Parenting in Harmony

8 Sep

school harmony mural honor circle

“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”—Sitting Bull (one of the quotes on the Honor Circle in the courtyard of our new middle school)

This summer I started reading a favorite series from my childhood to my daughter, the Little House books. She knew we had Native American ancestry far back in our blood, so lines like “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” were challenging to navigate, to say the least, as were the books’ assumptions about settlement rights. (The children’s picture book The Buffalo Are Back provided a lot of great social and environmental context, which helped.)

Ultimately though, reading the Little House books has been a good thing for us to do together. It’s created a lot of dialogue about our ever-changing country, race issues, our ongoing cultural stew, what we’ve done right, and areas where we still have a long way to go.

With those conversations fresh in my mind, along with our country’s percolating nationality issues, we found ourselves at the ribbon cutting of her future middle school this week. The event featured a tribal blessing Continue reading

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Reader Q&A: Self Publishing

29 Aug

Hey, remember me? Like you, I’ve been busy doing the summer juggle: a little vacation, a little work, a little downtime, and a whole lot of making memories.

Now fall is waiting in the wings. My evening walks greet a purple sky and school supplies sit ready by the door. One thing I’m especially looking forward to is finally meeting my illustrator in a couple weeks. Would you believe that, after all the time we’ve spent working remotely together on The Denim Jungle, we still have never met?!

In other words, life is full and ever-changing and happy, and my little book continues to bring me delightful surprises.

Speaking of delightful, I recently had a reader reach out with a few questions regarding their own book idea. I thought I’d share our conversation, in the event it could help any of you would-be authors get your dreams out into the world. Continue reading

The Denim Jungle Storytime – From Us to You!

19 Jan

storytime,reading,book,Angela,SzabaHello, friends. How were your holidays? I hope 2017 is treating you well. A new year brings new challenges, but it also brings new hope.

Last year was quite a whirlwind for me, with the release of my first book, The Denim Jungle. But one of my favorite parts was all the story times I got to do at libraries, classrooms, and book stores.

So I thought: Why not give my readers, far and wide, their very own story time? And who better to help me than my daughter, Szaba? By now, she knows The Denim Jungle front to back.

Here’s our video, which includes explanations about the details and even some secrets hidden inside… along with Szaba’s own special blend of silliness, of course.

We hope you enjoy it! Continue reading

WOW! Writer’s Digest Review of The Denim Jungle

1 Dec

Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards

I am absolutely floored by this review of The Denim Jungle I just received from the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books Awards.

And it couldn’t come at a better time. Last week was the one-year anniversary of finally having my book (MY book!) in my hands, and tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of losing Sue, who inspired me to make it. To say it’s a bittersweet time of year would be a profound understatement.

I miss you, Sue. Thank you for being you. Thank you for motivating me (and so many others) to imagine and commit and create. Thank you for giving me this connection to you. But most of all, thank you for helping me be the kind of mom who can show her kids that dreams can be made reality with hard work and heart.

24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Entry Title: The Denim Jungle
Category: Children’s Picture books

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding.”

  • Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
  • Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
  • Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
  • Plot and Story Appeal: 5
  • Character Appeal and Development: 5
  • Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary

Visually stunning and engaging, designed for multiple reads that will reveal new details each time. Author has put a lot of excellent thought and work into designing this book with multimedia elements, creating visually pleasing pages to delight the young reader and older reader alike. Author scores with a terrific premise Continue reading

Voting and Legacy

8 Nov

It blows my mind that there are currently women alive who weren’t born with the right to vote. And yet today, women in the U.S. not only have the right to vote, but there’s a woman on the ballot for the top ticket.

No matter where your political affinities lie, that’s rather remarkable, don’t you think? And it’s thanks to a whole host of fierce women who fought and earned it.

Inspiring Women Suffrage History Halloween CostumeAs we (hopefully) close the chapter on much of the anxiety and infighting of the past many months, let’s take a moment to extend some mutual respect for those who committed their legacy to securing a more equal future for all U.S. citizens.

How best to honor them?

Why, voting of course!

Better yet, get your kids excited about voting. Let’s pass the torch of our foremothers to a generation who can continue to make strides in equality. One day, it will be up to their vote.

With respect and gratitude…

Jane Addams (1860–1935) – social activist, president Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Nina E. Allender (1873–1957) – speaker, organizer and cartoonist
Naomi Anderson (b. 1863) – black suffragist, temperance advocate
Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) – co-founder and leader National Women’s Suffrage Association, created the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association
Annie Arniel (1873–1924) – member of the Silent Sentinels, arrested eight times in direct actions
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) – African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and early leader in the civil rights movement  Continue reading

Creative Generosity

28 Oct poem,poetry,szaba,green lake

poem,poetry,szaba,green lakeThe world could do with a little more creative generosity, don’t you think?

What do I mean by creative generosity? Giving of your imagination and creative talents for no other reason than to be happy and help make other people happy

There’s a writer who frequents our local park, gifting poems to people as writing practice for herself and her own special contribution to the community. She wrote one for my daughter the other day, and it was so on point, I teared up a bit.

I wanted to share it with all of you, as well as its message:

Don’t let anyone hold you back… and that includes yourself.

And, who knows? Maybe this will inspire your own bout of creative generosity. My daughter is already planning a front yard lemonade-type stand… but free, with her homemade stories and art as the treats.

Wishing you all a creative, generous day.

Continue reading

8 Reasons to Self Publish (and 3 Reasons NOT to)

29 Sep

bookstore_couthbuzzard

Many of you have been coming to me with book dreams in hand, wanting to know my tips for how to get published.

I’ve posted quite a few resources here, but if you truly want to create a physical book that you can hold in your hands, here’s the one question you need to answer first:

Do you want to traditionally publish or self publish?

I spent years weighing the pros and cons of both, finally choosing self publishing. Does that mean I recommend self publishing to everyone? Hardly.

Here are my crib notes from years of research and my own experience. If you’ve published your own book and want to weigh in, by all means, add your nuggets of knowledge in the comments below.

Here are my top 8 reasons to self publish (and 3 reasons not to).

Please note that these tips are specific to publishing a children’s picture book. If you’re looking to self publish something else (say a paperback book without pictures, for instance) the financial considerations are considerably less, but some of the other points will still apply.

Continue reading