Help Your Pet Keep Cool.

dogSummer heat can get to all of us.  July and August are often called the “dog days” of summer thanks to this heat and humidity.  Many of us have our own ways of keeping cool, but what about dogs?  They depend on us to take care of them no matter what the temperature is.  Here are some tried and true ideas for helping your dog keep cool.

1. Chill them down with a kiddie pool or sprinkler.  You can also use a cooling pad for indoors or in a car.  And DON”T ever leave your beloved pet in a hot car while you run errands.  How would you like being stuck in there?

2. Inside out Cool. Most canines love ice cream, but if the regular stuff upsets your dog’s stomach, try Purina Frosty Paws.  It’s available at most supermarkets.

3. Stay in the Shade. When walking your dog, try to keep to tree-lined streets or parks for long distances.

4.  Don’t Trim Their Fur. Contrary to appearances, thick fur actually keeps dogs cool during warm weather.

What tricks do you use to keep your favorite pet cool?

50 Summer Crafts

If your children are bored or you just want to get them away from video games for awhile, try some of the summer craft projects at:  http://www.thelongthread.com    

You can learn to tie dye T-shirts, make a seashell garden, make your own kites, sun prints, and much more.  There are crafts for all ages and easy step-by-step directions.

Another site with dozen’s of kid-friendly craft projects is: http://www.redtedart.com

Get crafty this summer!

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with you hair.” – Kahlil Gibran

Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans

darlenebeckjacobson:

A wonderful [post on a great author of yesteryear…

Originally posted on Robin Newman Books:

There are some books that are etched in my memories of childhood—Babar, Where the Wild Things Are, Pierre, and last but certainly not least, Madeline.

I remember when my twin sister and I were about six-years old running down the streets of Paris on our way to school, chanting, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!”[1]

And so, my heart skipped a beat when I heard that the New York Historical Society Museum & Library was commemorating the 75th anniversary of Madeline’s publication, with an exhibit entitled, “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans.”

Madeline - NYHS

The exhibit follows the life of Ludwig Bemelmans, most notably from his arrival in New York through Ellis Island in 1914. He became a busboy at the Ritz Hotel on Madison Avenue and 46th Street in 1915.[2] He then served in the army…

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Calling All Teen Writers.

My friend and fellow blogger Kathy Temean ( http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com) posted this information about a west coast workshop event for teens seriously interested in learning the craft of writing for children:

TeenSpeak Novel Workshop
Convenes October 17-19, 2014 in coastal Santa Cruz, CA.

TeenSpeak offers a rare opportunity for international teens to interact with top level East Coast editors and agents, and adults who write for the teen/tween market. Open to 10 teens in an intimate setting, the event dovetails with 20 supportive adults in a concurrent, partly overlapping workshop.

FACULTY: Core teen instructor is Helen Pyne, MFA (Vermont College of Fine Arts), a former Doubleday children’s/YA book editor. Along with adult enrollees, teens enjoy novel crafting sessions with Knopf Associate Publishing Director Melanie Cecka (also an award-winning children’s book author) and agent Scott Treimel (former children’s book editor), president of Scott Treimel New York.

CONTENT: TeenSpeak workshop focuses on craft through dramatic improv and other vehicles. Teens receive in-person, mini critiques with editor and agent—and full critiques from their own instructor, and volunteer adult enrollees.

In reciprocity, teens offer adults target-reader feedback. After teens edit selected adults’ partial and full novels, they hear our editor and agent critique the same manuscripts. Lively discussion follows, for the benefit of all: “I loved the teens’ insights at this workshop,” says Erin Clarke, executive editor at Knopf Children’s Books. Well before the event, teens are offered tools to sharpen their critiquing skills, and may be paid for a job well done.

FEE: $549 covers up to three nights’ beachfront condo lodging with chaperone, kid-friendly meals, all critiques, and focus sessions.

TeenSpeak Scholarship Fund: This year’s donations will honor renowned children’s author, Elaine Marie Alphin. Teens (and adults) will apply exercises in her book, Creating Characters Kids Will Love. To contribute any amount to support a young person passionate about writing, contact us via the website, where you’ll find mixed testimonials from scholarship beneficiaries and other enthusiastic teens. (Alternately, ask about possible jobs for teens or parents, or split payments.) Teens appreciate your generous donation!

ENROLLING: Recommended enrollment date for maximum options: July 20. Details and contact: http://www.ChildrensWritersWorkshop.com(click FOR TEENS). TeenSpeak is an outgrowth of the Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Workshop, established 2003. Don’t delay; we fill fast!

 

Book Give-a-Way & Interview With Shannon Wiersbitzky: What Flowers Remember

darlenebeckjacobson:

Another book I’ve added to my “TO BE READ” list.

Originally posted on Writing and Illustrating:

Shannon_Wiersbitzky_Author_Photo_2012Shannon Wiersbitzky is a middle-grade author, a hopeless optimist, and a lover of the outdoors. The Summer of Hammers and Angels, nominated for the William Allen White award, was her first novel.

Born in North Dakota, Shannon has called West Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Michigan “home” at some point in her life.She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, one rather dull fish and her always entertaining dog Benson.

I interviewed Shannon about her new book WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER, and asked her if she would do a give-a-way of the book for anyone who leaves a comment. If you tweet or post something about the book on facebook or your blog, you will receive an extra entry to increase your chances to win.

Book Notes: What Flowers Remember

shannonflowersMost folks probably think gardens only get tended when they’re blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to…

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Got Sand? Make Art.

One of my favorite summer beach activities has always been playing in the sand.  It was so satisfying to fill up the bucket with damp sand and turn it upside down to create the turrets and towers of a sandcastle. Last week I witnessed sand art on a grand scale.

Atlantic City NJ hosted the Sand Sculpting World Cup. This amazing display – held on the Pennsylvania Ave. beach next to the Steel Pier – draws artists from all over the world for the three week event.  All the sculptures are made with only sand and water.  A special “sticky” sand is brought in for the artists to use.  Once their creations are complete, a fine spray of watered-down Elmer’s glue keeps the sculptures from succumbing to the elements during the three week show.   Here is just a sample of tsand 15he magnificent creations: sand 3

The competition originated in 1897 and was held non-stop until 1944, drawing people from all over to Atlantic City.  Sand art became so popular, it was immortalized on postcards around the world.   When the city was ravaged by an unnamed hurricane in 1944, the event was stopped until it resumed 15 years ago.

If you missed this amazing display of sand art by the best sculptors in the world, check out the website and make plans to visit next year.  You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.doatlanticcity.com

sand 24sand 33

The First Place Winner.

The First Place Winner.

Interview With YA Author Conrad Wesselhoeft

First a synopsis of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly:
Seventeen-year-old Arlo Santiago lives in a dusty corner of New Mexico where his two passions are riding dirt bikes and playing a video game called “Drone Pilot.” He’s so good at the game that the military hires him to fly real drones over Pakistan. However, Arlo is reeling emotionally from a violent death in his family. Will he take the military’s money and commit violence against a terrorist leader half a world away, or find another solution to his troubles? He’s got a lot of them, including a father who drinks, a sister with Huntington’s Disease, and a girlfriend who won’t let him run from his past.     Dirt bikes cover HMH

How did the idea for Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly originate?
It grew out of my interest in—and concern about—drone warfare, which offers today’s militaries “capability without vulnerability.” As Arlo’s dad says, “Capability without vulnerability! Where are the heroics in that?” I was interested in several themes. One was the idea that violence against the individual is, in fact, violence against society as a whole. Another focused on the importance of friendship and family in dealing with grief. A third was the tendency of technology to outpace human wisdom.
Tells us a bit more about the story.

Arlo’s mom was a victim of violence. His father, a laid-off newspaper editor, is a pacifist. The family desperately needs money to help Arlo’s younger sister, and Arlo is poised to become a major breadwinner. He joins the drone-missile program as an adventure, without considering the moral ramifications. But he grows increasingly troubled at the thought of the violence he might commit.

So the story raises moral questions for Arlo?
Yes, it hinges on the moral dilemma between what seems right at a universal human level—one that values all life—versus what would provide immediate help to Arlo and his struggling family. It’s the tension between what he wants to do and what he feels he should do.
Like Arlo’s dad, you worked in northeast New Mexico as a newspaper editor. Is the book autobiographical?
Only in small ways. For example, Arlo owns a scruffy standard poodle named El Guapo. I own a scruffy standard poodle named Django.

What path led you to writing novels for young adults?
Years ago, I met the acclaimed young-adult author Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sing Down the Moon, and many more). I shared my literary dreams with him, and he urged me to start writing a novel immediately, not to concoct excuses or bog down in planning. That day is one of the most important of my life. It set me on the path to writing YA fiction.

Why do you write for young adults?
I thought it would be easier than writing for grownups. (Man, was I was wrong.) Also, I had three teenagers in my life. My son, in particular, liked to bring home a pack of “big-personality” buddies whose collective voice mixed confidence, arrogance, enthusiasm, laziness, courage, cowardice, cadence, and more. I’d be doing dishes or driving them somewhere and these boys would be handing me golden nuggets, so to speak. They became role models for “The Thicks” in my first book, Adios, Nirvana.

How would you describe your writing process?
Kurt Vonnegut divided all writers into two groups, “bashers” and “swoopers.” I’m a basher, a slow writer who tries to perfect each paragraph before moving to the next. (Swoopers are fast, yet a bit sloppy.) In the morning, I pour some coffee, and get to work. I bash and bash. Only when I’ve bashed all the bumps down to practically dust do I move to the next chapter. I wish I bashed less and swooped more. The best I can hope for is “swashing.”

What have you learned about yourself through the process of writing both Adios, Nirvana and Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly?

I’ve learned that metaphor can be good medicine. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to deal directly with emotional pain. In writing fiction, I’m able to project my shadow onto the wall of a different cave and, in doing so, work through my issues. As the story unfolds, the characters and I journey toward greater self-understanding. It’s a roundabout process, but it works.

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly is a novel that clearly provides hope for the future. How important do you think it is to have that note of hope in a novel for young adults?
Hope is extremely important. I choose themes that are important to me. Foremost among these are hope, healing, family, and friendship. These are themes I’d like my own children to embrace. Life can be hard and seem hopeless, so as a writer I choose to send out that “ripple of hope” on the chance it may be heard or felt, and so make a difference.

And finally, what advice would you give to teens struggling to break away from peer group-imposed identities and create a sense of self?
All of us are great people in the making. One doesn’t have to be rich, famous, brilliant, beautiful, or an outward success to be great. One of my favorite examples from fiction is the fisherman Santiago in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. (Trivial fact: I named my main character Arlo Santiago after Hemingway’s old man.) In the Hemingway book, Santiago starts out poor and ends up poorer. However, in the course of the story, he tests himself to the limit. We see his strength, courage, humility, nobility, and hopeful spirit. Each time we take a step closer to who we really are we get stronger. So my thought would be, if you can’t take big steps toward your goal now, take small ones. As with all goals (including writing YA fiction), time is your friend. So to teens who are struggling, I say be patient, practice, persevere, believe in yourself. Never give up.
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Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. He is the author of the young adult novels Adios, Nirvana (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) and Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly (Houghton Mifflin, 2014).