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!


  1. That's beautiful....happy hanukah to you...

  2. That's a nice poem! It was funny that they forgot the candles :) Happy Chanukah to you :)

  3. I love it, Gail! And you're the first to do Chanukah! What do you mean you're not good at poetry? You did awesomely! I was especially impressed that you rhymed with menorah :) Thanks for joining in the fun!

  4. I enjoyed the part about avoiding the mall and the website gift wrap. I'm still a snooper and I'm ay beyond a child's age. Happy Chanukah!

  5. This is great! You did a great job rhyming! Best of luck to you!

  6. Thanks for the chance to win this book! :) I follow under Jenelle Riane. :D

  7. Yay, so glad there is a Chanukah poem too, and what a fun one! Thanks for clarifying the mystery of the 'K's!

  8. I am so glad to see someone else is too busy to blog as much as they'd like. it's not just me! Happy Chanukah!

  9. Great poem. Nice rhyming. I really enjoyed reading it. Good luck.

  10. That is brilliant and so nice of you to mention Christmas alongside. Happy Chanukah!

  11. Delores, Stacy, Elizabeth: Glad you enjoyed the poem! Poetry is such a stretch for me!

  12. Erik: I was inspired to try by your poem!

    Susanna: Thanks for the praise. Yeah, I was thrilled to find a rhyme with "menorah!" Kenahora is a Yiddish word/expression that would be equivalent to OMG!

  13. Jen: I'll keep my fingers crossed for you winning the book- LOL

    Tanya: I feel your pain on blogging time. Hope all went well with ALL BEARS, a fabulous story!

    Penny: Thanks, and come back to visit again!

    Joanna: Thank YOU... I realized I wrote "one K or two" and I meant to write "one K NOT two". I spilled in and changed it. Your comment did the trick!

    Catherine: Did you notice you became follower #100??? *cheers* *confetti* Thank you!!

  14. Fun to see someone do a different viewpoint with this. Well done!

  15. Oh, I loved your poem, Gail! (And as an added bonus, I learned a little something something about Chanukah!)

    And I really should have bought my own copy of Shelli's book by now, but I haven't. So throw my name in for the book. I'll go tweet the giveaway, but I'm not sure I know how to grab the link. How about I just @ you into the tweet?

  16. Tasha: Thanks for the compliment!

    Cathy: Your name's in the pot. Thanks for the tweet-out and good luck!

  17. Gail, I love this and need to forward to my sister in law who is Jewish! I think she'd love it. Have a wonderful holiday, and thanks for clearing up the spelling. I always get it wrong!

  18. I love this take on the poem. So nice to see a different cultural perspective. And your rhyming was just superb!

  19. Hi, Gail! Your poem was wonderful. Good luck with the contest.

    I've been seeing the book mentioned on different blog sites. Looks interesting.

  20. Fun! I loved reading it. I can't believe some of the words you found rhymes for! Great job - I know I struggled trying to write mine so quickly! Happy Chanukah to you.

  21. Well, I think I've been using two Ks all this time and therefore misspelling the holiday.

    Glad to see a Chanukah story here. Enjoy yours!

  22. What a fun and lovely poem. I was hoping we'd see a Chanukah story in the contest. Great job!

  23. I love this, Gail!! Great rhyme - kenahora - menorah!

    I also love that you spell Chanukah the right way :-)

  24. I love this Chanukah poem, Gail! I'm glad someone chose a different holiday to focus on. So, no matter the culture, the holidays can be rushed. Thanks for a peek into your special celebration. Happy Chanukah to you! By the way, why is the holiday sometimes spelled, 'Hanukkah'?