Friday, September 11, 2015

A Peaceful World Imagined in a Cloud

The Camellia flower's petals fall with its calyx, symbolizing perfect unity.
In remembrance of the September 11 attacks, Lois Brandt invited folks to spend 10 minutes today writing about a peaceful world — a meaningful endeavor, indeed.

What I immediately discovered while starting to write this morning was that it's a snap for me to imagine such a world. But the full-on peace I envision is the stuff of fantasies, of idylls. It's not based in the reality of the world's situation or the human condition, and today in particular, I really didn't want to write about an imaginary world.

So I went about my busy day, planning to try the exercise again once I'd shut down the office for the evening.

While coming in from an after-work dog walk, the Camellia next to my porch caught my eye. Several years ago, an arborist chopped the plant to its quick against my wishes. He insisted that it was in the wrong spot and about to die. Well, it soon started growing again, sprouting right on up out of its stump. This Camellia wanted to live and do its thing in its preferred location, bad soil and space issues be hanged. Its height does need to be contained so it doesn't hit a portion of the house, but otherwise, shrub and home peacefully coexist. The Camellia has even started blooming again, a testament to its resilience in the face of near destruction.

This much we know: Humans will forever experience conflict and, thank goodness, we will forever pursue peace. We learn from tragedy and seek to create a better future. It's what we do. On this somber anniversary of one of our darkest days, I can't offer a blueprint for achieving an ultimate state of peace — but I can pay my respects to those we lost on September 11 with a simple word cloud I created in their honor. I started with the word peace and then spent a few minutes brainstorming some key attitudes and actions that support it.

The color scheme I applied is called Quiet Morning; the cloud's shape is Unconstrained.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Win a Free Skype Visit or Books for Your Classroom!

I'm so pleased to share details of a giveaway sponsored by Online Author Visits!

OAV is a writers' group I belong to founded by my friend Suzanne Williams, the esteemed co-author of the wildly popular Goddess Girls series (among other terrific series and stand-alone books). We provide virtual author visits to schools, libraries, book clubs, writing groups, and anyone else wanting to host a chat with a professional children's or YA author. You can peruse our list of available authors here. We all enjoy using the online presentation format, which makes it easy to connect with people — regardless of location. And those seeking OAV's services love using the virtual option as a cost-effective and easy-to-schedule method of hosting an author guest for their meetings, classes, and other special events.

Online Author Visits has been online for a while, but with the dawn of this new year, we updated our website and reorganized as a group. To celebrate that, we decided to host a special giveaway! Prizes include (1) a FREE Skype visit with me and (2) a FREE set of Trudi Trueit's super-fun Secrets of a Lab Rat series.

This giveaway ends February 17. Winners will be randomly selected at that time. If you'd like to enter, we'd love to have you! Just surf on over to our most recent blog post to throw your hat into the ring. And feel free to share contest details with your favorite teachers, librarians, parents, writers, and readers. Note that you can also enter through OAV's Facebook page by clicking on the Giveaway tab.

Good luck to all who enter!