Posts tagged ‘Writing’

November 14, 2011

Free Books! Seriously.

Today I’m donning my editor hat because I have something really fun to share with you, reader friends—especially you mommies and anyone else who loves picture books.

A few weeks ago, I met with the founder of a pretty cool new digital picture book platform called uTales. It’s a subscription-based picture book service, kind of like Netflix, kind of like Spotify. The cool thing—okay, there are lots of cool things—is that you can not only read picture books, but you can create them, too. The books on the site are not ones you’re going to find at your library or local bookstore. They were created on the site, and while they may be published in print in the future, currently, they’re only digital.

Lest you be wary about the quality, as I initially was, know that there is an editorial panel—of both professionals and hand-picked “uTalers”—who determine which books are worthy of being “published”. From what I’ve read thus far, probably a dozen of the 150 titles, there are a few punctuation issues, but the stories and illustrations are top-notch.

So where do the free books come in?  Well, having met with the founder (fingers crossed that I find a place on the editorial panel in the future), he offered me a free 15-day trial to share with you!

This isn’t a contest; there’s no limit to the number of people who can take advantage of it. It’s simply an effort to get the word out about this new take on what “picture book” means and how readers interact with them.

Here’s the link for the free sign-up:

I really encourage you to give it a shot. The books work on computers, iPads, and iPhones. The site just launched at the beginning of November, and the more people who try it now, the more the folks behind it will know about the public’s interest. I currently have no professional association with them, I just think it’s pretty cool. So does Jacob. To him, it would only be better if I let him press the buttons on the computer.

Happy reading, reader friends!

P.S. You can also buy individual titles. For now, ignore the “Buy” buttons under the titles. The free trial really is free, and the entire library is open to you!

P.P.S. This one’s for you, Uncle Michael:

October 18, 2011

Dear Mr. Darcy, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Maybe I’m taking a step in the opposite direction from the trajectory of current technology, but my new favorite thing is the audio book. Jacob won’t yet sit still for me to read a story to him—not even a board book—and when I try to read while he’s playing, he literally takes the story into his own hands.

Enter: the audio book.

A while back I used an audio book to try to teach Jacob some naptime/bedtime cues. A nap-solutions book I’d read suggested audio books can do the same work as lullabies, but could provide something more interesting for parents. Unfortunately, Jacob couldn’t sleep with the audio book on; he kept looking around the room, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from.

Perhaps he’s a little more oblivious now, or maybe he’s just okay with a voice coming from a box. He still talks and plays and makes noise, but I think he must be listening at least a little because he is generally calmer when the nice lady’s voice tells him stories.

Either way, his current disposition means I am at liberty to indulge my newfound obsession with Jane Austen. Oh. My. Goodness.  Why did it take me twenty-something years to discover the wit, the romance, and the charmingly paradoxical world of Regency England? Although I enjoyed Emma in college, I must have read it too quickly. Actually I know I did. I read it in, like, two days. I remember finishing it in the hallway of my suite at three a.m. and then writing a reflection paper. So not the way to really appreciate it!

This time I started with Pride and Prejudice, and I am totally hooked. Apart from making a good blog post title, Mr. Darcy is a great love interest, but I found I loved the ridiculously shallow and insipid characters more. Mr. Collins! Mrs. Bennett! Lydia! Wickham! So. Good.

I am absolutely in love with the writing, the language, the pacing—everything.

The only problem is that when you get as engrossed as I’ve been, it’s tough to transition back to life in the twenty-first century. If Jacob ends up with a British accent, using words like “felicity,” and wondering how many pounds per annum he’ll have in inheritance, at least we’ll all know why.

July 28, 2011

Words to Care for a Mama’s Soul

A few weeks after Jacob was born, a mommy friend shared a very special publication with me.  It’s something one of her friends—and friends of that friend—put together as a way to encourage and strengthen Catholic mothers.  What started as a blog became a quarterly publication, and one that I read cover to cover during the many nursing sessions in Jacob’s newborn days.

The journal is aptly named Soul Gardening.  In their own words, this is what it’s all about:

Soul Gardening is a journal designed to offer encouragement to Catholic mothers as we respond to the call to grow in holiness and simplicity.  Our purpose is to help women recognize the beauty of this vocation, the Heaven to be found in even the diapers and the dishes, and the power in making our days a living prayer.

The bit about recognizing “the beauty of this vocation” rang especially true for me in those first weeks, and I am grateful that this little journal found its way into my hands.  To expand a bit on the purpose statement above, SG is a collection of reflections, recipes, illustrations, quotes, humor, riddles for kids, and other odds and ends that are of interest to contemporary mothers who are working to make their homes havens of faith-filled living.  Each entry isn’t more than two or three pages, which means you can read a bit here or there and gain something worthwhile to think about until you have another minute to read some more (whenever that might be).

This week, the Summer 2011 issue arrived, and I couldn’t wait to dig in.  After dinner the day it came, John and I both ended up on the couch, totally absorbed in one of the funnier pieces.  Although the journal is targeted at Catholic mothers, a lot of it is relevant to Christian parents in general.



But there was another reason I was so excited to receive this latest issue.  Once I devoured the first issue, I wanted to get involved.  At the urging of the friend who offered me a copy in the first place, I submitted a piece of my own writing to the lovely ladies that make SG happen.  They kindly printed a short reflection on my first night with Jacob in the hospital, titled “You Are So Very Loved.”



I’ve gained a good deal of wisdom from reading stories about these women, who seem to have at least three children each, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take them and their readers back to a time when a mother has just one child in her care—her first, her only.   Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

It’s two a.m.  I am alone in a hospital room with my hours-old firstborn son, trying to figure out how to feed him.  I have never held a baby so small before.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  The shock of having my own child in my arms hasn’t worn off yet, and won’t for another couple of weeks.

He’s crying.  I’m lost for what to do or say, so I tell him the only thing I know for sure:

“You are so loved.

“God loves you.  Jesus loves you.  Mother Mary loves you. I love you.  Your daddy loves you.  Your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, friends you haven’t met yet—they all love you so very much.”

In speaking these words to my little one, I find strength.  I don’t know what I personally have to offer this brand new person yet, but I know that the love that already exists for him is true and pure.  He has done nothing to deserve it; he is loved simply because he exists.

You can learn more about Soul Gardening—and even subscribe to it—here:  This really is a wonderful publication.  It’s something that’s done a lot of good for me (and my soul), and the kind of writing I wish our world had more of.

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