Thursday, 30 October 2014

Falling For Fiction

Here in Manitoba we're into the grey and dreary days of late fall. Our colourful leaves are all gone from the trees, and most have blown away or have been raked. So, there are not that many left on the ground either. All we have left is bare trees and right now grey skies. But there's beauty in shades of grey as well, just not as vibrant and striking as our eyes like. We've even had a hint of winter - snow flurries for most of the day, but most melted as soon as they hit the ground.

A few days ago one of our first graders came in to the school and announced, "The trees are just about all clean now." I never looked at it this way, but it somehow makes sense. At least it did for one little boy.

Dreary days are perfect for curling up with a book after school or in the evening. They are also superp for writing. I'm working on a book with Herald Press and right now am in the editing stage. I've never worked with an editor from a major publisher before. Besides finding it very enjoyable, I'm also learning a lot about the publishing process and about writing and editing, of course! I promise to talk more about that, hopefully in the not so distant future... I may even have a cover reveal soon. Yes, very exciting!

I've always loved reading fiction, but these days, I'm also dabbling with writing fiction. It all started after an interesting workshop with my local writing group. We have fiction writers in our group, so to hone our fiction editing skills, we had a former member and fiction writer come and share some fiction writing/critiquing strategies. We were then given an interesting assignment. All of us took two slips of paper and wrote a name and an occupation on each. We put them all together and drew one. From the slip that we drew, we're to write a fiction piece, which we'll share at a future meeting. I can't wait!

I've never written fiction before, at least not as an adult and have actually always adamantly maintained, "I don't do fiction," whenever someone suggested I try that genre. However, working on my first attempt at fiction, has me rethinking this. It's quite different than writing non-fiction, but it's fun. With non-fiction, of course, you know how the story goes, so you have a pretty good idea what's going down on paper. Not so with fiction, for one can never tell beforehand where your imagination will take you. Sure, before you start writing, you have the characters, a plot, and a general idea about what you'll do with it, however, some very interesting things happen once you start penning your story. Some unplanned characters show up and unforeseen things happen... which makes for some exciting finger dances on the keyboard.

I promise, I'm not going crazy... at least I don't think so. I'm just taking a trip down fiction lane and am finding it rather enjoyable. Where this will lead to, I have absolutely no idea right now. I will have to finish this piece first and then determine if there's some serious fiction in my future. Came across this quote today, and thought it's a good fit for this post.

All fiction has to have a certain amount of truth in it to be powerful.
George R. R. Martin

Your turn. What are your thoughts on writing fiction, or my attempting it? Would especially appreciate feedback from fellow Hutterites. Have you tried it? Perhaps you can even share some sage advice with me. Whatever your thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Guess Who Noah's Boat - Matt Mitter

About the Book:

Children will love this interactive new telling of the Noah's ark story. With fun, rhyming text, each spread asks kids to guess which animal is heading toward the ark. The answer is revealed under the cleverly designed flap. With eye-catching illustrations and easy-to-understand text, Guess Who Noah's Boat is sure to become a favorite.

My Thoughts: 

 I love flap books, even though they never seem to last long; because children love opening and closing them, they soon become tattered and spoil the book. The flaps in this one though are sturdier than most flap books I've seen. The book is just the right size for little hands. However, I was a little disappointed, that there are so few pages. There could easily be at least three or four more, so children can spend more time with it. As it is, you start turning a few pages and you're at the end.


In exchange for an honest review Kregel Publications provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Snapshot Muse # 27 - Simple Gifts

It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon as I went for a walk with my sister, cousin and nephews, Jakobi and Terrance. Of course one can never walk long distances, or get any where fast with two little boys along. There are just too many things to explore and be in awe of. Yes, things you would otherwise miss - like that seagull soaring in the sunshine, waaaay up there. And those 'tires that don't have a tractor'. I love seeing the world through the eyes of little children - everything is magical and pretty and, and, and... 

A reminder, for sure, of the importance of  'stopping to smell the roses' and to notice the simple things, that often go unnoticed.

On our walk we came across this magical place; two rows of stately poplars creating a gorgeous golden path, perfect for running and kicking up leaves, tumbling down and rolling in them. Or just lying still and marveling at the branches, leaves and sky above. A little boy's paradise.

The best song I could think of for this post is, Simple Gifts:

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dr. Eva Olsson - Holocaust Survivor - Inspiring Speaker

We had a very inspiring speaker at our school today. She's a 90 year old who travels extensively sharing her story in schools, colleges, universities, churches...wherever people are interested in listening to her message.

 Dr. Eva Olson's message in a nutshell: "It's OK to be different, but never OK to be indifferent - the bystander is as guilty as the perpetrator. During the Holocaust there were many bystanders. We're all human beings, created by God. I do not judge people. I leave that to God. We need to show respect towards each other. If we teach our children that at home, that's what they will bring to school."

Dr. Eva Olsson has had to endure a lot in her life. After surviving the Holocaust, she moved to Sweden. It's there she met and married Rude Olsson. Eva and her sister, Fradel were the only ones in their family to survive the Nazi regime, but when Eva married a Swede, her sister disowned her. Fradel now lives in Israel. Early in their married life, Rude and Eva moved to Ontario, Canada, where she still resides. She has one son, and three grandchildren. When Rude was in his thirties, he died, after being hit by a drunk driver. Which means she has been a widow for 50 years. Today Eva shares her story of survival with courage and passion, and with no trace of bitterness, but a heart full of love for all human beings, especially children.

"I cannot live in the past, but I must live with it. Perhaps by writing and speaking about my story I will pass on to the next generation the importance of creating a legacy of caring, compassion and character. I'm going to keep speaking as long as I can. Then I can honestly say to the millions of people whose voices were cruelly silenced by the Nazis, "You have not been forgotten." Dr. Eva Olsson

If you ever get the chance to listen to Dr. Eva Olsson, I highly recommend you do so. 

Dr. Eva Olsson has a number of books and audio and video CD's, some of which can be found on Amazon:


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Autumn Art

After a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, I felt like working on something colourful. So, I decided to try finger painting (the first time this year) with my kindergarten class - two boys. Needless to say, they had a lot of fun dabbing red and yellow leaves on their tree... yes, some got on the table as well, but thankfully none on their clothes. Of course, we had drawn and coloured the bare tree beforehand. We all agreed, they turned out very nice and that they needed to be displayed in our classroom wall.

I love the way this one is leaning, as some trees tend to.

And our strong and tall one... no leaning here.

Well done, Josiah and Ezra!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Then Sings My Soul...


      Here in Canada we're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. At our Sunday service today we were reminded that in order to reach our 'promised Land' we need to always have a grateful heart. Indeed, there's so much to be thankful for.

“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe,” is the passage our minister read from Deuteronomy 8:1. “Just as the Lord commanded the children of Israel to observe the Festival of Harvest, we too, should not come empty handed. We need to honor God, acknowledge our dependence on Him, and praise Him for his rich blessings, both the spiritual and the material.” To this our minister added. “Today people are grumbling as well, just like the children of Israel. And this sin cost them the Promised Land. Is that the path we want to follow? With all the blessings we enjoy daily, homes, food, clothes, bountiful harvest... it seems we always want more. We forget, that when we fill our heart with gratitude, there is no room for grumbling.” 

I came away challenged to be more diligent in practicing an attitude of gratitude. Today, I'm especially grateful for uplifting and worshipful the German version of How Great Thou Art in the video. Watching this brought back some amazing August 2013 memories - my time in Europe! Wouldn't you just love walking this mountain trail? I know, I would. 

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Snapshot Muse # 26 - God's Colouring Book

I love the vibrant colours of autumn! When I see the wonders of nature, I'm reminded of Chief Dan George's beautiful poem, "My Heart Soars'. At least once every autumn, I grab my camera and head out to capture some of these splendid scenes...'and my heart soars'. Every time.

Yes, that is a pelican among our ducks.

God's Coloring Book - written by Dolly Parton. Performed in this clip by the Primitive Quartet.