Book Review, Books, Children's Books, Picture Books

A Christmas Picture Book Review

I love the Christmas season. The decorations, the songs, the food, the family traditions, and all the Christmas picture books!

I keep a little collection of them. The Christmas picture books were one of my favorite things to bring out at Christmas time and read with my kids when they were little. Even though they aren’t so little anymore I’ve kept my collection. And every once in a while I still add to it! I’m so happy I received a new book to add to the collection this year, Mouse’s Christmas Gift by Mindy Baker.

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Mouse’s Christmas Gift draws you in with the heart and warmth of Christmas through story and beautiful illustrations. The spot varnish with glitter on the cover is gorgeous and sparkles like all things Christmas, making you want to gently open the cover like a treasured Christmas present and peek inside. This story of a little church mouse, who has a gift to bring community together in an unexpected way, reminds little readers how important it is to share the joy and hope of Christmas with those around us.

Mindy Baker and I met through twitter. She asked if I would like to review a copy of her new release and I’m so happy she did. I hope you love her new book as much as I do!

I love the idea of building a Christmas book library at home. Use each one for story time together as a type of book advent calendar –Read one special Christmas story each night until Christmas! Mouse’s Christmas Gift would make a great addition to your own collection or even a special Christmas present for your little one this season.

 

 

 

 

Books, Review

Brave Beauty Review and Giveaway!

A Book Review and Giveaway!

*Winner Robin H. –Congratulations!

“Lord, I’m looking for something good.”

This was my short prayer offered up a few weeks ago. When I came home late that afternoon a little package of something good was there, just like that, waiting on the doorstep.

In it was Lynn Cowell’s book Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You

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In recent weeks, our family has faced trials and storms. My little girl, my brave beauty, has weathered them right along with me –My big brother passed away and fourteen days later we lost a close family friend. In the midst of the grieving, school stopped for a week as we prepared our home to evacuate hurricane Irma. It seemed as though the storms just kept coming.

And so, my prayer for something good…

What a gift of love to receive Lynn’s beautiful book of devotions. A call for daughters to be brave in this world, no matter what trials may come or what questions they face in life and in faith.

Brave Beauty is 100 mini chapters broken up into three sections:

  •             Section: 1 I Am Loved
  •             Section: 2 I Am Brave
  •             Section: 3 I Am Confident

Lynn’s mini chapters are comfortable and inviting. I like how she describes these as “100 moments”. She talks to young readers in an easy conversational style with real life stories and examples. At the end of each chapter she has a space for your daughter to engage her thoughts with what she’s read. There are getting to know you quizzes, scriptures and prayers, an action to take called Becoming Brave, and space for your daughter to journal her thoughts.

This is a book just for her.

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I love the topics Lynn chooses. She breaks down her sections in the book even further with topics like, I Can Do Scary Things, I Can Stand Up For Others, My Purpose, I Am Loved… There is so much to choose from. Your daughter can read straight through, do one chapter each week, or pick a topic section she might want some encouragement in. There are no dates written on the page, so your daughter can go through the book how she likes.

This is an excellent resource for young girls navigating life and learning to be confident in who God made them to be.

Here’s to Lynn and brave girls becoming brave women!

 

THE GIVEAWAY! HOORAY!

A GIFT for Your Daughters! I received one beautiful book for review and one for a giveaway!

  • Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy for your daughter, niece, or granddaughter. The contest will run Saturday, October 14th at 12pm through Saturday, October 21st at 12pm. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook for an extra entry! I’ll announce the winner here next Saturday.

 

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Books, Inspiration, Time for Art, Writing

Why Write?

Thoughts On Writing, Fear, and Time | Part 2

“Don’t you find it strange that we have these ideas we dream up? We write and create and go to conferences and critique groups. No one has asked us to write, but we do.”

I was at a conference a few years ago when I asked one of my friends and fellow writers my question about writing. The process and the idea of writing started to feel strange and surreal.  Why do I seem to find inspiration for new books all around? I jot down the ideas in my notebook, on receipts in my purse, or on the back of a bulletin in church. Some of these ideas stick with me and their little voice is strong. I feel this desire to put my thoughts and words and art together. I create little book dummies of how I see these books in my mind.

I have 12 on a spreadsheet facing me now. Three in book dummy form.

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Family, school, kids, and work pop in and demand some love and inspiration too. Shouldn’t I put my ideas aside and focus on what’s in front of me? And yet these little books speak to me. They compel me to take them to critique group and attend writer’s conferences.

The question I asked my friend about writing has stayed with me. It pops up when I doubt what I’m trying. It’s easier to listen to the voice that says, ‘focus on what’s in front of you’.

But what if all writers listened to a voice that told them to stop writing?

What if all artists listened to the voice of doubt or fear and stopped making art?

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The question remained: Why write?

And then I met Nikki Grimes. I was invited to hear her read from her book Words With Wings at the Upper Room Art Gallery. She is talented and gracious and humble. She talked with me afterword about her writing, her children’s books, and poetry, and new projects.

We took a walk with our host Robin Merrill from the Upper Room to see a piece of art in the making. We stood in front of a large log being hand cut into a canoe by a Seminole Indian from the tradition of generations before. A story in its own way, told and passed down.

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I asked Nikki the same thing I had asked my other friend, “Don’t you find it strange to write sometimes? To put these ideas and thoughts down on paper and publish them? No one has asked us to write what we write but we do it anyway.”

She answered me quickly,

“If I waited for permission, I would never write.”

Wow! I had never considered that I was waiting for permission.

As we looked at the canoe in raw form and Robin told us about the artwork, she showed us a pile of wood chips on the ground that had been cut from the log. Chunks and layers of shavings discarded for the canoe to takes its form. She gave us a little brown paper bag and told us to take some shavings and create our own piece of art from them.

Here is mine, a bird with Nikki’s winged words for me…

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I dont’ have an answer as to why I write, but it doesn’t have to be because someone asked me to.

I have a goal now for my little board books.

That’s what they are. No permission needed.

 

If you’re the curious sort, one who wonders about why we do the things we do, here’s an amazing book I found one evening at Barnes & Noble, Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature.

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Happy reading, writing and creating! ~LAM

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Writing

Preparing For A Conference

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I’m getting ready to go to the Florida Christian Writers Conference at the end of the month.

I feel a little like I’m standing on the edge of the high dive, about to jump in from too high off the ground.

The funny part is, I’ve been to the conference before and it’s been fantastic. The classes, the editors, the authors, and everyone in attendance make the whole experience an exciting opportunity for learning and encouragement. This conference is the one I went to in 2004 when I had a fledgling idea for a book of scriptures and photos for babies. This is the same conference where I met my amazing editor in 2006 and she said, “Yes!” to my first four books.

So, why all the nerves this time around? I don’t think it matters how many time I’ve been to the conference, it’s sharing my projects and dreams with a bigger audience for the first time that does it. Those little projects equal big dreams. On those big dreams are even bigger expectations, adding to that standing-on-the-edge feeling.

Have you ever felt that way before?

Thankfully there is an amazing amount of encouragement and plain ol’ good, down-to-earth advice out there on getting ready for a conference. Like Mary Kole’s blog post, Getting the Most Out of a Conference and W. Terry Whalin’s great advice on the FCWC Faculty Blog, Four Keys to Your Conference Preparation

A much more central part of every writer’s conference is where individuals learn new aspects of publishing and take great strides of personal growth. Come with expectations and a willingness to learn and grow. With the right heart attitude, I’m convinced that you will not be disappointed but your expectations will actually be exceeded. -W. Terry Whalin

I love both of these posts and how they offered me a new perspective on my expectations for the conference, “Jump in! Have fun! Enjoy the experience!”  Why not?

I’ve done my part preparing; polished proposals, studied the publishers, editors, and agents who will be a part of the conference, and highlighted the courses I’d like to attend. I’ve set aside the expectations I’ve placed upon myself and taken Terry’s advice on praying for the experience. I’ve placed my dreams in God’s hands and I trust him.

Now I can take a breath and jump in! I’m ready for the adventure of it all!

How do you prepare for a conference? What resources have you found helpful in getting ready?

1000 Gifts, Inspiration

My Start to One Thousand Gifts

A friend told me about One Thousand Gifts. She said she thought of me and my photos and thought I would like the book and Ann Voskamp’s writing. I looked up the book when I got home and started to read the first few pages online.

My friend was right. I was hooked. I wanted to read more.

I found Ann Voskamp’s blog. And I did read more and more. That’s when I found her JOY DARE: One thousand gifts in 2012, snap a photo or record 3 gifts a day. Simple enough I think. But not just simple, it’s something I am truly excited to try.

I was on the phone with my father in law last week telling him about my day at the beach with the kids. He asked if I took any pictures. I heard my mother in law in the background, “Is the Pope Catholic?”

Yep, I take about 1000 photos every couple of  months. I stop in parking lots, I take photos of my kids walking into school, playing, photos of their toys left out, sunsets, clouds, seagulls, flowers, and leaves on the ground. I photograph it all. I’m ready to jump into Ann’s Joy Dare, but as I read her book I realize her challenge is more than the beauty I think I see so easily every day. Maybe it isn’t so simple.

I started on the 23rd. Before I picked up her book. I bought the book the next day.

Her Dare to Joy is a Dare of Thanksgiving.

Her Dare is my Kickstart.

23. a gift of tin, of glass, of wood

Peppermint tea from my mom. I’m a coffee drinker, but I do love tea. I think I especially like it because it reminds me of her and makes me smile.

The glass in my camera and lens. They are both old and I dream of new equipment. But I am thankful for these tools and all of the photos and moments God has allowed me to capture. I’ll keep taking photos and taking in all the beauty I see with my camera until I can’t.

Hiking sticks. One found on the trail of Dark Hallow Falls in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. One picked out special from our aunt in New York and saved till we arrived all the way from Florida. Given as a gift to our son for our first family camping trip. One picked up for our little girl as we hiked along the Niagara River to Canada and had her passport stamped for the first time. Carved with the letter “A” with the help of our son’s Swiss Army Knife. And colored pink. Tree branches turned treasured memories.

24. 3 gifts before 11 am

Enough Gas left to get the kids to school. I didn’t see the needle hovering over the orange empty line till I was already half way there.

Cranberry muffins for Grandparents Day.

Pink Hibiscus. Beautiful flowers in bloom while I wait. The colors remind me of grapefruit.

25. a gift nearly worn out, a gift new, a gift made-do

 

My 9-year-old boy’s favorite shoes. I told him I couldn’t believe he was still wearing them with his socks showing right through. He told me kids in Haiti wear shoes like that.

Old Barbies become new again. A gift to our little girl.

A best friend’s soccer game. We made it just in time for the last few plays. I got to capture a few great shots for his mom. His team won the game.

Books

National Library Week

I was honored to be invited to read my books to the Pre-K classes at Calvary Christian Academy for National Library Week. Not only was it a treat to get to read to the over 50 Pre-K students, the librarians blessed me with these beautiful flowers afterwards. I’m so thankful for the all their hard work and the love they pour into the students. Their joy for what they do is evident in their work and interactions with the kids.

April 11-17th marks National Library Week this year. You can read more about it and find future dates from the American Library Association.