Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday's Fun and Family-Friendly Guest Post Featuring The Top Reasons Drama Is Important For Your Child's Life by Deborah Baldwin

The Top Reasons Drama Is Important for Your Child’s Life

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Willy Wonka, Jr.  Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies August 2012
When the Litpick staff and I discussed writing several articles concerning drama education, I was stymied.  I have been a drama teacher and director since 1979.
Personally, theatre and the creativity that stems from it is very second nature to me. I forget that other people may not be aware of its strengths in the same manner.
Today’s the day for bolstering creativity in your child!
In a typical school day I taught theatre classes to approximately 100 students, ages eight to eighteen.  Whew!  This included classes in creative dramatics, introduction to musical theatre, film making, technical theatre and a production based musical theatre class. Most of what I taught, I created myself for the students.
Since I worked for an enrichment program for home school students, I taught a different group of students each day.  Double whew! In another words, creating curriculum plus teaching plus directing productions for nearly forty years equals expert first-hand knowledge.  Oh, I forgot that!
 Your Creative Child
At the beginning of the school year, it was not uncommon for parents to stop me in the hallway and express delight that their child will be taking a drama class with me.  Many parents say, “My daughter is very imaginative and expressive.  She plays dress up all day if I let her, but other than dress up, I don’t know what to do with her imagination next.”
I think I know what the parent is trying to express to me.  They need some assurance that A. this is a normal part of the child’s development; B. it should not be squelched but promoted and C. there are many strengths to being a creative human being.  I smile and encourage the parent to allow the child to continue imagining. I take it from there and the magic begins.
I will admit I am very partial to theatre arts.  Honestly, theatre saved my life when I was about ten years old, but that’s another story for some other time.  All arts classes will nurture your child’s creativity and every art form brings different gifts to the table.  Here are my top seven reasons for drama classes in your child’s life.
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Stage Make up Assignment in Technical Theatre Class  May 2016
Drama Classes:
Strengthen literacy—We know that through reading, our reading becomes more fluid and comprehensive. Not everyone recognizes that in a drama class we READ a lot--plays, scenes, poems and stories to dramatize.  Of course, when we rehearse a piece we read the words over and over again—aha! Then we MEMORIZE them.
We practice a character’s lines using vocal inflection and variety.  Suddenly, the words come to life for the reader. Voila! We sneak in reading skills without any of us being aware of it.  It is that easy, but reading must be continued in order to have consistent success.
Build self-esteem and self-confidence—If a child has an opportunity to share his ideas through drama, he is immediately accepted. We applaud for the student and his attempt.  We encourage positive comments towards the student’s effort.  Over time, the child begins to see his worth within the classroom, within the school and consequently in the world as well. Self-actualization is realized. It is a known fact that many at-risk students attend school only because they can take an arts class.  That’s pretty powerful.
Build a team spirit—I compare a cast in a play to a football team. The only difference is that no one sits on the bench—everyone plays.  Everyone’s actions count to make the goal, the performance.  If a student knows that he is expected to help other members of the cast and crew, he takes on the responsibility.
This level of responsibility carries over into social situations, because by becoming a part of a team, a student can see himself as part of the whole instead of merely one piece. A P.E. teacher once remarked to me that she could tell which of my drama students took her classes.  When playing games, they were the ones who quickly pulled a group together, used their individual strengths and left out no one. How nice!
Encourage tolerance—Through a scene or play, when one experiences first-hand what is like to be the down trodden character, the misunderstood, the shunned, the innocent accused, one’s framework of understanding broadens.
For example, when we dramatize the story of Anne Frank or Helen Keller, we begin to see life differently and the value of everyone.  Life’s issues become greyer in color to us and thereby we appreciate the many perspectives in a particular situation. This is a remarkable attribute.
Provide a safe place to express one’s emotions—Society’s pressures have encouraged us to keep our emotions to ourselves, especially negative ones. I was one of those people.  In turn, some people are the opposite and show only negative emotions because they feel less vulnerable in so doing.
By creating a character and expressing the character’s emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, pride, curiosity, anger, joy, jealousy, etc. these feelings become an accepted part of one’s psyche. One’s acceptance of all one’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses is vital to our growth, no matter the age.
Contact me at dhcbalwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Not Fond of Chocolate by Brenda Scruggs a Friday's Fun and Family Friendly Guest Post!


Chocolate could be considered a child’s best friend, but for me, I wasn’t
that fond of chocolate while growing up. I remember me and my sister would
ride our horses to the store (no, I’m not that old) (laughing) we rode
horses all through our childhood. It was our time to enjoy the outdoors and
that tasty treat. Except for me, chocolate wasn’t my go-to snack, I would
rather grab a bag of chips. Crazy right?

A few years ago, I was at a dinner and someone asked, “Do you want a piece
of fudge?” I said, “I’m not that fond of chocolate.” The lady looked at me
a little weird. I thought then and there, that would make a good novel. So,
voila, The Chocolatier was written. But, since then, I have developed a
moderate taste for the confection.

When I researched the creamy substance, I found interesting segments on
the bean. Did you know that Christopher Columbus not only discovered
America but a boat load of chocolate? Columbus was the first European to
encounter cacao aka chocolate. August 1505, on his fourth voyage to the
America’s, he and his crew came across a large dugout canoe near an island
off the coast of what is now Honduras. The canoe was the largest native
vessel the Spaniards had seen. It was “as long as a galley,” and was filled
with local goods for trade – including cacao beans. Columbus had his crew
seize the vessel and its goods. Columbus claimed the concoction was a
“divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. “A cup of this
precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.”
Columbus, son Ferdinand wrote about the encounter. He was struck by how
much value the Natives placed on cacao beans, saying, “They seemed to hold
these almonds (the cacao beans) at a great price; for when they were
brought on board ship, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they
all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.”
They soon realized that the cacao bean was used as local currency.
So, the history of chocolate, says that it is a worthwhile confection that
is delicious and valuable.



Blurb:

Chocolate has a reputation of healing a broken heart. Swirl through the
pages of this sweet romance of two unlikely people, one a chocolate heir
and the other not fond of chocolate, to see if chocolate holds true to its
reputation.
Charles Riviera an heir to a chocolate empire was perfectly content as
Director of Marketing over Riviera Chocolate until he literally bumps into
Charlene Callaway. Would she melt his heart like heat melts chocolate?
Charlene Callaway finds herself far from home after finding her fiancé
with another woman on their wedding day. The move had its challenges
especially when she goes to work for a Chocolate Company and her new
handsome boss.
When Charlene is abducted, her only thoughts were of Charles, The
Chocolatier.
Contemporary/Romance/Suspense




Newly released is Brenda's Contemporary/Suspense Michaela’s Justice. This book is on kindle and in paperback.

Blurb:
Detective Michaela Kendall’s abduction at the age of fourteen left her with a burden of becoming a self-appointed protector. The brutalization of her capture left her without any memory of the horrible ordeal except for terrifying dreams of Atelic Horton, her captor. When he escapes from prison, she knows it’s her duty to capture him. Circumstances throw her together with Marshal Ray Steele, an encounter she wanted to forget but it seems he didn’t take too kindly to a gun being pointed in his face. His rough and tuff cowboy ways are known for upholding the law to any measure within the bounds of Justice. 
When Michaela and Ray set out to find the prisoner they soon find out they need each other but the journey is full of twists and danger. Ray proves to be her protector on more than one occasion. Somewhere along the way, Michaela sees him in a different light, that not all men were the same. 
But, lurking in the shadows, Atelic watches from a distance ready to make his move.

  





Bio
I studied journalism in school which stirred my imaginations into putting
words to paper. I live in Tennessee. I enjoy watching television with my
husband, eating Mexican food and scribbling my thoughts down on paper.

You can find Brenda here: 

Brendascruggs.wordpress.com
Facebook: brenda Scruggs -  author
Instagram: brendascruggs

Thank you for sharing your post with us, Brenda, you are welcome to share anytime. I would love to hear more about your horse rides.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Delicious Amazon Reviews for Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?


Almost one month ago today, I released Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?  It was my first real children’s book and I had been working on this dream since my granddaughter, Raevyndaun asked me to write a book she could read.
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This month has brought in 10 reviews for the book. Most verified and thrilled to say that. Most have been 5-star reviews. Even the 4 stars have been so amazingly beautiful to me. Thankfully, no one has had a negative word to say about Dolcey or my writing.
I can’t describe how wonderful that feels. It is like a month of birthday cake without the guilt and weight gain.  That’s about the best I can describe it.
I am so thankful to everyone that has reviewed so far and I am going to call out your reviewer name in thanks.
I will start with the 2 Amazon reviewers.  🙂
Janet Balletta             Blog post (check out the post! It is amazing!!!)
Sherrie Marshall      Blog post! (Check out the post It was wonderful!!)
Leigh Holland          Blog Interview  (This was so fun. Check out her blog!)
Bob Richley              Blog post (Check this out, It is a great post!)
Sian  Claven              Blog Post (Check out the beautiful post from tbbmaniacs!)

 Robbie Cheadle        Blog Post (Check out her fantastic post!)
So this is a monthly recap. This is an exciting month in paperback sales as well. I have been mailing out several books a week to readers that want a signed copy for their children and grandchildren. I appreciate every request and make sure the turn around time is quick. If you want your child to meet Docley and have a signed book, just write me or comment below. I sell them for the paperback Price of $9.20 and $3.00 shipping.
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Thanks to, Gloria, Martha, Cindy and Maci,  Jacinthe, Laura, Beverly, Betty,  Cindy E, Tensley and Willow, Wilson, Elliot, Brynlea and Lulee.  I will not mention all the family’s books I have sent out. All I can say is when I walk into the post office, they call out, “MEDIA MAIL, right?”
Winchester Post office
So I am thrilled to be sharing this with you. I love to promote marketing ideas and Indie authors. I wanted you to see, I believe my marketing is paying off.  I am following as many posts, newsletters, and live events as I can to learn more.  Always willing to learn more tips if you have them.
Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? is #118 in her genre right now.  She has been as low as 75 so I still hope to see her dropping toward #1. Even the top 100 is fine with me.
The first live book signing event takes place on August 26 and 27, 2017. I have books available or bring your own. I will happily sign a copy. I am also writing a prequel to Dolcey’s story for a live reading during the event.
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There will be a children’s reading corner and I am going to read this new story. Yikes, I volunteer for so many things I am just not prepared for. So I have to race and get prepared.  Join us in August. BBBash.png
We’re STILL ACCEPTING authors who are seeking signing opportunities to participate in the Bluegrass Book Bash 2017 event. It’s taking place Aug 26-27 in Corbin, Kentucky and we still have several tables left to fill! Authors of all genres and locations are welcome, and there will activities for kids during the event. If you’re interested, please join this group to get the full info on table prices, payments, etc. We’d love to have you join us!

Share some feedback! I am curious as to how my little numbers are for a new indie author.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday's Fun and Family Friendly Guest Post How Theatre Saved My Life by Deborah Baldwin

My imagination (and later, theatre specifically) saved my life. When I was a child, my mother was quite ill and consequently to show respect to her, I controlled my emotions. so I didn’t want compound her stress.
I was the youngest in my family. With ten years between me and my next closest sibling, I rarely had anyone to play with or talk to. I depended upon my imagination to comfort me and take me away from loneliness I felt but wouldn’t admit to anyone. I learned how to slap on a smile and pretend everything was good with me.  I was quite a little actress.
When I saw movies, I would act them out and sing very dramatically while sequestering myself upstairs on the east porch of our house. It had no heat and I remember freezing to death for my “art”.
I thought I was crazy, though. I never told my friends about my make believe playing and when I would visit their houses, they never played make believe. So I decided I wasn’t like everyone else. I played make believe until I was twelve.
My father was a physician and my mother was raised in Japan when she was a child. Consequently, her wander lust was difficult to satiate and we traveled to many countries when I was quite young.
If it wasn’t hard enough being the youngest, my world view was very different from my fellow classmates. Just another thing to make me an oddity, at least in my mind.
My mother wasn’t at all supportive of my interest in theatre. She intimated I could end up like Elizabeth Taylor, “She’s been married seven times. Look at her…”Something was mentioned about me ending up on a “casting couch.” I didn’t know what that was, but by my mother’s attitude I knew it must be bad.
Trying to be the good daughter,  I left behind my imagination and became a cheerleader in junior high school. It makes sense if you think about it. That worked for two years and I loved the performing aspect of it.  I was a rotten jumper.  No one taught me how to do a round off or cartwheel, so I taught myself.  But I could yell loudly and lead the crowd in cheers.  At least I could do that!
When I was in high school, I found exactly what I was seeking –the stage! I was cast in my first play as Madame Arcati in “Blithe Spirit”.  Since I had no previous acting experience, but lots experience playing the piano, I notated my script as if I was playing the piano. I used fermatas for pauses and crescendo and decrescendo signs when I wanted to speak louder or softer.
To this day, I grow nostalgic whenever I step backstage. The scent of sawdust, newly painted flats and the warmth of the stage lights are a magical elixir to me. I brush the back of my hand across a velvet grand curtain and immediately I feel I’m home.
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In college, I experienced an epiphany. It was the early 1970’s, and society impressed upon me to hide my negative feelings or only express those feelings most accepted by others. I realized by sharing myself hiding behind a character, I could express  all my feelings and thoughts. I felt accepted universally.
That’s a heady experience which made me come back for more. Nearly forty years later, I’m happily stuck here.
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I became a director for a community theatre production of The Miracle Worker because there was no one else willing to do the job. Ha! I have a leader type personality and directing fit into my life.
I was quite young to take on such a challenging production but I took to it right away. I saw the potential of affecting people through stories that I created in my own manner.
Now, I adore making a statement through words and actions.
As of this writing, I have directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  I chose to direct and act at the community level for most of my career.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy professional theatre.  On the contrary. I’ve appreciated the professional positions in which I have been employed.
It’s just not where my life’s journey has taken me.  I’m always open to work in whatever venue needs me.
I’ve portrayed many beloved roles–Maria in “The Sound of Music”, Marion Paroo in “Music Man”,  Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth”, Penny in “You Can’t Take it With You” and many others. Above all, more than any particular role or any special production, I have learned about myself. 
Theatre saved my life.  It has given me great joy, creative challenges and great friendships (I even met my husband while acting in a show). 
I don’t know where I would be without it.  image

Bio

Deborah is an award winning author, teacher and director.  Recently retired, she taught drama to elementary through high school students for thirty-eight years.  Among many other theatrical experiences, she has directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  Recently, she and her husband of thirty-four years moved from the Colorado Rockies to Kansas to be grandparents to their first grandchild.  When Deborah isn’t writing, reading or cooking she enjoys seeing movies and traveling.  Lastly, she serves as hand maiden to her two quirky cats who really run the show.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Stroll in the Gallery Featuring Kyra Leary and her unique Photography

My name is Kyra Leary and I live visually. I am not a professional photographer. I snap on impulse, capturing whatever pleases my eye or makes my heart skip a beat. In my world, a sunset is a sunset not a “colorful spectacle of light and hope”. It’s a photo and if it’s done right, it needs no description. All my nondescript photography can be viewed at www.kyraleary.com.

In addition to photography, I am the author of the Earth No. 105 series by Ame Terra. The series is a mix of science fiction, dystopian, paranormal romance. In short, a mutt. A lovable mix with something for everyone. Want to see the lovable mix for yourself? Everything Earth No. 105 can be found at https://kyraleary.com/www-whoisleader-com/.

In additional to photography and writing, I enjoy traveling, reading Indie novels, spoiling my son and dog and splurging on expensive wine. Read my "weird and witty" book reviews at https://kyraleary.com/book-reviews/.



Time to enter the Gallery: 












All my photos are free to Indie authors to use as they wish - marketing, promotions, covers or simply for inspiration. A listing of some that might inspire can be found at https://kyraleary.com/photo-listato/ but Indies can request any photo I’ve posted anywhere by shooting me an email at ameterra@comcast.net.

My books are free to anyone who follows my blog simply by emailing ameterra@comcast.net. Shop for my books at https://kyraleary.com/shop/. They are also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and ebooks.

Here’s some other places I hang out:


Twitter @LearyKyra

Instagram beckettleary





Sunday, June 18, 2017

Planning My First Book Signing Event

Yesterday I received the details on the Bluegrass Book Bash. What is that? Well, I will happily tell you! It is a book signing event in Corbin Kentucky. Corbin Kentucky is the home of the original Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders. I have convinced one of my daughters to come with and hold my hand during the event. I hope I will not be shaking too much to sign legibly.

I have been asking for those that have attended a book signing event before to give suggestions to make it a success. The response has been great and I am finding my head swirling with ideas. I have a stack of Who's That in the Cat Pajamas? children's books to take with me, I have a few of the Path of the Child the YA book to set out. I also have a copy of the anthology 31 Days of October. I need to plump up those stacks before August. I am also going to be introducing my two tee-shirt designs for the event. Now to get some bookmarks, and flyers made. I want this to go smoothly and be a success. Since it is my first, I will probably do an overkill.


 Let me tell you about my daughters and I planning a fairy party for one of the grandchildren. We decided that stations were needed. A face painting station complete with glitter paints, glitter makeup, and butterfly wing patterns. We created a photo booth with wings, crowns, wands, boas, and other items for the children to hold. There was a fairy dust booth where the children could make bags of fairy dust to take home. This was for a family of about 9 children. It was a great fun day and we laugh about the overkill, but we love the memories. One of the starter parties that we are now known for!

That is exactly how this could go if I am not careful. Everyone that knows me know that when the excitement kicks in, look out! Please share ideas and help me make it the most fun and least terrifying event ever.

Sunday Stroll in the Gallery Featuring Illustrations of Jane Fade Merrick

Ashes of the Phoenix is a contemporary romance which tells about life, love, hate, troubles and music! Meet Fade, a girl who lives a life left on her own, struggling constantly to survive in a society that swallows everyone who doesn’t keep up with its pace; her only company is a kitchen knife and a scar embedded in her leg that reminds her every day of who she is and why she is there. Once, while she’s stealing in a supermarket, she meets Jag, a boy with a disturbing appearance who convinces her to join him in his weird plan: to become the main sponsor of one of the most successful bands of the moment, of which he’s a huge fan, and - apparently - he doesn’t lack the money to do so. She allows herself to be convinced to meet Nef, a typical playboy, who eventually will learn that the world isn’t all at his feet like he thought...

Ashes of the Phoenix contains several illustrations done by the author and other artists, which complete the imaginary world that it tells.







This romance have been published in Italian, currently is getting translate and it will be released in English at the beginning of the new year. Still, you can follow the FB page to know previews, curiosity, participate in surveys and giveaways. https://www.facebook.com/theashesofthephoenix/

Author's bio
Hello! This is Jane Fade Merrick, the author. I use a pen name to keep my identity secret because there's not much to tell about me. I am from Italy and I wanted to make my romance international (it's going to be translated by a professional staff, so don't mind my eventual English mistakes).
I believe in self-publishing. I consider it not a simple “escaping way” for all these people who didn't get a contract in a regular publishing house, but a real conscious way for a writer to make his story available to everyone. For this reason, I tried to write my book in the most perfect way I could. I hope that all the people who chose this way of publishing would do the same.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New concepts by Nancy Quinn as Friday's Fun and Family Friendly Guest Post


We had experienced many new concepts since leaving city life behind and moving out west. Conversations now focused on matters that I never thought would cross my lips—horses, cows, horseshoes, supplements, small farm animals, and wild animals. Weather also was a big topic, as well as how to protect yourself and your homestead from it. We learned about growing fruits and vegetables and, of course, we experimented with various means of dealing with the dreaded varmints, especially the chipmunks and squirrels who regularly threatened them.

The wildlife that lived on my place loved me. Each time they saw a new plant in the yard or in a pot, they assumed the buffet line was open. Deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits relished every flower I set out. It was so frustrating. They should have been satisfied with the bird seed they raided out of the feeder every day, but no, they were glutinous to a fault.



One particular chipmunk, a rather industrious fellow, climbed inside the long plastic tube of the bird feeder, and ate so much seed, he became too fat to climb out again. I discovered his plight when I went to refill the feeder and saw one eye smashed against the plastic cylinder, blinking at me. I was so startled I nearly dropped the feeder on the ground. I shook it vigorously upside down, trying to get him out, but he barely budged. Kobi stood by, anxiously licking his chops in anticipation. I removed the top from the feeder and gave it one last huge fling. A furry torpedo flew past the dog and plopped to the ground, rolling. As soon as he stopped rolling, he righted himself and scurried to the shelter of a nearby tree. He was too fat to run very fast, and though Kobi pursued him, he managed to dodge safely about and made good his escape. I thought that was the end of it until a few days later I found him again stuck in the feeder. Apparently, he had to lose some weight before he was thin enough to climb back into the tube. Some chipmunks never learn. 



Learn more about Nancy here: 



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bedtime Chats: A summer ritual

The end of the school year means the seven-year-old moves into Grandma's bedroom for a few months.  With this summer cottage atmosphere, there are long talks into the night.  Here is tonight's conversation between Sarah and Grandma.

G. Lets go to sleep. We have to get up early.

S. Wait! What's your favorite fruit?

G. Bananas.

S. I knew you were going to say that. Mine are grapes.  What's your second favorite?

G. Grapes are my second favorite. What is your second favorite?

S. Bananas! What's your next favorite fruit?  I hope it isn't that fruit that stinks!

G. What fruit stinks? I think my next favorite fruit is Watermelon.

S. Same.

G. What fruit stinks?

S. I can't think of its name.  What is your least favorite fruit?

G. Limes, they are too sour for me.

S. Same.  Well, actually my least favorite is grapes with ranch.

G. Laughing out loud, eww grapes with ranch?  You've tried that?

S. Laughing louder, Yes! It was the worst. What's your next favorite Fruit?

G. Mango. I love mango.

S. Oh no, Grandma, that's the fruit that stinks.

G. No way! Mangos smell good! But I also love Kiwi.

S. Same.  Wait, what do they look like?

G. Green with little black seeds.

S. Oh yes, I like them but I do not like avocados.

G. You don't like avocados?

S. Or guacomole, it is made from avocados.

G. I love apples, applesauce, and apple butter!

S. Applebutter? What is that?

G. It is a sweet thing your Aunt Casey knows how to make.

S. hmm

G.Goodnight Sarah! I love you!

S. Goodnight Grandma. You know I love you, right?

G. I know you do! You know I love you too, right? Sweet dreams!!

Nodding, Sarah grabs my hand and sleeps holding it until I got back up to write this.

Summers are good.  Much better than grapes with ranch.