#OLW 2020

Last Tuesday I read lots of SOL posts then decided I needed to write about my one little word for 2020. I didn’t have a word and was feeling left out as I read through the slices. So many were passionate about their chosen word. I thought that I didn’t have a fitting word. I began writing my SOL about what activities I had spent during the first days of 2020.

My husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate my birthday on the first day of the new decade. I mentioned it would be cool to find a nature spot to practice my photography. We headed out to explore a place we had not been before. It was quite an experience. We detoured off the two lane road onto a forest service road. The road was very rocky and narrow alongside a bluff.

We worried about having car trouble, there was no cell service. We worried about a tree falling on us. We continued in spite of our worries and were rewarded with a great view of the scenic Eleven Point River.

A couple days later we took another detour off the two lane road to explore another spot we had never been. It wasn’t as worrisome but it was remote. We found an interesting park along the Jacks Fork River named Blue Springs. It wasn’t too blue because it was an overcast day. I did not know there were caves along the bluff. Again we felt like explorers.

Anyway by now you may have an idea that my OLW for 2020 came to me while trying to write the SOL. I spent so much time trying to write the SOL that the draft got lost before it could be loaded and saved. So today I announce my #OWL2020 is explore!

Here's To Writing

I recently read an article I found on Medium, How to Be Successful At Writing by Kris Gage. https://medium.com/@krisgage/how-to-be-successful-at-writing-3561a55b081

Her blunt essay is just what I need to refocus my writing efforts. Write! She cites several great resouces to back up her directive.

I’ve wanted to write forever. I’ve written for educational purposes and want to learn to write more creatively. For a time I wrote on a word tracking site, 750 words a day. I loved using that site because along with word count, it tracked writing mood and writing time. I wrote about my childhood and printed my essays, but eventually I stopped using it daily. I only return on a rare occasion.

I joined a community for authors: Socitey of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. https://www.scbwi.org/ I joined writing communities. One community, Storyteller Academy offers valuable trainings, opportunities to write and a critique group. I love my critique group, however, I often compare myself to the others in my group and of course I come up short. They seem to write with such a depth of knowledge about what is required to write with resolve. Here’s to 2020, to noticing and writing about what is happening around me.

Gage mentioned that we must unlearn our fear of needing to be liked. I think a fear of what others will think has kept me from writing. So here is to 2020, to valuing myself, my unique voice and perspective.

Here’s to 2020, to doing my craft, to writing!

Wildflowers of Missouri Series

Monarda fistulosa Wild Bergamont or commonly known as Bee Balm

I’m spending time reviewing the wildflowers of Missouri. This week I plan to post pictures I’ve taken of wildflowers in their habitat.

Bee Balm is in Lamiaceae or mint family. Most stems in this family are hollow and square in shape. The leaves are opposite and usually aromatic. Leaves can be used in tea, seasoning, jelly and mint sauce. And bees love these plants! Plant these natives in your garden to attract pollinators.

This is a repost from Tara Lazar done to notify all of the PB awards: Picture Book Magic: Explained by Carle Honor Recipients (plus a giveaway) | Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

In one month, The Carle Museum of Picture Book art will hold its annual Carle Honors, awarding four people/entities who have made significant contributions to the art form. Also that evening, September 26th, final bids will be accepted on original artwork by picture book masters. Today, The Carle Honors are pleased to announce the artists…
— Read on taralazar.com/2019/08/26/2019-carle-honors/

Exciting opportunity!

I began participating in Storyteller Academy to learn the details of creating children’s picture books. It’s been an amazing journey. Some of the specifics I’ve learned include how to create a book dummy, how to submit a query letter to an agent, how to develop interesting characters, etc. One of the best perks for me has been working with a critique group. They help me with improving my writing by asking questions and providing options that might not occur to me. All that to say Storyteller Academy is offering an exciting free offer to participate in a writing challenge. You can follow the link to read more about it! If you are interested in writing books, you won’t regret your time spent with Storyteller Academy.

Storyteller Academy Picture Book Challenge

Book Review

I could not put this book down. On the first night of a camping trip, an 11 year old boy is left to fend for himself. His mother has done this before so he rationally works through his options as he tries to get back to his home, two states away. He is broke, alone and scared. He doesn’t want to be found because authorities will take him away from his mother and place him in a home. As he makes his long journey toward home, his knowledge of elephants is interestingly woven in the story. Readers are provided with intimate details of Jack’s life with his mentally ill mother. He understands her behavior when she is not taking her medication and aptly describes the high as “spinning”. He feels responsible for her and often makes adjustments in his responses to her.

This book was awarded the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award in 2013.

It’s written for middle school age children. I’m debating if it would be an appropriate book for my nephew, age 12, to read. His reading level would match but I think the content might be too advanced for him because he seems a bit protected. It really depends on the child.


Realistic fiction, mental illness, middle grades

Blowing in the Wind

Time to mow

I love looking at the grasses growing on our hill farm. It looks messy and full of weeds but it provides wildlife habitat. We no longer grow crops on this plot. Several years ago we signed up 11 acres for a conservation program designed to control erosion, improve water quality and create habitat for grassland game bird species. Quail love the edges of the grasses and they are done nesting. So it’s time for us to manage the land and mow the grasses. We mowed around the Butterfly Milkweed, leaving it to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Twice we planted acorns but the rodents ate it all. The walnut saplings we planted on the back 5 acres took root and have really grown. The trees overlap the rows, making good hiding spots for white tail deer.

Walnut grove

Upon reflection, I can not help but wonder how fast our lives are. To live and see grown trees that we have planted is truly a miracle.