprah that she "would rather be dead than not have my freedom." Another rider, who was 19 at the time said " I decided to commit suicide on that bus rather than allow them to take my dignity."

As the riders tried to get off the bus, the crowd outside held the door shut. The riders were only saved because the gas tank exploded and the crowd dispersed. The freedom riders stumbled out, gasping for air, gagging from the smoke. Up came a 12 year white girl with a wet towel and water. She picked out a person, washed her face and gave her a glass of water. Then she moved on to another person and another. Her family owned the grocery store sitting beside the burning bus. She had heard someone crying out for water and she knew, even as a 7th grader, she must help them. Imagine the incredible inner strength to do that.

Later, the KKK met to decide what to do about little Janie Forsyth who had helped out "those people." They decided she was too young to understand what she had done and wasn't smart enough to know better. Had she been in her upper teens or 20s, like many of the freedom riders, she surely would have been harmed or killed.

Another guest on Oprah's program was a man named Elwin Wilson who had been the man that beat up Congressman John Lewis in a South Carolina bus station. He explained that a policeman came and asked John Lewis if he wanted to press charges. John Lewis said "No, we aren't here to cause trouble. We've come out of love for people."  Mr. Wilson said, with a lump in his throat, that he never forgot that line and it helped to eventually transform him.

In 2009, Mr. Wilson went to John Lewis's office, told him he had been the man who beat him , apologized, and asked for his forgiveness. They hugged and shed tears. It was humbling to see the two men sitting together on the stage.

These stories, and more, will be highlighted in a PBS special on May 16th called "Freedom Riders." I hope all of you will mark your calendars or planners, put a sticky note on the refrigerator or computer monitor and watch this eye-opening and inspiring program. Despite the horror of the events, I do believe it is inspiring to see a group of young people, who risked life and limb, to try to correct a wrong in our country. They demonstrate that even a small group of individuals, dedicated to a cause or belief, can make a major contribution in changing our society.

It left me asking myself- and perhaps you as well-  Do I believe in something so strongly that I would be willing to give up my life for it?