Patty Farrell

Why do you write?: Personal entertainment, fantastical reverie

Describe where you write.: Side-by-side laptops on the couch when possible

Who or what is your muse?: life’s ridiculousness

Three wishes . . .: peace, happiness, fantastical reality

Favorite childhood book, and why?: The Giving Tree… say no more

Explain when is your ideal time to write.
: When focus is in the air

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs… pure pleasure

E-book or print? Why?: Print… no emissions

Favorite magazine, and why?: Us Weekly… fun smut

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: A smile in fun, in release… escaping reality

Patty Farrell

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Teacher Beware

Charlotte Raine’s Teacher Beware is a a thriller/romance which revolves around the lives of a substitute teacher, Grace, and a cardiologist, Sam, who meet while witnessing a double murder.  Inevitably, these two find they have much more in common than simply the blood splattered on their clothes.

Grace, a recent resident of Murray, Virginia, is looking for a fresh start after a traumatic life event while Sam chooses to remain private in the hopes of protecting himself so as not to be hurt again, as he was growing up, by those whom were supposed to love him the most.  Sam himself expresses this reality, “I think about . . . my own obstacles in life.  I think about how scars shows [sic] someone who has lived thoroughly.  It shows someone who saw his or her worst fears and kept pushing forward”  (267-268).

Thus, I think the potential for deep characterization was there, but further development was needed in order for the reader to fully comprehend their unique situations and motivations as in the case with Deke, the troubled youth in the book.  As I would tell my students, slow down and take your time for fully developed second-order writing or MORE! MORE! MORE! written across the page.

In addition, a more thorough editing is needed throughout as there were abundant split infinitives (please, Peeps, do not let “not” separate to + verb), a subject/verb agreement error as noted above, and pronoun reference errors as in “Whenever I look at human [sic], I imagine their heart . . .”  (63).

If reading Teacher Beware for a book club, a selection of finger foods is preferred as an avoidance of the use of knives is a must.

Black Beauty (Graphic Novel)

Lately we’re on a graphic novel kick because my oldest squirt’s BFF introduced her to the Babymouse series.  While at the berry, my oldest and I picked Black Beauty, the graphic novel written by Anna Sewell, retold by L.L. Owens, and illustrated by Jennifer Tanner, for my youngest squirt, and, boy, did we score.

My first grader was immediately drawn to the striking cover which was comprised of Black Beauty set against a cobalt blue background.

After reading the story on her own, my youngest then wanted to read it aloud to me and my hub.  When discussing the book afterwards, we realized the word “kind” was used at least nine times in its sixty-three pages.  Thus, the moral of the story, being humane to animals and one another, was, without a doubt, reiterated and emphasized throughout the book’s entirety.

Not only am I a huge fan of the book’s message, but I also learned what never to use on a horse, a checkrein, a term I am glad I had never been acquainted with before now.

A definite must-read for even the most reluctant young reader.

Later, my squirts and I plan to reenact some of the scenes with our black lab, Daisy Duke, starring as Black Beauty and our American Girls acting as riders. . . literacy in action.

Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

Why do you write?: Because I love to! It’s also my job, but it’s nice that those two things can go hand-in-hand. It’s also the way I communicate best.

Describe where you write.
: On the couch, on the futon, at a desk, at a table, in a coffee shop, at the library, in the car…

Who or what is your muse?
: I have never been asked that and I have never thought much about it. Life inspires me, in every corner and around each surprising turn.

Three wishes . . .
: 1. To make enough money this year to keep being able to write full time. 2. To be able to travel more. 3. To have a good, long writing career.

Favorite childhood book, and why?: “Anne of Green Gables,” because it’s awesome.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: When my kids are at school. Otherwise, it would be all day every day.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: I re-read Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter just about every year.

E-book or print? Why?
: Print! I’m a touch and smell person, so there’s just no substitute for me.

Favorite magazine, and why?: Food Network Magazine. Then maybe Poets & Writers. I am a total die-hard foodie.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
: Thoughtfulness. Introspection. Inspiration. Freedom.

Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

Five Minute Friday: Real

Real.  My oldest squirt has been sick the last couple of days with a fever and diarrhea.  Running to the bathroom,  my squirt squirted a bit on the bathroom floor.  Now, this is real.

Due to years of baking in the sun without the use of sunscreen, I now have funky bumps growing on my face which I periodically have to have burned off to prevent skin cancer.  The process is painful, feeling as if someone is sticking tiny needles into my skin.  The sick squirt mentioned above accompanied me today to one of these appointments since she was home from school.  On the way home as my bumps formed white growths which will eventually form scabs, my daughter commented, “I’ve never noticed those bumps on your face before.  I just thought your face was greasy like you’d rubbed Culvers buns on them.”  I, in turn, had to wipe tears from my eyes at this because I was laughing so hard and so proud of her descriptive abilities.

While waiting in the doctor’s office to be called back into the little room, my daughter and I listened as an elderly couple read aloud from People Magazine and then commented on the stories.  Hearing about a celebrity’s impending divorce and how much someone had paid for a house, my squirt and I held back giggles as the couple must have come across an article or recipe about smashed potatoes.  The man and woman then entered a rather heated debate over the differences between smashed and mashed potatoes.  We failed to discover what their final verdict was as my name was called by the nurse.  What I do know is that sunscreen is a must, and I love me some real.

Colleen Caitin

Why do you write?: I have a hard time expressing my emotions, so writing means a great deal for me, because it’s my way to show how I feel. It helps me get through hard times, bad days or some confusion or problems. It’s also my way to relax or to let off some steam. I always loved books, because they are able to lead us away from reality into a whole new world and creating something like that is the best thrill there is…

Describe where you write.: Mostly at home (on the bed or in my totally awesome armchair)

Who or what is your muse?: Well, you could say that life is my muse. Most of the things I write come from own experiences…

Three wishes . . .: making my hobby (writing) into my one and only job, a ski chalet in the alps, being able to honestly say that I’m happy and live without regrets

Favorite childhood book, and why?: “Guess how much I love you” by Sam McBratney; I probably loved it so much, because I always had a thing for rabbits. They are just so cute!

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: I guess my ideal time to write is when I want to write. I’m not the kind of person who writes a story-outline or sits down and goes “now I’m going to wrote something”. As soon as I get an idea I write it down and that can be whenever…

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling; I know it’s a bit of a cheat, because it’s a series (and if I would have to choose I would pick the third one ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but I could read all of them over and over again. And of the sake of honest, it’s what I do. I think I read all of them at least four times. For me, Harry Potter is just awesome and a genius idea. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts?!

E-book or print? Why?: Print. Apart from the fact that I think it’s more comfortable to read, I just like the way it feels. Having a book in my hands and seeing all of them on the shelves is just something entirely different than owning an e-reader.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: I hope that my readers can identify themselves with the characters or with some aspects of the stories and therefore learn that they are not alone and that the most important thing is to stand up for themselves and be true to who they are. In the end, it’s not about how many books I’ve sold or how many ‘fans’ I have. It’s about the people that can honestly say, that my books mean something special to them because they learned something from it or because it helped them through a hard time. That’s what is important to me!

Colleen Caitin

Stellaluna

My youngest squirt’s first-grade book club met to discuss Janell Cannon’s Stellaluna, the story about how a bat and birds befriend each other regardless of  their differences.

stellalunagroupSince the bat in question is a fruit bat, various fruits were offered for snack such as kiwi, pineapple, and grapes.  Once eating was underway, I had each girl lift her plate in order to find a sentence describing either a bird, a fruit bat, or both.  After reading her clue, the bookie then told me where to put her name on the Venn Diagram.

As bellies neared fullness, each book club member shared a picture she drew of a favorite character or scene and shared a discussion question with the group.  Open-ended questions ensued with . . .

What makes Stellaluna brave?

Which is your favorite character from the book, and why?

What amazed me the most was how thoroughly the girls had read the book, remembering even minute details.

From here, the girls watched a video adaptation of the book entitled Stellaluna (2004), directed by William R. Kowalchuk Jr.  Book Club Babes II were also given the option of creating their own bat by following “How to Draw a Bat” instructions found on Pinterest.

Miss Elise, the young lady who selected the book for discussion, sent fellow readers home with a goodie bag filled with Stellaluna activity pages, a birdhouse, and paints.  My squirt wasted no time in decorating her house.

Next discussion:  Miss Piper’s pick of Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The Brownies and Their Pow Wow at Cahokia Mounds

Looking for a three-hour plus educational adventure for your Girl Scout?  Look no further than a field trip to Cahokia Mounds, designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

IMG_1691Beginning with an engaging performance by The Kahok Dancers, the Brownies not only watched The Pipe Dance and The Eagle Dance, they participated.  Quite the workout if I do say so myself . . .

From there, our group, Arrowhead, headed to our crafts/games session.  The girls began by rubbing copper-colored tin wrapped around tiles with Native American imagery.  The completed rubbing was then transformed into a necklace.  Once this was finished, girls then used their hands to form clay into a bowl similar to those seen in the museum.

The games portion consisted of learning how to throw spears using two different devices.  One of our Brownies, Miss G., found her calling as a future javelin thrower as she was able to throw further than any other adult or child in our group.

Next, girls watched the award-winning movie, Cahokia:  City of the Sun and then explored the museum.

IMG_1726Storytelling with Marilyn Kinsella followed with her telling the legend of the origins of light and darkness.  Not a peep was heard until after she concluded her time with instructions on how to make a bracelet out of jute.

Our final session involved our returning to the auditorium where an archaeologist showed us various Native American tools, how they were crafted and where they were found.  Learning soil color and striations matter when excavating, the girls put this knowledge to the test with their snack.  Girls created their own “soil” layers with chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, cookie crumbles, Gushers as “evidence,” chocolate sprinkles, and a gummy worm on top.

Given new energy, the girls then drove (me) or walked (others) across the street to Monks Mound and climbed the stairs, some more than once (not I).

This is most definitely a field trip worth taking, and one I think our Brownies will remember for a long time to come.

Werner Stejskal

Why do you write?: I always loved to write little stories. My first fairy tales came into being when I was seven years old. I have been an avid reader since the beginning and simply wanted to write something myself. In later life I considered writing books, but found that I did not have it in me. It took “divine intervention” to create this series. One sleepless night after a West to East flight from Europe to Australia, I was suddenly given the idea to write this children’s series. My daughter has a black cat, which may have influenced this decision. I started writing one story after the other to end up with about 60 stories in two month. Finding illustrators was the next step. The main purpose of this series is to provide simple entertainment for little kids. I like to include some lessons in them as well, but it is not foremost. The strength of this series are the illustrations, which should appeal to everyone. I don’t believe to write in kiddy language, but rather depend on mum to read and retell her child according to its age. Altogether writing and producing this series gives me the satisfaction of providing a creative contribution to society and children in particular. It fills my days of retirement with the joy of an imaginary world.

Describe where you write.: I use my Ipad to write my story, sitting with my legs up on the sofa.

Who or what is your muse?: I always loved Disney movies and magazines. I decided to adopt that style for the illustrations in my series.

Three wishes . . .: Finish the series, offer printed books, do TV series

Favorite childhood book, and why?: Pippi Longstockings series. I admire people breaking out and dare to be different.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: I usually write at night. Being retired I have the priviledge though to endulge myself any time.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Gine [sic] with the wind. Again I love an independent character like Scarlett. I always used to identify with her.

E-book or print? Why?: I publish as ebooks simply because it is easier. I will follow up with print-on-demand for the same reason. I believe the chance for success for normal printed books is minimal unless you are famous already.

Favorite magazine, and why?: The Money magazine, because you can always learn something.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: The foremost purpose of my series is to offer small children an alternative to current popular books. I like to keep the stories simple, colourful and with some small lessons to learn. I prefer to treat small children more like grown-ups and ask for their cooperation as well.

Werner Stejskal