Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: lump

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odd-shaped pregnancy

mystery bump; What? Hello!

furry lump, “Mee-yow”

 

lump by Angie Quantrell

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Connect with Neighbors over Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider: Sip and Share Booth Article from Missions Mosaic

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It’s was like Christmas morning when I opened the December issue of Missions Mosaic to discover an article I wrote last year.

In the publishing world, deadlines are much earlier than the publication dates. Sometimes, deadlines are one year or longer before the written project is available in print. After I hit send, I move on to the next deadline, forgetting what I’ve completed in order to focus on what needs to be written.

Like I said, an early December surprise awaited for me in the pages of Missions Mosaic. Merry Christmas!

I love hot cocoa, hot coffee, hot tea, hot apple cider. While it’s good on its own, sipping a favorite hot drink is much nicer while chatting to friends or neighbors. So what’s holding you back from this pleasure, which can be enjoyed long after Christmas decorations are packed away and the tree is chipped up for the garden?

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Sharing tea with my cousin, Melissa.

Let’s take some time this holiday season to connect – REALLY connect – with others. Actual people, face-to-face, heart-to-heart. Share kindness and conversation.

~ Invite a friend over for coffee.

~ Organize a street-wide or neighborhood hot cocoa and cookie get-together.

~ Meet with work buddies at a coffee shop one afternoon after work.

~ Surprise your Sunday school class or other faith group by taking along along coffee and pastries.

~ Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood or a local nursing home. Gather together afterwards to enjoy hot cocoa.

~ Read the “Sip and Share Booth” Missions Mosaic article and arrange to host one in your community.

‘Tis the season to be merry. And nothing shouts MERRY more than loving human interactions. Be the beginning of Christmas cheer as you share your life and God’s love with those around you.

***Missions Mosaic may be ordered by calling 1-800-968-7301 or by visiting wmustore.com or wmu.com/adults.

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Haiku Moment: remember summer

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winter winds blow brisk

dark skies strip warmth, steal hope, joy;

remember summer

 

hold tight, my dear ones

bundle and cocoon yourself,

summer will return

 

Haiku and photo by Angie Quantrell

 


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Haiku Moment: fire

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blaze of summer’s last

fling; scarlet burns in sunlight

leaves aflame with light

 

fire by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo credit: Angie Quantrell, November 2019, Columbia River State Park, Washington


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Haiku Moment: fall explosion

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woods, stream, leaves, and fall

collide, put on nature shows-

such beauty explodes

 

fall explosion by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo Credit: Angie Quantrell, Hood Canal, Belfair State Park, WA state


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Spidey Snack, A Teeny Story

SPIDEY SNACK

by Angie Quantrell

 

Written in honor of Susanna Leonard Hill’s 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest. As Susanna says, “aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!” It’s time for some fun!

Read more tiny stories at Susanna’s blog here.

 

SPIDEY SNACK

“Help! I’m stuck in this cobweb!” shouted Bumblebee.

Hedgie looked up. “I’ll help” she called. But how? She was too low, Bumble too high.

In her workroom, Hedgie searched recipes. Grow tall spell? Invisible wings oil? Jumping legs gel?

Hedgie heard a chanting voice. “Hungry, yes, starving! Who’s in my web?”

“Legs is coming!” squeaked Bumble.

A floating spell? That’s the trick.

Hedgie mixed ingredients and chugged the potion. She glided up, grabbed Bumble, and popped open her spines.

“Ouch!” yelled Legs. “Wahhh! I’m still hungry.”

“You may not eat my friend. But do join us for Halloween pumpkin soup.”

 


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Haiku Moment: sixteen degrees

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october? sixteen?

leaves, pumpkins, frosty fall-yes

but not freezing temps

 

dig out the hats, scarves,

mittens and gloves, heavy coats

cheers for toasty drinks

 

sixteen degrees by Angie Quantrell

 

Brr, baby, it’s cold outside! Low teens in October? Frozen pumpkins, water sources, fingers, and noses. My grand thinks now it should snow and there will be icicles and sledding. It’s definitely cold enough, but clear blue skies portend otherwise.

To a week complete with an earlier tiny window of snow flurries (we saw nary a speck), come on winter, we’re bundled up tight.

How’s your weather? What’s your favorite cold weather toasty drink?

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Haiku Moment: out of season

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why, precious wee orb

fall is here, you are fragile

i fear no hatching

 

out of season by Angie Quantrell

 

I discovered this nest yesterday while on a walk. Several other eggs were spread about willy-nilly, but these two were nestled as much as possible. I felt so sad for the out of season eggs. No chance at hatching or survival. Why?

But still beautiful.


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Author Interview: Meet Vivian Kirkfield & Giveaway

Welcome, Vivian Kirkfield! Welcome, readers! Let’s get this party, I mean Author Interview, going!

Happy Universal Music Day! We decided to celebrate Universal Music Day by introducing Vivian’s new picture book, Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. Read more about Universal Music Day here.

I met Vivian Kirkfield online through the wonderful kidlit community. She is a fascinating online friend. I can only hope our paths intersect some day so we can meet in person. Think WASHINGTON state, Vivian. Yakima Valley.

I’ve enjoyed reading about Vivian’s new picture book releases and her fun travels and adventures. To celebrate her newest picture book release, I’ve invited Vivian to visit and answer a few questions. But first, here is her new book.

*Be sure to read all the way to the bottom. Vivian Kirkfield is offering a bound ARC of Making Their Voices Heard to one reader. Be sure to comment below to get your name in the hat!

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Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020

 

The Interview

I was so excited to read Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee, January 14, 2020). I had no idea Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe knew each other. How did you find out about this special friendship?

At the end of 2014, soon after I took a class in writing nonfiction picture books, I was surfing the internet, looking for ideas for stories (a homework assignment for that class) and came across a photo of Ella and Marilyn, sitting together at a nightclub. The blurb under the photo talked about how Marilyn had helped Ella get a booking at a top nightclub in Hollywood. I was intrigued…and I started digging deeper to find out more about it. But, as is the case with many story ideas, I couldn’t find anything to substantiate whether or not Ella and Marilyn were friends. So, I had to get creative.

I discovered that one of the books on Marilyn Monroe was authored by a former professor at a California university. I went to the school’s website and found her email. I contacted her and she suggested I ask the president of the oldest Marilyn Monroe fan club, Greg Schreiner. I was able to get his email on his website and he gave me the phone number of the woman who had been Ella’s promoter for thirty-seven years. I called her – we spoke for hours – and she verified that Ella and Marilyn had been friends and both had a tremendous respect and admiration for each other.

What was your inspiration to turn this friendship into a picture book?

They say we need to make a book relatable for kids. Kids help their friends all the time. I thought it was important to show how Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe helped each other. Marilyn put her career on the line to a certain extent because in those days, there was a lot of racial discrimination and movie studios controlled what their actresses could and couldn’t do. By calling the nightclub owner and insisting that he book Ella, Marilyn stepped up and spoke out. The Civil Rights movement was just in its infancy…in fact, the nightclub incident happened in 1954 and it wasn’t until the end of 1955 that Rosa Park refused to give up her seat on the bus.

I also wanted to show how we are all complex individuals. Most of us know Marilyn as a sexy Hollywood star…and kids probably don’t know her at all. Similarly, most kids may never have heard of Ella, but her music was genius…in fact, at the first Grammys in 1959, Ella Fitzgerald won for best female pop vocalist and best improvised jazz performance. I thought it was time for kids to discover these two special women.

What was your writing journey for Making Their Voices Heard? How long did it take? Did you work with others or share your manuscript with a critique group or other writers?

As I mentioned, I wrote the story late in 2014/early 2015. I researched – using online sources and lots of library books. When I felt I had enough information to craft the narrative around these two icons, I began writing. By June 2015, I had a polished rough draft. Hahaha…that sounds like an oxymoron, right? I had the story…but it wasn’t there yet. I submitted it to Rate Your Story, an online service of kid-lit professionals who give a rating from 1-10 (1 is the best…it means the story is just about ready to submit). In June 2015, Ella and Marilyn…at that point titled: A FRONT ROW SEAT, received a ‘3’ and the judge suggested I add something about how Ella helped Marilyn to balance the story out. GREAT ADVICE which I took!

I worked on the story, gave it to some of my critique buddies, along with the feedback from the judge. And then I revised and polished it some more and brought it to a writing retreat where an editor fell in love with it and asked me to revise and send it to her. I did revise it and submitted it to Rate Your Story again in August 2015 with the title: STANDING UP FOR FRIENDSHIP. It received a ‘2’. Then I signed with Essie White as my agent and she submitted it to that editor. But even though the editor loved it, she couldn’t get acquisitions to buy it.

In the summer of 2016, I went to another writing retreat and pitched it to a different editor who asked to see it. Essie sent it to her and she asked for revisions. I revised and gave it to critique buddies again. And in August 2016, I sent it to Rate Your Story one last time with the title: DREAM A LITTLE DREAM. And it received a ‘1’. The editor loved the revision, but that acquisitions’ team wouldn’t buy it either. That’s the thing about this business…you can have a fabulous story but if it doesn’t get to the desk of the right editor…or, if it does, but acquisitions doesn’t think they can make enough money…or if the publisher isn’t looking for a book about that topic…they will pass on it. You just have to keep on writing other stories and submitting that one.

Early in 2018, the manuscript was still circulating (Essie really believed in it) and the editor from Little Bee Books asked for a revise and resubmit. I revised (are you seeing a pattern here…no matter how polished your story is, every editor or agent sees it with their own eyes and from their own perspective of experience…and we have to be willing to make changes as per what a particular editor is looking for), with the help of my critique buddies, and the editor bought it. And the week after she made the offer, we spent five days of back and forth emails as she made suggestions for a few minor tweaks and additions. Every day, my inbox would have her marked up manuscript…every evening, her inbox would have my revision. On the fifth day, she said…We’re done! It’s time to get the illustrator.

And she did. The illustrator, the fabulous Alleanna Harris was signed on almost immediately and the publication process began.

Which just goes to show that if you believe in your manuscript and your writing is good, your story will find a home!

What special plans do you have to celebrate the book birthday of Making Their Voices Heard?

I have several thoughts…the book launches January 14th, 2020. And the NYSCBWI conference is the first week in February. If Little Bee Books can arrange a book launch at Books of Wonder or some other NYC bookstore for that week, I might do that. One of my dear friends, Maria Marshall, is going to interview me for her Picture Book Buzz blog series on January 13th…and she’ll also do a Perfect Picture Book Friday review on January 17th. Several other friends are already doing posts (like this one here on Angie Quantrell’s blog!). I don’t have a book birthday post yet…but I think maybe Kathy Temean might have said she wants to do that. The mid-winter ALA is at the end of January in Philadelphia…I’d be happy to go there if I could sign the book at the Little Bee booth. And of course, the Grammys are January 26 – that’s a special day for this book because, as I mentioned earlier, Ella Fitzgerald won Best Female Pop Vocalist and Best Improvised Jazz Performance in the very first-ever Grammys in 1959. I’d also love to attend the LASCBWI next summer – Greg Schreiner, the president of the oldest Marilyn Monroe fan club, thinks Hollywood is the perfect place for this book. 😊 And I am always open to suggestions – if anyone has a great idea, I’m all ears. 😉

What else would you like to share about this lovely book, your writing, or your life as an author?

I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world…I am truly living my dream…and best of all, I’m able to work with other writers, both old and young. At every conference presentation, I encourage writers to never give up – the only failure is the failure to keep trying. And at every school I visit, I hope to inspire children to follow their dreams—because nothing is impossible if you can imagine it.

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About Vivian

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (Pomegranate); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020).

You can connect with Vivian on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

ella and marilyn in nightclub

Thank you, Vivian, for the wonderful interview! I’m fascinated by the journey of this book on its way to publication. Great job sticking with it! Congratulations and Happy Book Birthday!

Don’t forget to comment and share some love with Vivian! Comment by Friday, October 18, to get your name in the hat to win a bound ARC copy of Making Their Voices Heard.

 


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Book Report: Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

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Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020

 

Are you a music lover? Or someone who enjoys special friendships? You will love reading Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe.

Who knew? I had no idea these two historical figures knew each other at all, let alone were good friends and helped each other along in their career paths. I love what fascinating stories we can learn by reading great picture books. This unlikely friendship proved that friendship can be found in unexpected places and true friends stick up for and help each other along.

P.S. Come back tomorrow to meet and greet Vivian Kirkfield! Vivian will be my first guest author. I can’t wait to hear what she has to tell us. Vivian is a wonderful author. She is also a supporter and encourager to many authors and writers. See you soon!

What I LOVED about this book:

* The characters! I didn’t know much about either woman before reading this picture book, other than general Hollywood-type fast facts. I was fascinated to learn how closely connected they were in real life.

* The language of this picture book is wonderful. Easy to read yet full of meat. Young readers (and older ones like me) will be enchanted as they inhale the story and the illustrations.

* The illustrations are captivating. The images match the feel of the story and the time period of this friendship.

* Learning new information. I loved to read how the women worked together to fight against beliefs of the time. This theme is very much current to what women are still fighting for today.

* The backmatter (all that glorious information at the end of the book) is enlightening. I loved adding to my knowledge about the two friends by reading the extra information.

I hope you will order a copy of this book. January 14, 2020, is the book birthday for Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. You can order this book in advance.

 

Amazon Blurb:

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike–full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be.

Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town–one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet.

Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused.

Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.