"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." ~ Helen Keller

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Walking is Perfect for Summer

Growing up, my friend Natalie always "went walking." Every summer, I'd go to her house or she'd come to mine (and yes, they were within walking distance, too!) and we'd jump rope, or play games, or watch a movie, or dance to the songs on the radio. It was grand!

But, when evening came, Natalie would have to go home or I'd have to go home... 

...because it was "time to go walking." Her family walked together every evening! What an amazing family tradition! And just a few weeks ago, I met an amazing woman on one of my morning runs. Gladys is a cancer survivor.

Gladys walks every single day for an hour. 

I feel lucky to get in a 30-45 minute run 2-3 times a week. So, whether you walk or you run, if you pound the ground and add your miles, today you have the opportunity to do it in a way that can help others and really make it count!

Summer can be a very dreamy time for a child. I always loved summers. In middle school, I immersed myself in the world of books. Today, I write books.

Being able to read it the stuff dreams are made of. 

Because a dad couldn't read, he was jobless and homeless. Because a single mom couldn't read, she never read her children bedtime stories. When people can't read, God's Word seems a million and one miles away.

Give people the ability to read -- and their whole world changes. 

They can learn to do anything! They can serve more people in life. They feel empowered. Because being able to read is the magical stuff that empowers people. They have dreams. And a way to reach them.

Writers Who Run has teamed up with Greenville Literacy Association to help people reach their dreams. ALL the proceeds go directly to GLA, an organization in South Carolina that helps people learn how to read, teaches people English, helps people get their GED, and provides free or low-cost books to the local community.

The "On the Road to Literacy Tour" is a 6-week walking or running challenge. Register online and log 150 miles in the next 6 weeks. You can join as an individual or as a team. Teams are limited to 3 people. If you're like me, and you only log 5-10 miles a week, you'll probably want to join a team. Otherwise, to complete 150 miles in 6 weeks, you'd have to accumulate 25 miles a week, which a lot of runners can do easily, but I'm not a lot of runners. Please consider joining me to help GLA help make the world a better place.

You never know whose dream might eventually bless your life.

On the Road to Literacy Tour

Keep on keepin' on...

P.S. I'm on team Fancy Nancy. What team will you join?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Classic Toys for Summer

Don't you just love old toys? You know, the classic ones, that don't take batteries. With today
being the first day of summer, it just seems perfect to list these classic toys today. Imagine a room full of children, or a yard full of children, playing with some or all of these toys. What joy! Let your imagination SOAR!!! Go ahead, you can join them... You know you want to. See you at recess!

Bubbles are perfect for summer!

  • the Rubik's Cube
  • Legos
  • Hot Wheels cars
  • kites
  • jacks
  • marbles
  • spinning tops
  • jump ropes
  • hula hoops
  • bubbles
  • pinwheels
  • string (yes, string! Jacob's Ladder, anyone?)
  • Silly String (I couldn't resist...)
  • harmonica
  • kazoo
  • drums
  • maracas
  • tambourines
  • dolls
  • rocking horse
  • tricycle
  • bicycle
  • trading cards
  • puzzles
  • frisbee
  • balls (soccer, basketball, football)
  • bouncy balls
  • beach balls
  • coloring books
  • kaleidoscopes
  • stuffed animals
  • board games
  • outdoor games (Freeze Tag)
  • sidewalk chalk
  • water guns
  • even DANDELIONS!!!
  • craft sticks and yarn (Remember making those God's Eyes?)
  • sticks (pirate sword, magic wand, or just whittle it)
  • boxes (a big ship, a race car, or a castle!)
  • BOOKS (technically, I know it's not a TOY, but why not?! It might as well be!)

What's YOUR favorite summer time toy?

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest WINNER (Winter 2016)

It's time to announce the winner for the Winter 2016 Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest. A small handful of the Fall 2015 entries were included in this contest. After much reading, I have decided that the winning entry to receive this quarter's contest goes out to Meagan Friedman for her story,


Congratulations, Meagan!!!

I'm running the summer contest a few weeks early and it will run until September 30. So, polish up those stories and send them on in!

Meagan, you will receive your critique this week. Just check your email.

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What's the Difference Between a Workshop, a Conference, and a Retreat?

Journal Writing
If you've never been to a writing workshop, a writing conference, and a writing retreat before, you may not know the difference. And if you have been to all three, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below. All three are wonderful places to continute learning the writing craft and meet new people. All three cost money. And all three will make you a stronger writer, or at least to know more about the industry. However, there are a few differences.

Writing Workshop

A workshop typically lasts anywhere from 50 minutes to 8 hours. The shorter workshops of 1-2 hours are likely part of a conference or retreat. Other workshops can be half-day or full-day events, with 1-2 instructors to help you dive deeper into a specific topic related to writing, whether it be picture books, how to blog properly to maximize your marketing efforts, or world building for any kind of novel.

Workshops are a typical component of conferences and retreats. Workshops, no matter if they are stand-alone or part of a larger event, always dive deeper into the nitty gritty. You may learn more about how to woo editors and agents, or how to properly write a query letter with a fabulous pitch (and even get a chance to work on your own), or do writing exercises that can be a part of current manuscripts or simply to get the creativity flowing.

Writing Conference

Writing conferences typically last 2-3 days, and include workshops as a main portion of their schedule. The workshops can be small-group or large-group. Conferences usually focus on networking. There will definitely be lots of authors there, and more often than not, a good handful of agents and editors as well.

There may or may not be a few social events mixed in, such as trivia games, a book signing gala, or a dinner with live music at a local restaurant. With your days packed full of workshops, and possibly the chance to get a professional critique on one of your manuscripts (you would know this ahead of time), you likely won't have much free time to get any writing done, aside from any short exercises prompted as part of a workshop.

Writing Retreat

This option to learn to the writing craft is hands down my favorite, though it is also the most costly. Writing retreats typically last anywhere from 4-14 days, usually 5 or 6. The main focus is on networking with other writers, learning the craft, and having the time to implement what you learn on the spot during free writing time.

Some retreats are in exotic locations like Peru, Mexico, the Bahamas, Italy, or Ireland. Other retreats are right here in the states, whether you choose Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, or North Carolina. Some have a focus on swimming, yoga, or exploring the lore of the land. There's even one that has a focus on running. Retreats usually don't have an emphasis on wooing an editor or an agent. Some are very small and you write all day in your own private cabin or cottage and convene in the evening to eat, socialize, and talk about your writing progress, maybe even doing critiques. Others are larger with a bit more structure and workshop instruction.

All retreats should be a chance to get away, learn the craft some more, get some writing done, connect with others, and relax and rejuvenate.

If you're interested in going to a writing retreat, I know of a really great one! It's the Writers Who Run (or Walk) Retreat in the secluded mountains of western NC every August. The inaugural 2016 year boasts four amazing faculty members and has room for 28 attendees, though there are still a few more spaces available. It incorporates a daily 2-mile morning run, jog, walk, or hike and even offers a 10k trail race on the final day. If this excites you, definitely go check it out!

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, May 6, 2016

Are You a Scholarship Winner?

Last month, people entered the scholarship contest to win free tuition to the upcoming Writers Who Run Retreat. Thank you so much for entering the contest and spreading the word about this new event. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. Every entry submitted was amazing! I have thought long and hard about who would win the scholarship and today is the day I am announcing the winner.

Whether you love children and want to instill a love for reading in them, you teach writing classes, or you are ready to get back to that novel you started long ago, we all love language and words and stories. We all have something to say and we know running (or walking or hiking) will help us find the right words.

So, without any further ado, please join me in congratulating this year's winner! The scholarship winner who will receive full tuition is awarded to...

Hillery Rubens of Riverside, California

Congratulations! Pack your bags, you're coming to North Carolina this August!

But, wait... there's more! I have decided to award two more entrants with a 50% off scholarship! These ladies were all so passionate, I couldn't stop with just one! For HALF the cost, the following two winners will also be able to join us in Fontana Dam, NC this August...

Tracy Cotton of Hendersonville, North Carolina 
Jackie Hoermann of Fort Worth, Texas

Congratulations!!! Can't wait to meet each of you on August 3!!!

In the meantime, keep on keepin' on...