With special thanks to Edie Melson for creating this lovely photo to share.
May HOPE sing in your heart the rest of this week.
A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
I have previously mentioned how the adolescent roosters resemble adolescent boys, i.e. chest bumping.
Now that the roosters are no longer around, I have noticed how much the hens resemble adolescent girls.
Without the imminent danger of the roosters forcing them to band together in self-defense, the hens are now picking on each other. The “pecking order” phenomenon is especially observable at bedtime when each hen has her spot on the roost.
I keep telling them “Be nice to each other. You are all you have.”
They aren’t listening – any more than adolescent girls listen.
Last night the hens were making all kinds of racket. Rachel, who had shut the coop door, was concerned that something was posing a threat.
The sounds were reminiscent of the possum ordeal so I walked out with the flashlight.
The minute the chickens spotted me, they got quiet.
It reminded me of a girls’ slumber party. All manner of noise comes from the room, but as soon as mom enters – silence.
With the hens, I could at least go back inside knowing they were safe. You never know what girls at a slumber party are going to do.
I hope you read my Valentine blog on Monday and you have already gifted your someone special with a homemade valentine today.
In case you need some love words to use before the day is gone, here are ten of my favorite Valentine quotes.
• I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame of that heats our soul, energizes our spirit, and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other. -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, The Wheel of Life
• “kisses are a better fate than wisdom.” -e.e. Cummings
(I love any of e.e. Cummings words. I mostly love that he doesn’t capitalize.)
• “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” -Robert Browning
• “A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay –
Love isn’t love
‘Til you give it away.”
-Oscar Hammerstein, “You Are Sixteen” from the film Sound of Music
• “For twas not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
Twas not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” -Judy Garland
• “True love never lives happily ever after – true love has no ending.” -K Knight
• “Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.” -Nora Roberts
• “For you see, each day I love you more. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” -Rosemonde Gerard
• “Love is the force that ignites the spirit and binds hearts together.” -Unknown
Lastly, no blog on love words would be complete without the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How do I love Thee?”
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
As a romance writer, I love February 14th. St. Valentine’s Day is THE romance day of the year. To me, valentines are the mirror of romance.
According to legend, Saint Valentine was a real priest who lived in 270 A.D. He provided Christians with sacraments outlawed by the Roman Empire such as marriage.
Saint Valentine is also said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians.”
And thus began our custom of giving cards and reminders to loved ones on February 14th. Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.
The first mass-produced valentines appeared in the 1840s. Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” used “scrap” to make elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures. The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester holds a large collection of her valentines.
If you read my blog often, you might remember that I have an ephemera holiday postcard collection. I shared some of my Thanksgiving cards. Here are my favorite Valentines. While not as elaborate as Ms. Howland’s, I love the way these cards speak of romance.
Valentines tell others of our love. Homemade valentines are extra special. I found this wonderful site, www.neoformix.com where you can create your own heart-shaped tokens of love.
If you’d like to create a heart-shaped design with special words, click on the heart to go to the site. You have time to come up with the perfect token of your love.
YOUR TURN: How will you show someone you love them today?
May the New year bring you Success and Happiness
I’ve enjoyed our visits on the porch in 2012. I hope to see you more this year.
How cool to check the blogs I follow yesterday and discover that Elaine Smothers blogger extraordinaire had nominated me for the Versatile Blogger awardI’m so excited to accept the nomination. Thanks, Elaine.
As with most blog awards, acceptance comes with certain rules found on the VBA blog along with the snappy looking logo download.
Having been awarded the Versatile Blogger award, I must now:
• Thank the person who gave you this award. I’ve already thanked Elaine, but I don’t think a second thanks fine. Thanks, Elaine.
• Include a link to their blog. That’s an easy rule to follow and a pleasure to do because Elaine and Forrester share versatile and fun blog posts. Check them out for yourself here.
• Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly and nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. This rule was a bit more difficult to follow because I’m not sure who’s already been nominated. Here’s my list and bloggers, if you’ve already been nominated congratulations!
1. Margaret Miller
2. Kat Jorgensen
3. Jane Carver
4. Patricia Caviglia
5. Barbara Forte Abate
6. A.E. Huppert
7. Patricia Sands
8. Donald Bueltmann
9. Ciara Gold
10. J.D. Faver
11. Melissa Ohnoutka
12. Emmie Mears
13. Suzan Hardin
14. Jennifer Bray-Weber
15. Pat Thunstrom
• Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. Okay, Elaine and Forrester get ready. Here are some quick things you might not know.
1. I play the piano. Not well. I like to say I have the skill, but not the talent.
3. I used to paint. Still life and tole painting were my styles of choice. Now I paint walls, but only when I can’t hire someone else.
4. I drive slow when going through Missouri. Once got a speeding ticket when “trapped” by a radar tracking helicopter there. I don’t think my Texas license plate with the vanity trim holder that reads, “Get in, sit down, and hold on,” helped my plea of innocence.
6. The dogs and I walk no matter what the weather. That’s Toby’s adopted brother Buster walking with us. (He’s a ten pound Maltese.) They’re wearing matching red coats.
7. Much to my surprise, I enjoy blogging and tweeting. Thanks, Kristen Lamb for convincing me. I’m proud of my WANA tribe badge.
Okay now, blog readers, did you learn anything shocking from my reveals to Elaine and Forrest?
This Memorial Day weekend along with the hot dogs, hamburgers, and swimming, I want to honor and remember those who have gone before with this video of TAPS being played by a ninety-two-year-old vet.
“There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.” Quote from an article by Master Sergeant Jari A Villanueva, USAF
Words to Taps
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
May the soldier
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And the stars
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.
Note: there are no “official” words to Taps. These are the most popular. More about the history of Taps can be found at the official Military Funeral Honors History of Taps page and 24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions
Our Memorial Day celebrations would not be complete without a big thank you and honor to all of those who serve every day and their families.
I thought this was too fun not to share:
On April 26th, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues will ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets on PIYP day or Poem in Your Pocket Day. The idea is simple:
• Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month
• Print or write it out
• Carry it with you and share with co-workers, family, and friends
• Or tweet about your selection on Twitter with the hashtag #pocketpoem.
If you can’t think of a poem to carry, you can click here to download one or simply enjoy the funny, the serious, and the unusual choices when you click on one of the pockets pictured on the page.
At estate sales I often find books of poetry or handwritten poems in pockets, in desk drawers, framed and displayed, and any number of other places. My favorite discovery happened closer to home when my mother-in-love passed away. We found this poem glued in her Bible and another copy of the same poem in her husband’s.
Should You Go First
By Albert Kennedy “Rosey” Rowswell
Should you go first and I remain,
To walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden, dear,
With happy days we’ve known.
In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,
When fades the lilac blue,
In early Fall when brown leaves call
I’ll catch a glimpse of you.
Should you go first and I remain,
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will buoy me on with hope.
Should you go first and I remain,
To finish with the scroll,
No length ‘ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness,
We’ve had our cup of joy,
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.
Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You’ll hear me call your name.
Rosey Rowswell wasn’t a Longfellow or Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, his real job was a broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 19 seasons (1936-54), but he did write books of humor and poetry. And, I love this touching poem.
More, I love the romantic sentiment of finding a copy in both Bibles. My husband’s parents were married for fifty-nine years before Otho passed away. I’ll guarantee you when Rose went to glory five years later she called Otho’s name and met him on that path.
Will you join us and share your favorite poem in a comment? We’ll pretend to hear your voice.
Probably too long-winded, but then it’s a lovely spring day to sit and chat.
Being a Texan naturally the first image of a brand that pops into my head is a branding iron symbol on the side of a cow.
CREDIT for photo on right: Fleischhauer, Carl, photographer. “Branding Iron [35mm slide].” Date Recorded 79/10. Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982, Library of Congress.
Cows are products like a writer’s novels are products. Cowboys use a different, very specific iron brand symbol for each owner.
Commercial product marketing teaches additional ways to brand products.
Writers and books are different animals than commercial products. Branding irons won’t work. But will any of the other product techniques work to establish our brand with readers?
Books as products lack common distinguishable trademarks unless you count genre. I’m not sure the average reader has any idea what we’re talking about when we say genre. They know the books they like or the author they like.
Plus in this crazy new publishing climate, genre lines have become as crooked as a roller coaster track and about as scary.
Take, James Scott Bell— #1 bestselling author of the writing book Plot & Structure, and thrillers like Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, One More Lie and many more—has a new series written as K. Bennett. A zombie legal thriller series, which begins with Pay Me in Flesh. Seriously. Paranormal elements combined with a legal thriller. How’s that for blending genres?
Stranger combinations are everywhere. So linking books by genres is not that clear cut anymore.
According to I’m Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro® “You have to become your own number one product. You must be uniquely you.”
While titles and covers can and do link series. Mostly a novel is a stand-alone work and readers connect by the author’s name.
The other commerical product methods aren’t so easily implemented by writers. Smells, tastes, movement, graphics and/or shapes of product marketing to attract readers to a novel seems a bit daunting. There are some very clever writers out there so I’m not giving up on someone coming up with an idea.
As an author, I’ve used the spelling of my name as a brand. Every teacher, every college professor, every stranger who reads my nametag stumbles over the pronunciation. But they don’t forget the name or me.
For the full story on how I received the name, check my author website: Judythe Morgan.
Next I’ve used the color green color for my website and Twitter. With a bit of luck, green brings happy thoughts and Irish to mind.
My blog and my FB pages tie together with the front porch. Lots of greenery in those banners too.
Green=happy thoughts. Porch=down home storytelling.
That’s how I write, that’s what I write—stories about ordinary events in ordinary people’s lives that end happily. Emotional stories about journeys of the heart.
Not straight romance, not straight women’s fiction, not simple love stories. A combination of those genres. See Bell’s not the only one who can blend genres.
My taglines also help readers remember me. “Voices and Views from the Front Porch” tag on my blog allows for a variety of blog topics and lets the reader “know” me and my varied interests.
My website tagline of “Weaving Love Stories to Touch Your Heart” identifies the type of fiction I write.
Will these strategies work? I wish I knew.
In Kristen Lamb’s course, we learned that getting our names out there with samples of our writing builds our platform. But I have to admit advertising aka branding/author platform still baffles me.
When I had my antiques shop, I had a GREAT location-busy intersection in an active shopping center. My marketing plan was strong. I offered free cookies, lemonade and coffee to customers. A shop full of great merchandise, free cookies and coffee.The people came. Still…
So I conclude, a business marketing plan and a writer platform/branding plan are pretty much the same.
Word of mouth
Book Industry Study Group’s ongoing Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey in February confirmed my conclusion. “e-book buyers cite word-of-mouth as No. 2—just like their print book kin.” Read here.
People read a good book; they share the book with others. So a writer’s primary challenge is first to write the very best story they can and second to make readers recognize their name.
Branding is about communicating. Engaging readers.
I’ve shared what I do. Remember I am not a marketing major. My expertise is chatting on the porch, sharing my views. Don Block, founder of WeGrowMedia.com, is a qualified expert and he offers some other specific ways to maximize your branding here.
YOUR TURN: Are you branding yourself? How?