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Illustration Contest

By Linda Boyden


Susanna Leonard Hill’s “The 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest For Children’s Illustrators!”

And it’s here! From the one and only Susanna Leonard Hill’s ever-active, clever brain and heart, another contest, this time for illustrators. Its theme is a pertinent one for the kidlit world: Discovery!

Hatching-Readers-linda-boydenHere is my entry entitled “Hatching Readers.” Having spent many, many lovely years as a Primary teacher, my main purpose was to help them discover the magic of reading: that the squiggly lines on paper once decoded are the words we say!

If you like this piece you could pop over to Susanna’s blog, and vote for it if it speaks to you. More importantly, pop over to see all the entries. There will be a vast number of fabulous entries on the theme. I’ve included this on my site as well, located here.



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Happy Birthday indeed.

matthew-geneAnother year has passed, and here I am again on my birthday. I’ve always enjoyed my birthday, never had a problem with it. There are a lot of people out there who seem to have this sickening feeling when it shows up on their calendar. They can’t stand it; they dread it. In fact, many try to avoid reminding any of their friends, well the ones that don’t know them very well and probably forgot. I’ve never been that way. I enjoy it and look forward to it. I guess I’m still a kid at heart and probably always will be. Even though the numbers are increasing, my mind stays pleasant and accepting. Me? I just keeping rolling with the flow and look forward to the next day.

The only thing I usually get stumped on are the presents. Every year it’s the same thing, ‘What do you want?’ ‘What would you like?’ Whether it’s my mother or my wife, these are the questions that I tend to only have ridiculous answer for, which I feel a lot of people do. I always ask for a Ferrari. Well, why not? They’re asking. I think I remember getting a Hot Wheel version one year. Hey, I was getting closer. I never know what to ask for. There’s always electronics, that’s my thing. If it’s new technology for my phone, music, whatever, I’m all over it. But even those gifts are getting pricy and it’s hard to expect someone to buy them. I seriously don’t even think that the people buying for you really want to know what you want, just because of how much it may cost. Now, I’m not including your significant other or parent in this example. They usually do what they can or split something together if they find something really special they want you to have. Did you catch that? It’s not necessarily what you want either, but it could be something you need to have and you just didn’t ask for it. They bought it for you.

I was very lucky this year and excited about my present. I really didn’t expect much and figured it would be the typical clothes birthday. I’ve always insisted that I get some sort of ‘toy’. This type of gift usually takes the pain anyway after receiving the clothes. That’s what I like to call gifts that “reek Matt”. Meaning, any gift that I would just be drooling over, technology or music… (Ferrari). So anyway, my ‘toy’ this year was incredible. My wife and mother surprised me with the Apple Watch. I knew I was going to want one as soon as the announcement was made. Now I know there’s a lot of anti-Apple people out there, but just calm your jets for a moment, it’s my birthday and I’ll brag if I want to. Anyway, I’m very thankful and still can’t believe I have it, very cool.

As I get older, there really isn’t anything specifically that I just have to have. Well… there are several things I want, ‘toys’, but do I need them? The most important question is: ‘Can I afford it?’ No! Not everyone can afford a Ferrari. Really? Oh sure, I’d take it, but I don’t want to buy it. Would I actually keep it if I could buy it? I don’t know, maybe not. It is cheaper to just rent one for a little while and drive the hell out of it, and walk away. This is exactly what happened one Christmas a couple of years back.

My wife had bought me the deal of a lifetime. It was the best surprise. She had paid for me to be able to drive a Ferrari 599 for an hour. I think my eyes started to bulge the closer we got to the place. When we arrived, I met up with the guy that would ride along with me. He sat shotgun while showing me the bells and whistles, then off we went. It was a predetermined route throughout the city, however there were a couple of places where I was free to drive like I wanted. Oh yeah, it was awesome. Afterwards, I climbed right back into my hail-damaged Hyundai and drove off, rickety, rickety, rickety.

I am very thankful this year, not only for my ‘toy’ (thanks Kim and mom, love you both) but just to still be breathing. If there’s anything inparticular that I think about more than I used to as a younger man, it’s how fragile we really are. You never know how your day will lay out. Make the most of each day and truly be thankful. Stop worrying about tomorrow or you’ll miss your life right in front of you.


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Um…Now That Surprised Me!

amanda-thrasherIf you’re an author, aspiring writer or in the publishing industry, you know two things for sure: change is constant, and popularity determines sales.

I haven’t always been on this side of the fence, publishing, I’m an author as well. I often forget to promote my work since I’m busy with Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. My last piece, The Greenlee Project, is important to me. I’ve always said it was a ‘hard’ write. But if you have a teen with a cell phone you’ll understand why. Life fiction, you can’t get any realer than that.

But being on the publishing side of the industry changes the way I look at the industry as a whole. I want to know specific things (1) What’s selling and why? (2) What does the book look like? (Layout) (3) Who’s distributing it? (4) How many versions of the work are out? These questions are always on my mind, especially when attending an event. Same with a local signing for one of our authors, Sci-Fi writer Matthew Gene.

The signing was hosted by The Full Cup Coffee and Bookstore, located at 922 S. Main Weatherford, TX. (I think I’ve found the perfect writing spot, for me, regain my writing time). As Matt visited with a gentleman in the shop, I visited with a young writer waiting to speak to him. College guy. I want to say kid, but I know he was a young man.

As we visited, we discussed school, writing, books, trends and of all things audio books. Now let me say I’m not surprised that people love audio books, but college kids, I will say that did surprised me. But this SHOCKED me. He said he listened to over thirty audio’s a month. Thirty! I couldn’t resist and had to ask him why? Why that many audio books? In fact, why audio at all? (1) College kids usually listen to their music if driving (2) If they’re on their phone, they’re usually texting or talking. (3) Thirty, that’s a lot of audio books!

His answer was refreshing. “I drive to Ft. Worth from Weatherford frequently,” he said. “I figure I may as well listen to a book, rather than to music. For me, it’s more entertaining.” I couldn’t help but think at that moment that was hardly the answer I expected. Interesting. We moved on to ebooks and paper books. I quizzed him about his preferences regarding those. He didn’t care for ebooks, still buys trade paper (paperback), but rarely bought a hardback, though he did own them. “Why?” I asked. “Tell me why you don’t like the ebooks?” He answered immediately. “Page turners. I can’t stand the way you flip it from the side to turn the page. It’s not like turning a page.”

Um. I banked that info. I’d heard that complaint before, but again, not from this age group. I asked him one more question about the audio books. “What do you like the most about the audio books?” He thought for a second and said, “That I can pick my narrator.” Smiled and added, “Can’t stand an irritating voice.” Knowing that to be true, I had to smile. Audio books aren’t like the old audio books that people remember. Voice, pace, cadence of flow, telling the story, so important. It’s a new market. I love learning things from the publishing side of what I do, but more importantly from people that buy the work that’s produced.

Sci-Fantasy ‘Hope’ by Matthew Gene

Matt had a great experience that day. He visited with new people and shared his work. I learned that a totally unexpected age group listened to audio books, and on top of that this young man has the neatest, quirkiest idea on his hands for his own book. I hope he follows through with it. I don’t know what he’ll do or where he’ll end up, but I see a lot of books, and the one he’s working on could be so cool!

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Book Signing


Earlier this evening I had been blessed with the opportunity to attend a book signing event at The Full Cup Bookstore & Coffee Shop located in Weatherford, TX. I have attended author events prior to this, but this is the first time I had attended one where I was the only author to appear.

The store itself was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for any better. It was quaint and very comfortable. There were people scattered about, some with their laptops out working on projects, or a few off to one side or another jumping into a new read. At the opposite end from the book section, was the coffee bar. I was immediately greeted with an iced coffee that practically sent my head spinning through the roof. Those of you who know me, realize that I probably didnt need to be drinking that, but yes, I enjoyed every last drop.

I met several people and had great conversations, one of which I will never forget. He was a fellow Gemini and had just celebrated his 79th birthday just last week. Come to find out, we were on the same page about a lot of things in this crazy life.

Needless to say, the party had to eventually break up and we all went out separate ways. Now, before I could get out the door, I was then presented with another drink from the coffee bar. This time it was a strawberry frappuccino with whipped cream on top. Really? Yes, it was wonderful, but I do believe it was straight from Braums. There wasn’t much coffee in there, at least none that I could taste. However, my tastebuds were not complaining at all! If you’re ever in the area, please visit The Full Cup; you won’t be disappointed.