Announcing the winner of the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest

Where Spirits Linger

The winner of this contest was supposed to be announced by the end of May, but as I explained in my last post of the month, all contest submissions were asked to make some revisions and I couldn’t determine a winner until that was done, so I’d have the revised stories to choose from. However now, that has happened. I have all the stories back with revisions and the time has come to reveal the winner.

And the winner is…

I’m happy to announce that the winner of this year’s contest is Christa Planko for her story “Olde-Tyme Village“. The winning story will be featured in this year’s paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger and Christa will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.


Growing Bookworms: Handwriting skills for children, Part 1

Why handwriting is still important

As technology becomes increasingly important in our modern lives, writing by hand with a pen has become less common. Writing on a computer is easy and allows us to move text about, delete and add text, and save sections in a separate place for future use. We are also able to access our writing from a number of devices. I access my email and blogs from all three of my laptops, both of my iphones, and my ipad. This all makes writing so much simpler, so why do our education systems still focus on handwriting? Why not let the children use laptops and ipads to write?

Cognitive benefits

Writing notes by hand improves language skills. Writing by hand takes longer than typing and forces the writer to slow down their thought process and consider the words more. When you write by hand you spend more time thinking about the structure of the writing, the spelling of words, and they way you are using them.

Writing information down also aids our memory. I knew this without consulting the research confirming that writing creates unique pathways in the brain causing people who take notes by hand to remember the content better than those who type up their notes. Like me, my oldest son, Gregory, came to this realisation on his own and writes copious and detailed notes. His effort and dedication reflects in his academic results.

Creative writing benefits

A lot of writers still use notebooks to record and flesh out their ideas by hand. When we write longhand our ideas flow better and we are less distracted by the need to keep editing our work as we go along. When we write by hand we follow the flow of the idea and leave the editing until later.

I write most of my poetry by hand, but I do type up my prose so I know the above is true. I just can’t stop myself from continuously editing.

My son, Michael, writes by hand. He has a book in which he writes down his thoughts and ideas when the spirit moves him. When it comes to school assignments, he writes his stories on a laptop and I am always amazed at how many more mistakes and errors he makes when using a laptop than when writing by hand.

The manuscript of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Picture credit: https://www.spbooks.com/67-the-great-gatsby-9791095457428.html

Handwriting is less restrictive

This point links to the one above about writing by hand freeing our minds and creative processes from the need to edit. I don’t write my prose by hand but I do record my frameworks and basic ideas by hand. I like to use mind maps which set out my story process. I have noticed that Michael does the same when plotting.

Again, I must emphasis that using and electronic devise to brainstorm is fraught with distractions. These are our own fault as we have our social media, email, and other notifications coming through on our devices. Every time I get an email or notification from Facebook, it pops up on my screen and my eyes automatically go to the pop up and read it.

Handwriting is part of our identity and our culture

Our handwriting is unique to us and forms a part of our identity. Even people like me whose writing is difficult for others to read, still put our personal stamp on handwritten work (my writing is difficult to read because I cannot resist adding curls and whirls all over the place; my writing is a work of art).

Writing is also an important part of our culture and our development as a species, it is the foundation of our learning and progress.

If you are interested in learning a bit more about the role of handwriting in our lives and culture, Rebecca Budd has a lovely podcast entitled The Trio on Letter Writing which discusses this topic in detail.

Quotes about writing

I think of my drawing style like handwriting: it’s a mix of whatever handwriting you’re born with, plus bits and pieces you’ve pilfered from other people around you. – Roz Chast

Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently. – Jean Cocteau

Somehow I started introducing writing into my drawings, and after a time, the language took over and I started getting very involved with the handwriting and then the look of the handwriting. – Patti Smith

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


When I Was You: A thriller that will keep you guessing

When I Was You

When I Was You, is a well-crafted thriller by Minka Kent that will keep readers guessing to the very end. This story has all the twists and turns of a good thriller, and just when you think you know what is going on, the plot doubles back for you to realize how wrong you were. I’m not sure how to review this book without giving away spoilers, because it does keep you guessing.

Brienne Dougray was attacked and robbed, putting a jolt in her self-confidence, making her feel afraid and vulnerable. To make matters worse, all of her friends have turned their backs on her and she has no idea why. It seems the only one she can rely on is Niall, a busy oncologist who is her tennant, whom she is developing feelings for. She begins to feel as if her life is not really her own when she learns there is another woman who is living her identity and Niall may not be the man she thought he was. These odd occurances have her doubting her sanity and she has to wonder if she really knows who she is. To solve the mystery of what is really going, is the only way to figure out who she really is and get her true life back.

Suspense and mystery keeps the pages turning in this well-crafted thriller. I give When I Was You five quills.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Was-You-Minka-Kent-ebook/dp/B07PCR7SYF

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


And The Winner Is….

For the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest – You’ll have to wait and see

Where Spirits Linger

One of my biggest pet peeves is being fully immersed in a short story, only to have it end abruptly, like a slap in the face, leaving me scratching my head and saying, “Is that it?”. I am sure you know what I mean if you’re an avid reader, as most authors are. I think this is a problem found mostly in short fiction. Maybe the author cuts it short in order to meet a word count limit, or maybe they just aren’t sure how to wrap things up, so they jump right to ‘THE END’. No matter what the reason, the result is disappointment on the part of the reader, so it is worth the extra effort on the authors’ part, to take the time and effort to come up with the perfect ending for every story they write.

That’s why I’m postponing announcing the winner of the WordCrafter 2021 Short Fiction Contest, which I had planned to do before the end of May. I only had three entries for the contest this year. Each entry offered an excellent paranormal tale meeting the submission guidelines, but at the end of each one I found myself feeling disappointed, as if there should have been more to the story.

So, I’ve requested each author to revisit their endings and resubmit their stories before I make a decision on the winner. I’ve already received one story back with revisions and I’m waiting on the other two. When all three revised stories have been received, I’ll decide and announce the winner. These stories were all well written and I anticipate them being even better with the author revisions, so the decision won’t be easy.

Accepting Submissions: I want your ghost stories!

However, three submissions do not an anthology make, so I’m calling out for more submissions to fill the pages of Where Spirits Linger. Doesn’t every author have a ghost story hidden away somewhere? Contest guidelines asked for a paranormal tale with place being central element in the story. These new submissions won’t be eligible for the contest, so they will no entry fee attached. If you have a story that fits the theme, send it to me at kayebooth@yahoo.com, for a chance to have it included in the WordCrafter Press 2021 anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

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For the WordCrafter “Poetry Treasures” Book Blog Contest – That one I can tell you.

Poetry Treasures Book Blog Tour

For the Poetry Treasures Book Blog Tour, which ran May 24 – 30, we did a giveaway and three readers who followed the tour and commented will receive a free digital copy (.mobi, .epub, or .pdf) of Poetry Treasures! The three lucky winners are: Jules, Jill Weatherbolt, and Priscilla Bettis. If you are a winner, please contact me at KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com and tell me which format you prefer to receive your copy. (If you have already purchased a copy of Poetry Treasures, you may choose another WordCrafter Press book instead.)

Poetry Treasures had a great seven day tour with a guest post about the poetic inspiration behind a poem by a different contributing poet at each bIog stop. The anthology and the tour were amazing collaborative efforts among nine poet/authors and myself to create a unique and moving collection of poetry. Also many thanks to Miriam Hurdle, Ritu Bhathal and Teagan Geneviene for hosting tour stops to support the poets and the tour. Without their participation, this tour would not have been possible.

If you missed this wonderful tour or maybe only missed a few of the stops, you can visit them at the links below:

Day 1 – Writing to be Read – Guest post by Jude Kirya Italaki

https://writingtoberead.com/2021/05/24/welcome-to-the-wordcrafters-poetry-treasures-book-blog-tour/

Day 2 – Robbie’s Inspiration – Guest post by Victoria Zigler

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/wordcrafter-poetry-treasures-blog-tour-day-2-featuring-victoria-zigler/

Day 3 – But I smile anyway – Guest post by Goeff Le Pard

https://butismileanyway.com/2021/05/26/poetry-treasures-blogtour-featuring-geofflepard-bakeandwrite/

Day 4 – Teagan’s Books – Guest post by Frank Prem, plus a review by Teagan Genevienne

https://teagansbooks.com/2021/05/27/poetry-treasures-anthology-from-roberta-eaton-cheadle-kaye-lynne-booth/

Day 5 – Zigler’s News – Guest post by Kevin Morris, plus a review by Victoria Zigler

http://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/05/day-5-of-wordcrafter-poetry-treasures.html

Day 6 – Roberta Writes – Guest post by Annette Rochelle Aben

https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/05/29/day-6-of-the-wordcrafter-poetry-treasures-blog-tour-annette-rochelle-aben/

Day 7 – The Showers of Blessings – Guest post by Colleen M. Chesebro

https://theshowersofblessings.com/2021/05/29/poetry-treasure-blog-tour-featuring-colleen-chesebro/

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Craft and Practice with Jeff Bowles – Narrators of a Different Color

Craft and Practice

Each month, writer Jeff Bowles offers practical tips for improving, sharpening, and selling your writing. Welcome to your monthly discussion on Craft and Practice.

There’s an entire school of thought behind the use of standard third-person perspective in narrative fiction. Often enough, beginning writers are encouraged to see it as their go-to, which isn’t horrible advice. Let’s do a quick POV lesson, in case your memory is hazy.

First-person: I walked to the lake.

Second-person: You walked to the lake.

Third-Person: He walked to the lake.

Conventional wisdom says most readers stomach lucky number three best. I think that might be a load of hogwash, but let’s assume it’s 100% correct. What would be the benefit of writing fiction—or creative nonfiction, for that matter—from a quote, unquote “nontraditional” perspective? Your own edification, right? And maybe something else.

Third-person is the norm because it provides helpful breathing room between us and our readers. It’s easy to tell a story this way, natural. We’re used to it, having read it a million times before. By the same token, I have noticed it’s become increasingly more common for storytellers to dabble in other modes. First or second-person, past or present tense, limited omniscience or full-blown mind-of-God territory. First-person present tense, by the way, is notoriously apt to cause chaos.

“I write on the blog post for a bit, and then I check my email. It occurs to me I’ve never met a sultan of Saudi Arabia, so it’s possible these diet pills are phony. Oh well. I chuck them in the trash and head outside to clear my mind. It smells like a forest fire out here. Hey, what gives?”

This is stream of consciousness stuff, easy to write but difficult and unwieldy to beat into proper shape. All the verbiage points to me, me, me, now, now, now. It can get same-same after a while, difficult to chew through. Not always, but often enough.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your new forest fire/phony diet pill story is perfectly well written, thank you very much. You did the job, tale told effectively, end of discussion. In that case, one crucial question comes to mind. Is your narrator any fun to read?

What do you mean, what do I mean? What’s a fun narrator supposed to sound like? Well, I guess they can be any of the following: idiosyncratic, faulty, confident, psychotic, mentally sound, likable, unlikable, funny, unfunny, jaded, naïve, a super focal lens, an individual with something to say, a personality worth delving into.

Maybe you’ve never considered it this way, but in my humble estimation, narration of this kind is a blank check. Most things worth achieving sound unlikely at first. Think of it like speed dating. You known instantly upon sitting across from someone whether or not you’d enjoy their company. Is your speed-dater worth engaging in conversation? Are they fun to listen to?

Gut check time. How well do you write dialogue? I only ask because I’ve realized throughout the years not everyone is as keen on it as I am. Sharp and amusing with zero fat left to trim, that’s my favorite kind. But what’s yours? Informative but not dull? Wacky and a bit irredeemable? More importantly, do you think you could extend a few lines of it to encompass an entire story? I’m willing to bet you can.

The simple truth is most writers create bland characters by default. Not you, of course. Perish the thought. Mentors and teachers might encourage us to pre-fill character sheets or go to public places and write down snatches of conversation we hear. I’m not saying that’s bad advice, but I can confidently tell you it’s more efficient and effective to let characters tell us who they are rather than to impose our sizable wills upon them. Don’t bloat yourself up with too much preparation. On the fly, hit the page and let your creations speak to you. A little honest individuality is enough to distinguish your work from the work of others, and that’s a good thing.

Rule makers have tried to enter this arena, but I don’t think they’ve done a great job setting any concrete prescriptive measures. Is addressing your reader directly breaking the fourth wall? No, not really. If you think about it, first-person narration divorced from context is unnatural anyway. It was much more common in centuries past for authors to speak to their readers through narration. As we discussed earlier, stability is easy to achieve by providing a little breathing room. This is a blank check, remember? Anything and everything is achievable, provided you’ve got the skills to stick the landing. That’s the thing about experts. If they tell you something can be done, they’re most certainly right. If they tell you it can’t, they’re most certainly wrong.

Style remains essential in this domain. My final advice is this: If you’re currently working on something you’ve written in first-person, try playing with your style a little, write it like you’d write some nice extended dialogue, just as far as you’re comfortable, nothing too crazy—unless you like crazy. You might just surprise yourself. Scratch that. Your narrator might surprise you.

Don’t be stiff or formal. Get into the nitty gritty and pour a serious helping of personality gravy on those otherwise boring and bland mashed ‘taters.

On that note…

See you next time, everyone. Have an awesome May, will you?


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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Put Off My Sackcloth Essays: A collection telling a story of hope

Put Off My Sackcloth: Essays
Put Off My Sackcloth Essays

Put Off My Sackcloth Essays, by Annie Dawid provides open and honest glimpses into the life of a single daughter of a Jewish immigrant, who chooses to settle, eventually, in a small mountain community, where she lives off-grid with her mixed lineage son. Dawid’s essays are a brutally honest portrayal of her journey out of a history of suicidal depression and into motherhood.

The fact that the organization is not chronological, may make it more difficult for readers who are used to following a linear storyline, but her essays intermix recountings from her own life experiences with reflections on her research of the 1978 mass suicides in Jonestown, in a mosaic of small pieces that fit together to create a complete story, out of despair and into hope. These powerful essays are at times heart wrenching, at times evoking a smile, but they all reach out and touch the reader from the depths of the author’s soul.

Amazed by Dawid’s inner strength to battle her own demons, these soul revealing essays outline a journey from a life teetering on the edge of death into one filled with life and love. I give Put Off My Sackcloth Essays five quills.

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet author and poet M J Mallon

My Treasuring Poetry guest today is talented author and poet M J Mallon. I am delighted to host Marje here and hope you enjoy her thoughts on poetry and her favourite poem.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This was such a difficult decision, I have at least three favourites! I narrowed it down to the robin. The robin and the dragonfly are my spirit animals and trees are also a huge inspiration. I’ve written about all of these and more in Mr. Sagittarius.

A beautiful picture of a robin by M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to, You.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I’d been studying mindfulness at the sixth form college where I work. Mindfulness is the act of observing and using the full array of our senses meditatively to become more at one with ourselves. I’ve discovered that this is a fantastic practice to adhere to. It benefits an author’s creativity by making you more aware of the nuances of your surroundings.  I’m fortunate in that I work near the botanical gardens in Cambridge, so I often visit and walk and observe the wonder of nature taking photographs of the trees, flowers, animal and insect visitors. Over time, I collected these photographs and wrote poems about them. These, along with various seasonal and short pieces of fiction feature in Mr. Sagittarius. It is a joyful celebration of siblings, magic, loves, nature, the seasons and the circle of our lives.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I love writing poetry about life in all its vibrant colours. I am often inspired by photography, (I am a keen amateur photographer – my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers,) or I use images I discover as prompts, often via Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/

Specifically, I enjoy writing poems about nature, trees, flowers, love and Halloween! Halloween poems also feature in Mr. Sagittarius. Halloween is an autumnal activity, (and often a childhood one,) so it links well with the seasonal/circle of life, aspect of my poetry writing.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading short form poetry. It is so expressive and brilliant. I love how short verses of poetry convey so much detail in so few words. I enjoy haiku, and tanka, as well as poems that form a pattern on the page. I also enjoy longer forms as you will see from my choice of favourite poem.

What is your favourite poem?

I have always loved Ode To Autumn by John Keats. I can almost taste the words. They are magnificent—that first line: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness —draws you in and makes you long to read more.

Ode To Autumn by John Keats


  1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
            Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
            With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
            And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
              To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
            With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
      Until they think warm days will never cease,
              For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    2.
      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
          Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
          Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
          Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
      And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
          Steady thy laden head across a brook;
          Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
              Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    3.
      Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
          Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
      While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
          And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
          Among the river sallows, borne aloft
              Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
      And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
          Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
          The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
              And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
https://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-Autumn

Mr Sagittarius by M J Mallon

About Mr Sagittarius

Twin brothers Harold and William love the magic of the natural world.

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request.

Will his brother William and his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the garden work its magic to ensure that they do.

A magical story expressed via an original compilation of poetry and prose with photographic images.

#Poetry #Prose #Photography #NaturalWorld #Trees #Magic #Spirit #Animals #CircleofLife #Humour #Halloween #Cats #Buddha

My review of Mr Sagittarius

Mr Sagittarius is a beautiful collection of poems and short stories, set in the lovely gardens of Cambridge and linked by the visits and experiences of a family of twin brothers and their younger sister.

The story starts with William visiting the weeping willow tree in the garden, a place that was special to his twin brother, Harold, who has recently passed away. William sees Harold’s spirit in a dragonfly that he chats to and finds solace in their one-sided communication.

This is a few lines from a poem about the dragonfly:
“Ancient, sweet fellow
Sacred magic bestower,
Change tumbling on fragile wings.”

When William returns home, he has an altercation with his sister, Annette. During their spat Annette reveals that she has always felt left out and overlooked by her twin brothers. This revelation leads to William and Annette becoming closer and visiting the garden together. Not long after, William passes on and Annette is left alone. She visits the garden and communicates with the spirits of both her brothers over the course of the rest of her long life.

The visits of the siblings to the garden are captured in lovely verse. This is an example I really enjoyed:
“I dream in colour
But now everything is dark
Where has the light gone?
Oh, cruel leafy canopy,
No green meadow, just blue thoughts.”

My favourite of the short stories was The Old Man of Snow and The Snow Snake. This is a story about making good choices in life and rejecting greed. I enjoyed the tale and the descriptive writing.

Mr Sagittarius is a gorgeous book full of delightfully depictive poems and short stories and decorated with striking photographs. This is a book that lovers of poetry, mystery, and wonder will love.

Purchase Mr Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Amazon US

M J Mallon Amazon Author Page

About M J Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

When I was in high school, history was an unpopular subject. It was so unpopular, in fact, that when the time came for the Grade 9’s to chose their subjects for Grade’s 10 to 12, the school paired history with typing, home economics and business economics so that the girls who chose this less academic combination were compelled to take history. This was how I ended up in a history class with mainly girls who hated the subject. I loved history and I took it through choice. My other subjects were maths, accountancy, and science. In South Africa, English and Afrikaans were compulsory subjects at the time.

I never really understood why my peers didn’t like history as it was a subject always loved. I’ve said it here before, however, that I was a very wide reader from a very young age and I read a lot of books set in the past. Among my favourite books by a South African author, were the collections of short stories by Herman Charles Bosman. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Herman Charles Bosman:

Herman Charles Bosman (5 February 1905 – 14 October 1951) is widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He studied the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain and developed a style emphasizing the use of satire. His English-language works utilize primarily Afrikaner characters and highlight the many contradictions in Afrikaner society during the first half of the twentieth century.

On reflection, I realised that I have acquired a love of history because all the books I had read allowed me to include the facts and dates I learned into the fascinating backdrop I had acquired of life at the time. I could visualise the homes, lives, and loves of the Afrikaner people I learned about during the sections on the Great Trek and the Boers wars though my reading of Charles Bosman’s works. I also read books by South African Boer War veteran, Deneys Reitz.

My learning of international history including the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution (including the Luddite uprisings), and the Tudor period were coloured by my reading of certain books, in particular, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Shirley and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I found it easy to remember my history because I entwined it with my understanding of life at the times as presented by these great novels.

I was delighted when I discovered that history is a popular subject at the college for boys my sons both attend. Gregory chose to take history to matric (along with IT, maths, advanced maths and science which shows that its mixes well with any subject combination) and Michael looks set to follow in his footsteps.

I am bowled over by their history curriculum and the amazing why they learn about the past through source documents, cartoons, and many other interactive and interesting modes compared to my school days of rote learning. My sons are also taught history from the perspective of how historical events have influenced the present which makes this subject a lot more useful. It helps them to see how people’s actions and reactions have set the path for the future and resulted in both the good and bad in society we see today.

I believe it is vital for kids to understand history in an expansive and wide context so that they can value the freedoms and benefits their forefathers fought and die to leave as their legacy. For example, what young girl would not value her vote if she knew about the suffering and hardships of the suffragettes who paved the way for the achievement of this equality for women.

I wonder how many British children know that compulsory education for children aged 5 to 14 years was only introduced in 1918. How many American children know that compulsory education laws were only passed by 1900 and then only in 32 states, with the other states following by 1930. 1930! That’s less than 100 years ago.

Modern children are so fortunate to have an education and the opportunities for self improvement that come with it. It isn’t equal for all yet, but there are lots of people who believe passionately in educating children and who work really hard to implement change and improvements in education.

Understanding and learning about real people in a historical context makes their passions, sufferings and beliefs so much more compelling. It is difficult to hold on to prejudice if you’ve read novels like I am David by Anne Holm, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton.

Historical books also teach children interesting information about how people survived in the past. I’ve always remembered the chapter from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder when Pa cleaned his gun and made bullets. There is also a chapter about how Ma made butter and coloured it yellow. Little House on the Prairie has a scene when Ma is helping Pa build their new log cabin and a log falls on her foot. The difficulties and dangers of life on the frontier were illustrated; there was no help to be had for an injury or if the family fell ill.

I learned a lot about the limitations of medical knowledge in the mid to late 1800s through my reading of the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge. I will never forget Katy falling out of the swing or Amy contracting, and nearly dying from, Roman fever. Such scenes induce great feelings of empathy and compassion in the reader.

It is for all these compelling reasons that I wrote While the Bombs Fell, a fictionalised biography of my mom’s life as a young girl growing up in a small English town during World War II. I wanted to capture and preserve her memories of life for ordinary people living through this extraordinary time so that others, children in particular, could read it and remember how life was during that time.

What are your thoughts about historical fiction for both children and adults? Do you see value in learning about history in through a good story?

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Shadowland: Not just another horror anthology

Shadowland

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadowland-horror-anthology-Under-Book-ebook/dp/B08P569SY1

Shadowland is the latest release in the Box Under the Bed horror anthology series, compiled and edited by bestselling author Dan Allatorre. Pick up any of the anthologies in this series and the reader will not be disappointed, but the collection of tales featured in Shadowland may have outdone those which came before. From the creative minds of Dan Alatorre, Betty Valentine, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Christine Valentor, Jessica Bakkers, MD Walker, and Alison Marushka, each story is creatively crafted to fit into the premise of the anthology as a whole, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit precisely to do their part in the creation of the picture as a whole. This anthology has the potential to be made into a television series, with each individual story becoming a single, or even multiple episodes.

The mysterious and eccentric Dr. Aumental teaches a very special class, where students are excused from their other classes and sent on all expense paid travels to research dark folklore and legends as subjects for their term papers. The research takes students to the far reaches of the globe, searching for the truth about voodoo magic, demons, spirits of the dead, the cave dwelling Hojimaa, Hookman mythology, the monster under the bed, phantom cannibals, the Jersey Devil, and more. Any legend lurking in the shadows is fair game for the investigative skills of Dr. Aumental’s selected students. Certainly, this class must produce some very unique term papers, but why does the professor go to such lengths and what does he do with the information they contain?

Each of the dark tales in Shadowland easily stands alone on its own merit. Together, they form an anthology collection that goes beyond a common theme to help fulfill an overall premise that leaves itself open to endless possibilities. I give this horror anthology five quills.

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Deadlines, Reminders and Announcements

Last chance to enter the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest!

Where Spirits Linger

The deadline to enter the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest is April 30th, for a chance to have your short paranormal story included in the 2021 paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger. The entry fee is $5, and the author of the winning story receives a $25 Amazon gift card and inclusion in the anthology. See full submission guidelines and send me your ghost stories. There’s still time. Hurry!

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There’s still time to get tickets for the 2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference

2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Writing Conference

Join us for a free Facebook pre-conference promotional and social book event on May 3rd, where you can meet conference presenters and other authors, learn about their latest releases, play games and enter giveaways! You can reserve your spot on the Facebook Event Page to join in on the fun from the comfort of your own livingroom or wherever you happen to be.

Then on May 4th & 5th, the interactive portion of the conference will be held, with interactive workshops & panel discussions will be offered by talented and experienced presenters, including Keynote speaker Paul Kane. Tickets can be purchased for $5 for individual sessions or a full event pass at the discounted rate of $50 for all 13 sessions. Visit the WtbR Event Page, right here on Writing to be Read, to see the full line-up and author bios, and purchase tickets. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we plan to learn a lot, too, so reserve your spot today.

I can’t offer a preview, because the conference will be live, but I can offer a sample from the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference to whet your appetites. Below is a video of the Visceral Story Beginnings interactive workshop with Ellie Raine. Ellie jumped in to present this workshop after the originally scheduled presenter was unable to attend. I think you did a fantastic job of picking up the ball.

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Announcing the release of Poetry Treasures, the WordCrafter poetry anthology featuring poetry by 2020’s author/poet guests on “Treasuring Poetry” blog series with Robbie Cheadle, right here on Writing to be Read.

Nine creative and talented poets have come together to produce this unique poetry collection, each one is truly a poetry treasure.

Poetry Treasures

2020 “Treasuring Poetry” Featured Poet/Author Links:

Sue Vincent (December)

Sue Vincent (April)

Geoff Le Pard (October)

Frank Prem (August)

Victoria Zigler (March)

Colleen M. Chesebro (February)

K. Morris (July)

Annette Rochelle Aben (May)

Jude Kirya Itakali

Roberta Eaton Cheadle (Host)

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