Saturday Photo Prompt | Good Morning

jmspp_logoLook at the picture below and write a 100 story. It really is that simple.

If you care to share, either post a link to your story in the comments, or post the whole story.

I can’t wait to see what you write!

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Summer Reading Program Comics

If you missed the Summer Reading Program at Baker Book House, fear not. You needn’t miss the comics that were featured in each weeks’ activity page.

Click each image to enlarge the comics, because they are way too small otherwise. Enjoy!

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Week 1 – A Messy Situation

week_2_of_monsters_and_scaredy_cats

Week 2 – Of Monsters & Scaredy Cats

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Week 3 – Drawing Blanks

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Week 4 – Mysterious Delivery

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Week 5 – From Holland with Love

week_6_music_to_my_eyes

Week 6 – Music to My Eyes

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Week 7 – Serious Fun

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Week 8 – Living La Vida Local

week_9_tis_a_gift_to_be_simple

Week 9 – ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

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Week 10 – Easy Come, Easy Go

week_11_a_room_full_of_suspects

Week 11 – A Room Full of Suspects

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Week 12 – Back to the Beginning

And if you wanted some activities to do, you can follow this link, 2013_baker_summer_reading_program_activities.

Jot II: Revenge of the Jot

jot_poster2My writers group, The Weaklings, met this past week to discuss our upcoming writer’s mini-conference, Jot.

You may have seen some announcements go out on Facebook or maybe you noticed my re-blog of the event schedule. Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. In any case, you are reading this now and soon will have no excuses for ignorance. Sorry about that. Excuses for ignorance can be great things indeed.

Here’s the deal with Jot. It is a free writer’s mini-conference, which makes it considerably less expensive than every other writer’s conference out there. Heck, it’s even cheaper than the pony rides at the grocery store. Jot is a one-night event, featuring five short sessions of guidance and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Our speakers represent the gamut of writing genres. Matthew Landrum is a poetry editor. Bob Evenhouse writes long-form fantasy fiction. Jessie Clemence just published a non-fiction book on parenting. Sam Carbaugh is an accomplished illustrator and works with comic books. There’s even going to be a panel discussion on writer’s groups. And I get to emcee the whole evening.

It’s going to be a great time. If you are within driving distance of Grand Rapids, MI, you should come to Jot. It’s being held again at the beautifully renovated Baker Book House, 2768 E Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, on Friday, September 13th from 7 to 11pm.

I really hope to see you there. Also, you should consider signing up for the Jot blog. There may just be some advantageous coupons for coffee lovers featured there real soon.

Blue Screen of Death

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My laptop died. Feel free to weep accordingly.

And even though the title of this post is “Blue Screen of Death”, I never even got the Blue Screen. I got the “White Screen Slowly Fading to Black in the Center and then the Corners”.

So I’ve lost some things. Like entire stories, books, and ideas.

At the moment, the offending piece of equipment is sitting at home gathering dust. The guy at the PC repair place tells me that the problem is with the motherboard and that it won’t be fixable, but the hard drive should still be in tact. Which means that my data, my stories, books, and ideas, are safe in there. I just can’t get to them right now.

I once read that our own memories work a bit like that. That the majority of our memories, especially the ones we recall most often, don’t reflect the reality of how things actually were. That the process of remembering itself changes the memory. Distorts it. By having access to our memories, we risk ruining them.

The only memories that are truly safe are the ones locked away in the brains of amnesiacs, who cannot recall them at all.

Of course, memories are pretty useless when you can’t get to them. Just like my laptop, at the moment.

Fortunately, new laptops only cost a few hundred dollars. Retrieving memories from a broken brain is a lot more expensive, I’m sure.

And while I’ve just put a silver lining on the death of my laptop, it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have an extra few hundred dollars laying around for a new laptop. Ah well. For now, I’ll just remember the good old days when I did have one.

The Schedule for JOT II

More to come on Thursday, but the schedule is up at the main Jot site. If you have no idea what this is, it’s a FREE writer’s mini-conference happening in Grand Rapids, MI. Check it out!

Jot Writers Conference

JOT II

September 13th 2013 – Baker Book House, 7pm

Welcome and Opening – Josh Mosey (5 minutes)

Session 1: Submitting to Literary Journals: An Editor’s Perspective – Matt Landrum (15 minutes)

Session 2:  After Grammar:  The Meat of Fiction – Bob Evenhouse  (15 minutes)

Session 3: Interview with Author, Jessie Clemence (20 minutes)
Jessie is the author of There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse: And Other Ways Motherhood Changes Us

Session 4: What Every Writer Can Learn from Comic Books – Sam Carbaugh (15 minutes)

Session 5: Panel Discussion – How Do You Form and Sustain a Writers Group – Weaklings (20 minutes)

Writing Time to Follow

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Requiem for a Stay-cation

Vacations are over too soon.

Last week, I got to spend the entire week with my family. It was beautiful.

We cleaned the house better than it has been cleaned in a while. I power mopped our faux-wood floors while my wife scrubbed dog drool off the baseboards. We rented a carpet cleaner and went to town on our carpets and furniture. We daily cursed our dog’s habit of shedding and flinging drool everywhere. But in the end, our house was good enough to show professionally.

And we had fun. We took the girls to storytime at the library. My oldest got some great exposure to other kids her age (which she doesn’t normally get) and my youngest grooved along to the singing and dancing. We went to the zoo instead of the children’s museum (because it was about half the price), and we petted some goats and saw the bears being fed (the bears were not fed goats though, they keep most of the animals separate). My wife and I saw Iron Man 3 at the cheap theater. And we went to the mall for jeans and a carousel ride.

And now we are back to work. But that isn’t really a bad thing. My wife and I enjoy our jobs, and there is something to be said for going to bed earlier than 10:30pm, especially when the reason you are staying up late is to clean dog drool off of stuff.

But just for a minute, let us remember the stay-cation as it was, with a series of photos from the zoo.

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Some kids get their photos taken with John Ball by sitting on the lap of statue, but that seemed like a lot of work when they are already happily buckled into their double stroller.

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Here is my beautiful wife making a “why are you taking my picture?” face.

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Said my daughter of this cat, “That kitty is bigger than Aunt Dawn’s kitty.” Knowing the cat she is talking about, this cat is certainly taller, but I bet they weight about the same.

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This isn’t a great shot due to the reflection, but you can tell that my girls are pretty fearless when it comes to 800 lb bears within inches of their faces.

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My oldest dutifully looking my direction, even though there are cool wallabies to see behind her.

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I believe she is happy about playing on the train, but it is possible she’s just bearing her teeth to passersby as a way of claiming the train as her own.

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Does any child glow quite as bright as a red-haired child?

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Here I am with my youngest, picking up some neat goat diseases. Just kidding, there’s hand sanitizer posted just outside the petting area.

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You may notice a mark on my youngest’s cheek. She was recently in an off-off-broadway run of the toddler edition of Scarface. She played the title character.

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And back to the train for a 3/4 family photo. Also, what was my oldest’s favorite thing at the zoo? The animals? No. It was this train.

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I’m pretty sure that she is considering moving in.

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After a brief close encounter in the aviary, we beat a hasty retreat, which is good, because I am no fan of birds. They might as well have called this part of the zoo the “Get pooped on” room.

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High-Fiving a Gorilla.

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Here I am with my oldest. We just told the goat that the tree was made of candy. Silly goat.

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And finally, as we left the zoo, we encountered a sea monster in the pond by the parking lot. It seems peaceful enough, until you get too close.

I am cautious of the narratives we spin for our kids

My kids are unique.

My oldest is getting shy around people. She takes forever to eat a meal. She has red hair and, at times, the stereotypical temperament to match.

My youngest is daring (though she is still wary of strangers). She is a bottomless pit who cannot eat fast enough. She is easy-going (unless you take her toy or her favorite blanket).

And while these are the observations I make about them, my wife and I are careful not to share them too loudly with our girls. They are at that beautiful age where a parent’s word is beyond questioning. They trust us implicitly.

If my oldest hears me telling someone that she was afraid of the bears at the zoo (she wasn’t, she loved the bears, this is just an example), there is a good chance that at our next bear encounter, she will act afraid. If she hears me telling someone about how differently she and her sister approach food, she might place a greater importance on her eating habits (either thinking that she doesn’t eat enough or that she eats too much) than is healthy.

Even our compliments must fall under some scrutiny. If all we tell our children is that they are cute and adorable, they will likely believe that appearance is all that matters. And so, while we do tell them that they are cute (because they are), we also try to mix in how nice, kind, compassionate, smart, and hard-working they are as well.

At this time, possibly more than any other, we are telling them a story about themselves, one that they believe wholeheartedly. They will become the characters that we describe them to be. And so we must be careful how we describe them. Especially to themselves.

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