Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hello? Who's There?

Halt! Who goes there?

Hey everybody... Thanks for reading another blog post.

I say "everybody," but I actually have no idea who reads these posts. I get stats -- but that doesn't tell me who you are. You get to be anonymous.

Unless of course, you'd now like to reveal yourselves...

I've noticed that an average post generates about 30 - 50 viewers. Every so often I create something that's a bit more popular (usually because I include a link on my Facebook page). One of my goals this season is to try to generate more interest in my books & develop a stronger following. I'd love to start by making my blog much more entertaining, rather than me rambling on about my fledgling writing career, and all the anxieties therein.

You could help by letting me know who's already reading these blog posts. If you'd like to leave a comment please let me know what you like about the blog... what you'd like to see more of... and what new things you'd like to read about.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Resolution Check-In: October Edition

It's getting very near the end, folks! As you may or may not know, this is the monthly blog post in which I revisit my New Year's Resolutions to see how we're doing. So let's get to it!

1) Take More Photos (at least two a week)

Lots of good snapshots throughout the month of September, including a photographic essay on the fact that there is far too much pumpkin stuff being sold at Trader Joes!

That's a lot of pumpkin foods. And as much as I love decorating Jack O' Lanterns, I have no interest in eating anything remotely pumpkin flavored. But I digress! The point is, I've been taking photos and therefore this resolution is coming along nicely. 

Achievement: 75% Complete

2) Write / Sell a New Picture Book

The picture book Papa Bear's Page Fright will be in bookstores in 2018. Now, I'm trying to go above and beyond to see if I can sell a second one before the year ends. My dragon book is being revised... and my kitten book is being read by editors as we speak!


3) Generate Idea for Next Big Project

Yep. Got this done over the summer. 


4) Work on Creative Project with My Daughters

Still not a lot going on with this one. Maybe we'll end up doing something at the last minute?   One issue that's now holding this resolution back: Mackenzie has gone away to college!!!

Em has been thinking of making a music video showing off her ukulele skills, so maybe that'll happen and I'll help her film it. 


5) Show my appreciation more often / Strengthen relationships and communication. 

The more I think about this one, the harder it is for me to quantify... but I've been more active in the last two months than I have during the first half of 2017. 

I'm trying to touch base with a wider range of friends / acquaintances both online and in person. 

I could still do a lot better, and hope to reach out much more during this oncoming holiday season. 

ACHIEVEMENT: 24% Complete

6) Lost ten pounds. 

Yep, still right at 164 pounds... which is 11 pounds lighter than I was back in January. 


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Washington 2017 - Lake Chelan

During summer break we stayed at Lake Chelan for five nights with the whole Siler Clan. It was yet another vacation within a vacation, and it was lovely. But before we could enjoy the loveliness, we had to drive there first.

Well, when I say "we" I mean I had to drive there. The girls just had to sit in the back seat and sleep. 

The rental house is right on the water, and the view is beautiful. 

But perhaps the most amazing view was that of the snack table... I think I gained ten pounds just by looking at it. 

Fortunately for us, we got a lot of exercise by walking from the house... 

All the way down these stairs... 

To this boat dock... 

And while the girls and their cousins played on the water, I stayed in the shade and wrote like Wade.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Washington 2017 - My Brother on the 4th of July

My brother Shawn paid a visit to my mom's house last July.

My brother is the one with the hat. 

He and my other brother live in Alaska where they run a donut business. It's named after a nickname given to my sister... 

And though I haven't been up to Juneau to try it out, based on the photos it looks popular... 

And delicious!!!

Unfortunately, Shawn didn't make us any donuts during his visit. He did, however, take us to BOOM CITY, the biggest firework-selling set of stores I've ever done seen!

I've been going here for years, but when I buy stuff I like to get some firecrackers and maybe some ground flowers, the kinda stuff that could blow up an army man. Shawn got some fireworks that could blow up an actual ARMY. 

The above image is a small sample of the firepower Shawn purchased. I was unable to record the bigger ones because I was too busy being cowardly. Seriously, I was pathetic. 

Cheri and I were sitting in lawn chairs next to my nephew Cameron, and Shawn lit off the first BIG ONE. It could see it rise up in the darkness because of the sparks flaking off of the missile... and then it seemed to me it was coming back down to the ground... near us!

I thought there was going to be an explosion of professional grade fireworks right in front of our faces... so what did I do? Did I jump on my wife and shield her body with my own? Not quite. Without even thinking, I got up and ran, leaving behind Cheri and Cameron. Luckily, I was wrong about it coming back down... it exploded high in the air (but not too high -- these suckers were blowing up maybe fifty feet or so in the sky). By the time Cheri was done saying OOH and AHH, she realized that I had just instinctively ditched her. 

I didn't even know it myself until I headed back to sit down in the chair and I said something like, "Wow, that was scary how we all jumped away from that firework."

And they said, "Uh, we stayed put. You're the only one who abandoned his lawn chair." 

Good times. Shawn also taught my daughters how to hold a roman candle while it fires into the darkness. I watched with a smile... but inside I was paranoid that they were going to point it the wrong way and send a flare into their gut. It's nice to know I'm still a helicopter parent at heart. 

But Shawn did more than bring explosives into our lives... he also brought down seafood!


Fun was had by all! Well, maybe not everybody. This crab doesn't look too thrilled. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mid-Term Prompts

Students will be choosing one of the following prompts. On the day of the Midterm, they will write a six-paragraph essay. (No, you don't need to choose Dr. King's essay, just because it happens to be my favorite.)

A.      In response to “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” evaluate the ways in which Dr. Martin Luther King utilizes pathos, logos, and ethos.  Evaluate whether or not King’s philosophies and strategies are relevant to today’s society. Include specific textual examples to illustrate your points

B.      Considering the ideas mentioned in “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” argue whether or not the public and/or the government are doing enough to improve the basic education of the community. What changes, if any, should be made to improve things?

C.      Using some of the ideas offered in “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls,” classify and evaluate the different ways in which children learn about gender roles in modern American society. Has very much changed since the essay was written in the 1980s?

D.      What do we learn about the way women are valued in “No Name Woman”? Incorporate outside resources and explore a modern day society which treats women far more harshly than their male counterparts.

Here's an example of a brief outline of a "Letter from Birmingham Jail" response: 

Introduction - hook, topic overview, thesis
Body #1 - Pathos examples
Body #2 - Logos examples
Body #3 - Ethos examples
Body #4 - Relevant to today? 
Conclusion - final emotional impact

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ralph Ellison

“When I was a kid, I read the English novels. I read Russian translations and so on [...] And always, I was the hero. I identified with the hero. Literature is integrated. And I'm not just talking about color, race. I'm talking about the power of literature to make us recognize again and again the wholeness of the human experience." - Ralph Ellison

Useful Resources: