Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Camp Na No WriMo

I have very happily moved back into writing. I love NANOWRIMO because it kicks my behind to write. It's really easy to stop writing and to make excuses for not having the time. 
I forget sometimes when I do this that I really love to write. My summer camp project at Camp NaNoWriMo is one I started on a few years ago (yes, I can procrastinate that long) called The Basket Case about a widow who finds herself at loose ends only to suddenly become the manager of three craft stores and a recipient of evidence for a murder in her shop. 
It's funny that today I'm writing a chapter about silver linings. We don't always recognize these when they come our way, but I'm experiencing one myself. Summer means slower days for my Etsy shops, especially the yarn shop. Not great financially because schools are also closed and no sub jobs available, but more time to write. I signed up for NaNo this summer again and have managed eight pages in two days. I was a day late starting, of course. 
If you love to write and need encouragement, this is your chance to dive in the pool with the rest of us. November is always a tough writing month for me and I have yet to conquer the 50,000 words challenge. But summer camp is, well, summer camp - laid back and not as demanding. You can set your own goal, pages or word count for the month. I set my goal to 200 pages as I already had 102 pages completed before July. Yes, I'm behind, but let's see if I can catch up this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy 4th everyone! My handle is cobwebscaught, by the way. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Magelica 3: Land of the Fairies Book Review

I have just finished reading Magelica's Voyage To The Land of the Fairies by Louise Courey Nadeau. This is the third in a series of magical adventure stories about Magelica, the half-human half-fairy as she explores her family roots.
In this book, Magelica is invited to visit the Council of Fairies to discover the story of her parents, a Fairy, named Zanna, and a human, named George. On the way, she is reminded that having a positive outlook is needed to overcome obstacles.
I enjoyed the illustrations in the book, done by Nathan Heinze, which really carried the story and will be a delight for young readers. I would say this book is appropriate for very young children who may not be ready for independent reading. It has questions in the end that provide for reflection and further interaction between children and their parents or teachers reading to them.
For parents looking for books without the rough gritty edges present in a number of modern books for young children, this book would be a relief. Although I think I would have liked a little more danger along the way to the Fairies than a menacing tree, I appreciate the book's pleasant characters, human and magical, and  the positive values it presents. I would recommend this book. I did receive a complimentary digital copy for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Courage of a Samurai by Lori Tsugawa Whaley

The Courage of a Samurai, Seven Sword-Sharp Principles for Success, by Lori Tsugawa Whaley is an examination of the ancient samurai's culture and the relationship between this and our modern world. Seen through the eyes of a descendant
of the warrior samurai, Ms. Whaley gives us detailed accounts of Japanese individuals who have demonstrated the ideals of the samurai culture: courage, integrity, benevolence, respect, etc.
This is a book not meant to be consumed quickly, but one story at a time and perhaps some stories read over and over to further absorb the uplifting accounts. I believe one could open the book at any point to find inspiration.
Ms. Whaley has ventured beyond the usual samurai texts which focus on the Samurai themselves, and has shown us ways in which these ideals have not only survived in the Japanese people, but can inspire all of us to strive to become more courageous in our daily lives.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

¡Hola! Let's Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

A copy of ¡Hola! Let's Learn Spanish was given to me in order to be able to write a review. As an only partial Spanish speaker, I found the book fun and a good length to use as a supplement for an elementary school Spanish class or as a supplemental reader for elementary school students. 
The illustrations are bright and inviting and the character, Panchito the Mexican jumping bean, is cute. Seeking other friendly bean friends, he leads the reader through an adventure starting with a bean field full of unfriendly beans, to a market place, ending at a birthday party complete with pinata. 
The book is not overly long and does not feel like an academic book, much to its credit. I think for the intended reading population, 6-10 years old and their teachers, will find many fun stories and activities, such as the mask activity, complete with printable pages and suggestions for decorations with beans/frijoles and a short play.
I like the way the author paired English words with their Spanish equivalents, eliminating the reader's need to look elsewhere for translation during the reading. She has also included glossaries for vocabulary and an introduction to Mexican culture.  
I would recommend this book as a supplement to a formal as well as an informal introduction to Spanish for young readers. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Upcycled Holiday Nightlight

My husband had asked me to make a gluten-free cake with chocolate frosting for a school social and we usually go with canned frosting to save time. He brought home a container of Duncan Hines chocolate icing. After the container was spread on the cake, I was washing it for the recycling bin. I noticed how translucent the plastic was, so of course, my mind began working on how I could up-cycle this project.
It took some doing to get the sticky part off after the label was removed. Why manufacturers feel they need the paper to adhere with such a death grip is beyond me. I much prefer jars with cheap glue, where the label floats off after being soaked for just a few minutes.

I had a bag of battery tea lights left over from Halloween on the kitchen counter, so I turned one on and inserted it into the now-empty tub. The light shone through softly, but distinctly. I thought of the votive patterns I have seen on the Cricut Design Space and pulled out my black vinyl.

Since the top was red, I decided it would be best for a Christmas votive. I didn't see any Christmas votive patterns, so I used the Santa sleigh from the Christmas file and the HO HO HO from Christmas Kitsch.

I plan to give this away soon. I liked how the project turned out. I did have to work the Santa side a little to fit it to the contour of the tub. I would advise placing it on first lightly and then lifting parts carefully to get a smooth fit. I think this would be a fun project to make for little ones. The plastic is soft and won't break if dropped and the votive should be safe. I'm not sure about leaving it lit for a while; make sure the votives used will stay cool. Hope you like it.Wouldn't this be cute to set on a nightstand next to the child's bed the night before Christmas while you read your favorite holiday books with your child?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Magelica's Voyage and The Rescue, Magelica's Voyage, Book 2, by Louise Courey Nadeau

Summary, Magelica's Voyage: Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination, gratitude, believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

 Summary, The Rescue, Magelica: When Magelica dreams of the prince lost on a deserted island, she realizes that it could lead to his rescue. She returns to the Isle of Dreams to tell Queen Raya what she knows. Can they save Prince Will before it’s too late? Will the power of laughter and love be enough?

Review: I enjoyed both of these books and feel that they would be appropriate for either very small boys or girls. These would be great for parents who are reading to their children and whose children are also old enough to follow longer passages and who would be able to discuss the books as they are being read. I don't know that children young enough to enjoy the books would be able to read these alone.
The stories are challenging enough and action-filled enough to keep a young mind engaged, but short enough that they would not be bored quickly. They also leave endings which suggest more storytelling is coming from another book, leaving them to guess and discuss what they think will happen in the next book. I would definitely recommend these to parents of small children. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015


"It's about time!" Maude and Argie screamed each in one of my ears. Yes, I've tried to finish NANOWRIMO in the last few years, but work always seems to pile up at that time.
"You have no excuse," Maude chided. "
"That's right," Argie said, "Now that you're retired, you have the whole month to write."
My arachnid friends stood staring through their eight respective eyes, four legs akimbo on their rather large and rotund bodies. Each had just flown in with Delores from very productive gigs. Maudes eyes, one by one, were already drooping with impending sleep.
I have just signed up to do NANO in November. If you're not familiar with this, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is held each November as a challenge for writers like me who tend to let life and earning a living get in the way of more pleasurable pursuits like writing. NANO still has my blurb from the last time I entered, then didn't follow through. Ironically, I've been thinking of starting a sequel to my first novel, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. When I pulled up my rusty account, there it was, title for this sequel, summary and all. So, in the meantime, I'll start rethinking my outline and characters and reread the first novel to further inspire myself along this path.
Oh, and you're wondering who Maude and Argie are? Then, I invite you to read my novel, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. And if you like it, please leave a comment on Amazon for me.