Are your teens talking about their challenges?

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog.

How was your week? Mine was busy but good. I spent part of it working on business and writing goals. It’s amazing how important your mindset is to getting things accomplished and achieving the goals you set for yourself. My dream has been to become a best-selling novelist. It will happen someday I don’t know how and I don’t know when. However, with the online course I took through the Facebook group, All-In Entrepreneur, the past couple of weeks I learned some great skills which will help me focus my time and energy towards it.

Jim and I went on a mini road trip this weekend. We drove to Red Wing, MN and visited Fair Trade Books, an independent bookstore owned and run by Rick DeVoe and his staff. He was a gracious host while we were there. We not only bought a couple of books we were looking for, but he suggested one for me and one for Jim after asking us about what kinds of things we liked to read. He pulled out a couple of really good sounding options. Especially for Jim, an aircraft mechanic and pilot who loves to learn about how things work, was offered a copy of a repair manual for a Sopwith Camel.

What is a Sopwith Camel youmay ask? Well, it is a British World War I single seat biplane fighter introduced in 1917. It‘s also the airplane that Snoopy flies when he pretends to kill the Red Baron in a dog fight.

Be sure you support your local independent book sellers. There’s a website where you can buy your books online called Bookshop.org. You can select an independent bookseller and they will receive credit for your purchase. As of this morning, Bookshop.org has raised $5,830,300.86 for local bookstores. Here is a link Bookshop.org

Teen Challenges – Are they talking to you or not?

In my writing recently, I’ve been changing the words teen issues to teen challenges. An issue is defined as an important topic or problem for debate or discussion. Challenge is defined as a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities. Issues seem to get talked about a lot, but not always have something done about them. I like the active nature of the definition of challenge. Teens face the challenge of dealing with things like peer pressure, bullying, and the changes brought on by the pandemic we are currently dealing with.

We are all facing changes in our lives due to the COVID virus, staying at home more, cancelling and rescheduling events, wearing masks when we go to public places like restaurants and work, and doing more things virtually, including school and talking to friends. Two big things which are normal activities for teenagers. Do you really know how your teen is doing during this very different time? Is your teen talking to you about how they feel? Not just about COVID, but other things that may be affecting them?

The coming of COVID has given all of us a chance to spend more time with our families. I know for me it has been nice to have dinners with my young adult kids. We have also had more talks since we are more available. Many of those opportunities were lost before when everyone was so busy with their activities or focusing on their smart phones for answers and interactions.

Speaking of smart phones, teens tend to find a lot of their advice through the internet on their phones. As we all know, the internet isn’t always the most accurate place to get information from. I’ve looked to the internet for answers myself and have wound up getting anxious from the many different answers there were. And each one wound up being a little bit off from the truth. Why not direct teens toward sources of information that we know have the right information? Or engage with them to be comfortable enough to come to their parents, teachers and trusted adults to get answers? To get our teens more engaged with us, it may take some creative solutions about reading certain books or using more accurate websites for them to reach out to. Or have them journal about their feelings through writing prompts.

An author friend of mine, Stephenie Peterson, is a homeschool mom who is posting daily writing prompts for kids on her Instagram and Facebook pages. What a great and maybe non-threatening way to get teens to open up and think about the challenge they are having and write down how they feel. It is along the lines of why psychiatrists have kids draw out what happened and interpret the drawing. How about doing these prompts as part of our current homeschooling or online learning to get teens to open up? Here is the writing prompt Stephenie posted on July 14th,

She posts them during the week. Be sure to check them out! Here are the links. Stephenie Peterson Author – Facebook and Stephenie Peterson Author – Instagram. She’s also an author of three books written for the middle grade audience. In two of her books, her main character is Nellie Nova, a young girl who goes on adventures back into history. And, her third, and most recently released one is called Grace’s Ghosts, which I am planning to do a review of soon, so keep an eye out for it on my blog. Here’s a link to her Amazon profile for more information about her books Stephenie Wilson-Peterson – Amazon Profile

Or, how about taking a look at my book, The Hard Way? It looks at the challenges of facing peer pressure and choosing the right friends. It’s a great coming of age novel to mentor teens with the story of how one teen navigates these challenges. Here’s the link to my website to take you to Amazon to get a copy for that preteen or young adult in your life. The Hard Way

Or, reach out to your local book store through Bookshop.org and order it through them.

So, this week, why not try and reach out to a teen you know and ask them how they are doing with all of the changes? Ask them how they feel about going back to school in the fall? For a lot of teens, it will continue to be distance learning, which is keeping them out of school and away from their friends. Take the time to check in and see if they just may need someone to listen to them. Let me know what you did in the comments below.

Have a good week!

Book Review – The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Hoping to pick up where I left off. It has been a while since I have posted. This summer has been a challenging one for me. Between my lay off from my day job and my dad passing away, I have been pulled away from the blog with other priorities. They say that you need to make time for the important things. What do you do when life events get in the way?

So, I’m back! I am on a mission to sell 2000 books this month to meet my first goal to becoming a bestselling author. I know it will happen, just not sure when and not sure how, but I am ready to embark on the journey to get there.

Remember my first book, The Hard Way? Well, here is my review of the book. Kind of a different spin on the traditional book review, huh. How often have you seen an author review their own book? Not very often I bet. You may ask, how objective can I be about my own book, right? Well, the reason for this review is to get the word out there about a great coming of age novel for the middle grade and young adult reader. And I can do just that!

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Hard Way

Author
Selma P. Verde

Type of Book
Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Background
Selma P. Verde was always a writer of things. From diary entries to capture life experiences to writing funny plays and stories. When she was a preteen, she decided she wanted to publish a novel someday and become an author. It took a while, but her first novel, The Hard Way, was published in 2017.

Summary of the book
Paul Jones is a freshman at Brooklyn Heights High School. He faces his first day of school without his best friend, Desmond Peterson, who moved away with his family during the summer. His parents were concerned that he needed to make new friends, so Paul did just that. He befriended Anik Hatcher, a guy who liked to play Tangorka, the video game he liked to play. Anik was involved in a group of guys who liked to play pranks and create mischief. The night that Paul met the gang, he found out that the pranks they pulled were a little more destructive than he thought. After pulling a prank at his high school Homecoming game, he found out that staying loyal to this group of friends would get him into a lot of trouble. And, he learned it the hard way.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed creating and reading this book. It focuses on the issues of peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends, two of the many challenges teens face while growing up. It would be a great read for a preteen or young adult. The characters and storyline are very relatable and the story itself may provide a little mentoring if they are struggling with either of these issues.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about Selma P. Verde, here is a link to my website. Selma P. Verde

Link to the book
If you want to purchase The Hard Way, here is a link to the books tab on my website. Books by Selma P. Verde


I’m getting very excited about the upcoming publication of Shawn’s Way. Book #2 in The Way Series. More news and specific release date coming soon.

Have a great week!

What is Respect?

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

I’ll say, living in Minnesota made last week interesting. I live with my family in a suburb south of Minneapolis, where the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd happened a week ago today. In my opinion, to say our country is hurting is putting it mildly. The perceptions we have of other people and their life journeys are tainted by our own life experiences. If we are not opening ourselves up to listen to and learn about other people, we can get stuck in misconception. I think this misconception has created the loss of respect for others.

So how we try to find it? Let’s start with what is respect?

When I Googled respect definition, I found two different definitions of respect

-A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements
-Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

The first definition goes to the question of who do you admire? I’ve read a couple of memoirs lately which are written by women who I admire. I just recently finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle. She talks about struggling with her beliefs while being married to her husband and then coming out in her relationship with Abby Wambach. In her story, she gives readers things to think about in becoming who we truly are by listening to our own inner voice.

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. She is a strong woman who didn’t want to lose herself in the roles she played in her life. She had many roles before becoming the First Lady of the United States. Going to the White House was adding a role with many expectations. Now add on that she was the first black woman in this role, and the added pressure to lay out a certain perception made her have to adapt. I’m currently two-thirds of the way through the book, but from what I can see already, Becoming, is a very appropriate title for her book.

Both women have put themselves out there and taken hits from others who haven’t taken the time to get to know them and understand their path. I admire the struggles that they each overcame to become the people they are today. From reading their stories I also respect who they are because of it.

The second definition of respect goes to how we view other people. Before the internet, your trusted source of information was probably your family, local news stations and the newspaper. And those sources were limited by where they learned or accessed their information. Some of us are basing our beliefs about others on what we read online, which can be a slippery slope. There are so many things you have to understand to determine whether the information you are reading on line is accurate. You have to look at the source of the information and what date it was posted. A lot of the media jumps to be the first one to get news out on the web, in a lot of cases, the information they present is incomplete and maybe even completely wrong. This is the source of a lot of the information that teens and young adults are pulling from with the use of their smart phones and online gaming.

What would be a better way to mold your perceptions of other people? Talk to them. Get to know them and what challenges they faced or are currently facing in their life journey. If you can’t talk to them face to face, then read their stories and follow them on their personal social media sites.

Be open to listening and learning. There are many role models out there that have stories to tell. Both Glennon Doyle and Michelle Obama talk about that in their memoirs. Their stories become relatable to us as fellow human beings and ultimately can help us steer the course on our own life path and understand them as people.

Then respect others for who they are, regardless of what they look like, act like, or even believe. We have all either been the new kid at school or have seen her. Reach out to them and get to know their story. Take time to listen and learn from others who are different from you. Don’t be afraid to do it and don’t be afraid to share if you are asked.

The Golden Rule. My parents would remind me of this when I was growing up. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

We are all in this together. It is our society to mold into the way we want it to be. Don’t let haters and people who don’t respect others drive what our society turns into.

Have a good week!

What are Production Rights?

Good Afternoon! Here is my Monday Blog, Tuesday edition!

How was your Memorial Day Weekend? Did you take time to honor and remember those who have served our country? I have many family members who have served in the Armed Forces and I took some time to remember each one. I also got some work done around the house to enjoy the fabulous weather we had in Minnesota.

Blogging has taken me on many writing journeys. I enjoy learning about new places and things and when I do research into topics for the blog, I always seem to come up with other new and interesting facts. While I was working on the book review of Taming of the Shrew that I published last week, I learned that the rights to plays have to be purchased before they can be performed in public. Those are called Production Rights.

Paying for Production Rights is the way an author can be paid from groups wanting to perform their works. So, when your kids do those plays at school, church, or acting camp, and want to perform them for others, they have to purchase copies of the script and the rights to perform that particular version of the play. You may wonder, where does one go to purchase the rights to a certain play? The rights are purchased from the publishing house who holds them. The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare versions that I mentioned last week have their rights owned by Dramatic Publishing.

Who is Dramatic Publishing?

Dramatic Publishing holds the rights for over 1500 authors of plays and stories that have been adapted into plays for the stage. Just to give you an idea, through them for this specific version of the play, each script is $9.95 and the minimum royalty paid per performance is $80.00. Here is a link to their website to check out other titles you may be interested in Dramatic Publishing.

According to their website, the company was started by Charles Sergel in 1885. With his interest in the theater, he founded this company to serve authors, artists and educators by managing the production rights of various plays. The company has been handed down through five generations. Christopher, Sr, Charles’ grandnephew, worked with Harper Lee and got the rights and her permission to create a stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. He took over as president of Dramatic Publishing in 1970 which was the same year, he started creating this stage adaptation. He also worked with S.E. Hinton for the rights to create an adaptation of The Outsiders.

With all of the company history of a company kept in the Sergel family, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune on August 2, 1992 called High Drama in Woodstock, after being in the same location for 100 years, in 1983 a fire destroyed their downtown Chicago location. So, in 1985, Dramatic Publishing moved their headquarters to Woodstock, IL, to a location just a few blocks from The Opera House, an historic theater in town. Having the company who owns rights to plays just down the street from a place to perform is a great match. Then I started looking into the story of The Opera House and things got more interesting…

The Opera House in Woodstock, IL was built in 1889 as a multi-purpose city building which housed the administrative offices, police and fire departments. It was later used as a venue for performing arts and receptions.

Many well-known actors got their starts at the Opera House. Paul Newman got some of his training there during summer stock. Other stars where attending the nearby Todd School for Boys, where people like Orson Wells produced full length Shakespeare plays while in his mid-teens and later on his son Christopher attended the school.

The Todd Seminary for Boys was opened in 1848 as a boarding school and later evolved into a seminary. In 1892, Noble Hill purchased the school for $20000 and in 1929 he transferred the school to his son Roger ‘Skippy’ Hill and renamed the school, the Todd School for Boys in 1930.

Here is a description of the school as The NewYorker described it in 1938 from Wikipedia.com

Todd is a preparatory school of considerable antiquity, now run on severely progressive lines. The present headmaster, Roger Hill, a slim white-haired, tweed-bearing man, who looks as if he had been cast for his role by a motion-picture director, has never let the traditional preparatory-school curriculum stand in the way of creative work. All the boys spend as much time as they want in the machine shop, the print shop, the bookbindery, or the school theatre.

With the location of Dramatic Publishing in the Midwest, they focus more on the adaptations of popular books and plays the Woodstock and Rockford, IL locals have read or seen. This move makes the theater more accessible and relatable to the people who would be coming to the Opera Theater to see a show. They chose to cater their business more to the churches and schools with much lower Production Rights fees to pay for the plays to make these plays accessible to them.

With the Opera House for shows and the connection of a few well known actors attending or affiliated with the Todd School for Boys it brings the 135 year old family held company to place with a history in theater. Check out their websites with the links above. I’m so intrigued by the connection between these places that I may have to make a road trip to see them in person.

Books are adapted into movies and onstage productions. What is your favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

Looking for a good Coming of Age Novel? How about picking up a copy of The Hard Way? Just follow the link over to the books tab on my website. The Hard Way!

Get your copy today!

Have a great week!

Book Review – Two versions of Taming of the Shrew

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog.

Last week I read two versions of Taming of the Shrew. One version was the Sixty-Minute version by Cass Foster that I talked about in my Shakespeare post a couple of weeks ago. And the other one was Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy written by William Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592. The main story centers around the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina. Katherina’s father, Baptista, will not allow her younger and more desirable sister Bianca, to marry until after Katherina has been married off. Katherina is a very headstrong woman who was seen by the community as not suitable to marry. Petruchio takes on the challenge of “taming” her and converting her into a desirable bride.

Sixty Minute Shakespeare’s version of Taming of the Shrew

As I started reading this version, I was brought back to my days of reading Shakespeare in high school. It took me a little bit to get into it. I have been reading quite a few of novels lately, so when I was reading the story in a play format, I needed to expand my mind to imagining the scene and setting a bit more.

Like I have told my kids about any book they are getting ready to read, check online and see what it is about. It can help you get into the story quicker, especially with Shakespeare. I wish I had that option when I was in high school. Cass did a great job with making it easier to read, but kept the language true to how Shakespeare really wrote it and intended it to be. Knowing what the story was about beforehand allowed me to focus on reading the Shakespeare flair, which is what took time to get through.

The production rights for this version are owned by a company called Dramatic Publishing. So, if you would like to perform this version in public through your school, church group or community theater, check out their website for more information about obtaining the rights for it.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Taylor: The Taming of the Shrew retold

Upon hearing the name of this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but after reading The Taming of the Shrew, the title of this book made a little more sense. I was led this book by Ann Hawke, the president of the Woodland Shakespeare Club, a group I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. She said that this book was one of their groups favorite ones to read the retold version of.

This is the story of Kate Battista, who is portrayed as Katherina in Shakespeare’s original. With her mother’s passing away, Kate has taken on the role of mother instead of daughter. She is a spinster who works as a pre- school assistant and takes care of her father and sister at home. Her father, wanting to keep his research assistant in the country, comes up with a grand plan to have Kate marry him. Kind of like an arranged marriage of sorts. Her younger sister, Bunny, in this case is too young to be married, but Tyler makes her personality a little more outgoing and likeable to set her up as the more desirable sister, like Shakespeare’s character, Bianca.

I enjoyed reading both versions of this story. Reading a Shakespeare play reminded me it isn’t necessarily a easy read, but it is neat to see how he created his plays and characters to put on the show for the crowds of the time. Reading the retold version of Vinegar Girl in a novel form was a little easier. I was abe to see the similarities in the characters between the two. I felt that Tyler did a good job of keeping Shakespeare’s themes in her version even with the moderized setting.

There are other Shakespeare works which have similar themes to other published works. Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince is a retelling of Hamlet while Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is retelling of The Tempest. However, Anne Tyler’s book is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project which is an effort by Hogarth Press to retell works by William Shakespeare in a contemporary context. Please check out their website for more information and the upcoming titles to be retold. Hogarth Press – Shakespeare project. If you decide to read both versions of these stories, I would recommend reading the Shakespeare version first to see what he was trying to portray and then see how the author’s retold version uses his themes in their stories.

If you are looking to get a hold of the Sixty-Minute versions of your favorite Shakespeare play, they are available on Amazon and Story Monsters LLC. Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection

If you want to learn more about the author Anne Tyler, here’s her website Anne Tyler and the link to purchase the book Vinegar Girl.

What was your favorite Shakespeare play? What was your least favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Looking for a teen/young adult coming of age novel? How about taking a look at The Hard Way!

Available on Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com. Or follow the link below to the books tab of my website to get your copy.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

Happy Monday!

Being a author who writes about teen issues, I’m wondering how our teens are doing through this unprecedented time. I see stories about how some kids are working through the changes and being as resilient as they can be. But what about the kids that aren’t? The ones that aren’t doing well with the stay at home orders? Aren’t learning as well at home without the day to day interaction with their friends? Those kids may not reach out and remain quiet. Are we checking in with them and asking them how they feel?

Since 1949, Mental Health America and affiliates have observed May as being Health Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.

There are many messages popping up on social media with resources to help us. The CDC currently has a public Service Announcement which pops up when you search for mental health awareness on Google.

Be Kind to Your Mind:
Tips to cope with stress during COVID-19

PAUSE – Breathe and notice how you feel

TAKE BREAKS – from COVID-19 content

MAKE TIME – to sleep and exercise

REACH OUT – and stay connected

SEEK HELP – If overwhelmed or unsafe

During the quarantine and stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are isolating alone, have major changes to their daily routines that are leading to feelings of helplessness, or are just scared they are going to get the virus. The stress created by this has affected everyone’s mental health, but the tips listed above are good ones to be aware of even when we aren’t involved in a full-blown pandemic. In my research on the topic, I have found a couple of resources for you, your teen, or someone you may care about to look into. Remember, we are all in this together.

“You are Not Alone”
Everyone faces challenges in life that will affect their mental health. Mental Health America states 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness during their lifetime. NAMI joined with the national movement to raise awareness about mental health with their “You are Not Alone” campaign which focuses on the power of connection for those affected by mental illness. Collectively, we can make a positive impact on the millions of people who are struggling and feeling particularly alone given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing. They are asking the public to share their experiences with mental health conditions at NAMI.org/YourStory. They want to share the lived experience of others to provide a means for people who are struggling to relate to and find comfort in. They also have a NAMI COVID-19 resource guide available in English and Spanish, just follow this link NAMI COVID-19 Resources.

Tools 2 Thrive
Mental Health America’s 2020 theme is Tools to Thrive. They have a 2020 Mental Health Tool Kit that you can download from their website that provides practical tools that we can all use to help improve our mental health regardless of what we are currently dealing with. This year’s tool kit offers printable handouts on topics like Owning Your Feelings, Finding the Positive, Creating Healthy Routines, and others. There are also marketing materials that may be helpful for teachers or community leaders, but may also help families educating from home with some reminders or materials to discuss with their kids. Here is a link to their site Tools 2 Thrive. When requesting the Tool Kit, it will ask for title and organization. If schooling your kids from home, I would enter parent as your title and homeschool or remote learning as your organization.

For as much as we may not like some of the effects of social media and online gaming for our kids and teens, I think it is a saving grace we have it for our kids to stay in touch with each other. It also helps for families and friends to stay in touch during this strange time in our history. Be sure to use the technology to reach out to family members you haven’t heard from in a while. Let your kids have play dates and zoom meetings to just be themselves with their friends online. But, be sure to keep an eye out and ear open to make sure they are doing it safely. We all need to embrace some of the changes that are happening right now on how we interact with one another. But the interaction doesn’t have to and shouldn’t stop.

Lime Green ribbons signify Mental Health Awareness. Be sure to promote awareness by wearing a ribbon or wearing a lime green shirt. Remember to reach out if you are feeling lonely, scared or overwhelmed. We are all in this together.


Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you all found ways to celebrate with your moms, grandmothers, wives, etc. yesterday. Some of us have moms in heaven that we recognize with flowers and prayers. The traditional ways of taking mom to brunch or meeting up for dinner at her favorite spot aren’t going to be an option this year. Let me know what creative ways you came up with to show mom that she is special in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning blog!

How are you doing with the whole Coronavirus thing? It is too big to not be affecting most everybody in some way or another. We couldn’t have imagined all the changes that have happened since the virus was deemed a pandemic in the United States almost two months ago. Being told you would have to stay home to curb the spread of the virus, learn and communicate via the computer or a six-foot distance, or to have to wear masks when you go out in public.

Did you know that this week, May 4th-8th, is Teacher Appreciation Week? Since 1984, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has designated one week in May to honor men and women who lend their passion and skills to teach our children. Teacher Appreciation Day is tomorrow, May 5th. Before, parents would have been out shopping for that special teacher’s gift to present in peron, now it will turn into showing that appreciation virtually or by special delivery.

I have been wondering about kids and teens are really doing at this time. How are they feeling about missing out on going to school and seeing their friends? Yes, we have Zoom for teachers to bring their classes together, but learning from a computer at your dining room table isn’t the same as being at school with your friends. Even though some kids and teens have always said they don’t want to go to school, I don’t think this complete change was what they were imagining. Or, the reality of having their parents trying to teach them the ins and outs of algebra or that new math after breakfast was what they had in mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a very special seventh grader in my life. She’s a smart kid and loves school but, misses her teachers and fellow students. She finds it hard to get into remote learning because of how it was just thrown together and doesn’t feel very structured. It isn’t anyone’s fault that it happened this way, since we didn’t plan for the effects of the Coronavirus. She also feels that her grades may be suffering because she isn’t thriving as well in this less structured learning environment. Sure, it is one of the casualities of the situation we must adapt to, but it winds up being a negative impact on someone who is trying to do everything right.

The other ones who are on my mind lately are high school and college seniors who were due to graduate this spring. Just a couple of months ago, they were rolling into their spring quarter or semester on what they thought was the downhill slide into graduation. Then it all came to an abrupt halt. No prom, spring sports, or graduation ceremony. Those school events are what has given some of us adults the fond memories we hold in our hearts about that time in our lives. Things change, so maybe our “normal” will not be the “new” normal going forward.

Congratulations to all 2020 Graduates!!!

We are all trying to make the best of the current situation for those seniors and give them something similar to what they were expecting for their end of school activities and graduation.

-Many high schools around me made up signs for those seniors to put in their lawn to show us who they are. They are also having car parades drive by their homes to honor them.

-A friend of mine has a senior in her household. She had her daughter and her prom date still get dressed up, they got a dinner to go from the Olive Garden, took some pictures in the park, and did a bonfire at their house with the prom couple to make a memory for them. I have seen other seniors pose for pictures in what they would have worn to prom and post them on Facebook.

-There will be a graduation ceremonies, probably virtual, coming in the near future, but not the same as going to your high school football field or college auditorium to walk across a stage to receive your diploma (or the fancy document holder).

Have you seen people struggling with change through this pandemic? I have seen and personally struggled with things through all of this,

-Seeing friends and family struggling with things they were looking forward to doing being cancelled.

-The struggle from some teens to do school remotely when their heart is at school with their teachers and friends.

-College students being sent home to do school remotely, instead of being able to enjoy the college experience away from home.

-Me and many others who are now in the process of looking for new jobs due to no fault of their own.

-Me and many others, not being able to see their loved ones, who are in assisted living facilities which are currently on lock down from having visitors.

The best advice I have seen is to be gentle with yourself right now. Let yourself feel sad if you are sad or mad if you are mad. But, let yourself do what needs to be done to keep yourself moving forward with your goals and dreams accepting what the new normal may bring. It is ok if it feels a little bit weird, because it will. Be ready, life as we knew it pre-Coronavirus will probably be changed forever too.

If you are struggling, please reach out and ask for help. We are all in this together.

Have a great week!

Hark! Who goes there? Why it’s William Shakespeare, again!

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog?

About a month ago, I posted an update and wrote about William Shakespeare. I was inspired by a couple of social media posts which became popular when stay at home orders were starting to take affect throughout the country with the Coronavirus outbreak. This past week, I saw mention of his April 23rd birthday and decided to take another look at this well-known literary playwright.

William Shakespeare celebrated his 456th birthday and the 404th anniversary of his death last week. The experts aren’t sure of the exact date of his birth, but they do know he was baptized on April 26th.

His birthday tends to fall on St. George’s Day, England’s National Day. Who was St. George? He’s the patron saint of England and parts of Portugal and Spain, a Christian martyr, and celebrated as the ideal for martial valor and selflessness. Legend has it that he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess. Most of the time, St. George’s Day is celebrated on Shakespeare’s actual birthday. However, if it falls during the week of Easter, then it’s observed the weekday following the celebration of Easter. Due to the Coronavirus, the British were asked to fly the flag from their homes instead of going out and celebrating this year.

A couple of additional facts about him,

-According to shakespeare.org.uk (a website dedicated to a charity which cares for the Shakespeare sites and offers tours and information about Shakespeare and his family), Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children and the oldest surviving son. His two older sisters, Joan and Margaret both died before reaching the age of two and of his younger siblings, Gilbert, Joan (named after her older sister), Anne, Richard and Edmund. His younger sister Joan was the only one of his siblings to outlive him.

-Upon his father’s death in 1601, he inherited the house which became an inn called Maidenhead and later on the Swan and Maidenhead. It remained an inn until 1847 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it and to restore and care for the family history.

-When it comes to him being an actor and a playwright, an interesting thing about the Globe theater, where Shakespeare was an actor and shareholder, it accommodated people from all walks of life, so anyone could see a play. Just like going to an event at a theater or stadium now, what you can afford, will determine where you can sit. At the Globe, the cheap seats were on the ground floor and were open to all of the weather elements. The more expensive seats were in the higher levels complete with comfy seats which were out of the weather. A reversal of how a concert or sporting event is set up now. With the more expensive seats found on the lower levels and the least expensive seating found in upper level “nose bleed section”.


Shakespeare’s writing is complex and sometimes hard to understand. What are your thoughts?

In response to my blog post from March 24th, Authorbookings.com (a part of Story Monsters LLC) reached out and referred me to another Shakespeare resource. When I checked out the website, getshakespeare.com (which will take you to the Story Monsters LLC website), I learned about Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection. Cass Foster makes works of Shakespeare accessible for all ages. These versions are not adaptations, but timeless tales that may help make my understanding Shakespeare a lot easier. They are available through the Story Monsters LLC store and are suitable for students in sixth grade and up. I ordered one of the Shakespeare’s plays I haven’t read before, Taming of the Shrew, which was written originally written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592, we’ll see how it reads.

As a side note, Authorbookings.com has a great program for book awards and outreach to the schools and media to get in touch with authors, artists, publishers and speakers for school and library visits. My first novel, The Hard Way, is a 2018 honorable mention Dragonfly Book Award winner, through Story Monsters LLC.

As I was reading the reviews for Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, I saw one which was posted by the Woodland Shakespeare Club, now the oldest women’s clubs in California founded in 1886 with the goal to “study, with intellectual and spiritual growth as goals”. It is a literary, multi-generational group, limited to 50 members, that started out just discussing works of Shakespeare, but in 1878, the women started reading works by various authors when they called upon each other at their homes for the meeting. Kind of like the book clubs of today.

According to the article published in the community section of the October 27, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Shakespeare Club: Your cup of tea? the California based group reads and discusses books with topics of California to Southern Women Writers to music themed books. The typical meeting is a discussion of a previously chosen book and ending with a cup of tea. Their reading season runs from October to April, with April being the month they celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a luncheon and a special cake. Their theme changes from season to season with their recently completed season, 2019-2020, theme being “In Other Words: Shakespeare’s plays reinterpreted, retold and reimagined.” Members read current novels which are similar in type to one of Shakespeare’s plays.

I contacted the president of the group, Anne Hawke, and asked if they have a website. She replied, no it is too expensive for the group. If you Google, Woodland Shakespeare Club, like I did, you’ll find some interesting articles about the group. The group has 50 active members and they aren’t seeking new members. Any potential member must be referred by a current member of the group. When I asked what a favorite read for the group was, she said they enjoyed these Shakespeare plays reinterpreted. The Anne Tyler book, Vinegar Girl, is the Taming of the Shrew retold was one of her personal favorites. Looks like I found my next book to read and review along with the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare version of the story.

Funny how all of that information and a couple of future reads fell out of a second look at Shakespeare’s life. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

How are you doing on your To Be Read (TBR) Lists?

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

With the stay home orders, I’m enjoying a lot pleasure reading. How about you?

Have you ever heard of TBRs? If you are avid readers, you may know what that acronym means. Even though I consider myself an avid reader, I didn’t know what a TBR was until just recently. A TBR is your To Be Read (TBR) list. Simply, a list of books you want to read.

Have you ever used the Libby app? It allows you to check out eBooks from the library and has become one of my favorite apps to use to pick up eBooks or audiobooks for my phone or tablet. It is also a great way to pick up books while the libraries are closed right now.

While I was waiting for one of my holds to come from the library through Libby, I checked out my TBR on my Goodreads App (where I keep track of it). I was amazed to learn I have 201 books on my Want to Read List (it is what Goodreads calls your TBR). I wondered what books were it and how long they have been sitting there. I browsed through a few of the titles I recently added and wondered, what title has been sitting on this list the longest? I resorted the list and saw Megan’s Way, was added on August 14, 2011. So, I went to my Libby App and found out it was available to borrow.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Megan’s Way

Author
Melissa Foster

Type of Book
Women’s Fiction, Drama

Background
Melissa Foster is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She also helps other authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training program on Fostering Success. Foster has written over 152 novels in the romance and drama genres.

Summary of the book
Megan is a cancer survivor. She fought the disease once before and now it has come back with a vengeance. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Olivia, dealt with the battle before, but Megan didn’t want to put her through the emotional strain of supporting cancer treatment again. She has to make the decision to keep fighting, or to let the disease take her. She makes a decision that will ultimately affect her family and friends.

Reaction to the book
I really enjoyed the book. Battling cancer and deciding when enough is enough was a path my family took when my mom was battling breast cancer, so I could relate to the choice she had to make. Megan’s story is true of many other families who have had or going to make the same decision, not only for their own families, but also for their own quality of life. I would recommend this book to young adult or adult readers who are looking for a story of hard life decisions and effects on themselves and others.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website Melissa Foster

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. Megan’s Way

After I finished Megan’s Way, I went back to my TBR list to see what the next longest one riding on the list was. Dean’s List by Jon Hassler. It was put on the list on September 15, 2011. I have read quite a few of his books, so I was excited to read another one. When I went to find it on Libby, I learned not all books are available on the platform. Some of the older books don’t have an eBook format available. I will have to check out a hard copy when that option is available again. I checked through the next few books on my list and finally came across one which is available on Libby, The Devil’s Bed by William Kent Krueger, another of my favorite authors. It is available on Libby, but I actually had a paperback copy of it hanging around my house.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Devil’s Bed

Author
William Kent Krueger

Type of Book
Mystery/crime fiction

Background
William Kent Krueger is the author of the now nineteen book Cork O’Connor series and a couple of standalone novels like this one. His books are typically written at a diner in St. Paul, Minnesota and have their settings in different parts of the state. Being a Minnesota native myself, I can relate to the settings of his books. Krueger has always wanted to be a writer. His third-grade story, “The Walking Dictionary” was praised by his teachers and parents. Since then he has written many books and won several awards for his writing.

Summary of the book
Bo Thorsen, a Secret Service Agent, is assigned to protect the First Lady, when she comes to visit her dad after an accident out in his orchard. Things about the accident didn’t seem to add up for Thorsen, so he did some checking into the facts. This was starting to raise the eyebrows and anger some people connected to the case. As Thorsen got closer to the truth, connections to powerful people in Washington, DC start to surface and his investigation becomes more dangerous, even deadly.

Reaction to the book
Unlike the books in his Cork O’Connor series, this one had a more political flair with its characters being the President of the United States and the First Lady and the dealings with Washington DC. Even so, it still had the feeling of a William Kent Krueger novel which I really liked. The charters and story line were engaging and kept me guessing what was going to happen right up until the end of the book. I would recommend it for any William Kent Krueger or crime fiction fan.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website William Kent Krueger

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. The Devil’s Bed


How many books do you have in your To Be Read (TBR) pile? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Book Review: Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!


Did you know, World Autism Awareness Day was April 2nd and April is Autism Awareness Month? It is a great time to bring awareness about people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including Autism and Asperger syndromes.

While looking into Autism, I found an Autism 101 course on the Autism Society Website that helped me understand it better. Autism is a complex developmental disability affecting individuals in the areas of communication and social interaction. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning symptoms can occur in any combination and with varying degrees of severity. There are many resources available for parents and teachers. Here’s a link to their website Autism Society

In 2020, the Autism Society of America launched its Celebrate Differences campaign to build better awareness of the signs, symptoms and realities of autism. See the Celebrate Differences Pledge below.

What a perfect time to pick this book as the Big Library Read, eh? The Big Library Read, started in June of 2014, is “the first ever global eBook club.” It’s facilitated by OverDrive and is a reading program through your library which connects readers around the world with the same eBook at the same time without any wait lists or holds. There are three reads scheduled for this year, the one for this book being the first. The second one starts towards the end of June and the third one is in November. The website provides marketing materials for your local library to get involved and provide a way to join a discussion with other readers around the world. Be sure to take a look at their website. Big Library Read.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic

Author
Michael McCreary

Type of Book
Teen or Young Adult Memoir

Background
Michael McCreary was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of five. His parents enrolled him in the Stand up for Mental Health program at the age of thirteen where he found a positive outlet for his anxiety and met the founder of the program, David Granirer. McCreary trained with Granirer to create his comedy act, “Does This Make My Asperger’s Look Big?”. He was a contributor to the 2015 book published by the Autism Society called Autism: The Gift That Needs to be Opened. Now at the age of twenty-four, he is a self-defined Aspie Comic, a stand-up comedian who uses his love of the theater and being funny to breakdown the misconceptions about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Summary of the book
This memoir is McCreary’s story about growing up on the autism spectrum. Sometimes funny and sometimes sad, McCreary takes us through his day to day life and the challenges he faced being “a little different” from the rest of us.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed the read and found the book to be very informative. I liked how it was more informally written, without a lot of statistics and textbook definitions. As he told this story, we could feel his humor and personality shining through. Engaging read for young readers as McCreary’s story could be very relatable for someone on the autism spectrum. It would be a very insightful read for those of us who aren’t as informed about ASD.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website Michael McCreary

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic


Be sure to tune in to my Facebook page this Thursday, April 16th at 11:00 AM (Central Daylight Time (CDT)) for a live reading of chapter two of The Hard Way. Haven’t read chapter one yet? You can pick it up for free if you sign up for the e-mail list on my website. It will be a pop-up window when you first arrive on the home page. Hope to see you then.

Have a great week!