Category Archives: mixed bag

One 7th Celebration Winner!

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Mr. Popover (left), Tarzan Malarkey (center) and associates

On behalf of on the accounting firm of Popover, Frenchpress & Malarkey and their associates, Frog on a Dimes wishes to congratulate Kim Patrie— winner of our birthday grand prize giveaway! Be watching your mail box!

Mister Moses Frenchpress of
Popover, Frenchpress & Malarkey

Many thanks to everyone who entered the drawing by submitting your favorite 7-letter words. Check out this sampling of 7 dazzling examples:

  • Pizzazz
  • Awesome
  • Sparkle
  • Welcome
  • Writing
  • Willowy
  • Kumquat

My warm-as-a- marshmallow-lounging- in-a-cup-of-cocoa gratitude goes out to everyone who visited Frog on a Dime this year. Your encouragement and support mean so much–for 7 years and counting!

Wishing you a blissful New Year, my Little Cream Puffs!

Hope

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,

Whispering ‘it will be happier’..”

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Surprise! You’re the Sublime Summertime Prize Winner!

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This year’s summer giveaway has been my favorite. Reading your childhood memories sparked my recollections of so far gone summers.

  • Running through the sprinkler with my sister or wading in our little dark green inflatable pool with a smiling dolphin looking up from the bottom. (I feared sea creatures back then, and would only wade around the inner perimeter of the pool because I didn’t want to step on that dolphin. He looked suspiciously sharky to me and I wanted to keep all ten toes.)
  • Loading up the car on a hot afternoon and heading to a local lake or river and coming home with sand stuck to my “everywheres.”
  • Picking strawberries with my mom.
  • Going to Vacation Bible School.
  • Slurping home-frozen popsicles.
  • Rambling family road trips.
  • Reading outside while swatting away maddening mosquitoes.
  • Watching my sister catch tadpoles and frogs in the creek near our house (again, only watching – you know, the whole “sea life” thing).
  • Donning PJs and going to a drive-in movie.
  • Eating corn on the cob with no front teeth.
  • Being bothered by the sound of chirping crickets when we moved from our city house to the country.
  • Having a lemonade stand (which was a challenge considering we lived on a dead end street).
  • Falling off the jungle gym repeatedly (no wonder I have back issues).
  • Wearing a gob of baking soda paste on a bee sting. And calamine lotion on poison ivy bumps.
  • Riding my brown Huffy around and around our subdivision.
  • Building a fort in the woods with my neighborhood friends.
  • Staying with my aunt and cousin (a boy) and playing GI Joes on a sandy hill.
  • Watching the lights change on the waterfall fountain my grandpa had built into the side of a hill.
  • Going out for A&W root beer.
  • Strolling through the sensory overload that was the county fair.
  • Eating watermelon and trying not to swallow the seeds. (Who wants to have a melon belly with green vines coming out your ears?)
  • Getting to stay up late. Following fireflies. Counting stars.
  • Learning to love the sound of the crickets outside our open bedroom windows.
  • Feeling like summer was an entire year unto itself. 

See what you started?

Looking good, Olympic Mountains of Washington! Photo by Vicky Lorencen

So, thank you very much to everyone who shared a memory, a story or a snippet of their childhood summer memories. I enjoyed reading all of them. The winner of this year’s giveaway package was chosen at random, but after you read her submission, I think you’ll agree, she deserves the prize times two. 

My warmest, summery congratulations to Rachel Anderson! You’ve won a prize package filled with snacks, a craft book, a journal, a slinky and all sorts of fun stuff. Be watching your mail box! 

Rachel shared this summer memory: 

As a kid way back in the day, my ultimate favorite thing to do was to ride horses with my sister. We rode for miles and miles, jumping creeks, racing through hayfields and plodding lazily along rivers. Life was good.

Here is part of a poem I wrote about riding: 

Two little sisters, eight and ten,
Dashed up to the farm and then
Jumped on horses for a ride
Raced the field, side by side.
Galloping without a care
Going here and going there. 

What a lovely memory. Enjoy these last lingering days of summer, my little strawberry shortcakes.

Every summer, like roses, childhood returns. ~ Marty Rubin

Season’s Greetings!

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Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. ~ Brad Paisley 

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 
And next year’s words await another voice
. ~ T.S. Eliot

Dearest Readers,

My warmest wishes to you for a joy-filled holiday that lifts your spirits, gives you happy memories and provides you with time to be with those you love best.

We can look forward to welcoming in 2019 together. Let’s fill it with creativity and courage to try new things. And, as always, we’ll give each other encouragement all the year through.

Cheers, my little snap dragons!


I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever
. ~ Neil Gaiman

How to Recognize Value

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frog on a dime color RED 1a

Illustration by Matt Faulkner

I am participating in a writing contest—You Are Enough—hosted by Positive Writer. The aim of the contest is to draft a blog post that will provide encouragement to fellow writers. Well, if you’ve ever visited Frog on a Dime, you know that’s what my hokey-pokey blog is all about. Regardless if I win, I hope this post energizes your creative spirit. (And that you find cookies in your cupboard.)

My husband likes to watch Prospectors on the Weather Channel. Prospectors  follows real, modern-day diggers of gold and gem stones. I like The Voice, a reality show/singing competition. Recently, I recognized the two shows intersect.

Prospectors endure extreme cold, looming storm fronts and other dangerous conditions to find the prize—a smoky topaz, a ruby, an aquamarine or even gold. Judges on The Voice listen to some lackluster auditions while searching for someone with golden pipes. So, the singers and the smoky topaz are treasures. That’s the obvious comparison, but there’s something more.

Were the stones beautiful while still encased in layers of limestone? I would say, yes. It wasn’t the touch of a prospector’s pick or palm that made them precious. And what about the hopefuls who appear on The Voice? It’s certainly not the judge’s ears or their feedback that make those singers amazing. The vocalists were outstanding before they ever walked on stage.

Here’s what I want you to know, my fragile little tea cups—you and your writing have intrinsic value before you receive a single word of praise. Think of all of the painters and poets who never received acclaim during their lifetimes. How sad to think they thought of themselves as “almosts” and even failures. You don’t need to have your name on a dust jacket to be a writer of worth. Interested editors or agents are simply recognizing what’s already there—like a prospector uncovering a lump of turquoise or a judge discovering a brilliant performer. Okay, okay, you make a good point. Like the unearthed gemstones or a singer’s vocal range, your work (and gosh, yes, mine) could benefit from a good polishing to bring out its true luster. But just because something can be improved doesn’t mean it wasn’t extraordinary to begin with.

Yes, I can hear the b-b-b-BUT coming. But I waaaaant an agent to love my work. I waaaant an editor to offer me a contract. I waaaaant readers to send me fan mail. Of course you do (and so do I). That kind of validation is wonderful, but remember–your work isn’t valued because it’s recognized. It’s recognized because it’s valuable–regardless. And first and foremost, you have to recognize that for yourself, my little lemon square.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

 

We Have a Winner at the Frog on a Dime Summer Open House

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TheSecretHeirCongratulations to Pat Trattles–you are the winner of an autographed copy of a brand new, scintillating summertime read–THE SECRET HEIRby Janice Broyles. 
Janice Broyles
Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the Summer Open House. It was lovely to hear from all of you!
_______

THE SECRET HEIR retells the story of David and the princess Michal. One lives in a palace; the other sleeps under the stars. Though they come from vastly different worlds, Michal and David are drawn together. When King Saul uncovers David’s secret and vows to kill him, Michal is torn between her love for her father and feelings for David. Two kings, two men she deeply loves but for different reasons — one heart-broken in two.

THE SECRET HEIR is filled with drama, romance and intrigue for older teens, young adults and beyond.

Published by Heritage Beacon Press, THE SECRET HEIR was released on July 11. You can order it from your local independent bookstore, as well as online book distributors, including Amazon.

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Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~ Henry James

Meet Young Writer, Miss Indiya Draw

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Indiya Pic (1)

Young writer, Indiya Draw

At a recent Family Writing Night at Paragon Charter Academy, I had the honor of meeting fellow writer Indiya Draw. Indiya is a multi-talented 4th grader who not only enjoys writing, she is also an excellent basketball player. “My biggest talent is dribbling two balls at once.” (I can’t even dribble one!)

Like most writers, Indiya enjoys reading. Right now, her favorite books are from The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby series by George Beard and Harold Hutchins. “I also like Dr. Seuss because I like how tsuper diaper babyhe rhyming sounds.” (Me too.)

paragon visit 4Indiya is a writer with  a tender heart for people and all living things. Her favorite animal is the serval cat. “Because they are cute!” And if she could do one thing to make the world a better place, Indiya said, “For everybody to have a home.”

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Indiya won the Frog on a Dime Guest Spot Drawing!

Indiya likes to write because “you can make up anything you want.” Of course, having a world of options can create a challenge too. She said, “Thinking up a topic is the hardest part about writing.” All writers can relate to that, Indiya! I am confident your amazing imagination will continue to inspire you to write many more stories. (How about a story about those adorable serval cats?) Paragon visit Feb 2018

It was a pleasure to meet Indiya and her family, and all of the students and their loved ones who collaborated to create their own stories. I wish you all many more opportunities to experience the joy of writing together.

Write on!

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains. ~ Dr. Seuss Paragon visit 2

 

 

Why I can’t write outside my race, I think. Probably.

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Frog 3This is not a how-to.

It is a thought in progress.

This longer-than-usual post is not intended to persuade you to think a certain way. I’m simply sharing my struggle. In full transparency, I do hope it will encourage you to wrestle too.

I am puzzling over the question – how can I, a middle-aged white lady, promote greater diversity in children’s literature? Further, can I personally contribute my own work?

And now my noodle is steaming. Just call me Ms. Ramen Head.

Let me get specific now.

See, five years ago a character came to me while I was at an SCBWI-Michigan spring conference. I was in a breakout session with Donna Gephart. And, this kid, he never moved out of my head.

I LOVE this guy. But as a character, he is a challenge combo (without a side of fries. Darn.)

First, he is a him, but I can handle that. I like writing boy characters best.

He chose a hobby I have no idea how to do, but I can try to learn.

And, finally, he is African American. Yep. That’s where things get complicated. I didn’t decide that about him. It’s simply part of who he is–a significant part.

Now I am capturing his story in a middle grade novel, but I’m facing a few teensy questions. Oh, you know, like:

  • If it’s okay to me to write outside my gender, why not my race?
  • Is it really necessary for this character to be African American for his story to be told?
  • Am I betraying my character if I change his race?
  • If I do write outside my race, what is the potential for causing more harm than good (even with the benefit of sensitivity readers)?
  • If my book is published, what happens when I show up at a school with primarily African American students?
  • As an un-established author, am I prepared to face the elevated scrutiny my story will receive?

To go even deeper . . .

Executive Editor at Dutton Books for Young Readers Andrew Karre posed these questions at a recent SCBWI conference:

  • How diverse is the well of literature I draw from?
  • Why do I want to write a diverse character? In other words, where are the roots of my desire to write this character?
  • Is my only point of engagement with diversity limited to my manuscript?

In the end, all I want to create is a story that’s authentic and engaging. Most of all, I want this kid I love to be proud of the way I told his story. I think I can best do that without pushing myself to do things that will quite potentially hurt my readers and distract them from the story I want to tell. And so, since I have decided not to write outside my race, I think. Probably. I am asking:

  • How can I offer a diverse perspective in a way that’s true to myself?
  • How can I support diverse authors and diverse books?
  • How can I expand my understanding of all that diversity means?

Here’s the part I do know:

  • There’s clueless. That’s sad.
  • There’s clueless about being clueless. That’s dangerous.

I’m “pleased” to say I know that I’m clueless about a lot of things related to diversity, and really, that’s not the worst place to start. It means I need to be humble, and willing to learn, listen and ask questions. That I can do without question.

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Won’t you join me, my little Caramel Apples?

If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained. ~ Neil Gaiman