I believe a positive attitude is essential for happiness. This includes being mindful and grateful. In Buddhism, there is a saying, “We make the world with our minds.” I could write an entire book on what that means but basically what we focus on influences the internal and external world in which we live. I keep this in mind in my writing for adults, young people and children. I was a grade school teacher for 33 years, 10 of those years as teacher librarian. I believe it is important to create picture books that help them develop interpersonal skills and internal strength.
My first book, The Amida Tree, is a rebuttal of Shel Silberstein’s The Giving Tree. While compassion is a major part of Buddhism, it only creates problems if it is not balanced by wisdom. The boy/man in The Giving Tree continually took from the tree without giving anything in return leaving it a devastated stump. At the end of the book, he still was unfulfilled and unhappy. In my book, a girl grows in balance with a wild apple tree. They have a relationship of give and take, mutual support. Because of this, both grow to have a rich and fulfilling life. It is sure to encourage discussion on our treatment of the environment and relationships with others.
We all know a individual or family that constantly gripes. They’re never happy with what they have or what the experience. Rayne Shines humorously features a frog family that has developed a pattern of complaining, until a new family moves in next door. Rayne is fascinated by the fact that they are constantly smiling even though they own very little. She studies and emulates Sunny whose wholesome and fun personality eventually brings out the best in Rayne.
While Too Quiet, Too Noisy was not specifically written for children on the Asperger spectrum, it has been favored by their families. It can just as easily relate to people with auditory processing difficulties, introverted children, and anyone who finds either continuous noise or long-term silence to be grating. Lily’s home is overwhelmingly loud and her grandparents’ home is boringly quiet. Through communication and problem-solving, she creates a more balanced environment in both houses.
While “be careful what you wish for” is a common theme in picture books, No More Red also teaches children not to judge superficially. Because of three negative experiences, Amy decides her world would be better without the color red. She learns it has far more importance and she realized. The book also teaches children about the myriad of ways red appears in our environment and that we need to be appreciative of our beautiful world.
I’ve always been interested in the motivation of villains. Why did Rumpelstiltskin want the Queen’s baby? Was he an evil warlock who wanted to use him for nefarious purposes? Did he want to enslave him? Or did he simply want a child of his own? If so, why would he go to such elaborate and dangerous means to acquire one? In Rumpelstiltskin’s Child, the themes of ostracizing, bullying, and loneliness are explored. The book reminds us that people often become angry outsiders because they have never been welcomed in.
My newest picture book, Then the Tooth Fairy Won’t Come, is written and drawn in a comedic style. Dion has a loose tooth and is worried he will lose it. Timo offers increasingly silly methods to remove it but Dion has an even bigger imagination. The tooth is bound to go missing in bizarre and elaborate ways if Dion takes Timo’s advice. Between laughs, the story shows how worry and fear can make us indecisive and stressed. (Don’t worry. The tooth fairy does come.)
I’m Bonnie Ferrante, a hybrid author. My short stories, newspaper articles and columns, and novels have been published traditionally. I have begun simultaneously self-publishing novels and picture books and am doing my own illustrations. During the long cold winters of Thunder Bay, in Northern Ontario, I spend most of my time writing and drawing. Since developing Parkinson’s Disease, I have switched from illustrating with acrylics and pencil crayon, to digital format but as this becomes more difficult, I am slowly changing to photos instead. I was a grade school teacher for thirty-three years, ten of those as a teacher-librarian. I am a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist lay leader, which shows up in unexpected ways in my writing. I also have a blog where I review books, give writing tips, and run contests. Beginning in August, I will be interviewing and author or illustrator every Wednesday. In addition to questions about their work, they will be asked Three Random Questions such as, “If you could have the original of anything in the world, what would you want it to be?” Comment on the writer’s work, their writing tips, or answer the random questions yourself. Http:// http://bferrante.wordpress.com/
Young Adult and New Adult Books
Check out Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/user/Bonnie0904 for book trailers and author read-alouds.
Website – BonnieFerrante.ca
facebook – Bonnie Ferrante – Author
twitter – @BonnieFerrante
Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, tells true stories in a creative and entertaining way. Most recently, she has written a series of four books about a Texas musician who was a pioneer in the Outlaw Music movement before it ever had a name. She also releases a music CD of original songs matching the time period of each story. Jan has written songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays and novels. She resides in North Texas and sits on the board of directors for the North Texas Book Festival, The Texas Musicians Museum and the Texas Authors Institute of History.
DEATH DO US PART
Over the course of Luke Stone’s life, he’s been everything from a simple farm boy to a singing star, from a convict to a family man.
Only one woman has managed to keep his out-of-kilter world on track. When Darlina Flowers danced her way into his heart so many years ago, he never dreamed she’d stick by him through the best and worst.
He should be satisfied. Yet, the lifelong dream he harbors deep in his heart – the dream of making music again – won’t let him rest. He grabs at one more chance to prove that he still has what it takes.
But, Luke’s body is failing him and he faces catastrophic changes that might end more than his re-born music career; they may end his life. He’s more determined than ever to provide for his family and share the music in his heart with them and the world in the days he has left.
In the dead of night when the world is silent and still, the forlorn hoot of an owl, his spirit animal, sends a warning up his spine too strong to ignore.
Will fate allow him to sing his last song?
The sun shone through the window and made it nearly impossible for me to see the cash register. The typical morning rush was in full swing, and help wasn’t expected for another two hours. Nothing new. The same old, same old. That was just how my weekends were. But there was something odd about this weekend. Nothing large, mind you, just something that caught my attention.
Over and over again, the customers’ totals came up to $7.77.
For several years before that my life had been…interesting. I had gone through a lot of changes, and, while I believed I’d weathered them well, I still felt somewhat trapped. There were things I wanted do, goals I wanted to pursue, but I’d convinced myself that those goals were for after everything else was done. After working 40+ hours a week, after the house was clean, after the bills were paid, after the kids were taken care of. Pick an ‘after’, and I believed it was more important than taking the chance of actually doing what I dreamed.
Now, if these totals had occurred because of similar purchases, I would never have noticed; I can pretty much tell customers the total before the register finishes processing anyway. But this total didn’t come from multiple people buying the same items. They were random items, a mixture of all the things we had in the store.
The number 777 has significance in almost all religions. It is the number of perfection, the number of a guardian angel’s presence, and it indicates that the time is right to simply ‘go for it.’ I knew this, and I knew there was something I desperately wanted to do, a goal I had that I believed had been put on hold for far too long. But I was afraid. There were bills to pay, after all, and truly pursuing my dream would place my ability to pay them in jeopardy.
So, I acknowledged that I had gotten the message and kept on doing what I was doing, which basically involved working my job, taking care of everything, and then filling in with the work toward my personal goals after it. In short, I was a walking zombie from exhaustion, but I felt like I was doing all I could to live my dream.
Now, I knew good and well that God (or the Universe) was speaking. I was familiar with the verse in 1 Kings 19 that says God speaks in the still, small voice, and I was cognizant of the VOICE (capitals intentional). It was never a matter of not hearing it; it was a matter of being too afraid to act upon it. It was a matter of that practical side of me overriding my faith.
Don’t get me wrong. I made some adjustments. I adjusted the budget and eased up on the overtime, delegated some of the household chores (my kids are almost grown), and allotted myself some time to really focus on that dream I had so wanted to pursue. And I made some progress. A little anyway. Every day I told myself that I was doing what I could to move forward and that the resources I was so tempted to use to dive headlong into my dream were better reserved for other things. Savings are a good thing to have, after all. What if the car broke down? What if someone got sick? What if things didn’t work out the way I was hoping they would? What if…pick one. They all went through my head.
But when the Universe wants us to get a point, It has a way of speaking so we’ll understand. For years I had understood that, even if I didn’t really apply it to my own life. I had to be practical, after all. Even growing up in a Christian family, I had been taught there was a difference between having faith and just being stupid. I believed putting all of my energy into my dream, even though I was pretty sure I could pull it off, fell into the ‘just being stupid’ category.
But God wasn’t through talking.
Like most people, I have a Facebook account. I can’t say that I really do much with it, and my friend list is under thirty. I vaguely remember hearing something at one point that there was a new feature that allowed someone to post live videos, but, since I’m not big on things like that, the information just went straight through my head and kept on going. Until the night a friend of mine, a former college roommate, went live.
Knowing her, going live is probably something she does a lot of, but I’d never noticed; I’d never been notified before, and I haven’t since.
On this particular evening, with lightning flashing through the clouds and thunder booming, my phone informed me that this friend had something to say. I don’t know why it chose that night – well, I understood after the fact – but I hit the button and gave her a listen. This was when God spoke in terms I simply couldn’t ignore.
This friend of mine has taught a lot of children, and she’s moved up in the world to join the board of education. She also preaches and works above and beyond to help young people achieve their goals. On this night she was out walking, and she was talking about starting new things. Initially, she was speaking to her former students, those who were starting college, but what she said spoke to me as well.
She spoke about the book of Acts where Paul arrives on Malta and is bitten by a snake. She spoke about the snakes that tend to come out and bite us any time we start something new, and she talked about the things that climb out of the woodwork, the doubts and fears, that hold us back from achieving our potential.
She didn’t quote the verses, but she told the story and spoke about how when a person is beginning something new, snakes will often appear to impede the flow of the project. Action will come to stop as fear conquers faith. This was just what was happening to me. Sure, I was working toward my goal. It was foremost in my mind most of the time. But I was also holding back. As much as I claimed to believe in it, that part of me who’d spent so many years thinking it was impossible was still speaking, and the rest of me was still listening.
For a couple of hours after this I sat on my porch, watched the lightning, and considered what I’d heard. Yes, I’d heard the VOICE of God. He’d spoken once in a set of numbers that caught my attention, and, though I’d understood the message, I hadn’t acted on it. I’d let the snakes bite me and hold on. But He hadn’t given up. Instead, He’d spoken through the mouth of a friend, someone I hadn’t spoken to in a good while.
And these weren’t the only times He’d spoken. Thinking back over the year before, I could identify several instances, small things that would have no significance to anyone else, that could be nothing other than God showing me the way. The problem was that, as a human in the modern world, I just flat out didn’t have the strength to do what I was being told.
The next few weeks at work were some of the worst I’d ever had. Customers were ruder than normal, machinery broke down more often, and every time I tried to do something I messed it up. Every fiber of my being longed to quit and turn my attention in another direction, but that practical side, that inner voice, was just too insistent to allow it. I prayed. I meditated. And on my last day before my vacation began, I finally achieved the peace and confidence I needed to go for it.
Things have gone well since then. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I wish I’d let faith rule instead of fear and stepped up into the place God had for me without fighting Him. I wish I’d had the faith and the courage to listen sooner, to hear that still, small voice that was nearly shouting at me and urging me forward.
About the Author
I’ve always been a book junkie, particularly fantasy. I spent most of my teenage years in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia, and it’s still the one place I most want to visit. Middle Earth, Narnia, and the Four Lands have always been some of my favorite vacation spots. And, of course, we can’t forget the years at Hogwarts and all the times we had to deal with the wizard council in Chicago. Anywhere and everywhere magic can be real is where I want to be. Always and forever.
I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I write. I love to create worlds, to ask ‘what if?’. There’s nothing better than taking some half-formed idea for a person and tossing him/her into a world I wish were real just to see what will happen. (I don’t care what anyone says, the author isn’t always in control). Bringing creatures to life, fighting monsters, wielding magic. All of these things can exist in a book when the ‘real’ world just can’t seem to figure out how to make them work. There’s nothing better in the world, and I don’t think there ever will be.
Most of my books and stories have some basis in mythology and folklore. This is an area that’s always captured my interest, and I think too many of us have forgotten the wisdom and lessons embodied in these tales. While I don’t want my work to simply be a retelling of the stories, and I’m quite willing to add my own twist to any of the tales, I do hope that at least some will look further into the topic after getting a taste of it in my books.
Come and visit me at http://www.lissadobbs.com. You can also connect on Facebook and Pinterest at The Shadow Walkers of Grevared and on Twitter @lissadobbs. If you want a look inside what’s going on in my writing world, check out my blog at http://shadowwalkersofgrevared.net.
An Author of Children's Books; A Blog to Encourage Good Character in Children
Short stories from a fiction addict
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou
Bookblogger, Fiction book reviews, author interviews, mystery series, cover, love, bookish thoughts...
Shawnee State University's Editorially Independent Student Newspaper
A WordPress.com blog
Power and Perils of writing