Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

A Quick Look at Some Children’s Books That Have Been Banned for Ridiculous Reasons

In 2003, a superintendent banned the book The Handmaid’s Tale from his high school. In 2017, the screen version of that same book won numerous awards. Hundreds of books have been banned for all kinds of reasons, and most of them climb out of the trash bin sooner or later, and that scenario bothers me. Frankly, I am afraid of a society that bans books, PERIOD!!! But I am even more suspicious knowing that our basic, constitutional freedoms can be removed by the sweep of one person’s or one committee’s hand and then restored willy-nilly. I am concerned that the average citizen’s freedoms are volleyed back and forth, and I am leery of living in a nation that considers its laws to be tentative and subject to change, like a school girl’s fashions. Today, I want to tell you about some children’s books that were banned for ridiculous reasons.

Honestly, I can understand that The Handmaid’s Tale might not appeal to the general public. Some people might be outright frightened of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I believe that people who do not want to read or watch The Handmaid’s Tale should simply avoid it. But how about Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein? Is anyone actually afraid of that book? My all-time-very-favorite poem is from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Image result for shel silverstein invitation jacki kellum

I work part-time as my library’s children’s librarian, and my very favorite book and song program is from Bill Martin’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Believe it or not, Brown Bear was banned at one time, and the reason reinforces what is at the root of my fear of banning books. Brown Bear was banned because whoever waved the wand and cursed that one made a mistake. They thought that a Marxist by the same name had written Brown Bear, too–OH MY! And they simply tossed the book out. And here’s the MOST frightening part–everyone else allowed them to do it.

Is Brown Bear a great book for children or is it something to be feared and damned? And more importantly, who are the THEY that get to decide what is acceptable and what is not for everyone else? I believe that people have enough sense to judge book content for themselves and to read accordingly.

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The Rabbit’s Wedding by Garth Williams

Garth Williams is the man who is revered for his illustrations for Charlotte’s Web and for the more recent Little House on the Prairie books. He wrote and illustrated The Rabbit’s Wedding, too, but it was banned because some believed that it was promoting interracial marriage. Oh, PLEASE!

The list goes on and on. Books are banned and they are unbanned, and the whole thing irks me. Banned Books week begins the last full week of September, and I’ll be writing a great deal about banned books during the coming week. In the meantime, I want to encourage everyone to seriously consider whether or not they want to live in a country that burns books. Banning books is a mere sneeze away from burning books. Beware.

©Jacki Kellum September 19, 2017

Tentative

Quotes about March

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“March came in that winter like the meekest and mildest of lambs, bringing days that were crisp and golden and tingling, each followed by a frosty pink twilight which gradually lost itself in an elfland of moonshine.” ― L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island

“They captured in their ramble all the mysteries and magics of a March evening. Very still and mild it was, wrapped in a great, white, brooding silence — a silence which was yet threaded through with many little silvery sounds which you could hear if you hearkened as much with your soul as your ears. The girls wandered down a long pineland aisle that seemed to lead right out into the heart of a deep-red, overflowing winter sunset.”
― L.M. Montgomery – – Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again.

Not that year.

Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die. Day after grey day the ice stayed hard; the world remained unfriendly and cold.”
― Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants

 

“In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“POOR MARCH
It is the HOMELIEST month of the year. Most of it is MUD, Every Imaginable Form of MUD, and what isn’t MUD in March is ugly late-season SNOW falling onto the ground in filthy muddy heaps that look like PILES of DIRTY LAUNDRY.”
― Vivian Swift, When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put

“Only those with tenacity can march forward in March”
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

The River by Flannery O’Connor – Free Text Online – Quotes

http://www.doxaweb.com/assets/The_River.pdf

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – Entire Book

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How The Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss

Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch,Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Whoville beneath,
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.
“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”
For Tomorrow, he knew, all the Who girls and boys,
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise!
Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE!
NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d FEAST!
FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast beast.
Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!
And THEN They’d do something He liked least of all!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING!
SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of this Who ChristmasSing,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!”
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!”
“With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!”
“All I need is a reindeer…” The Grinch looked around.
But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch? No! The Grinch simply said,
“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his dog, Max. Then he took some red thread,
And he tied a big horn on the top of his head.
THEN He loaded some bags And some old empty sacks,
On a ramshackle sleigh And he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said, “Giddap!” And the sleigh started down,
Toward the homes where the Whos Lay asnooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care.
When he came to the first little house on the square.
“This is stop number one,” the old Grinchy Claus hissed,
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue.
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
“These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!”
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”
And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove,
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter,
Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why,”
“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick,
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,
“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.”
“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.”
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head,
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when CindyLou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took Was the log for their fire!
Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire.
And the one speck of food That he left in the house,
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then He did the same thing To the other Whos’ houses
Leaving crumbs Much too small For the other Whos’ mouses!
It was quarter past dawn… All the Whos, still a-bed,
All the Whos, still asnooze When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
“PoohPooh to the Whos!” he was grinchishly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!”
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!”
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry BooHoo!”
“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light,
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

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5

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But the Grinch who lived just north of Who-ville, Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole season!

Now please don’t ask why.  No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, the his shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was to sizes too small.

66

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer.

“Tomorrow is Christmas!  It’s practically here!”

Then he growled with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,

“I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”

For tomorrow,  he knew …

But, whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

Staring down from his cave, with his sour Grinchly frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath

Was busy now hanging a mistletoe wreath.

 

7

All the Who girls and boys

Would wake bright and early.  They’d rush for their toys!

And then! Oh, the noise!  Oh, the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise!

That’s one thing he hated.  The NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!

8

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.

And they’d feast! And they’d feast!

And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!  FEAST!

They would feast on Who-pudding and rare Who-roast-beef

Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!

8

Image result for How The Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss

 

9

And THEN They’d do something He liked least of all

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,

Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing

They’d stand hand-in-hand And the Whos would start singing!

They’d sing! And they’d sing!

AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who-Christmas-sing,

The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

Why, for thrty-three years, I’ve put up with it now!\

I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! …. But HOW?”

Related image

Then he got an idea!  An awful idea!

THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

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Related image

“I know just what to do!”  The Grinch laughed in his throat.

And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.

And he chuckled, and he clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!

With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!”

“All I need is a reindeer….”  The Grinch looked around.

But since reindeer are scarce, there were none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch…?  No, the Grinch simply said,

If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!

So he called his dog Max.   Then he took some red thread

And he tied a big horn on the top of his head.

12

THEN He loaded some bags And some old empty sacks

On a ramsackle sleigh And he hitched up old Max.

Then  the Grinch said, “Giddap!”  And the sleigh started down

Toward the homes where the Whos lay a-snooze in their town.

13

And the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care

When he came to the first little house on the square.

“This is stop number one,” the old Grinchy Claus hissed

And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist!

14

Then he slid down the chimney.  A rather tight pinch.

But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.

He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.

Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue

Where the little Whos stockings all hung in a row.

“These stockings,” he said, “Are the first things to go!”

15

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile, most unpleasant,

Around every room, and he took every present!

Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates!  Drums!

Checkerboards!  Tricycles!  Popcorn!  And plums!

And he stuffed them in bags.  Then the Grinch, very nimbly,

Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimbley!

16

Then he slunk to the icebox.  He took the Who feast!

He took the Who-pudding!  He took the roast-beef!

He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.

Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!

17

Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney sith glee.

“And NOW!”  grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree.”

18

And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove.

When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!

Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.

The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter

Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.

She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why?

“Why are you taking our Christmas tree?  WHY?

 

19

“But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick

He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!

“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,

“There’s a light on this tree won’t light up one side.

“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear,

“I’ll fix it up there, and I’ll bring it back here.”

And his fib fooled the child.  Then he patted her head.

And he got her a drink and sent her to bed.

And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,

HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!

20

Then the last thing he took Was the log for the fire.

Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.

On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire.

And the one speck of food he left in the house

Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

21

Then he did the same thing To the other Who houses.

Leaving crumbs Much too small For the other Whos’ mouses!

22

It was quarter past dawn….

All the Whos, still abed.

All the Whos, still a-snoozin

When he packed up his sled.

Packed it up with their presents!  The ribbons!  The wrappings!

The tags! And the tinsel!  The timmings.  The trappings!

23

Three thousand feet up!  Up the side of Mt. Crumpit.

He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!

“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!”  He was grinch-ish-ly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

“They’re just waking up!  I know just what they’ll do!

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two.

“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

24

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch,

“That I simply MUST hear!”

So he paused.  And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low.  Then it started to grow….

 

25

But the sound wasn’t sad!  Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so!  But it WAS merry!  VERY!”

He stared down at Who-ville!  The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook!  What he saw was a shocking surprise!

26

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing!  Without any presents at all.  

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming.  IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

27

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How could it be so?

It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  

It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch though of someting he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store!

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

28

And what happened then…?

Well…in Who-ville they say

That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! and the food for the feast!

And he…

29

HE HIMSELF …!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Image result for How The Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss

Merry Christmas!

The Importance of Learning to Wait

Two years ago, I had a blue kitchen. It was not a navy blue kitchen. I could have lived with that. My kitchen was a neutral color of blue that had no personality at all. In all of my years, I have never seen another kitchen that was the color of my dated and lackluster kitchen. Even the floor was blue. It was covered with a cheap blue vinyl, and the entire room screamed, “I was never fashionable.”

 

A few years ago, I tried to sell my house, and as soon as the potential buyers saw my kitchen floor, they turned around and walked back out of the house. Some of the cabinets had begun falling apart, and I decided that something had to be done about my kitchen. I knew that until I changed things, I would never sell my house, and since I had no money, I decided to fix the problem myself.

To disassemble the cabinets, I advertised on Craigslist that anyone who could take them down and cart them away could have them. I knew that I wanted stainless steel appliances, and I practically gave away my white appliances, too. Then, with a hammer clenched in my hand, I attacked the wall that stood between my tiny kitchen and my tiny dining room, and I myself removed that sucker. Now, I had one big room that would one day become a wonderful kitchen, but I didn’t have the resources to finish the job, so I waited. For over a year, my kitchen consisted of a crock pot, and electric skillet, and an old and dying refrigerator. Then, that refrigerator expired, and I bought my first new kitchen appliance–a beautiful stainless steel refrigerator.

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During my entire life, I have never lived in a newly built house; therefore, every time that I have moved into a house, a used refrigerator came with the used home. Although I have found it necessary to replace my fridges before, this was the first time that I have actually gone to the store and bought a new one. I was  66-years-old, and for the first time in my life, I had a brand new refrigerator–a stainless steel refrigerator–and one that had no scratches or dents.

As I stood and admired my new fridge and the beginning of my new kitchen, I considered how differently that I might have viewed the buying of a new refrigerator if I had been privy to tons of new appliances before now–and if during my lifetime, I had never actually wanted anything. Had that been the case, I would probably have been irritated by the minor hassle that replacing an old, dead appliance had caused and when I watched my new refrigerator rolling through my door, I would have experienced very little pleasure at all. I would have thought, “Easy come, easy go, It’s just a new appliance. It’s no big deal.” But that was not the way that the scenario plalyed out.

Refrigerator4

For the first time in my life, I had a brand new and shiny refrigerator, and I was thrilled.

This will sound odd, but I am happy that I don’t have everything that I want. I am even happy that I don’t have everything that I need, and I am happy that I have learned how to wait. The wanting and the waiting make me more appreciative when I actually receive.

For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received. – Storm Jameson

Things could be quite different for me now that I am older and retired. I could have NOTHING left to want and there could be Nothing that would make my day. Thank goodness, that is not the case for me. It doesn’t take much at all to turn my life into a party.

©Jacki Kellum October 18, 2016

Waiting

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class Day 5 – Write about a Store or Shop

Now that you have placed yourself within a community and a region somewhere, describe a shop or a store that you used to visit.

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class Exercise Day 5 – Write about a Store or a Shop Where You Once Spent Some Time.

©Jacki Kellum October 5, 2016

 

Art in the Parks – Residency Programs for Artists & Writer

Image result for pictured rocks national park Pictured Rocks National Park Michigan
Apply December for October Residency

The national lakeshore offers – rent free – a park residence for up to four weeks during October each year.

Image result for sleeping bear dunes national park Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan

Apply April 15 for September and October

Image result for herbert hoover national park Herbert Hoover National Library Park

Image result for herbert hoover national park

Herbert Hoover NHS offers one residency of eight weeks during the months of June, July, and August.

The National Historic Site provides lodging and a secure place for equipment and supplies at no cost to the artist. During the residencies, the artists interact informally with the public, present public interpretive programs, and contribute a work of art for display in the park.

Contact us for more information about the program.

Goal for the 2016 Residency

This year, the park is looking for a videographer, photographer, recording artist, or other artist who can provide content for the park’s digital media services (website, app, and social media outlets). The artist:

  • Creates a work or body of work that may be used to meet that goal.
  • Plans and leads at least one public workshop, demonstration, lecture, exploratory walk, performance, or other artist-led experience for park visitors.

Image result for lake roosevelt national park

Lake Roosevelt Coulee Dam, WA 99116

season will be accepted until December 31st, 2016.

Image result for acadia national park

Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Image result for acadia national park

Applying to be an Artist-in-Residence

The application period for the July 2017 – June 2018 season will open September 1, 2016 and run through February 10, 2017. To apply visit: https://uevent.com/registration?code=ZZ6NOVBTAP

Image result for saint gaudens national park

Saint-Gaudens National Park – Cornish, NH

Delaware Water Gap Bushkill, PA

Catoctin Forest Thurmond, MD

Great Smoky Mountains

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/getinvolved/artist-in-residence.htm

Benefit to the Artist

The program provides time for artists to develop a body of work, as well as opportunities to engage and inspire the public through outreach initiatives. In exchange for their stay in the park, the artist creates new work and generates experiences that promote visitor understanding of the need to preserve and care for this national treasure.

  • Free furnished apartment inside park boundaries for 4-6 weeks
  • Reimbursement for materials and expenses not to exceed $300
  • Enrollment in the National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks program
  • Opportunity to collaborate with Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts

Image result for fire island national park

Fire Island National Park

Artists must submit application information and materials as instructed in the application. The deadline for application is February 5 of each calendar year. A panel of professionals from diverse artistic disciplines and National Park Service representation will review applicants for acceptance into the program.

For more information and application instructions, please see the information and application packet or email e-mail us.

Finding the Courage to Submit My Writing to a Publisher Was A Breakthrough

On Friday, I shared that had reached the point in my writing that I felt it was necessary for me to take the next step. It was time for me to Submit my work to a publisher. My deadline to submit my writing  was midnight on Saturday night. 18 minutes before the Deadline, I submitted my first piece to a publisher, and I already feel more powerful, after having done so.

test-submit-for-publication-jacki-kellum-1000

For the past year, I have blogged something almost daily. I have begun writing several first drafts for one piece or another. I realized that it was time to take my first test. I searched through as many upcoming writing competitions as I could find, and I selected one for my goal. The deadline for midnight on October 1, Unfortunately, I didn’t begin fine-tuning my piece early enough, and I waited until about two days before the deadline to begin assembling several memoir vignettes that I had written. Clearly, I procrastinated too long.

After I had assembled the parts of my essay, I began combing through my writing. The maximum word count for my finished piece was 8500 words, and I had not yet tried to manage an essay of that length. It was more difficult than I expected to edit that many words. It seemed that I would edit and re-edit the first two pages, but I had difficulty being satisfied enough to move farther. The deadline was drawing nearer and nearer, and I still hadn’t edited the bulk of the essay.

Initially, I did what I believed all along that I would do. I decided to simply back out of the race. I began looking for the next important competition, and I decided to wait until then to submit. Besides, I had to work the day of the submission deadline. The miracle is that I worked with an editor that day, and when I told her my plight, she gouged me until I decided to just do it. Whether the thing was perfect or not, I decided to jump from one cliff to another. I decided to simply submit. And I am glad that I did.

After I had pushed the button “submit,” I realized that it didn’t matter whether I won the competition or not. My breakthrough lay in having pulled a quantity of writing together and to have gathered enough courage to try to move forward.

On October 2, I began making a long and detailed calendar of upcoming writing competitions. I am ready to face the next dragon, but next time, I’ll begin editing sooner, and I’ll truly be ready. Next time, I might allow myself a chance to win.

©Jacki Kellum October 3, 2016

Breakthrough

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class – Blog to Memoir Find Your Path – Day 1

Buckle your seatbelt. You are about to begin one of the most powerful journeys of your life. As you may or may not know, this is phase 1 of 4 events that will not only change the way that you look at life but will also enlighten you about the way that you write–about the way that you write everything and not just about the way that you write Memoir.

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Blog to Memoir: Find Your Path is Phase 1 of the entire Blog to Memoir Program,which will arrive in intervals over the next year.  Find Your Path is the simplest of the four phases. In fact, as you complete the first half of the daily writings for Find Your Path, you will probably begin to balk, feeling that you have not been challenged and that you are possibly wasting your time. Mark this spot and highlight these words: Do ALL of the writing exercises–even the ones that seem ridiculously simple. There is a method to my madness. The initially very simple and non-threatening writing exercises are designed to overcome problems that writers may have formed

  1. Writer’s Block – Most of us are plagued by writer’s block to one extent or another. Most of us have been bullied by our Self-Editors, and most of us are a little bit leery of writing because of our Self-Editors.
  2.  Writing with Pretty but Meaningless Words – Others of us may have formed some bad writing habits, such as  cloaking our passages with pretty, but meaningless images.
  3. Writing What You Believe that People Want or Expect You to Write – Another problem occurs when we write what people expect us to write and we fail to write what is truly on our minds.
  4. Writing that is Safe –  One of the worst mistakes that a writer can make is that of failing to take a stand.
  5. Writing that is Superficial – Many of us are slightly afraid to peer into some of our darker corners, and we may have developed a tendency to write about abstractions and about things that aren’t terribly personal.

Great writing is deliberate and specific, and poor writing is generalized. One of the biggest mistakes that a writer can make is to write about things that seem to interest everyone else but that only vaguely interests himself. That is like being the person who always tries to please everyone and who continuously straddles the fence, trying to do so. Invariably, the fence straddlers are those people who want to please everyone and in doing so, they please no one at all.

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the current realm of Social Media, where being “liked” becomes the raison d’etre, it becomes tempting to simply chit chat when we write. In other words, it becomes tempting to use meaningless words that won’t offend anyone at all. Being liked is important to most people. It has certainly always been important for me, and at times, I have stayed in the middle of the road–striving to please everyone, but I didn’t even like myself when I was doing that.

As we move through the course, I’ll be saying more about all of the above. For now,  I simply want us to jump right into the writing. I do want to assure you that by writing all of the responses to the very simple and almost safe prompts in Phase 1 of the Blog to Memoir Course, you will gradually break out of some of the behaviors that I have outlined above. After about a week of writing, I’ll begin to explain things that you need to know about these behaviors and about why you need to write more authentically. To begin, however, simply write. Your initial writings will be short and sweet, but I have plans for your extra time.

What The Free Jacki Kellum Writing Course Is Not

  1. This course will not be your confessional. It will not challenge you to write a series of tell-all’s, and it will not dare you to slice open your veins and bleed.
  2. This course is not about some radical therapy, and it will not be a substitute for Alcoholics Anonymous, for joining Codependency Groups and for seeing your mental health professional. When I suggest that you look into your past, I am not prodding you to exorcise all of the demons that might be there. That is someone else’s job.
  3. This course is not for people who want to continue to wallow in the pain of their pasts,

What The Free Jacki Kellum Writing Course Is

  1. This course is a logical next step for many people who have already identified that things were not perfect for them when they were children. This course is for people who are ready  to move on.
  2. This course  is for people who want to alchemize the experiences of their childhood and to allow them to transform into gold.

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Course Exercise 1: Write about a County

The first Blog to Memoir writing assignment might seem easy, but don’t over-analyze the assignment or your response. Simply think about all of the County or a Region where you have lived and describe it. Grab a breath of fresh air and begin writing.

  1. Don’t stop writing for about ten minutes.
  2. Don’t hesitate,
  3. Don’t erase.
  4. Don’t correct your spelling.
  5. Don’t try to edit as you write.

In a matter-of-fact way that as near to your own speaking voice as possible, simply write what you know about a county or region where you have lived. You may want to describe the natural setting of the county. You may want to share a legend that you have heard about the county. You may want to say what you liked about the county and you may want to say what you disliked. As long as you are honest, it really does not matter what you write. Just write.

When I write a description, I close my eyes and look with my mind’s eyes at what I am describing. When I see the place or the object clearly, I simply write the words that describe it.

Later, we’ll do more with your writing for this first assignment. Don’t throw it away. It is not necessary for you to share what you write. It is not necessary that you blog your response. Simply write and save your writing.

Learning to write about setting and places essential for every writer in every genre. When we are able to zoom in on an area that we truly know, we create better settings and we are better able to bring those settings to life.

faulkner-Portable map

William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County

  1. William Faulkner’s writing focused on what appears to be the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, but Yoknapatawpha County is actually Lafayette County in Mississippi. It is the county where Oxford, Mississippi is located, and Oxford is where William Faulkner lived. 
  2. William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County evolved over time, and in the beginning, no one is expected to recreate a county of that portion. But everyone, even William Faulkner, began somewhere, and our actual memories are the best place to start.  
  3. As I said before, we’ll continue to explore our writing about our counties. What you write today is only your first step,

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

Most of us would like to forget or bury some of the chapters of our pasts, but that is not actually possible. In trying to forget who we are and where we have been, we only succeed in numbing ourselves and killing our authentic writing voices.  The secret to becoming a better writer is to tap into your past and harness it and allow it to sail you forward.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens – by Arthur Rackham

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” – James M. Barrie [ Author of Peter Pan]

Why Blog to Memoir?

  1. When we write about the actual experiences of our lives, our writing is fresher, more alive, and more authentic. For that reason, excavating your memories is an invaluable exercise–a way to create vivid writing samples for any of your other writing.
  2. It is not necessary for you to actually blog your writing. You may simply check out the daily writing exercises and explore them on your own. Throughout the course, however, I’ll share several ways that blogging daily has improved both my writing and my outlook on life. I heartily recommend writing daily, and for several reasons, I am convinced that blogging is the best way to store your writing. Blogging regularly is also a good way to build your brand and to share your writing with others. Note: You do not have to make your blog public.
  3. Several people have successfully completed books by blogging the parts of their books one by one and then, by assembling the parts of the book at the end. This practice has been labeled Blog to Book. For the past year, I have been blogging my memoir [and several other books] one step at a time. Soon, I plan to assemble my memoir pieces together and to submit my own memoir book for publication. Hence: I Am Blogging to Memoir  Book, and you can, too.

“We’ve forgotten how to remember, and just as importantly, we’ve forgotten how to pay attention. So, instead of using your smartphone to jot down crucial notes, or Googling an elusive fact, use every opportunity to practice your memory skills. Memory is a muscle, to be exercised and improved.” – Joshua Foer

I’ll run the free writing class through my blog site jackikellum.com Here
& through the site that I specifically created for the class: blogtomemoir.com. Here

Each day,  I’ll post the daily assignment by 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time USA. I believe that early morning is the best time to write and for that reason, your writing assignment will be ready for you first thing each day.

©Jacki Kellum October 1, 2016

Descriptive Writing – Sense of Place – Setting of the Upstate Area of New York in the James Fenimore Cooper Leatherstocking Tales

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“As this work professes, in its title-page, to be a descriptive tale, they who will take the trouble to read it may be glad to know how much of its contents is literal fact….But in commencing to describe scenes, and perhaps he may add characters, that were so familiar to his own youth, there was a constant temptation to delineate that which he had known, rather than that which he might have imagined….

“Otsego….lies among those low spurs of the Alleghanies which cover the midland counties of New York, and it is a little east of a meridional line drawn through the centre of the State. As the waters of New York flow either southerly into the Atlantic or northerly into Ontario and its outlet, Otsego Lake, being the source of the Susquehanna, is of necessity among its highest lands….

“Otsego is said to be a word compounded of Ot, a place of meeting, and Sego, or Sago, the ordinary term of salutation used by the Indians of this region. There is a tradition which says that the neighboring tribes were accustomed to meet on the banks of the lake to make their treaties, and otherwise to strengthen their alliances, and which refers the name to this practice.” Pioneers – Introduction

Image result for council rock james fenimore cooper

[Cooper is describing the area of Council Rock, which is the area where he grew up. James Fennimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans and several other books that were set in the area around his home in upstate New York. In one of the books, he wrote about how the Native Americans would canoe to a big boulder to meet. This big boulder is Council Rock, which is an actual rock that is very near Cooper’s childhood home. The description of the rock in Cooper’s writing of historical fiction is beautiful and when we know that Cooper had first-hand experiences with the rock, we have little doubt that in writing what is supposedly fiction, Cooper was describing from his own memories.]

“Near the centre of the State of New York lies an extensive district of country whose surface is a succession of hills and dales, or, to speak with greater deference to geographical definitions, of mountains and valleys. It is among these hills that the Delaware takes its rise; and flowing from the limpid lakes and thousand springs of this region the numerous sources of the Susquehanna meander through the valleys until, uniting their streams, they form one of the proudest rivers of the United States. The mountains are generally arable to the tops, although instances are not wanting where the sides are jutted with rocks that aid greatly in giving to the country that romantic and picturesque character which it so eminently possesses. The vales are narrow, rich, and cultivated, with a stream uniformly winding through each. Beautiful and thriving villages are found interspersed along the margins of the small lakes, or situated at those points of the streams which are favorable for manufacturing; and neat and comfortable farms, with every indication of wealth about them, are scattered profusely through the vales, and even to the mountain tops. Roads diverge in every direction from the even and graceful bottoms of the valleys to the most rugged and intricate passes of the hills. …Only forty years have passed since this territory was a wilderness.” Pioneers – Chapter 1 – Opening Lines

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“There was glittering in the atmosphere, as if it was filled with innumerable shining particles; and the noble bay horses that drew the sleigh were covered, in many parts with a coat of hoar-frost. The vapor from their nostrils was seen to issue like smoke; and every object in the view, as well as every arrangement of the travellers, denoted the depth of a winter in the mountains. The harness, which was of a deep, dull black, differing from the glossy varnishing of the present day, was ornamented with enormous plates and buckles of brass, that shone like gold in those transient beams of the sun which found their way obliquely through the tops of the trees. Huge saddles, studded with nails and fitted with cloth that served as blankets to the shoulders of the cattle, supported four high, square-topped turrets, through which the stout reins led from the mouths of the horses to the hands of the driver, who was a negro, of apparently twenty years of age. His face, which nature had colored with a glistening black, was now mottled with the cold, and his large shining eyes filled with tears; a tribute to its power that the keen frosts of those regions always extracted from one of his African origin. Still, there was a smiling expression of good-humor in his happy countenance, that was created by the thoughts of home and a Christmas fireside, with its Christmas frolics. The sleigh was one of those large, comfortable, old-fashioned conveyances, which would admit a whole family within its bosom, but which now contained only two passengers besides the driver. The color of its outside was a modest green, and that of its inside a fiery red, The latter was intended to convey the idea of heat in that cold climate. Large buffalo-skins trimmed around the edges with red cloth cut into festoons, covered the back of the sleigh, and were spread over its bottom and drawn up around the feet of the travellers—one of whom was a man of middle age and the other a female just entering upon womanhood. The former was of a large stature; but the precautions he had taken to guard against the cold left but little of his person exposed to view. A great-coat, that was abundantly ornamented by a profusion of furs, enveloped the whole of his figure excepting the head, which was covered with a cap of mar ten-skins lined with morocco, the sides of which were made to fall, if necessary, and were now drawn close over the ears and fastened beneath his chin with a black rib bon. The top of the cap was surmounted with the tail of the animal whose skin had furnished the rest of the materials, which fell back, not ungracefully, a few inches be hind the head. From beneath this mask were to be seen part of a fine, manly face, and particularly a pair of expressive large blue eyes, that promised extraordinary intellect, covert humor, and great benevolence. The form of his companion was literally hid beneath the garments she wore. There were furs and silks peeping from under a large camlet cloak with a thick flannel lining, that by its cut and size was evidently intended for a masculine wearer. A huge hood of black silk, that was quilted with down, concealed the whole of her head, except at a small opening in front for breath, through which occasionally sparkled a pair of animated jet-black eyes.

“The mountain on which they were journeying was covered with pines that rose without a branch some seventy or eighty feet, and which frequently doubled that height by the addition of the tops. Through the innumerable vistas that opened beneath the lofty trees, the eye could penetrate until it was met by a distant inequality in the ground, or was stopped by a view of the summit of the mountain which lay on the opposite side of the valley to which they were hastening. The dark trunks of the trees rose from the pure white of the snow in regularly formed shafts, until, at a great height, their branches shot forth horizontal limbs, that were covered with the meagre foliage of an evergreen, affording a melancholy contrast to the torpor of nature below. To the travellers there seemed to be no wind; but these pines waved majestically at their topmost boughs, sending forth a dull, plaintive sound that was quite in consonance with the rest of the melancholy scene.” Pioneers – Chapter 1

[This post is a work in progress. I am reading all of the books in the Leatherstocking Tales, and I’ll be adding to these observations]

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