Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grandma’s Heavenly Treasures

It is funny how life events give you belly jiggling laughs and giggles when you least expect them. At least that is what happened to me this year.

I remember growing up enjoying my grandmother’s homemade sugar cookies around Christmas time. They were not fancy cookies, just lemon-flavored and sprinkled with granulated sugar. I would watch my grandmother cut the rolled white dough into simple round cookies cut from a juice glass, as she told me they were angel cookies made special with sugar sprinkles from heaven. Of course, I played along with the muse of her imagination with belly laughs and giggles. Without me realizing it for many years my Gramma taught me how to connect with people using cookie baking activities.

I have used my sugar cookie recipe for the past thirty-five years. I remember at my little preschool age sons’ first Christmas cookie baking they used their play dough cut outs for cookie cutters. It was their idea and a way to make sure they were using safe items to have fun in the dough. I had fun watching their faces light up as they peered through the oven glass door from a distance to watch their airplane, truck, car or wagon cookies become something fun to eat. I mixed up colored frosting in plastic margarine bowls and let them use their fingers to spread the color of icing they choose for their cookies. I must admit they had more icing inside of them and on their clothing then they had on the cookies.

It wasn’t long and I found myself sharing my sugar cookie recipe with extended family, community events, and friends. The Christmas sugar cookie baking event has become a favorite connection time with my grandchildren too.

This year I shared my sugar cookie recipe with Hallmark Magazine. Along with other inspiring recipes from across the nation they were chosen to be shared with their readers. When I received the news, much to my surprise those forgotten belly laughs and giggles of mine resonated throughout the room. Now this treasured cookie sharing occasion is enjoyed by not only my grandmother’s future generations, but also with friends of Hallmark Magazine.

My treasured Heavenly Sugar Cookie recipe can be downloaded free along with many other wonderful cookie recipes at
Hallmarkmagazine.com. Enjoy reading the stories behind the recipes and creating your delicious holiday treasured recipes to pass along to your future generations.

This article is written and posted by
Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006) also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Stories for Children Magazine Features Award-winning Writer Jewel Sample


Editor, Stories for Children Magazine
Email: storiesforchildren@vsgrenier.com

Stories for Children Magazine’s editor VS Grenier was lucky to catch up with award-winning author Jewel Sample for an interview.

During the interview, Sample said, “I believe my sensitive story and activity book are great resources for professionals and families to use to help children cope with the loss of a young loved one.”

The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval report said, “Jewel Sample does a wonderful job of breaking down some of the confusing terms that children hear during times like these and celebrates the love and strength that family provides.” The National Parenting Center’s 2007 Seal of Approval full report is available at tnpc.com.

Sample’s book, Flying Hugs and Kisses, won The National Parenting Center 2007 Seal of Approval.

To find out more about award-winning author, Jewel Sample, and her newest book out, Flying Hugs and Kisses, visit Stories for Children Magazine in December 2007 at http:storiesforchildren.tripod.com

Stories for Children Magazine is a free monthly on-line magazine for children ages 3 to 12 years old. Children and their parents will journey into the World of Ink with short stories, articles, crafts, puzzles, and so much more.

Media Release posted by Jewel Sample with permission from Stories for Children Magazine, VS Grenier, Editor.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Grandparents Discuss Their Experience with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Grandparents Gene Gee host of Psalm 95.5 fm Virtual Living Room and author Jewel Sample discuss going through all the pain, questions, and lack of answers surrounding the unexpected & unexplained death of a grandchild to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

To listen to their recorded discussion click on this link: Psalm 95.5 Virtual Living Room

Thursday, November 29, 2007

2007 Worldwide Candle Lighting Event

2007 Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting

Communities around the globe will be joining in

The Compassionate Friends 11th Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting

on December 9, 2007
To Honor All Children of All Ages Who Have Died

For more information about The Compassionate Friends,

visit their homepage at www.compassionatefriends.org

For more information about a Candle Lighting Event in your area
please Click here: Eleventh Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting

"That which is loved lives forever in our hearts." Helen Keller

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Author Tina Perry of "Where do stars come from, Nana?" Chats with Jewel

Hello Friends,

I had the opportunity to cyber-interview new children’s author and proud grandmother of three, Tina Perry the other day about her writing experiences. This is what Tina had to say:

Jewel: Thank you so much Tina for agreeing to converse with me about your writing experiences. Let’s begin by finding out how you got started in writing?

Tina: I can remember an assignment my 6th grade teacher gave. She wanted us to write a story about what we would have seen if we were at Plymouth Rock when the Pilgrims landed there. The voice of my story was from the perspective of one of the Indians. The first word of my story was “Ugh!” My teacher loved it and she said to keep writing.

Jewel: Now you have your first children’s book published and is called, Where do stars come from, Nana? Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment. Now tell me, do you juggle your writing with a job and if so, how do you balance your writing time?

Tina: Yes I work full time. Finding time to write can be difficult. Writing is such a very important part of who I am that I make time. I may only get 45 minutes at lunch or 30 minutes in the evening, I have to use whatever amount of time I can wisely.

Jewel: What is your favorite tool to write with?

Tina: I typically use a laptop. But I have a notebook in my purse that I can jot down ideas and transfer them to an “idea” folder on my computer.

Jewel: What inspires you or motivates you?

Tina: My inspiration comes from God. My motivation comes from my husband. We’ve been married for 28 years and I still want him to be proud of me. What’s so ironic about that is, if I never write another book he couldn’t be more proud.

Jewel: Becoming a published writer brings with it experiences along the way. What advice do you have for new writers?

Tina: Write. Write. Write. Each writer has to find his or her own writing style. It may take years of practice writing to find yours. So start now.

Jewel: Where does your writing ideas come from?

Tina: In my first book, Where do stars come from, Nana? the idea sprung from a conversation I had with my Grandson. Want to know a secret? Keep the greeting cards you receive. Study the pictures on the cards. All kinds of ideas can arise from one card.

Jewel: Greeting cards that is a fantastic idea for getting those creative juices flowing. Thank you for telling us one of your writing secrets.

My second grade granddaughter loved your book because it sparked her interest in how the star questions were answered that she had thought about as well. Her favorite part was when Hunter discovered shining stars in an amazing place, but to find out where readers will have to read the book.

Do you have a favorite children’s story?

Tina: It would have to be Good Night Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown. I love the way it reads like a lullaby.

Jewel: My grandchildren and I love that book too. Do you write other things besides children’s themes?

Tina: Yes I’ve written for church newsletters. I also have a couple of poems published.

Jewel: What do you do when you are not writing?

Tina: I love to quilt. My husband and I have 3 grandchildren; we try to stay active in their lives. But one thing that touches my heart is the love we receive from the residents of the assisted living home my husband I minister at each month.

Jewel: Many assisted living residents are grandparents. Do you have any grandparent advice on helping children through grief?

Tina: Just be there. There may be times when a child feels they can’t talk to their parents because the parents are grieving. As a grandparent you play an enormous roll in your grandchild’s life.

Jewel: Absolutely great advice Tina. Grandparents can help their grandchildren or someone else’s children through loss just by being available to listen to the child’s concerns. Do you have another book in your future plans?

Tina: I am working on a sequel to my first book. Cooking with Nana will have kid friendly recipes. This project has been fun because my grandson and I have tried all the recipes.

Jewel: That is great Tina. I look forward to seeing your next children’s book out. Thank you so much for chatting with me and I wish you great success in your writing endeavors.

Tina Perry’s new children’s book, Where do stars come from, Nana? is available through most major bookstores and her publisher, Tate Publishing & Enterprises; LLC. Reviews about Where do stars come from, Nana? can be found on Amazon.com.

Posted by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006) also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University has announced the new National Sudden Infant Death Resource Center (NSIDRC), funded by a three-year cooperative agreement with the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).

The new NSIDRC will continue the work of the National SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center, serving as a resource on sudden infant death (including SIDS, miscarriage, stillbirth and other sudden infant deaths), on bereavement and on promoting healthy outcomes for infants from the prenatal period through the first year of life and beyond. A new website provides access to this information, and searchable databases and special issues of the MCH Alert will soon be available.

Expert selected Bereavement Resources to help parents, family members and friends deal with grief and loss are available in the bereavement selected resources link at the website or by clicking on the underlined titled in this paragraph.

Posted by Jewel Sample, Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses, also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Grandma's Rocking Chair

Rocking chair…how empty you are
I should be here
Holding my baby girl…
Watching your sweet little mouth
As you nurse…

Tiny fingers…curled around mine
Stretching out your
Little feet…
Yawning as you
Drift off to sleep

And as I sit here
Rocking chair…so empty
Without you baby girl
Rocking alone..
I feel A tear…

Jordan baby…you are
Being held by
Our heavenly Father
Safe and warm
Loved by Him
Missed by all your family
Peace for all

In honor of Jordan Ezra Taffee

Dec. 4, 2006 – Jan. 2, 2007

By Michele Adams

Printed by permission
(c) 03/15/2007

Posted by Jewel Sample, Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Grandmother's Tribute: For Just A Little While


He had the bluest eyes
And the fairest of skin
Wavy wisps of blonde hair
He was like a breath of fresh air
In a sometimes stale and old world
He filled us with happiness
We felt blessed to have him
Even though it was for just a little while

I would whisper in his ear
That I love him
Each of us would look forward to the future
And wondered what he might say and do
He captured our hearts
With his beautiful smile
Even though it was for just a little while

He was a special gift from God
That left us all too soon
Our hearts feel heavy and sad
With a pain no one knew
He was our precious angel on earth
Even though it was for just a little while

He is with the angels now
And Some day
We hope to see him again
And we won’t have to say
Even though it was for just a little while

In Honor of our

Rylan Joseph Madison

07/16/2007 – 09/26/2007

Printed by permission

(C) By Lisa Ann Madison Esmeralda
Posted by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Changing How We Deal With Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Scripts Howard compelling and comprehensive project, Saving Babies: Exposing SIDS (http://www.savingbabies.net) raises a number of questions such as, inaccurate diagnosis, diagnostic coding shifts, SIDS as a comfort diagnosis and the impact this will have on families. Americans need to know that SIDS families depend on accuracy about how data is collected, coded, and used to further research to find a cure. The most compelling findings are the reviewers report more than 4,000 babies who succumbed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) each year could be saved if there was a national standard for infant death investigations.

Now it is time for a mandatory use of a national infant death protocol that will resolve the issues and further research in finding a cure for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as well as give accurate statistical information. I encourage you to visit the Saving Babies:Exposing SIDS web site. First Candle SIDS Alliance will be launching a national advocacy campaign to bring these important findings to the forefront of political agendas. To learn more and join this effort contact http://firstcandle.org/.

Together America can make a difference for our future generations.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In Loving Memory: I Dream

Like a ripple in a pond,
A whisper in the wind,
I dream of how things might have been.

Your boyish grin
Your manly cleft shaped chin
Your chubby cheeks
Your soft blue eyes
Are dreams of days and weeks gone by.

Your first little giggle,
Your toes that you wiggled
Are memories that whisper now and then.

Like a ripple in a pond,
A whisper in the wind,
I can not help but cling to what
you might have been.

Watching you take your first step
as you eye your favorite toy to get.
Would it have been balls or blocks?
Or would it have been trucks or books?

I cannot know.
For like a ripple in a pond,
A whisper in the wind,
Your life was over when you became
a victim of SIDS.

In loving memory of
Brennen Cole Kuehl-Sample
October 14, 2003~January02, 2004

by Jewel Sample
© 9/15/2006

Friday, October 12, 2007

Providing a Safe Sleep Environment For Your Baby Means Safer Sleep

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a medical mystery waiting to be solved through medical research. As a SIDS family member I support the safe practice of infant care and encourage caregivers to follow the AAP, NICHHD and the OSDH recommendations listed in this press release. Caregivers should keep in mind that these recommendations are risk reducing practices only and are NO guarantee that an infant will not succumb to SIDS.

Questions regarding this press release should be directed to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (www.health.ok.gov).

OSDH E-NEWS Oklahoma State Department of Health 1000 NE Tenth St., Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299James M. Crutcher, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of Health and State Health Officer www.health.ok.gov

For Release: October 11, 2007
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Safe Bedding For Your Baby Means Safer Sleep Environment

Parents may unknowingly be placing their infants at increased risk for sleep- related deaths by preparing an unsafe sleep area. Nursery photos in popular magazines and department store nursery displays often provide parents and other caregivers with models of unsafe bedding practices, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
"Infant bedding is sold as a package with bumper pads, quilts, sheets and sometimes decorator pillows. Parents may not realize that some of these items are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) and place their infant at increased risk for sleep-related deaths," said Margaret DeVault, OSDH social work coordinator.
The AAP recommendations are based on years of research examining infant deaths related to sleep environment and are aimed at reducing the risk of infant sleep- related deaths.
"Putting babies to sleep in improper sleeping environments creates danger to the infant. We need to get the message across to parents, and other people who care for infants, that it is not safe to put stuffed animals or toys, pillows, bumper pads, quilts or other items in the crib with the baby because these items could cause suffocation and strangulation," said OSDH Deputy Commissioner Dr. Edd Rhoades.
To help reduce the number of infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environment, the AAP, NICHHD and the OSDH recommend the following:
· Infants should sleep on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a tightly fitted sheet.
· Infants should sleep only in cribs or bassinets approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
· Keep soft bedding, quilts, comforters, bumper pads, pillows, sheepskin and toys out of the crib.
· Use sleep sacks instead of blankets. If using a blanket, tuck it in at the bottom of the crib and sides, with it being no higher than the infant's chest. The infant's face should be clear of covering to allow easy breathing.
· Keep the infant's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.
· If the infant is brought to bed to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or infant bed when finished.
· Always place the infant on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.

For more information and materials about infant safe sleep, contact Margaret DeVault at the OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service at 405-271-4480. Suggested national Web sites related to infant safe sleep include the AAP www.aap.org; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov; the NICHHD www.nichd.nih.gov/sids; First Candle SIDS Alliance www.sidsalliance.org; and CJ Foundation for SIDS www.cjsids.com. Oklahoma resources include Healing Hearts Oklahoma www.healingokhearts.org, and The Great Battle Against SIDS www.battlesids.org.

Safe Bedding For Your Baby Means Safer Sleep Environment Press release was posted by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses, new released, Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book and the Spanish translation, Besos y abrazos al aire.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

  • “SIDS is the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene (Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines), and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical and family history. Because most babies sleep in cribs, and therefore, most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is in a crib sleeping, SIDS is sometimes called “crib death." Cribs do not cause SIDS.” (First Candle/SIDS Alliance)


    Doctors are not sure about the prevailing cause of SIDS; this leaves American families in a state of ambiguity, searching for meaning.

    Yes, there is promising research evidence that suggests some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make the baby vulnerable to sudden death during the first year of life. However, there is NOT yet a way to predict or prevent SIDS.

    Current studies indicate that despite the proactive steps parents and caregivers take to reduce their baby’s risk of infant death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continues to be a leading cause of deaths for over 2,100 infants during the first year of life in the United States. Over 5 babies a day die somewhere in the United States of America of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

    SIDS is NOT child abuse.

    SIDS crosses all socio-economic boundaries.

    African American and Native American babies are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from SIDS than Caucasian babies.

    Male infants are more likely to succumb to SIDS than infant females.

    For more information about SIDS please visit the links on the left under the title, My favorite Blogs and Cyber-places.

    What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was posted by Jewel Sample, MS
    Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Internet Radio Talk Show Host Leslie Baldwin Chats with Author Jewel Sample

October is National SIDS Awareness Month

Wellness Advocate and Internet Radio Talk Show Host, Leslie Baldwin of San Antonio, TX talks with children’s writer Jewel Sample and author of “Flying Hugs and Kisses.” Jewel shares her ideas on faith and whether it is important during a time of grief and current parenting issues that face families today.

To listen to the full interview click on this link:

Leslie Baldwin chats with Flying Hugs and Kisses author Jewel Sample

Leslie Baldwin’s life issue discussions on health, home schooling, current news and events and show information can be found by visiting www.springanew.com

October National Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month Event

Every Life Makes a Ripple No Matter How Small
3rd Annual
Memory Walk

Saturday, October 13 10 a.m.
OU MEDICAL CENTER Presbyterian Tower Pond
NE 13th Street & Lincoln Blvd.

To honor October as National Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness month, OU
MEDICAL CENTER will host its annual Memory Walk on Saturday, October 13 at 10
a.m. This walk will honor the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or infancy. Parents and
families of all ages, and supporters of anyone who has lost a baby in pregnancy or infancy,
are welcome. There will be a short program before the walk at the Presbyterian Tower
pond (NE 13th St. and Lincoln Blvd.) For more information, contact the OU MEDICAL
CENTER Chaplain’s office at (405) 271-5758.

October SIDS, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Event

Tulsa Oklahoma's Pregnancy And Infant Loss Memorial Service And Walk

We Will Celebrate the Lives of Our Children
Awareness Walk, Balloon Release and Candle Lighting Ceremony

When: October 13th 2007
Time: 5-9 PM
Location: La Fortune Park
S. Yale Ave.
Call Candi: (918) 865-2203 or Melissa (405) 260-0013
Everyone is Welcome
Sponsored by:
Puddin Pops Day Care

Friday, September 28, 2007

Freelance Writer Linda Della Donna’s Griefcase: Helps Others through Grief and Loss

I had the opportunity to meet a prolific freelance writing widow this year when she became curious about my children’s book, Flying Hugs and Kisses. During our correspondence I learned that Linda Della Donna had also learned many lessons about grief and loss and is supporting others with her website, "Griefcase." I was also curious about her writing career and this is what she had to say:

Q: Hi Linda, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview. Let’s get started by learning how did you get started in writing?

I'd have to say it was my 6th grade teacher who gave me my start. One day Sister Mary Ancilla assigned a writing assignment: "Write a composition," she said, "Write a make-believe story."

Up until that day, I was just a kid in a sea of students the teacher didn't notice. That evening, I wrote about a turtle, gave it a name, a job, and an address. I didn't think anything about it at the time, except how much fun it was to pretend I had a friend, yes, I had a lonely childhood, and that I could complete a homework assignment without asking a grownup for help. The next morning, I handed in my assignment and forgot about it.

Imagine my surprise the following week when Sister Ancilla stood in front of the entire class and announced, "Linda! You're a writer." She read my work out loud, singing my praises. I'd have to say that was the beginning of my dream. Though it would be many more years before I answered the call.

I owe a lot to that nun. She instilled in me a little voice with a beat like an Eveready rabbit, drumming nonstop, which happily haunts me each time I pick up a pen to write something. Thanks to Sister Ancilla, when I got to high school, I had the confidence to apply to the school newspaper, become a cub reporter, report events, i.e., proms, basketball, football, hockey games, and gradually work my way to write feature articles, essays, short stories; In 1985, I entered a writing contest simply because a woman dressed in black once told me I was a writer. And, it was that same voice I heard whisper in my ear one evening, the evening shortly after my husband died, giving me permission to write Griefcase. It's fair to say, Sister instilled in me an unshakable writing confidence. Amazing. It can all be traced to a grammar school classroom more than 47 years ago.

Q: Do you juggle your writing with a job?

That's a good question. And it doesn't have a simple answer. For a long time I did juggle my writing with a full time job. Actually, I worked more than 21 years for a state agency, hating every minute of it, dreaming of the day I would one day write full time, never imagining it would happen. It was at age 50-something, I decided to take the plunge. I took a buy-out package, and left, taking online writing classes, attending writing workshops, writing, journaling, writing for local magazines, submitting essays to my local newspaper, working at getting my name out there, writing a YA novel, and memoir. Somehow, once again, life got in the way of my dream, and I was forced back into the work force, temping to support myself and my craft. At the moment, I'm on hiatus, working at my writing craft and my passion, Griefcase. I have every faith, it will all come together.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

Nothing about writing is typical. Not for me. Sunday evenings, I write a weekly schedule. Or, try to. Monday through Friday, 9-5, are my office hours, with Wednesdays marked as field days. That's the day I run to the post office, scramble to the bank, grocery shop, walk the dog, feed the cat, telephone friends, run to Staples, Office Depot, Home Depot, paint the garage, rearrange the furniture in the living room, vacuum the bedroom, read the newspaper, watch paint dry on the bathroom walls, scrub the toilet bowl, yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the picture. Sunday evenings, I write a plan outlining what it is I must accomplish in my upcoming "typical" writing work week. Does it ever happen that I work 9-5, that I complete my plan? The answer is, hardly. Most days, I work past 5 p.m. almost always, I rise in the middle of the night, turn on a light, scribble some new idea on a scrap of paper, read, and edit something I've rewritten earlier in the day. So much for typical writing work day or work week. Lately, I've begun forcing myself out the door on weekends. I give myself permission to carry anything I don't complete in one week over to the following week, over and over again. Eventually, what must get done, gets done.

Q: What advice do you have for new widow writers?

Oh that's easy. First my sincerest condolences to every new widow out there going through the grief process. And believe me, it is a process. Next, take a step back. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Practice this every time you feel overwhelmed. And believe me, you will feel overwhelmed. Then, give yourself permission to cry, to laugh, to mourn, and to grieve any time, any place. There is no right way to mourn, there is no wrong way. There is just your way. And if you feel like crying, for crying out loud, do it. After that, fingerhug your pen. Keep what I lovingly refer to as a joy-nal. Set a clock timer for ten minutes, and write something. Anything your little healing heart wants to write. Go ahead. I dare you.

Q: What inspires or motivates you?

That's a beautiful question and it is my favorite. My late husband, Edward Louis Sclier, motivates me and inspires me. It was Ed who made me promise on his death bed to keep writing. "You have to keep writing," he said. "Do it for me," he said. And Eleanor Roosevelt, a favorite famous widow motivates and inspires me, as does every widow out there. Eleanor said it best, "We must do the things we cannot do."

Q: I love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. What favorite grief and loss book have you read?

I've read many books on grief and loss. I recommend 2: Joan Didion, "The Year of Magical Thinking" and "Good Grief," a novel, by Lolly Winston.

Q: Where do your writing ideas come from?

Everywhere. There are two types of writers--the writers who can't figure out what to write about and the writers that got too many ideas to write about. I fall into the latter category. It keeps me awake nights, my office is looking like a Collier brother resides here, and my right arm in a knuckle-to-elbow wrist brace.

Q: I understand you have written a book. How long did it take you to complete your book?

My book is yet to be completed. I make no apologies. It's in the works.

Q: Do you write other things besides widowhood themes?

Not lately. At the moment, it consumes 198% of my time, but I'm working on that, and managing to sandwich in some other stuff. I also write profiles, do interviews, and I am working on a memoir. Recently I started a new blog documenting and reporting on boating and travels in the Long Island Sound.

Q: Can you tell us a funny story about your writing?

Well, I just love writing with a pen name. When I meet someone new, saying that I am a writer isn't the first thing I talk about and rare is it I introduce myself as a writer to new non-writer people I meet up with.

Anyway, I happen to live in a townhouse. There are 94 other townhomes in my community and I have no idea who everyone is. Ten years ago, when I first moved into this community, I discovered a need for a newsletter and set about writing one. I had attended a board meeting where a huge argument had broken out between a board member who no longer resides in the community and a home owner who by now has probably moved out of the area. In any event, I wrote a piece reporting, as factually as possible, about an over-zealous board of directors who served my happy community. Keep in mind, this was a real event that actually occurred at a memorable board meeting best left to the imagination as to what actually transpired, but it did happen. The newsletter went out, and no doubt, it created a buzz. One afternoon, I just happened to be somewhere with my husband (who was alive at the time). We just happened to strike up a conversation with a couple we just happened to meet. Ed and I introduced ourselves, the couple introduced themselves, and what a surprise! We discovered that we were neighbors. The first words out of the other woman's mouth were, "Did you see that newsletter? The one with the article about the board? I hate that writer."

Q: Do you have a favorite children's story?

Yes. My all time favorite children's story is "The Wizard of Oz" by Frank L. Baum. I love the analogies and theme. My favorite line, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." For me, all of life is a journey. It isn't about the yellow brick road, or the end of the rainbow, but the people we meet and the friends we make along the way.

Q: That is so true, life is a journey. Any advice for parents on helping children through grief?

I would recommend to parents of children going through the grief process to seek outside counseling. After that, hug your children, sit with them, let them know you are there for them. Don't force them to "get on with life" or to "get over it." Children's feelings are important. And they need to know you are there for them. Greet them each morning with a smile; feed them, even if it's dry cereal and milk. Sit and eat with them. Be an ear. Reassure them in every way, that you will always be there for them and that you will always love them.

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

Well, I am happy to report that I have come full circle in my grief process. I have started dating. And recently, I have made a new friend. It only took me 3 years, 4 months, 5 days to do that. But, hey, who's counting? My new friend has a boat and I love going out on it, learning about boating, adventuring the beautiful sites of Long Island Sound, meeting new friends, and snapping pictures for a new blog I created documenting my new adventure. You can learn more about this widow's new adventure at www.enchantressIII.blogspot.com

Q: I will definitely have to check out your new adventure blog. Have you published any of your writing?

Some of my work appears at www.ezinearticles.com, The Journal News, Westchester Parenting, www.lieurancegroup.com. I like to tell readers, just google my name.

Q: Would you like to share anything about yourself or your family?

I am proud parent to my 32 year old son, George, and I adore my made-to-order daughter, his wife, Colleen. I make my home 20 miles north from where the World Trade Center use to be with my small dog, Izzy and his little cat, Tux, and I love that I can say that I have a boyfriend.

Q: Do you have a favorite place to write, meditate or relax?

Grand Central Station is a favorite writing place of mine. I love to people watch, to sit with a notebook and pen, and scribble any thought that pops into my head. The days I can't make it into Manhattan, I visit a local donut shop, coffee shop, train station, park bench, or library and write there. Some days, if the sun is out, I spread a blanket on the sands of Rye Beach, pop a beach umbrella, and listen to waves crash to shore and scribble there.

But, most especially, I love my new office, the one I stripped naked of furniture, it once was my den, plastered and painted the walls, re-carpeted the floor, and decorated with pieces of furniture scarfed from other rooms in my home. It is a real office and I like that I created it. It has a view of the sky, a court yard, Monarch butterflies, robins, bluejays, and chipmunks, and today, two mourning doves squatted on a ledge and watched as I edited this interview. Hmmmm. I also have a grand view of Tux perched atop a gas grill. Whenever he feels he wants to be let back in the house, he peers through the window, blinking two green eyes, and meows. It sets my heart on fire and awakens the muse in me every time.

Q: Any advice for writers about promoting their writing?

Network, network, network. And when a talented, bright, witty, funny, experienced, wonderful, beautiful writer requests an interview, say yes!

Q: What is in your future writing plans?

I have many projects in the works. Highest on the list at this time is work on Griefcase Incorporated, which is paramount. I can't wait to have www.griefcase.org out there for all the world to see. It is my goal to send the message to women and individuals going through the grief process, that we're not alone, to unite us, and to provide a forum where ideas and information can be exchanged. I plan to complete my memoir, Ed Edward Eddy.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

A favorite quote of mine: And sometime when I wasn't looking, I got a new life.

Q: Getting a new life has its rewards. Have you won any writing contests or awards?

I'm proud to report that way back in 1986 I won a local writing competition. My true story, "The Year That Christmas Waited" won first prize. A copy of it is matted and framed and hangs proudly on a wall in my new office. Also, in 2003, my flash fiction piece, "Red Soup" placed 2nd in an online writing competition. The news took me off guard, and I recall emailing the person in charge of announcing the competition results, a polite thank you and the question, "Please tell me more than two people entered this contest."

Q: How have you juggled your children's grief and loss needs with your own grief and loss needs?

It's hard to do that juggle thing. All of griefwork is. But as a mother, I realized my children needed to know that I was strong. I sent a message that they were important and that I would always love them and that I would always be here for them. It is important to show by example to be strong, that when we smile, the whole world smiles with us, and when we cry, we cry alone. Being strong demonstrates the legacy to carry on under the worst of conditions, that if I can do it, anybody can, and it raises the bar to carry on no matter what.

Thank you, Jewel, for the honor and privilege of this interview. I look forward to reading more about you and the good work you do.
Best wishes for every continued success.

~Yes indeed our family legacy is what we are making whether we realize it or not, our children and grandchildren will carry a part of us with them. Thank you so much Linda for the wonderful insightful interview. I wish you all the best in your grief work support and writing endeavors.

Linda Della Donna’s interview was written by Jewel Sample, MS
Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Literacy Charity Helps Kids Connect with More Books

While cruising the cyber-lanes of our Internet world, I came upon a great literacy organization for families with children called The Reading Tub.

The Reading Tub enhances the world of children through finding the best books for them to read. Grown-ups no longer have to spend hours mulling through book lists. They can now spend more time connecting through reading a great story together. The Reading Tub’s book list reliability is not a problem because each book is personally reviewed by one of The Reading Tub helpers.

I was curious about how Terry Doherty came up with the idea to help Kids read more books by reclaiming their book hunting time and if there really is a genuine TUB for reading, so I asked Terry for a cyber-chat. This is what Terry had to say:

J: Hi Terry, thank you so much for agreeing to answer a few questions. My first question is how did you start The Reading Tub?
The Reading Tub® started out as a part-time hobby for a Stay-at-home Mom. I love to read, and when Catherine was born, started sharing that passion with her. I was talking with my sister-in-law about children's books (positives & negatives) and she suggested I start a website for parents and teachers.

I found a do-it-yourself website company in June 2003 and started playing around with ideas. Within a year, it had started to grow, and authors started to find us. So I married my love of books with my passion for literacy and launched The Reading Tub, Inc. as a non-profit.

J: What inspires or motivates you to help families find books?
Oh, that is so hard! I guess what motivates me is charting a path that widens as others join in and ends with leaving this place a little better than I found it. I want kids to know the joy of reading. The statistics are raw and startling … kids aren't prepared to read, and their parents are struggling, too. TV and video games aren't just a problem for the "next" generation … they started the slippery slope with the "last" generation. Trying to find the key to combating that seemingly overpowering draw of "screen" media is very important to me.

J: Tell me how The Reading Tub services help families?
The website has two parts. There is what I call the literacy services side: facts about literacy, information about reading with kids, stats, etc. Our goal is to help kids read, but we need to help parents, too. Some parents find reading easy, but what about the parents who don’t? How can we encourage them to teach their kids to love reading when they don't like to read? We can help with that.

The other part of our site is the book bag: our unique profiles that give parents the details they want about books for kids. We built the site so that it is easy to search for books that match your child's interests and reading level. In addition to general keyword searches (like trains, frogs, princesses), you can use phrases like remedial reading to see if there is a book that matches your needs. When you look at the statistics for literacy at the 4th and 8th grade levels, it is more and more evident that we need to reframe books for that 9-to-12-year-old audience. It used to be mostly boys, but now the literacy levels for girls are starting to decline, too. Being able to find good books that are written for an older child but which fall within the remedial reading category is becoming critical for parents, teachers, and librarians.

J: In having a passion for literacy, do you have a favorite children's story?
My personal, all time favorite book (after the Nancy Drew series) is The Scarlet Pimpernel.

J: Finding the right book can be challenging, what seems to be the most popular themes at The Reading Tub?
The theme depends on the audience. For the 9 to 12 audience, there are lots of writers who want to be the next J. K. Rowlings. We review every book sent to us that fits our criteria (simply, any book for ages 0 to 12); and all of our books are placed with families. Frankly, they are tired of reading fantasy and wanna-be books. They want original material. There are some authors (including first-time authors) who have some incredibly original stuff. But on the norm, fantasies are becoming formulaic.

For the 5 to 9 audience, you can find books on just about everything. One of the things I love – and I admit I'm biased because I have a daughter – is the number of stories with strong, creative, down-to-earth female protagonists in traditional and non-traditional roles. I just read a terrific fantasy about a young girl who becomes a pirate!

J: Sometimes children are faced with unpleasant issues. Do you have some suggestions for helping grieving children?
Books are comfort food for the soul. Sometimes its lyrical words that touch our heart, sometimes it is an incredible illustration or photograph that just lifts us up. Children gain so much by "seeing themselves" in a story. We use picture books to teach them sharing and feelings, why not grief?

Picture books that can help children understand change, life, and loss can be such a precious gift. They may not be able to use words like "grief," but they can feel their heart ache, and they can be afraid to be happy because it seems selfish.

I have read a few books – one about SIDS, several dealing with the loss of a pet, one about a relative with Alzheimer’s, and one about organ donation. I freely admit I was squeamish when I picked up the book and thought about reading them with a child. But, they were incredible. If I were ever "in the moment" of dealing with loss, and at the same time trying to explain it to my daughter, I would want these books to help us both.

J: Any tips for grown-ups on how to get children interested in reading?
I think the most important part is think beyond the book covers. The idea is to present reading as a fun activity. You don't always have to learn something! So …
The next time you're in the grocery store, pick up some boxes or bags and discover them with your child. Or ask your child to locate the red cans in the aisle, then read what they say.
Let your child catch you reading. Whether it's a recipe, a magazine, the newspaper, even a catalog. It's not the content, it's the event.
Then invite your child to read with you. Look at the pictures in that catalog and talk about them.
Make reading a regular habit … and don't get upset if they don't sit still. Just keep reading. They'll either come back or tell you to pick something else. Helping them decide what they like is progress, too.

J: Do you have a favorite place to read, meditate or relax?
I love big, fat chairs that swallow you up, but I also love to read in the Tub.

J: Speaking of tubs, is there really a Reading Tub? If so how is it used?
Unfortunately, I've never gotten a picture of the real Reading Tub. When I started working on a children's book review website, I asked two friends to help because I needed some creative genius. And Eric had it! His mom worked in the library of an elementary school in Vermont … and Voila! We had a name. The reading tub sits in Mrs. Stoddert's Library at an elementary school in Vermont. It is porcelain, painted yellow and white, and outfitted with a pillow. Children select a book, climb into the tub and enjoy their story.

I also loved the name because reading in a tub is one of those "I'm relaxing now" images that creates a positive association with reading.

J: How can someone donate a book for your review?
The first stop for learning about book reviews is the Website. Just fill out the contact form and we'll send you what you need, usually within 48 hours.

All of the books we review are in turn donated to a non-profit working directly with children. This helps us pay it forward, so to speak, and also gets books to kids who need them. Some of the organizations are helping kids with their reading skills; and some are giving books to kids who would not otherwise have them. When I go through the books, I try to match the books to the organizations' preferences or needs

We also facilitate book drives. Some of the organizations we have worked with are listed on our Home page.

J: Do you accept any children's book?
Yes. The Reading Tub, Inc. has a very simple submission policy: if you send us a book for a child (infant to age 12), we will review it. We do not buy books. Donations keep the website operating for free to the public and underwrite our community projects.

I would like to add that we are a LITERACY organization. Our goal is to get kids excited about reading. We love to introduce the world to undiscovered children's books.

J: Inviting children to the adventuresome world of literacy is an undertaking that I applaud your efforts Terry. I would like to leave our readers with one of your favorite quotes. Do you have a favorite "reading" quote?
The easiest – and probably the truest – of my favorites is "I cannot live without books." Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, June 1815.

Thank you so much Terry for telling us about The Reading Tub. I wish you many years of success in helping Kids find that special book.

Terry Doherty interview was written by Jewel Sample, MS (C) 2007
Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Flying Hugs and Kisses Helps Explain Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to Kids

Current studies continue to indicate that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to be a leading cause of deaths for over 2,100 infants during the first year of life in the United States. As collaborative projects continue throughout the United States medical research arenas, searching to uncover the mystery of SIDS and affect positive outcomes for families, it becomes even more vital for professionals and families to come together, to not only support each other, but also to learn more about this silent unpredictable killer of babies.

October is National SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Month.
Many efforts are taking place through out the United States to bring awareness about the need to find an answer to SIDS and to help provide services to surviving SIDS families. These collaborative projects need money in order to continue their efforts to find answers for SIDS families and to end SIDS for future generations. Please support any efforts made in your community to help bereaved SIDS families heal from their loss and to find a cure for SIDS.

It is my hope when SIDS silently strikes; we never forget there are siblings who enter the grief process with their parents and extended family members. Sometimes the grief and loss experience is too overwhelming and scary for parents to explain or give accurate information to their children of what happened to their baby brother or sister.

I wrote Flying Hugs and Kisses (Lifevest Publishing. 2006) to help explain in simple terms what happens when someone dies, what children may think and feel when they experience the loss of a baby brother or sister; and most importantly, to explain that there is life after death. The book gives children permission to enjoy their lives again.

Flying Hugs and Kisses, a fictionalized illustrated story, is for children who are able to comprehend written material concepts with the goal in mind, to provide a resourceful tool that would help parents and professionals help children develop healthy attitudes about grief and loss.

In 2006, it was translated into Spanish by a gifted and gracious translator, Lucero Tenorio-Gavin. The Spanish translation is titled, Besos y abrazos al aire, (Lifevest Publishing. 2006)

This year my latest publication, Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (Lifevest Publishing. 2007) offers a message of hope for grieving families, which is designed to accompany the storybook, Flying Hugs and Kisses. The activity book has fun educational coloring and writing activities, games, and puzzles to help elementary age children answer questions about grief and loss with compassion and hope

The National SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center has selected Flying Hugs and Kisses' Spanish Language edition, Besos y abrazos al aire, (Lifevest Publishing. 2006) as a resource for grieving parents, their families, friends, and other caregivers. The English version was selected last fall, 2006. Http://www.sidscenter.org/BereavementSelectedResources.aspx#Spanish

Flying Hugs and Kisses won “The National Parenting Center 2007 Seal of Approval.” The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval report indicates, “Jewel Sample does a wonderful job of breaking down some of the confusing terms that children hear during times like these and celebrates the love and strength that family provides.” The National Parenting Center’s 2007 Seal of Approval full report is at tnpc.com.

Until research is able to predict and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, (SIDS), it is my hope that Flying Hugs and Kisses helps children and their families heal from their grief and loss.

October is National SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Month.

Please support any efforts made in your community to help families heal from their loss and find a cure for SIDS.

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

**“SIDS is the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene (Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines), and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical and family history. Because most babies sleep in cribs, and therefore, most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is in a crib sleeping, SIDS is sometimes called “crib death." Cribs do not cause SIDS.” (First Candle/SIDS Alliance)


**Doctors are not sure about the prevailing cause of SIDS; this leaves American families in a state of ambiguity, searching for meaning.

**Yes, there is promising research evidence that suggests some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make the baby vulnerable to sudden death during the first year of life. However, there is NOT yet a way to predict or prevent SIDS.

**Current studies indicate that despite the proactive steps parents and caregivers take to reduce their baby’s risk of infant death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continues to be a leading cause of deaths for over 2,100 infants during the first year of life in the United States. Over 5 babies a day die somewhere in the United States of America of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

**SIDS is NOT child abuse.

**SIDS crosses all socio-economic boundaries.

**African American and Native American babies are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from SIDS than Caucasian babies.

**Male infants are more likely to succumb to SIDS than infant females.

For more information about SIDS or about Flying Hugs and Kisses please visit the links on the left of my blog page under the title, My favorite Blogs and Cyber-places.

Flying Hugs and Kisses Helps Explain Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to Kids was written by Jewel Sample, Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Meet IPPY Award Winning Author Betty Auchard

I became acquainted this summer with IPPY award-winning author, Betty Auchard, as I read her bereavement journey titled, Dancing in my Nightgown: The Rhythms of Widowhood.

Her thought provoking story is packed with wit, tears, and courage as she struggles through the transition to live life after love, yet brings honor to her first love, Denny. I wanted to know more about Betty’s new found writing life, so I caught up with her for a cyber-interview and this is what she had to say.

I must admit this is a long read for most, but if you will stick with it you will fall in love with this author like I did.

Q: Hi Betty, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview with me. Let’s begin by asking how did you get started in writing?
I was not a writer when my husband was alive; I was a retired art teacher. But soon after Denny died, I started scribbling my thoughts on the backs of used envelopes, paper napkins and anything within reach that would take the mark of a pen. I was preoccupied with the strange new feelings and experiences that came with being newly widowed, and I didn’t ever want to forget what it was like. Those notes were written in real time right when things occurred. I never intended to save them in a journal or a folder, but I did put them in safe places like the junk drawer or behind the sugar bowl or in my sock drawer. Where I “stored” them depended on where I was when the notes were written. I have since found most of those odd scraps of paper, and I don’t even remember writing what’s on them.

But one late night, seven and a half weeks after Denny died, I had more to say and wrote my heart out on several pieces of lined notebook paper. It was an emotionally draining experience, but it also felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. During the day I continued to ‘scribble on scraps’ and ‘journal on junk,’ but three months later, I again wrote something very important on several pieces of lined paper. I continued this back and forth pattern of writing about sad and funny things until I abandoned the little notes and started writing all the time on full-sized tablets with my favorite pen. Every day was full of stories of my misadventures, puzzling problems and small triumphs. I was obsessed with writing them all down, and I lived in my nightgown while getting these stories about my new life preserved on paper. At night, I just changed into a fresh nightgown. *I was writing for myself and had no idea that doing so had become my tool for healing. About five months later I learned how to use the computer and ever since then I’ve written stories from scratch using a keyboard; so much easier.

* I soon found out that my method of recording my thoughts was called “free-writing.” It means that no attention is paid to punctuation or editing, and you write the way you would talk. It’s like talking to paper and editing comes later.

Q: In living life differently, it often means taking on new jobs. Do you juggle your writing with a job?
I live alone and juggle writing with ordinary family stuff. I see my children and grandchildren every week for a few days each time. I still live in my large home (2500 sq. feet 2-story 3 full bathrooms, 10 rooms, double garage and large front and back yard to maintain with the help of others) I work out in a water aerobics class 3X a week and attend a few social functions and only one regular club meeting once a month. My calendar used to be too full, and I’ve lightened my obligations so that I can work on a second book, which I do daily. I stay up too late at night to answer email and to write since the daytime is very interrupted by life.

Q: Tell me about what your typical writing day is like?
I count my huge amount of email as writing and I try to answer as much of as possible before noon, but it usually gets interrupted. If I’m working on a new story, I try to continue it while my momentum is good. If I’m NOT working on a new story I’m usually editing old ones with my wonderful editor in Nebraska, Sandi Corbitt-Sears who has worked with me since 1999. We use the Edit Tracking program in MS Word. See Sandi’s website at http://www.writefriend.com In between times I’m organizing my computer files to keep my story notes where they belong. All of this takes time, and I usually accomplish more writing at night than during the day because I’m not interrupted and I can think more clearly. For example, it is now 11: 23 PM.

Q: Do you always use the computer to write or do you use other writing tools?
When an idea strikes me out of the blue, I’ll dash notes on whatever is handy if it takes the mark of a pencil or pen. It always gets transferred to the computer which I only learned to use after my husband died in 1998. Now, I can write from scratch on the computer. And I sit there far too long because when I’m writing, I lose track of time, and when I decided to quit and stand up, I can hardly walk. I’m shocked to look at the clock and realize that I’ve often been writing for three hours and haven’t left my chair. That’s a very bad habit of mine and it’s not at all good for arthritis. What little I had is getting worse because of sitting too long at the computer and typing away endlessly

Q: I can tell you love to write. What inspires or motivates you?
It doesn’t take much to motivate me. I get too many ideas each day and the ones that are meant to make it to paper are the ones that didn’t get away. The stories I lost because I didn’t jot down the idea are the ones I feel are in my compost pile of ideas. They’re getting better as they ferment and may eventually make it onto my note pad and then into the computer.

Q: What advice do you have for new widow writers?
Not to hold anything back. Write honestly the thoughts and feelings that are in your heart. Write freely without editing yourself in any way. If it’s something upsetting or angry that you have to get off your chest, write it down knowing that not one soul is going to read it but you…and then burn it. It’s therapeutic. And write daily if possible. Write about the things that make you laugh for a change, or things that have made you cry; things that blindsided you and things that made you feel inadequate or furious or sad. But keep it balanced by also writing about your memories and your joys. Writing lowers blood pressure…yesiree, that is true.

Q: Keeping a balance is so important. Tell me where do your writing ideas come from?
They come from conversations with people, from movies I watch, from lyrics in a song, from reading of any kind, from ads in the paper especially grocery store ads for Postum which was Denny’s favorite drink. In other words, I’m a walking antenna who can get ideas from the thin air we breathe. Almost anything can be a writing prompt for my memories. My friends are used to saying to people, “Don’t talk to Betty too much or you’ll end up in a story.” It’s true.

Q: How long did it take you to complete your book?
“Dancing in My Nightgown” represents six years of writing about my adventures and misadventures while learning how to live alone and take responsibility for myself. I never had a plan for when it would end, but I knew when the stories had come to an end when I joined online dating services for 14 months. There were so many stories in that experience that I could write a whole book about joining dating services when you’re 72 years old. It was a fun way to end the book since it’s not really an ending but the beginning of something new.

Q: Yes indeed Betty reading about your dating adventures was so much fun. Do you write other things besides widowhood themes?
Oh yes indeedy. I’ve been working on my childhood memoir for eight years but I set it aside to finish the first book. Now I’m back at it. If you check out my column called Betty’s Excellent Adventures at my web site (dancinginmynightgown.com) you’ll find many themes that cause me to write. Usually they’re unique personal experiences in my life.

Q: Can you tell us a funny story about your writing?
It’s not necessarily funny, but it’s something that happens a lot when I write a long letter in the mail program instead of in the Word program. I start out meaning to write a short, succinct letter and it ends up being a story or something that resembles a short thesis about something or other. I’m really clipping along with my heart and soul in this letter when I accidentally hit a wrong key with my right pinkie and the masterpiece disappears forever. When this happened I used to sit paralyzed and unable to keep from beating up my computer. After giving it careful thought and my quiet hysteria subsides, I now fool myself into calmness by saying, “Self, that letter was much too wordy and rambling. Thank God it’s gone and thank God I wrote a first draft and did NOT send it. That letter will be even better tomorrow.” I know that the experience of losing a long letter is not funny at all, but in order to keep from punching the screen, I practice denial and pretend that I meant to do a first draft so I won’t go on and on in the second version like I am right now.

Q: Do you have a favorite children's story?
Yes, several. But I’d rather share one all by itself later. I have endless stories that I write about my own childhood or about my children and grandchildren. I’ll save that for later after getting through with this list for your interview.

Q: Any grandparent advice on helping adult children through grief?
I think mature children or young children of all ages who’ve lost a loved one would best be served in a good grief support group. Our local Hospice program (Hospice of the Valley in San Jose, California) has support groups for adults, for widows and widowers, and for children of all ages. They do a lot of visiting together about what it feels like to lose someone, and they also do a lot of guided art work under the supervision of an art therapist and then they discuss what they were expressing on paper. They also do a lot of writing in those groups.

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
Before I started writing nine years ago, I was an artist and retired art teacher. I spent a lot of time on my art skills, but I’m not doing that anymore. When I’m not writing I’m working in the garden or reading. I think that writers must read a lot because it motivates us to write and it gives us an opportunity to find out what moves us. When I’m really touched deeply by someone’s writing I first let the thrill go all through me and I read it again to find out what was it that made the writing so powerful. In other words, I analyze the writing. I do the same thing when watching a really good film. I analyze what makes it so good.

Q: Have you published any other writings ?
I haven’t personally published it but others have done that for me. Yes, before my first book was published in 2005 (Dancing in My Nightgown) published by Stephens Press in Las Vegas, my short memoir stories were published in five anthologies, four of them being with Simon & Schuster’s Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul series. Several different writer’s newsletters still publish my stories as well as a monthly magazine called “Today’s Senior.”

Q: Would you like to share anything about yourself or family?
I’ll keep it short. Four adult children who I see frequently, 11 grandchildren which includes three great-grandchildren. My deceased husband was a professor of education here at San Jose State University for 36 years before retiring. He died in July 1998 and that’s when I started writing.

Q: Do you have a favorite place to write, meditate or relax?
I like to write in restaurants and read in bed. I also love good films and watching one is my favorite thing to do. I also love reading in a reclining chair on my back porch that looks out over my lawn, rose garden, five mature trees and a tall hedge around two sides. It’s unbelievably peaceful.

Q: Any advice for writers about promoting their writing?
Oh gosh. There are so many ways to go about this and they all take up half of your life and writing time. But if an author likes an audience, I think the best way to sell a book is to be a speaker and then sell the books after the program. There are endless clubs and organizations that have speakers every month. They usually have no budget for speakers but will allow you to sell books. If a group won’t let me sell books and does not have a budget for a program, I decline the invitation to speak. Speaking to groups for almost five years is the way I sell books.

Q: Do you have another book in your future plans?
Yes, I’ve been working on it off and on for eight years. It’s about my colorful, unusual and eventful childhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Q: Is here anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Only to write from the heart and do NOT edit as you write. Write the way you talk and be honest. Readers will identify with your work if you’re honest. And to be a story, a piece must engage the reader by having a problem to solve or a conflict that is resolved otherwise it’s not a story. It’s just an episode. An episode is about as interesting as reading the phone book.

Q: Have you won any writing contests or awards?
Yes, Dancing in My Nightgown was a recipient of the 2005 IPPY Finalist Award. IPPY stands for Independent Publisher which is any publisher that produces fewer than 50 books a year. Independent publishers are also called Small Press Publishers. Large Press Publishers are like Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, Time Warner, etc. Read about their annual competition at Independentpublisher.com. There are many, many categories and three awards in each category. Out of 2200 submissions my book was one of about 150 awards given in 2005. Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2008. The cost for entering is, I think, $50.00. But there are many other fine competitions to enter if you go to google and enter something like this: contests for writers, or book competitions. You’ll find more than you’ll want to enter, but it’s very interesting.

Thank you so much Betty for a fun and interesting interview. I appreciate your insight on writing and widowhood. I wish you much success in your writing endeavors.

Betty Auchard's interview was written by Jewel Sample, Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Moving Road Signs: A Way to Promote Your Book!

Hello Friends,

I have been playing with a few ideas on how to market my book, "Flying Hugs and Kisses" on a consistent basis. One day I had a light bulb moment. I was in my car and noticed I consistently read rear view bumper stickers on other people's cars! I also noticed the larger the print and colorful the sticker, the more the sticker drew my attention. To tell you the truth I hate bumper stickers on my car because they damage the paint. I checked with a local magnetic sign maker and the expense was not with in my reach. Okay, so how can I use my car as a moving promotional road sign for my book?

Here is what I came up with!
I went to our local discount store and started browsing for ideas to make a sign. I collected 8 1/2 X 11 inch printable inkjet magnetic backed sheets and self-sealing laminating pouches. I printed my book cover onto one of the printable magnetic sheets and placed it for protection in one of the seal able pouches. To my disappointment, the magnets were not strong enough to stick to the car. Light bulb moment, I two hole-punched the top side of my new sign and placed some pliable plastic suction cup holder hooks (had those laying around the house for our grandchildren's artwork hanging on my refrigerator) into the holes. Then I stuck the sign in the rear view window of hubby's pick-up truck. Whaw-la, a cheap moving road sign!

The Big Test!
I went on a 1200-mile trip to speak at a conference. I noticed when we would fill up with gas or stop to eat that the people parked next to our pick-up truck stood for a moment to read my sign! Some even commented by saying "cool sign" or "where can I get it?" Of course, I always keep a few books in my car and the strangers were delighted to get an author signed copy. While at the conference, I parked just under my hotel room window to keep an eye on my sign test when I had the chance. It was interesting to see people just walk over to the pick-up to read the sign. Since the trip I have left the sign in hubby's pick-up truck and he has said on numerous occasions people have asked about my book! So do movable road signs work? YUP!

There you have it, how to promote cheap while on the road.

I am interested in learning about your promotional tricks, so place a comment!

Have a blessed day!

Written by Jewel Sample, Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reading and Writing Appreciation Week: October 15-19, 2007

Howdy Friends!

Reading and Writing Appreciation Week

October 15-19, 2007

Are you looking for someone to speak at your school? Here is a new web site called "Musing Our Children" to find an author in your area!


Have fun!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Caring Today with Hope for Tomorrow: National SIDS Conference

The CJ Foundation for SIDS, Inc. and The CMI Education Institute, Inc.
2nd Annual Conference
September 27-30, 2007
St. Louis, MO

Bringing Bereaved Families, Research, and Health care Professionals Together

Conference Summary:
The Caring Connection: Caring Today with Hope for Tomorrow, is a National Conference dedicated to bringing together professionals and families to address Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).

Conference goals are to create and conduct an educational program that will 1) provide knowledge and skills to health care professionals and educators to support families and infuse risk reduction methods into their practice; 2) provide comfort and hope to bereaved families; and 3) establish/unite the SIDS and SUDC communities. This will be accomplished by creating a venue focusing upon current and “best practice models” encompassing public health initiatives, research activities and bereavement needs/services.

Plenary sessions, workshop presentations, panel discussions and other program activities will enable those in attendance to gain the tools, skills and resources necessary to educate, advocate and heal.

The Sibling Program and Childcare for children under the age of five is provided for a fee. For more information: http://www.cjsids.com/art/conference%20brochure.pdf

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Life After Love

Life after love, what is life like after experiencing the loss of the love of your life? Have you noticed how others carry out their new lives? I had a chance to talk with award winning country poet Vera Long about life after love. She answers my questions with her inspiring poems. This is what she had to say:

Jewel: Hi Vera! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat about your life after love with me. Have you noticed how others have carried out their lives after losing the love of their life?

Vera: I wrote this poem Never Knowing, after reading an obituary in the newspaper.

Never Knowing

She starts early getting home fires glowing
And spends her day cleaning, cooking, sewing.
The family's gone their way. She hums love songs all
If that's not love she'll die never knowing.

Soon the family starts gathering back home.
Suppertime's a time she's never alone.
Her heart skips a beat as they enjoy their treat.
She wonders what they'll do when she is gone.

Midnight hours find her family fast asleep.
She prays the Lord their souls to safely keep.
This gracious lady's face sends sunshine every place.
Her heart hides all the tears that she must weep.

Now it's their turn to be patient, sweet, kind.
She leaves some precious memories behind.
The news said another loving wife and mother
Left this life, but she still lives in each mind.

Printed by permission: Vera Long
© 1990

Jewel: Indeed the memories of our loved ones do live within each of us. Tell me about how you and your husband met.

Vera: We met during the summer of 1941, through mutual friends, at the Lost Bridge Skating Rink, Lawton, OK. We became best friends, later dated and married on December 22, 1943.

Othadell was a farmer from a long line of farmers, and when a city girl marries a farmer, she has a lot to learn. We owned and operated a Grade A dairy west of Lawton for 23 years. We sold to a housing development and moved, lock, stock and barrel, to Murray County, OK, NW of Sulphur, on a ranch of 1020 acres, raised cattle for thirty years. When Othadell's health became an issue, we bought 160 acres in Payne County, OK, Oct. 12, 1995 and moved there, where I still live, near my two children, Verda Ryden and Darwin Long.

Jewel: Illness at times does turn our thoughts toward possible upcoming events. What one thing stands out in your mind about preparing to live a life after love?

Vera: After my husband’s illness set in, my thoughts turned to the road of the future and I wrote, One More River to Cross. My late husband, Othadell Long, died Aug 22, 2000. When he died, the funeral director used this poem for the leaflet of the service.

One More River to Cross

We climbed each mountain that stood in our way.
We followed every road to its end.
We weathered the storms and waiting for sunshine.
We've come the full circle chasing the wind.

We gathered roses for friends here and gone
And rang bells of mercy while singing our songs.
We reached for the skies to touch the rainbows
And bent over backwards to right the wrongs.

We'll go down fighting and we'll never fret.
There's one more battle we haven't lost.
Thank heavens for blessings that came our way.
And now there's just one more river to cross.
Printed by permission: Vera Long
© 1985

Jewel: Your descriptive words speak eloquently of a strong life long commitment to each other. What best describes your life after love?

Vera: The young minister came to our home to talk before Othadell’s service. Since I had not met him, he wanted to know something about our lives. I gave him some poems and he chose this one and another to read, but based his talk on this one. He said, "Yes, Vera. There is life after love. I had written the poem after Othadell's parents died and several close neighbors, and I began to think about our life, 57 years farming and the words just fell into place.

Life After Love

We share our work and play and secrets we're fond of
We share so many things, the greatest being love.
Our triumphs and downfalls, disappointments and dreams
Are all shared equally. We share each other's schemes.

We listen to birdcalls, wish upon the first star.
We marvel at rainbows. Together we've come far.
We find hidden beauty in wildflowers and green leaves,
In landscapes and seascapes: all things nature weaves.

We spare not forgiveness. Loneliness we've not known
And when storm clouds threaten, together we hang on.
With vibes of poetry, good rhythm and sweet rhyme
We record memories of our love and our time.

We found our miracle. We sipped our cup of tea.
Life's a bowl of cherries, a treat to you and me.
Sometimes on darkest shores, we await morning sun,
Just caring and sharing since God joined us as one.

The world can't break us up; distance can't come
We're living life our way as seasons switch each
One thing has me worried. Perhaps it crossed your
Soon it will be over. An answer we must find.

Death will surely part us through no fault of our own;
Can one of us survive with the other one gone?
A vapor in thin air blends with the skies above.
What happens to lovers? Is there life after love?

Printed by permission: Vera Long
© 1985

Jewel: Your inspirational poems portray love is what keeps two people together through “thick and thin” yet, “Death will surely part us through no fault of our own.” Life after love does lend it’s self to knowing moments of loneliness. What has helped you get through the lonely times?

Vera: Although my daughter and her son live with me in my home, I spend a lot of time alone, so I read, sew, cook, clean, use the computer, and just stay busy, with never enough minutes to do all the things, I want or need to do. The thing I missed the most was not being able to talk to Othadell. We lived a close and sheltered, private life, and it was like half of me, died too. Stay busy, be interested in life and problems people face, and give help when I can, such as "washing a load of dirty clothes for someone who is ill or unable to do their own washing, etc. I also bake a cake or pan of cornbread for someone.

Jewel: Staying busy is an important part to getting use to the necessary changes that take place after the loss of a loved one. Thank you so much, Vera for sharing with us about your life after love.

Vera: I really appreciate sharing information about my life with you. Few people have such a chance, for in a busy world, who has time to listen? Thank you.

As Vera so eloquently states in her poems, death will surely separate one from the love of their life. Each loved one leaves precious memories to cling to, as one gets use to the “new” life after love. The choices are there for the choosing as to how one decides to embark on a life after love. No matter, one thing for sure, there are replays of memories of the “love of their life,” in the mind of the one left behind continues with time. Memories, God, and family are what give strength to live life after love until the time comes to cross over one more river.

Partial list of Vera Long’s Award winning accomplishments


2007 "Auction Day", Nobel House Anthology.
2006 First Place in Anderbo.com
On-line literary magazine, ($300)
2006 First Place, "Grandpa the D.J. Poetry Society of Oklahoma
HM's (Certificate) "My Grandma" & "A pair of Pear Trees.


1984-1992 30 or more poems (Certificates) in books of "World of Poetry Press."
2000-2007 35 on Poetry.com and 35 in Archives International Library of Poetry.

Life After Love written by Jewel Sample © 2007