Books: Do you have one that really made you “think?”

9F251DD9-289A-465B-912A-71DCC1758A83Someone asked me if I read a book that really made me “think” about life and moved me. I said, “YES,” immediately, because I came across Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying to Be Me,” a few years ago and I still think about different parts of her book.

One day, I was watching Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on television, he was giving one of his inspirational talks. In the middle of the show, he said he wanted to introduce us to a woman he had met who had an interesting story. In walked, Anita Moorjani.

Moorjani began to share her story of having cancer and how she was in the hospital, went out of her body, was able to see her very sick self and reflect on “how” she could have ended up that way. As she says on the cover of the book, she decided that she wanted to live and once she re-entered her body in the hospital, she knew she was going to be CANCER FREE.

After watching Dyer’s show, I was curious to read Moorjani’s book. What I liked about her book is that she starts from her childhood to tell the story of her life and how she feels she got cancer. It’s a very interesting book.

If you are pressed for reading time, you can view her TEDx Bay Area.

Sometimes a book like this crosses our path, which makes us “think” about life.

Query letters to agents… so, you’ve been rejected!

 

 

This week I have been working on the dreaded “query letter.” I’ve finished one of my children’s books and last year I sent it out to a few agents. Two wrote back that they weren’t “feeling it.” Well, not their exact words, but basically they didn’t have the “wow, factor” when they read my story. Two others never responded, which is par for the course.

Rejection is hard, because it makes us second guess ourselves. Our first reaction is to toss our story into the trash can, like Stephen King did. Done, finished, it wasn’t meant to be! After a good night’s sleep and soul searching, we start to think. Was it really my story or maybe I am not querying the right agents?! We pull our story out of the trash, dust it off and start again.

We take another pass at our story, maybe have a person or two read it and give comments. We tighten up the text and we start the query process again. If you are a writer, you know the drill — research sample query letters, research agents, research publishers, etc. Trying to find that one golden nugget that sparks inspiration where we type like mad and pat ourselves on the back for our brilliant query letter.

THAT is where I am today. Focusing on the end result, which is ALL of YOU lining up for a signed copy of my book only to find out I’ve run out of books! Laughing, didn’t that sound good!

In all seriousness, if you’ve written a winning query letter, please share some pointers. It’s time to turn this story around from rejection to signed contract!

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

20F7A794-B126-42B9-8F49-3A441FBF6155Today was the first day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I got there by fast train from Florence. Then it was an easy 10 minute bus ride from train station to the conference center.

Upon entering the hall, it was exciting to see all the books as you can imagine. I was amazed at how International this Fair was. Countries from all over the world had booths. Some booths were big, some small, it didn’t matter, they were ALL showing off their best selling books.

This fair is mainly used for the buying and selling of rights to books. So, in ALL the booths you could see “major” meetings going on and orders being taken.

China was the Guest of Honor. They gave different speeches with the Mayor of Bologna. Their booth showcased their Chinese authors and illustrators. They also had a specific booth displaying the work of their BEST illustrators.

I went to check out the Literary Agents Center. There was a strong buzz in the air. This is where authors and illustrators, who have set up appointments, meet with agents to pitch their books!

8A26E60E-A794-41C9-8FDB-2F554A80CB9AThis is what the board looked like, I don’t know what those numbers next to their names were. It was too busy for me to ask someone, people didn’t want to miss their appointments by answering my questions.

I finally made it to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! So glad I went.

Oh, I could tell I was a book fair beginner, because I forgot to bring a BIG bag to put all the pamphlets that I would gather in. The book show veterans had roller bags!

Writing: Is your brain on overload?

Some days, we are write (I mean right.) on target with our writing goals and other days, it seems we will never find the last piece to the puzzle.

Brain is confusedI’m writing my children’s book and my brain is on overload. Too many wires out there and they are not connecting. If you are a writer or a student working on a term paper or thesis, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’re trying to focus, so that our writing path is clear, but our mind cannot quiet down and concentrate!

I know this is when we are told to “meditate.” I’ve tried that. My brain does quiet down for 5 minutes, then it is back to brain chaos.

This made me think of inventors. Can you imagine the patience they have to have when they keep reaching a dead end! I’m sure Thomas Edison banged his fist on the table many times when he was inventing the light bulb!

The key is visualizing the end result. Keeping our mind on the prize!

So, TODAY is about finding a break through!

Free Library is back! Expats in Hong Kong, finding prayer…

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You never know what you are going to find on a walk. A friend of mine sent me a picture of this Little FREE Library she found. I continue to be amazed at how creative these neighborhood libraries can be. Normally, I see them as big bird houses, but this was indeed different. I asked her to see what books they had inside.

Take a look, one book called, “The Expatriates” by Janice Y.K. Lee about three female expats in Hong Kong. Then a second book called, “The Water Will Hold You / A Skeptic Learns to Pray,” by Lindsey Crittenden.

Two books, so different. I looked them up online, click on the links. I downloaded and started reading the second book by Crittenden. It’s a bit sad, it deals with family issues. At the same time, the author learns to find prayer and how she does that is interesting.

So, if you walk by a library, stop and take a peek, who knows what you’ll find!

Learning Italian, German, Spanish & French through Fairy Tales

50A7B344-C434-4DD4-AC4F-B27EB30FDACEDon’t you love it, when you find a great website by accident! That happened to me the other day. I was searching for an Italian recipe, but I wasn’t finding what I wanted. So, I kept clicking “here” and “there” and suddenly I came to a website for “learning Italian.”

The site is called, “The Italian Experiment.” I noticed that they also have the “same” site in German, Spanish and French. In ALL of these languages they take three fairy tales and translate them into the foreign language you choose, and even better, they have audio where someone reads the story to you!

98A2742D-110E-4D00-9807-805E5E33734EAs you listen to the story, you can hear how they pronounce the words. Excellent! If you have “no idea” what the reader is saying, there is a button that says, “translate,” if you click that the English translation appears.

I chose the Italian version and listened to “The Three Little Pigs.” You can listen to them tell the story here. While I can speak Italian fairly well, I’ve got to say the words in this story had me lost and this is a short book. Yikes, I need to practice.

In part of the story they say in English, “the first little pig,” which translated in Italian is, “il primo porcellino.” You have to hear the translator read these words, it is very cute sounding. Suddenly the little porcellino seems like your best friend.

This site has a review for an online language course called, “Rocket Italian.” They give it 4.5 Stars. I went to the Rocket Italian website, it seems good. I’ve been wanting to practice Italian and build up my vocabulary. Maybe I will rock my Italian by taking the Rocket Italian course! I like the name “rocket,” makes me think if I pass the course, I will be ejected to Florence and find myself in a beautiful cafe!

Gotta hope!

Walk 5 miles… listen to NPR’s TED Radio Hour: The Hero’s Journey

Man on mountainThis weekend I wanted to get back into my weekly walking routine. I realized I hadn’t done much exercise in September. So, I dusted off my gym shoes and headed out.

My goal was a 5 mile walk. I scanned my NPR TED Radio Hour podcasts and found one called, “A Hero’s Journey.” This was an outstanding podcast, where I forgot I was exercising. The show started out talking about “Star Wars.” They were discussing how “a hero’s journey” is written. They said there was a 3 ACT formula for writing hero books. First, the hero has a departure (leaves home), then there is an initiation (hero goes on a quest), and then the hero returns (comes back home). Sounds like my life! (grin)

After “Star Wars,” the podcast continued with other stories focused on “a hero’s journey” theme. A woman who wanted to sail around the world and how she did it, a man who became an author/illustrator (his mother was a drug addict, he talks about this), and George Takia from “Star Trek,” talks about his childhood imprisonment in an internment camp during WWII, because he was Japanese.

This leads me to “How To Addict,” a fellow Blogger who writes motivational posts. This week his post, “Shift your focus – fulfillment through work,” was a good one. Like my “hero’s journey” podcast, Doc was sending the message that we should challenge ourselves, not be lazy, instead persevere and feel fulfilled in our work – have a goal.

So, this week is about being on “a hero’s journey!”

Remember: a hero departs, initiates (starts and fulfills his quest) and then returns home.

What QUEST are you on this week?

60 Minutes – Excellent interview with British writer, David Cornwell (aka John le Carré)

IMG_2592Calling all spy/espionage fans! Have you read any “John le  Carré” books? Did you know that the John le Carré books are really written by a British author named, “David John Moore Cornwell?” That was news to me.

60 Minutes had an interview with David Cornwell. Writers are always told, “write what you know.” That is exactly what Cornwell did. First, some background on his father. His childhood had a rocky start. His mother abandoned him at five years old, so he was raised by his father. Cornwell’s father was a charming conman and it appears lived life in the fast line. One day they were well off, the next they were bankrupt and poor, with his father even landing in jail. Cornwell said this taught him a lot about people, life and keeping secrets.

Next, his spy/espionage background came in the 1950s and 1960s when he found a job with the British Secret Service. He was fluent in German and worked for MI5 and MI6 (foreign intelligence service) where he ran agents, was responsible for interrogations, the normal telephone tapping and more. This, you can imagine, gave him some great background material for writing spy novels.

He needed a pen name for his books. Working for the Secret Service meant his books needed to be approved before being published. Once approved, the condition was to acquire a pen name — John le Carré was born!

In the interview he showed his office and discussed how he does research for his books. He handwrites his books and his wife, editor, transcribes them for him. She runs the business side, which allows him to focus on writing. When he travels he has a journal and writes what comes to his mind.

At 85, he has quite a personal story to tell. A few of his books have been turned into films/BBC TV shows, maybe you know, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and/or “A Perfect Spy.”

Cornwell is promoting his latest book, “A Legacy of Spies.” I have some catching up to do reading-wise, so that I know the background on his character, “George Smiley!”

I bet these books are great in audio! If you are already a fan, which book was your favorite?

Self help – “Elf-help books” (Indiana -> Ireland)

IMG_2523Life is interesting, we come across certain things when we need them. For example, I was reading a Blog called, “It Starts with Me,” where the blogger had a personal post called, “Anxiety of the Unknown.” She tells the story of her fiancé who signed a sports contract that led them to a move across the world to the UK. After getting adjusted to a new life in England, her fiancé suffered a sports injury and as they await the results of the MRI, she is faced with the “unknown” of their future, which is worrisome.

When I went walking, I had her story on my mind.

I came upon a bookstore in Limerick (Ireland). I was amused when I saw these “small” books with little Elfs on them. Turns out they are “Elf-help Books” that have been around since 1987. They are illustrated by R.W. Alley, who is known for his Paddington Bear illustrations.

Imagine my surprise to learn that these books are published in Indiana, not Ireland. Sadly, Abbey Press Printing closed in June 2017. Not clear if there is a new Publisher, but books are still being sold on Amazon.

The “Worry” book caught my attention. This would be PERFECT for my Fellow Blogger who is concerned about the “unknown.”

Here are a few pages to read.

We all have worries in life. Somehow, I was brought to these books by a “little Elf.” They have adult and children Elf-help books.

If you were able to zoom in and read the pages I’ve shared with you, you can see that the worry message is simple, short and motivating. The illustrations are adorable in an innocent old fashioned way.

You can visit “Elf-help Books” at www.elf-help.com. 

I just read on Wikipedia that Abbey Press Printing was started in 1867 by Saint Meinrad Archabbey, who are Benedictine Monks in Southern Indiana. They’ve been marketing their products around the world and can be found in 25 English speaking countries. More than 20 foreign companies are licensed to print books in other languages.

So, the big question is “WHY, after 150 years, did they have to close their printing press this year?”

Has your Mom come back as a GHOST?

img_1555.jpgHave you had someone close to you pass away and then at some point you felt their presence constantly next to you?

I read an interesting article yesterday about Sherman Alexie, author and filmmaker, who just published his memoir, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.”

Right there, the title of the book tells us that this poor man wanted love from his mother, which she did not or could not offer him.

So, Sherman is on his book tour and he keeps seeing signs that his mother is haunting him.

It seems to me that her presence was so strong in his life when she was alive that even after her death, he feels he must do what his mother wants AND that is cancel the book tour.

I think, like most mothers, even if a mother is not perfect they want to go down in the history books as being “perfect.” I believe Sherman knows his mother would not have approved of this memoir, so it is his “subconscious” that is tormenting him. However, you should read his announcement to cancel his book tour here. There are some coincidences that make us “wonder” if his mother is indeed a GHOST.

I once felt I saw a ghost!  Well, not a ghost exactly, but do you see that Kudu? A few years ago my ex/father/n/law died. I was very close to him and was missing him. I was on a trip in Namibia and we were in a jeep touring the land in hopes of seeing various animals.

Suddenly, the driver STOPPED the jeep and in the middle of the road was this Kudu, exactly like the photo. The Guide handed me the binnoculars and told me this was a very old Kudu, I could tell by the horns, one was broken. As I looked into the eyes of the Kudu I FELT VERY STRONGLY that I was looking at my ex/father/n/law (Opa, we called him). I welled up with tears and said to myself, “Ah, Opa, you look good and you came to Africa to be FREE!” It was a special feeling.

A few days later, before we left the camp site, Opa appeared again. He ran in the middle of the road, stood and stared at us. Again, I felt the Kudu was letting me know my Opa was doing well, thinking of me and wished me a safe journey.

Was it a ghost? Who knows, for Sherman, I hope that as he grieves his ghostly mother “somehow” sends him a “sign” that she is PROUD of him! He needs closure!

Off to the library… I’d like to get the audio of this book. This way I can better understand WHY his mother is haunting him! Happy reading!