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 .

Monday, December 19, 2011

                    Where Have I Been? 
              (And a Giveaway) (Oh, and a writing contest)

      The last time I posted, it was November. Now it's almost no longer December! Where have I been? Here's the list:
* in Boston for a week over Thanksgiving
* taxing my brain all November thinking up picture book ideas for the Picture Book Idea Month challenge (30 ideas in 30 days.Yeah... I Did It. Go girl!)
* Working hard to help out the Foundation Fighting Blindness, my favorite charity, with several events, like the monthly support group I help lead.

Okay Gail, so whatcha been doing most of December???????

Um....... reading......writing.......making jewelry for Chanukah presents. Playing hookey [sorry!]

      One of the books I've been reading is a fabulous book by a wonderful writer buddy. You might know her..Shelli Johannes-Wells (writing as S.R. Johannes)
Her debut novel, called Untraceable. It's an awesome read and tough to put down. Here's the description:
         Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.
         One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder.
         And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

Intriguing, right? Well, hold on because here's where the GIVEAWAY comes in. I bought 2 copies of Untraceable, one for me and one for YOU. Or maybe you over there reading on your iPad. Anyway, you have until midnight on January 1st to enter. The winner will be announced on January 2nd.

*You must be a signed-up follower of this blog to enter.
*Leave a comment on this blog post, with your email address  for a chance to win.
*Tweet about this giveaway (send me a link), one chance.
*FB shout-out about the giveaway (send me a link) is another opportunity.
* Give me a shout-out on your blog, another chance. (send me a link)

Are you with me so far? You're up to 4 possible chances.

*Get someone new to become a follower and get 2 bonus chances (be sure to tell me their name or have them mention your name in the comment left.)

How can you resist? Six possible chances to win this exciting new book.
Ready, set, go social media this giveaway! Good luck!

Now for the writing contest. 

Children's book author, Susanna Leonard Hill has a holiday writing contest. Either write a poem, based on Twas the Night Before Christmas or a story of 350 words or less. This only goes until Thursday, December 22nd so think and write fast. Your entry needs to be posted on your own blog, or if you don't have a blog, it needs to be pasted into the comments on her blog post. You might win a $15 Amazon gift card or the 2012 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market book. I actual found out about this contest on a blog written by a 12 year old boy. He wrote an entry and man, he will be hard to beat! Your poem/story can be about any winter holiday, or just wintry. If you're curious for all the details, click here

      So without further ado, here's my entry. Disclaimer: I'm not that good at poetry. Or rhyming. Especially long, rhyming poems with many stanzas. Okay, now here's my entry, for real.

Chanukah Nights

by Gail Handler

Twas the week before Chanukah

Mama said, "Kenahora!

I forgot to buy candles

to fill the menorah!"

"Oh where should I go

to buy Chanukah lights,

Forty-four are needed

for all the eight nights."

"To Publix? Or Target?

To WalMart? Online?

Oh, the synagogue gift shop

might work out just fine."

"Now I need to buy presents

Some big and some small,

But this time of year

I won't go to a Mall."

"So it's shopping online

for everyone in our group,

Web sites will gift wrap

So children can't snoop."

Fast forward eight days

Chanukah has arrived

with the out-of-town relatives

(we hope we'll survive.)

Sing songs, play some dreidel
Watch candles burn bright 
Jewish children get presents,
Spread over eight nights.

Chanukah lasts a whole week

filled with fun, food, and joy

Like potato pancakes and applesauce

or jelly donuts, oh boy!

So Happy Chanukah friends

spelled with one "k" not two

And if you're not Jewish

then Merry Christmas to you!