The Hidden Hearts

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If you look very closely, there’s a cutout in the sky and reflection. Can you find them?

On a wonderful vacation recently I started seeing things. No, really. First, after swimming with the turtles, I was resting and taking photos when I felt one in particular might be special. Get it this direction, a little voice whispered. After I peeked at the frame, I saw why. As you gaze into the pool of water as it reflects the sky, you’ll see a shape. A heart. And its twin smiled at me through the windswept clouds as a slight drizzle began.

Two hearts.

The next day, on a boat tour around the island, a lush landscape came into view set off by high mountains and sheer cliffs carved by volcanoes and weathered over the centuries. The orange-brown hues offset the seemingly endless shades of greens. I know some cultures have thirty words for green. This must be a place touched by each one, held in a historic time-delay for us to see. As we pulled into full view, the waves kept leaping higher. I held tight to the railing and, voila, another large heart in a grove of treetops in a contrasting shade of green appeared. Then, as the boat drifted further in, another valley appeared with still another heart grove of trees.

Two hearts.

Then I was playing mini-golf with our family, my son scored his first hole in one. It grew hot and we moved slowly as the palm fronds and bucolic greens swayed in a refreshing breeze. I managed to keep, ahem, most of my balls on target and out of the water features. The urge for perfectionism and mild sibling rivalry slipped away as one carefully plotted his swing. Then, the other just hit for the fun of it all. Like the character Tigger would play golf. I smiled at my husband and I swept dampness from my forehead. I removed my hat, looking at the skyline. I gasped slightly. My husband asked why. A large, white heart-shaped cloud was nestled, and interlocked, with a light gray one.

Two hearts.

I was seeing hearts in various forms all over the island. What was going on? Was there a hidden message within, like a secret code I needed to uncover? Was there some elusive blessing, just awaiting the right moment?

Even the plants I saw held heart like features.

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Then I started thinking in twos. I’ve been blogging here for two years. We have two wonderful boys and, of course, there’s the natural thoughts of love and fidelity with my wonderful husband. All many blessings, indeed.

But I want to stay attuned for the other hearts knocking. The little nuances that dance in front of me like the ocean swells or light tropical breezes. Just waiting for me to enjoy them and notice their importance.

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News And Class Awards!

Time for some fun updates before we launch into summer. And I mean launch! I’m working with the technical experts to assemble the last pieces for the new website. I’ll be sure to post about the transition as we get closer to launch.

Awards announcement for my favorite classroom!

I’ve been helping to teach a unit about the elements of fiction and got to work with wonderful tweens on their first stories. It’s been so rewarding and I love their enthusiasm and creativity! I especially loved seeing their progression to finish. Their teacher, Mrs. Root, is amazing too for taking this on at a young age. But her kids were ready and here’s the results:

Best Drawing  – TIE – Chloe for Shrinkey and Terrina for War

Best Title – TIE – Logan for The Spider Apocalypse and Akashi for Dancing Hamsters

Best Progression from Draft to Final Version – Brayden for The Story of the Hidden Treasure

Best Story About Kindness – Tristan for The Braces

Best Portal – Joey for An Unforgettable Trip

Best Humor – George for Cap Turad

Best Twist at the End – Ellie for Three Days Left

Best Improved Descriptions – Will for The Pirate Invasion

Best Detail With Story – David for The Outbreak

Giveaways coming!

I could use your feedback on my first ever giveaway. You can choose between:

  • Cool gem crafts for summer fun
  • A wonderful jewelry box to hide your treasures
  • A quote-filled umbrella (with book quotes on the outside) for the book-lover in your life (or yourself!)

What would you like to see? I’d love your feedback here in the comments below, or on my social media links.

 

Enjoy Some Wonder This May

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Photo: Charlotte Bird

With May just around the corner, I thought it was time for some wonder on display! Faeries remind me of the simplicity of childhood, and also keeping open to wonder in life. I was a lot like this little girl growing up, looking for the stars winking in the sky, waiting for something amazing to happen, or wishing all my stuffed animals would come alive at night.

One May tradition I want to try this year is leaving flower bouquets on neighbors or friends’ doors. Precious!

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Photo: lfvaustin.blogspot.com

Host a Faerie party! Some gardens and locations have faerie parties this upcoming week. Be on the lookout in your area!

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Photo: May Day Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm in Pennsylvania.

Buy a tiara and host a tea party! I got to interview some princesses recently at Disneyland, about the magic of wearing one. See it here:

I love Gail Carson Levine’s books. Whether dragons, fairy tales, or even a fairy quest, they’re terrific! You could read Ella Enchanted, then watch the movie, and discuss how they changed the story for a kids book club this summer.

If you just want a little faerie magic, try these pop-ups by Cicely Mary Barker which are so charming.

 

And my friend Ralene Burke has a new faerie series called Bellanok, too!

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Visit my Pinterest here for more ideas with whimsy:

Granville Redmond, A Word Picture Of Resilience

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In honor of National ASL Day this weekend, I’m featuring the story of Granville Redmond, who I discovered recently at a visit to the Hunting Library in Pasadena. I was fascinated to learn about his life, stricken with scarlet fever and turned deaf at age three. Nothing held him back since he had parents that believed in him and were able to enroll him at the Berkeley School For The Deaf. There, his talent as an artist was discovered and flourished.

Later in life he became friends with Charlie Chaplin and taught him about pantomime, having great facial expressions, and the value of learning sign language. He starred in many of his silent movies. He continued to paint and fell in love with impressionism and the California countryside throughout his life (1871-1935). For a time, he met many famous artists and actors, and even lived in Tiburon, California, very close to where I grew up. Later he moved to Los Angeles, married and had three children.

Here’s a short visit to one of his paintings:

 

What I learned encountering Redmond’s story is the value of persistence, love for art and living life to the fullest. It gives me courage to continue to be resilient despite circumstances, and I hope it will for you too!

 

My main character in my fantasy stories is deaf, so I’m learning a great deal about this community and so admire them. Join Joey and I as we begin to learn sign language! I’d love to hear about your role models and how you’re celebrating this weekend too!

 

For more about Granville Redmond, see here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granville_Redmond

http://www.granvilleredmondgallery.com/granvilleredmondbio.html

 

 

 

Join The Emissaries, More Than A Fan Club

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A Facebook Group, And A Movement

I’ve been teaching about writing in elementary classes recently and sharing some of my early chapters in my manuscript. The kids got so excited they asked me to help start a fan club and way for them to connect now. Hence, the Emissaries! A bit about them:

Emissaries are secret agents charged with a special mission. Yes, they look like gnomes, or tomtar (in Swedish) but that’s only to fool you, to let down your guard. These Emissaries are on the roof, ready to spot trends, and find avenues for fun. I’m recruiting support for great teen and tween fiction, and inviting those who enjoy a bit of whimsy, and would like updates about the new website and insights about my path to publication. You’ll get to vote on the look and feel for articles and web pages, take crafts and ideas home to try with your families, submit ideas for articles, and receive special invitations to giveaways and promotions.

What is it really?

The Emissaries provides a way to build my fan base and attention for announcements through grass-roots connections, sharing with friends when the website launches, if there’s a new video series they might enjoy, or more. I’m hoping that parents of kids I’ve spoken with, or older kids with their own accounts, will hop on and help with opinions, ideas, and more.

What’s in it for you?

Being part of a group where creativity abounds, you can contribute direct ideas and connect with other like-minded fans. The new website provides more than an author background, it’s got great resources for kids and adults alike. But I’ll be excited to get your ideas, too. Here’s a taste: for the kids: games, silly videos by my kids, book reviews they’ll love, gem mysteries, kids’ writing contests, articles about resilient kids, and more. For the adults: thoughts for resilient parenting, inspiring stories from contemporary authors, ideas for family outings, and places to talk about everything from bullying to helping your kids reach for their personal best. From time to time, there will be drawings for great giveaways for your families too.

There will be even more once my book is on track for publication, and an inside scoop on the whole process. Plus the satisfaction of actually doing something more than wishing there was encouraging fiction for your kids to read by building your ideas into the movement too.

How is it a movement?

As a wildfire survivor and resilience expert, I’ve not only got fun stories on the way, but deeper meaning, too. Sometimes you might share issues you’re dealing with or wish someone would tackle. Sometimes it’s finding great resources for self-esteem and having more fun as a family. Resilience is a decision, not an accident, and I’ll be tossing out nuggets here to share and grow in your own life too.

The Emissaries are excited to:

  • Be accepted into an exclusive group of fans.
  • Tell people about the website and share with family and friends to help spread the word.
  • Root for the books and purchase them when they release. Good wishes go a long way in this early stage!
  • Use promotional materials and leave them at local bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, dentists, anywhere you have permission and kids and parents congregate.
  • Feature interviews, announcements, or anything else on your Facebook and other on-line connections.
  • Visit me during guest blog posts or any online appearances or blog tours.
  • Connect me with others who may be interested.

Why Facebook, and should I join (if I’m not on there already)?

Facebook groups are super ways to communicate with our group exclusively. I can easily forward links, upload updates, get your input on ideas, and you can also connect easily with others in the group if you want to. You can give minimal information and create an account, and I’d love for you to join us. I’ve participated in groups like this with other authors and it’s been so much fun. You get to really see “inside the curtain” and be part of their success, watching every step happen.

You can also join my blog now (at the top) and you’ll receive posts until the new site goes live. Either way, I can’t wait to hear your feedback.

Join the team here: Emissaries On The Roof, Secret Agents for Elizabeth Van Tassel! Your encouragement means the world to me and I can’t wait to connect!

 

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

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It’s been a full time lately, with big challenges, and neat opportunities, too. But it’s very tiring. And we’ve been battling the spring colds. Now, I’m finding such refreshment in the simple things. Walks in the park, blossoms on trees, cool breezes with bike rides. Flying a kite. Sometimes during a hectic season, it’s nice to slow down and enjoy the moment. It takes a settled soul to look for that pause, and leave room for reflection.

Some of my favorite moments lately:

  • Smelling the flowers at gorgeous gardens

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  • Sipping wine with my favorite guy

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  • Silly moments with games

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  • Stepping into history
  • Smiling with my son on stage

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  • Sharing my writing with kids

Here’s wishing you moments to cast off the cares, if only for a short while, and pick up laughter, love, encouragement, and fun.

And maybe a breeze to go fly a kite! We did!

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Seven Ways To Put More Magic In Your Life

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Are mundane tasks dominating your life and stressing your outlook? Here’s seven ways to add more magic into the everyday mixture for you and your family.

 

  1. Light a fire – Whether it’s a candle or a fire in the fireplace, the flickering light seems to signal something special is coming. Usually it leads to more laughter at our dinner table and loosening up for the parents, too.

 

  1. Turn on magical music – We often listen to a station from London broadcasting amazing classical music. Not the kind that makes you snore, but the elegant, heart-lift, gaze sparkling kind. And it’s fun to hear what’s happening so far away on the newsbreaks, too!

 

  1. Read a great book – Check out my Goodreads here for some great suggestions for books that encourage and enhance your view of life, in our world or another one too. When I connect with another sense of beauty it expands my capacity to handle the everyday here.

 

  1. Connect with silly – Put on those Mickey ears or get messy in the kitchen baking. Do something a little youthful and let go for a while. Smiles will expand and hearts will warm.

 

  1. Try some pins – Not the sharp kind, but on Pinterest, there’s a whole world of amazing images to snack on. I’ve selected some here on my Pinterest. Follow your favorite authors there too!

 

  1. Take a walk – With Spring here, I love taking a short walk in the evening. My son sometimes comes on his scooter and suddenly starts telling me everything about his day. Sunset seems more magical with little moments of connection, too.

 

  1. Hang around authors – connect with great authors on line. You can connect with their author sites, follow their blogs, and see everyday life on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so encouraging to watch their posts and feel a little sparkle enter your day with beautiful pictures or words. Some of my favorites (and others recommended by my friends) are listed on my author’s Facebook.

 

How do you keep the sparkle in everyday life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Here’s one of my latest YouTube videos, that includes a little behind the scenes of who I am, and some other fun things bubbling up as we get closer to launching the new website. Lots of good things in the works. Can’t wait to tell you!! Subscribe to the YouTube channel too!

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.