Yesterday, I gave a series of three presentations to the first- and second-graders at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn, VA. What a wonderful experience! To begin my day, I was directed to the school’s library where the staff welcomed me and outlined the day’s events. They had a special area set aside for me to work and explained the day’s activities. Although I never got to meet Andria Donnelly, the Library Media Specialist, I was well taken care of by Assistant Librarian, Michelle and another substitute Librarian. Both were so helpful and encouraging, looking for every opportunity to make this a successful event for the children.
Right on time, the children filed in and situated themselves on the floor. I was amazed how well behaved they were. As each group came in (2-3 groups of 20 per session), they had their best manners on. Then, I was introduced and began my presentation. To the delight of the children, I brought 2′x3′ foam-core mounted photographs of several of the birds in the book. As I pulled each photo out of the large plastic bag where they were hidden, the children gasped in delight and the excitement grew. Their interest and great discipline showed just how diligent their teachers were in preparing them.
It became immediately apparent that they were totally familiar with the book, quoting some of the more amusing lines as they saw each photo. They particularly enjoyed the “Bad Hair Day” on the last page.
At the end of each session, the children were encouraged to ask questions. Some of the more surprising ones included:
- What inspired you to write?
- How did your brother (the photographer) get so close to the birds and take their pictures without them flying away?
- How do you think up ideas for your books?
- Are you going to do any more? (I especially liked that one!)
- How many books have you written?
- How old were you when you started writing?
- Which book is your favorite?
I could go on and on about how wonderful this experience was for me. My only regret is that my brother, D. W. Maiden, wasn’t there to enjoy all the enthusiastic response to his photography. It was truly heart-warming!
I just ran outside to put some things in my car and was shocked by the stiff breeze and 50 degree temperature. Everyone is anxious for winter to be over, but I guess I forgot how changeable the weather is in spring. The weatherman promises (so to speak) that things will definitely improve for Memorial Day weekend. We’ll see.
Regardless of how the weather turns out, Memorial Day is always a special holiday — a time to remember the price others have paid so that we can freely march in parades, let our flags wave and demonstrate our pride in our country. I remember in the 1950s going to picnics at Drum Point Park. We dined on hot dogs and butter-smeared corn on the cob without worrying about calories and cholesterol. Events included sack races, baseball games and watermelon seed spitting contests. I never won any of these, but the winning was in the doing. What happy times!
Today’s world is quite different now. But the sentiment is the same. We aren’t as free to do the things we want without fear, but we are still free. That is something to celebrate and cherish. Whatever you choose to do this weekend, enjoy! In my heart, I still believe the best is yet to come.
I can’t believe it has been almost a year since my last blog. A lot has happened since then. Most exciting, “Backyard Birds of the Piedmont” was released in April and sales are strong. A second book in this wildlife series, “Insects and Spiders” is approaching mass availability. I can’t wait.
But I have to admit, the whole publishing/distribution process is a challenge. So many of my writer friends have helped me by sharing their experiences and giving me good counsel. Is anyone else struggling against such a changing market? Writing … and ultimately publishing … continues to be a moving target for me.
One of the best parts of being a writer is that I love meeting readers and gifters alike. It really warms my heart to hear that a youngster has developed a greater kinship with birds, identifying them and lecturing family and friends on the birds’ unique habits. Further, another market has opened up with seniors. Evidently the large print and vivid photographs are appreciated by those birders whose eyesight isn’t quite where it was in the past. Now all I have to do is figure out how to reach out to both these communities more effectively.
If you have a strategy that is working for you and are willing to share it, please let me know. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season. 2013 is filled with promise!
Abraham Lincoln demonstrated in yet another way his profound ability to understand what is truly important in life by establishing a national day in which the American people focus on giving thanks for everything good in their lives. Despite the difficulties they faced at that time and throughout subsequent years. Today, the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving continues … and we all seem to need it more than ever.
I have to admit, Thanksgiving is one of the happiest days of the year for me. That’s when I can play my traditional role as mother, grandmother, sister and aunt one more time. Everyone gathers at my house for a feast of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the other things we feel guilty about eating almost any other time of the year. When we gather at the table, we all bow our heads in prayer, thanking God and asking him for his continued blessings.
My heart goes out to those who may not be as fortunate as I am. This year, more than most, I find myself frequently pausing to think about how much all these people mean to me. I wish I could invite all my friends and family to join me at this wonderful celebration of thanks. To them, I offer my continued love and appreciation for them being the foundation of my life. I am so fortunate.
If you are reading this, you are one of those very special people. I hope this message finds you happy, healthy and celebrating Thanksgiving with those you hold dearest.
With love, Sue
Seller (and buyer) beware! Selecting an agent is no trivial matter. The key is to find someone who will represent you as though you were right there beside them. They think the way you think and negotiate the way you do, too. Their ethics, honesty and professionalism matches yours. I am fortunate to have found such an agent. I trust her implicitly! She represents everything I expect in a real estate agent.
On another note, this is no time to sell a home if you don’t need to. Many buyers and their agents seem to think everyone who is selling a home is under financial duress — willing to take any offer, regardless of its merit. The asking price is a starting point for negotiations, not to be ignored. Presenting offers hundreds of thousands under asking price is irresponsible and insulting. It would seem that some agents are encourageing their buyers to write in stipulations on their offer that defy logic, including demands for pieces of furniture, etc. These are personal items that should not be mentioned in your first offer. They are items that can be discussed later, once the deal is truly under consideration by both parties.
I believe that, in several instances buyers are being misguided by their agents, who are hungry to make a sale. They somehow persuade their clients to disregard standard business ethics and respect. They show homes to their clients that would normally be out of their price range, hoping to “catch a deal” from a poor, desparate seller.
The bottom line – make sure your agents understand that every buyer and seller needs to be treated with respect. They may be desperate themselves to make a sale — certainly, this market is not kind to agents. But, encourage them not to bend their ethics on the hope of making a sale to the detriment of one or both parties. Some deals just aren’t worth making if it costs an agent his/her reputation and unwary buyers and sellers an opportunity for future happiness!
Seems like I was just hoping all that snow would melt and my dog could finally find her own green/brown spot outside without me having to go outside and shovel. But that was way back in February.
By June, I was wondering when we would get a break from the heat. Too quickly, spring green turned to parched brown and my carefully planted annuals turned into wilted, faded, crunchy shafts.
It wasn’t until October that the longest stretch of 90+ degree weather left the Waterford area; but fall is finally here. Looking outside the window of my shop, all the trees are dressed in oranges, greens, browns and yellows. Breezes tickle them into action as they cling to branches and then break free and drift to the ground. It’s truly the most beautiful time of the year for me. Now I can finally wear all my favorite knit sweaters, comfy blue jeans and low-heeled boots. I don’t have to try to adjust from steaming hot to icy cold when going inside and out and then inside again. Often, the temperature is the same, or nearly so.
Yes, fall is definitely my time of year; and I hope everyone else around here is enjoying it as much as I am. Remember, it won’t be long before the threat of impending snow and ice storms will be on the lips of every weather personality. Enjoy this beautiful weather while we can.
Well, better go now. I have to get my flu shot!
Today, with the help of my great brother, D. W. Maiden, I have my very own blog! This is quite an achievement for me as I drive along the technology highway in my life. Before you know it, I’ll have my own iPhone and be texting and all that other good stuff I see every teenager in America doing with such ease.
But, that’s not all, Bobbi Carducci just notified me that the draft of my first middle-grade book, A Soldier’s Request, won a Silver Seal of Approval from the Young Voices Foundation! I am so honored by this award. It gives me the encouragement to continue on my quest to find an agent to represent it to publishers. I encourage you to research the wonderful work of the Young Voices Foundation.
In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to work. Funny how excitement breeds thoughts and unplugs writer’s block!