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:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Give-Away Winners!

Nine hundred and fifty people entered the Book Give-Away contest... so I think I'd call that a success.

Five winners were randomly chosen. They hail from all across the United States:

New York
North Carolina

and coincidentally... someone from my wife's hometown of Everett, Washington!

Now, I've got to get those autographed editions in the mail!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Washington 2017 - Dogs Meet the Neigbbors

When we visit Washington during the summer, this is the road upon which I walk the dogs.

And the road leads down to a house with a HUGE yard... and in that yard are these adorable critters.

Normally we see these alpaca neighbors at least a dozen times. But this summer, we only met them once.

See you in 2018, you beautiful pack of alpaca!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Washington 2017 - Part Two

Like I mentioned last week, I'm going through some of my photos during summer break and organizing them (along with some personal reflections) on my blog.

Apparently I like taking pictures of apples. 

I also enjoy walking around the Camano Island home. My mom's property is so much nicer than the burnt-to-a-crisp lawn in my back yard. 

This is a little gnome bridge which may or may not lead to another realm. 

The place is surrounded by sticker bushes... 
If we were here in August we'd be loaded with ripe blackberries! 

My mom hopes to compete with the Huntington Library. 

Then, there were times where I wasn't walking around the yard... instead, I was being driven around in my mom's classic car, her new best friend, a 1964 Thunderbird!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Resolution Check-In: September Edition

Well, well, it's that time again. Resolution Check-In! September marks the home stretch of 2017. Labor Day has come and gone, and pretty soon it'll be Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, climaxing with the best holiday of all: the release of a new Star Wars movie!

So, let's see how I am doing as far as keeping up with these promises to myself.

1) Take More Photos (at least 2 per Week)

In the past thirty days I've taken lots of photos, mainly at a variety of events (including my niece's wedding). But I'm glad that I'm working on this check-in, because I'm just now realizing that I've taken very few photos at the beginning of this month, so I'll have to step things up to make sure I meet my goal when I touch base again at the beginning of October.

Here are a couple of my favorites which celebrate the tail-end of summer break.

Achievement: 67% Complete

2) Write / Sell a New Picture Book: 

This one has been locked in for a while now. Hoping to go for bonus points by selling a second book before the year is through. There's a new one lurking in the editor stacks as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed!


3) Generate New Idea for Next Big Project (Complete 25%)

I wrote a collection of picture books which fulfills this category. Still revising some of them. If I'm really ambitious, I'll trying coming up with BIG IDEA #2 before the year is through.


4) Work on a Creative Project with My Daughters

Still not happening. Emily and I stayed up late singing karaoke. Does that count? Right now it seems preparing them for college and slogging through all the red tape -- that seems to be our main project of the year! But when it comes to producing something creative together, I want it to be something fun and not something forced.

Achievement: Pending

5) Show my appreciation more often / strengthen relationships and communication

I've been making more progress, mainly by celebrating & positively reviewing the work of my author friends. Still got a long list to complete. Running out of time!

Achievement: 16.5% Complete

6) Lose ten pounds

Yep, still good on this one. The last time I stood on the scale I was 164, a good place to be.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GoodReads Give-away: Around the World in a Bathtub

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford

Around the World in a Bathtub

by Wade Bradford

Giveaway ends September 18, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Jane Austen Links

What Did Jane Austen Read?

Jane Austen Haters:

Popular Books Inspired by Jane Austen:

Austen VS. Dickens
Pride and Prejudice & Great Expectations

Austen VS. the Brontes
Pride and Prejudice & Wuthering Heights OR Jane Eyre

Austen VS. Young Adult Romance
Pride and Prejudice & John Green OR Rainbow Rowell

Austen VS. Alcott
Pride and Prejudice & Little Women

Genre Bending:

Mystery: Death comes to Pemberley


Monday, September 4, 2017

Storytime at the Library

Last month, I had the honor of participating in story time at the Mukilteo and Edmonds libraries.

These statues are located outside the Mukilteo Library.

The set-up was very nice. The children's librarian had her own room and she had lots of activities for the kids. I said a quick hello to the families, and let the librarian read my book during the first storytime... and then during the second session I was brave enough to perform a read-aloud of Around the World in a Bathtub for the very first time.  

Later on in the afternoon, my family and I went to the Edmonds library. 

Lots of people showed up for this event, including Neil -- a good friend from my high school days -- and his son. 

The host of storytime was a rockstar among children's librarians. The kids and parents loved her, and in addition to telling stories, singing songs, and telling jokes, she played the accordion.

It was a pleasure getting to read to friends, family, and a lot of new faces. Thanks to all who joined the library storytime. Hopefully there will be more reading events in the near future. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Washington 2017 - Part One

It's September, which to me means that it's time to go Back to School...

Of course, I've already been teaching classes for three weeks. But when I was a kid, I wouldn't return to the hallowed halls of public education until after Labor Day.

And as soon as I returned to class, I spent most of my time staring out the window, daydreaming... often remembering the fun and freedom of summer. So, since I've got some spare time today (because I was a good teacher boy and finished grading my daily allotment of essays), I'm going to post some of the photos and videos from July.

For the past few years, I have been blessed with a career that allows me to take summers off, if I choose. So, Cheri, the girls and I have spent most of July in the Pacific Northwest.

How do we get there? Like so many other Californians, we travel in a silver Prius.

It's air conditioned and usually quite comfy. But keep in mind that I am not only traveling with three other humans and their luggage. We also have these two numb-skulls: 

Lizzie and Chase, two adorable mutts, sittin' in the back seat with their human counterparts. The drive takes over two days with lots of potty breaks for people and canines alike. 

Oh, and how could I forget, we were also traveling with our bunny rabbit, Mr. Knightley.

But we survived the drive. We stopped in the middle of Oregon on the first day, and stayed at a very dog-friendly hotel /casino. Well, I should specify, the hotel is dog-friendly. I didn't take the dogs to play the slot machines, so I don't know what the management policy is... 

Anyway, after two days, we made it to my mother's house, where we enjoy a beautiful view of the Puget Sound. 

Notice the little fence? That's an electric border to keep those dogs around the house. It doesn't always work, though. Last year, Chase and Lizzie escaped and my daughter Emily was the only one around, so she chased them for over an hour until some good Samaritans helped her retrieve those rascals. 

Here's a glimpse inside my parents' home. My dad passed away over 18 years ago, but before he died he enjoyed a handful of retirement years in this kitchen, designed to his specifications. 

I have a lot of fond memories of my dad hanging out behind that counter, making sure everybody is well fed. 

I love to hang out at this green counter and work on my books. 

Basically, the summer was spent writing, and going back and forth between my mom's house and my mother-in-law's condo. My daughter Mackenzie made a Vlog of her adventures... here are the first three sections, for those of you who want a glimpse of Washington state during the summer time. 

(The first day of the drive.)

(Second day on the road.)

(Somebody gets her hair did!)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Adventures at SCBWI -- July 2017

I am finally getting around to posting photos and reflections on my wonderful 10th year as a member of this incredibly organization: the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

This year's adventure, which took place last July, was perhaps my favorite, mainly because Cheri was able to join me... and for the first time ever I stayed at the hotel instead of driving back and forth between my home and the convention center.

I couple other things were different. #1 We flew into Los Angeles to attend the event. That's because #2 They moved the conference date to July instead of its usual August slot. And #3 it was held at a new hotel, the Marriot next to Staples Center.

There's lots of restaurants in this area, but for some reason, every time we met for a meal, Cheri and I kept going back to the Yard House.

None of my photos do the conference justice, but trust me, there were amazing speakers, moving presentations, and inspiring workshops.

I got to reconnect with some of my writer friends, including the coolest couple in the World of Children's Literature... the Trisha and Stephen Shashkan!

Throughout the weekend, the SCBWI head-honcho Lin Olivier held a joke contest. The rules were simple: come up with the Worst Title for a Children's Book. There were lots of hilarious entries, and I'm proud to say that three of my jokes were picked. They gave me gift certificates to the book store, and among other items, I picked up a copy of Miranda Paul's wonderfully quirky Blobfish Throws a Party. 

Miranda, who is a fellow client of the Red Fox Literary Agency, was kind enough to sign it for me. She also gave a presentation on the topic of school / event visits. Incredibly informative!

 On Saturday Night they hosted the Silver Linings Ball. All the cool people wore sparkly stuff to the party, but I was a wall flower in drab attire. But I had fun watching everybody. 

We returned to Washington on Sunday night, but not without obtaining a heckuvalotta children's books. 

Can you tell I had a good time? 

A Quick Submissions Update

A few days ago, I mentioned how I've been sending some of my creative works out to my agent and publishers... Here's what's been happening with those projects...

1) The dragon book: This was revision number 8, and it still isn't going in the right direction. Useful feedback from my agent. This picture book project of mine contains a great idea... but I have yet to tie it to a great plot. It's a case of good topic / bad execution. It's back to the drawing board for this one.

2) The ostrich book: Waiting for agent feedback.

3) The kitten book: Waiting to hear back from editors.

4) The radio play: The good folks at Eldridge like this project quite a bit. They've asked for a rewrite in order to trim some of the beginning and add some more humor in the second act. My writing partner and I will hopefully be sending out a new, improved version early this month.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everybody!