Tag Archive | Guest Post

A Guest Post by David L. Faucheux


In 2017,  David L. Faucheux’s nonfiction book, Across Two Novembers: A Year In The Life Of A Blind Bibliophilewas published. Within the next month or so he is releasing an abridged version of the book. In the following post, David discusses the reasons why.

In order to explain why I abridged my book Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile, I must first explain why I wrote this book. I’ll borrow from the introduction here. I have long wanted to write and publish something, be it a historic novel, a young adult novel, or nonfiction. When, in November 2013, Dr. Katherine Schneider asked me to read and review her just published Occupying Aging, I conquered my usual reservations: Would I be a good reviewer? Would I be able to write something interesting and help her book sales? I dove in and came up with this review, which appeared on goodreads.com:

‘“This book, with its mixture of the quotidian and sublime, stands as an interesting glimpse into the life of one early 21st –century woman. Schneider, a retired psychologist, recounts a year of thoughts and events in this journal. Her ruminations on death, spirituality, dogs, and navigating the landscape of the sighted as a totally blind inhabitant of her Wisconsin college town are enlightening. Touches of humor involving Fran, her Seeing Eye® dog, add a sense of fun.

‘“As someone who is acquainted with Dr. Schneider (we have exchanged emails), I could wish I occupied my forties quite as well as she does her sixties. The proactive attempts to educate about disability issues, the volunteering, and the public speaking are outstanding. Maybe some of her enthusiasm for life will rub off on all her readers.—An excellent vade mecum, a handbook, for handling the uncertainties of retirement.”’

While reading her book and formulating my review, I thought, Oh! I just might be able to write something in this journal–type format. So I jumped in right then, not waiting to begin on the more traditional January 1. I thought that to wait was to postpone indefinitely and fail; to start could mean a chance at a successful resolution. Who says a journal has to run from January 1 to December 31 to be of interest?”  

35381000My book turned into a 510–page exploration of that year in my life. I included book reviews, a couple of recipes, and bits from my past audio blog and master booklist covering decades. I concluded with a 47–page bibliography and webliography. I independently published it and promoted it through radio, television, and even through a virtual blog tour. I supplemented these efforts with  book ad cards and by reaching out to a radio reading service, WRBH, in New Orleans, which aired the book last March. A WWL reporter was interested. I collected reviews from professional authors and even several Amazon Top 500 reviewers. Sales did not pick up, however, and I knew a major pruning was necessary. Thus I reduced my book from 510 pages to a more manageable 265.

I explain it this way in the Preface to my abridged book, now entitled Selections from Across Two Novembers: A Bibliographic Year. “An Amazon reviewer described my book Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile as reminiscent of that famous diary kept by Samuel Pepys. While surprised and truly flattered, I wondered if subconsciously he was giving me some advice. Pepys wrote a masterful account of nearly a decade in his life. But who reads long nowadays? Hence this abridgement. I hope this glimpse of my year with only the highlights included will give you a taste, yet be as satisfying as the original, unabridged version.” I expect the book to come out in February or March.


Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

Patty and I have chosen this wonderful piece from Phyllis Staton Campbell


Not Just A Cake


Photo by Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

         There is anticipation in the air at the school for the blind, and it happens every month. Actually, it happens each month that somebody in the boys’ dorm has a birthday, and that pretty much adds up to every month in the nine-month school year.

         Birthdays are special, of course, everybody knows that, don’t they? Well, not always. For these kids from different backgrounds, some with other disabilities as well as blindness, and away from home and family all week, it might not be so special for everybody.

         Of course, many get gifts, cards and phone calls from home, but sad to say some do not, and for those who do, they’re still away from that special human touch, and their very own cake. Not for these kids. They will never experience that feeling of loneliness that tends to creep in on such special days, due to the imagination and caring of Miss WK, one of their dorm advisers. The mother of a grown son, she knows from experience the importance of something special on that special day, and nothing is more special than a birthday cake, well, maybe birthday brownies. And it should be noted here, that her son, big enough to pick me up and twirl me around, still gets a birthday cake of his choice each year.

“Okay, you’ve made your point,” you may be saying. “So she runs by her friendly bakery for a cake on her way to work. That’s cool!”

Wrong! Before the big day, the birthday boy picks his treat, cake, or something different, such as brownies, even cheesecake. Then, the real fun starts. A great discussion takes place with everybody joining in, as they make the shopping list for the excursion to the grocery store.

         I have never gone on one of these excursions, but I can just imagine WK, like the proverbial woman who lived in a shoe, shepherding her group of cane wielding children along the aisles at Wal-Mart. There are stops along the way not only to pick up cake ingredients, but for people to pick up any personal items. At checkout WK takes care of cake ingredients, while each student pays for his own item, carefully counting change, and passing bills, previously folded to identify denominations. Okay, so this is old hat to us, but remember the pride when we were learning? WK naturally keeps an eye on her charges to be sure they haven’t forgotten their lessons, helping where needed.

broken-943413_640         The big day is here! It’s time to bake the cake,. WK reads the recipe before they start, and assigns the various tasks according to the student’s ability, or in some cases to someone who hasn’t done that particular task before. There is a task for everybody, no matter what their disability along with their blindness might be. Nobody is left out, and nobody is made to feel inferior, each job is important. If somebody makes a mistake, and naturally they occur, it’s treated like a learning experience for next time, and they all have a good laugh.

         WK is now embarking on an adventure of her own. She’s learning braille, not a requirement for dorm staff.

“I want to be able to help my kids,” she says. “I want to be able to put their names on their doors without having to ask them to do it at the office. I want to help them label things, and help them write out the recipe in braille.”

Obviously, this is more than a cake. It teaches so many practical skills, organization, shopping with a bit of money management thrown in, teamwork, kitchen skills and just plain fun.

         I’m not trying to push residential schools here, but I can’t help thinking, that no matter how good mainstreaming may seem, this is something that those students will probably never experience. There is nothing more satisfying than working together with other blind people. You, are just the same as those working with you. Of course, as with WK’s students, some have more or different abilities, but those things are the natural differences experienced in life, not differences that those around you attribute to your blindness.

“We couldn’t expect you to play as well as the organist at our church,” someone said to me.” it wouldn’t be fair, you’re blind.”

Now, I freely agree that she may be the better organist, I’ve never heard her play, but it has nothing to do with the fact she can see. She probably practices more than I do, or just plain has more talent. Such a thought would never enter the mind of a blind person. Hopefully, we judge each other by merit, or better still not at all.

         The cake is done, and judged “awesome!” And if it may have sunk a touch in the middle, or if not quite all of the sugar made it into the measuring cup, nobody notices, and couldn’t care less. It’s their cake, their very own creation, if you please. It is indeed, more than a cake, it is a symbol of independence, and an expression of the love of one woman for others.

(Note: Due to confidentiality names and location are changed, but the facts are true and accurate.)


About The Author:
22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.


Books by Phyllis Campbell:

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Come Home My Heart

Friendships In The Dark

The Evil Men Do – True crime, written under contract for the family of the victim.

Who Will Hear Them Cry

A Place To Belong

Out of the Night

Patty’s Pick

pattys pick
Campbells World

It was difficult to choose just one article for August’s edition of Patty’s Pick, but we finally came to a decision and I’m sharing this excellent article by author Phyllis Staton Campbell.


Baskets Then And Now

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

They’re decorative, they’re useful, and they’re a part of any culture you can think of. Remember that little Jewish baby left sleeping safely in the bullrushes? Bet he was snuggled in a basket, woven by his mother. Okay, my imagination has taken flight, but, hey, I’m a writer.

6inbasketgroup1Seriously, beyond a doubt, early man, long before such Scripture accounts must have used some form of basket. Many, like those of the Native American tribes, were decorative as well as useful. And here goes my imagination again, I wonder if those women may have practised a bit of rivalry in the decoration department. As this issue’s column will demonstrate, baskets can be things of beauty, often reflecting the personality of the maker.

When I was a pupil at the Virginia School for the Blind, we actually had basketry classes. Do I hear “How terrible! What a dreadful image of the blind!” Not so. We learned to use our hands in a creative way while creating something attractive and useful, something in which we could take pride. Nobody suggested that we make basket making our career, but it was an important part of our lives.

And just to prove me right, enter Lynn Kelleher, OS reader from California.

She wrote to tell me about her hobby, and I was fascinated. Why? After all, I had my own experience with making baskets and the like, was I fascinated? True, but Lynn’s baskets are something different and wonderful. Her baskets aren’t woven, but coiled. This is an ancient form of basket making practised by many cultures. Among them various Native American tribes used this method, and the resulting baskets were/are lovely.

For fear that I might get something wrong, I’m going to quote directly from Lynn’s letter.

140eb41f6bff2debe83981c74ecd1661--pine-over-the“I am a basket maker. The baskets I make are not woven, but are coiled. They are made from long pine-needles. I enjoy this because I am able to recycle nature’s trash, to form a useful and decorative basket. I gather the pine-needles wherever I can find them. I wash them, and dry them. Lastly, I wrap the dried needles in heavy paper or in bundles, so they don’t get broken. When dried they are quite brittle. I put a few pine-needles through a piece of a drinking straw to form the coil. The straw acts as the gauge for the thickness of the coil. Whenever the straw becomes lose I add more pine-needles to it. Using an overhand stitch, I sew the coils together to form a container or basket.” (note This is done with waxed linen thread.)

Lynn goes on to say that she feels this is a perfect craft for those who are totally blind. It is relatively simple and very tactile.

She points out further, that for those of us who don’t drive, and thus can’t shop at will for gifts, it’s good to have these unique baskets on hand when the need arises.

She finds it especially gratifying to be able to gather pine-needles from the property of the person who is to receive the gift. This makes the gift particularly unique for
the recipient.

I asked Lynn if she sells her baskets. She said that she has a few at a local consignment shop, but doesn’t take orders.

“The one problem with it,” she said, “is that it is slow to complete. By slow, I mean that you can’t complete the usual basket in two hours or so.”

She has a tray that holds the materials so that she can stop at will, and continue at another time.

0739cae4cc06a4ad0242f546eeb759b5This is a relatively inexpensive hobby, the most expensive part being the waxed linen thread. She separates her different colors of thread, so that she knows which she is going to use, just as the knitter or crocheter does when doing color work. She says that different colored thread, beads or natural products makes this hobby more interesting.
I was fascinated that all kinds of things can be used to form the coil, thus changing the size of the project. She says that because most workshops and items in catalogs rely on sight, this is a craft that requires one’s own sense of creativity. Although certainly, this is true of many crafts, I can see where it is especially true here. She is required to decide on the project itself, what it will be, how large etc, as well as on the material and colors to be used. In a cookie-cutter world, I find this especially refreshing. I like to imagine Lynn sitting there in front of her tray, a sort of alchemist of beauty, choosing her materials, project and decoration.

She tells me that the basket maker using this unique method isn’t limited to small projects, but by using something as large as a hose, may carry their creativity to almost any height.

Lynn urges her fellow blind crafters and would-be crafters to seek projects that are attractive in a tactile way. She urges simplicity, at least at first. She stands ready to answer any questions that readers may have.

Contact her at Ki6qzv@aol.com


About The Author:

22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, born blind, writes about the world she knows best.

She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Though born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she now lives not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.

See all her books on Amazon


Patty’s Pick

pattys pickCampbells World

Patty and I have chosen this super article by Phyllis Campbell, featuring an interview with David Feucheux from Louisiana. David is a reader of a column that Phyllis writes for THE BLIND POST.

Phyllis had never heard of David’s hobby and pounced on him immediately for an interview. I, on the other hand, have – although I’ve haven’t tried it… yet!


A Different Kind of Hobby

By Phyllis Campbell

Reprinted from Hobbies, July-August, 2014 National Braille Press

David, a graduate of the Louisiana school for the blind, says that he has always wanted a hobby, but somehow couldn’t seem to settle on one until he discovered kumihimo.
Here is a description of it in David’s own words.

16-strand-set-up“Kumihimo is a type of braiding. It is done on a loom-type device. Imagine an octagon. Each of the 8 sides has 4 narrow slits. The octagon is made of the same material as flip-flops.

You arrange seven or eight strands in various slits. Each of the slits is numbered from 1 to 32. You cross certain strands over other strands in a certain pattern. You then turn the loom and do again. It’s rather hypnotic.”

David goes on to say:

“Here is a bit of background from a book I consulted.
Taken from the book Kumihimo Wire Jewelry by Giovanna Imperia

51xiWEyka+L“Braids are common in many cultures, where they have served a wide range of functions–from practical applications to decorations on garments to key elements in religious ceremonies. Some braiding traditions developed independently in different regions, which led to the emergence of unique designs and structures. Some braiding traditions developed as a result of cultural migration. A good example of the latter is the development of kumihimo in Japan.

There are also many different processes that are used in braiding. Some braids are made without the aid of tools. Other braids are made using a stand, typically round, and weighted bobbins. Among the cultures using stands, Japan is unique in that braids are made using a number of specialized stands, not just a round one.”


“The term kumihimo means intersected threads. It refers to any type of braid executed using the loop-manipulation method (which does not require equipment) or any number of stands.

Kumihimo has a very long history in Japan, where some early examples of impressions of braided structures on pottery date back to the Jomon period (8000-300 BC). By the Kofun period (4th-6th centuries), braids had become common thanks in large part to the diffusion of Buddhism. According to research by Masako Kinoshita, many of the early braids, such as the ones in the Shosoin treasure house (Nara period, AD 645-784), were probably executed using the loop-manipulation braiding technique.

Over the centuries, kumihimo became an integral part of the Japanese culture, where it assumed uses that ranged from the functional (such as ties for prayer scrolls or as lacing devices for the samurai armor, which required nearly three hundred silk braids) to the decorative (such as embellishments for Buddhist statues and rosaries as well as obijime, a narrow braided belt that holds the much wider obi in place). Because of its role in Japanese culture, over time, many different pieces of equipment were developed, which helped artisans produce braids faster and of consistent quality while developing new and more complex structures and designs.

Automated machines, developed later in the Meiji period (1867-1912), allowed for even faster production. These machines are still in use today, as are five braiding stands: the Maru Dai, Taka Dai, Karakumi Dai, Kaku Dai, and
Ayatake Dai.”


David says he first heard of kumihimo in 2010. When a short course was offered in January of 2014, he took it.

Although he had actually only been pursuing his hobby for about three months at the time of the interview in April, he was enjoying it a lot. He says that one good thing about kumihimo is that he is able to figure out a lot of it for himself, making progress easier, and to me, more challenging.

He uses various types of cord in his projects, although some people use wire. David says that so far that is beyond him, but something tells me that will be in his future.


When I asked about his hobby goals he said

magatama sample 1 small“I’d like to learn several other braiding styles. I also want to learn to attach clasps to bracelets and other projects. I’d also like to learn to use the rectangle loom. I am told it is used to make belts.

“I am about to make a bracelet using magatama beads. These are a particular kind of Japanese bead sold by the  website www.primitiveoriginals.com

Kathy James who runs the website is very helpful.

When I asked David what advice he would give anyone thinking about trying kumihimo he said,

“Go ahead and try it. The people at the website http://www.primitiveoriginals.com are very happy to help. I’d be happy to email with anyone trying to learn the craft. The NFB has a crafters division at www.krafterskorner.org. It is a good resource for crafter types.”.



When I asked David if he had any other special interests he said,

“My secret dream is to have several works published. I am not good at writing. I wanted to write one about my time at a blind school before this entire culture is forgotten by a younger, hipper, more fortunate, perhaps less appreciative, generation of blind who have no idea what it was like to go far away from home at a young age and meet nice and not-so-nice teachers, house parents, and fellow students.

I want to write two nonfiction works, one is a diary, it’s in process, as I got the idea from Kathy Schneider, and the other about an ancestor who came here from the Canary Islands in 1779 at age 10. The latter would be a long epic historic fiction novel, Inca, in the style of Gary Jennings’s Aztec, but it’s not likely.

If I can get the diary and the blind fiction I’ll be pleased. I don’t describe myself as a writer. I do not enjoy it, and I do not feel like I have to write. It’s a means to an end. Characters do not pour through my head either. It’s work.”

Trust us, David, all who write find it work if they’re honest, at least with themselves. ~Phyllis


About the Author:

22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.



Patty’s Pick

pattys pickCampbells World

For Patty’s Pick this month, Patty and I have chosen this fabulous story from Jo E. Pinto.

Jo E. PintoJo E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.

Jo’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. She lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.



Back Eyes

I don’t remember exactly when it happened. My daughter might have been three or four years old. She may have been climbing up on the kitchen counter, quietly trying to snitch a cookie, while I was in the living room typing away on my computer. Or she may have been easing open the bottom drawer in her dad’s workbench, intent on swiping his screwdrivers for the thousandth time.

In any case, I called out to her, “Sarah, I know what you’re doing. The eyes in my face are broken, but the ones in the back of my head work just fine.”

I was halfway goofing around when I said it. The fact that I had rock star hearing was already well-known in our house. Blind people don’t necessarily hear better than those with sight, but they rely on the sounds around them, so they tend to pay attention and notice what they hear more than sighted people do.


My daughter, however, took me at my word. She rushed over to me and started examining the back of my head, combing her fingers through my long dark hair.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Looking for your back eyes,” she said in that matter-of-fact tone kids get when they are answering grown-ups who ask dumb questions. “They must be really small. I can’t find them.”

“They’re hard to see,” I answered quickly. “They move around in my hair. They don’t want to be found.”

“Oh. I won’t look then. They’re secret.” Sarah was intrigued. “Have you always had back eyes?”

“Nope.” I thought fast. “I got them at the hospital when you were born. Only moms have them. Like Santa’s phone number, and the magic way to know if a kid has a fever by kissing her cheek. Back eyes are just for moms.”

Over the years, my daughter’s understanding of my blindness has become more clear. First, she realized she had to use her words instead of pointing and whining when she asked me for M&M’s or fruit snacks at the store. Over time, she has figured out that when we play Candyland or Snakes and Ladders, the game goes more smoothly if she reads the dice and moves the colored tokens around the board for me. She knows I stick braille labels on canned goods in my pantry and use a screen-reading program on my computer so I can listen to e-mails and navigate the Internet. Describing our surroundings when we go out together has gotten to be almost second nature to her.

But now and then, when she has created a particularly exceptional art project or perfected a super awesome dance move, she’ll still say, “Mom, Mom! Look at me! Look with your back eyes!”

Not wanting to disappoint her, I’ll turn my head, face away from her, and say, “Wow! That’s incredible!”

After that, I’ll ask her to describe her art project or give me the details of her dance move, but she seems to need me to have that first quick look, so my imaginary “back eyes” live on, somewhere under my hair.

I keep expecting them to fade away like so many other adorable childhood fantasies have. But a few days ago, when Sarah got a fabulous new Barbie doll for her ninth birthday, the first thing she said was, “Mom, check this out! She can move her hands and feet and everything!”

When I reached for the Barbie doll, she put her hands on my cheeks, turned my face away, and ordered, “Look … no, look with your back eyes!”

This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog


The Bright Side of Darkness by Jo E. Pinto

The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.

The Bright Side of Darkness.jpgRick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.

Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.

The Bright Side of Darkness is available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.



         There’s nothing a damn bit bright about sunshine when you’re seventeen and you see it from the wrong side of a jail cell window.
         It isn’t that I’m moping for my lost freedom or anything. I wouldn’t give a half a crap for my life anymore now that the crew is scattered to the four winds, and all I have left of Daisy is her parting note in the waistband of my jeans and a wilted dandelion dangling between my fingers. But it seems to me that the Man Upstairs could have marked my downfall with a terrific thunderstorm or at least a few nasty black clouds out of the west.
         When there’s a war or a funeral or some other sad thing going on in the movies, the sky usually turns dark and ugly, and the rain pours down in buckets. The longer I stare at the square of sunlight streaming through the tiny window of my cell and stealing across the floor, the lonelier I feel. August 27, 1986, is slipping by the same as every other hot, heavy day, and I’m the only one in the world who knows that nothing will ever be all right again.
         It hasn’t always been this way. I ought to have known better than to believe I could reach out and snag a piece of paradise, but for a little while I had it on my fingertips. Breaks are hard to come by for kids from the projects, though, and sure enough, all I ended up with at the last second was empty hands.
         I’m doing my level best to hold off a flood of memories, but my mind keeps drifting back to the sweltering summer evening when the chain of events began that shattered my world into a zillion pieces. First thing tomorrow morning, some juvenile court judge will decide if my life is worth rebuilding. Maybe he’ll have better luck with my future than I did with my past.



Where Can We Have The Party?

by Deb Hockenberry

Where Can We Have The Party



Giraffe wants to have a party for his friend, Chimpanzee. There’s one problem with this idea, though. Where can he have the party? He asks his other friends for ideas.

They all sit and think about it. Giraffe’s friends do think of some ideas and they’re great ones! But there’s another problem. For one reason or another, none of the ideas will work. Where will they have the party?


Where Can We Have The Party?  is aimed at three to eight-year-old children.


Meet The Author:

MeDeb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child. She loved
making up stories for her siblings, and neighborhood kids.

She has taken a course at the CBI Clubhouse  and multiple courses from The Institute for Children’s Literature, to keep up with the ever-changing children’s market.

She is a regular contributor to her church newsletter, sending out announcements
and reminders on MailChimp, and keeping the church website updated.

In her spare time, Deb enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and reading.
She and her cat, Harry, currently reside in the inspirational mountains of Central

Website • Twitter • PinterestGoogle+YouTubeAmazonGoodreads

Guest Post by Deb Hockenberry:

Writing Process

All stories start with an idea. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ came to me when I was a child and this idea never let me go.

1. Take a course in writing.

Starting in 1988, I took multiple courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature. I’m also taking an ongoing, online course from CBI Clubhouse. I wanted to learn how to write this story down properly so a publisher would accept it.

2. Outline. 

I did outline “Where Can We Have The Party?” I would suggest anyone who wants to try their hand at writing to do both: be a pantser. That is, just write down the story as it comes to you (this is called free writing), then do your formal outlining.

3. Make a book dummy.

This is time consuming, but it really helps you catch those mistakes! You do this by taking several sheets of blank notebook paper or copy paper and printing out your manuscript and fold them all in half. Don’t forget leaving pages for the title, copyright, and dedication pages! Take your manuscript and cut it how you think each page would be. It also helps you catch where your flow breaks, where your characters don’t speak or act natural, or where you forgot something. Your errors stick out like a sore thumb, then. For exact instructions on how to make a book dummy go here.

4. Repeat.

‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ is written for ages 3-8. You have to have a certain phrase or word and repeat it 3-4 times throughout the book. For ages younger than that, you repeat a lot more!

5. The Rule of Three. 

What I mean by this is after you state the problem, have the main character try three times to reach the goal and fail finally trying again and succeeding. For the age group of 3-8, you keep it simple. I did the power of three with Giraffe asking his three friends, having all of their ideas fail.

6. Join a critique group. 

Critique groups are so valuable giving you great feedback. They also pick up some minor problem and give you suggestions for fixing it. If your area doesn’t have a physical critique group, you can easily find one online. Go to your favorite search engine and search “children’s writers critique groups.”

7. Get it professionally edited. 

Before I started submitting, ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ I had it professionally edited before sending out into the world. I fully recommend getting your story or article edited. Freelance editors are just as good but much cheaper than the editors who do it for a full-time job! To find editors or freelance editors, do a search on your favorite search engine.

8. Let it rest. 

Put it away and do something else for a few days or whatever time you think is best, and tape record it, read it aloud, or read it to your pet (don’t laugh, it works)! This helps you to hear the mistakes.

9. Listen to your feelings. 

I used this story as an assignment for The Institute of Children’s Literature. I sent it in with the talking animals and they loved it. Except, that it had talking animals. They suggested re-writing it with children as main characters since publishers weren’t accepting books with talking animals. Well, I made the changes, sent it back to them, and they were thrilled with it!

Well, during that time, publishers weren’t accepting stories with talking animals. This is why ICL asked me to re-write the story with human kids. That taught me something. Always listen to your feelings when it comes to writing. That’s the story talking to you. It told me it didn’t want to have human kids for characters.

‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ and every other story or article I’ve written has gone through the same process.



Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

According to my handmade blog calendar, there are 31 days in April! So good morning to you all and thank you for visiting Rainne’s Ramblings on this ‘extra’ April day.

Patty and I have chosen this Essay, from the Authors, They’re Only Human column
by author Lynda McKinney Lambert


When I Begin my Day with Mozart

Lynda McKinney Lambert

I put the morning coffee on to brew, reach for a CD of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat, carefully placing it in the CD player in the kitchen, and push the Play button. The soft and slow opening lines of the Largo-Allegro begin as I listen. A piano and a violin are filling my kitchen with sounds from centuries ago. I close my eyes and listen awhile before I continue writing my essay. There is something about Mozart’s music that makes me stop whatever I am doing; it takes me back in time. But it’s not the time in the 18th century when the music was first performed for a royal audience. It is my own time at the end of the 20th century when the music of Mozart became a core element in my own life. Thoughts of listening to this music flood my mind on the chilly November day, and those musings create layers of memories.music-278795_960_720

As the days and years come to mind, I remember Austria when it was Mozart and me.

Mozart’s first performance of his original composition was April 29, 1784 in Vienna; Emperor Joseph II was in the audience. As Mozart played the piano, the emperor made a discovery. Mozart was playing from memory, for he did not have time to write the composition out on paper. The pages in front of him were blank!

My first trip to Europe in 1991 was a gift I gave myself to celebrate the completion of my MFA degree at West Virginia University. I arrived in Salzburg, Austria at the beginning of July, just in time to join in the celebration festivities for the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. My month–long visit was filled with special art exhibitions in palaces and museums, all focused on Mozart. Mozart’s life and his music surrounded me everywhere I went. I attended concerts and special exhibits during my month–long vacation. Now I was hooked on Mozart!

I came to Austria as a participant in a drawing class, and I created an entire body of work on the theme of Mozart’s death and his music. I created art and wrote in a journal as I travelled.

Ten years later, my poems and reflections from that summer trip were part of a series of poems and drawings that appeared in my book Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage.

During that first visit, I made an intention for my own life while I visited this city. I fell in love with Austria, the culture of art and music of the people I met, and the music of the masterful composers who lived in Austria over the centuries. I intended to order my life in such a way that I would spend my summers there every year. I had no idea how that would happen, or if it could happen, but I knew that would be the life I would choose to live.

Five years after my first visit to Salzburg, I accepted a tenure−track position to be a professor of fine arts and humanities at a private college in western Pennsylvania. I quickly realized there was no study program at the college that provided students with the opportunity to study in Austria or Germany. During my first year of teaching at the college, I proposed creating such a course. The following year, I was back in the city I love, with students of my own. This was the first of many years that I would have the joy of bringing students to Austria every summer, where I taught “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.”

During this course, we worked in a studio in a small village in the Alps, Monday through Thursday mornings. Most days, we met early in the morning and then travelled somewhere in the area to draw and write from the different places we explored. It was a dream that became my reality. I had the joy of sharing this magnificent country with my students every summer for a month-long sojourn. On our weekends, we travelled together to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy. We climbed mountains and locked our arms together as we skipped down steep mountain paths. We kept journals, wrote about cultural experiences, made drawings and paintings in the streets and along the breath-taking mountain paths. Students attended concerts and shopped and trekked through the new places we found.

Gradually, I began to realize that the seeds of what we love become the life we live when we set our intentions in that direction. I wanted to create a life where I could spend summers in Austria. I had set the dream I embraced into motion. My dream would become my life journey at a later time.
Now, sitting here in my office typing up this essay, I listen closely as the final piece of music comes to a conclusion. The piano and the violin have been playing together as I write.

Note: If you would like to enjoy this lovely work of art by Mozart, you can listen to it here:

The violin sonata plays on, and I listen to the rapid notes of the piano moving playfully through the house in what seems like a race with the violin. I can envision a spring afternoon and the violin and piano romping in the sunshine, chasing each other about on the lawn. At times it sounds like the piano takes the lead, yet, this is not the case. The violin weaves through the many notes, and in the end, they are one. I listen as applause breaks out immediately as the piano and violin strike the final note together.

This day will take me on other journeys as I walk my dogs, care for my cats, take my husband to the hospital for a check-up, and edit this essay tonight. At special moments throughout my day, I just might hear a few bars of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B–flat. I hope so!


Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

© 2017 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons.
All stories in this book were created after her sudden sight loss in 2007 from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Lambert invites us to see the world with new eyes.

Full details, preview, and buying links