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!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Gold Friends


Back when I was a Girl Scout we used to sing, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver but the other is gold.”

Thanks to the internet and other modern technology I’m now able to keep in touch with old friends I hadn’t seen or heard from in decades.

But that’s still not as good as seeing them face to face in real life.

In a few weeks I plan to attend a high school reunion and I can hardly wait to see some of my gold friends in person. 


Of course now most of us have silver, not gold, brown, or red hair, but we’re all still kids on the inside.

Friday, May 17, 2019

What Is That Strange Noise?

Karen Carr and her granddaughter, Piper Andersen, have written a cute picture book together that’s sort of about them.

But what happens couldn’t have happened in real life.

In the book a grandmother and her granddaughter, Piper go for a drive and the grandmother keeps hearing sounds of strange animals from the back seat where Piper is sitting.

Soon the back seat is filled with all kinds of animals.

This book will be enjoyed by little kids who are learning about different kinds of animals and the noises they make.


The illustrations by KC Snider are cute and colorful.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rich or Poor

I’m officially low income. 

I live in a mobile home park, drive a 17 year old car, and can’t afford to go on vacations, buy expensive clothes, or go out to theaters or concerts.

Some people would consider me poor.

But compared to lots of people in the world, I’m rich.

I have a roof over my head, heat, electricity, fresh water and plumbing, a car to drive, medical care, and plenty of food.

I can read and write, use the internet to communicate with friends and family, and give gifts to people I love for special occasions.

And I have a lot of wealth money can’t buy. I’m educated. I can see and hear the beauty around me. I can walk and talk.  

 I could go on and on about all the good things in my life.


What about you? Do you consider yourself rich or poor?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Focused

I’ve been involved with kids who have Special Needs for most of my life. I was a foster parent, worked at California School for the Deaf, and was a substitute teacher in many Special Ed classes, to name only a few ways I’ve done that.

But the book, Focused, by Alyson Gerber, gave me a better understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD than I’ve ever had. ADHD is Attention Deficit Disorder, a condition that makes it extremely difficult to focus on one thing.

Clea, the main character in this book, has that disorder, although she doesn’t know it. 

The story is well written and the plot kept me turning the pages.


I highly recommend Focused to middle grade readers because they would enjoy reading it and also learn to understand kids they may know who have ADHD.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Blog About Blogging

Way back in ancient history when the internet first got started ,somebody invented the term, web log, to define regular online posts by the same person.

Obviously those words were compacted into one and we now use the word, blog.

When my first book was coming out in 2009 Was told to start blogging for publicity. I wondered how I could possibly think of something to say once or twice every week. 

Well, it has been about ten years, and I’m still doing it, although I’ve skipped some posts because of things like moving, health problems, or emergencies.

I’m not sure blogging has done much to help my book sales, but I enjoy doing it.

I share most of my blog posts on Facebook so I seldom get comments on my actual blog site.

If anyone who reads this would be kind enough to go to
 http://onwordsblog.blogspot.com and leave a comment I’d appreciate that very much.


Thanks.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Below the Surface

The author of Below the Surface is Tim Shoemaker. But he should change his name to Tim Thrillmaker because he has certainly created a book full of thrills.

This book for kids is one of the most exciting I’ve ever read. It involves a group of friends, three boys and a girl, who enjoy boating, and a mystery.

Below the Surface is not for the faint of heart because it contains some very scary situations, but that’s what an adventure book should do.

Chapters are told from the points of view of different characters, but their personalities are well portrayed so it’s clear who is telling that part of the story - except when it’s the villian.

And it’s the third in a series  (I haven’t read the other two - yet) but stands alone.


Anyone who enjoys adventure and excitement will love this book. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Photo Problem

When I was a kid you could take eight photos with a role of film. We were impressed when that number went up to 12.

But, today, with the modern technology, there's no limit to the number of photos we can take.

I was planning to post some photos from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference here today, but I have so many I can't decide which ones to use.

So I guess I won't post any. :-(

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Blue

My favorite color has always been blue. I love bright, royal blue and I also love turquoise blue.

There’s nothing more beautiful than a blue sky.

Blue makes me happy.

But, for some strange reason, our culture associates blue with sadness. 
People feel blue when they are sad or sing the blues about sad things.

Why in the world is that so?

How did the happiest, most beautiful color become associated with sadness?


If you know, I’d love to hear the answer.