Saturday, October 5, 2019

Blogging About Blogging

I started blogging in 2009 when my first book was published because it was supposed to be good publicity and help them sell. 

I was very hesitant and doubted that I would be able to think of anything to say twice a week for very long.

Well, I’ve managed to write posts about words, books, and kids around 500 times and haven’t run out of ideas yet.

Since I share all my blog posts on Facebook I get comments there, but very few on my blog page itself. And none of my books have become best sellers as a result of blogging.

But I enjoy doing it, and will probably continue for a long time.

If you are reading this on Facebook I’d love to have you go over to my blog page, http://onwordsblog.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment there.


Thanks.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Wisdom

According to the United States Constitution the president must be at least 45 years old because “Wisdom cometh with age.”

So forty five was considered old back then.

I remember when it would make the news if someone lived to be 100 years old, but that’s not even unusual today.

My husband used to work at a nursing and retirement home. When he started working there most of the residents were in their 80s and a few were in their 90s.  When he retired 20 years later most were in their 80s and some in their hundreds.

And, when I was a kid, puberty was expected to begin in the early teens. Now it’s not unusual for girls to reach puberty when they’re only nine years old.

So, if lots of people start to reproduce before reaching their teens, and lots live more than a hundred years, our planet will sure be crowded.

And, if people predicting that the oceans will rise are correct, there will be less land so humans - and animals - will be so crowded we can hardly move.


Will we be wise enough to deal with that?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Imagination

“Oh, Janet, you have SUCH an imagination,” my mother used to say.

Of course my imagination has been useful, since I’m a writer.

But people use their imaginations for all sorts of other things, like getting ideas for inventions or figuring out how to solve conflicts.

I wonder if animals and other creatures have imaginations.

Many of them obviously figure out how to solve problems, but what about
thinking up stories?

Can gorillas imagine things that don’t exist? Can dogs?

And, what about other creatures like cows, birds, frogs, whales and insects?


Most of them probably can’t, but we can’t be sure.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Mystery of the Haunted Heater

Most stories have a similar pattern. There’s a problem and the main character tries three things to fix it. The first thing they try doesn’t work, the second one doesn’t work, and, unless it’s a tragedy, the third thing they try does work.

A couple of weeks ago we had one cool evening and I turned my heating system back on. The next day while the air conditioner was going, it turned itself on again, so I turned the system off.

A few days ago we had the first cold, rainy day and I tried to turn the heater on again, but it wouldn’t work.

I called the manufacturers of the control unit, and everything seemed to be working fine, but the heater still wouldn’t turn on.

I had my handyman come over and he tried everything he could think of, but it still wouldn’t work, and the house was cold.

I called a heating repair company and they sent someone out to repair it. He spent nearly an hour trying to figure out what was wrong, and finally got it!

During the summer I’d had new flooring installed in part of the house and the people who did it had turned all the floor vents in those rooms off. That  had caused pressure to build up inside the heater when it was turned on, so it wouldn’t work. 

All I had to do was open all the floor vents and it worked!


The mystery was solved and the story had a happy ending.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Conch Bearer

I often read Middle Grade fiction because I’m still a kid on the inside.

I just read Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

As you can guess by the author’s name, the story takes place in India.

The book about a poor boy, Anand, who is given the responsibility of caring for a conch shell that has magical powers.

The plot is so exciting that I read all 265 pages at one sitting. 

I also learned something about the culture of India.


I hope to read more books by this author in the future..

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Languages

I’ve always been fascinated by languages.

When my baby brother was learning to talk I could understand him when the grown-ups couldn’t. 

When I was four years old we moved from the East Coast to California and I was surprised to discover people here had different words for some things.

I decided I wanted to learn every language in the world, but I had no idea how many languages there are.

I did study several languages in school, but the only one I’m fluent in besides English is American Sign Language.

The way languages change and develop over time has always fascinated me, and I took elective classes in Historical Linguistics in college.


I still wish I could learn more languages, but, since I’m officially old, I don’t have the time or patience to do that.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Family

I have a VERY extended family. When I first got married my husband gave up trying to distinguish between cousins, second cousins, cousins once removed, cousins of cousins, aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, etc., etc. so he called them all “step neighbors in law.

Now that many family members in my generation have become mothers or fathers-in-law and grandparents, the family has become even more complicated.

And I have relatives living thousands of miles away and some in other countries.

But family is family and I love them all, even though I can’t see them in person. 

I’m grateful that many of us are able to keep in touch through the internet.

There are lots of problems in our modern world, but improved communication is one thing not to complain about.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Fair is the Fair

I can hardly wait to join other members of the Gold Country Writers at the Gold Country Fair tomorrow afternoon!

Of course I hope to sell lots of my books, but even if I don’t there’s something special about spending time with other writers. And county fairs are lots of fun.


I’m glad I live in a semi-rural area so things like that happen here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Cottage in the Woods

Although Katherine Coville’s husband Bruce is a well known (and excellent) author of books for kids, this is Katherine Coville’s first book. And it’s wonderful!

The story is about the Vaugn family of bears who accept the human child, Goldilocks, as their foster child.

The main character, Ursula, is a bear and she must solve a complicated mystery, cope with her own romantic feelings, and try to protect Goldilocks from some evil humans.


The story is exciting, the characters are believable, and … I could go on and on about the great things that make me love this book, but it would be better if you read The Cottage in the Woods yourself.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hi, Ho, Come to the Fair

I’m excited because next week on Sunday afternoon I’ll be working at the Gold Country Writers’ booth at the Gold Country Fair in Auburn, CA.

The fair goes on for several days and I’ll only be there for a few hours, but it will be fun to hang out with some of my writer friends.

All of our books will be available during the whole fair, from 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, the fifth until 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, the 8th.

There’s something about the tradition of county fairs that reminds me of our country’s history - and even the history of the world. Fairs have been going on for centuries and I’m excited about participating in this one.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Marigold And The Snoring King

This cute book by J.D. Remple reminds me of the classic stories I used to hear when I was a kid.  It has the typical three act structure with the first thing not working, the second thing not working, and the third succeeding.

But in this book the one trying the three things isn’t the main character. It’s the king, who snores so loudly he keeps the entire kingdom awake at night and can’t stop.

The real main character is Marigold, who has a solution for the problem, but isn’t allowed to share it until the climax. And she does solve the problem, but I won’t give away the secret of what she does.

J.D. Remple has done a great job of telling a story kids will love and the illustrations by Kim Sponaugle show the characters and story perfectly.


Marigold And The Snoring King is a book kids will love to have read to them at bedtime again and again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

At It Again

“Oh, Janet, you have SUCH an imagination!” my mother used to say.

Well, my imagination is at it again.

I recently learned that a family from India has bought several service stations in my community, and that gave me an idea.

What if our enemies in the Taliban were to arrange for hundreds of their members and friends to buy every service station in the USA? Then they could cause major problems for us by refusing to sell gas so we’d have no transportation. And maybe they’d even blow up all the stations and start huge fires all over the country. 

Of course that couldn’t really happen because not all service station owners would be willing to sell. And many people could use electric cars, bikes, or other forms of transportation. (And I’m sure the local family from India are not members of the Taliban.)


But it might be an idea for a sci-fi book. (Writers, feel free to use the idea since I don’t write things like that.)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Writing History


When I was a kid (back when kids could play outside without adult supervision) sometimes we’d write notes to each other by scratching the backs of leaves with sticks, or by scratching sticks in the dirt. Those would soon disappear. 

I wonder if early humans gave messages to each other that way. They couldn’t read and write, but could have used symbols.

The first writing we know about was scratched onto rocks or clay tablets. Those lasted.

Then some people wrote on animal skins or papyrus on scrolls. 

When paper was invented books had to be written and sewn together by hand. It took a whole work day for scribes to write one chapter from the Bible and those had to be translated.

When Gutenberg invented the printing press he didn’t sell many copies of the Bible. (I once got to mend one of those when I worked in a library!) Rich people already had handwritten copies of the Bible and the lower classes couldn’t read. Gutenberg made most of his money by printing small things - like fliers. The advertising industry can thank him.

A few hundred years ago lots of people were literate and books were published by the hundreds or even thousands.

Today lots of us read on our phones or other electronic devices.

Maybe someday instead of cellphones we’ll have brain implants. Then some evil world government will take over and control us. (Can you tell I’m a writer?)
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Saturday, August 10, 2019

We Too


I rarely review books for adults, but I can’t resist sharing about this powerful book for adults. We Too by Mary DeMuth is about sexual abuse.

The author experienced this herself as a child, and has written this book in hopes that it will help the many other women who have experienced that kind of trauma.

Our culture tends to hide things like that, but by sharing the information in this book DeMuth will probably help hundreds -or possibly thousands - of people deal with their own traumatic experiences. And, by making the rest of us aware of the problem, hopefully the book will help our society as a whole find ways to prevent others from becoming victims in the future.

This book is not for the squeamish, but it can make huge difference in the lives of people who have experienced this kind of abuse and those who want to help them.
I admire the author for having the courage to share everything in this book.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Problems

A week or so ago I mentioned some problems on my blog and on Facebook.

I’m sorry to have been whining. Actually, problems can be a good thing.

As a writer I can tell you if there’s no conflict, there’s no plot.

Imagine how boring the world - and people - would be if nobody ever had any problems.

Like the characters in fiction, the interesting things in our lives are how we dealt with problems and what the results were.

Looking back, my life has included some tragedy, comedy, romance and, at my age, some of it is now historical fiction. And the fact that I’m writing this at my computer and sharing it on the internet would have been considered science fiction when I was young.

And, like characters in books, I’ve been shaped in many ways by the plot events I’ve experienced.

My life has been exciting and I anticipate a happy ending.


How about your lives?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Great Devotional

I’ve read so many devotional books in my life you’d think by now I’d be so holy I’d glow in the dark. ;-)

That hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to, but I have just finished reading an extremely inspiring devotional book.

Waiting For God, Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Place is probably the best one I’ve ever read.

It’s designed to be used for one month and could be read at any time of the year. 
Besides the usual Bible readings and quoted verses, the author, Xochitl Dixon, shares deeply meaningful and entertaining stories and Bible readings.


I don’t usually review books for grown-ups on my blog, but this one is so good I couldn’t resist sharing about it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

1984

I recently reread that classic book, 1984, by George Orwell.

I’d been thinking about how many things in that book that were science fiction when it was written are actually happening today.

For instance, people can watch you in your home from far away.

But I’d forgotten how depressing that book was.

Thank goodness we don’t have the evil kind of government in that novel.

There are LOTS of problems in our world and we have plenty to complain about no matter what our political or religious beliefs may be.

But that novel makes our current world seem wonderful by contrast.

Things could be much worse, but I doubt that they will ever become like those in that novel.

And, in many ways, things were worse in centuries past.

I’m glad I live in 2019.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Writers Groups

I love writers groups.

But, as a writer, I’m concerned about punctuation and can never decide if that term should be writers’ groups, since the group belongs to writers, or just, plain writers groups since it’s plural and lots of us are there.

Probably other writers understand why I care about what I just mentioned.

Writing is a solitary job, but writers are communicators, so when we get together we just click. We understand each other in ways ‘normal’ people can’t.

I only belong to two groups with speakers and events and one critique group, but I have belonged to others in the past and still consider members of those earlier groups to be my close friends.


If I ever stop writing I’ll probably have to change my identity, because I am a writer and that’s an important part of who I am.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Turn Signals

When I moved to the Sierra foothills from the urban San Francisco Bay Area I was pleased to see that people up here stop at stop signs and take turns at four-way stops. They stop to let pedestrians cross the street and usually stay within five miles of the speed limit.

But, just like in the Bay Area, lots of people don’t seem to know how to use their turn signals.

Back in ancient history, when I was young, turn signals hadn’t been invented. At least not the electric kind.

Instead of signal lights we would hold our hands and arms out the driver’s window to signal that we were going to turn or stop. Holding the arm straight out to the left showed that we would turn left, holding it straight up meant we’d make a right turn, and holding it down toward the ground meant we were about to stop.

Of course there were problems with that. Drivers had to keep their windows open most of the time, put their arms out in the rain or snow in winter and risk getting sunburns in the summer.

And sometimes it was difficult for people to see the hand signals of some other cars, depending on where their own cars were.

You would think since people using electric turn signals don’t have any of those problems, drivers would use their turn signals all the time.


Do they use turn signals most of the time where you live? Do you?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Technology

A few decades ago if we’d seen someone walking around alone talking out loud we’d have thought they were crazy. Today we just assume they’re using a cellphone.

We can do things today that were only science fiction back when I was a kid. (Yes, I’m old.)

A few weeks ago I was without internet access for a few days and I was amazed at how much I missed it.

Perhaps in the future instead of cellphones we’ll have brain implants. 

Then some evil world government will take over and control us all.


I guess you can tell my writerly imagination is at work. ;-)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Enchanted Necklace (A Nordic Princess Fairytale)

James Bradley Clarke has written a delightful book full of magic and excitement, combining Norse mythology with an imaginary world.

Since it’s an adventure with lots of danger it may appeal to boys as well as girls, even though the main characters are girls.


I hope Clarke writes more books about the two princesses, Hedda and Silya, because I’d like to read more about them.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine

This book is about Timothy who uses his imagination to make a time machine and has lots of mischievous adventures as he uses it.

William A. E. Ford has written a book that kids, especially boys, will enjoy. What boys wouldn’t love pirates, dinosaurs, trips to outer space, and lots of other adventures even if each one only takes a single page? 

And Timothy gets away with a lot of naughty things, too.

Even some kids who are usually too old for picture books will think this one is fun.


And Marcelo Simonetti’s illustrations capture the exciting scenes perfectly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Not Fair!


In the winter I wear sweaters and other warm clothing that don’t need to be steamed or ironed to remove wrinkles. In Spring and Autumn I wear lots of things made with synthetics, and they don’t need to be ironed or steamed.

But in the Summer when the weather gets really hot the coolest fabrics are things like pure cotton and rayon that do need to be steamed or ironed to get rid of the wrinkles.

And using a steamer or iron is warm work.

That’s not fair!

But wait…

Is it fair that I have plenty of clothes to choose from, and an insulated house with heating and air conditioning when so many people in the world don’t even have a roof over their heads or more clothes than what they’re wearing?

Certainly not!


Okay, I’ll quit complaining about the minor inconveniences in my own life.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Blogging About Blogs

I can’t remember how many years ago it was when I first heard about blogging on the internet.

The word, blog, was originally a combination of the words, web and log. A blog was originally called a weblog and that word got shortened to blog.

And I can’t remember exactly how long I have been blogging. I started in about 2009 when my first book was going to be published. 

Back then I wondered how I could possibly think of something to write twice a week, but I’ve been blogging for ten years and only missed posts a few times when I had computer or internet problems or personal emergencies.

I also share all my blog posts on Facebook, so that’s where I get almost all the comments.

I don’t know if my blog posts have helped sell my books, but I enjoy writing them, and I enjoy reading other people’s posts.

If anyone would like to go to www.janetanncollins.com and leave a comment on my blog there, I’d appreciate that.


And, of course, I’d love to have more people buy my books.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Caitie the Caterpillar

Jennifer Gladen has written a cute book for kids.

There are lots of books about caterpillars turning into butterflies, and I’ve even seen some with similar titles like  Katy the Caterpillar and Catie the Caterpillar.

But this book is different. It’s not just about metamorphosis.

Caitie and her friend, Alexander Ant, have to keep finding ways to escape from Swift Sparrow, who wants to eat them so the book is an exciting adventure.

The artist, Eugene Ruble, does a good job of showing the story.


The scientific information at the end of the book will be interesting to kids, too.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Why I Write

When I was a kid my mother used to say, “Oh, Janet, you have SUCH an imagination!” as if that weren’t a good thing.

From the time I was three years old I made up imaginary friends. And my favorite part of the day was just before going to bed when one of my parents read to me.

And through most of my childhood I’d go out and play with the other kids in the neighborhood and we’d usually pretend things.

I was reading fluently by the time I finished First Grade (that’s another story) and have loved to read ever since.


So I write, partly to put my imagination to good use, and also to give back some of the joy reading has given to me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Song For A Whale

I loved this book!

It’s about Iris, who wants to help a lonely whale hear calls similar to his own and figures out a way to make that happen.

Having worked at California School for the Deaf, raised Deaf foster kids, married a Sign Language interpreter, and had many Deaf friends, I appreciate that the author accurately portrays Iris, who is Deaf.

And, since I’ve always loved animals and been fascinated with how they communicate, there couldn’t be a plot that would interest me more.

After Iris figures out how to make and record sounds similar to those of the whale, her grandmother takes her on a cruise to try to contact the whale.

That’s only a simplified description of the exciting plot.

All the characters seem real, the settings are described so well it feels like the reader is actually there, and I learned a lot from reading this wonderful book.

The author, Lynne Jelly, is a Sign Language interpreter and obviously knows what she has written about.


Song For A Whale is a wonderful book!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Imagination

When I was a kid my mother often told me I had too much imagination, but I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to have too much imagination.

Just think what the world would be like if nobody had ever imagined anything. 

Boring!

As a kid, whether at home with my brother or out with the other kids in the neighborhood, I’d be using my imagination to pretend. Often as we played we’d become cowboys and Indians, princesses and knights in shining armor, space explorers, or adults with our own children.

And, of course, as a voracious reader, my imagination would follow the plots of whatever books I was reading. And it still does! 

That’s why I’m a writer.


When we use our imaginations anything is possible!