Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Knowledge Quest - maps & timelines for history - offers free Christmas cookbook and goes about doing good deeds. Read on . . .

OK, so as a teacher, I really like "Knowledge Quest Maps" ~ bringing history alive with maps and timelines. But you don't have to be a teacher to find cool things there. And right now, they are offering a fun Christmas cookbook for their subscribers. If you are already one, you should have received an email about it BUT if you aren't, it's easy to become one and get your free cookbook. 

PLUS, they are doing some cool things to make life easier for our brothers and sisters in Asia. Here's how (taken from their website):

A Gift for You... A Gift for Them!
Also, this December, we'll be giving gifts to the needy in Asia through the Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalog 

When we reach 32,000 subscribers to the Knowledge Quest newsletter (we have 31,500 now), we'll give a family a pair of goats which will provide "milk, meat and a message of HOPE" to a family in Asia. 
When we reach 34,000 subscribers, we'll give a family a water buffalo! 
When we reach 35,000 subscribers, we'll give a whole barn full of animals - 3 pairs of chickens, a pair of goats, one lamb, one cow and a pair of pigs! 
When we reach 40,000 subscribers, we'll provide a water well for a community! 
And yes, this is doable! We did it last year and gave a rickshaw to a hard-working family man in India! How? Because everyone who subscribes to our newsletter gets the free recipe book above. So that means a gift for us and a gift for them. It's a win-win-win 
Christmas stocking full of joy!
Join us by spreading the word about Knowledge Quest to your friends this Christmas season. Folks can sign up for the newsletter and get their recipe book... And may God bless you for your kindness and generous spirit.

Monday, December 3, 2012

And the winner is . . .

Okay, folks ~

We have a winner of the new Christmas anthology, "Checkin' it Twice & Other Heartwarming Tales" 

~ Shaunna S. Gonzales is the winner of a FREE digital copy of "Checkin' it Twice" 

You still have a chance to win a copy - I will be posting my review on my "book review" blog, "Stephanie's Book Reviews and Author Interviews" tomorrow and the contest will run until next Monday morning so be sure to check over there tomorrow!

Stephanie's Book Reviews & Author Interviews 

Both of these blogs have suffered from some neglect but I hope to rectify that so be sure to follow them!! Take care. Cheers!!

And congratulations, Shaunna ~ be sure to message me about your prize. Thanks!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Chrsitmas book & Give-A-Way: "Checkin' It Twice" is sure to delight with new Christmas stories!

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a push-over for a good Christmas story and/or movie. So I was thrilled to find this little book full of stories by various authors. An anthology is so nice during this time of year because you can finish a story in one reading and pick the book up the following day and enjoy an entirely different story.

"Checkin' it Twice & Other Heartwarming Holiday Tales" has 16 award-winning stories just in time for the Christmas holidays. The stories are the outcome of LDS Publisher's 2010 and 2011 Christmas Story Contest (and yes, there is a contest this year - you can get details below).

Follow Savanna, a young mother, whose children help her find a merry Christmas despite the financial difficulties her family is experiencing in "Christmas Gifts from Jesus" by Kasey Eyre.

"Broken Things" by Angie Lofthouse reminds us that forgiveness is the greatest gift of all. It gave me chills as I read the last few lines.

And in "With Wondering Awe" by Jennifer Carson Shelton we watch the transformation of a distraught young teen who finds healing through service to honor her younger sister who passed away.

And that's just three examples - get the book to read them all!! Enjoy!!!

You can find out about the book, about the authors and this year's contest at the blog: "Checkin' it Twice" - blog
Plus you can even read short samples of the stories!!

"Like" this book on FB to stay on top of any news about it: FaceBook page

Purchase the paperback copy here: Amazon - Paperback of Checkin' it Twice
If you want a Kindle copy, go here: Amazon - Kindle of Checkin' it Twice

And if you a writer (newbie or seasoned) and you want to contribute a story for this year's contest ~ YOU ONLY HAVE A COUPLE OF DAYS!! Contest ends on Nov. 30th ~ Go here:  2012 Story Contest - ends FRI, NOV 30th

AND ... AND .... if you buy the PRINT copy BEFORE Dec. 15th, there are some cool bonuses in store for you. Check that out here: Print copy bonuses - ends Dec. 15, 2012

One more thing - If you want to enter to get a free e-book copy of the book - just comment on this blog AND become a follower to this blog (if you aren't already). Then, on Monday, Dec. 3, at 8am random drawing will reveal a lucky winner from among those who qualify. Cheers!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time Out for Women Comes Full Circle

Early in November I attended the Phoenix "Time Out for Women" hosted by Deseret Book. I was also there on assignment and wrote an article about it for the Deseret News, which AP (Associated Press) picked up and from there KTAR (a local Phoenix station) picked it up and posted it on their website because it was a local event. Pretty cool!!!

Here are the links to my article: Time Out for Women comes full circle ending its 2012 tour in Phoenix where it began 10 years-ago ~ Deseret News, posted Tuesday, Nov. 6th and also in their print edition of the paper on Thursday, Nov 8th, 2012, Section C, Page 5 

And here is KTAR's website link to my article ~ I had a blast!! Fun assignment. Here are some of the pics - there are 11 photos on the Deseret News site, mostly of presenters (and I'm in a few).

    Friday evening Heidi Swinton spoke on "Seeking the Savior." 
     She is an author and screenwriter whose works include the PBS
  documentaries "American Prophet," "Sacred Stone," 
"Sweetwater Rescue,"Trail of Hope" and "America’s Choir." 
          She wrote President Thomas S. Monson's biography, "To the Rescue."
Chris Williams spoke on the power of
forgiveness. He is the author of  "Let it Go." 
While I was there I reconnected with friends I had not seen in awhile. In this case, Linda de Azevedo is someone I had not seen since I left my home ward, Studio City Ward, Burbank Stake (now the North Hollywood California Stake), to go to BYU. She is from Salt Lake City and came to watch her daughter, Julie de Azevedo Hanks, give one of the presentations.

         It's always fun to run into people you 
         know at Time Out for Women - 
         here are two ward member friends, 
         Kelly Merrill and Heather Roche

They brought all of the presenters out on stage the first evening to give a little "blurb" about what they would be speaking and/or singing about. 
               (Didn't get a very good pic of it).
Anthony Sweat. Sweat is an author and Church Educational System presenter/educator.
It was a lot of fun and even this ol' brain that's been around for quite awhile got some great ideas to help improve my life. Next year - let's all go... who has a BUS????

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Want to Dance with a Boy!! (redux)

When you come to someone's blog - you never know what you might find. I have a few favorites and since my recent article has caused several new viewers to show up and I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my favorites: Hope you enjoy "I Want to Dance With a Boy" ~ it's cute, fun and has a quite a lesson taught by a 3-year-old girl.

"I Want to Dance with a Boy!"

Our precious and precocious granddaughter, Taylor (Kaci’s daughter), is a constant source of many funny and delightful experiences and comments. At the tender age of 3 (she turned 7 in April) she attended her first “Ball”… it was the “Colonial Ball” held at the school I was teaching at every February. She even wore her “princess dress.” 

On the way to the dance, Taylor made it very clear to us that it was her wish to “dance with a boy.” We told her she could dance with grandpa but no, she wanted to “dance with a boy.” Her mind was made up.

Taylor’s eyes lit up with excitement as we entered the school’s multipurpose room that had been transformed for the night. She was impatient about getting her dance so I found a very fine young man, about 14 years old (we were a K-12 campus) and asked him if he would dance with my granddaughter. He was so sweet. He smiled, squatted down to her level, spoke to her for a moment, took her hand and escorted her to the dance floor. Holding both of her hands, they swayed back and forth in some fashion of a two step and then he turned her around a couple of times. Before the song was over, she walked away and came over to where Jim and I were sitting, “Grandma, I need a smaller boy.” 

I found one of my students, a very handsome 7-year-old named William. I introduced him toTaylor, informing him that this was my granddaughter and she wanted to dance. He said, “OK,” and they were off to the dance floor. Taylor smiled from ear to ear as she danced with her “prince.”

Taylor made many friends that night and had a marvelous time. When the Hokey Pokey began, she watched from the sidelines with us. It looked like too much fun to just stand there so she simply joined the others, squeezed into an available spot and began to copy the actions of the other dancers.

Taylor may be young, but she is fearless, determined, and bright and she intends to get what she’s after. She knew exactly what she wanted before she ever entered the dance. When what I offered her was not what she wanted, she clearly made it known what she needed, “a smaller boy.” She’s no wall-flower and I pray her attitude never changes.

There is much we can all learn from Taylor: Know what you want and have a clear mission statement about it: “I want to dance with a boy.” Don’t quit until you get what you want, even if it means making adjustments (“a smaller boy”). Don’t stand on the sidelines of life, walk right over to where the action is … and dance!

Taylor today - age 7

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I've Gone Viral ~

So, for the last two and a half years, I've been writing for the Deseret News, Mormon Times, and ~ and my articles attract varying amounts of traffic, usually from a few hundred hits to a few thousand hits per article. I know this due to a dandy little counter I have access to at my online "workdesk" for these publications. But I wasn't prepared for what has happened during the last few days!!!!

I was privileged to meet and interview Tom and Maggie Scott. I also read the book he wrote and the I wrote an article about them and submitted it to (actually, THEY asked me to write it for them - but that's another story). So, I loved meeting them and hearing Tom speak at a fireside for the Young Single Adult members of our church in my area. I really enjoyed writing (and rewriting) my article. I also included some photos I gathered and then hit went live Thursday morning. I would have expected a few thousand hits as the article would be considered a "hot topic" ~ "Evangelical pastor of 27 years recounts journey to joining LDS church" ~ and the number of people who click on the article link is astonishing to me ~ I plan to come back and update it from time to time, so here is the latest:

56,917 hits ~ SERIOUSLY?

NEARLY 57,000 people have gone to the article and presumably read it!!

I'm so amazed and thrilled!! And then . . . LDS Living Magazine picked it up and added the link to their email newsletter that highlights interesting and timely articles!!!

So, in case YOU missed it ~ here's the link:

Just thought you might like to know. Have a great week!! Cheers!

Friday, June 29, 2012

When Life Gets Too Hard to Stand, Just Keep on Rolling

Had a book review posted online at Deseret News. Pretty amazing lady:

Meg Johnson, a Utah transplant from Idaho, is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a sought-after motivational speaker, author and artist. She is also a quadriplegic. Johnson shares her sunny outlook on getting through life’s rough spots in a new book, “When Life Gets Hard …”

You can read the entire book review at this web address: Book Review for "When Life Gets Hard"


Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Limerick, A Limerick, A Limerick!!

Here's another poetry form for April' "Poetry Month" ~ Have fun!!

A Limerick is a rhymed humorous or nonsense poem of five lines which originated in Limerick, Ireland. The most commonly heard first line of a limerick starts with: "There once was a man from ___________."

The Man From Aruba
There once was a man from Aruba,
Whose favorite hobby was scuba.
Every day he would wish,
He could spear a big fish.
But settled instead for canned tuna.         
                         © 2005 Jim Dupy

The Limerick has a set rhyming scheme of: A-A-B-B-A (meaning lines ENDING in “A” must rhyme with each other and lines ENDING in “B” must rhyme with each other) and with a syllable pattern of: 9-9-6-6-9. OR, perhaps more common is: 8-8-5-5-8. (See details per line below) and some limericks even mix it up a little.

Line 1 – “a” – 8 or 9 syllables
Line 2 – “a” – 8 or 9 syllables
Line 3 – “b” – 5 or 6 syllables
Line 4 – “b” – 5 or 6 syllables
Line 5 – “a” – 8 or 9 syllables

Here is a rather famous limerick with the pattern "sounded out" underneath each line (written in blue) ~ the number of "DUMS" is the important part ~ also notice the rhyming pattern A-A-B-B-A:

There was an old man from Peru, (A)
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)
who dreamed he was eating his shoe. (A)
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)
He awoke in the night (B)
da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)
with a terrible fright, (B)
da da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)
and found out that it was quite true. (A)
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)

It’s rather “sing-songy” so just play around with it and then check to be sure the correct lines end in rhymes and that you have the correct number of syllables. It’s tricky, but very fun!!

Here you can see me PLOTTING out my new little limerick:
Six-year-old granddaughter, Taylor,
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
Amazing piano player.
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
A song she will hear
da DUM da da DUM                    
Then play it by ear,
da DUM da da DUM
So pretty, I’ll have to pay her!
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

Here is the finished version: 

The Piano Player 
Six-year-old granddaughter, Taylor,
Amazing piano player.
A song she will hear               
Then play it by ear,
So pretty, I’ll have to pay her!

                        © 2012 Stephanie Abney

And,  here’s the one I wrote last year:

The Poetry Fest
Stephanie had a poetry fest
Encouraging friends to do their best
“Write a poem each day,
I’ll show you the way.”
“At the end of the month we will rest!

                       © 2011 Stephanie Abney

Monday, April 9, 2012

"All About Me"

Here’s a fun little poem I think you will enjoy – I do believe poetry comes from the heart – but there is more than one way to reach into your heart. Questioning is always helpful in finding things out. Sometimes, when we answer questions, we find things out about ourselves we had not given much thought to before. So, this poem is called "All About Me" ~ just answer the questions and voila’ ~ you've created a poem!! Pretty cool and tonz’ of fun, especially with kids.

The “All About Me” poem can be deep and insightful or fun and silly. You can do it over and over, answering the questions from a different perspective. Enjoy!!

Here is the format:
Line 1: Your first name only __________________
Line 2: Four adjectives that describe you ________
Line 3: Sibling of ___________________________
Line 4: Lover of ____________________________
Line 5: Who fears __________________________
Line 6: Who needs _________________________
Line 7: Who gives __________________________
Line 8: Who would like to see _________________
Line 9: Resident of __________________________
Line 10: Last Name _________________________

Here’s mine:
Happy, curious, loyal, creative
Sibling of Camille
Lover of life, the Lord, Jim, my kids, grandkids, my friends and nature
Who fears not getting the really important things done
Who needs understanding and lots of books
Who gives the best she has to offer
Who would like to see everyone get along
Resident of the universe

 Okay, now it’s YOUR TURN!! Have fun!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let's swtich places to an "If I Were" poem

OK, so yesterday we did an "If YOU Were" poem - today, let's switch places and try an "If I Were" poem. It's a pretty easy "fill-in-the blanks" style of poetry that is quite fun. Enjoy!! 
These are simple and fun. Just use your imagination and fill in the blanks:
If I were a __________________,
I’d _____________________ and
I’d _____________________ and
I’d ________________________.
I’d be ______________________.

The possibilities are endless. So, for what it's worth, this is last year's poem - don't be mad at me - busy weekend ahead - we're having a family reunion - so this poem isn't great and I'm NOT going to sign my name to it -  just an EXAMPLE - can't wait to see what you all come up with.

If I were a new little kitten,
I’d drink my mother’s milk and
I’d chase my tail in circles and
I’d purr in your lap while I slept.
I’d be content.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let's try a "If You Were" poem

“If YOU Were” poem
This is a fun little poem that is actually a quatrain (4 lines) in which the last sound of lines 2 and 4 rhyme. It also has two metaphors (remember, a “metaphor” is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to draw a comparison). It is not the same as a simile. A simile uses the word like or as in order to make a comparison, whereas metaphors use is or are. So if you say “If I were” or “If you were” and named the thing (noun), it is a metaphor.
A simile: Your hair is like golden flax.

A metaphor: Your hair is golden flax.
So, there’s a little grammar lesson for ya’ – sorry, it’s the teacher in me. OK, back to the instructions: one metaphor is for the “I” part of the poem and the other metaphor is for the “you” part of the poem.
Here are some instructions taken from Charles Ghinga’s site (with his permission - he gave me permission last year - I'm assuming he's still okay with sharing his wonderful link) – I suggest you GO TO HIS SITE for more details and other fun stuff pertaining to poetry: Giggle Poetry Class with Charles Ghinga
Instructions: Think of a person you like. Compare that person to some thing (inanimate object). Now compare yourself to some thing associated with the first object.
Here's a couple that I tried to write:
If you were a king
And I were a queen,
We'd live in a castle,
Ya' know what I mean?

If you were the sand
And I were the sea,
I'd ebb up so very close,
And whisper, "Come away with me."

Yeah - they're not that great but go to the link above and get some good ideas and try it out for yourself. (I never promised to be any good at all of these - just willing to give it a try). Now ... it's YOUR turn!! Have fun!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kids' Poetry & Fractured Nursery Rhymes

Are we having fun yet? Isn’t that what kids always want to know? I think poetry with and for kids is TONZ’ of fun. As a mom, grandmother and former teacher I think poetry really resonates with children. They come up with the most amazing poetry. So, for today – I’m going to give you some resources about where to find kids’ poetry, help with teaching it or just encouraging your own child to write it and also give you some links to places that can help you write poetry for kids. When all of that is done… we will create a poem from one of the many styles that kids love. 

So, if you think you want to know any of the above – continue reading… if you just want the poem form for today … scroll on down to get it. Either way, enjoy!!
OK, first, poems for kids. There are so many writers out there that specialize in writing poems for kids. Just do a search and see for yourself so I’m only going to highlight two or three.
First off, is Charles Ghigna ~ often referred to as “Father Goose” because his poetry for kids is so prolific and so much fun. He is an award-winning author of over 5,000 poems and 50 books for kids. Pretty amazing! Plus, he’s a really nice guy. Check out his website: Father Goose: Children's Author & Poet
Charles Ghigna also offers a very helpful blog - especially for our 30 poems in 30 days: How to Write a Poem: Tips on Tapping into the Magic of Your Muse

Another fun kids’ author, Katie Davis, is celebrating National Poetry Month by hosting a guest author every day on her blog: Katie Davis ~ you’ll want to stop by there every day to see what’s up. (Yesterday’s guest was Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted and numerous other books). Gail Carson Levine
Here’s a site you’ll want to bookmark: Poetry 4 Kids, known as Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry Playground. You’ll find all kinds of help there; lots of links and lots of fun. 
You can do a search to find more links!! 
In order to do this one, chose a familiar nursery rhyme, notice the rhyming pattern and start changing a few words in order to make it funny. So, don't laugh but here's my sample:

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to London to visit the Queen.
Pussycat, pussycat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
Well, if you must know, I’m dating the hen
Pussycat, pussycat, what did you there?
We danced 'til her feathers flew everywhere.

You can check out Kenn’s site for some good advice on this. He suggests for “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” – How about “Ride, Ride, Ride Your Bike,” or “Pet, Pet, Pet Your Cat?” Here’s the link to his ideas: How to write a fractured nursery rhyme
He gives these 3 basic steps:
  1. Pick a poem or song LIST OF NURSERY RHYMES
  2. Find the words that rhyme
  3. Choose new rhyming words to make a new poem or song
Here’s my next attempt:
Jack, be nimble,
Jack, be quick,
Jack, jump over
The candlestick.
Jack, be helpful,
Jack, be kind,
Jack, if you’re not,
I’ll spank your behind.

Oh dear – let’s hope you all do better than I.  Have fun!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ever heard of a "Poetweet?"

Short and Simple: "Poetweet" (AND VERY TRICKY)!!

Our ever-changing digital age continues to create new modes of communication. Have you encountered “poetweets” yet? It you are on Twitter then you most likely have but if you haven’t ventured into Twitter Land yet (and I still haven’t), then it might me new to you

What I love about limited poetry (those that are specific as to the number of words or syllables you can you use) is that they force us to “tighten things up.” The surprising thing is that, usually, when you manage to say what you mean with fewer words, it packs a lot more power. 
A fun little aside (if you happen to live in NYC) is that the mayor’s office of New York is hosting its third annual Twitter poetry "Poetweet" contest as part of National Poetry Month so if you live there, go to the mayor’s website and check it out. In fact, no matter where you live, scout around and see what kinds of similar things might be going on in your neck of the woods.

According to the “Urban Dictionary” a “poetweet” is a form of poetry which consists of exactly 140 characters. There is no reference to rhyme or rhythm, only 140 characters exactly. All words must be spelled out, no short cuts such as "ur" for "you are" or "b4" for "before." And definitely no "lol"! Normal contractions are allowed.

Here’s the example of a poetweet offered in the “Urban Dictionary”: Of all the sights I see, there is none so beautiful as your shadow. Knowing you're near, and the sun is shining is enough for me. Beautiful.
Here’s my attempt:
Surrounded by grandchildren, all vying for attention. One on my lap, one sits beside me and one waits patiently. Feels like I am in heaven!!
                   © 2012 by Stephanie Abney 
The TRICKIEST part is getting 140 characters (with spaces) EXACTLY – have fun!! See ya’ tomorrow. YOUR TURN!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

National Poetry Month - Let's Write Poetry

Hopefully you know that April is “National Poetry Month” and last year I described a poetry form, posted an example and gave you a challenge to write your own. We had so much fun so it. I hope you fill your month with poetry but I may not post a poetry challenge every day this time. You can always go back to the April posts from 2011 for ideas if you want to. Life is so busy around here these days that it's hard to say how many posts I'll get to this month. But, it's all good!! 
Try to write a poem a day -- (or even just a thought, a blog, whatever) - but there are SO MANY KINDS OF POETRY out there, that we could easily write a DIFFERENT style of poem each day. I’ve done this with my creative writing students and it was a blast! It was amazing to see what they came up with. 

I thought it might be fun to post any poems I come up with here on my blog - you are welcome to do the same in the comments (or fire up your own blog)! Everyone should remember common courtesy - if someone writes something/anything - THEY ALSO OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO IT THE MOMENT THEY WRITE IT - so don't go using something you read here that someone else has written unless you give them proper recognition (and better yet, seek their permission to use it). Always include the name of the author of any story, poem, blog post or anything that you share. Thanks. [Drives me crazy when I read something wonderful that is flying through everyone's email and no one bothered to include the author's name]. :)

Feel free to share your creations. You might really surprise yourself!!
FYI ~ do a search and find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods or simply, what’s happening online.
Since I live in AZ ~ this one interests me (although it’s the same weekend as our family reunion so I can’t go but some of you other AZ folks might make it):

I’ll feature other poets and their blogs and/or websites as we go along and if you just want some basic info or some fun ideas and resources on National Poetry Month, go here:
So, this will be fun!!! WHO'S IN????

Let’s write a couplet:  Let’s start with a couplet like we did last year just because it’s late and they are short and sweet. Here is the form for a couplet:
A couplet is a two-lined verse. Both lines rhyme and usually have a rhythm to them.
Try expressing your complete thought in two mid-sized poetic lines. The last words should rhyme. It can be spiritual or silly – couplets are great to write for children or with children.

It is possible to string a bunch of couplets together to create a longer poem, but for our first day – just try one 2-line couplet.
Here’s a couple that I wrote as an example: 
Writing this little assignment
Puts my nose out of alignment.
                               © 2011 by Stephanie Abney

Turning, twirling, all around,
The music stops and we sit down.
                               © 2012 by Stephanie Abney

Did you think of a couplet? Just look around and think on an object or an emotion and give it a shot!! YOUR TURN!!!!