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Book Launch, Christmas

Happy Book Birthday to HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD!

In her memoir A CIRCLE OF QUIET, Madeleine L’Engle writes, “Those of us who write are responsible for the effect of our books… Like it or not, we either add to the darkness… or we light a candle to see by.”  As a writer for children, I take those words to heart and I hope my my newest board book, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD, will do just that.  

Inspired by a favorite Christmas verse from Luke 2:19 that describes Mary’s soul-filling wonder as she pondered the events surrounding the birth of Baby Jesus, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD offers littlest readers and their caregivers a chance to slow down and point and count and marvel on each and every page as they celebrate the birth of the Light of the World.

Here I am sharing that inspiration on my porch this summer:

Learn more about the book on my brand new book page or by heading over to happybirthdaychristmaschild.com. Both spots include easy links for purchasing at a variety of vendors.

Happy birthday, brand new board book!  And happy reading, all!

Book Launch

A Web Update, Countdown to BOOK LAUNCH DAY (plus two fun HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD posts)!

Happy news! The process of updating this website is almost complete, and I think it’s time to welcome you back. I hope you enjoy perusing the fresh pages and soaking up the new look. Keep in mind that I’m still working on many details including adding social media links “above the fold”. Any guesses as to what that means? The books page and links are also still a work-in-progress, but I hope to have those complete by next week.

Now here’s a fun challenge for you. Remember how I said I wanted to somehow honor my mom – whose beautiful banner graced this blog for its first ten years? Well, I figured out a way to do just that. If you discover it, please let me know in the comments section.

Finally, it’s hard to believe, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD releases in FOUR days! The virtual blog/podcast tour kicked off this week with these two wonderful blog stops.

Tour Stop #1: Have you ever wondered about the journey a book takes from inspiration to publication? Find out HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD’s journey in this post over at Kathy Temean’s blog. And while you are there, be sure to enter her giveaway for a fresh-off-the-press copy of the book. All the details are on her blog. And only a handful have entered so far… just sayin’.

Tour Stop #2: Head over to Write2Ignite for a thoughtful review of HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD by Kathy O’Neill. Also included are thoughts on “7 Ways Happy Birthday, Christmas Child Helps Us Slow Down and Allow Little Hearts and Souls to Fill with the Wonder of Jesus’ Birth.”

Happy Friday, all.

Etc.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!!!: Updated Website and Blog Coming Soon!

Just a heads up, that I’ll be taking a blog-cation as I put on my goggles (see above) and deep dive into giving this blog and website a brand new look – but with the same great content that I hope you have come to enjoy.

I’ll be popping on to my social media feeds daily for support and to stay in touch.

And in a week or two, I look forward to showing you around my new little space on the web.

Happy week all!

Extension Activity, Interview, kids' activities, Picture Books, Reading

AND I THINK ABOUT YOU: Interview Plus SIX Book-Themed Activities

In celebration of the release of AND I THINK ABOUT YOU (Kids Can Press) I’m pleased to host picture book author Rosanne L. Kurstedt for an interview followed by SIX book-themed activities over at Read, Discuss, DO! I hope you will hop over for a read. Here’s the link: https://www.readdiscussdo.com/2022/09/and-i-think-about-you-interview-plus.html

Created by picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do!  is a reading website designed to help children and their caregivers extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps:

Read a book. 

Talk about the book. 

Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

Happy reading!

Life

The Day Queen Elizabeth Passed Through Cranford:  A Special Memory from 1957

I am a long-time admirer of The Queen who I think was a beautiful example of what it means to live a servant life guided by faith-filled principles. Her happy marriage to Prince Philip also inspires me and I have always been taken with her ability to stay-grounded yet flexible through the many tumultuous times that she witnessed and was part of during her seventy year reign.

Also, I am tea drinker of the snobbiest sort (I like loose tea, steeped in freshly boiled water for three minutes) and my husband, for years, has referred to my favorite hat as “The Queen’s Hat”. He means it in a nerdy way, but I take it as a compliment. See?

Imagine my delight, then, to learn via this article from silive.com last week that Queen Elizabeth once passed through my town of Cranford, NJ! The article notes that on October 21, 1957 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip passed through Cranford en route from Washington DC to Manhattan with a detour through Staten Island so the Queen could fully enjoy the New York City skyline. Cranford is mentioned because that’s where they transferred at something called the Staten Island Junction.

I’d never heard about this royal pass-through before so I asked my husband whose family has lived here since the 40s. “Didn’t my mother ever tell you about this?” he asked. Ummm, no. “Well, let’s give her a call.” So that’s what we did.  “And put it on speaker phone, please,” he added, “because I want to hear it again too.” 

The next day, after my father-in-law had chance to hunt for them, I popped in to scan the pictures below which help tell this sweet mother/daughter story of the antics that happened the day the Queen and Prince passed through Cranford.

My mother-in-law’s family moved to Cranford in 1954, purchasing a brand new house on Aberdeen Court in a cheery new split-level development off of Walnut Avenue. The house was at the end of the cul-de-sac and the back yard bordered the Lehigh Valley Railroad. These days those tracks just carry freight, but back in the 1950s commuter trains still used them. 

Here are pictures of my mother-in-law, Abbie, as a teen standing both in front and in back of the house.

And here is a picture of the expansive back yard (with ducks!) and at the very back you can see the poles that flank the tracks.

It was October 1957 and the Queen was visiting the East Coast. Over the news Abbie’s mother learned that the route the Royal Party would be taking to New York City would pass by their back yard. This gave her the idea that they should be prepared with provisions in the event (and high hopes) that the train might stop by their house. 

After a quick trip to the market for ingredients, Abbie and her mother prepared tea sandwiches and more. Here’s a picture from that era of the two peeking in their modern 1950s fridge.

Almost fifty-four years later, my mother-in-law still remembers the spread in vivid detail. “We made three kinds of tea sandwiches”, she explained, “watercress with cream cheese, egg salad, and ham with cheddar. Mom had me cut up musk melon into pretty little chunks and we had cookies from the store.” All of the above were arranged on plates and the tea kettle was put at the ready.  

Continuing her story, Abbie said they then set up all the lawn chairs in the back yard. There was also a little table set up with the food. Then they waited expectantly.

Before long, they heard the train. As it got closer, they stood and waved. They waved some more.  “Well, did the train stop?” I asked.

Abbie laughed. Of course not. Her mother thought she saw The Queen seated in one of the cars, but that is not verifiable. One thing is for certain though, Abbie’s mother was disappointed.  “Oh, how I wanted them to stop!” Abbie recalls her saying.

And what happened to all those delectable items set out for The Queen? That’s easy.  Mother and daughter had their own tea party that afternoon.  

I’m so grateful I saw that little piece from silive.com that mentioned Cranford. Not only did I learn a new bit of trivia about both a Queen and a town that I love, I also got the chance to listen to my mother-in-law share a funny memory. 

And what did I tell her after our wonderful reminiscing? I bet you can guess. I said I would have LOVED to have been there with them that long ago afternoon. And what might I have added to the occasion?  Well, I think my contribution would have been to make a sign inviting Her Highness to tea which I would have waved with all my might. And, of course, I would have worn The Queen’s Hat!

Note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice (and occasionally three times) weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!

Writing

FIVE TIPS FOR USING FEEDBACK PRODUCTIVELY

One of the best decisions I ever made as a writer was to be open to critique. By this I mean showing my work to others with the express purpose of receiving feedback. Over the years, these critiques have come from a variety of sources including teachers, editors, agents and fellow writers.  

And recently, I also decided that it was time to have a professional digital audit. What’s this you ask? In a nutshell, it’s a thorough review of how you are doing with social media, blogging etc. and how effective your web presence is. The results, for me, are humbling, but also exciting because I see all sorts of opportunity to improve and grow.

It takes courage and thick skin at times, but opening oneself to feedback is an essential part of growth. With that in mind, here are five tips for using feedback productively. These are geared to writers, but I think they apply to other situations (like digital audits) as well. 

FIVE TIPS FOR USING FEEDBACK PRODUCTIVELY

TIP #1:  BREATHE AND BE GRATEFUL

  • Recognize that each person offering critique is doing so in spirit of being helpful. 
  • Try to set aside feelings of defensiveness or sensitivity to criticism.
  • Feedback is a gift! 

TIP #2: BEFORE YOU DIG IN, RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FEEDBACK

  • GLOBAL: Overarching feedback which pertains to a piece in its entirety, addressing issues such voice, setting, pacing, marketability, heart and more.
  • STRUCTURE/STORY LEVEL: Pertains to the structure of the piece: rule of three, cumulative, parallel, story arc etc.
  • SENTENCE LEVEL: Focuses on the details of the story at sentence level. May pertain to voice, character and any elements of story. More than just grammar, but can also include grammar, word choice, meter/rhyme.
  • PRESCRIPTIVE: Gives specific suggestions for what to fix. 
  • DIAGNOSTIC: Makes observations and asks questions without prescribing specific solutions.

For more thoughts on these, visit:

https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/story-level-versus-sentence-level-thoughts-on-revising/

https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/heres-what-i-tinkle-thoughts-on-critiquing-stories/

TIP #3: GIVE EACH CRITIQUE (or FEEDBACK OR ANY VARIETY) A FIRST READ THROUGH

  • This is your chance to get an overall sense of feedback. Don’t try to react or respond. Just read.

TIP #4: DIG IN MORE CLOSELY

  • Look for types of feedback. 
  • Interact with feedback: Take notes, use a highlighter etc.
  • Look for patterns in feedback. (Are several people saying similar things?)
  • Look for the deeper message behind the comment. (Maybe, for example, what they are commenting on about an unconvincing plot development, is really grounded in an issue of theme or character.)

TIP #5:  APPLY WHAT RESONATES

After you have thoughtfully considered all the feedback, it’s time to revise!  Remember, though, that this is YOUR story (or social media presence or whatever).  Feedback is a gift to help you bring it to the next level. That doesn’t mean, however, that you must apply every suggestion to your situation. Choose what resonates, always remembering, that you, ultimately, are the crafter of your own writing and that you know best the heart of your story.

Most of all, enjoy the process, because this is what we writers do. repeating the process until our stories (or websites, or whatever) sing!  HAPPY WRITING ALL! 

Note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice (and occasionally three times) weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!

Bible, board books, Publishing

COVER REVEAL: Introducing MY TENDER HEART BIBLE by Laura Sassi

MONDAY JOY! I have bible story board book coming out in February 2023 with Paraclete Press and the cover is just starting to pop up on the web, so I thought I’d share it here too.

The book is called MY TENDER HEART BIBLE and it’s something I was working on this past spring. It was the joy of each day. Hasn’t illustrator, Sandra Eide, done a marvelous job of capturing the wonder of meeting Jesus?

Here’s the scoop from Paraclete Press:

With sweet, rhyming text and whimsical illustrations, this sturdy board book, My Tender Heart Bible, offers a collection of the most loved and classic Bible stories for beginner readers. Simple yet creative paraphrasing of Old and New Testament re-tellings are paired with a “Heart Moment” for families to read aloud and act out. Scripture references are noted with each story that tell of God’s redemption plan.

My Tender Heart Bible:

• Makes the Bible memorable and accessible for young readers

• Helps kids think deeper about what the Bible says about God’s creation, His plan for humanity, and His love for all of people as His children

• Is perfect as bedtime reading for your toddlers and little ones, especially during the holiday season

• Offers details in the artwork for little ones to enjoy and find for “point and learn” discovery

• Serve as a base for introductory Bible discussion

• Includes an inviting padded cover and sturdy pages for little hands

• Makes a great gift for Easter, new baby, christening, baptism, baby showers, new grandchildren, curious toddlers, and boys and girls ages 0 to 4 years old

From Creation to Abraham to Moses and Jesus, God’s story of redemption is told through each individual story and as a collection. Look in the mirror and thank God for making you unique—what makes you different from others you see in your neighborhood? Can you count the stars and make your hands twinkle? Flap your arms like the dove that appeared when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. How many coats and blankets can you spread out for Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem? Let’s read the stories and celebrate God’s perfect plan from the marvelous beginning of Creation through Easter’s glorious hope made known by Jesus’ resurrection.

Thank you, Paraclete Press, for bringing this one into the world. I can’t wait for it to release.  

If you are thinking of adding this to your own collection or giving it as a gift, will you take a moment to pre-order a copy of MY TENDER HEART BIBLE today and/or mark it as “to-read” on Goodreads? Those are two wonderful and easy ways to help a new book make a lovely little splash when it releases.

Thank you, and, happy reading!

Note: If you enjoy knowing the latest about my booksand more, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice (and occasionally three times) weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!

Etc., Picture Books

And the WINNER of LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL is… (Plus a Fun Little Tease)

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL is…

Ellen R.!!

Congratulations!  Thank you, Beaming Books, for providing the winning copy. I will be in touch with you today so they can get the book to you.

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. Happy reading and writing, and arithmetic!

And now for the fun little tease. I have a new book coming out in February 2023 and I’m revealing the cover on Monday! Any guesses?

Guest Blog, Reading

TAKING STOCK:  Thoughts on Kitchens and BOOKS (of course!) 

How did I ever take the leap from repainting and reorganizing my kitchen to books? And what on earth could scrubby brushes and cheese grates and colorful utensils have to do with fostering a love of reading with your children? Something, I promise. Find out in my post today over at Read, Discuss, Do!  

Created by founder and picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do! exists to help you extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps: 

Read a book. 

Talk about the book. 

Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

And now I hope you’ll head on over to read the post. (And how do you like my newly spruced up kitchen?)

Appearances, Author Visit, book events

Fall 2022 AUTHOR EVENTS with Laura Sassi (Plus Unboxing my New Book with my Pooch!)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS. I have several events at book stores and a library planned for fall 2022 with more on the way. I hope you’ll be able to join me at one or more of them. And if you are a school, church, mom’s group, library, or daycare, I’m booking now for fall and winter. Learn more in the “Author Visits and Speaking Engagements” tab. And now… the fall line up, plus your first peek at my first peek of my newest book HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD with an unboxing video presented by Sophie, my literary cockapoo, and cute assistant.

First the line up:

Then the cute canine unboxing video: