Archive for the ‘Role Models’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! 

July’s Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

The most valuable so far came from the award-winning author, Alexandria laFaye, http://www.alafaye.com, during 2014, when we were both in the same critique group. I had submitted a chapter from ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ (my first book in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series: http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I ) to our online critique group, The Creative Collective.

I got various responses from the group noting grammar and word usage and so forth. However, there was one answer in particular, which revolutionized me.

Alexandria wrote back, ‘The writing is good; however there is far too much exposition.’

I was afraid to admit I didn’t know what exposition was.

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Luckily Alexandria also teaches writing and so, she went on to offer examples showing that exposition is another word for explanation. In other words, exposition is when the author is telling the reader everything.

Alexandria said, our task as the writer is to give the reader an experience, as if the readers themselves are experiencing and seeing what’s taking place.

This is how you get the reader immersed. Exposition holds the reader at arm’s length.

It was amazing. A whole new world I hadn’t thought about that until that moment opened up. That one piece of advice helped my writing evolve. I was grateful to Alexandria for her wisdom.

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I’ve worked on this ever since. These days, I find it helps me to think about it this way: instead of being behind a camera observing the action, I think of myself as behind my character’s eyes looking at and experiencing what happens. Then I can inhabit the scene. I have to use all the senses, act out scenes (holler, @TiffanyLawson-Inman!) and speak the dialogue out loud. I have to tease out some scenes and tighten others and think, what does this feel like, what would be going on in the background? I have to look around the whole room and put myself in my hero’s shoes.

This approach makes it a more 3-D experience in the writing process as well.

Then, earlier this year, adding to the concept of reader immersion, my writing pal, James Preller, offered another nugget of advice. He talked about the need for the reader to empathise with the protagonist.

James PrellerJames said, ‘Most importantly, I think you need to hone tight into Aden and his thoughts, feelings, perceptions. I think you could go deeper, bring us closer.’

I went back to my rewriting. I gave my hero, Aden, more time and attention in this second book and even I, as the author, felt I drew closer to him.

Good advice. Thanks, Jimmy, you’re a pal. If there’s one thing the generosity of the author’s community has taught me, it’s that it’s nice to share. So it has been a pleasure to pass these gems on for other writers.

Good ‘question of the month,’ IWSG!

One of my favourite quotes at the moment is “The wisdom acquired with the passage of time is a useless gift unless you share it!” by E. Williams. Try these techniques for yourself and why not share them with others.

How about you, what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in recent times?

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Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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If you have done well, it’s your duty to send the elevator back down. ~ Kevin Spacey

 

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

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Go Indie, they said, you’ll make a mint, they said.

Are you familiar with the fact Johnny Depp uses Laurel & Hardy type fall-down-on-your-butt humour to bring the funny to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? Depp’s a confirmed lover of slapstick. I feel like I’m doing a slapstick comedy routine of my own at the moment, trying to bring my second book into print. Talk about learning by default. Today I began to laugh about it which I guess is a good sign. Either that, or I’m going mad.

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My slapstick movie goes like this: I went Indie in 2015, publishing my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ ( http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I ) through a local company, BookPrint. They did all the layout and formatting and cover design. This time round, for the second book in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ I thought I would use Createspace services, the self-publishing arm of Amazon.

Misstep number one

The first thing I didn’t know was how long it would take to go from submitting to being ready to print. I’d estimated about 6-8 weeks based on the initial conversation with the Createspace “publishing consultant.” In hindsight, I realize the six weeks I’d been quoted was based on an ideal world where the book is perfect and no changes need to be made and it sails straight from submission through the different levels of production.

In the real world, errors are found through looking at digital proofs. Changes need to be made and each round of editing changes takes a week to put into effect. In underestimating the time factor, I stumbled and fell over two attempts at book launches. *face plant

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Misstep number two

In The Or’in of Tane Mahuta, BookPrint made a fleur-de-lis for me to border the pages, using some of my imagery. Unable to copy their fleur-de-lis though for the second book, I drew it myself in pen & ink. I uploaded the image to Createspace. I requested the vertical image to feature opposite “some” chapters (as they’d been sprinkled throughout the first book). The first proof arrived with the fleur-de-lis opposite the start of every chapter and there are SIXTY-THREE chapters.

I asked to have the vertical images removed. The digital proof returned and in the place of every fleur-de-lis there were blank pages, in other words, SIXTY-THREE blank pages. *head desk

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Misstep number three

I paid more money.

The novel was checked by my proof reader and me. It was with great wonder and delight that I finally pushed the “approve” button I’d wanted to hit for so long.

The printed proof arrived in all its newfound glory. I gazed upon my creation and thought I’d gone to heaven.

Then, to my horror, within the pretty cover lay a ghastly sight – chopped up sentences everywhere – to fit the lines on the page the computer had hyphenated words like mo-ther, go-ing, to-gether. There were three to four to a page. I went to my friends who have self published using Createspace services. They said they’d had to typeset their own stories before they sent them in! Aha. *belly laugh

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And so, through this comedy of errors, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I took cream pie to the face. I stepped on a few rakes. I subjected myself to what Laurel and Hardy would call “cartoon violence.”

On the plus side, I have learned a lot about self publishing my own book. I’m also closer to publishing this novel than I was before I started. And I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned with others.

Huzzah!

I remind myself to take heart from the stirring poem Kristen Lamb put me onto a couple of weeks ago, How Did You Die? By Edmund Vance Cooke:

‘The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce; Be proud of your blackened eye! It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts, It’s how did you fight — and why?’

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I was sitting in a pub with old friends the other night, and we were talking about our careers. I tried to explain my strange predicament. I said, “once, I had the comfort of not being published. Now that I have spit on my hand and joined the ring, it’s terrifying. I feel like I’m out of my element, and I’m making mistakes in public.”

But if I don’t put my stories out now, then when?

With book two, there is still some work to be done. That’s okay. I’ve learned something new. I’ve tasted the finish line, so now I must pull my boots up and get crackerlackin’. After all, that’s what Laurel and Hardy, or Jack Sparrow would do!

As Kristen said in her response to my ‘Quit or Stay’ post, ‘Life knocks us down, but that’s just life. The getting up? All on us.’

You have to have skin in the game. And you have to be cool when you get popped in the nose.

It’s not easy to do. What about you, how do you handle the knock backs?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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There are so many reasons most writers don’t make it and very little of it has to do with the writing. This is a mental battle first and foremost. Mastering emotion and will and getting up over and over and over and over. ~ Kristen Lamb

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Back in 2002, when I was expecting my second child, I was 36-years-old. My doctor at the time advised me to have an amniocentesis test, which is the form of pre-natal screening we have here in New Zealand. The doctors test for Down’s syndrome by inserting a long needled into the womb and extracting amniotic fluid.

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I panicked. I thought what if the results come back as positive? It was a decision I simply couldn’t make. I decided against taking the test.

In New Zealand, we were told at the time, one in 600 babies were born with Down’s syndrome.

In the UK, between 1989 and 2012, 20,000 babies were diagnosed through the new non‐invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Of these, 92% were aborted. And, being classified as a ‘severe disability’, abortion can take place right up until birth.

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I’m so glad I somehow found the strength to resist the pressure of the medical professionals around me at the time, because my second son was born with Down’s syndrome. Sam-the-man, The Sam. As my mother said at the time, he has more God in him than anyone else. It’s true. It bothers me deeply to think of the pressure I was put under during the early stages of my pregnancy to get tested.

The NIPT is expected to drastically improve the rates of diagnosis of Down’s syndrome in England, which they project will result in 102 more babies with the syndrome being detected each year. When abnormality is detected, the only counselling offered to women after diagnosis is usually heavily pointed towards abortion. In Britain, the only counselling charity the National Health Service directs women to is, Antenatal Results and Choices, formerly known as Support Around Termination For Abnormality.

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These sad facts came to light recently, through actress Sally Phillips recent BBC documentary; ‘A World without Down’s syndrome?’ The acclaimed actress, mother to a daughter with Down’s syndrome, dared to ask the question, ‘What’s so dreadful about Down’s syndrome?’ Phillips travels the world and speaks to various people, including, ‘Emma’ who despite having been firm in her decision not to be tested for the condition ‘had to constantly justify her decision to medical practitioners.’

Why do we need to justify wanting to keep our unborn child?

On the award-winning Down syndrome blog, Downs Side Up, Hayley Goleniowska has a mission. That of ‘Gently changing perceptions of Down syndrome from within people’s hearts.’

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This mama is speaking my language.

Hayley: My mission is now to inspire new parents, show the world that many incredible things are possible for our children, and shout out that Down’s syndrome truly is wonderful and that life will carry on, there will be challenges, but you will not regret or wish to change any of it. 

You go, Hayley!

Her daughter, Natty, was the first child in Britain with a disability to appear in a Back to School Campaign.

Our youngest daughter Natty is a clothing model, pioneering for children with disabilities everywhere. She is a true ambassador in her own right, opening doors and forcing companies to be more inclusive in their approach to advertising.

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The writer, Ciarán Kelly commented sagely on the issue. ‘The new NIPT test has its roots in the Idea that some people’s lives have little or no value and therefore should be screened out from society. This is profoundly wrong. Unborn children are perhaps the most vulnerable people in our world and need to be protected. All human beings are made in the image of God and have a special, intrinsic value regardless of how young or how old, how able-bodied or disabled they might be. This does not apply only to those with Down’s syndrome. Neither does it apply only to those whom parent, family or society has deemed ‘makes a contribution’. It applies to us all.’ ~ Ciarán Kelly

http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/The%20Bulletin/issue-33/4)-a-world-without-downs-syndrome.pdf

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Exactly. When something happens to one of us it happens to all of us. I had an incident happen within my own family this week, where I had to stand up and defend Sam against a member of the general public. And it made me aware once again of how little people really understand about these amazing gentle people. It’s such a shame. We are none of us, not Trump in the White House nor Natty the child Down’s syndrome model, any better than the other. We are all equal. That’s what my son reminds me of every day. We are all human. We all deserve to be here.

What are your feelings on who gets to be human?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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#justaboutcoping, #worldwithoutdowns, #worldwithdowns

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‘The value of human life does not lie in its contribution to society at large, or even to the happiness of a particular family’ ~ Ciarán Kelly

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After the loss of my mother, last year, I realized I needed to organize regular, quality-length time for my younger two boys with their grandfather.

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Time is short, and we need to make the most of the opportunity, while dad’s still alive, for him to get to know them, and for the kids to get to know their grandfather. This is a chance to deepen those precious relationships.

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To this end, I arranged with my brother, we would bring our boys to visit dad in every holiday break. Our boys could then maintain their relationships with one another, as well. Five or so times, my brother and I have travelled from opposite ends of the country, to bring our kids together with their grandfather. And, it’s turning into a lovely tradition.

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These holidays, we headed down to visit my father in the Coromandel, despite the dire forecast of thunderstorms, heavy rain and 110 knot winds. Yet, I’d checked the road conditions, and I knew all the roads were still open.

We didn’t want to miss out on time with dad, and we had also arranged a charter fishing trip on a boat for the boys.

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It rained on and off most days. However, the storm passed us by without even touching us.

The kids weren’t worried and they just got on and enjoyed themselves.

They reminded me how to look at the bright side. When it rained, they played indoors, when the sun came out, they raced outside again. Sometimes, they went out, rain or no!

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The very first day, our combined trio of boys made friends with the local kids. The gang was inseparable from then on.

I was reminded of how well kids make friends. They see others their size-ish and they gravitate towards one another. It seems all it takes is a look. Then, they play together and are instantly bonded. No questions asked.

What a pity we can’t put all the kids in charge of the world, huh?

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Dad, my brother and I took turns keeping an eye on what was going on with this new tribe.

The kids would come from the houses which face down onto a reserve, and gather on the communal grassed playing area and playground below Grandpa’s house.

They played together with great gusto and spirit. They played most of the time. The digital games and phones lay indoors, forgotten.

I love that about going away for the holidays – the strictures of city life fall away. People and shared experiences become more important.

When we weren’t out with the boys ourselves, I’d often be indoors, watching with the binoculars. Sometimes the kids were playing soccer, or ball tiggy, or softball. Sometimes they were on the swings and slides in the playground. You could hear the shrieks of laughter and hoots.

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Sometimes, mysteriously, they camped for long periods, the whole tribe sitting and talking beneath a tree or in the shade of the climbing wall.

It seemed never a cross word passed between them.

There were no falling-outs. Throughout our stay, they gathered to play and traipsed back and forth as a gang. At meal times, the crew dispersed. A preternatural quiet would descend.

Yet, I noticed, all it took was for one of them to appear on the reserve or in the playground, and in a very short time; they’d have rejoined forces. The whoops and voices would ring again. The kids seemed like magnets for each other.

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Our boys’ new mates even accompanied us on a family walk to the peak behind my father’s house.

Meantime, because of the weather warnings, the fishing charter was cancelled.

Not to be put off, we rearranged it with the skipper, for the following day.

Luckily, the weather improved enough for the fishing trip to kick off, as planned.

The boys were thrilled. My youngest called it ‘a big adventure,’ being a night trip. The boat was due to leave harbour at 5 p.m. and return at ten in the evening.

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Though they did encounter a rough off-shore wind that night, the trip was a success and, they each managed to catch some fish. Whew!

Being my son’s first proper trip, I was relieved to hear, upon their return, he’d caught ‘the first and biggest fish.’ Keeping everything on an even keel, my nephew then outdid him by landing an even bigger snapper.

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Both boys came home exhausted, proud warriors. It was lovely. You never know, we may have new fishermen in the family.

It was a fitting end to the trip. For dinner, I had fresh snapper fried with a little pepper, salt and olive oil, eaten with a simple green salad tossed with avocado. Perfect.

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I consider this holiday to have been a lesson in how a shining attitude (as demonstrated so ably by the boys), can transform a sodden four days, into a fun-filled adventure to be remembered forever.

How awesome is that?

I nominate children to rule the world!

Remember, whenever you reach the lip of a steep slope, (this sign graces the reserve near my dad’s house)… Please run down the hill screaming! (by Order of Life’s Too Short).

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Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. ~ John Lennon

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My grandmother was a fairly formidable creature. Nan Hefferan was the only one of our English relatives who made the move to New Zealand. “And, she made the move at the age of 79!” as my father is fond of saying.

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Gran lived here for the last nine years of her life. For most of that time, I lived five minutes’ walk away. She was the only grandparent I had the privilege of getting to know.

I’ve always revered grandparents, I guess because I grew up far away from mine.

Where my older sisters had grown to the ages of seven and five in England, my brother and I were born here, and our only relationship with our grandparents had come through letters, and parcels at Christmas.

In person, Gran lived up to my every hope of what a grandmother would be. She was a truly exceptional, wonderful woman, who had achieved a great deal in her life.

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I enjoyed getting to know her.

Born in 1901, she had lived through the last World War. Her memories were revelations of another era, and therefore, truly fascinating.

We had lunch every week, on a Tuesday, just her and I.

Mostly, she would talk. I would listen to all of the family stories I had never heard before. Through this precious human conduit to our family’s heritage, I gained glimpses of a different life. Gran told of a lost world: that of the past, and all the amazing things that had happened there, to members of our own family, our shared ancestors.

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Being a writer, I had to ask questions. I wanted to know more: what else happened? Why? When? All she needed was a gentle prompt.

She had what they call, a “pre-nuclear age” memory, i.e. she could remember facts, figures, dates, and names with precision.

To my creative mind, her details painted pictures.

Gran was also a great cook. On every visit, there would be some humble, great lunch. Meat pie she’d made herself, right down to the pastry, served with gravy, potatoes, peas and carrots. Or her famous cheese and onion pie, so heavenly, her homemade short savoury pastry crust was divine. She would always make the dessert herself, a cake, or a sponge, or a steamed pudding. There would be custard or cream. And tea served in a teapot on a tray with china tea cups with matching saucers.

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She liked to feed me until I couldn’t eat another bite.

After our delicious lunch, we’d take our tea and shortbreads, or chocolates, over to the comfortable chairs in the living room. There, Gran would start to talk, about her life and the stories of her parents.

She would talk all afternoon, and I would listen.

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I could not leave my grandmother’s home without her saying something significant. It was to me, as if she lived so close to the veil, that any moment could be her last and she lived with that truth. No moment was to be wasted.

After giving her that final hug, I’d walk towards her front door, and Gran would say, “Remember, my dear, reach for that star and you will get there.”

Or,

“Remember, my dear, whatever happens in your life, if you look for the silver lining, you will find it.”

I’d walk home with those parting words. I took that sustaining, empowered, heartening feeling away from every visit.

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I’ll be ever grateful to Gran, for having the courage after her husband died, to move to the other side of the world. She wanted to be with the family for the last part of her life. Our lives were enriched.

This week, I’ll be delivering my tenth speech for Toastmasters. The project title I had to tackle this time round was “Research your Topic.”

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I decided to talk about my grandmother’s contribution to the war effort.

Gran inspires me to be a better person. It does bother me, that all the wonderful things she achieved during WWII boil down to a yellow newspaper clipping, which lives in a drawer at my father’s house. So, part of the theme for my speech, is to bring light to the lack of the female voice in history.

Have you ever asked your mother or your grandmother what she did in her life? The least we can do is to ask the questions and wait for the answers. Our daughters and granddaughters may ask us for the stories one day.

There is so much more to say. Talk to you later.

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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What you do when you don’t have to, determines what you’ll be when you can no longer help it. ~ Rudyard Kipling

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

Hey, guys,

Will you do me a favour, and share this widely? It’s a great opportunity to support a worthy cause. Erik Weibel, young author and book-reviewer, and general, all-round rising star, deserves for this post to be spread as widely as possible. His rural school seeks donations for new band uniforms.

I mean, c’mon!

This is for you and your school band, Erik. I hope you get your new uniforms. I look forward to the photos and the blog post, when you do!

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All the best, Yvette x

 

Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted. He lived happily ever after. Roald Dahl

 

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This Kid Reviews Books

HELLO blog readers!

I very rarely post about anything other than books, writing, literacy, and libraries.

I also have only ever once posted about raising money for a cause.

I have something I care a lot about that I wanted to put out in the blogosphere. I go to a small rural school in Pennsylvania. We don’t have a lot of money for things like Smartboards, iPads, or masking tape (seriously – our librarian ran out of masking tape one year…) BUT OUR TEACHERS ROCK! They are the best of the best and with them we don’t need a bunch of technology (well maybe we do need the tape, but we did eventually get that).

One of the programs at my school that I really enjoy is our band program. I find music challenging. It makes a different part of my brain fire up when I listen to or try…

View original post 207 more words

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Ever since mum died, my brother and I have met up at our father’s home with our kids every school holidays. We travel from different parts of the country to meet in the lovely seaside township where dad has retired. With me, my thirteen-year-old, Sam (who has Down Syndrome), and my ten-year-old, Nat. My brother, Al, brings his eleven-year-old, Riki. We regularly reunite to spend quality time with grandpa.

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I noticed during this holiday Sam literally followed his uncle around. And, it made me think about the need our young people have for positive role models. Young boys can be like homing missiles, sometimes, seeking those role models, to look up to and show them the way.

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My boys are lucky. My brother and I are lucky. The amazing side benefit of gathering to visit grandpa is that it regularly brings three generations of the males in our family together. We have each other, and the older family members can guide the younger.

In the greater communities and society, however, the dearth of fathers in the home is a sad reality.

There are ‘men deserts’ in many parts of our towns and cities and we urgently need to wake up to what is going wrong. – Christian Guy

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In 2013, in a research project on male role models, a post was published. More children growing up without male role models says new report, shared details of the report released by the Centre for Social Justice which claimed the increasing rate of lone parent families was creating ‘men deserts.’

The Centre’s director, Christian Guy, said, ‘For children growing up in some of the poorest parts of the country, men are rarely encountered in the home or in the classroom. This is an ignored form of deprivation that can have profoundly damaging consequences on social and mental development.’

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What can we do?

*Appreciate the importance of positive male role models in our own families.

The happy side effect of gathering around Grandpa has been gathering the guys for a few days, every couple of months, to fish and golf and play cards. And, they’re all benefiting from time together.

*Initiate/participate in ideas like the brother/buddy systems.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned he’s involved with an initiative run by his church where the older guys are paired with fatherless boys, to do activities and spend time with them. This sort of thing has such positive effects  in our communities!

*Encourage and vocalise the idea that we need more male teachers for our upcoming boys.

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In the “Conclusions and Reflections” of the report published in 2001, Social Learning Theory and the Influence of Male Role Models on African American Children, Rhonda Wells-Wilbon and Spencer Holland stated, ‘The role and contribution of males in the classroom cannot be ignored. At minimum, they make the classrooms more manageable so teachers can teach. At their highest level, they instil positive values, pride, and the desire to want to do the right thing even in absence of the role model.

‘While school is considered the place where children learn the skills to be productive participants in the workforce, reading, writing and math alone are not sufficient for preparing the next generation.’

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Therefore, changes need to be put into place within the education system to encourage more young men to take up teacher training, to fill the current deficit.

The teacher, Erin Lees said, ‘If father is not there, the child looks to fill up with other male role models.’

According to Wells-Wilbon and Holland, ‘Mentoring programs and other volunteer programs that bring men into the classroom, and that are well structured for consistency and modelling positive behaviour can be a valuable resource.

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‘In this study, there seems to be a relationship between structuring a program that focuses on values and important life skills as well as tutoring and academic support. Children like adults learn and function best when they have a strong foundation of values and feel valued as important people.

Modelling and teaching important life skills is the foundation for building academic achievers.’

With such positive thinking, there is hope for the future.

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On the last day of our holiday, we took our late afternoon walk with Grandpa. At the end of the trail, I asked my thirteen-year-old Sam to bunch up with Uncle and Grandpa for a photo. Any doubts lingering as to the value of male mentors in a boy’s life can be answered right there.

Have you any stories to share about effective mentorship?

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. ~ E. B. White

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