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Creation Requires Focus

StockSnap_JLXDNN5BNE photo/Angelina Litvin

It’s amazing/sad/normal that it takes major life events to motivate us to do what we need to do.

I’ve been away from my blog a couple months. My father-in-law’s death was the major life event that precipitated my absence. Obviously, when major things happen, we have to let the lesser priorities slide. For me, that was my blog.

Although for some time I’d been thinking about what changes I should make to my writing life, just in the last two months I’ve faced my need to let my blog go for an extended period of time.

I need to spend my time writing my novels and nurturing the writing-relationships I already have. Instead, I’ve been spending lots of time researching and writing my blog to market and promote my work to potential buyers.

I will return to marketing eventually. But for now, I need to focus on the creating.

Perhaps focus should be my word for 2017.

I’ll keep my blog, including my contact info, online. I’ll also continue to follow and comment on others’ blogs–just not as often.

Dear readers, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you over the past three years. Thank you for your faithfulness, your comments and reading suggestions, and your encouragement. I want to nurture our relationship. Let’s stay in touch.

The Dangers of the Defense

I’m very proud to announce my husband successfully defended his doctoral dissertation yesterday. He assures me that his experience was nothing like the fellow (who is a little like Amelia Bedelia) defending his master’s thesis in the following video.

How about your educational/publishing experiences? Have they felt anything like this? Have you had any Amelia Bedelia experiences?

3 Children’s Books To Read In Honor of Frederick Douglass


Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland sometime in February 1818. However, his mother was a slave, and he was also. At a very young age he learned that the ability to read would be a key to gaining his freedom. He risked punishment practicing reading and writing, but he did it anyway. And then he taught others.

Douglass became a well-known author, newspaper editor, and speaker. He wrote three autobiographies: A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845); My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881).

Here are three children’s books featuring his life story:

  • Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by London Ladd (Disney-Jump at the Sun, 2015)–A picture book biography featuring quotes from Douglass’s writings and speeches.
  • Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, 2012)–A picture book biography focusing on Douglass’s early years and his quest to learn to read and write.
  • Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life by David A. Adler (Holiday House, 2010)–An in-depth middle grade/young adult biography, including not only Douglass’s childhood and escape to freedom, but also his lifelong fight against slavery and for black suffrage and equality.

What books about or by Douglass have you read?



Decorating With Art: Picture Books

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I decorate my home with art, aka picture books.

I keep my decorating simple, and I mostly change the decor and art with the major seasons, with a few extra holidays thrown in.

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What’s your decorating style? Do you use picture books in your decor? If so, how do you display them? Do you have favorite artists/illustrators?

Black Hills Family Vacation Wonderful Start to Summer

Last week my family had a quick trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. We watched a little of the state high school track meet, visited a college, and did some sightseeing.

One of my favorite vacation things to do is visit museums, visitor centers, and bookstores. We did all three, and I came home with several books.

A couple of my souvenirs. All photos by Deb Watley.

A couple of my souvenirs. All photos by Deb Watley.

I’ve been out to the Black Hills a couple of other times, but this was our first visit to Wall Drug. I knew it was a big tourist stop, but was thrilled to find Wall Drug also housed a bookstore!

Hole in the Wall Book Store at Wall Drug

Hole in the Wall Book Store at Wall Drug.

We visited the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City. The museum houses many fossils from the area. The paleontologists who run the museum were the ones who dug up Sue, the famous T-Rex. Then, in Lead, we learned about the former Homestake gold mine at the Black Hills Mining Museum.

We also admired lovely scenery, including Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands east of the Black Hills–such different topography, yet so close to each other.

Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon

Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon

Badlands, South Dakota

Badlands, South Dakota

Of course, we ate at some local landmark restaurants: The Firehouse Brewing Company and Tally’s Silver Spoon, both in Rapid City, and The Homestake Chop House in Lead.

In a previous trip to the Black Hills, we attended a chuckwagon supper, and we visited Mt. Rushmore, Bear Country, the Cosmos, and Hot Springs’ mammoth dig. I’ve yet to visit the Crazy Horse sculpture, the Petrified Forest, or any of the caves. Guess we’ll have to go back!

Have you visited the Black Hills? What are your favorite spots?

Even though I’m not traveling now, I’m still in vacation-mode. I’ll return to my blog on Tuesday, June 30. Happy summer!