Need a holiday gift idea for your teen reader?

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Still holiday shopping? Looking for some books for your teen reader? Here are a couple ideas from the books I reviewed this year.

Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts – by Brian Paone

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The author, Brian Paone, writes this memior as a tribute to his best friend, lead singer of the band God Lives Underwater, David Reilly. They become friends through Paone’s being a big fan of Reilly’s band. The novel is about the life of a rock star, but it is more about strong bonds of friendship.

Here is a link to my book review. Book Review – Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts by Brian Paone

Here is a link to purchase your copy: Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts

Under a Painted Sky – by Stacey Lee

Under A Painted Sky

Stacey Lee writes a historical fiction adventure of a Chinese American teen in the 1850s. Her dream was to play violin in a conservatory in New York City. After her father was killed, she found herself on the run with Annamae, a teenage slave, and they hit the road on the Oregon trail. To not draw attention to themselves, they dressed up as boys and tried to do things as guys do. Follow their adventures in this novel.

Here is a link to my book review. Book Review – Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Here is a link to purchase your copy: Under a Painted Sky – Amazon.com

The King – by Lori Lorilyn Roberts

The King by Lorilyn Roberts

In the second book in the Seventh Dimension Series, Lorilyn Roberts continues the story of her main character, Daniel. He lives in current day Israel, but is able to travel back to when Rome ruled the land. He battles with good and evil to learn more about himself on his path with God. Even though the story has a Christian Fantasy flavor, I think it could be enjoyed by any teen reader.

Here is a link to my review. Book Review – The King by Lorilyn Roberts

Here is a link to purchase your copy: The King – Amazon.com

The Hard Way – by Selma P. Verde

TheHardWay_eBookRecipient of Honorable Mention in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards 

In the first book of The Way Series, Selma P. Verde gives us a coming of age novel focusing on the effects of peer pressure. After his best friend moves away, Paul Jones must make new friends while he takes on his first year of high school. He meets Anik Hatcher while serving detention and is introduced to his friends who were pulling pranks in Manor City. Paul learns the consequences of choosing the wrong guys to hang around.

Here are the links to purchase your copy:

The Hard Way – Amazon.com and The Hard Way – Barnes and Noble

It is always fun to buy a physical copy of the book, but remember, there is an e-book option available for most books. Many teens choose to read on their cell phones, tablets or even have a Kindle they download their books to. So, be sure to see what version they would like to receive your gift in.

Working on the blog this week

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Our family spent time with family during multiple parts of the weekend. And as for the other parts? We did a little shopping. Got a couple of Christmas gifts, but did more to get somethings we wanted and needed for projects around the house.

Writing News for the week ahead

I am signed up to take on a blog Content Creation Challenge. The goal is to prepare blog posts for the entire month of December during this challenge. Excited to do it. Why not sit down and get ahead on writing the posts during the holidays? I am also excited to get some tips for writing my posts. I’ll let you know how it goes and share some more information with you when I post next week’s blog.

With the holidays last week, not much writing got done in the writing house. However, I have been doing some business planning for my author platform; looking into setting up a company and a website for the blog and sale of my books. Lots of brainstorming and research going on here to help me get the process for both going. All of the things that will help grow my author brand and platform. It is pretty exciting but a big next few steps.

Selma’s Thoughts

I took our dog Maddie for a walk tonight around the neighborhood. We checked out all of the Christmas lights the neighbors put up. Seeing lights and,spending time with family is getting me into the Christmas spirit. I am not a big fan of the snow and cold, which we have yet to see, but it is not only a part of living in Minnesota, but it is a part of the holiday season I have come to cherish. What parts of the holidays are some of your favorites?

With the holiday season underway and Christmas just around the corner, have you thought about purchasing your very own copy of my book The Hard Way? 

Looking for a good middle grade early teen read for a holiday gift? Be sure to pick up a copy of The Hard Way! It is available in e-book format on Amazon.com and in paperback on both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

The Hard Way Thumbnail

Here is the Amazon.com link! The Hard Way – Amazon.com

And the Barnes and Noble link! The Hard Way – Barnes and Noble

May Holidays continued

When I posted Monday’s blog about Mother’s Day I noticed that we had two weeks in a row with holidays. Whether they are national holidays or Hallmark holidays, it made me wonder what the weekend of May 14th and 15th could hold this year. I looked at a calendar and saw that the 21st is Armed Forces Day and the 30th is the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, but no big things were posted for this weekend. So, I decided to continue my search elsewhere.

When I typed holidays on May 15th into Google, it came up with some days that were declared to be on May 15th like Stepmother’s Day and National Chocolate Chip Day. As important as those days are, it just wasn’t what I was looking for to be the topic for this week’s blog. So, I looked at birthdays that fell on May 15th and I found one that interested me, an author. It was Laura Hillebrand, the author of the book Seabiscuit: An American Legend.

Not only am I intrigued by authors, but since the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is in our recent history, it seemed appropriate to write about her and the horse that she based her book on. According to Wikipedia, Seabiscuit was a champion thoroughbred. He was foaled (born) in Lexington, KY on May 23, 1933. The mare (mom) was Swing On and the sire (dad) was Hard Tack. Seabiscuit was a smaller than most thoroughbreds with his height only being 5’2, ironically as tall as me.

Since he wasn’t living up to his racing potential at Wheatley Stable in Paris, KY, he was purchased by Charles Howard for a bargain. Howard left the horse in the hands of two men, whose job it was to make him into a better race horse. His trainer, Tom Smith, and the jockey Red Pollard, worked with him and brought him out of his shell.

He raced during the Depression as kind of an underdog and became a hero to the people at a time when people needed one. Due to the beating triple crown winner, War Admiral, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, he became the American Horse of the Year in 1938. After coming back from a ligament injury, he won the La Jolla Handicap at Santa Anita in 1940. He retired after that as horse racing’s all time money winner.

Sea Sovereign, one of the horses that Seabiscuit was a sire to, did some horse racing and was in a movie about his Dad with Shirley Temple called The Story of Seabiscuit in 1949. He took the role of this father in this fictionalized account about his life.

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Being an author myself, I’m intrigued with the writing journeys of other authors. It was fun to find Laura Hillebrand  through such a random series of things. The fact she had written a book I enjoyed made it even better.

Her book was published in 2001 and was adapted into a feature film in 2003. I remember going to the theater to see it with my Godson. I really enjoyed it.

But, I was sad to find out she suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She was diagnosed in 1987 while she attended college. According to an interview by Monica Hesse, a Washington Post Staff Writer on  November 28, 2010, Hillebrand says that she copes with her disease by detaching herself completely from any aspirations she would have for her own life.

According to Biography.com,  she loved to ride horses as a teenager. She was even considering the idea of pursuing a career as a jockey. Her interest in horses and history led her to write articles about horseracing and have them published in magazines. She did most of this writing while she was staying with her future husband in Chicago, where  he was doing grad work at the University of Chicago. While she was doing research for these articles, she came across the information about Seabiscuit. It was an unlikely story of a less than perfect horse finding huge success on the track. The perfect story idea for a book. This became the theme of what would become one of her best selling novels.

Unfortunately, when the book Seabiscuit was released, she had a relapse from her disease. From that point on, she was unable to leave her house or even meet with many people.

Aaron Gell from Elle.com did an interview with Laura on December 2, 2010 and asked her about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Here’s what she had to say about her writing process,

“I climb into these stories because I don’t want to be here,” she says, “I don’t want to be in this body and I don’t want to be in this place, so I’m on that raft. It takes a while to get my concentration to that level, and then I lose all track of time.”

Using research and writing as an escape is how she copes with her disease and still continue to write. I know that I run to my writing to escape real life sometimes. Joining the story with characters that I’ve created.

I was intrigued by her because I loved her book. Then when I learned more about her, I was even more intrigued with who she is and how she was able to write. By looking at her website, you wouldn’t know that she suffers from a disease with no cure that keeps her at home quite a bit of the time. As a reader, all we see is the end product. We don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that went into making that book. As an author myself, I read books from a different angle. I’ve been honing my craft for many years and am finally on the cusp of publishing my first book. But, after blogging about Laura Hillebrand, now I have another thing to keep in mind when I’m reading. What is the author overcoming to bring their writing and their story to the public? Is it a physical illness? An emotional journey? Or maybe trying to make it happen with life being a constant interrupt?

Even though I didn’t have a specific holiday to write about, the research for this week’s blog took me on a little different, but fun, writing journey.

 

A look at the Easter Traditions

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. We enjoyed the day and a great meal with close friends. About a week ago, I was talking with a group of people about how certain characters came to represent religious holidays. Santa and Christmas is the most popular one, but what about the Easter Bunny and Easter? He and Santa are both looked to as the judges of whether or not kids have behaved over a period of time. For Christmas, whether they are naughty or nice determines whether they receive gifts on December 25th. For Easter, it is based on whether the kids have been good leading up to Easter Sunday, to determine whether they get baskets with goodies and colored eggs in them or not.

Now let’s talk about the holiday’s religious history and how the traditions came into the story. According to Wikipedia, Eastertide is the season that focuses on the resurrection of Jesus and it begins on Easter Sunday. There are symbols that have carried through the years and things are celebrated the same way even today.

  • Sunrise Service –  Is a service held outside at sunrise to recognize the moment that Jesus was no longer in the tomb when dawn broke on Easter morning. The service allows the congregation to share the sunrise with each other in honor of that significant event.
  • Easter eggs – symbol of the tomb that Jesus rose from
  • Easter lily – symbol of the resurrection or rebirth

Like Santa, the Easter Bunny also has some folklore attached to it. Why a rabbit? Well, people at that time thought that rabbits were able to reproduce without losing their virginity. They associated that idea of fertility with the Virgin Mary, who was also said to have given birth without losing her virginity. Eggs have also been seen as symbols of fertility since for most animals, they play a role in how life begins. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits usually have large litters of bunnies, they both became known as symbols of rising fertility and rebirth.

Back in the earlier years, churches had their congregations abstain from eating eggs during their observance of lent. What would they do with eggs laid during that time then?  They would preserve them by either boiling or roasting and would eat them when they broke the fast after lent was over. These eggs were decorated as part of the celebration of Eastertide and were put into the bonnets and hats of the children to celebrate the coming holiday. This was the foundation of our current tradition of coloring hard boiled eggs for Easter baskets.

Many of the traditions associated with Easter were brought to the United States by German Settlers in the 1800s. The Easter Hare or Spring Bunny would bring baskets with colored eggs, candy and toys for all of the kids that were deemed to have been good. Over time, the baskets would be hidden and kids would have to find them in the morning, leading to the tradition of Easter Egg hunts.

Growing up, I didn’t have a very strong religious background. My parents were both brought up Catholic and we didn’t go to church every Sunday. So when it came to the rituals of the holidays, we did the mainstream ones, but not the ones you would typically do as a member of a church. I have many fond memories of Easter as a kid. We received the traditional Easter baskets and candy and would always get a new outfit to wear for the day. New clothes at Easter was another tradition to celebrate rebirth. Easter afternoon we would have dinner at one of our relatives houses and I would be able to play with my cousins. But, I probably didn’t know where all of the traditions of the holiday actually came from.

When you live in a part of the country that has a definite winter, Easter and the coming of spring is kind of exciting. I love the rebirth theme of spring and the fun pastel colors that are seen on all of the Easter supplies and decorations. How about the plastic Easter grass that would come in the baskets? I remember that stuff ending up all over the house and showing up the following fall. And coloring Easter eggs was always one of my favorite things to do. The colored tablets had to be mixed with the vinegar to make the egg coloring solution to dip them in. Through this tradition, I remember smelling vinegar for the first time.

I do like snow for Christmas, but I smile when it melts. I know that spring is on its way when the green grass and flowers start coming up through the ground. Daisies, daffodils, and tulips are some flowers that remind me of spring the most. I remember doing a fund raiser in school when we sold daffodils for cancer. Daffodils are seen as a sign of hope and life. I checked on The American Cancer Society website and they still do this. They now call it The Daffodils Hope by the Bunch campaign. The timing coincides with the coming of spring and March being colorectal cancer awareness month. When it came to the flowers, I also remember my Dad bringing home an Easter Lily for my Mom to have in the house for the holiday.

How about the song composed by Irving Berlin, Easter Parade? Not only do I remember the lyrics, but we also played it in my high school concert band. The song is about a woman in her Easter bonnet going to the Easter Parade. Wearing an Easter bonnet (or hat) was another example of the new clothes tradition on Easter. For a woman to be able to wear a new or even refurbished Easter Bonnet during the Great Depression was seen as a luxury. On Facebook today, I saw pictures of friends or their kids wearing some fun hats to continue this tradition.

The stories of how traditions originated have always intrigued me. Why it is the Easter Bunny and not the Easter Puppy? Or why do we color an egg and not a shirt? Some of the history of these traditions could have been lost by someone who is not a part of a church. I appreciate that my parents kept these traditions going for us and that we are able to hand them down to our kids. The religious foundations for the holidays are important, but aren’t always specific to a certain religion. I’m kind of glad. That way everyone can enjoy them and add their own traditions to make the holiday special.