Guest Blog Post: On Boy Books and Girl Books by Pernille Ripp

Books allow me to transcend my own experience of the world. In reading, I can assume the skin of people, places, times, and events that I’ll never otherwise inhabit. They make me feel more part of the world and more human.

How has reading shaped you? Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp why she believes children should be exposed to all kinds of books…

Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp.
Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp.

Pernille Ripp

White, Black, Yellow, Lime,  Free Image

I get asked for a lot of book recommendations, I think it comes with the territory when you share the love of books.  And while I love pairing books with potential readers, I have also noticed a pattern that causes me to pause, that should cause all of us to pause.

I get asked for a lot of books featuring male lead characters for male readers.

When I ask why the need for a male lead, I am often told that “they” just don’t think a boy will read a “girl book.”  That a boy will not like a book about feelings.  That a boy only wants books that have action.  That have other boys in it.  That feature characters that look just like them or at the very least think like them.

As if every single boy thinks alike.

When written like this it is easy to see the…

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Guest Blog Post: My Road to Getting Published by Geoffrey Simpson

The story of how author Geoffrey Simpson, who just released “The Three Hares,” got his first book published — in his own words…

Geoffrey Simpson, author of The Three Hares
Geoffrey Simpson, author of The Three Hares

On a gloomy January morning, the air was heavy and uninspired. I read an article about ancient symbols—a distraction from those about politics, rife with propaganda. One symbol, with three rabbits chasing one another in an infinite circle, struck a chord. A whirlwind flooded my conscience.

Although I’ve never written before, a few story ideas were tucked away for a rainy day. That same morning, I began to plot. That same gloomy day was the beginning of an adventurous journey to becoming an author. 

Three months later, manuscript in hand and an intent to self-publish, an author friend of the family strongly encouraged me to find an editor. I hadn’t planned on investing in this project, but I also never expected to write a novel. 

As an author, I’ve transitioned through two distinct phases. There was pre-Janet, and post-Janet. As you probably assumed, Janet Fix, owner of thewordverve inc., agreed to become my editor, mentor, and inspirer.

With a polished manuscript and newfound confidence, I changed course from self-publishing and sought an agent. A thrilling adventure began, but as the queries went out, the feedback was unanimous. “Unfortunately, I’m not the right agent for this project.” Not a single manuscript request came forth.

Discouraged and circling back toward self-publishing, I spoke to Janet the Inspirer. She, who wasn’t just an editor, was transitioning her business from hybrid to traditional publishing, asked me to join Team Verve.

Twelve months after that gloomy January morning, Janet became my publisher, and there’s no looking back. Today, Janet is editing the sequel to The Three Hares, and I am writing the third installment of this five-book YA adventure/mystery series. It is this partnership/friendship which has made all the difference.

Cover of Geoffrey Simpson's book, The Three Hares

I’ve got two novels I’m writing. What are your experiences with traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

Guest Blog Post: The Little Guy Who Stole Our Hearts by Debbie Centeno

Live long enough, and we’re bound to encounter challenges. With the help of a friend, Debbie Centeno (who runs this blog and this blog) uses her grief to help others…

Chewy

I never knew how much a person could grow to love their pet. I wasn’t raised with pets, other than fish in a tank. And, there’s no way you can take them out of the tank to play, pet or cuddle. I just loved my aquarium but in a materialistic way. As an adult, I didn’t think about getting a pet since I was quite busy with three children. But, after my oldest son passed away, and my two other children were no longer small kids, my daughter convinced me to get a dog. So we opted for a rescue.

Chewy as a puppy

I made a few calls to see what dogs were available to adopt. We found a place that had a mama dog who had recently given birth to seven puppies – six female and one male. The male was the runt and was rejected by his mama, but I wanted a female. That was until we met the little guy, of course. All puppies were side by side sleeping on their tummies, except the little runt who was sleeping on his back almost on top of his sisters. He was much smaller than the others. When I saw him – well, I don’t know what I felt, but I just had to have him, so the volunteer picked him up and placed him in my arms, and that was it. I was in love. I handed him to my husband, and he felt the same way. So off we were with a 5-week old 2-pound Chihuahua/Dachshund mix. We named him Chewy, and it suits him well.

Chewy buckled up in a car

Chewy is now 6-years old and 20 lbs. I can’t imagine life without him and don’t regret having followed my daughter’s advice. He is the most loving, spoiled brat ever who stole our hearts. I know he’s not human, but for me, he’s my baby.

Debbie Centaro

Debbie Centeno is a wife, a grieving mom, an accountant, and a travel blogger. Learn more about her here and here.

2. Ever been told…? by da-AL

Photo of da-AL in flower field with caption: Ever been told that your honey is 'nice for a Middle Eastern man'?

Ever been told that your honey is ‘nice for a Middle Eastern man’ as if they’re amazed that Middle Eastern men can be kind?

Guest Blog Post: The Millennials by Helen Werner Cox

Long Beach is an unsung Los Angeles County gem. Along with beaches and the Queen Mary, it’s home to excellent museums, numerous multicultural events, and a neighborhood filled with art-friendly businesses. For instance, Utopia Restaurant goes out of its way to be artist-friendly. Helen Werner Cox talks about her current display there…

Darwin Grey by Helen Werner Cox
Darwin Grey by Helen Werner Cox

I love this age group, and because my daughter is a millennial, I have watched many of them grow and develop into the thoughtful, sensitive generation they are. The diversity of the millennials is part of what excites me about them. I am not interested in stereotypes or extremes; these are regular, interesting people whom I care about.

A collaboration with each model determined composition and color palette. I began to ask them to bring in objects of significance to themselves. We worked together to discover poses that were natural to the person. Often, we discovered the best pose during the breaks when the model was relaxing. This made the positions easier to hold than anything artificial I might have constructed.

Steven by Helen Werner Cox
Steven by Helen Werner Cox

Each work has its own special emphasis. The painting of Steven contrasts the harsh, stark geometry of the background against the fish-like curve of the figure. As the painting evolved, the environment took on a symbolic meaning, representing the stresses that press in on people today, over which they have no control.

Darwin appears in several images, as we have worked together extensively in the past year. It was the first time I worked in-depth with one model, and the relationship will become a template for future collaborations. Through these works, Darwin and I explored his interest in the “fin de siècle,” (late 1800’s and early 1900’s), his identification with both his male and female aspects, and his love for the theatrical. Darwin’s enthusiasms aligned nicely with my attraction to the work of the Post Impressionists.

If you would like to see more work, please click here or or contact me for a studio visit.

The Millennials, featuring intimate portraits of young people, is on exhibit at Utopia Restaurant in Long Beach from July 14 to September 8, 2018.

Guest Blog Post: “Princess is Kind of a Bad Ass,” link and comment from LJUBICICAMESOZDERKA

Snow White gets edited up!
Snow White gets edited up!

Sure this is a reblog — of a reblog! — it’s that good!!! …

Why Every Girl (and Boy and Adult) Needs a Dog: Love, Boundaries, and More by da-AL

Anyone who thinks my doggies are my substitute children is missing the point. Humans are great. Thank goodness, though, dogs are yet another species with whom we can exchange care, joy, love, and wisdom.

Close up of dog nose and teeth
This picture by Sofia Oratowski of her dog always makes me smile.

This charming photo was taken by a dear 16-year-old friend. It’s of her amazingly sweet-tempered rescue dog. The adoption facility said the dog had problems with other dogs. Several years later, the dog has yet to display an ounce of anti-social behavior.

How I wish I’d learned or at least had begun to learn from dogs when I was as young as my friend is now.

Why? What’s good for my dogs is equally good for me. We teach people how to treat us. The wisdom that comes from training a dog applies as directly to happiness as to any type of relationship.

Training my dogs showed me about boundaries:

  1. What they are.
  2. What I need for a happy home.
  3. What dogs are capable of. What’s reasonable to expect as far as trusting them to learn, remember, and honor my needs.
  4. That boundaries are best communicated clearly and nonjudgmentally. If my requests are misunderstood, I’m must find a better way to convey them.
  5. Patience and consistency are essential.

Keeping them physically and emotionally healthy is great for both of us:

  • Walking them daily means I walk too.
  • Together, we meet our neighbors.
  • I used to think I was too busy to have a dog. Now I see that when I don’t have time for my pets, I’m overextending myself. When I wasn’t eager to come home, I wasn’t investing enough effort in ensuring that my home life, personal life, and social life were reliable havens.
  • Angels exist, and they’re not just the dogs. Strangers, neighbors, and friends often help when my dogs and I most need them. For all of my striving for independence, I need to be reminded that everyone and everything in the world are interdependent.
  • Compatibility: Cesar Milan, a.k.a., The Dog Whisperer, often talks about the importance of selecting pets that match our energy levels. Sometimes two good individuals are simply mismatched. Appreciating our differences shows us the need for bridges.
  • Trust needed time to grow. Some types of trust are harder to rebuild once they’re broken.

Few things can match how, when I leave my home for only a short while, my dogs’ eyes shine with pure joy when I return. Everyone needs love.

Have your pets made you a better human?