Friday, April 30, 2021

Growing up

Kids don't need electronics... these hand-held devices (clip clothes pins) provided a challenging fun activity with many learning components and vocabulary words. Everything you do with children can be a learning experience. Alex and Charlie are strengthening all of their hand/finger muscles... not just their thumbs.

Our neighbors' garden is amazing. In a few short weeks we will not be able to see across the yard, as the Bosnian beans will climb, the Bell peppers and the tomato plants will rise, creating a small jungle for rabbits, field mice, chipmunks, and birds to forage in.

One of my fondest memories of Alex, who is standing behind Charlie, happened two years ago. I caught his little two-year-old hands inside the fence picking a green pepper and walking it hand-over-hand up the fence from the neighbor's side. He beamed with pride when he was able to grasp it with both hands and show me his treasure.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Being good stewards

On #Earthday2021 I babysat three-year-old Alex and two-year-old Charlie. I surprised them with a big dump truck and a trash truck. I provided a container of polished rocks and scraps of aluminum foil for them to scrunch up. We did counting and sorting activities.  

I asked them, "What is it called when someone throws trash on the ground?"

Alex wrinkled his nose and said definitively, "It's called GROSS!"

I explained it's called littering.

Charlie piped up, "No, Nanny, it's called GROSS!"

I acknowledged they were right, and I explained about taking care of the earth.

Seems their parents are doing a good job because the boys were telling me about recycling. 

These little tigers sure make me happy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, THIS IS A MUST READ!

                                MEET THE AUTHOR, 
                  SIOUX ROSLAWSKI


        Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story 
Open the first link which takes you directly to website.

Sioux is a St. Louis middle school teacher, freelance writer, and member of several writing groups. She is a facilitator and consultant at St. Louis Gateway Writing project, part of the National Writing Project.

                                         Linda O’Connell’s book review:

Sioux Roslawski, created her middle grade, historical fiction novel, 
Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story, with grace. The saga of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons, published by Editor 9-1-1 is available NOW! This riveting, multi-layered story about family, race, and loss will appeal to adults as well.

 A true, horrific event took place on May 31, 1921, in Greenwood, Oklahoma. One hundred years have passed, and still, most Americans are unaware of the painful event that happened in the thriving, peaceful, Black-owned community of banks, businesses, residences, and churches. The area known as Black Wall Street flourished in the northern part of Tulsa.

Sioux Roslawski brings the gripping, and gut-wrenching details of shocking destruction to life through the eyes of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons.
A likeable protagonist, Henry, living a secure, happy life, has his sense of dignity, right and wrong challenged. A decent, young man with a loving family and good upbringing, he witnesses unbelievable horrors as he watches his community, the residents, and his life destroyed completely, the result of racial hatred.

Henry’s escape and adventures along the way are presented with highly-charged emotion, honesty, and a prophetic vision.

This haunting story is written with a keen eye and will keep readers engrossed until the last page. The ending made me sigh with satisfaction.

Welcome, Sioux. Congratulations on your debut novel. What inspired you to write Henry Simmons’ story?

Sioux Roslawski: Thanks so much, Linda. I attended a teachers’ national conference, and a presenter immersed us in a historical event that all the attendees in that full banquet hall were ignorant of---The Tulsa Race Massacre. It upset me that teachers didn’t know about it. It wasn’t being taught in U.S. history books, not even Oklahoma history books. That is when the kernel of an idea was formed---the idea that our country needed to stop sweeping these tragedies under the rug.

Please tell readers what your writing process was like. How long did it take to write Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story… from idea to publication? You mention that Henry helped write this story. Can you explain?

Sioux Roslawski: Five years ago, I sat down in front of a computer every school day in class during the month of November, and my students and I participated in NaNoWriMo---National Novel Writing Month.

I taught three English (writing) classes, so I had a little more than two hours every day to write--- surrounded by middle school students. However, I didn’t have a first draft finished that first school year. The next year, I finally finished it, and sort of a second draft.

The following year, I had it edited, and received such specific, spot-on feedback that I was able to rewrite it almost from scratch. The third draft was tight. It had tension and a plot that was engaging.

Did you plot your main character, or did you get to know Henry as you began to write?

I didn’t plot the story, unfortunately, so the first and second drafts stunk up the place. However, with the help of an editor I hired, the third draft really flowed.

And yes, I got to know Henry as the story unfolded. I didn’t write the story; Henry wrote the story. I don’t know how to explain it, because it’s never happened before, and I doubt ever will again. Things happened to Henry in the story. I didn’t plan, outline, or think of them. They just happened as I was typing.

For example, one character takes a bag on a dangerous trip, and everybody wants to know what’s in the bag. It is a great effort to take this bag. No matter what happens along the way, the character hangs onto the bag. A writer friend was reading a draft of my story and asked me to reveal what was in the bag. I didn’t know until months later when the character opened the bag, and I discovered the contents.

I don’t know if it just happened because so many voices have been silenced, and this one voice simply erupted, or if I channeled someone from 1921. I just know it was a weird and exhilarating ride…

Do you have a writing talisman, habit (for me it’s barefoot and a cup of tea), that you engage in as a writer?

Sioux Roslawski: I have a metal pig with wings that sat next to my desk. I bought it years ago, thinking I’d get a book published when pigs fly. Well now, I’m going to hang it from the ceiling, because pigs really can fly!

Do you have a favorite writer quote? Which authors inspire you?

Sioux Roslawski: I love the simplicity of Guy de Maupassant’s “Get black on white.” Get ink on paper. Get words down on the paper.

I love some of Stephen King’s novels. I adore Joe Hill’s writing (Stephen King’s son.)  I am in awe of Chuck Palahniuk, Sandra Dallas, Jodi Picoult, and Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Any tips or advice for writers?

Sioux Roslawski: Don’t give up. When I was feeling really low--- when I had sent out more than a hundred queries to agents and publishers, and nobody wanted to represent me or publish my manuscript--- I looked up some famous books that had been rejected many times. The Help, a book I love, was rejected sixty (60) times. What if Stockett had stopped there? It was her 61st query that snagged her a “yes.”

Sioux, is there any writing advice you would like to impart?

Sioux Roslawski: Go with your gut. I hired Margo Dill as an editor--I just had a feeling she’d do a great job, but she didn’t do a great job; she did a brilliant job! For me, small and personal is a good thing. Margo bends over backwards to showcase her authors, and every one of her decisions--- editing, choices, regarding the book cover--- are reflective and spot-on.  

One more thing about your writing routine.

Sioux Roslawski: I wish I could say I write every day. I wish I could say I have a routine, you know, like “I write every evening after dinner.” I don’t. Most of the time, I write in the early morning (4 or 5 AM) when I’m the only one up. It’s just me and the dog. Late in the evening works for me as well. However, what does keep me writing on a regular basis is my writing critique groups. If I haven’t written something, and we have a meeting coming up, I will definitely spend a few evenings drafting something. I don’t want to go to a meeting empty handed. If I did, I’d miss out on an opportunity to get feedback, and for me, that’s invaluable.

Thank you for sharing with readers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story. I believe your book should be required middle school and high school reading. Henry Simmons will remain with me for a very long time.


Saturday, April 10, 2021 2021


I am pleased to announce my 1st Place win in a humor writing contest (family category) at I won a monetary prize and registration fees for the on-line humor conference and workshops. There were attendees from all over the globe. Despite the two hour time difference, it all worked out well. I read my piece at an after party. 

The lineup and conference was organized by Robb Lightfoot, an affable and knowledgeable emcee, humorist, and educator for forty years. He hosts a multi-disciplinary humor/creative community at

The lineup included many talented folks. 

John Vorhaus, author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not.

Dave Fox,
an international traveler who discussed writing about travel catastrophies etc, for fun and profit. His background: Rick Steves’ television travel guru, writer. Check him out at

Humor coach, Judy Carter and panel of stand-up comics: Leighann Lord, and Brian Wetzel conference producer, who has been an opening act for George Lopez.

Songwriters Sara Hoxie and Leah Specher. Also Steve Vanzant of the Banana Blue Slug String Band.

John Ramirez, Disney story board artist and the animator of many Disney and Warner Bros films.

Great grandson Liam, age six, asked me all kinds of questions about Hercules! I faked the answers and showed him an illustration/photo of the hercules cell images. 

Dave Master, mentor and multi-talented animator, teacher and pay-it-forward advocate of fostering creative communities.

Agents and editors panel: Gordon Warnock, Savannah Brooks, and Andy Ross.

What a great lineup and terrific conference. I am grateful for the win and wish to thank Georgia Hubley, a Chicken Soup for the Soul writer who told me about the contest in the closing days. I didn’t think I had a chance.

Never say Never!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

That silly bunny!

 Happy Easter and a blessed day is wished for each of you whatever your faith.  I am grateful for spring!

Twenty years ago my daughter's first husband thought he was doing a good job when he hid the big bowl of Easter eggs he found sitting on the kitchen table while his family was at church.

After church, my grandson ran inside shouting, " Daddy, the Easter bunny hid our eggs all over again. They are the same ones."

Seems mama had beat him at putting them out in the grass at the crack of dawn.

Friday, April 2, 2021

What they don't know won't hurt 'em

I am participating in Washington University's Life Lines poetry event for the month of April. This is my first posted poem using the five assigned words in bold type.

 Spring Fling

Mercy! Hilarity ensued when the deviltry
of my inner child went wild
gathering petunias, pansies, and
primrose to plant around trees.
“Going to be a hard freeze,”
my neighbor screamed. “Better wait.”
I laughed and beamed. “Won’t kill these.
They’re all fake.”